Dolomites Bucket List: 27 must-visit places in the Dolomites, Italy

Welcome to the ultimate Dolomites bucket list by @backpackersintheworld.

Located in northeastern Italy, the Dolomites cover almost 16.000 square kilometres – or 6,155.2 mi² – and offer countless opportunities to trek and relax surrounded by nature.

After a month-long road trip through these incredible mountains, we have put together the ultimate bucket list to help you plan your next trip to what is arguably Italy’s most beautiful mountain range.

How to get around the Dolomites

The easiest way to explore the Dolomites is definitely by car, or even better, by van. Even though campervans are not welcome in many of the valleys here (hi there budget travellers!), having the freedom to sleep on one of the passes – or even better, on top of some mountains (see the Tre Cime di Lavaredo, for example) – is priceless.

Dolomites Bucket List – Part 1

To help you better understand our itinerary we started our route from Bolzano, South Tyrol main city.

This bucket list will be focused on the best natural sights of this region, most of which will blow your mind!

However, we’d recommend also exploring some of the towns, wineries and ski resorts that South Tyrol has to offer if you have enough time to explore this area.

Tip: tap on “More options” to open this itinerary on google maps

Planning a road trip in Italy?
Read also:
Saturnia Hot Springs: a backpacker guide
The Battle of the Oranges: inside Italy’s craziest festival | Ivrea’s Historical Carnival

PART 1 – SKIP AHEAD:

1) Earth Pyramids of Platten / Piramidi di terra a Perca

Have you ever seen anything like that?

Situated at a height of 1550 to 1750 meters above sea level, the Earth Pyramids of Platten are the result of a quirk of nature from many years ago.

In fact, back in 1882, a strong storm hit this area and a trench formed. Later, rain and floods excavated the soil leaving these incredible sand pillars.

These structures continuously evolve and new pillars are formed, especially in wintertime.

Surprisingly, they are not the only earth pyramids in this region: similar structures can also be found in Ritten (Renon), Segonzano, Oberbozen and Collepietra.

Dolomites Earth Pyramids of Platten - Backpackers In The World

Credits: @lorenzowanderlust

To reach these pyramids you have to reach Percha, and then head to the small town of Plata (Platten). Percha is about an hour drive from Bolzano or 77km. If you are coming from Bolzano, the town of Plata will be on the left.

Visiting the Earth Pyramids is only a 7km detour from the main road. The road is steep, and there are 3 small parking areas in Plata. If you are going there early in the morning when there are no people, we recommend you to drive until Parking P2, which is the last parking before the start of the trek.

Dolomites Bucket List - Earth Pyramids of Platten

Credits: @lorenzowanderlust

The trek from Plata to the Earth Pyramids is about 1.5km long and with an elevation gain of about 150m. It is quite steep at the beginning but overall it’s a pretty easy one.
Fun fact: you have to walk across a fence with goats to reach the Pyramids. Say hi to these little guys when you pass by.

Dolomites goats
Dolomites goats

2) Lake Braies / Pragser Wildsee

Welcome to Lake Braies, aka the Instagram lake.

If the previous place was relatively unknown, tell us: how many times have you seen Lake Braies on social media already?

The answer doesn’t matter, you still have to see this lake in person!

First, a quick reminder, as this is often a source of disappointment: the lake is frozen and covered in ice and snow in winter.

It’s hard to say exactly which months it freezes, as it varies every year, but chances are you will find it frozen from December to March/April.

When it’s not frozen, however, its colours are impressive!

Braies Lake boats Dolomites Bucket List

The typical wooden boats attached to the pier float on the crystal clear blue/green water of Lake Braies. Many couples choose this lake for their wedding photoshoots, and it’s not rare to see them.

Do not expect to be by yourself at this place: no matter what time of the year or of the day it is, there will always be a ton of people taking photos of Lake Braies.

Credits: @elisamoscardi

Dolomites Bucket List: How to reach Lake Braies:

Reaching Lake Braies is very simple, which is also one of the reasons why it’s so popular. The lake is located in the Fanes-Sennes-Prags Nature Park and it’s a 10 km detour from the main road of Val Pusteria. The lake is about 23km or just 25 minutes from Percha.

There is a very big parking area right in front of the lake, which is known for being pretty expensive. We recommend you heading there at sunrise: not only is the lake more beautiful at this time of the day and there are fewer people, but also you will end up spending less, as the parking is free until 7 AM.

Please note: to limit pollution during high-season (July 10 – September 10), the road to the lake it is closed from 10 AM to 3 PM. A public transport service will be activated during that time.

Credits: @lorenzowanderlust

3) Prato Piazza

Another often overlooked place, Prato Piazza is located only a few kilometres away from Lake Braies.

Prato Piazza is a plateau that sits at an altitude of 2,000 meters, with overwhelming panoramic views of the nearby mountains. It’s the best place you can visit near Lake Braies in winter, and it’s absolutely stunning in summer too.

Prato Piazza can be reached by car or bus, and there is a small parking area at the top of the road.

Keep in mind that from the middle of May to mid-October and from late December to mid-April, the drive-up from Ponticello to Prato Piazza is closed to private traffic from 10 AM to 4 PM. The descent is possible at any time.

From the parking lot enjoy the level 2.5km walk to Rifugio Vallandro, or explore one of the mountain treks available for an incredible view over the plateau.

Credits: @andrea_scacco

Prato Piazza Dolomites Bucket List

Credits: @andrea_scacco

4) Dobbiaco Lake / Toblacher See

Dobbiaco Lake – or Toblacher See – is a beautiful alpine lake located near the town of Dobbiaco and it is the perfect quick stop on your way to Misurina Lake and the Tre Cime di Lavaredo.

The lake is very accessible as there is a parking area just next to it, and the lake is just on the side of the main road.

Have a walk around the lake, take some photos and relax before the adventure-filled days that are coming next.

Lago di Dobbiaco Dolomites Bucket List
Credits: @marticompa

Credits: @marticompa

5) Misurina Lake

Waking up to the view of Misurina Lake is just priceless. While campervans are not allowed to stay in the parking area in front of the lake, do not miss this opportunity if you’re exploring the Dolomites in a van.

Souvenir shops can be found all around the lake, as well as a supermarket, one of the few you can find around here.

Tip: consider buying everything you need for your treks here!

Misurina Lake is the perfect starting point for two treks: the Tre Cime di Lavaredo trek (with its starting point Rifugio Auronzo being only 8km away) and the Sorapis Lake trek (which starting point Passo Tre Croci is only 6km away).

Dolomites Bucket List Lago di Misurina

6) Tre Cime di Lavaredo

Located exactly on the border between the regions of South Tyrol and Veneto, Tre Cime di Lavaredo is one of the most famous sights of the Dolomites.

Your destination will be “Rifugio Auronzo”, which is a mountain hut at the end of a private road.

We highly recommend you sleeping up there if you are exploring the Dolomites in a van: there is a huge parking area up top and the view is just insane!

The road to reach the Tre Cime is private: this means you will have to pay a salty toll in order to get up there. Here are the prices.

Private road fee:

  • Motorbikes: € 15,00
  • Cars: € 25,00
  • Campervans: € 40,00 (vehicles higher than 2,10m)
  • Fee for every additional day: Motorbikes: € 3,00 | Cars: € 7,00 | Campervans: € 15,00

Credits: @kameliawillich

The best seasons to visit the Tre Cime di Lavaredo are definitely summer and autumn, as it isn’t recommended to visit it during winter. Also, the private road to reach the Tre Cime is closed in winter. There aren’t exact dates for its closure, as it depends on the weather and on the snowfall, but consider it may close from December to April.

Credits: @lorenzowanderlust

Dolomites Bucket List: The trek around the Tre Cime di Lavaredo

Once you get to Rifugio Auronzo, we highly recommend you to do the loop trek around the Tre Cime to appreciate them at their best.

The trek is 7.5 km long and it takes about 3 hours, and it’s best doing it anti-clockwise.

There are 5 stops along the loop trek: Cappella degli Alpini, Rifugio Lavaredo, Forcella Lavaredo, Malga Langalm and Forcella del Col de Mèdo. If you follow them you can’t get lost.

Tre Cime di Lavaredo Trek - Dolomites Bucket List
Dolomites Bucket List - Tre Cime di Lavaredo

Credits: @lorenzowanderlust

7) Cadini di Misurina (Tre Cime di Lavaredo)

A must in every Dolomites bucket list, the views over Cadini di Misurina can be found following another trek path from Rifugio Auronzo.

This place is also located on the Tre Cime di Lavaredo, in fact, the Tre Cime are located just behind the camera in the shot you see here.

HOW TO GET THERE:

Instead of going around the Tre Cime di Lavaredo following the loop trek, head in the direction of the Cadini di Misurina.

These mountains can be seen from Rifugio Auronzo already and if you follow the path towards them you’ll end up in this insane viewpoint

Credits: @gonzalopasquier

Cadini di Misurina, October 2019 – Credits: @lorenzowanderlust

8) Lake Sorapis

Lake Sorapis became one of the most popular lakes in the Dolomites, attracting trekkers from all over the world.

Unlike the other lakes mentioned above, there is no easy access to this lake. The trek starts in Passo Tre Croci: it is about 5.3km long (one way) and it takes around 2 hours (one way).

We recommend using maps.me for this trek as its offline maps are extremely accurate.

The trek is not particularly difficult but we recommend wearing hiking shoes and bring some food and water with you.

Also, the trek itself is incredibly panoramic!

At the end of the trek, you will also find a mountain hut, located just 5 min away from the lake. This mountain shelter is open from June 20th to September 20th, and it is even possible to sleep there.

Check out their website for more info: Rifugio Vandelli

Sorapis Lake Dolomites Bucket List
Dolomites Bucket List Sorapis
Dolomites bucket list - view sorapis hike

The view on the hike to Lake Sorapis – Credits: @lorenzowanderlust

9) Cinque Torri

The mountainous complex of Cinque Torri offers an incredible amount of treks and astonishing views.

To hike Cinque Torri you have different options, all of them pretty similar when it comes to the difficulty of the trek, length and elevation gain. In this blog we will mention the 3 more popular ones:

The first – shortest – trek begins in Baita Bai de Dones

Dolomites Bucket List Cinque Torri

This is the route directly underneath the Cinque Torri chairlift, which starts in Baita Bai de Dones and ends in Rifugio Scoiattoli, a mountain hut just a few hundreds of meters away from le Cinque Torri.

Another trail is the one starting in Rifugio Col Gallina. It is longer than the previous one but offers incredible views.

The last trail would be the one that starts in the famous Passo Giau and ascend along the “via ferrata” Averau.

10) Falzarego Pass / Rifugio Lagazuoi

Passo Falzarego is one of those places that you must visit at least once. Either you choose to reach Rifugio Lagazuoi by gondola or by walk, the view it’s so worth it.

Falzarego Pass is a mountain pass situated at 2.105 meters above sea level, and it offers incredible views over the Dolomites.

Dolomites Bucket List Lagazuoi

Rifugio Lagazuoi is a mountain hut situated on top of Mount Lagazuoi, 2,835 meters above sea level, and it is well-known for its views.

In fact, Mount Lagazuoi offers a 360° view over the Dolomites.

Here is good news for those looking for some rest after the treks of the previous days: this mountain hut can be reached by a gondola most times of the year.

The gondola is open from late May to mid-October (summer season), and from late December to mid-April (winter season).

The one-way ticket costs €12,50, or €17,50 both ways (€13.50 and €18.50 in August).

Alternatively, you can hike all the way up from Passo Falzarego: the trek is about 3-km long (one-way) with an elevation gain of 600m.

Once at the top, the view speaks for itself!

Lagazuoi gondola

In the morning everything was covered in snow as a result of an overnight light off-season snowfall. By the afternoon all the snow disappeared.

Rifugio Lagazuoi - Dolomites Bucket List

Rifugio Lagazuoi, 2,835 m.a.s.l.


Dolomites Bucket List – Part 2

In the second part of our Dolomites bucket list, we will explore a different part of the region.

The first stop will be Val di Funes, with its green landscapes and the famous church, just before heading to two of the most popular highlights of the Dolomites: Seceda and Seiser Alm.

Then, we will be stopping in Passo Pordoi and Pozza di Fassa to end the trip visiting the beautiful Carezza Lake and Rolle Pass.

Tip: tap on “More options” to open this itinerary on google maps

PART 2 -SKIP AHEAD:

11) Val di Funes and GeislerAlm

A place that we couldn’t help but mention in this Dolomites bucket list is Val di Funes, a scenic valley on the edge the Dolomites, dominated by the beautiful Mount Furchetta and Sass Rigais.

One of Val di Funes best spots is undoubtedly the small town of Santa Maddalena Alta, which can be observed by a popular viewpoint.

Check its location in the following map:

Credits: @p.doublephoto

The hike to GeislerAlm

Another incredibly beautiful activity in Val di Funes is the trek to GeislerAlm.

The starting point would be Waldschenke, where you can also park your car, and the route to reach Gschnagenhardt-Alm is about 6km long.

Once again, we recommend using maps.me for any treks you do in the Dolomites.

The good thing about this trek is that it is not particularly challenging and it can be done at every time of the year.

If you happen to visit this area in winter, enjoy the way down on a sledge. You can rent one in GeislerAlm for just €5 and you can leave it at the end of the sledge track in Waldschenke.

We also recommend eating in GeislerAlm, the food was delicious and not very expensive.

GeislerAlm Dolomites Bucket List

Winter in GeislerAlm – Credits: @clo_bcrt

Autumn in GeislerAlm – Credits: @elisamoscardi

12) Church of Saint John in Ranui / Chiesa di San Giovanni in Ranui

This little church is becoming very famous lately thanks to social media and is now an iconic place for photographers.

The church is well-known for standing alone in front of the majestic Odle mountains, surrounded by countless pine trees. It is located near the beginning of the trek to GeislerAlm.

Remember that those mountains can only be seen on a clear day, and foggy/cloudy days aren’t rare here.

NOTE: walking through the field in front of the church is prohibited in order to preserve the delicate ecosystem of the mountain from mass tourism.

Credits: @elisamoscardi

13) Alpe di Siusi / Seiser Alm

The Dolomites’ most beautiful and biggest plateau, Seiser Alm – or Alpe di Siusi – is another must-visit place in this region. This is the largest high-altitude plateau in Europe, and has an altitude between 1,680 m.a.s.l. and 2,350 m.a.s.l.

There are several ways to reach Seiser Alm but our favourite is the one from Compatsch – or Compaccio.

Compatsch – or Compaccio – is a small town situated at the beginning of the plateau. It can be reached by car, bus or gondola.

The gondola leaves from the town of Siusi and it costs €11 one way or €16 both ways.

If you plan to reach Seiser Alm by car, keep in mind that the road leading towards Compatsch is closed to traffic from 9 am to 5 pm. This is to limit pollution and preserve the environment of the Dolomites.

NOTE: Those in possession of a reservation in one of the accommodations located on the plateau are not subjected to these limitations.

Once you reach Compatsch, follow the main road and explore the plateau on foot or rent an electric bicycle.

Credits: @chiaraescape

Another option to reach Seiser Alm is by gondola from Ortisei. The gondola costs €13.90 for a single ride and €19.90 for a round trip. The timetable varies during the year and the gondola is open only in winter and summer. Check out their website for more info.

TIP: if you are a photography enthusiast, sunset is better than sunrise in Seiser Alm.

Credits: @gonzalopasquier

14) Seceda

We’re finally here, in Seceda, one of Dolomites’ most famous landmark. Seceda is a beautiful mountain that sits at 2,519 m.a.s.l., near the town of Ortisei first.

NOTE: There is a cablecar service that brings you from Ortisei to Furnes and from Furnes – Seceda. Do not expect to be by yourself up there if you decide to trek when the cablecar is open.

In the summertime, the gondola opens from May 29th to October 18th, and from 8:30 am to 5 pm. A round trip costs €34 while the one-way ticket costs €25.

Alternatively, for those interested in hiking Seceda, the trek will take about 5 hours. The hike is relatively easy, but it can become more challenging if you choose to hike down instead of taking the cablecar.

NOTE: Seceda offers you a lateral view on the same mountains you can see from Val di Funes.

Credits: @gonzalopasquier

15) Pordoi Pass

Pordoi Pass (‎2,239 m.s.l.m.) is another incredible place to visit in the Dolomites. Very similarly to Falzarego Pass, also Pordoi Pass is dominated by its mountain, Sass Pordoi, which stands at 2950 m.a.s.l.

Sass Pordoi is a plateau-like rock summit and it is accessible by cable car from the Passo Pordoi ridge, which is open from May 15th to November 1st.

The round trip on the cable car costs €20, while a one-way ticket costs €12 for the way up and €9 for the way down.

Alternatively, you can decide to hike all the way up to Sass Pordoi, starting from its Pass. The trek is about 3km long with a total ascent of 706m.

The trail doesn’t require any particular hiking gear and it is not technically difficult, but it’s very steep.

Dolomites Bucket List - Pordoi Pass

The road to reach Pordoi Pass is also impressive. This mountain road ascends past a series of hairpin turns surrounded by pristine views.

Dolomites Bucket List - Pordoi Pass

Visit the German military memorial and cemetery in Pordoi Pass

Dolomites Bucket List - German military and cemetery

Opened on 19 September 1959, this military memorial and cemetery host the remains of soldiers fallen in both World Wars.

Shortly before WWII outbreak, 454 fallen Germans and 8,128 fallen Austro-Hungarians exhumed from various WWI cemeteries in the area were collected in the central crypt.

After WWII, 849 Germans killed in the Second World War were buried outside the crypt.

The memorial is in a unique environment as it is surrounded by the Tofane mountain group and the Col di Lana to the east, and Marmolada to the south.

16) Val di Fassa / Fassa Valley

With over 840 treks available, the Fassa Valley is that type of place where you don’t easily get bored.

Whether you are looking for some adventure, you’re fancying some local food or you’re just dreaming of chilling in a jacuzzi in front of the mountains, Val di Fassa is the place for you.

Please refer to Val di Fassa official website for every information you need about treks and routes

Dolomites Bucket List: Things to do in Val di Fassa:

QC Terme Dolomites

QC Terme Dolomiti

Spend a day in a Spa surrounded by the Dolomites. This place is beautiful all year round but it’s obviously more impressive in winter when everything else is covered in snow.

Malga Aloch Dolomites

Masc Aloch & Malga Aloch

If you are a foodie, we’d highly recommend you this place.

Masc Aloch is a farm with a restaurant (Malga Aloch) and the quality of its products is incredible! They are located in Pozza di Fassa and it’s probably the best place to eat there. Enjoy!

17) Val San Nicolò / Saint Nicholas valley

Val San Nicolò is a narrow valley that stretches from Pozza di Fassa to the Marmolada Group, and it’s the perfect place for those looking for relaxation.

This green valley is home of many pastures and here you can also buy local cheese directly from the producers.

The road to Val San Nicolò is closed to traffic but a shuttle bus service is available during summer (June 15th to September 22nd), with the first one leaving from Pozza di Fassa main square at 8.50 am.

Check out the full timetable at this link: fassa.com

Dolomites Bucket List Val San Nicolò

Lagusel Lake hike

A very beautiful hike in San Nicolò is the one to Lagusel Lake.

This small alpine lake can be reached from several locations, but the route we are showing here is the one from Sauch in Val Nicolò.

Alternatively, you can choose to hike Lagusel Lake from Val Monzoni. Find all the trek information at this link.

18) Carezza Lake / Karersee

No Dolomites bucket list would be complete without Carezza Lake.

Carezza Lake is located near the town of Carezza, in between Pozza di Fassa and Bolzano.

This lake became very popular on Instagram and it is well-known for its incredible reflection.

The best time of the year to visit Carezza Lake is at the beginning of the summer, as the lake is at its fullest.

Reaching the lake is very easy, you can either walk from the town of Carezza or park in the parking area next to it.

Carezza Lake is also easy to reach by bus.

Once at the lake, enjoy walking around it, take some photos and learn about the different types of pine trees of the Dolomites.

Carezza Lake, Lago di Carezza, Dolomite Bucket List

Credits: @gonzalopasquier

19) Rolle Pass

Passo Rolle – or Rolle Pass – adjoins the Primiero and Fiemme valleys, in the southern part of the Dolomites, near the town of San Martino di Castrozza.

Sitting at 1989 m.a.s.l., this is one of the Dolomites’ most spectacular mountain passes.

WINTER: Passo Rolle is considered to be one of the most popular ski destinations in the area. Providing access to over 120 individual pistes, consider visiting Passo Rolle if you love winter sports.

SUMMER: Located within the “Parco Naturale Paneveggio – Pale di San Martino”, Passo Rolle offers many hiking opportunities.

Val Venegia is also closeby: do not miss the chance to eat some local food at one of the malghe (Alpine huts), such as the ones of Venegia and Venegiota.

Passo Rolle Dolomites Bucket List

Credits: @elisa_fedrizzi

Passo Rolle, Dolomites

Credits: @chiaraescape

20) Val Venegia

More than 500 different plant species have been registered by researchers here, making this tiny valley in the Dolomites a veritable botanic garden.

Two spots not to be missed are Malga Venegia and Malga Venegiota.

Dolomites Bucket List, Val Venegia
Val Venegia, Dolomites

Credits: @coupleofcoordinates

21) Parco Naturale Paneveggio – Pale di San Martino

The majestic mountains of the Pala Group make up the largest mountain range in the Dolomites.

There are five mountain huts in the heart of this National Park: Rosetta, Velo della Madonna, Pradidali, Treviso and Volpi al Mulaz.
They can all be reached by trekking.

Rifugio Rosetta is also served by the “Ces – Col Verde – Rosetta” cablecar. The full roundtrip costs €25. Read more on sanmartino.com.

Paneveggio Nature Park is also famous for its deer reserve: these animals here are free to roam in the huge fields of the park.

No Dolomites Bucket List would be complete without including this place.

Parco Naturale Paneveggio, Dolomites

Credits: @elisa_fedrizzi

Altipiano delle Pale

A fifty square kilometres stone plateau of bare rock situated at 2700 m.a.s.l., the Altipiano delle Pale is the highlight of Panaveggio Nature Park and is one of the most incredible places in the Dolomites.


Dolomites Bucket List – Part 3

In this last part, we’ve included 6 more stunning places – out of our itinerary – you may want to visit:

22) Passo Gardena

Another day, another mountain pass!

Passo Gardena connects the Val Gardena valley with the Val Badia, a side valley of the Val Pusteria.

This pass sits at 2121 m.a.s.l. and since 1960 features many lift facilities and hiking paths.

Passo Gardena is one of the four mountain passes of the Sellaronda (a roundtrip on skis in winter and a four-passes cycle tour in summer).

No matter which Dolomites bucket list you want to follow, you must include some of these passes.

Dolomites, Passo Gardena

Credits: @elisa_fedrizzi

Forcella Cier

The best summer hike in Gardena Pass, from Rifugio Jimmy follow the trail and head up to Forcella Cier (2.469 m.a.s.l.).

You’ll be surrounded by Dolomite rock and the view from up there is incredible!

TIP: Try to make it up there for sunrise, it’s worth it!

23) Sas dla Crusc / Sasso Santa Croce

The Sas dla Crusc/Sasso Santa Croce soars vertically up into the sky, making it a dream spot for climbers from all over the world. However, non-climbers have also their reason to visit this place.

The mountain hut of Rifugio Santa Croce is located just underneath the rock wall and it is possible to reach it by both walking or cable car. From mid-June to the end of September the cable car is open from 8:30 am to 5:30 pm and it costs €20,40 both ways. More information about it at this link.

Prati dell’Armentara

A very beautiful sight near Sas dla Crusc is Prati Dell’Armentara, or Armentara meadows.

Dominated by Sas dla Crusc, Prati dell’Armentara is the best spot for a relaxing walk near Badia surrounded by unspoilt nature.

Not exactly the typical place you would find on every Dolomites bucket list, but we promise it’s insanely beautiful.

The Snow Cave

Protected from the sun by the mountain, snow accumulates here during the winter and never melts, not even in the summer, creating a unique “snow cave”.

Please note: the snow cave only forms with a good amount of snowfall in the wintertime.

Getting here takes about 45 minutes from Rifugio Santa Croce

24) Lago Nero, Madonna di Campiglio

This incredibly beautiful lake is located only 20km away from the popular ski resort of Madonna di Campiglio. It’s a place we could not forget to include in this Dolomites bucket list.

Please note, there are two different lakes named “Lago Nero” in the same area. This one is the lake near Rifugio Cornisello, a beautiful and rudimental mountain hut that can be reached by car.

Lago Nero is about 1km away from Rifugio Cornisello, so it’s very easy to reach. If you’d like to explore more the area, we recommend following the loop trek that leads to Rifugio Segantini and comes back to Rifugio Cornisello.

This trek would be about 10km long with a total ascent of 560m and it takes about 5 hours.

Nearby Rifugio Cornisello there are other 2 lakes that can be reached by car, called “Laghi di Cornisello”.

PHOTOGRAPHY TIP: Head here at sunset for this specific light condition and reflection.

Dolomites, Lago Nero

Credits: @chiaraescape

25) Lake Tovel

Lake Tovel is undoubtedly one of those must-visit places in the Dolomites.

The Lake is situated at 1178 m.a.s.l. in the Brenta Dolomites and it can be easily reached by car. During high-season, the road might be closed and a bus shuttle service may be available instead.

FUN FACT: Lake Tovel is worldwide famous as the “Red Lake” of the Dolomites. In fact, until 1964 an incredible and very rare phenomenon used to happen here every summer.

Due to the presence of a specific type of algae, the lake used to turn vivid red, creating a mesmerizing and unique show.

Credits: @chiaraescape

26) Passo Giau

One of the best sunrises you can see in the Dolomites: Passo Giau.

Consider hiking to Rifugio Averau in summer time for an amazing view. The Rifugio can also be reached by taking the Giau chair lift, and the hosts organize dinners with ascent and descent by snowmobile, on foot or on skis.

If you’re just looking for a good photo opportunity, hike up the small hill in front of the mountain for the best view over the pass.

This viewpoint is incredibly beautiful early in the morning. Get ready for an early alarm!

Another popular photography spot in Passo Giau is the winding road that leads up the Pass: the bird-eye view is impressive if you have a drone!

Passo Giau, Dolomites Bucket List

Credits: @tom.bridges

27) The SellaRonda, or Giro dei Quattro Passi

The so-called “giro del 4 Passi” is a route around the Dolomite Sella Group with exceptional views.

It connects Passo Sella, Passo Pordoi, Passo Campolongo and Passo Gardena.

It can be done by car, on foot, by bike and in winter with skis or snowboard.

Clockwise it is about 58 km long with an altitude gain of 450 metres while anti-clockwise it is 53 km with an altitude gain of 900 metres.


Planning a road trip in Italy?
Read also:
Saturnia Hot Springs: a backpacker guide
The Battle of the Oranges: inside Italy’s craziest festival | Ivrea’s Historical Carnival

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Are you looking for the 10 Best Instagram Spots in Jaipur, India? In this blog post, you will find a tour to discover the best incredible spots in Jaipur, including some tips on how to get there and when to go for the perfect shot!

Guest post by @travellovebirds_

Jaipur, the Pink City, is one of the most photogenic cities of Rajasthan. It is packed with Instagram worthy locations that will not only inspire your creativity but set the scene for the perfect photoshoot.

This colourful city was founded by Maharaja Jai Singh II, also known as Sawai Jai Singh in 1727. There is no doubt that Jaipur was a well-designed with its mix of Mughal architecture, religious Indu temples and pink colourful buildings.

10 Best Instagram Spots in Jaipur: Our itinerary – Map

1) Panna Meena ka Kund

The Stepwells are an example of the many types of storage and irrigation tanks that were developed in India.

Even early in the morning, there is a guard present who will let you take photos for 300 Indian Rupees ($4 USD). You get 10 minutes to take your shots. When other tourists are there you can’t walk down the stairs.

How to get there – The stepwell is a 10-minute drive from Amer Fort, easily reachable by Tuk Tuk.

When to go – Also, early morning is best to make sure you can go down the stairs and avoid people.

Instagram spots Jaipur - Panna Meena ka Kund

2) Jagat Shiromani Temple

Jagat Shiromani Temple is located in front of Stepwell and is one of the hidden gems in the heart of Jaipur.

This magnificent structure is dedicated to Lord Vishnu, Krishna, and Meera Bai, several Hindu Gods. It is one of the most beautiful Instagram spots in Jaipur.

How to get there – This temple is on the way of Amer Fort to Panna Meena Ka Kund (Stepwell). The best way to reach the temple is to travel by car.

When to go – The best time to visit Jagat Shiromani Ji Temple is early in the morning, before 10 AM. The prayer starts at 11 AM and finishes at noon, so consider that hour as the busiest time here.

We spent about 20 minutes there.

Instagram spots Jaipur - Jagat Shiromani Temple

3) Amber Fort

Jaipur is highly known for its museums, food, monuments, and shopping, but also its forts. Of course, the Amer Fort is one of those must-visit places.

Amber Fort – or Amer Fort – was built to be a defence around the city. The Indian and Mughal blend of architecture is immensely beautiful. In fact, it is said that even the attackers did not want to destroy it.

The entrance fee is 500 INR ($7 USD) per person, and the estimated time inside the fort is around 2-3 hours.

How to go there – Amber Fort is located in Amer, a town roughly 10km outside of Jaipur. It can take up to 30 minutes to get there depending on traffic, so we suggest taking a Tuk Tuk. With luck, your drop off spot will only be a ten-minute walk from the fort.

When to go – The Fort opens at 8 AM, so make sure to be there at least 1 hour before if you want an empty place for the perfect photoshoot!

TIP – Make sure to check out the secret queen balcony. It’s a beautiful room that was built to allow the queen to watch outside without being seen. You can ask the guide to bring you there and let you in.


Please do not support the elephant rides!

These elephants are forced to toil all day hauling tourists, often in dangerous heat.
The visitors were rightfully horrified, but this act of extreme violence is the norm in this area.
Remember: if there is no demand, there is no offer!


4) Royal Gaitor

The complex of Royal Gaitor is a charming little spot in Jaipur. Head here to ditch the crowds and enjoy some quiet and tranquillity. Gaitor Ki Chhatriyan (or Royal Gaitor) is surrounded by lush green hills and beautiful Indian architecture, perfect for meditation.

How to get there – It’s a 20-minute drive outside of the main city centre and only costs 30 INR to enter.

When to go – We went in the early morning but afternoons are also less crowded.

Instagram spots Jaipur - Royal Gaitor

5) City Palace

Jaipur City Palace is located in the centre of Old Jaipur. It was built between 1729 and 1732 and the Royal Family still lives there today! The best way to explore the palace is to hire a guide, especially if you want access to private rooms.

One of the most beautiful parts of the City Palace is the four gates that symbolize the four seasons. Summer, spring, fall and winter are all dedicated to different Gods and Goddesses. It’s the perfect place to spend a couple of hours and be immersed in architecture, art, and history.

How to get there – The City Palace is near the Palace of Wind (Hawa Mahal). The easiest way is to take a car to one of the palaces and then walk to the other.

When to go – The City Palace opens at 9.30 until 5 pm. We suggest going in the early morning before 10.30 am to avoid tourist groups.

TIP – You can have access Blue Room of the Royal Palace, Chandra Mahal, by paying an entry fee of 2500 rupees.

Instagram spots Jaipur - City Palace

6. Hawa Mahal

Hawa Mahal is known as the Palace of the Winds because of its 953 windows on its façade, allowing air to enter and refresh the interior. Similar to the secret room of the queen in Amer Fort, the window design was also for the royal ladies to observe the daily life and festivals outside without showing herself in public.

The best way to enjoy the view of the Hawa Mahal is from any of the numerous terraces on the opposite side of the road.

How to get there – It’s located in the middle of the pink city, so a Tuk Tuk ride is your best option. Unfortunately, the street in front of the palace is very busy. To save yourself the trouble, head up to one of the cafés across the street to get the picture-perfect view (Wind Cafe Cafe or Tattoo Cafe and Lounge).

When to go – We went there for lunch and the view was pretty amazing. It wasn’t crowded at all, but we suggest going before noon or in the late afternoon for the best light.

7. Patrika Gate

Located just a short distance away from Jaipur International Airport, you can easily fit it into your Jaipur itinerary. The colourful building of Patrika Gate is a masterpiece and a must-see spot in the Pink City.

You will be amazed by the beautiful and intricate details in every corner. We could have walked here for an entire afternoon admiring the stunning beauty of all the details.

How to get there – Patrika Gate is a complex of coloured doors which form the entrance of the Jawahar Circle Garden. Surprisingly, it’s known for being the largest circular park in all of Asia! Not to mention its only a 25-minute tuk-tuk drive from the centre of Jaipur.

When to go – It can be visited at any time of the day, as Patrika Gate is open 24 hours. Normally, it’s not very crowded in the early morning or during lunchtime.

Instagram spots Jaipur - Patrika Gate

8. Nahargarh Fort for that perfect sunset

Nahargarh Fort is one of those perfect Instagram sunset spots in Jaipur. In fact, this Fort has the best aerial views of the entire city.

Nahargarh means the ‘abode of tigers’, hence why there are panthers that prowl the hills around the Fort. We wouldn’t blame you if you wanted to get lost in this place, checking out every attraction and restaurant.

How to get there – Nahargarh Fort is pretty far and it’s on the top of Aravalli hill to Amer Fort of Jaipur. It takes about an hour from the city centre. We took a car with a driver, but you can also take a tuk-tuk.

When to go – Make sure you arrive one or even two hours before sunset. This spot is located at the sunset point and the photo was taken from the terrace of the cafe that is there.

Instagram spots Jaipur - Nahargarh Fort

9. The opposite side of Amber Fort

To get the views of Amber Fort from Jaigarh Fort, we climbed up all of the stairs in front of the fort. The views were worth it and there’s not even an entrance fee!

How to get there – Tuk Tuk + a steep climb up so make sure you are wearing comfortable shoes. We climbed up the stairs right across from Amer Fort.

When to go – You may want to watch the sunrise from up here, so make sure you arrive here on time.
We recommend getting there at least an hour before sunrise, so you have enough time to climb and set up the shot.

Instagram spots Jaipur - Amber Fort

10. Jal Mahal

Jal Mahal is built on a Sagar Lake and means Palace on the Water. This Palace is only five floors above water level and in ancient times was a hunting lodge for Maharajas.

How to get there – The most convenient way to visit Jal Mahal is on your way from Amber Fort to Jaipur. In fact, Jal Mahal is located just on the side of the main road. Years ago it was also accessible by boat, but nowadays, due to pollution, it can only be seen from the road.

When to go – To make sure to have the best picture, visit at sunrise or sunset and enjoy the colourful reflections on the water.

Instagram spots Jaipur - Jal Mahal

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About us

Hi, we are Greta & Nic, known as @travellovebirds_ on Instagram.

We are lovers of the Earth, living sustainably, passionate about photography and writing.

We try to inspire others to travel, have a positive impact on the planet and improve their life, mind, soul on www.cosmopolitanlovebirds.it where we publish every week a new blog post!

COVID-19 Travel Ban: how to get a refund or credit for cancellations due to the coronavirus outbreak

Coronavirus crisis: how to get a refund or travel credit

Did your plans change due to the coronavirus global epidemic and you’re trying to get a refund?

As the coronavirus COVID-19 crisis has worsened over the past days, many travellers have found themselves in inconvenient situations around the world. Some of them managed to make it home before the country’s lockdown, others decided to stay in a foreign country.

If you are one of them, you probably had to change your plans. Here is how you can get a refund and how the travel industry is reacting to the huge number of cancellation requests they are receiving.

Below you can find a list of the major accommodation booking websites and airlines’ refund policy, however, we must say that these policies are changing almost by the minute.

Overall most airlines are waiving their change and cancellation fees for flights in March and April, and hotels are loosening their cancellation policies due to the coronavirus outbreak.

SKIP AHEAD

Airbnb coronavirus refund policy, zen hideaway, Indonesia
Credits: Backpackers In The World – In frame: Candice Halliday

Accommodations – coronavirus refund policies

AIRBNB

Airbnb is one of the platforms that made getting a refund due to the coronavirus easy for everyone. They have the so-called “Airbnb’s Extenuating Circumstances policy”, under which they aim to help both travellers and hosts worldwide.

The policy was first valid only for mainland China, Italy, and South Korea, but it has been extended to the US on March 13 and to every country in the World on March 14.

Reservations made on or before March 14, 2020 for stays and Airbnb Experiences, with a check-in date between March 14, 2020 and April 14, 2020, are covered by the policy and may be cancelled before check-in.

Guests who cancel will receive a full refund, and hosts can cancel without charge or impact to their Superhost status. Airbnb will refund all service fees for covered cancellations.

Source: airbnb.com

Read more about the Airbnb’s Extenuating Circumstances policy or about its activation worldwide here.

Hostelworld

In case you need a refund due to the coronavirus, Hostelworld has shared its guideline on what to do if you can no longer travel due to the Covid-19 epidemic.

If your booking is a free cancellation, you can simply cancel it from your account.
If your booking is a standard one or non-refundable, they suggest you to reach out using their contact form.

You can read the full guide here.

Booking.com

On March 17 Booking.com made an announcement declaring Force Majeure/Forced Circumstances.

With this announce, Booking.com invited their partners to refund due to the coronavirus all prepaid reservations and waive cancellations fee.

We expect you to refund any prepayment and waive any cancellation costs (fees, expenses and/or other amounts) in situations where the guests/travellers requested cancellations as a result of the Forced Circumstances (FC).
Booking.com will waive the commission in these cases.

Source: booking.com

You can find the full list of the countries where FC applies and read the full article at this link:
Booking.com – Important information regarding the Coronavirus

Agoda

Luckily, also Asia’s most used booking portal is doing what they can to help travellers in this situation.

This event is “force majeure” and as such Agoda reserves the right to allow the customer to cancel without penalty, as stated in our Accommodation Property Participation Agreement (APPA). Agoda will waive ALL charges & commission for bookings cancelled due to force majeure.

Source: agodapropertypartnerhelp.zendesk.com

As part of the Priceline/Booking.com family, Agoda is joining the other major booking portals to help people not to lose their money. You can read more about it at this link: Coronavirus: Agoda’s Approach

Airlines – coronavirus refund policies

We have grouped together the major airlines and their refund/cancellation policies due to the impact of the novel coronavirus Covid-19. This list is in continuously updated.

Generally, all airlines ask not to use their phone numbers unless you have a flight scheduled in the next 48/72 hours. You can change your flight or get a travel credit without paying any fees with most of the airlines.

AsiaEuropeAmericaOceania
AirAsia
Ana
Cathay Pacific
Cebu Pacific
Scoot
Singapore Airlines
Thai Airways
Air France
British Airways
Easy Jet
Iberia
Ryanair
American Airlines
Delta
– Qantas
Virgin Australia
Tiger Air

Asia

AirAsia

AirAsia is offering a refund to all bookings affected by the Covid-19 epidemic. Depending on which AirAsia airline you have booked your flight with, there will be different dates and conditions.

Overall, you can apply for a refund if your flight is under one of the following options:

  1. Flight to/from Mainland China, Hong Kong SAR & Macau SAR
  2. Covid-19 Voluntary Cancellation
  3. Nationals restricted to travel
  4. Japan Domestic Voluntary Cancellation
  5. India AirAsia Domestic Flights (I5)
  6. AirAsia Cancelled my Flight

Please note that it will take approximately 30 days for the amount to be reflected in your bank account due to the overwhelming number of refund requests.

Read more here: AirAsia Covid-19 Guide

Ana

Japan airline “All Nippon Airways” is also offering refund free of charge. All you have to do is to visit the ANA website, click Cancel on the View Reservations page to request a refund. The cancellation fee will not apply.

Read more on their website: ANA – Special Handling of International Air Tickets due to Pneumonia Caused by Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Cathay Pacific

Cathay Pacific says you can refund your ticket free of charge for the countries/regions that have imposed major travel restrictions.

You can check the full list of countries and the dates for which the refunds are available here: Cathay Pacific – Coronavirus (COVID-19): Refunds and ticket changes

Cebu Pacific

Following the Philippine government directive to contain the spread of the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19), Cebu Pacific has announced that ALL CEBU PACIFIC AND CEBGO FLIGHTS WILL BE CANCELLED from Thursday, March 19 until Tuesday, April 14. Ticketing offices will also be closed.

The airline’s Dubai-Manila route will be suspended from Wednesday, March 18.

“Cebu Pacific is ensuring the safety of their passengers and operations teams, in support of stricter quarantine measures, land travel restrictions and regulations in place”

Cebu Pacific said in an official statement.

Travellers can check their flight status here.

All flights between March 15 and April 14 can be rescheduled without any change fees, until June 30. Cebu Pacific is also offering a full refund.

Read more here: Cebu Pacific – Cancelled flights from March 15 to April 14, 2020

Scoot

Scoot is offering travellers to Re-route, Re-book or Refund (via Scoot travel voucher) their flights and it has waived its change fee.

For bookings made on or before 15 March 2020, for travel up to 31 May 2020, Scoot will be offering voucher refunds for the full value of bookings. Scoot will be launching a self-service portal within the next few days, for all eligible customers to obtain voucher refunds.

Source: scoot.com

Read more from Scoot here: Scoot – Travel restrictions due to COVID-19 outbreak

Singapore Airlines

Passengers who have purchased a ticket with Singapore Airlines are asked to convert their ticket to open-dated.

To do so, you can submit your request through their online form.

For travel within 72 hours, customers should contact their local Singapore Airlines Office. Otherwise please submit your request through this form. We will respond to you within seven business days.

Source: singaporeair.com

You can find more information here: Singapore Airlines – Covid-19: Travel Advisories and Waiver Policies

Thai Airways

Thai national airline, which has just cancelled 32 flights to 12 countries, has also waived cancellation and change fees.

Read more on how to get a refund due to the coronavirus crisis on their website: Thai Airways – Ticketing Procedures for COVID-19

Europe

Air France

France national airline is reducing its travel capacity by 90% over the next days, and it’s planned to last 2 months.

Air France offers you the possibility to postpone your trip or cancel it and obtain a travel voucher as a refund due to the coronavirus outbreak.

If you want to postpone your flight (must be a flight departing before 31 May 2020), you have until 30 September 2020 to postpone your departure date without change fees.

If you want to cancel your trip and get a travel voucher you can complete their online refund form and this non-refundable voucher is valid for 1 year on all Air France, KLM, Delta Air Lines and Virgin Atlantic flights.

Find all the information at this link: Air France: CORONAVIRUS COVID-19: ADJUSTING YOUR TRAVEL PLANS

British Airways

British Airways’ “book with confidence” policy allows travellers to change the date and/or destinations of their flights free of charge.

To allow greater flexibility you can change the destination, date of travel, or both for free, on all new bookings made from Tuesday 3 March to Sunday 31 May 2020, as well as any existing bookings that depart up to Sunday 31 May 2020. Find out more.

Source: britishairways.com

You can read more here: British Airways – Coronavirus / Covid-19

EasyJet

Changes on EasyJet flights are free of charge as they reported on their website. They recommend making changes on their app or on the Manage Booking section instead of calling their numbers.

We are working hard to try and assist customers as quickly as possible and would like to apologise for any inconvenience however we would recommend customers wishing to make free changes to their bookings do so on the website or app via the Manage Bookings section.

Source: easyjet.com

Read more here: EasyJet – Coronavirus – COVID 19

Iberia

Due to the coronavirus outbreak, Iberia is offering the possibility to request a refund voucher for the amount of the ticket. You can request the voucher by completing a form on their website:

Read more here: Iberia – Flight updates due to the evolution of Coronavirus

Ryanair

Ryanair flights scheduled between March 13 and March 31 can be changed without any additional fee.

“Where we’ve been required to cancel flights, customers will be able to transfer to an alternative Ryanair flight free of charge or receive a refund.”

Source: ryanair.com

Ryanair also says:

  • You can now move your flight free of charge to a date in the future.
  • The flight change fee will be waived in full.
  • You will only have to pay the difference in fare.
  • This flight date change will only apply to the route you have already booked.
  • Please do not try to change to another date in April.

You can read the full article here: Ryanair – Flight change fee removed for April flights.

America

American Airlines

As stated on their websites, American Airlines has waived change fees for certain dates of travel due to the coronavirus outbreak. Like many other airlines, they are asking people not to call their numbers unless your flight in the next 72 hours.

Don’t worry, the value of your ticket is safe. If you’re not traveling soon, there’s no need to call us right now. You can cancel online and call when you’re ready to rebook. To provide you with more flexibility and control we have waived change fees for certain dates of travel.

Source: aa.com

Read more here: American Airlines – Coronavirus travel updates

Delta

Like most of the other airlines, also Delta offers free changes for all bookings affected by the Covid-19.

Delta is broadly waiving change fees for travel impacted by the coronavirus. That means all travel departing in March or April 2020, as well as all tickets purchased in March 2020. For flights May 1, 2020, or later, please continue to check back as the situation evolves.

Source: delta.com

You can check the latest updates at this link: Delta – Coronavirus Travel Updates

Oceania

Qantas

Qantas, who is reducing its operations by 90%, offers free changes to your booking or flight credit to be redeemed by 30 September 2020.

Customers with existing bookings on any international or Australian domestic flight until 31 May 2020, who no longer wish to travel, can cancel their flight and retain the value of their booking as a flight credit.

Source: qantas.com

Read more here: Qantas – Coronavirus travel update

Virgin Australia & Tiger Air (owned by Virgin)

In response to the Australian government-imposed travel restrictions, Virgin Australia has just announced it will suspend all international flights for two and a half months from March 30 to June 14.

Virgin Australia is also set to reduce domestic capacity across Virgin and Tigerair by 50 per cent.

Both airlines are waiving change fees for domestic and international bookings for travel up until June 30, 2020.

To provide you with flexibility for your travel plans we’re waiving change fees* on domestic and international bookings for travel between 15 March 2020 and 30 June 2020.

Source: virginaustralia.com

Keep in mind that you can make a maximum of one change per domestic booking.

Read more about it here: Virgin Australia – No change fees on domestic and international bookings

Travel Insurance – coronavirus refund policies

If you have got travel insurance you can also try to get a refund for your cancelled reservations through them. Please note that some insurance companies have changed their policies not to cover these expenses to the extraordinary nature of the coronavirus.

However, if you have one, do not hesitate to contact them.

Visit Jordan in 5 days: A Complete Guide + Jordan 5-day Itinerary

Visit Jordan in 5 days

Here’s a tour to discover Jordan’s main highlights. Do you only have 5 days available to visit Jordan? Don’t worry, this is the right guide for you! Our suggested trip starts from Amman and ends in Aqaba, but keep in mind that you can also reverse the itinerary sequence as you prefer.

Guest post by: @swissvoyager

DISCLAIMER: This blog post contains affiliate links, meaning we may earn a small commission if you book through our links at no extra cost to you. Thanks for supporting our channel, enjoy your free guide!

SKIP AHEAD

Is Jordan safe?

This is one of the most asked questions we got before and after our stay in Jordan. We can assure you, during the whole time we spent in the country, we met a lot of kind and helpful people.

We have experienced plenty of adventures during our journey, but every time we had difficulties, there were always locals ready to get us out of trouble. There were never any signs of violence or events that could be potentially dangerous for travellers.

Most of the Jordans we met told us the same thing: tourists who come to our country, in addition to seeing the unique wonders you can find here, come because it is safe, period. And they were completely right.

Visa information

Unless you are on the official list of the countries that don’t require one, you will need to apply for a visa. There are countries that have to apply for a Visa before arriving and some others that can obtain it directly at the airport.
We personally were travelling from Israel so we got informed before and discovered a way to save a lot of money: the Jordan Pass. 

If you stay in Jordan at least 4 days (3 nights), by buying this amazing Pass you will waive the touristic visa fees.

Holding it guarantees you free admission to a large number of historical sites, (Petra, Jerash and the famous Wadi Rum desert are included – check the whole list at this link and the fast-pass to every one of them. 
PRO TIP: buy the Jordan Pass in advance, you will receive it via e-mail and you will be able to print it at home!

There are three different passes: 

1 day in Petra70 JOD ( $99 USD )
2 days in Petra 75 JOD ( $106 USD )
3 days in Petra 80 JOD ( $113 USD )

Example of how your Jordan Pass will look like:

Best time to visit

The best seasons to travel to this spectacular country are spring (March to May) and autumn (September to October). In particular, its fauna, along with flora, are the best during those times. In addition to that, these are the best time to discover all of the natural reserves that the famous valley has to offer.

Visit Jordan in 5 days: Our itinerary

Day one: Jerash, Amman and Mount Nebo

MORNING: Welcome to Jordan! As soon as you land at Queen Alia Airport, be ready to collect your rental car. In order to avoid exorbitant rates, we highly suggest you book your vehicle in advance. Be aware that in specific cases, an international drivers license could be required (to learn more about that, please read the rental terms/conditions).

In the early morning, get ready to reach Jerash. This incredible sight is located 48 km away from Amman, which means you will have to drive for about an hour. Here you will find the world’s largest and best-preserved Roman architecture sites aside from Italy.

AFTERNOON: In the afternoon, get back to Jordan’s capital. A definite must-see place is the famous Citadel, which along with being an important historical site, guarantees an amazing view over the entire city (tip: keep in mind to have available at least 1-2 hours to stroll around).

In addition, if you have spare time, there are other local sights such as the Rainbow Street and the impressive Roman Theater.

You feeling hungry and looking for a quick and local snack? Then go for Falafel, a mouthwatering chickpea-based favourite.

These little vegan balls are mostly served in a different kind of bread and you can add plenty of other ingredients. From lettuce to tomatoes, pickles to onions, hot to mild sauces, you can make yourself a delicious and budget-friendly option you won’t forget.

After the foodie excursions, drive toward Mount Nebo, where you will witness landscapes that only this part of Jordan offers; the WOW and “speechless mode” is guaranteed.

Mount Nebo, Jordan, Visit Jordan in 5 days

Mount Nebo

PRO TIP:

Unfortunately, we experienced that Mount Nebo isn’t included in the Jordan Pass, but hey, no worries, there are infinite alternatives. You just need to pass the spot where everybody else stops (and pays; they will be on the right side of the road) and after a couple of curves, on your left side, you will find a large panoramic viewpoint (exact coordinates: 31°46’08.6″N 35°43’24.1″E).

Park there, be sure that your handbrake is ON, and enjoy! Just an FYI, because it is a bit exposed, it could be a little windy. If you’re wearing a skirt this condition will allow you to shoot pretty original shots.

After a rather short rest, your last destination for the day is gonna be the Dead Sea. If you plan to visit Jordan in only 5 days you will probably be a little exhausted at the end of the day. Here, however, your hotel crew will wait for your arrival; be ready to see one of the world’s most incredible places.

Our tip, just before sunset, is to head to the beach with an interesting newspaper and experience the weirdest yet most exciting bath of your life. Doesn’t matter your position or weight, you will keep floating all the time.

Day two: the Dead Sea and Petra by Night

We guess that if you’re reading this diary, you are also probably looking for information related to how to find the famous, massive salt formations that are everywhere on the internet. Not only can we assure you that they exist, but also will show how to find them:

If you want to explore other similar places without sticking to our location, you can search for the desired area in google maps/satellite option and zoom until you see a rather white coast as in this example.

Good luck!

IMPORTANT: be careful because almost all of the salt formations you have seen online are located in uncontrolled areas. This means that they aren’t part of any resorts/hotels. Keep in mind that the water of the Dead Sea is extremely salty and we strongly recommend bringing some fresh water with you. It’s very important to wash after the bath. Otherwise, your skin will get very dry and dehydrated (which could lead to unpleasant irritations). Other precautions to follow are swimming at your own risk, no pushing, no running, no jumping and no diving.

After the adrenaline-packed salt formations exploration, in the early afternoon drive to Wadi Musa (it will take around 2,5 hours), home of Petra’s city. Suddenly, leave the luggage at your stay/hotel and prepare yourself for the magic of the Petra by Night show.

Day three and four (morning): Petra

Even though you only have 5 days to visit Jordan, Petra deserves at least one full day. However, even with such a tight timetable, we suggest you consider another half day here. You really need it in order to discover the site and enjoy its surreal atmosphere without rushing too much.

To avoid the massive crowd you would encounter during regular business times, wake up early in the morning and be ready to enter the archaeological site at 6 AM. Once sure to be in pole position at the entrance, when the “light turns green” (gate opening), be ready to run.

This will allow you to be all alone in front of one of the 7 world wonders. In our modest opinion, definitely worth the extra workout.

The Treasury, Visit Petra in 5 days
The Treasury

TRAIL TIPS

Equipment: be sure to bring with you a proper walk/hiking shoes, a hat, sunglasses, sunscreen and a good reserve of water. Keep in mind that depending on the season, temperatures could be different and pretty low in the morning/evening.

For your full day, we suggest you go for the main trail (red marked path). It starts from the entry gate and it will lead you to the treasury and last stop will be the Monastery. The roundtrip walking distance is around 8KM, which means that you will need about 3,5 to 4 hours.

How to visit Jordan in 5 days, Petra Siq
Petra Siq

Take it easy, enjoy every corner this UNESCO world heritage site has to offer.

Discover Petra

On your way to the Monastery, you will pass the famous Siq, the Street of Facades, the Theatre, the Nymphaeum and the Colonnaded Street. On your way back, if you’re looking for a scenic path, you can also choose to extend your route and, once arrived at Qasr al-Bint, take the Wadi Al Farasa way (thin orange marked path), which will take you between the Theatre and the Treasury.

Petra Map, visit Jordan in 5 days

The remaining half-day is intended to be spent for discovering the best spots around the Treasury. There are plenty of alternatives, from short to the longest ones.

The Monastery, Petra, visit Jordan in 5 days
The Monastery

The closest and most characteristic viewpoint is without any doubt the one that overlooks from the right side the famous site.

Once in front of the magnificent Jewel, you just have to turn right; you will see a stone staircase going up (about 5 minutes) and when at the destination, you’ll see locals selling tea.
In exchange for it, you can take a stunning pic sitting on a typical carpet.

The Treasury, Petra, Jordan

If you have some energy left, one of the trails that will take you literally above the Treasury is the Al-Madras Trail (blue marked path). It’s a 1,5 km roundtrip and its duration is approximately 1,5 hours.

Day four – afternoon: Wadi Rum

In the afternoon of day 4, pack all of your belongings, it’s time to reach the Wadi Rum desert (consider a 1,45 hours drive to arrive at the Wadi Rum Village, where you will park your car and will be picked up from your tour organizer/hotel staff).

You can choose from a wide range of accommodations, depending on your needs.

Where to stay in Wadi Rum

Luxury:

Wadi Rum UFO Luxotel

One of the most luxury resorts in the Wadi Rum Desert. Spend a night under the stars without saying no to all the comforts.
Check it out.

Wadi Rum Bubble Luxotel, Jordan in 5 days

Wadi Rum Bubble Luxotel

Another resort from Luxotel. Have you ever slept in a bubble under thousands of stars? Stay here for a lifetime experience!
Check it out.

Sharah Luxury Camp

This resort offers a great location and it has some of the best reviews on Booking among luxury resorts in Wadi Rum.
Check it out.

Budget:

Hasan Zawaideh Camp

Set among the red dunes of Wadi Rum, Hasan Zawaideh Camp offers private and shared Bedouin-style tents under $100 USD.
Check it out.

Jamal Rum Desert

Set in Wadi Rum in the Aqaba Governorate region, Jamal Rum Desert offers accommodation with free WiFi and buffet breakfast from $43 USD.
Check it out.

Arabian Nights

Arabian Nights is a traditional Bedouin camp run by local Bedouin families who have inhabited the area for over 300 years.
Check it out.

As you can see there are a few luxury options, as the well known Wadi Rum UFO Luxotel, or much budget-oriented alternatives (as the one we booked).

In fact, there is a crazy number of cheap yet typical Bedouin camps to go for.

Considering that if you visit Jordan in 5 days you will only have one night in Wadi Rum, be sure to check in at least with 30 minutes to 1 hour in advance before the sun goes down.

This will allow you to find the perfect spot from where taking a perfect pic of it.

Arabian Nights, Visit Jordan in 5 days
Arabian Nights

What to expect from a typical Bedouin experience? Extremely welcoming locals, delicious food (wide range of vegetables and vegan alternatives, but also meat specialities), hot day and freezing night, lack of water availability and least but not less important, the chance to unplug your connection with the outside world (internet, smartphone).

Day five: Wadi Rum desert

The last of your 5 days to visit Jordan. Take the day to explore the Wadi Rum desert.

You can book a 4WD tour (as we did) or bring a backpack with lots of water, good sunscreen cream and walk around by yourselves.

Wadi Rum 4WD, Visit Petra in 5 days
Wadi Rum Desert 4WD tour

IMPORTANT: get around on your own, but only if you have GPS/maps available.

Depending on your itinerary time-table will be then the time to pick your car and bring it back to Aqaba Airport. 


About us

Hi, we are Luke and Martina, known as @swissvoyagers on Instagram. We are two nature lovers that have a severe travel addiction. Our mission is to literally bring our audience with us during our trips around the globe. We love to share our personal experiences and give plenty of tips regarding the destinations we explore. Referring to this, in October 2019 we launched our own website www.swissvoyagers.com where we publish every week a new travel article!


Would you like to write a blog post for backpackersintheworld.com?
Send us an email at backpackersintheworld@gmail.com or send us a DM on Instagram.

Machu Picchu from Cusco: how to visit Machu Picchu on a budget

Guest post by: @roney8star

The ultimate guide to going to Machu Picchu from Cusco

Cusco is traveler mecca that attracts visitors from many countries who come to see the world’s most mysterious wonder – Machu Picchu.
There are few steps you need to undertake while planning your journey to the famous Inca ruins and the information given on many websites and travel blogs is sometimes outdated and confusing. Hope this article will dot the i’s and cross the t’s!

Don’t worry, there is no lack of travel agencies offering their services to fellow travellers and the range of tours provided in Cusco can fit both backpackers’ and luxury travellers’ pockets.

SKIP AHEAD

How to get there

There are several options to reach Machu Picchu from Cusco.

By hiking:

Salkantay trek or Inca trail. Considered one of the most beautiful trekking routes in the world and the most popular trekking itineraries in Peru, they usually take 4 days/ 3 nights to accomplish. The price starts from 450 US$ which includes the entrance fee to Machu Picchu Archaeological site and train tickets on the way back. It is a costly but no doubt beautiful and unforgettable experience.

By train:

Another option is to take a picturesque train ride. You can easily check the availability and prices on perurail.com and incarail.com. PeruRail is more budget-friendly with prices starting as low as 39 US$ for a one-way trip. IncaRail offers several types of trains (the voyager, the 360”, first-class and even private carriages) so the prices vary from 57 US$ in the voyager class and 77 US$ in the 360” carriages. The trains depart from Ollantaytambo station a few times a day from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m.

If you travel on a lower budget and can’t afford paying for a roundtrip train tickets but dream about seeing the ancient ruins, then this article is for you! Here I will tell about the cheapest option for visiting Machu Picchu and share some useful tips.

Going to Machu Picchu without a tour

Visiting Machu Picchu on your own will consume some of your time for booking the tickets and planning the trip but it’s so easy and will save a lot of money.

READ ALSO: 10 Safety Travel Tips for visiting South America

Step 1: Book a ticket to Machu Picchu

You can do it in the office in Cusco’s centre or online on the official website: https://www.machupicchu.gob.pe/inicio. The office is located on Calle Garcilaso, 225. Type “Machu Picchu Tickets” on Google maps and you’ll find it, or tap on the map below:

Bring your passport or a copy in order to make a reservation.

Please note that the number of visitors is limited. You can see how many spots left on your desired dates online by the link I shared above. But in general, there is always availability, no need to book this ticket very early in advance.

For a fuller Machu Picchu experience, you can book the ticket with additional mountains: Wayna Picchu (Huayna Picchu) or Machu Picchu that allow you different views and outlooks of the complex. Please note that tickets to Waynapicchu are getting sold out pretty fast so you’ll need to book it in advance. 

Actual prices to visit Machu Picchu Archaeological site as of 2020

The full price for the basic ticket is 152 PEN ($45 USD) or 77 PEN ($22 USD) for students; it includes the viewpoint + ruins.
Basic ticket + Waynapicchu mountain is 200 PEN ($59 USD – full price) or 125 PEN ($37 USD) for students.
Basic ticket + Machu Picchu mountain is 200 PEN ($59 USD – full price) or 125 PEN ($37 USD) for students.

Machu Picchu Sun Gate View

– View from Sun Gate –

Step 2: Booking a minivan ticket

You can reserve a seat at almost any agency, the price is between 50-80 PEN for a roundtrip journey. I made my reservation just across the street from the Machu Picchu ticket center, the price was 60 PEN. Some agencies also include lunch in the price, it’s not necessary because you can have a meal in a restaurant without reservation in advance. 

By the way, they let you reserve your return ticket either on the next day, or the day after so you can opt to stay 1 or 2 nights in Aguas Calientes. You will get a bracelet with your agency’s name and phone numbers on it which serves as a ticket.
There is an option to experience both – the minivan and the train ride so you will get the most out of Machu Picchu adventure on a budget!

Step 3: Arriving in Aguas Calientes

Aguas Calientes is a small town that was built with a purpose to serve as a base for all travelers visiting Machu Picchu. It is your final destination before entering the archaeological complex. But first you will have your 6 hours journey from Cusco to Hidroelectrica, arriving around 2-3 pm. As I’ve mentioned before, there is a restaurant and a toilet at the station. There are no more roads towards Aguas Calientes and a new adventure begins here: you will have a 2-3 hours walk in a jungle along the river. It’s not hard at all and you will basically follow the railway so the path is flat and it’s impossible to get lost. You will also pass several local shops, restaurants and WC’s on the way.

Where to stay in Aguas Calientes

I recommend booking your accommodation in Aguas Calientes few days in advance because budget hostels are getting full quickly. Since it’s a very touristy town, there are plenty of hostels and hotels for different budgets. The cheapest ones start from 6 US$ for a bed in a shared room, without breakfast.

Here are some recommendations for individual budget travelers:

  • H. Falcon hostel, 7 US$/night, no breakfast
  • Ecopackers Machupicchu  Hostel, 9 US$/night with breakfast
  • Supertramp Hostel Machupicchu, 10 US$/night with breakfast.
  • Private double rooms start from 18 US$ and can reach 500 US$/ night in 5-star hotels.

Where to eat in Aguas Calientes

Finding food in Aguas Calientes is as easy as in Cusco – you will see plenty of different options – Peruvian, Mexican, American cuisines, fast-food, bars, etc.

Aguas Calientes Machu Picchu

– Aguas Calientes –

Step 4: Hike to Machu Picchu early in the morning

There are 2 ways to reach the entrance – by hiking or by bus. The hike is not that long and wasn’t difficult for me at all, it takes from 40 minutes up to 1,5 hours. If you decide to go by bus, the station is right next to the centre and a ticket costs 12 US$ one-way. It will take about 15 minutes to reach the entrance by bus.
Once you’ve entered the complex, you have to follow a specific route and there are many guards controlling visitors. For example, if you’ve left the viewpoint and entered the area with ruins, you are not allowed to come back to the viewpoint anymore. 

The area is huge and there is so much to see there! If you have a basic ticket, don’t miss the Sun Gate and the Inca Bridge (included in the price), take plenty of pictures at the viewpoints and head to the ancient city of Inca’s! You can spend a couple of hours wandering around the ruins.
Also bear in mind that hikes to Waynapicchu or Machu Picchu mountains are quite difficult and time-consuming, so if you want to visit both the viewpoints and the ruins, you have to be fast ☺ 

Plan your time well, – the minivan to Cusco will depart at 3 pm so if you don’t want to stay in Aguas Calientes overnight, you’ll have to leave the complex at 12 pm in order to catch your bus in Hidroelectrica by 3pm.
I highly recommend staying 2 nights in Aguas Calientes to be able to enjoy and explore the whole complex of Machu Picchu without rushing and come back to Cusco the next day.

Visiting hours are from 6 am to 5 pm.

Step 5: Going back to Cusco

Same as you did in the morning, come back to Aguas Calientes either by bus or hiking down. From there it will be a reverse way: walk back to Hidroelectrica (2,5 -3 hours) where your minivan leaves to Cusco at 3pm. You will arrive there around 9 pm.

Machu Picchu from Cusco

How much does it cost? Costs breakdown

There are many different options for going to Machu Picchu and the total amount will depend on your preference. But since the aim of this article was to encourage you to organize a trip by yourself, here we will calculate the total cost of the budget option and compare it with the price of a tour.

2-days guided tour:

The average price of 2-days tour to Machu Picchu from Cusco is 115 US$. It includes the entrance ticket, transfers, 1 night in a hostel, lunch and a guide. Not included: bus Aguas Calientes – Machu Picchu and a dinner.

The big disadvantage of the guided tour is a duration of the tour: you’ll enter the complex at 7 am while it’s still dark and foggy and leave at 12 am, the total stay inside is 4-5 hours which is short and you will have to depend on the group and your guide. 

Going to Machu Picchu on your own:

Basic ticket to Machu Picchu $45 USD
The roundtrip transfer by minivan $17 USD
2 nights in a hostel, breakfast included $20 USD
Food (1 lunch, 1 dinner): approx $13 USD

Total cost: 95 US$.
Not included: a guide, bus Aguas Calientes – Machu Picchu.

So, according to this easy calculation, you can easily do 3-days tour on your own for the price almost equal to 2-days trip with a guide which allows you to stay inside the complex longer and enjoy it to the maximum. 

More tips

  1. You can’t enter the complex before the time mentioned on your ticket. But it’s okay to be late ☺
  2. There is no WC inside the complex, the only restroom is before the entrance.
  3. You will have to leave your big backpack at the desk at the entrance.
  4. There are plenty of guides in front of the entrance offering their services.
  5. Don’t forget to get a Machu Picchu stamp in your passport when you leave the complex.
  6. I’ve heard that food is not allowed inside the site but nobody checked us at the entrance.
Machu Picchu

What to pack

  • The way to Hidroelectrica is pretty long so don’t forget to take enough water and snacks for your trip;
  • Some parts of the road are curvy and if you get motion sickness easily, it’s essential to bring pills;
  • Aguas Calientes and Machu Picchu are located lower than Cusco so the weather is usually hot and humid there. It might rain as well so a raincoat will save your mood there 😉
  • The sun is strong so definitely don’t forget to pack a hat and sunblock to protect you from the heat;
  • Mosquito repellent;
  • Your camera and charging cable because it would be devastating not to be able to capture these beautiful views!

Machu Picchu is one of the highlights of South America and surely will be the highlight of your trip. Enjoy the panorama, learn about the history, admire the nature around, respect the heritage and leave no trash. 

Sun Gate viewpoint

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Mindful Travelling: Travel Tips for Backpacking Southeast Asia

There are so many things to do whilst travelling in South East Asia. Thanks to Instagram many places have become more and more popular but some aren’t always necessarily the right choice. Here is a guide with the best travel tips to Southeast Asia to help you see a backpackers’ top destination, mindfully.

Post wrote in collaboration with Hannah from @thatwanderlustboho.


Travel Tips for Backpacking Southeast Asia


1) Dress and behave appropriately

When travelling through Southeast Asian countries you will most likely end up visiting many temples. Please remember that these temples – also the ancient ones – are religious complexes for the locals and you should be dressed & behave accordingly, also when is not strictly specified.

Dress Appropriately, Travel Tips for Southeast Asia

Photo by: @thatwanderlustboho

How to dress respectfully?

It may be required to wear clothes that cover the shoulders and fall below the knees, and please respect these rules, even though it may be very hot and uncomfortable at times. If you don’t have appropriate clothes on, carry a scarf to cover your shoulders. It will come in handy. Also, don’t embrace each other in religious sites, keep it PG.

Thai Temple, Travel Tips for Southeast Asia

Photo by: @thatwanderlustboho

Asides from religious landmarks you can wear whatever you are comfortable in, in most places in S.E Asia. However, showing any skin in a small minority of places can acquire the odd ‘look’ from both males and females. Some people are not used to seeing bare arms, legs or chests. This may be something to keep in mind while travelling. Always respect the culture and remember you are a guest in their home.

DON’T

  • Wear shorts or vests to a religious sight
  • Take selfies with your back to Buddhas
  • Wear shoes inside a temple

DO

  • Cover shoulders and below the knees when visiting religious sites
  • Consider getting a scarf to cover-up

2) Show respect when visiting traditional villages

Southeast Asia is filled with traditional villages and rural areas where you can see how locals really live. From the ‘Abatan River Community’ in the Philippines to Thailand’s ‘Ban Na Ton Chan’, from ‘Kyaing Tong’ in Myanmar to the ‘Brunei fishing village of Kampong Sungai Matan’ in Malaysia, chances to visit them are countless.

Some of these villages, however, are more controversial than others. I.e., have you ever heard of Huai Sua Tao village?

It is better known as “Long Neck Women village“. I’m sure you know now.

Traditional Village, Travel Tips for Southeast Asia

Photo by: @nomadiclio

Huai Sua Tao in Northern Thailand is home to about a dozen long neck women, known for wearing coiled brass rings to elongate their necks. To put things into perspective, you should know that these women are not actually from Thailand, but refugees from Myanmar who moved to Northern Thailand to escape war and poverty.

As our friend Lio pointed out in his post, places like this may be seen by many as “Human Zoos”, but at the same time these women want tourists to keep coming as it’s their main source of revenue and they would have no other job opportunities – nor have land granted from the Thai government – otherwise. If you decide to visit, please, treat them with respect, ask permission to take photos and treat them as human beings.

DON’T:

  • Invade their privacy
  • Take photos without permission

DO:

  • Treat these people with respect
  • Ask them before you take a photo
  • Spend some actual time with these people

Photos by: @nomadiclio

3) Know how to interact with children

Whilst exploring the streets and attractions you may come across children begging or asking to take selfies with you for a small price. People connect more with children than adults and so feel obligated to help the children by giving them money. Their families are also aware of this hence why it is such a problem.

Travel Tips for Southeast Asia, children

These children are put to work from a very young age, sometimes not long after they learn to walk. This means they are missing out on an education and forced to deal with experiences no child should have to endure. Children begging are at risk from many dangers including physical or emotional abuse, abduction, rape, and human trafficking.

DON’T

  • Give money
  • Take selfies with them
  • Encourage this in any way
  • Follow children anywhere, it could be a scam or worse – dangerous!

DO

  • Donate pen & paper
  • Speak to them, it’s great for them to learn English and meet new people
  • Support local organizations that help put an end to the cycle of poverty

4) Be responsible when it comes to animal tourism

For many people, seeing animals such as elephants and tigers (to name a few) would be a dream come true. Sadly, a lot of these people are often unaware of the whole picture when it comes to animal tourism. In S.E Asia alone, animal tourism has become increasingly popular and many tour organizers are taking advantage of this.

You’ll often see tours advertising elephant riding and tiger selfies, some even go as far as stating they are sanctuaries or ethical when in fact they are deceiving tourists. These activities are cruel so researching is very important. Animal tourism is a huge industry around the world so below we have listed some animals that are increasingly at risk.

Elephant tourism, Travel Tips for Southeast Asia

Photo by: @ourkindlife

Elephants

This is probably one of the most important travel tips to travel to Southeast Asia mindfully.

Elephants are one of the most endangered species in Asia and their population is rapidly decreasing. Their population has declined by an average of 50% in the last 75 years. It is estimated that only 20,000-40,000 are left in the wild. It is believed that over 70% of baby elephants found in tourism were most likely poached from their natural habitat, often meaning their mothers were killed.

Animal tourism, Travel Tips for Southeast Asia

Photo by: @thatwanderlustboho

The amount of tourism in Thailand alone has resulted in a 30% rise of elephants held in captivity. That number is largely increasing due to the lack of knowledge when it comes to elephants and animal tourism as a whole.

A quick glance behind the scenes:

Elephants used in tourism are often captured from the wild. Many baby elephants will endure the “Phajaan” which means the breaking of an elephant’s spirit. This cruel process enables its captor to gain control of the elephant resulting in the elephant being forced to carry tourists, preform tricks and so on. Elephants often face abuse and neglect their entire lifetime or until they are no longer fit for use.

DON’T

  • Ride elephants. Ever! (if riding elephants is allowed, it’s definitely not ethical)
  • Visit elephant shows, the circus’ etc
  • Visit unethical zoos, sanctuaries, etc (quick research can help decide where is ethical and where isn’t)
  • Touch If you see chains, rope or an elephant hook/spear – leave and write a review to warn others

PLEASE DO NOT CONTRIBUTE TO THIS

DO

  • See elephants in the wild
  • Support elephant organizations
  • Raise awareness, and doing your research
  • Visit ethical sanctuaries with zero riding
  • Visit ethical national parks

Photos by: @ourkindlife

Tigers

Another highly endangered species but thanks to conservation efforts their numbers are slowly growing. There are currently an average of 3,900 tigers left in the wild and the majority of those are found in S.E Asia. Although their numbers are growing they are still largely at risk.

What happens behind the scenes

One country, in particular, has become very popular for its tigers and sadly not for good reasons. Many venues in Thailand have been known to exploit tigers by allowing tourists to take selfies with them, and see them up close. Here is a report by World Animal Protection:

The suffering behind the selfie

The main welfare concerns witnessed by our investigators at these venues were:

  • tiger cubs separated from their mothers just two to three weeks after birth
  • young cubs presented to tourists and mishandled hundreds of times a day, which can lead to stress and injury
  • tigers punished using pain and fear, to stop aggressive, unwanted behaviour. One staff member told our researchers that starvation is used to punish tigers when they make a ‘mistake’
  • most tigers were housed in small concrete cages or barren enclosures with limited access to freshwater. 50% of the tigers we observed were in cages with less than 20sqm per animal, a far cry from the 16-32km they would roam in a single night in the wild
  • one in ten tigers observed showed behavioural problems, such as repetitive pacing orbiting their tails. These behaviours most commonly occur when animals can’t cope with stressful environments. “ – World Animal Protection

Did you know that a few years ago a tiger tourist attraction was raided and shut down? What they found was heartbreaking. Fifty tiger cubs were found frozen and waiting to be sold for soup medicine.

DON’T

  • Take a selfie with a tiger
  • Touch or hold a tiger/cub
  • Watch shows/circus’ with animals
  • Visit unethical zoos/sanctuaries etc

PLEASE DO NOT CONTRIBUTE TO THIS

DO

  • See tigers in the wild
  • Support conservation organizations
  • Visit ethical sanctuaries and national parks where #tigerselfies are NOT allowed
  • Raise awareness

Whale sharks

chapter by @joyoushapes

Whale sharks, also known as gentle giants, are the largest fish in the ocean. They can be as large as 18 meters in length and they can be found in the tropical ocean. Even if they are huge, and the name “shark” could sound scary, they eat only plankton and small fish and they are harmless to humans.

Usually encounters happen on very shallow water, this is the reason why many people join snorkelling tours to meet these beauties. Tours with whale sharks are becoming more famous thanks to social media, but we should be very careful in how we choose a tour and ensure it’s a responsible and ethical one.

A very popular – yet unethical – whale sharks tour is in Oslob, Philippines.

While people swim with the whale sharks, the guide/s have been known to hit these magnificent creatures to make them move! And, these creatures are fed every day because of the tour, so they have stopped migrating.

This behaviour can lead to the extinction of the already endangered species, as they will no longer be able to feed themselves because they have become dependent on tour feeding times.

This tour is very chaotic, a huge amount of people get in the water at 6 am trying to see the whale sharks. It has become dangerous for these animals, but also for people because crowds + water + animals = very critical mix. Please avoid any such tour. 

DON’T

  • Feed them or visit
  • Touch whale sharks
  • Take pictures with flash
  • Visit them at the aquarium and unethical places in general (if you want to spot them, find a tour where you can see them from the boat, without interacting with them. Check through the internet)

DO

  • Visit ethical places where they do NOT feed them
  • Go on tours where you are not assured you’ll see whale sharks, they are nomadic animals, how can you expect to find them always in the same place?

Other at-risk animals

When backpacking S.E Asia you will no doubt encounter animal tourism of some sort. Another animal that is at risk in S.E Asia is the monkey. Monkeys are often abused and forced to put on shows for tourists. Unfortunately, animal cruelty is a worldwide issue and so we will try our best to raise awareness. Below we have listed some popular animal activities that you should research beforehand:

  • Camel riding
  • Horse riding
  • Donkey riding
  • Any sanctuaries/zoos
  • National parks

Always avoid: Street vendors with parrots, monkeys, snakes, etc
Always check that the animal looks fit and healthy. See how the animal is treated by the owner. Research sanctuaries and zoos. Don’t visit national parks that allow vehicles to crowd around any animals.

And lastly, always be observant of any animal neglect/cruelty. Be sure to leave negative reviews if you, unfortunately, experience any of the above. 
Some places that have a bad rep and to be cautious of:

  • Donkey rides in Santorini
  • Elephant ride in India, Thailand, Indonesia, etc
  • Horses and donkey taxis in Gili Islands
  • Pinawalla Elephant Orphanage in Sri Lanka
  • Camel ride in Jordan

“With animal tourism becoming more and more popular World Animal Protection found that 75% of wildlife tourist attractions are having a negative impact on wild animals.”

5) Do your research

When backpacking, doing research is essential if you want to travel mindfully. Below we have listed some important factors to consider when carrying out research:

  • Check the website- what’s their story? Do they support local communities, organizations? Are they ethical/sustainable/eco-friendly? Do they give back? 
  • Always read reviews- once you’ve checked a website always read reviews on a third-party platform such as Trip Advisor. Do the reviews support the website’s claims?
  • Talk to backpackers- have they been there? What was their experience?
  • Spontaneous trip? Be observant, raise awareness if you see something that may be wrong.
  • Boycott anywhere that- allows animal selfies, touching, handling or provides “entertainment”.
  • Don’t be naive.

Doing research is also crucial before booking any accommodation. Always check recent reviews for any signs of bed bugs before making a reservation.

6) Haggling

Bargaining in Southeast Asia is common practice pretty much anywhere. Depending on the country you are in, vendors will start with prices that are usually 2 to 4 times higher than the ones applied to locals. Expect this to happen mostly in touristy areas, in night markets, and with taxis and tuk-tuks.

Tuk Tuk, Thailand

Even though haggling is often necessary, remember to be respectful and try to offer a fair price. This tip may seem obvious, but while it’s true you should not pay more just because you are a tourist, please do not haggle over very small amounts.
We’ve seen people haggling over a 50-cents price difference, and even though backpackers do need to stretch dollars, you should remember that such small amounts make no difference to you while it does for them. Accept the deal if you think it’s fair, walk away if you think they’re trying to rip you off, but always be respectful.

DO

  • Negotiate prices wherever is necessary
  • Check average prices before to have an idea of what is a fair price.

DON’T

  • Be disrespectful, offering prices that are too low
  • Haggle over very small price differences

Photos by: @thatwanderlustboho

7) Be aware of the risks

Travelling in Southeast Asia is a lot of fun; however, you should never underestimate its risks. Here we listed some of our best tips to avoid any problems:

  • Always wear a helmet when driving a bike
  • Consider having travel insurance as hospital care is very – VERY – expensive in these countries.
  • Research beforehand if you need any specific vaccines for your destination. Some of the vaccines recommended for travellers to East and Southeast Asia are hepatitis A, hepatitis B, typhoid, cholera, yellow fever, Japanese encephalitis, rabies, and polio. Check always with your doctor before to book any flights.
  • Be careful while petting dogs on the way. It’s common to see backpackers dealing with rabies shot after getting bitten by dogs on their trips. The same also applies to monkeys and other wild animals.

Thanks to @thatwanderlustboho, @joyoushapes, @ourkindlife and @nomadiclio for helping us create this post.


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Send us an email at backpackersintheworld@gmail.com or send us a DM on Instagram.

READ ALSO:

The Battle of the Oranges: inside Italy’s craziest festival | Ivrea’s Historical Carnival

Dating back to 1808, the Ivrea Carnival is one of the oldest festivals in Italy. Carnival is celebrated all over the world, especially in countries with a large Catholic community.

From Rio de Janeiro to Rome, people take to the streets to eat, drink, and celebrate the season. After days of festivals and parades, Carnival culminates in one last night of partying called Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras.

But in Ivrea, Carnival includes a unique tradition: the Battle of the Oranges.

Carnevale di Ivrea

SKIP AHEAD:

DISCLAIMER: This blog post contains affiliate links, meaning we may earn a small commission if you book through our links at no extra cost to you. Thanks for supporting our channel, enjoy your free guide!

Piazza degli Scacchi, Carnevale di Ivrea

History of the Battle of the Oranges

paragraph curated by @the.traveling.historian

For the three days leading up to Fat Tuesday, the men, women, and children participate in the largest organized food fight in Italy – the Battle of the Oranges.

The origins of the fight are a little murky but seem to date back to a medieval revolt. In the 1100s, Ivrea was ruled by an evil tyrannical duke.

The legend says that this duke tried to attack a young miller’s daughter on her wedding night. Instead, she decapitated him and started a revolution. Following her lead, the townspeople of Ivrea stormed the palace and burned it to the ground.

Today, nearly a millennia later, the people of Ivrea commemorate their revolution. Although this time they are armed with oranges and padding, instead of swords and torches. Every festival, a local woman is elected to represent the brave miller’s daughter and lead the food fighting festivities.

Battle of the Oranges, Borghetto, Carnevale di Ivrea

What is the Battle of the Oranges?

The Battle of the Oranges marks the end of the Ivrea’s Carnival, every year since 1947. It is fought for three days, from Sunday to Shrive Tuesday.

It is played between the nine teams of Aranceri (orange-throwers) on foot, who represent the people who revolted, and the Aranceri on horse-drawn carriages, who play the role of the feudal armies.

The battle is a mix of passion and solidarity. It is very common to see rivals shake hands, showing respect to one another, recognizing each other’s skills and courage.

Battle of the Oranges

The battle is based on unwritten rules followed by all the throwers:

The nine teams have a designated area for their throwers (wearing tunics and trousers in their team’s colours).
The 51 orange-throwing carriages are divided into 35 pairs and 16 quadrilles, and they all gather at 1 pm before the start of the Battle. The carts alternate, heading into the town squares for a few minutes, giving life to battles against the teams on foot.

Try to imagine over 7000 people flocking to the streets of a quiet small town to take part in this unique celebration, throwing oranges at each other: this is the Battle of the Oranges.

Over 600 tonnes of oranges are thrown during the festival, which corresponds to over 4.2 million oranges. It is important to note that these oranges aren’t suitable for commercial purposes. More about this topic on “Ethics & Sustainability”.

Horses are considered to be the main stars of the event, they have always been taken care of with great love and respect.

The historical and cultural aspects of the Battle make it one of the most important festivals today, both on national and an international level. Everyone can take part in the Battle by joining either one of the nine teams on foot or one of the squad.

Battle of the Oranges, Ivrea, Tuchini del Borghetto

Where is it?

The Battle of the Oranges takes place in Ivrea, a quiet town of about 23.000 people near the city of Turin, in the Piedmont region, northern Italy.

Since 2018, “Ivrea, industrial city of the 20th century” has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The site brings together 27 buildings and architectural complexes.

The battle of the oranges happens in many squares and streets of the city centre. Below you can find a map of the city highlighting the route of the orange-throwing carriages and the different squares where the battle takes place.

Ivrea, City Map

Each team fights in a specific location: “Asso di Picche“, born in 1947, throws in Piazza di Città (11), and they share the “Piazza” (the square) with “la Morte” (1954).

In Piazza Ottinetti (10) we will find the “Scacchi” (1964) and “Scorpioni d’Arduino” (1966), while “I Tuchini del Borghetto” (1964) throw from the right side of the river Dora Baltea (15).

In Piazza del Rondolino (8) we will find “Pantera Nera” (1966), the “Diavoli” (1973) and the “Mercenari” (1974). Lastly, the “Credendari” (1985) throw in piazza Freguglia (9).

Battle of the Oranges, Borghetto

Rione Borghetto (15)

When is it?

The Battle of the Oranges takes place every year, from the Sunday of Carnival to Fat Tuesday.

The 2020 edition took place from February 23rd to February 25th. The 2021 edition will take place from February 14th to February 16th.

Save the date!

Ivrea, Battle of the Oranges

Where to sleep in Ivrea

Here are some of the accommodations located in the city centre of Ivrea: please note that the following links are affiliate links and we earn a small commission out of referenced reservations, at no extra cost for you.

The prices shown are for 2 people, per night.

Booking.com
Battle of the Oranges, Ivrea, Italy

Tickets, prices and reservations

Spectators:

The entrance fee for spectators is €10 ($11 USD) on Sunday (free for children up to 12yo), and it is free for everyone on Monday and Tuesday.

Orange-throwers:

Everyone can apply to become an orange-thrower. Reservations for people that aren’t native of Ivrea and that have not attended the festival in the previous year open on the 10th of January.

The participation fee is €90 and includes food & wine on the 3 days of the festival, as well as the oranges.
Here are the websites of the 9 teams:

Battle of the Oranges, Tuchini del Borghetto

The Battle of the Oranges – our best tips

  • If you go as a spectator, you MUST wear a “berretto frigio”, or Phrygian Hat. The Phrygian Hat is a red soft conical cap that is not only an ornamental symbol of the carnival, but also a way to avoid being chosen as a target during the traditional orange battle – as dictated by tradition and by the General’s Orders. It is also a way to show one’s full participation in the event. You can buy one directly at the event for about €5.
  • Always keep a safe distance from the horses: never stand behind, around or near the horses even if they are standing still. Obviously, do NOT throw oranges at the horses.
  • Do not pick oranges from the boxes without the permission of the team. Outsiders are not allowed to throw, but you can make your way around it if you are nice with the members of the team.
  • Do not throw oranges from distance. Oranges are supposed to be thrown from nearby the wagons only. This is to avoid oranges hitting spectators and other people who are not directly involved in the fight on the other side of the square.
  • Do NOT wear glasses in the areas directly involved in the Orange Battle. Even though oranges aren’t supposed to be thrown from distance, there is a chance an orange could hit you even though you are far from the fight.
  • Be careful when you stand close behind the protection nets. Nets are designed to avoid that oranges hit the buildings and people behind them, but they will not protect you if you stand very close to them.
  • DO NOT enter the areas involved in the Orange Battle with pushchairs and prams.
Battle of the Oranges, Borghetto

Things to keep in mind

Wear clothes appropriate for the festival. The layer of smashed oranges on the ground can be as deep as 40 cm in some parts of the street. Dress accordingly: wear boots and trousers you don’t mind getting dirty.

Also, bring spare clothes for when the festival is over.

Ethics and sustainability

While this food fight may seem like a massive waste at first glance, there is a lot going on the behind the scenes.

The Oranges

First of all, it is important to mention that the oranges used in the festival are fruits that would be destinated for pulping otherwise. These oranges, in fact, could never be commercialised and farmers would need to dispose of them.

Instead, farmers are getting paid for their products and the oranges are even used for further processing after the battle.

Battle of the Oranges

Compost & energy

After each day of battle, the smashed oranges are collected and stored in a specific tank.

Subsequently, the citrus fruits to be disposed of are transported to a plant which takes care of their disposal by transforming them into compost and energy. For 2016, the plant has transformed over 680 tons of oranges into compost.

The support against the mafias

The fruits come mostly from Calabrian and Sicilian companies operating in the Libera circuit.

In other words, the festival supports companies that are active to raise awareness and contrast the phenomenon of the mafias in regions where this situation still represents a problem.


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Angkor Wat: the 8th Wonder of the World – a backpacker guide

Angkor Wat

In southeast Asia, an abandoned city sprawls magnificently across the heart of Cambodia; its hundreds of monuments contain more stones than the Egyptian pyramids and cover more ground than modern Paris. This is Angkor Wat, the capital of an empire that once controlled most of Southeast Asia.

DISCLAIMER: This blog post contains affiliate links, meaning we may earn a small commission if you book through our links at no extra cost to you. Thanks for supporting our channel, enjoy your free guide!

Credits: @viajerosaladeriva

More about Angkor Wat

Angkor’s greatest marvel, Angkor Wat, meaning ‘Holy Temple’, served as a shrine, an observatory and a funerary temple. Researchers suggest that it took almost 30 years to complete, and it was finished in time to bury an important King.

But Angkor Wat had hardly claimed its space in the horizon when disaster struck. Drawn by its increasing splendour, the Chams from what is now Vietnam attacked and burned the city.

When the capital was rebuilt, the King built a walled city, Angkor Thom, to protect them in time of war.

But the Khmer story came to an end not long afterwards. More than 500 years ago the Khmer fled this grand city. The Khmer capital was lulled into a centuries-long sleep by the encroaching jungle.

To the outside world, the city existed only in obscure travelers tales. Then, in 1860, a French naturalist named Henri Mouhot stumbled across the ruins.

After being overlooked by travellers for many decades, also due to the country’s unstable situation, Angkor Wat has seen a boom in visits in recent years and it is now facing another huge challenge: mass tourism.

The number of visitors to Angkor Wat reached nearly 2.5 million over the course of 2017, making it the most popular tourist attraction in Cambodia, and an entire city, Siem Reap, serves as its gateway.

Credits: @viajerosaladeriva

Best places to stay

Pretty much anywhere in the city of Siem Reap is a great place. With over 900 hotels, hostels and homestays, you can easily find the best accommodation that suits your needs.

SIEM REAP IS BUDGET FRIENDLY

You can find bunk beds for as low as $3 USD if you are on a budget.

Here are the best hostels in town, powered by Hostelworld:

HostelNoteRatingPrice (USD)
Onederz HostelRooftop pool, perfectly located9.6/10from $8Book now
Lub D CambodiaVery new, clean, modern hostel9.4/10from $8Book now
Mad Monkey HostelCheap Party Hostel9.3/10from $3.5Book now
Cozy Cloud
Backpackers Hostel
Outdoor swimming pool &
garden
9.4/10from $4.5Book now
Funky Flashpacker
Siem Reap
Party hostel, sky bar open 24/79.2/10from $3.5Book now
One Stop Hostel
@ Pub Street
Clean, comfortable and well-designed
hostel with a rooftop area.
9.3/10from $6Book now
Alternatively, if you don't like staying in hostels, check the best accommodations on Booking.com.

Angkor Wat site only gained its worldwide popularity in the most recent years.
This means that most of Siem Reap accommodations are fairly new, modern and clean.

The city has various night markets as well as the very popular ‘Pub Street’.

Very similarly to Khao San Road in Bkk perhaps, Pub Street is a long road, dotted with pubs, lounges, restaurants and cafes that starts getting crowded around 6 PM and stays that way until sunrise, making it one of the best party places in Southeast Asia.

Angkor Wat Relief

How to get around

By bicycle:

The terrain in Siem Reap is flat and many hostels and guesthouses include free use of bicycles in their room rate or offer very cheap bike rentals. This makes Siem Reap a very suitable destination for bike lovers.

However, keep in mind that it gets very (VERY) hot in Cambodia and temples are relatively far from each other.

By motorbike:

In Siem Reap motorcycle rental is still technically forbidden, but lately authorities are taking a relaxed view and a growing number of places now hire out motorbikes to tourists. It is usually possible to rent a 100cc motorbike for between US$4 and US$10 per day.

READ ALSO: How to buy & sell a bike in Vietnam

By tuk-tuk:

Tuk-tuks are the most common way to see the temples, especially if you are on a budget.

Usually a tuk-tuk can accommodate 4 people and hostels organize them the day before so you can jump on a shared one even if you are a solo traveller.

A tuk-tuk (with driver) will cost about $15 USD for the day, which is less than $4 USD/person if you share it with other 3 people.

The price is variable and it depends on which temples you want to visit and how far they are.

TIP: Check out our top tips section to “Arrange a custom tour”.

By car:

If you want to avoid the heat or just to travel more safely or comfortably, renting a car with driver and a/c is probably the way to go.

Expect to pay about $30 USD for a day.

Credits: @viajerosaladeriva

Angkor Wat Pass and Entrance Fee

Prices of admission for foreign visitors to Angkor Wat are now set at $37 for a single day pass, $62 for a three-day pass and $72 for a weeklong pass. They used to be $20, $40 and $60, respectively, until early 2017.

Ticket Office is open from 5.00 AM to 5.30 PM every day.

  • 1 Day pass, $37 USD – valid only on the day of purchase, or for the next day if bought after 5PM.
  • 3 Days pass, $62 USD – valid for ten days from the day of purchase.
  • 7 Days pass, $72 USD – valid for a month from the day of purchase.

You can read more about it at http://www.angkorenterprise.gov.kh/.

The ticket office is located here:

Angkor Wat Overview

The most touristic routes are the ones marked in red and green, respectively called small circuit and big circuit.

Angkor Wat Map

The visit along the small circuit usually starts at sunrise in Angkor Wat, and you can then proceed either clockwise or anticlockwise. Those who start the tour early in the morning often don’t stay out until sunset, due to the heat and the redundancy of the temples.

The people who visit the temples along the big circuit usually start their trip later in the day, around 11AM and stay out until sunset.

If you want to avoid the crowd you can try to use the following information and do something different.

How to avoid the crowd

Avoiding the crowd is not an easy task in the Angkor complex.

All sunrise tours start at Angkor Wat temple, making it probably one of the crowdest places at sunrise in the world.

Instagram vs Reality, credits: @swedishnomad

There are two lakes in front of Angkor Wat temple, but you can try to watch the sunrise from the lake on the right since most of the people go to the one on the left. The view is pretty much the same.

Keep in mind that the only temples that are open at sunrise (Opening Time 5 AM) are Angkor Wat Temple, Sras Srang, Phnom Bakheng and Pre Rup.

Also watching the sunset in Phnom Bakheng is a very popular thing to do.

The only temples you can visit after 5.30 PM are Phnom Bakheng and Pre Rup, which stay open until 7 PM.

There is no way to completely avoid the crowd in Angkor Wat, but you can follow a few tips to get the most out of your visit!

Credits: @viajerosaladeriva

Top tips

One day is not enough

Plan to stay a little longer. There is so much to see in Angkor Wat and you definitely can’t see it all in one day. The chances you will get “templed out” are high if you rush it, so take your time and consider taking a day off between the visits.

Sunset at Phnom Bakheng is NOT a must

A temple packed with tourist for no reasons. Expect to find the same amount of people you see in the morning at Angkor Wat, just to see the sun setting over a forest from a temple. There are no temples between you and the sun, nothing special is waiting for you.

Take advantage of the closing hour

All temples stay open until 5.30 PM but hardly anyone visits them in the last hour or half an hour. This happens because the sunrise tour is quite a must, so most people are exhausted at the end of the day. At the same time, most of the other tours end up in Phnom Bakheng for sunset. You have the chance to wander in temples such as Bayon, Ta Phrom and many others by yourself. We promise you it’s a totally different experience, and you can really feel like Henri Mouhot in 1860. Also, while during the day the security is very rigid, no one seems to care when the temple is about to close. We have stayed in many temples after 5.30PM until it was dark, before to head home.

Drones are not allowed

You can have them with you, there aren’t security checks, but you can’t fly drones in the temples. If you do so, expect to see dozens of policemen running at you (it happened to us) telling you to delete all footage at the very least. So, if you really want your drone footage of the temples, we highly recommend you to fly only over the less popular temples. However, this is not enough. Security agents stay on their toes even in the most remote temples out of the circuits, so we’d recommend to set up everything from a distance and to fly quite high in the sky.

Arrange a custom tour

If you rent a car or a tuk-tuk with a driver for the day, arrange a custom tour instead of following the circuits mentioned above. This way you will be able to see some temples at the least crowded hours. The price will change depending on which temples you want to visit, so be sure the driver understood what your plans are. Expect to pay about $20 – $25 USD for a custom tour.

Get your tickets in advance

You can’t buy tickets online yet, but we’d recommend you to get your tickets in advance if you are going for sunrise. The ticket office will be way less crowded in the afternoon and you can save up some time in the morning. If you are only interested in a one day pass you can still get it the day before after 5 PM and it will be valid for the next day.

Ticket / No Ticket Groups

If you got your ticket in advance but you are sharing a tuk-tuk with other people, you want to make sure that also the others already have their tickets. Some hostels include this info on their ‘planning boards’. It may look like a minor thing but it’s a huge waste of time to go to the ticket office in the morning.

The first temple matters

Besides Angkor Wat Temple, Sras Srang, Phnom Bakheng and Pre Rup, all of the other temples open at 07.30 AM. At this time of the day you will avoid most of the tourists of the peak hours and you can enjoy being the only one visiting these ancient ruins, so you may want to visit the one you like the most. Also,

Go off the beaten path

If you look for a less touristic experience, there are many other temples far from the popular circuits. I.E., check out the Rolous Complex, but don’t expect to see the greatness of Bayon or Angkor Wat.

Start from the least famous ones

Visiting Angkor Wat temple at sunrise is a must. However, if you are NOT on a one day visit to Angkor Wat, plan to do it later. Our brain works by comparison and saving the best for last is always a good idea. You will enjoy much more all of the other smaller temples.

Visit Bayon at 5 PM

When the sun is about to set, you want to visit Bayon temple. The temple closes at 5.30 PM but no one is really there checking it so you can also have some extra time to wander among the ruins. Bayon is one of the most beautiful temples in Angkor Wat so we highly recommend to visit it out of the circuit.

Bayon Temple Angkor Wat

What to pack

You will find many local sellers in the temples area, so water, food and other essential things are not a problem, and they are very cheap too.

Instead, remember to pack sunscreen and additional clothes. It gets very hot in Angkor Wat and you may want to change yourself during the day and protect from the strong sun of Cambodia.

Dress code

Angkor Wat is a sacred site, so you need to wear proper clothes to be able to enter the temples.

“Wearing revealing clothes disrespects the temple’s sanctity. We will not allow [tourists] to buy a temple pass if they wear revealing clothes. Our officials will inform them what they should wear to be able to visit our ancient temples, so they can come back to buy a ticket later after they change their clothes” said Apsara spokesman Long Kosal.

Apsara is the authority which manages the Angkor Wat site.

Apart from clothes, Apsara also issued a code of conduct for visitors, warning them not to touch or climb on the ruins, give money to begging children, or take selfies with the local monks.

The authority has illustrated its point by issuing photographs of unsuitable clothing on its website.


What other backpackers say

@northsouthtravels – January 2019: Our alternative route around Angkor

If you want to explore the Angkor Temples without hoards of tourists, here’s our alternative route and timings to get you on your way! From sunrise to sunset. FYI, catching that much sort after sunrise is not for the tired traveller!

1st stop – Srah Srang

4.40 AM. This quiet temple leads out onto ‘the royal bathing pool’ which was used for ritual washings. This expansive reservoir not only guarantees to escape the coach loads of tourists heading to Angkor Wat but also the most rewarding and golden sunrise that reflects across the water only adding to the magic. Head here for 5AM latest to watch the sky turn from night to day.

2nd stop – Ta Prohm Temple

This is only a short Tuk Tuk journey from Srah Srang. We recommend you head here for 7.30 AM when it opens to avoid the crowds and get to explore with only a handful of others. It’s here that Tomb Raider was filmed in 2000 and is now famed for the trees that have grown routes in and around the temple. It’s quite amazing to see, especially at this time of day when the light is streaming through the branches.

3rd stop – Banteay Srei

Often referred to as the the jewel in the crown of all temples. Translates to ‘The Citadel of Women’ and is dedicated to Shiva, the Hindu God. Glowing in the mid-morning sun, the pinkish tones and intricate carvings make this definitely the most beautiful in our eyes. We recommend heading here for 10AM.

4th stop – Pre Rup

Meaning ‘turn the body’, Pre Rup insinuates that this temple could have been used as an early royal crematorium. We headed to this temple at mid-day to avoid the crowds and it was empty. The temple as lots of hidden spots for great pictures and allows you to roam freely unlike others.

5th stop – Banteay Kdei

This is a peaceful & quiet temple to explore. The temple ruins are a fascinating maze of chambers which is fitting as the names translate to ‘Citadel of Chambers’. Head here for around 1pm to get lost all by yourselves.

6th stop – Bayon Temple

Our favourite temple it must be said. From a distance, this place doesn’t look much to behold, yet entering the temple gates and climbing the steps to the top, the temple’s magic comes to life. All 216 gigantic faces across a staggering 54 gothic towers become apparent, resembling Avalokiteshvara, the earthly representation of the eternal Buddha. This temple is NEVER without its tourists, however, we visited around 3 pm and found quiet spots to ourselves, just have to seek them out.

7th stop – Angkor Wat

Visit it at sunset. Often the most sought-after temple to visit and it is breathtaking. We decided to end our journey around the temples here. Watching the sun set and Angkor Wat glow in the golden light was the perfect end to our, somewhat busy, day.

Hope this helps you plan your day around the wonders of Angkor.

Follow Corinne & River on:

Van Life in Australia: everything you need to know

Hi backpackers, my name is Lene, I’m 22 and yes, I’ve lived the Van Life in Australia.

I have been so lucky to have travelled the south and southwest coast of Australia (from Melbourne to Perth) for four months last year with my boyfriend in our beautiful van Elsa.
It was the most magical, eye-opening and special time of my life so far.

Living in our little home on wheels, sleeping right at the beach, being in nature 24/7 and experiencing all of this with my favourite person on earth was seriously the best thing ever and brought us even closer together.

Living the Van Life in Australia

Interview with @lunalene_

SKIP AHEAD:


Where to buy or rent a van:

If you want to travel to Australia and really want to experience the culture and country, and I mean not only the cities and hot spots, then getting a car is the most convenient way to travel. Australia is HUGE, it’s bigger than Europe, so don’t underestimate its size!

Of course with getting a car comes a lot of research and paperwork: it’s time-consuming to find the perfect car and also to sell it to the right person at the end.

I would recommend buying a car only if you stay for a minimum of three months.

If your stay is shorter than three months, I would consider renting a van. There are many companies who rent fully converted vans (I don’t have a personal recommendation, but JUCY and Wicked Campers are quite popular companies that I remember seeing a lot driving around).

Esperance, Van Life in Australia

What type of car/van should you buy?

If you plan to buy a car you first have to decide which type of car you want. Do you plan to drive offroad often? Then a 4×4 is probably the best option. Do you want a cosy van with a bed inside, a little kitchen area and a bit more space to chill in? Or maybe a station wagon?

Gumtree is the main page to look for a car in Australia, despite that there are many backpack/travel Facebook groups where people sell their cars.

The prices vary a lot, they depend on the car, the history of the car, the km’s, the set-up, the equipment that comes with the car (does the car have a solar panel, a second battery, and earning…?), when and where you buy the car (if you buy a van in Australian summer on the east coast you will probably pay a lot more than in Australian winter on the west coast; keep that in mind when selling the van after your trip), so I can’t really give you a specific price, but probably something between 3000-7000 AUD.

Van Life in Australia: Budget

Our budget was limited to food and fuel only.

Our food budget was 100AUD for two persons/per week and we cooked all our meals ourselves.

We did not really have a budget for fuel. All we knew was that Perth would have been our final destination, so we just roughly calculated what we would pay for fuel in four months.

We only paid for sleeping five times and free camped the rest of the 4 months.

Oh and we paid about 500AUD for a new cooler, which broke while driving the Nullabor.

Van Life in Australia: life on the road

What do you eat on the road?

We haven’t had a fridge in our van, which was kind of a struggle in the beginning, but we quickly got used to it after a couple of weeks. Dairy is quite expensive in Australia and we are both vegetarians anyways, so the fridge wasn’t even necessary.

Our go-to meals were:

  • Oats with rice milk, peanut butter, nuts and different kinds of fruit
  • Pancakes with bananas
  • Pasta with veggie sauce
  • Rye bread from the farmers market with avocado
  • Pumpkin potato soup
  • Gnocchi with cream sauce
  • Rice with guacamole, corn and spicy mushrooms

How do you deal with showers, toilets and so on?

Showers: We tended to stick to the coast a lot, and were swimming in the sea and using beach showers whenever possible. We also used the showers of the local swimming centre a couple of times when passing a town. You pay the entry, which is only a couple of dollars, have a quick swim and a hot shower after 🙂

Toilets: There are more toilets than you expect. Car parks, campgrounds, cafes, libraries, supermarkets, petrol stations…and if there is none around, you somehow work it out haha

Is it safe/legal to free camp in Australia?

I never felt unsafe or afraid while living the van life in Australia. Actually the fewer people around, the safer I felt.

For the legal part: It depends on which state you are, they have different laws in each state. In most states, free camping isn’t allowed.

We often used the satellite in google maps or the app ‚wikicamps‘ to find free camp spots or to find spots where other people felt safe and haven’t had bad experiences with rangers.

The most important thing that comes with free camping is being respectful of the environment. We always, always (!) took all our stuff with us and never left any rubbish behind! We saw so many beautiful camping spots that were flooded with rubbish and it was heartbreaking to see how other campers destroyed these spots because they had no appreciation for the environment.

Top 4 essential things for van life in SA & WA?

-Ereader, audible account or Spotify, mosquito repellant & the app wiki camps (for free camp spots, showers, toilets, drinking water, launderettes, libraries with free wifi …)

What do you do on rainy days?

I read a good book, listened to music, we used the rainy days to plan our next sunny days, played cards, drank endless cups of hot chocolate, and watched our favourite Netflix shows.

What does a typical “Van Life in Australia” day look like?

Wake up early in the morning, make coffee while watching the sunrise, do some yoga at the beach, have breakfast, swim in the ocean, take some photos, read a book / listen to an audiobook, drive to a different spot, edit photos, eat dinner, enjoy sunset with a glass of wine, playing cards in the van or watch some Netflix, go to bed early and repeat.

How do you keep yourself entertained on long drives?

We both love audiobooks and podcasts and always listened to something while driving.

Van Life in Australia

Best places to visit in South Australia & Western Australia

1) Esperance (WA)

Esperance is definitely my top 1! It’s my absolute favourite place in Australia so far, sand white beaches and not many people around. Kangaroos at the beach in Cape le Grand and you can park your van right at the beach. The beaches in Esperance are out of this world, my favourites are :

  • Twilight beach
  • Lucky Bay
  • Duke of Orleans
  • Blue Haven
Van Life in Australia, Esperance (WA)
– Esperance (WA) –

2) Margaret River Region (WA)

Margaret River is such a beautiful region. There is soo much to do and explore! So many breathtaking hidden camp spots, lovely people, delicious wine, an amazing farmers market and awesome beaches make this region a perfect stopover for people living the van life in Australia.

There was this one camp spot in Yallingup, which was our personal fave, where we saw dolphins almost every single morning. Margaret River is a beautiful place to spend a couple of days or, as we did, even weeks.

Oh, and if you are going to Margs, definitely go to the Margaret River Bakery! The cakes there are amazing, I would die to get a piece right now!

- Margaret River Region (WA) -
– Margaret River Region (WA) –

3) Fleurieu Peninsula (SA)

I absolutely loved Second Valley and the beaches between Second Valley and Adelaide. I found it a bit tricky to free camp in the area. There were quite a few rangers around and it was pretty busy, but the beautiful hills and fields of Second Valley are definitely worth a visit and it was such a magical experience to wander through the fields with incredible ocean views.

Australian landscape, Fleurieu Peninsula

– Fleurieu Peninsula (SA) –

4) Yorke Peninsula (SA)

We spent a week camping in the Yorke Peninsula and what a magical place it is! Secluded camp spots and beautiful beaches! Shell beach in Innes National Park was my favourite and the National Park itself was also really amazing!

Van Life in Australia, Yorke Peninsula

– Yorke Peninsula (SA) –

5) Ikara Flinders Ranges National Park (SA)

I loved Flinders, even though it was extremely hot when we were there. Lots of great walks, hikes and scenic drives. We spent a couple of nights in Wilpena Pound on their campground, and it was so nice to park the car in the shade and have a minimum of three showers per day haha.

Sunset shot, Australia

– Ikara Flinders Ranges National Park (SA) –

What would you do differently?

Nothing except staying longer than four months haha.. I’ll be back Australia!

Selling the van

What did you do with Elsa at the end of the trip?

About a month before leaving Australia we put Elsa up on Gumtree and several Facebook backpack groups.

When we arrived in Perth a week before our flight back to Germany we sold Elsa to another German couple. For us, it was the best scenario possible, because Elsa started her next adventure right away.

Travel couple living the Van Life in Australia

What’s your best memory from your Van Life in Australia?

I don’t really have one specific memory that is my favourite. The entire four months were just so eye-opening and magical for me, that the van life, in general, is my favourite memory‘.

Living the most simple life in our little home on wheels, experiencing the most incredible sunrises and sunsets every day, being in touch with nature 24/7 and getting to the core of what really matters in life changed a lot for us here in Germany, too. Actually we miss van life so much, that we are currently looking for a van here in Germany. We want to convert it in the next couple of month and start traveling Europe this summer. I’m so excited to be back in the van so soon!

8 Mistakes Backpackers Make When Travelling to Morocco & How to Avoid Them!

Morocco – Guest post by @thirdeyetraveller

If you’re travelling to Morocco, prepare for one of your wildest adventures yet!

Morocco may look like it’s just popped straight out of your Pinterest board but believe me, behind all those pretty lanterns and luxurious riads there’s pickpocketing, scams and danger afoot if you don’t keep your wits about you.

A lot of travellers head to Morocco with high hopes for an amazing vacay, but then leave hating it, feeling unsafe and never wanting to return.

You may have heard other travellers tell you to avoid Morocco all together. Many advise it isn’t safe to travel there and some of those reasons are totally valid. I mean you just have to read the media, right? But, I believe that it is a safe country to visit if you prepare yourself and keep your wits about you.

I have visited Morocco twice. The first time I was a backpacker and landed in the crazy city of Marrakesh, wound my way up to the Atlas mountains and finished on the beach of Essaouira. The second was two years later, I had a bit more budget and went to the even more chaotic Fes and Chefchaouen, the blue pearl.

Both times I had little bother, mainly catcalling. I had one scary incident where a guy stalked me up to the Merinid tombs. But, as soon as I alerted the tourist police, all was well. Although it was a small thing, it did leave me a little shaken.

So, I’ve prepared a list of common mistakes people make when travelling to Morocco and how to avoid them. Having visited twice now and made some of these mistakes myself, I would like to pass this knowledge onto you;

Fes Souk, Morocco
Fes Souk

1) Packing inappropriate outfits to wear in Morocco

Morocco is an Islamic country ergo it’s a conservative one. So wearing short skirts, revealing dresses or having your cleavage on the show is a big no, no ladies! Even for men, you’ll notice that locals don’t wear shorts.

I don’t like being covered up any more than you do in that heat, but leaving too much of your body on the show is a sure-fire way to attract unwanted attention.

Pack lot’s of layers and light breathable clothing that covers you up. Although, that doesn’t necessarily mean looking frumpy either. There are so many fashionable jumpsuits, maxi dresses and pretty trousers so you can find something that looks stylish and respectful.

Royal Palace Fes, Morocco
Royal Palace Fes

2) Not being assertive enough with unwanted attention

Catcalling is a given ladies, granted it will be less if you’re with a man, but it is happening! You’ll be proposed to around five times a day in the market, asked where you’re from, told you’re beautiful, have comments made about you, asked for your number and social media.

You may like what they’re saying, that’s cool. But if not, don’t feel obligated to talk to anyone that makes you feel uncomfortable. If someone touches you inappropriately, call that stuff out. Make a scene, go loco and make an example of them. If someone follows you, alert the tourist police!

For me, the most effective way was just to ignore the catcalling. It’s hard, especially when you’re being yelled at down the street. But rise above it. Don’t let them rent space in your head.

Fes city Morocco
Fes city

3) Avoid researching the local culture in Morocco

As tourists visiting a foreign country, we often get a free pass. But, it is important to do your research to avoid any taboos and make sure we’re being respectful. Remember, you’re not here to change a country, you’re here to embrace it!

We’ve already touched on Morocco being an Islamic country, so dress respectfully. Remember to cover your head when entering a mosque and take off your shoes. Don’t point your finger or swear at men. Give money with your right hand. Don’t show public displays of affection. Remove your shoes when entering someone’s home.

All of these things, although not always necessary, are appreciated and should avoid any trouble.

Chefchaouen Blue Houses, Morocco
Chefchaouen Blue Houses

4) Not researching official guides and tours before booking

A big problem in Morocco is the rise of unofficial tour guides. You may be approached on the street and offered a ‘free tour’ to show you around their city or a ‘special non-touristy tour’. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Don’t go off with people you’ve just met on the street.

Make sure you research companies before you book in with them. Read reviews across a variety of platforms (did you know that 1 of 3 TripAdvisor reviews in Morocco are fake?!). Look for themes, does something positive or negative come up often? Have other travellers in your hotel or hostel taken the tour? What did they think?

Your guesthouse or hotel will always be paired with a company to push tours for commission. But, look around and travel with a company that’s safe and reliable. If you’re a woman travelling alone opt for a group tour.

Merinid Tomb Fes, Morocco
Merinid Tomb Fes

5) Being lax with their bags

Pickpocketing and robbery are common in Morocco. Getting lost in the souks, you’ll stick out like a sore thumb here. Always make sure you have your bags in clear sight. I personally put a luggage lock on my bags for safe keeping and keep it on my front so that nothing happens to it.

Keep an eye while using an ATM to ensure your PIN is private, always put your valuables and passport in a safe at your hotel if provided, don’t leave your bags unattended even in a restaurant. Better to be safe than sorry.

6) Not being vigilant for scams

Scams are commonplace in Morocco and a scam will be tried on you at least once.

Maybe you’ll be told a great price to enter a shop, and then they’ll bump up the price. It could be the nice guy that tells you the place you were heading is closed and offers to show you around the tanneries, but expects a massive tip. A woman who spilt Henna on you may then proceeds to give you a ‘free’ tattoo. You could buy a fake bottle of Argon Oil, or get in a taxi and the driver doesn’t turn on the meter.

Remain vigilant at all times and be wary of anyone that approaches you in the street.

Moroccan slippers
Moroccan Slippers

7) Going out late at night to drink in Morocco

If you’re heading to Morocco for a party, I’ve got some disappointing news for you. Morocco is a predominantly Islamic country with a strict drinking policy. Most locals don’t drink as it’s frowned upon in their religion.

You may find that some tourist restaurants and riad’s serve alcohol and that’s not a problem to indulge there. But, if you’re offered beer in the street, or are seen to be out or drinking late at night in public, it won’t be greeted kindly and people may take advantage.

But, there is one exception; Berber whisky! Don’t worry, that’s a nickname for (non-alcoholic) Mint Tea!

8) Thinking all the locals are not safe

Now, it may seem like I’ve given the Moroccan people a pretty bad rap here. But actually, not everyone in Morocco is out to get you. As much as there are people there that you need to be wary of, there are also many people that are warm, kind and hospitable to people who visit.

Morocco is an incredible country, with the promise of an adventure. The mystery of the Sahara, the colours and smells of the souks, the heights of the Atlas mountains and the waves crashing on its shores. You will be bedazzled by the culture and it would be a shame to be on edge all the time and worry about anyone you meet there.

Play it safe, be wary, but come with an open mind and heart. You will have the journey of your life here, don’t miss out on the jewel that is Morocco!

Fes Tanneries, Morocco
Fes Tanneries

About the author:

Sophie Pearce is a solo female travel blogger from the UK and the founder of Third Eye Traveller.

Always having itchy feet and a restless soul seeking adventure, she has now travelled to over 30+ countries, many of them solo.

Leaving her heart in India, which gifted her a “Third Eye”, she felt inspired to share her travel stories in the hope of encouraging others to explore this big beautiful world of ours.

Instagram: @thirdeyetraveller