The Art of Getting Lost

Out of Town Blog
The Art of Getting Lost

The Art of Getting Lost

Equipped with a compass, a camera and a longing for adventure, the author of an article I read just decided one day to walk north starting from an empty field. What he found along the way not only sparked his interest but also awakened his natural sense of exploration, an instinctive quality of our primitive ancestors before they settled down and watched TV.

Sunrise over Sitio Mahayahay
Sunrise over Sitio Mahayahay

Drawing inspiration from this but with a few modifications, my goal was to create a hike trail that would serve as my daily exercise routine that would hopefully be enjoyable and rewarding at the same time.

Starting point of the climb
Starting point of the climb

I don’t know about you but running around in a loop at a park or in a stadium just bores me to death.

SM Seaside on the horizon
SM Seaside on the horizon

Armed with an endless supply of curiosity, I set aside my first waking hours on a weekend to explore on foot all possible routes within a kilometer radius, with my home as the start and end point. This might sound a bit easy for those living in the city who decide to just run along the smoky highway with familiar street signs and landmarks compared to someone like me who apparently lives by the foot of a hill.

Road toward the peak
Road toward the peak

Since getting lost was indeed part of the process, my first few attempts were quite daunting and exhilarating.

Passed by a vulcanizing shop
Passed by a vulcanizing shop

Common sense told me that in order to reach the peak, I needed to choose the general direction that brings me to higher ground.

Locals enjoying the view
Locals enjoying the view

Every decision to go left or right was a gamble. I wouldn’t know where the road might take me or when I might possibly hit a dead end. Although I would be lying if I told you that I never once followed the advice of a goat herder that passed my way.

Kids playing under a shed
Kids playing under a shed

There’s also the fear of uncertainty. What if something bad happens to me? What if I get mugged? What if I get injured along the way and no one would be able to rescue me?

Hillside sari-sari store
Hillside sari-sari store


Well, we all share these sentiments. Despite everything, I chose to believe in the kindness of strangers and trusted my survival instincts. If all else would fail, I’ll be needing every ounce of faith I was born with.

Free range chicken everywhere
Free range chicken everywhere

Then slowly exhaustion set in, I decided to let go and surrender to the present moment. At that second, I slowly got the hang of things and enjoyed the idea of not knowing where I was exactly.

Feeding the goats
Feeding the goats

As I became fully aware, I got to see and appreciate the little things around me a little bit more that I didn’t notice that I’ve already arrived at the peak. Oh, the view was just priceless. Indeed, the best things in life are free. This is definitely worth coming back to every single day.

Exited to the main highway
Exited to the main highway
The Art of Getting Lost
The Art of Getting Lost

So whenever you feel an itch to break away from routine, you don’t need to travel far or even spend. Look around and use your inner inquisitiveness. You’ll never know what surprises lay ahead. Get lost.

Also Read:

The Art of Getting Lost
Karlo Pacana

Go Lokal! Goes to Metro

Out of Town Blog
Go Lokal! Goes to Metro

Go Lokal! Goes to Metro

Among the best products in the Philippines can only be found when you’re travelling to different parts of the country.

Go Lokal! at Robinsons Department Store
Go Lokal! at Robinsons Department Store

You wish to buy hand-woven bags from Northern Luzon or from Visayas, or some batik-inspired items from Mindanao, or those unique food products, or organic goods from provinces nationwide, without travelling too far or spending big for your transpo expenses.

But finally, these quality-products from outstanding micro, small, and medium entrepreneurs (MSMEs) from various parts of the country are now in Metro Manila through the Go Lokal! stores.

Go Lokal at Robinsons Mall
Go Lokal at Robinsons Mall

This shop is an initiative of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), in which the government aims to bring local MSMEs to the mainstream markets or by exposing their products in mall in the metro.

Rag pattern can also be elegant
Rag pattern can also be elegant

Just last March 24, DTI launched its first Go Lokal! outlet at Robinsons Place Manila.

Hiraya is a Filipino word for imagination
Hiraya is a Filipino word for imagination

DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez, Robinsons Department Store President and Chief Operating Officer Robina Gokongwei-Pe, and Robinsons’s brand ambassador Marica Reyes-Poon led the launching of the store in Robinsons Manila.

Organic products available in Go Lokal! outlet
Organic products available in Go Lokal! outlet
Go Lokal Bags
Go Lokal Bags

In this outlet, you can find shoes, handbags, backpacks, clutch bags, wallets, accessories, women’s tops, organic hair products and skincare, lipstick, perfumes, home décor, delicacies, and other unique products from different parts of the Philippines.

Local goodies for the foodies
Local goodies for the foodies

DTI Sec. Lopez described the products from the shop as modern but with a local touch, which the young consumers – particularly millennials – would love.

Go Lokal! also sells Philippine-made shoes
The shop also sells Philippine-made shoes
lipsticks and lip care products
lipsticks and lip care products

For example, this chocolate from Davao called “Hiraya”.

Home decor made by MSMEs
Home decor made by MSMEs
Go Lokal hair and body care products
Go Lokal hair and body care products

Hiraya means imagination. However, the word “hiraya” is uncommon to use for Filipinos’ daily conversation.
Another product in Go Lokal! store in Robinsons Manila is this perfume which bares sweet Filipino words like “Kilig”, “Lambing”, and “Unang Halik”.

Perfect perfumes when you're #InLove
Perfect perfumes when you’re #InLove

Robinsons’ Gokongwei-Pe said the company welcomes this partnership with MSMEs through Go Lokal! as this initiative also widens the product range of Robinsons Department Store.

Go Lokal! opens in Robinsons Place Manila
Go Lokal! opens in Robinsons Place Manila

Gokongwei-Pe added that they are also looking forward to open more outlets inside Robinsons Malls in Metro Manila.
On the other hand, the DTI chief aims to open eight Go Lokal! stores within the year.

Go Lokal! Goes to Metro
Kris Crismundo

Go Lokal! Goes to Metro

Out of Town Blog
Go Lokal! Goes to Metro

Go Lokal! Goes to Metro

Among the best products in the Philippines can only be found when you’re travelling to different parts of the country.

Go Lokal! at Robinsons Department Store
Go Lokal! at Robinsons Department Store

You wish to buy hand-woven bags from Northern Luzon or from Visayas, or some batik-inspired items from Mindanao, or those unique food products, or organic goods from provinces nationwide, without travelling too far or spending big for your transpo expenses.

But finally, these quality-products from outstanding micro, small, and medium entrepreneurs (MSMEs) from various parts of the country are now in Metro Manila through the Go Lokal! stores.

Go Lokal at Robinsons Mall
Go Lokal at Robinsons Mall

This shop is an initiative of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), in which the government aims to bring local MSMEs to the mainstream markets or by exposing their products in mall in the metro.

Rag pattern can also be elegant
Rag pattern can also be elegant

Just last March 24, DTI launched its first Go Lokal! outlet at Robinsons Place Manila.

Hiraya is a Filipino word for imagination
Hiraya is a Filipino word for imagination

DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez, Robinsons Department Store President and Chief Operating Officer Robina Gokongwei-Pe, and Robinsons’s brand ambassador Marica Reyes-Poon led the launching of the store in Robinsons Manila.

Organic products available in Go Lokal! outlet
Organic products available in Go Lokal! outlet
Go Lokal Bags
Go Lokal Bags

In this outlet, you can find shoes, handbags, backpacks, clutch bags, wallets, accessories, women’s tops, organic hair products and skincare, lipstick, perfumes, home décor, delicacies, and other unique products from different parts of the Philippines.

Local goodies for the foodies
Local goodies for the foodies

DTI Sec. Lopez described the products from the shop as modern but with a local touch, which the young consumers – particularly millennials – would love.

Go Lokal! also sells Philippine-made shoes
The shop also sells Philippine-made shoes
lipsticks and lip care products
lipsticks and lip care products

For example, this chocolate from Davao called “Hiraya”.

Home decor made by MSMEs
Home decor made by MSMEs
Go Lokal hair and body care products
Go Lokal hair and body care products

Hiraya means imagination. However, the word “hiraya” is uncommon to use for Filipinos’ daily conversation.
Another product in Go Lokal! store in Robinsons Manila is this perfume which bares sweet Filipino words like “Kilig”, “Lambing”, and “Unang Halik”.

Perfect perfumes when you're #InLove
Perfect perfumes when you’re #InLove

Robinsons’ Gokongwei-Pe said the company welcomes this partnership with MSMEs through Go Lokal! as this initiative also widens the product range of Robinsons Department Store.

Go Lokal! opens in Robinsons Place Manila
Go Lokal! opens in Robinsons Place Manila

Gokongwei-Pe added that they are also looking forward to open more outlets inside Robinsons Malls in Metro Manila.
On the other hand, the DTI chief aims to open eight Go Lokal! stores within the year.

Go Lokal! Goes to Metro
Kris Crismundo

Top 8 things to do in Perth, Australia

Out of Town Blog
Top 8 things to do in Perth, Australia

Top 8 things to do in Perth

While Perth may well be the world’s most isolated city, it’s well worth making the trip if spectacular beaches, picture perfect natural bushland and a cosmopolitan city are what you’re looking for. There are few cities in the world that blend all three so perfectly. Nestled on the banks of the picturesque Swan River, and with a decade or so of mining money flooding into the city, Perth has transformed into a thriving city filled with a wide array of sites and experiences to enjoy. To help pull your itinerary together, here are 10 things to do in Perth that will ensure your visit is extra special.

1. Kings Park and the Perth Botanic Gardens

Perth Botanic Gardens
Perth Botanic Gardens

No trip to Perth is complete without a visit to King’s Park, one of the world’s biggest city parks. From here you’ll enjoy magnificent views across the Swan and Canning Rivers, as well as the ever-growing Perth skyline; perfectly manicured gardens; Federation Treetop Walkway and bushland trails that show off the Darling Ranges; and a selection of superb cafés for when you need to quench your thirst and satisfy your hunger. If you visit at just the right time, you may get to enjoy one of the many outdoor concerts that take place here as well.

2. The Bell Tower

Believe it or not, but The Bell Tower is in fact one of the world’s largest musical instruments! It is now home to the 14th century bells of St Martin from the Fields Church, the parish church of Buckingham Palace in London. You can observe bell ringing demonstrations, and even have a go yourself!

The Bell Tower
The Bell Tower By SeanMack – Own work, CC BY 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=514560

Located in Barrack Square, the place where the Swan River and Perth meet, you’ll enjoy 360 degree views for as far as the high can see. Make your way to the sixth floor open air observation deck and witness Perth and the Swan River at their finest.

3. Explore the Swan River by boat

Swan River
Swan River By Nachoman-au – A digital photograph taken by myself., CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=426427

The Swan River plays such an important role in the character of the city that you just have to take a boat ride to fully appreciate its beauty. There are plenty of operators taking tourists from the vibrant seaside port of Fremantle, all the way deep into the Swan Valley. With small cruise ships serving delicious food and drink, paddle steamers transporting you back to a bygone era, and electric ferries shuttling people around the city’s waterways, there’s an option to suit every taste and budget. A quick tip, make sure you give yourself at least a few hours to explore Fremantle. Its artsy vibe means you’ll see talented buskers on the streets, exceptional artworks in the local galleries, and outstanding music in the many bars and clubs that line the main streets.

4. Perth Mint

If you love gold, you’re going to love the Perth Mint. You’ll see the $50million Australian Kangaroo One Tonne Gold Coin (the largest in the world), the 25.5kg Normandy Nugget, and watch molten gold being poured to form a solid gold bar. You can even hold more than $500,000 worth of gold in your hands…seriously!

Perth Mint
Perth Mint By Moondyne – Own work by the original uploader, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2616636

If you love your history you won’t be disappointed. The latest technology helps to bring the historic search for gold in Western Australia to life in a range of attractions exhibits and demonstrations. And if you’ve got a few dollars to spend, you can take home a memento of your visit. Fine jewellery, collectable coins and gold nuggets are just some of the items available to take with you.



5. Cottesloe Beach

Cottesloe Beach
Cottesloe Beach By Bram Souffreau – http://www.flickr.com/photos/bram_souffreau/400748977/in/set-72157594555852446/, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1763821

There are plenty of spectacular beaches in and around Perth to visit, such as Scarborough (the favourite of the locals), City Beach, Trigg and Hillarys. But the most well-known to visitors would have to be Cottesloe Beach. Enjoy great views from the grassed areas underneath the shade of the Norfolk Pines, an outstanding swimming experience in the safe waters, a bite to eat in the many restaurants and cafés that line the streets, or a few drinks in the famous Cottesloe Beach Hotel. Given Perth’s amazing weather, make sure you pack your swimmers because you’re definitely going to need them.

6. Crown Casino

Crown Casino
Crown Casino By Nachoman-au – A digital photograph taken by myself., CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=480810

On the banks of the Swan River and just a short trip from the Perth CBD, Crown Casino is a great option if entertainment and excitement is on your itinerary. Not only is there the obvious gaming features of the casino, there are also 32 restaurants and bars, nightclub, 2,300 seat theatre, pools, day spa and retail outlets. Given all staff have RSA WA/RSG WA certifications, you can rest assured that you’ll be well looked after, whether you’re in one of the many bars or on the gaming room floor.

7. Unique Perth suburbs

things to do in Perth
Shops in Perth- things to do in Perth

Check out the cool bars, cafés and boutique retail outlets along Wolf Lane in the Perth CBD, satisfy that urge to buy something antique or vintage along Oxford Street in Leederville, or relax in a cosy café taking in the foreshore and city views in the quitter suburb of South Perth. Or, if you’re looking for something a little more upmarket, check out designer fashion outlets, fine dining restaurants and trendy cafés in Northbridge instead.

8. Perth Zoo

A numbat, one of the many species to benefit from Perth Zoo's involvement.
A numbat, one of the many species to benefit from Perth Zoo’s involvement. By Martin Pot (Martybugs at en.wikipedia), CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4330077

With everyone’s favourite animals from right around the world all located in the one place, a visit to Perth Zoo is a fantastic day out for the whole family. Take in the beautiful Swan River as you catch a ferry from the Elizabeth Quay Jetty to Mends Street Jetty. Alternatively, catch a cab or drive your hire car from the CBD and you’ll be there in just five minutes. Once inside you’ll see Africa’s finest including rhinos, cheetahs, zebras, giraffes and lions, and many of Asia’s best as well including elephants, tigers, sun bears and orangutans. And let’s not forget our own home-grown wildlife with kangaroos, emus, koalas and dingoes all well represented. You can check out the zookeepers give talks about the various animals and enclosures throughout the venue, and watch as they feed the animals in their natural environment.

Time to plan your trip to Perth

To be honest, this list could have been 80 destinations long, not just the eight we’ve highlighted here. There is so much to see and do in Perth that highlighting them all would be take way too long to both create and read. Instead, your best bet is to head across to Perth, start with the eight listed here then go with the flow once you’re there. That’s the beauty of Perth, it’s a city where you can just go with the flow and never be bored or run out of things to do.

Also Read:

Top 8 things to do in Perth, Australia
Melo Villareal

Top 8 things to do in Perth, Australia

Out of Town Blog
Top 8 things to do in Perth, Australia

Top 8 things to do in Perth

While Perth may well be the world’s most isolated city, it’s well worth making the trip if spectacular beaches, picture perfect natural bushland and a cosmopolitan city are what you’re looking for. There are few cities in the world that blend all three so perfectly. Nestled on the banks of the picturesque Swan River, and with a decade or so of mining money flooding into the city, Perth has transformed into a thriving city filled with a wide array of sites and experiences to enjoy. To help pull your itinerary together, here are 10 things to do in Perth that will ensure your visit is extra special.

1. Kings Park and the Perth Botanic Gardens

Perth Botanic Gardens
Perth Botanic Gardens

No trip to Perth is complete without a visit to King’s Park, one of the world’s biggest city parks. From here you’ll enjoy magnificent views across the Swan and Canning Rivers, as well as the ever-growing Perth skyline; perfectly manicured gardens; Federation Treetop Walkway and bushland trails that show off the Darling Ranges; and a selection of superb cafés for when you need to quench your thirst and satisfy your hunger. If you visit at just the right time, you may get to enjoy one of the many outdoor concerts that take place here as well.

2. The Bell Tower

Believe it or not, but The Bell Tower is in fact one of the world’s largest musical instruments! It is now home to the 14th century bells of St Martin from the Fields Church, the parish church of Buckingham Palace in London. You can observe bell ringing demonstrations, and even have a go yourself!

The Bell Tower
The Bell Tower By SeanMack – Own work, CC BY 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=514560

Located in Barrack Square, the place where the Swan River and Perth meet, you’ll enjoy 360 degree views for as far as the high can see. Make your way to the sixth floor open air observation deck and witness Perth and the Swan River at their finest.

3. Explore the Swan River by boat

Swan River
Swan River By Nachoman-au – A digital photograph taken by myself., CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=426427

The Swan River plays such an important role in the character of the city that you just have to take a boat ride to fully appreciate its beauty. There are plenty of operators taking tourists from the vibrant seaside port of Fremantle, all the way deep into the Swan Valley. With small cruise ships serving delicious food and drink, paddle steamers transporting you back to a bygone era, and electric ferries shuttling people around the city’s waterways, there’s an option to suit every taste and budget. A quick tip, make sure you give yourself at least a few hours to explore Fremantle. Its artsy vibe means you’ll see talented buskers on the streets, exceptional artworks in the local galleries, and outstanding music in the many bars and clubs that line the main streets.

4. Perth Mint

If you love gold, you’re going to love the Perth Mint. You’ll see the $50million Australian Kangaroo One Tonne Gold Coin (the largest in the world), the 25.5kg Normandy Nugget, and watch molten gold being poured to form a solid gold bar. You can even hold more than $500,000 worth of gold in your hands…seriously!

Perth Mint
Perth Mint By Moondyne – Own work by the original uploader, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2616636

If you love your history you won’t be disappointed. The latest technology helps to bring the historic search for gold in Western Australia to life in a range of attractions exhibits and demonstrations. And if you’ve got a few dollars to spend, you can take home a memento of your visit. Fine jewellery, collectable coins and gold nuggets are just some of the items available to take with you.



5. Cottesloe Beach

Cottesloe Beach
Cottesloe Beach By Bram Souffreau – http://www.flickr.com/photos/bram_souffreau/400748977/in/set-72157594555852446/, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1763821

There are plenty of spectacular beaches in and around Perth to visit, such as Scarborough (the favourite of the locals), City Beach, Trigg and Hillarys. But the most well-known to visitors would have to be Cottesloe Beach. Enjoy great views from the grassed areas underneath the shade of the Norfolk Pines, an outstanding swimming experience in the safe waters, a bite to eat in the many restaurants and cafés that line the streets, or a few drinks in the famous Cottesloe Beach Hotel. Given Perth’s amazing weather, make sure you pack your swimmers because you’re definitely going to need them.

6. Crown Casino

Crown Casino
Crown Casino By Nachoman-au – A digital photograph taken by myself., CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=480810

On the banks of the Swan River and just a short trip from the Perth CBD, Crown Casino is a great option if entertainment and excitement is on your itinerary. Not only is there the obvious gaming features of the casino, there are also 32 restaurants and bars, nightclub, 2,300 seat theatre, pools, day spa and retail outlets. Given all staff have RSA WA/RSG WA certifications, you can rest assured that you’ll be well looked after, whether you’re in one of the many bars or on the gaming room floor.

7. Unique Perth suburbs

things to do in Perth
Shops in Perth- things to do in Perth

Check out the cool bars, cafés and boutique retail outlets along Wolf Lane in the Perth CBD, satisfy that urge to buy something antique or vintage along Oxford Street in Leederville, or relax in a cosy café taking in the foreshore and city views in the quitter suburb of South Perth. Or, if you’re looking for something a little more upmarket, check out designer fashion outlets, fine dining restaurants and trendy cafés in Northbridge instead.

8. Perth Zoo

A numbat, one of the many species to benefit from Perth Zoo's involvement.
A numbat, one of the many species to benefit from Perth Zoo’s involvement. By Martin Pot (Martybugs at en.wikipedia), CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4330077

With everyone’s favourite animals from right around the world all located in the one place, a visit to Perth Zoo is a fantastic day out for the whole family. Take in the beautiful Swan River as you catch a ferry from the Elizabeth Quay Jetty to Mends Street Jetty. Alternatively, catch a cab or drive your hire car from the CBD and you’ll be there in just five minutes. Once inside you’ll see Africa’s finest including rhinos, cheetahs, zebras, giraffes and lions, and many of Asia’s best as well including elephants, tigers, sun bears and orangutans. And let’s not forget our own home-grown wildlife with kangaroos, emus, koalas and dingoes all well represented. You can check out the zookeepers give talks about the various animals and enclosures throughout the venue, and watch as they feed the animals in their natural environment.

Time to plan your trip to Perth

To be honest, this list could have been 80 destinations long, not just the eight we’ve highlighted here. There is so much to see and do in Perth that highlighting them all would be take way too long to both create and read. Instead, your best bet is to head across to Perth, start with the eight listed here then go with the flow once you’re there. That’s the beauty of Perth, it’s a city where you can just go with the flow and never be bored or run out of things to do.

Also Read:

Top 8 things to do in Perth, Australia
Melo Villareal

10 Must-Visit Tourist Attractions in Laos

Out of Town Blog
10 Must-Visit Tourist Attractions in Laos

10 Must-Visit Tourist Attractions in Laos

The latest Global Visa Restrictions Index released by the residence and citizenship planning firm Henley & Partners found that the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, or Laos, has visa-free access to 48 countries in the world. Some of these countries include most nations in the Southeast Asia region, as well as other non-Asian countries like Gambia, Ecuador, and Dominica.

Buddhist Temple in Laos
Buddhist Temple in Laos

While this encourages Laotians to travel out of their country, it is without a doubt that Laos is also a growing global tourist destination on its own, and here are the top 10 must-visit tourist attractions in this country:

1. The Plain of Jars in Phonsavan

Hmong Girls climbing on one of the jars at Site 1
Hmong Girls climbing on one of the jars at Site 1 CC BY-SA 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=603775

Phonsavan translates to “hills of paradise”—this holds true, as the city’s topography consists mostly of hills and grasslands. On one certain area of the city is the Plain of Jars, a wide stretch of land where thousands of jar-like stone structures are scattered about. The Plain of Jars is one of the most significant prehistoric sites in Asia. A lot of people believe that the jars date back to as early as 500 BC.

2. Nam Ha National Protected Area in Luang Namtha

Nam Ha National Protected Area
Nam Ha National Protected Area

Laos is the only landlocked country in the Southeast Asian region, and it has several mountains that are ideal for trekking and hiking. The Nam Ha National Protected Area is an ecotourism destination with an area more than 2,000 square kilometers, with a peak of more than 2,000 meters above sea level. The park is home to various species of birds, gaurs, and elephants, to name a few.

3. Buddha Park in Vientiane

Buddha Park
Buddha Park By Dezwitser – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2759940

Just like Myanmar, the dominant religion in Laos is Theravada Buddhism. The Buddha Park, located in the capital city Vientiane, is just one of the few sites dedicated to the religion. As suggested by the name, this park contains several statues of Buddha that are all unique. Statues of other religious figures can also be seen in the park.

4. Lao National Museum in Vientiane

Lao National Museum
Lao National Museum

Another tourist destination that you should visit while in the capital city is the Lao National Museum. The building that houses the museum was built in the 1920s as the French governor’s residence, so the infrastructure itself tells a lot about the history of Laos. Some of the artifacts showcased in here include WWII firearms, sculptures, and exclusive photos of historical Laos.

5. Kuang Si Falls in Luang Prabang

Kuang Si Falls
Kuang Si Falls By Justin Vidamo – Flickr: Kuang Si Falls, Laos, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=24954504

This three-tier waterfalls in Luang Prabang City is arguably one of the most beautiful in Asia. The main falls requires tourists to trek a relatively challenging trail, but there are also bridges and shallow pools where guests can hang out and swim on. This place gets especially crowded during March.

6. Kuang Si Falls Butterfly Park in Luang Prabang

Tourist Attractions in Laos
Kuang Si Falls Butterfly Park – Tourist Attractions in Laos

The Kuang Si Falls Butterfly Park is something you will chance upon when you are on the way to the waterfalls. This is a park you shouldn’t miss, even if you’re eager to swim on the shallow pools of the Kuang Si Falls. Inside this park is a café near the creek, where you can have a nice cup of coffee with the butterflies before proceeding to the falls.

7. Pha That Luang in Vientiane

Pha That Luang
Pha That Luang

This golden stupa is one of Laos’ greatest national symbol. It is believed to be constructed as early as the 3rd century, and has undergone several reconstructions ever since. The complex that houses the Pha That Luang is massive, and contains several smaller temples. The stupa itself is best viewed just before or during the sunset, when it glows its most brilliant shade of gold.

8. Elephant Village in Luang Prabang

Elephant Village
Elephant Village

Laos is also known as the “Land of a Million Elephants”. Of course, the term “million” would be an exaggeration, but you will be happy to see several of our gentle giant friends in the Elephant Village in Luang Prabang. Here, you can get a ride on an elephant’s back for a fee. This park, which was established in 2001, was founded by Markus Peschke, who wanted to have an elephant sanctuary.

9. Mount Phousi in Luang Prabang

The gilded stupa of Wat Chom Si on the summit of Mount Phou Si
The gilded stupa of Wat Chom Si on the summit of Mount Phou Si By Allie Caulfield – http://www.flickr.com/photos/wm_archiv/3926621289/in/set-72157622393374604/, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9497736

Mount Phousi in Luang Prabang is a 100-meter high hill that houses Buddhist shrines like the Wat Tham Phou Si, and the Wat Chom Si. These temples house several statues of Buddha. The paths are guided by staircases which will lead you to one temple to another. If you go out early enough the summit, you can chance upon the beautiful view of the sunrise.

10. Wat Phu in Champasak

Wat Phu
Wat Phu

Wat Phu, or Vat Phou, translates to “mountain temple”. This site houses a temple, a sanctuary, two palaces, and a library. This sanctuary is covered in very green grasses and trees, and the path is lined with stone structures that will guide your way. This is oftentimes considered as the most important archeological site in Laos. In 2001, UNESCO designated Wat Phu as a World Heritage Site.

Laos Travel Guide and tips:

1. The months of March to May are the hottest. Meanwhile, the months of June to October are usually the rainiest. November to March are the drier months, and is the ideal time to travel to Laos unless you’re specifically waiting for summertime.
2. Laos has signed the Protocol for Bilateral Visa Exemption with 25 countries. Filipino travelers would be glad to know that both ordinary and diplomatic/service passport types are granted visa-free access to Laos for up to 30 days. To see if your country is exempted, Lao Airlines has the complete list of the 25 countries in their official website. (http://www.laoairlines.com/?contentkey=pages&id=67)
3. The Internet speed in Laos is slow, if present. Make sure to finish all your online errands beforehand!
4. If you are going to meet or greet a local, slightly bow your head and put your palms together. This is how Laotians greet each other. Handshaking is not a norm in Laos.
5. When visiting stupas, make sure to dress properly. Women in particular should not wear shorts or revealing clothes, nor are they allowed to touch monks. Shoes and socks should be removed when entering a temple. Before taking a photo of monks, make sure to ask for permission first.

Also Read: My Time in Southeast Asia: From Thailand to Vietnam by Road, Train, and Boat

10 Must-Visit Tourist Attractions in Laos
Melo Villareal

Visiting Tagus Cove in the Galápagos

Tagus Cove in the Galapagos

Sailing with a cerveza in hand

Kayaking around Isabela Island

Sailing up to Tagus Cove

Penguins in Tagus Cove

Bird Watching on Isabela Island

Views of the cove

Panga ride around Tagus Cove

Birds in Tagus Cove

Bird Watching on Isabela Island

Sundeck on the MV Origin

Menu on MV Origin luxury cruise

After spending the morning exploring Fernandina Island with Ecoventura, we sailed to Isabela Island to check out Tagus Cove.

This gorgeous cove is protected by two volcanic craters, and it’s a top spot to check out local wildlife. Isabela Island is the biggest island of the Galápagos. Spread over 1,790 square miles, it’s actually way bigger than any of the other islands, and it’s a definite must-see.

Reading Voyage of the Beagle

Sailing to Tagus Cove

I had a great time getting to Tagus Cove. We had lunch on the MV Origin’s sun deck. There were grilled tuna, homemade sangria, and fresh salads. Ecoventura had a kayak trip planned for us, but I was loving the sun deck too much, so I decided to lie out on the deck for a while and started reading Voyage of the Beagle.

I’d definitely recommend one of Charles Darwin’s books for the adventure.

The Galápagos Islands inspired some of his greatest ideas. Reading Darwin’s books really brings the islands’ history to life. He talks about Tagus Cove and tons of other spots in the Voyage of the Beagle, and it’s cool to experience it while you’re reading.

Snorkeling in Tagus Cove

Exploring Tagus Cove

Located across from Fernandina Island, Tagus Cove is full of life! On the cruise you can kayak, paddle board and snorkel. I chose not to kayak, but a lot of the guests said this was the best spot for it because they saw a ton of wildlife along the rocks.

The sea floor around the cove is covered in green algae, which attracts tons of iguanas, fish, sea lions and other sea life, so I was lucky enough to spot chocolate chip sea stars, turtles, and sharks while snorkeling.

The currents were strong, but it was still a fun experience.

Graffiti along Tagus Cove

Historically, the cove was a safe anchorage bay for over 300 years, coupling as a pirate hideaway, so you can see the names of the countless ships that passed through here carved into the cliff. We learned that a lot of the graffiti is from US Navy ships in the mid-1900’s, but you can still see names of more historical vessels!

After snorkeling, we went for a panga boat ride. It was a chance to see more penguins, birds, and the graffiti up close.

Helpful Tip: There’s also a blowhole that’s great for pics if you get the timing just right!

Jacuzzi on the MV Origin

Winding Down

Once we explored Tagus Cove, we went back to the MV Origin to unwind. The yacht has a great Jacuzzi, and it’s the perfect spot to relax after a long day of sightseeing. At the end of the day, we watched an epic sunset on the deck while indulging in fondue and wine.

Cabin on the MV Origin yacht

Could there be a better way to end the day?

 

My favorite Galápagos essentials!

READ NEXT: 20 Photos to Inspire You to Visit The Galápagos

Visiting Tagus Cove in the Galápagos is a post from: The Blonde Abroad

KKD STK + BBQ Cebu: What’s It Like To Eat In A Warehouse

Out of Town Blog
KKD STK + BBQ Cebu: What’s It Like To Eat In A Warehouse

KKD STK + BBQ: What’s It Like To Eat In A Warehouse

Signing off from a rough week at work, picture yourself drinking an ice-cold beer and enjoying a sizzling plate of sisig on a seaview deck, mindfully watching several passenger ships pass by with their dreamy lights at sundown as you take in the fresh sea breeze while your favorite Bruno Mars track is being played live on the background.

What's It Like To Eat In A Warehouse
Restaurant facade – What’s It Like To Eat In A Warehouse

Oh I almost forgot to tell you that the first paragraph experience costs less than four dollars.

Creative use of pallets
Creative use of pallets

So what’s it like to eat in a warehouse?

Hot.

Restaurant interiors
Restaurant interiors
Seaview deck
Seaview deck

Especially if you decide to eat when the clock strikes noon during the summer months wearing a thick leather jacket you bought from Baguio, unless the warehouse was specifically designed to store ice.

Plaza Independencia and Malacanan
Plaza Independencia and Malacanan

In the case of Koko Dine STK + BBQ however, the management has done the necessary measures to bring about a more pleasant dining experience, with the restaurant being located away from the warm polluted embrace of the crowded metropolitan skyscrapers towards the seaside South Road Properties.

Menu at KKD STK + BBQ
Menu at KKD STK + BBQ

Not only that, you can’t deny the fact that this warehouse sure got style.

Turo-turo counter and kitchen
Turo-turo counter and kitchen

While they’re probably certain that Cebuanos will embrace the sutukil type of cooking they’re bringing in the area, they sure also hope to attract foreign tourists scattered among the historical landmarks in the vicinity which include Malacañan of the South (the seldom used Cebu residence of the President of the Philippines), Fort San Pedro (the old Spanish bastion against Moro raiders) and Plaza Independencia (currently the free for all park used for all purposes imaginable).

Bam-i
Bam-i

Unless you’re a local, you’re probably scratching your head now figuring out what ‘shoot-to-kill’ means. No, President Duterte’s campaign against illegal drugs doesn’t concern this. It’s basically an abbreviation of Sugba-Tula-Kilaw, three simple methods of preparing food whether you like them grilled, incorporated into a soup dish or want them eaten raw like a salad or ceviche.

Baked Scallops
Baked Scallops

What if you prefer them cooked with more cholesterol such as deep-fried, sautéed or baked? No problem. Funny, my first sutukil experience as a kid was in Mactan Island at a food stall named No Problem, which became their automatic answer to all the requests of their English-speaking diners.

Grilled Pork Belly
Grilled Pork Belly
Kaldereta
Kaldereta

Can you cook the Lapu-Lapu fish, sweet-and-sour style? No problem. Do you have Coca Cola? No problem. Is it alright if we just took off without paying the bill? No problem.

Sure enough, upon entering KKD STK + BBQ, you’ll immediately notice their turo-turo counter and open kitchen wherein you can choose anything that’s available (as long as it’s edible) and tell the chef to cook the dish with love or you could just browse through their laminated menu and pick their affordable bestsellers which include Crispy Pata, Sinuglaw and their very own Chicharon de Cebu.

Signature Chicharon de Cebu
Signature Chicharon de Cebu
Crispy Pata
Crispy Pata

When I say affordable, this means you can treat your entire batch here after the graduation ceremony.

Tinolang Isda
Tinolang Isda

Out of all the dishes we were able to try out, I bet you wouldn’t be able to guess my favorite: deep-fried to golden perfection, spiced just right and stuffed with the ever elusive ground pork and other fresh ingredients with a tantalizing aroma for the price of only sixty pesos, never ever forget to order the phenomenal Rellenong Talong. Trust me, you won’t look at an eggplant the same way again.

Rellenong Talong
Rellenong Talong
Leche Flan
Leche Flan

And if ever you find yourself so full after trying out these Filipino dishes and feel the need to exercise at that exact moment, go ahead and take out that vintage red bike off the wall for a ride. Just don’t tell the management I told you so.

Fresh fruits with whipped cream
Fresh fruits with whipped cream
The best of KKD STK + BBQ
The best of KKD STK + BBQ

KKD STK + BBQ is located along M.J. Cuenco corner M.C. Briones, Cebu City. For reservations, you may call them at (032) 318 8795 or (+63) 917 700 0499 or check out their Facebook page for promos and updates.

Also Read:

KKD STK + BBQ Cebu: What’s It Like To Eat In A Warehouse
Karlo Pacana

21st World Gourmet Summit Sets To Bring Guests to a Gastronomic Adventure in Singapore

Out of Town Blog
21st World Gourmet Summit Sets To Bring Guests to a Gastronomic Adventure in Singapore

21st World Gourmet Summit Sets To Bring Guests to a Gastronomic Adventure in Singapore

Lovers of fine cuisines have yet another opportunity to sample exquisite dishes from March 20 to April 16, 2017 in the annual World Gourmet Summit (WGS).

Singapore Food
Singapore Food

This year, the summit will be held in Singapore. The event, which is in its 21st edition, brings together some of the best chefs from around the world. The theme for this year’s summit is “United Nations Gastronomic Assembly.”

Chan Hong Meng's soya sauce chicken noodle at Chinatown Complex on July 24, 2016 in Singapore. Chan was awarded a one-star rating by Michelin on July 21, making him one of the first street food hawkers to be awarded in the guide's history.
Chan Hong Meng’s soya sauce chicken noodle at Chinatown Complex on July 24, 2016 in Singapore. Chan was awarded a one-star rating by Michelin on July 21, making him one of the first street food hawkers to be awarded in the guide’s history.

It Will Feature Exquisite Gourmet From Popular Master Chefs

Mexican restaurant El Mero Mero is among the top participants in the event which features the Mescal Degustation Masterclass. This event already took place on March 22. On March 30, the Mucho Mexico Diner will feature Chef Daniel Ovadia.

Other master chefs at the event will include Partissiere Kirkio Nakamura, Quentin Glabus, and Lewin Terrace’s executive chef Keisuke Matsumota. A host of other leading chefs and restaurants will join them to showcase their master menus in some of Singapore’s award-winning restaurants.

Gastronomic Adventure in Singapore
Singapore Food Trip – Gastronomic Adventure in Singapore

Notable dates include March 24 when Osto Ristorante showcases 12-year-old Christian “Whiskey Master” Leusdar and March 28 when Chef Nakamura and Chef Matsumota treat visitors to the Pastry Master Class besides their sizzling Afternoon Tea. In the evening, guests will be treated with the best of Canadian Cuisine, thanks to Chef Glabus’ Canadian Flavours at Wooloomooloo.

On March 29, world-renowned Swiss butcher Grill Ueli will provide a special Culinary Masterclass. The following day, Dutch Chef Jarno Eggen will host another Culinary Masterclass with a sumptuous luncheon at Miele Gallery.

Wine and Dine in Singapore
Wine and Dine in Singapore


Other Gastronomic Adventure in Singapore Important Dates

Here is a rundown of other important dates you should not miss:

  • March 27 – On this day, the WGS Opening Reception plus the 17th Awards of Excellence Presentation Ceremony will be held.
  • March 30 – The 4 Hands Epicurean Delights will be held at the Tipping Club. This will be hosted by Chefs Ryan Clift and Mitch Lienhard.
  • March 31 – Chef Jamo Eggen’s Roguie Gourmet Delights five-course dinner will be held at Dolce Vita.
  • April 2 – CHOPE Ur Next Gourmet Attractions will take place on this day.
  • April 3 – At Artemis Grill, Chef Fernando Arevalo’s “CFF-AOP” Theme Dinner will take place.
  • April 6 – The National Kidney Foundation “Better Lives” Charity Gala will be held.
  • April 8 to 9 – The Royal Gourmet Staycation is set to take place on these dates.

Meanwhile, other Michelin-starred establishments that will participate include Peach Blossoms, Punjab Grill, Odette, Open Farm Community, Ding Dong, Jaan and more.

Food Trip in Singapore
Food Trip in Singapore

With all those top chefs and Michelin-starred restaurants expected to be part of the summit, there’s no doubt that Singapore is fast becoming a culinary hub across the world.  Last year, Michelin released Singapore Michelin Guide 2016, a magazine that provides helpful information on different cuisines. The guide is a first in the South East Asian region.

Gastronomic Adventure in Singapore
Gastronomic Adventure in Singapore

With all the mouthwatering events lined up for food lovers, the 21st world gourmet summit is an event not to be missed. More details regarding the summit are available at www.worldgourmetsummit.com and www.yoursingapore.com for upcoming events and activities.

Also Read:

21st World Gourmet Summit Sets To Bring Guests to a Gastronomic Adventure in Singapore
Melo Villareal

The Best Way to Travel Southern Africa

camping in southern Africa

Ten months ago we started thinking about our trip around southern Africa. We knew that the region was vast and that travel there was a difficult mystery. We weren’t even sure if it was possible to cross the continent on our own. All we knew was that we wanted to see the great African plains, watch lions attack impalas, and have a drink while listening to the sound of fish eagles.

Fast forward nine months, and we now own a South African–registered Land Cruiser and have been touring the massive continent by ourselves. How did we get to this point? Was it the cheapest option? Or did we make a massive blunder by throwing a bunch of cash into a major liability, what with bad roads, border officials, bribes, and mechanical costs? Perhaps an overland tour would have been the best option? Or might backpacking across the continent have achieved our goal?

What is the best option for budget travelers in southern Africa: an overland tour, backpacking, or self-driving? It all comes down to what you want to see and how you want to experience Africa. Here are the pros and cons of each option:

Overland Tours

Overland tours are one of the most popular options with young people wanting to travel southern Africa these days. All transportation and accommodation, most food, and many activities are covered. They require little to no planning and no driving, are safe, and offer a sure way to meet other travelers.

Acacia Africa, Nomad, Oasis, and Absolute Africa are four of the most popular “budget” overland safari companies. These tours venture in and around South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Malawi (as well as Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania). Some tours cut out a few countries, while the “mega” tours include all of them. Some of the tours spend only two days in a certain country; others may spend a week there.

Acacia and Nomad include almost all activities, food, and park fees in the cost. They save the additional expenses for specialty experiences, like bungee jumping off the Victoria Falls Bridge or a hot-air balloon ride over the Serengeti.

Oasis and Absolute, on the other hand, opt for a pick-and-choose model and include only a limited number of activities. Instead they drive you from point A to point B and allow you to book experiences with local operators. Oasis and Absolute also include only 60% of your meals. (If you want all of the adventure activities included, the four providers are similar in price.)

Regardless of the overland company, expect to add roughly $5-10 a day for various expenses, like waters, beer, and tipping your guides.

Tour Company Average Daily Cost
Acacia $101.80
Nomad $100.00
Oasis $55.82
Absolute $64.46

Note: The prices differ according to where in Africa you are traveling, albeit not drastically. This is a crucial detail when determining to take an overland tour or go at it alone. Southern Africa is intrinsically cheaper and easier to do on your own than the rest of Africa. I like to call it “Africa Light.” Gas is cheaper, national parks are cheaper, food is cheaper, and the infrastructure is better suited for tourism. A tour in South Africa may average $86 a day with Acacia, while its East Africa tour will average $121 a day.

Pros of doing an overland tour in southern Africa:

  • Organized tour that requires little to no planning on a challenging continent
  • Great option for meeting people, especially as a solo traveler
  • Knowledgeable guides and safe drivers on harsh road conditions
  • Groups can be great fun

Cons of doing an overland tour in southern Africa:

  • Lack of “adventure” on an organized tour
  • No independence and hard to get away from the typical tourist activities
  • Lack of genuine local interaction
  • High cost
  • Enjoyment is subject to the atmosphere of the group

 Note: There are a few experiences offered by some overland tours that we do not agree with ethically. Any tour that puts you in contact with wild animals, such as lion walks, cheetah petting, and elephant riding, should raise immediate red flags. Ethics and tourism in Africa can be very murky; don’t always expect your tour operator to vet every activity and attraction.

Self-Driving

road trip in southern Africa
There are a plethora of variables that go into self-driving, but we’ll stick with the basics. Operating on the assumption that you will not choose to purchase a vehicle in Africa (you’d have to be crazy like us), your four main expenses will be transportation, food, accommodation, and activities.

Transportation
When we first arrived in South Africa, we got a small pickup rental truck for $650 a month ($21 a day), split between the two of us. We went with a 2×4 to travel through Mozambique, but if you route carefully and skip the dirt roads and sand, it’s very possible to get around most of southern Africa in a sedan (we’ve even met people doing it on motorcycles)!

Rental vehicles are the cheapest in South Africa and can be driven into neighboring countries with a letter from the rental company stating your intent to cross borders. A manual sedan in Johannesburg can be rented for as little as $120 a week.

You may want to drive to remote areas, which means a fully kitted 4×4 rental; those come in at $800 a week out of South Africa and Namibia on the low end for a round-trip car rental.

However, for that price, you can score a truck that can go anywhere and has comfortable roof tents that can accommodate four people — which is the best way to get one heck of a safari for an affordable price. (We self-drove into the Okavango Delta and got further than any backpacker or overland tour could ever go.)

It’s important to factor in road tolls and gas into your costs. Tolls in southern Africa are few and far between, but they do exist and you can expect to pay $10–20 a week in tolls if you’re driving around South Africa.

Keep in mind that distances are vast in Africa, so you’ll be covering some major ground getting from point to point. Southern Africa is bigger than all of Europe, so expect to budget about $100–200 a week for fuel, depending on how fast you move and the distances covered.

While these numbers may be difficult for a solo traveler, a group of friends together can make an African road trip very cheap. Obviously, the cost per person goes down with the more travel companions you add; $10 a day for gas and the rental is possible per person in southern Africa if split four ways. With two people in a smaller car, it’s entirely possible to drive around for $15 a day per person. If you don’t have travel partners, try joining groups on Facebook like “Backpacking Africa” or posting in Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree forum.

Food
Food in Africa can be very affordable (of course there are some exceptions to this if you are eating out or have a special diet). You can find almost everything you want at large Western supermarkets in South Africa; however, as you work your way north, Western-style grocery stores become a rarity. Outside of big cities, most food will come from roadside stands or tiny convenience stores — all of which offer affordable local prices. If you’re cooking your own meals, you can get by on less than $70 a week for food. That includes eating three meals a day and items that may be considered luxuries to backpackers, such as steak, real coffee with milk, and a decent sandwich lunch.

Accommodation
Campsites can range from $5 to $15 per person a campsite; this does not include a tent or sleeping bag. Camping in southern African national parks is closer to $20–30 per person plus daily park fees. The campsites, except in Botswana, are usually fenced in to provide protection from wildlife and have facilities such as an ablution block. In major cities, you will be able to find hostels, budget hotels, and Airbnb rooms, and it’s very possible to get a bed for the same price as camping. Dorm beds run $10–20 a night and a double room $25–50 a night. But this isn’t Europe, so don’t be picky, and prepare for some less-than-desirable rooms. If you’re feeling truly adventurous, rooms in local roadside establishments cost around $3–8 a night but don’t plan on sleeping much because they’re often noisy and a little dirty.

Activities
You can’t get around Africa without some activity expenses. However, if you have plans on seeing any wildlife, you will have to pay—national parks, private game reserves, and safaris all cost money. The good news is that park costs in South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe are all reasonable, considering that these are some of the best game parks in all of Africa. Although you won’t have the comfort of being in a big game viewer and will have to spend money on fuel driving around the park all day, you will still able to see wildlife driving your own vehicle on your own time.These are some average national park fees in southern Africa:

Namibia $9
Botswana $12
South Africa $15
Zambia $25
Zimbabwe $30

 Note: These fees are based on international passports and do not include vehicle fees. Note that almost every park in Africa charges a vehicle fee for self-drivers. The fee can range anywhere between $5 and $50 a day, depending on the country and the car’s type and registrationIn summary, it is next to impossible to estimate a budget for driving yourself. Here are some average self-driving costs per day per person:

Rental car and fuel (two persons)* $15 (sedan) to $57 (4×4)
Accommodation $10 (camping) to $25 (dorm or shared private room)
Food $10–15
Activities $10
Total $45–105

* Prices are based on weekly car rentals starting in South Africa, where rentals are cheapest.

Pros of self-driving southern Africa:

  • Sense of adventure tackling southern Africa on your own
  • Freedom to drive wherever you want
  • National parks are cheaper than hopping on an organized safari
  • You can take as much or as little time in a place
  • You can delve deeper into local and rural African life with your own set of wheels

Cons of self-driving southern Africa:

  • The paperwork and bureaucratic headache of crossing borders with a car
  • Constant planning and routing and always being “on” can become exhausting
  • Maintaining and fixing the car if anything goes wrong
  • Little to no help if problems arise
  • Poor road maintenance can lead to potholes and road corrugation

Public Transport or “Backpacking”

safari in southern Africa
It is incredibly hard to estimate the cost of backpacking around southern Africa because it can vary so widely depending on one’s style. It’s also dependent on if you want to completely go off the grid or if you want to do touristy things. Some may be OK with walking into a village, paying a few dollars to the local chief, and pitching a tent in the dirt, while others wouldn’t dream of this and would rather take public transport from campsite to campsite. Living like a local in southern Africa is very hard if you’re traveling. Poverty is rampant in Africa, and many Africans can’t even afford to adequately feed themselves, let alone travel to the next town while living on a dollar a day. Due to the lack of demand and infrastructure for long-distance travel, the transport options are much more difficult compared to the West and Asia.

Transportation
Local buses around town can cost anywhere from $0.25 to a $1.50. They also only serve local towns and villages. For the larger intercity buses, you can expect to pay $8–25 for a 4–12-hour bus ride (sometimes longer). Tourist spots, parks, hostels, and campsites are often not near any major towns or villages, so you’ll need some budget for local taxis or plan on hitchhiking. The price of a taxi can range from $3 to $15, depending on distance and remoteness.

Food
There shouldn’t be any difference here compared to self-driving. The only exception is that self-drivers have the advantage of buying items in bulk and carrying cooking gear with them. If you are traveling by local transport and backpacking, your food options may be cheaper as you eat more and more of the local food and have less access to supermarkets. On the other hand, your costs could rise since you may not have the proper gear to cook all your own meals and may therefore frequent restaurants more.

Accommodation
Campsites, hostels, and guesthouses will not differ in pricing compared to those for self-drivers. However, as an overland traveler without a car and just a backpack, you can sometimes instead pay a small fee ($3–5) to a local village chief and pitch a tent in the community.

Activities
While you’ll be able to save on most things when backpacking southern Africa, you will lose out when it comes to seeing wildlife. Whereas overland tours and self-drivers have their own vehicle, backpackers will have to pay for each and every safari experience they want to have. Hopping on a day game drives into game parks costs $40 on the cheap end and $200 on the high end. The price difference is large, but most backpackers may visit fewer parks, so the cost difference isn’t out of this world.These are some average backpacking costs per day:

Transportation $9
Accommodation $10
Food $10
Activities $15
Total $44

It is possible to backpack Africa for cheaper; we’ve even met people walking, backpacking, or cycling around the continent. However, someone who travels slowly, camps in villages, and skips national parks will have a much different trip than overland tours and self-drivers in southern Africa.

Pros of backpacking southern Africa:

  • Complete integration into local life
  • Cheaper than a tour or self-driving
  • Breaks boundaries with locals as they do not view you as having many means
  • Operate on your own schedule

Cons of backpacking southern Africa:

  • Uncomfortable, exhausting, long, and even dangerous bus and train rides across the continent
  • Greater chance of getting in an accident or having items stolen
  • You should get used to being dirty
  • No one to help you should something go wrong
  • Constant routing and planning can get tiring

Final Verdict

exploring southern Africa
So what’s the best option for seeing southern Africa? In my opinion, southern Africa is best done on your own because of its infrastructure and lower cost. Travel through each country varies a lot: for example, it’s easy to backpack through South Africa; however, car rentals are also cheap. On the other hand, backpacking in a country like Namibia or Botswana, for example, can be difficult due to the best sights being in remote locations with no public transport around for hundreds of kilometers. So, it is generally better to take a road trip with your own vehicle to get to these sights, which can be great fun. Starting in Zimbabwe and heading up into East Africa, it can get very expensive to self-drive and the road conditions really deteriorate. It should also be noted that countries like Mozambique and Zimbabwe could be difficult to self-drive as police corruption is rampant (and for the uninitiated a terrifying endeavor). My tip for dealing with a corrupt cop is to remain patient, never argue, and calmly demand a receipt or real ticket. Backpacking is certainly the cheapest and more local option, but it can be difficult, uncomfortable, and slightly more dangerous. Hence I would generally say overland tours are best for those looking to see Africa but who don’t want to travel alone and not have to deal with planning.

Travel Style Suggestions
In the en,d it comes down to what you are looking for in terms of adventure, interactions, costs, comfort, and ease. It’s a difficult decision because overland tours are certainly the easiest, but also the most expensive and least adventurous. Backpacking can be difficult and uncomfortable and may hinder your experiences in Africa as most of the natural sights and national parks are far removed from populated cities where public transport operates. However, if you’re looking to meet some of the friendliest people on earth Africans are quick to befriend a backpacker. Self-driving falls somewhere in the middle, as it can be incredibly adventurous but will offer the most flexibility with a more mid-range price tag. It all depends on your travel style, but here is what I would recommend doing for each country in southern Arica. It all comes down to average cost, difficulty, and accessibility.

The post The Best Way to Travel Southern Africa appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.