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15 Best Things to Do in Hong Kong

A dynamic and vibrant cosmopolitan city, Hong Kong is filled with an electrifying energy that many visitors find so addictive. Hong Kong’s islands are packed with so much to see and do, and while you are unlikely to be able to cover them all in one visit, here are 15 things that you should definitely not miss out on.

1. Take the Tram to Victoria Peak

One of the best views of Hong Kong can be enjoyed from Victoria Peak, which rises 1805 feet above sea level. When visiting on a clear day, you will be able to see everything from Victoria Harbour to the eight mountains of Kowloon.

Wondering how to get to Victoria Peak?

There are a number of different ways, but the most popular is the Peak Tram, which is famous for being the steepest funicular railway in the world. The journey itself takes just seven minutes, and is always a thrilling ride.

After taking in the incredible view from the Observation Deck, there are a few other things that you can do at Victoria Peak:

  • Take a walk along the Peak Trail
  • Enjoy a meal at one of the restaurants here
  • Visit Madame Tussauds Hong Kong 

Star Ferry, Hong Kong

Editorial credit: Daniel Fung / Shutterstock.com

2. A Cruise on the Star Ferry

While there may be easier ways to get around the city, the Star Ferry is famous for offering up one of the most scenic boat rides in the world.

Star Ferry has been around since 1888, transporting 20 million passengers across the harbour each year.

The views really are some of the best that you will experience in Hong Kong, with the glittering, towering skyline surrounding you on both sides of the water.

3. Explore Lantau Island

The largest island in Hong Kong, Lantau Island is sparsely populated, and is home to some gorgeous natural beauty.

One of the highlights of Lantau Island is the Tai O Fishing Village, which really takes you back to Hong Kong’s earlier days. This charming village features stilt houses and many other historic elements, with local fisherman offering up their catch of the day, which is then turned into a deliciously traditional meal by hand. 

Once you have explored Tai O, these are a few other activities that you can do:

  • Visit Disneyland, which is mentioned below
  • Take a 25 minute ride on the Ngong Ping 360, which is a cable car that offers stunning views
  • Visit the Po Lin Monastery
  • Try out the many hiking and biking trails
  • Relax on a tropical beach

cable car on Lantau Island, Hong Kong

4. Visit a theme park

Hong Kong is home to two main theme parks, and many visitors choose to dedicate a day to one of them.

These are your options:

  • Ocean Park Hong Kong – the largest amusement park, as well as one of the most popular attractions in the city, with rides, entertainment, animals, exhibits and an education center
  • Hong Kong Disneyland although this is the smallest Disneyland in the world, there are still seven theme parks within the grounds, and that number keeps rising

Another popular choice would be Snoopy’s World, which is not technically a theme park, but more of an outdoor playground. Dedicated to Snoopy, Charlie Brown, and the rest of the gang, this is a must-visit for fans of the classic comic.

5. Sample Local Street Food

The people of Hong Kong are avid foodies, and there are so many delicious local dishes here that you will have never tried before. Street food stalls can be found all over Hong Kong, and each one will usually specialize in certain dishes.

Not sure where to start?

Here are a few must-try street food dishes:

  • Egg Tarts – similar to Portuguese custard tarts, but with a smooth and glossy surface
  • Cheung Fun a silky, cylindrical rice noodle roll, filled with meat or seafood and then coated in sesame, hoisin and soy sauce. This is a dish usually eaten for breakfast or lunch
  • Siu Mai classic steamed dumplings on a skewer, filled with minced fish or pork
  • Fried Chestnuts – sold on just about every street corner, these are crunchy and sweet, and are a great snack to munch on if you are on the go
  • Egg Waffles soft on the inside but crispy and golden on the outside, egg waffles have made a name for themselves in recent years and are now being sold on the streets of other major cities around the world
  • Stinky Tofu – soaked in a brine for a few months, this tofu dish has a strong, pungent smell, but actually tastes delicious

6. Take a Ride on the Longest Escalator in the World

Have you ever wondered where the world’s longest escalator is?

Probably not, but the answer is Hong Kong.

Named the Central Mid-Levels Escalator and Walkway System, the escalator officially opened to the public in 1993, and measures 2624 feet in length.

While this may seem like a kooky attraction, the escalator actually serves a purpose…

Hong Kong is actually a very hilly and steep terrain, and installing the escalator meant that a large part of the city could now be pedestrianized.

longest escalator in the world, Hong Kong

The longest escalator in the world. Editorial credit: DoublePHOTO studio / Shutterstock.com

Want to spend the rest of the day exploring the city by foot after riding the escalator?

The Queen’s Road section is connected to the Central Elevated Walkway, which is an extensive footbridge network that will take you around Central Hong Kong, keeping you away from traffic.

7. A Sunset Cruise on a Traditional Chinese Junk Boat

You will see Chinese junk boats all along the Hong Kong harbour, and these used to be traditional fishing boats.

Although not often used for fishing today, these boats now offer up a way for both locals and tourists to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, and spend some time on the water. This is a popular weekend activity for locals, but there are many rides available for tourists too.

How long do they last for?

The rides range from four to eight hours, although they can be customized depending on your needs. No matter which one you opt for, do try to plan your trip so that it coincides with the sunset, as there is nothing quite like watching the twinkling skyline come to life as the sun sets behind the skyscrapers.

8. Climb to the Top of the Big Buddha

Located on Lantau Island, Tian Tian is the second largest sitting Buddha in the world, and is a must-visit if you are looking to soak up some culture and heritage.

Tian Tian stands at 34 metres tall, and it is possible for visitors to climb up to the top of the statue.

Worried about the climb?

There are 268 stairs in total, and they can be quite challenging on especially hot and humid days. However, there is plenty of space here to frequently stop and take a break, and the view from the top is more than worth it

big buddha, lantau island, Hong Kong

9. Enjoy a Meal at One of the Most Affordable Michelin-Starred Restaurants in the World

The Michelin guide is known for showcasing some of the finest restaurants in the world, and while many of these may be extravagant, fine dining establishments, there is one in Hong Kong that is actually quite different…

Tim Ho Wan is a humble, simple dim sum restaurant, although after it rose to fame for its incredible food, there are now locations opening up all over the world.

Wondering what dim sum is?

Its a type of Cantonese cuisine that features bite-sized dishes on small plates and baskets, similar to Spanish tapas.

Since these plates are quite small, this is a great opportunity to sample a number of different dim sum dishes, although make sure that you do order the pork buns, as the restaurant is famous for making some of the best in the region. 

10. Visit The Street Markets

Hong Kong is home to a number of different street markets, each one offering up a lively atmosphere and some fantastic bargains.

Here are a few not to be missed:

  • Ladies’ Market – as you can tell from the name, this market focuses on clothes and accessories for women, many of them excitingly on trend, with over 100 stalls to choose from
  • Cat Street While Cat Street used to be an antique treasure trove, many would say that it is now a glorified flea market. However, if you are looking for some serious antiques, Cat Street is still worth a browse, especially since it is a stone’s throw away from Hollywood Road, where you will find several serious dealers
  • Stanley Market this is a market geared more towards tourists, and is the place to go if you are looking for standard souvenirs to take home with you
  • Wan Chai Street Market this is one of the largest outdoor markets on Hong Kong Island, and many would equate it to an outdoor department store, as you can find just about everything here
  • Temple Street Night Market one of the best night markets in Hong Kong, hundreds of stalls pop up on Temple Street once the sun goes down, selling everything from clothing to street food

11. An Evening of Bar-Hopping

Hong Kong’s nightlife scene is legendary, with different parts of the city offering up quite a different experience.

If you do not have much time in Hong Kong, spending an evening bar-hopping will give you the opportunity to check out several of the hottest venues in the city

There are some of the best neighbourhoods, and their bars, to head to for a night that you will never forget:

  • Lan Kwai Fong – the heart and soul of Hong Kong’s nightlife scene. Head to the Hong Kong Brew House for craft beer, Post 97 for handcrafted cocktails, Insomnia for live music, or Volar to dance the night away
  • SoHo most of the bars here are in small clusters, making it easy to jump from one to the next. L.A.B is where you will find one-of-a-kind cocktails, while Peel Fresco is great for live blues and jazz.
  • Wan Chai Hong Kong’s red light district also boasts a number of joints that are not too seedy, such as Coyote Bar and Grill, which serves up 75 flavors of margarita, as well as Delaney’s, a cozy Irish pub.
  • Tsim Sha Tsui this neighbourhood is artsy and eclectic, and its venues reflect this. Artesian focuses on gin and bourbon specialities, while Vibes is a hidden rooftop garden bar that will whisk you away to another world.

Lan Kwai Fong street market, Hong Kong

Lan Kwai Fong street market. Editorial credit: YIUCHEUNG / Shutterstock.com

12. Visit a Temple

Although Hong Kong may seem like such a modern metropolis, it still has a spiritual side, and is home to a number of gorgeous temples.

Want to visit a couple?

Check these ones out:

  • Chi Lin Nunnery – one of the largest Buddhist temples in Hong Kong, and designed in the style of the Tang Dynasty
  • Tsing Shan Monastery one of the oldest temples in Hong Kong and dedicated to Dou Lao, a God who can help people with their anxieties
  • Fung Ying Seen Koon founded in 1929, this temple boasts exquisitely detailed architecture
  • Wong Tai Sin Temple one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city, this temple is designed in the traditional Chinese style

13. Explore Lamma Island

While the energetic pace of Hong Kong is one of its main attractions, there will always be those days when you just want some peace and quiet.

So, where do you go?

Lamma Island is the perfect place, because even though it is located just three kilometres from Hong Kong Island, it feels like a completely different world.

With tropical beaches, traditional fishing villages, miles of hiking trails and cultural landmarks, Lamma Island is reminiscent of what Hong Kong used to be like in its earlier days.

14. Catch a Horse Race at Happy Valley Racecourse

There are two horse racing courses in Hong Kong, and one of them is the Happy Valley Racecourse. This is one of the only urban racecourses in the world, and can seat over 55,000 spectators.

The racing season begins in September and ends in July, with races carried out throughout the week, giving you plenty of opportunity to catch one. 

In addition to watching a few races, you can also check out the Hong Kong Racing Museum, which is located at the racecourse.

15. Spare a Moment for the Museums

Hong Kong is home to such a diverse range of museums, many of which are among the best in the region.

Whether you are looking to learn more about the city’s art and culture, or its history and heritage, these are some of the best museums to head to:

  • Hong Kong Museum of History – encompasses 400 million years of history, including exhibits on prehistoric Hong Kong
  • Hong Kong Heritage Museum has a strong focus on local culture
  • University Museum and Art Gallery established in 1953, this is the oldest museum in Hong Kong
  • Hong Kong Museum of Art features more than 16,000 pieces of art, making it home to one of the largest collections of artwork in Hong Kong
  • Hong Kong Science Museum an interactive museum that is fun for the whole family
  • Hong Kong Maritime Museum explores the maritime history of Hong Kong, China, and the rest of Asia

Hong Kong Museum of Art

Hong Kong Museum of Art. Editorial credit: Daniel Fung / Shutterstock.com

Hoping to visit a few different museums?

It may then be worth purchasing a museum pass, which grants you access to a number of different museums, including their special exhibits. 

Europe is famous for its incredible gardens, many of which are filled with historic significance. From Monet’s Garden in Giverny to the Ljubljana Botanical Garden in Slovenia, there is an inexhaustible number of must-visit gardens in Europe. 

Here, we list our top 6 choices.

1. MONET’S GARDEN, GIVERNY, FRANCE

Whether you are an art lover or not, you’ve likely heard of Claude Monet, one of the most famous painters in all of history.

Monet was one of the founders of the French Impressionist style of art, a movement that featured a unique style of painting scenes from nature, emphasizing the way in which changing light influenced the landscape.

One of Monet’s most famous pieces is Water Lilies, and this garden, in Giverny, France, which was also Monet’s home and personal garden, provided the artist with the inspiration for this painting. 

The garden itself is split into two sections: the Clos Normand, and the Water Garden.

Clos Normand

Clos Normand is more of a cottage-style garden, and is located directly in front of Monet’s house. The flowers are the highlight of this garden, especially in the summer months when all of the blooms are at their best.

What about Monet’s house?

This two-storey building has now been turned into a museum, and is open for the public to explore.

The Water Garden

The second part of Monet’s Garden is the water garden, and, if you are familiar with the Water Lilies painting, then this is something that you will recognize as soon as you set your eyes on it.

The focal point of the garden is the pond, filled with, as you might have guessed, water lilies. The Japanese-style bridge from the painting is also present, and there are leafy trees that surround the pond and provide a sense of intimacy.

Getting to Monet’s Garden

Monet’s Garden is located just an hour away from Paris, making this a fantastic day-trip destination if you are already visiting the French capital. There are trains available every hour, as well as frequent river boat cruises, which are great if you want to combine your visit with a few other nearby destinations.

A Few Extra Tips:

  • Arrive as early as you can in order to avoid the crowds. This will ensure that you are able to take photographs of the garden, and bridge, without too many people in the way, and will also save you from having to queue up at the entrance
  • Tickets can be purchased online in advance, which will save you quite a bit of time on the day
  • Give yourself at least an hour or two for exploring the gardens

2. KEW GARDENS, LONDON, ENGLAND

Also known as the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew Gardens was originally founded in 1759, and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Sprawled out for over 300 acres, Kew Gardens is considered to be one of the most important collections of living plants in the world.

Being such a large, expansive garden, there is so much to see here. These are a few of the highlights:

  • The Alpine House – The Alpine House is one of the newest additions to Kew Gardens, and features plant displays that are frequently rotated. All of the plants that you will find here are capable of surviving at altitudes of up to 7000 feet, such as tulips, thymes, lavenders and some rare plants.
  • The Palm House – The architecture of the Palm House won its designers numerous awards, and the interior is definitely a sight that needs to be seen. This glass house, which features 16,000 panes of glass, contains a range of different palm trees, including the rare double coconut palm.
  • The Treetop Walkway – If you are visiting Kew Gardens with your family, then you will definitely not want to miss out on the Treetop Walkway, as this is something that will delight the whole family. The walkway extends for 660 feet over a gorgeous wooded area of the gardens, and, standing at 59 feet high, gives you a panoramic view of your surroundings.

There is so much else to see here, including the Temperate House, the Japanese Garden, the Orangery, and Kew Palace.

Want to explore the gardens but don’t want to miss out on any of its highlights?

There are guided walking tours available twice a day, as well as a motorized tour with a running commentary. This is great if you do not have the whole day to spare, as you can disembark at the specific stops around the park that you wish to explore further.

Here are a few extra tips to keep in mind when planning your visit:

  • Clothing – dress warm but wear a jacket that is easy to remove, as certain areas, such as the Palm House and the Temperate House, can get uncomfortably warm. Also be sure to wear flat shoes, as some of the glasshouses contain grated floors
  • Food there are a number of eateries located around the gardens, as well as some wonderfully scenic picnic spots
  • Garden Guides – if you are exploring the gardens on your own, pick up a garden guide at the entrance, as this will help you to understand more about all of the different features that you will see

3. ISOLA BELLA, VERBANIA, ITALY

A small island situated in Lake Maggiore, Isola Bella means beautiful island in English. In the past, this rocky island used to be inhabited by local fisherman, but, in 1630, it was turned into an extraordinary garden by an aristocratic family.

This garden is immaculately landscaped, and, since it can only be reached by boat, has a truly rare sense of intimacy and seclusion. The terraces here feature a wide range of different colorful plants, such as azaleas, camellias and rhododendrons, as well as some rare tree species, such as the ancient camphor tree.

Of course, when visiting Isola Bella, having a look at the impressive Borromeo Palace is a must…

This is a grand, extravagant palace that lies at the heart of the island, and has only recently been opened to the public.

Just nearby to Isola Bella lies Isola Madra, the largest of all of the islands in Lake Maggiore.

Wondering what there is to do here?

Well, this is another island that features a one-of-a-kind garden, this time with more of a tropical feel, which is possible thanks to the island’s unique micro-climate. The plants that you will see here are much rarer than those on Isola Bella, with many of them being exotic and aromatic.

Getting to the Islands

As mentioned above, the only way to access these islands is by boat, and the best place to embark is the town of Stresa. From here, it takes just five minutes to reach Isola Bella, and then another 20 minutes or so to reach Isola Madra, with ticket packages available that make it easy to combine a trip to both.

4. LJUBLJANA BOTANICAL GARDEN, LJUBLJANA, SLOVENIA

The oldest botanical garden in Southeastern Europe, the Ljubljana Botanical Garden was established in 1810, and has been running uninterruptedly since then.

The garden is not as large as some of the others mentioned in this list, stretching out for just under five acres, but it still manages to encompass such a wide variety of plants and trees, as well as other standout features.

Out of the 4500 plant species that you will find here, a third of them are native to Slovenia, while the others come from Europe and the rest of the world.

In addition to the magnificent diversity when it comes to plant species here, these are some of the other highlights of the Ljubljana Botanical Garden:

  • The Tropical Glasshouse – There is a large glasshouse in the garden, which is home to around 400 plant species. These are native to different tropical areas around the world, and the interior of the glasshouse itself is reminiscent of a colorful, tropical jungle.
  • The Arboretum For those interested in seeing the different tree species at the garden, the arboretum is the area to head to first
  • The Cultivation Section A fascinating collection of plant beds that are used for research and propagation, which means starting off new plants before they are moved to other parts of the main garden

Being a Cultural Monument of National Importance, this is a garden that is open throughout the year, and the different plant collections here mean that there will always be something to see, no matter when you visit.

Wondering what else there is to do in the city of Ljubljana?

Plenty!

This is a beautiful, historic city, known for being one of the prettiest in Europe, and is filled with culture and heritage. From outdoor markets to a 16th century castle to a medieval Old Town, as well as world-class museums, restaurants and art galleries, this is the perfect city to head to for a European getaway

5. PETRIN GARDENS, PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC 

One of the largest gardens in Prague, stepping into the Petrin Gardens will make you feel as though you have gone back in time. With fragrant florals, whimsical details, and a sweeping view of Prague Castle in the distance, this is definitely one of the prettiest spots in the city.

Here are some of the can’t-miss spots in the garden:

  • The Rose Garden – This is one of the highlights of Petrin Garden, as it is a six hectare garden that is filled with around 12,000 roses, of all sizes, shapes, colors and species
  • Petrin Observation Tower Built in 1891, this steel tower is a replica of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
  • The Mirror Maze If you are visiting the park with children, this maze, lined with mirrors, will keep them entertained for ages
  • The Seminary Garden This used to be a monastery garden, and is now filled with mature fruit trees

How to Get to Petrin Gardens

Since Petrin Gardens is sat on Petrin Hill, it is quite a steep hike for those who would prefer to walk.

Alternatively, you can take the funicular to the top, which adds to the old-fashioned charm that you will experience at the gardens.

A Bite to Eat

Many visitors tend to make a day out of visiting the Petrin Gardens, and while you can bring along a picnic, there is also a delicious restaurant halfway up the hill. The funicular stops here as well, making it extremely convenient.

Called Nebozizek Restaurant, guests can enjoy a view over all of Prague from the floor-to-ceiling windows, as well as food and wine to suit a range of budgets. From traditional Czech cuisine to international flavors, this is a restaurant that aims to please every guest, making it the perfect way to break up your day.

6. ALHAMBRA GARDENS, GRANADA, SPAIN 

Located in Spain’s Sierra Nevada mountains, the Alhambra de Granada is an Arabic palace and fortress complex that is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

There are many buildings and areas within this historic complex, one of which is called Generalife, which refers to the main garden area.

Built in the 13th century, Generalife was a leisure spot for kings who wanted a quick escape from royal proceedings, and, while it has definitely changed quite a bit over the years, you can still feel such a sense of peace here.

These are some of the highlights of the Persian/Moorish-style garden:

  • The Court of the Long Pond – with pavilions and arched galleries, this is one of the most photographed garden features in all of Europe
  • The Court features a Roman peristyle garden
  • The Water Staircase always a refreshing place to be, especially in the summer months
  • The Low Gardens traditional Muslim-style gardens
  • The Soultana’s Court an intimate court that features numerous water jets all around

The Alhambra itself is one of Spain’s most popular historic landmarks, so you will likely end up spending quite a few hours exploring the buildings, as well as the gardens.

How to Get There

Granada is quite an easy city to access, with everything from plane, train, car and bus options available.

From the center of Granada, you can then either walk to the Alhambra, or take a taxi or bus from Plaza Nueva.

 

Planning a winter vacation? These seven incredible destinations will not only provide a relaxing break for you, but will also do so much for your skin.

Good for skin infections and diseases

PAMUKKALE, Turkey

Located in the south west of Turkey, Pamukkale is famous for its natural, white terraced pools and bubbling hot springs. For centuries, people have flocked here to bathe in these mineral-rich waters, with the Sacred Pool in particular having been used as a healing spa since Roman times.

There are 17 hot springs in total here, ranging in temperature from 35 to 100 degrees, with the water being heated by volcanic lava that lies deep below the ground.

You’re probably wondering…

What exactly is so great about this water?”

Well, the water here is packed with calcium bicarbonate and magnesium sulfate, meaning that it can: 

  • Rejuvenate the skin, while treating skin-related infections and diseases
  • Regulate high blood pressure
  • Boost the circulation
  • Help with digestion
  • Ease arthritis

 

Of course, you will not want to spend every single minute in these pools, but, fortunately, there is plenty else to see and do around Pamukkale, such as:

  • Visit the ancient Hierapolis Theatre
  • Tour the Hierapolis Museum
  • Explore the 11th Century Pamukkale Castle
  • Visit the Roman settlement of Laodikeia

If this all sounds good, here are a few extra tips that you will want to keep in mind when preparing for your trip:

  • Sunglasses are essential in the pools, as the sun reflecting off the white terraces can cause a strong glare in your eyes
  • Don’t forget to bring a waterproof bag for your valuables, as there is nowhere safe to store these so you will need to bring them into the pools with you
  • There is also nowhere for visitors to change their clothes, so you will need to pack swimwear that you can wear underneath your regular day clothes

 


good for psoriasis and stress

 

THE DEAD SEA, Israel

A salt lake that borders Israel, Jordan and the West Bank, the Dead Sea lies 400 metres below sea level, making it the lowest point on the planet. It is also one of the saltiest bodies of water in the world, with ten times more salt content than the ocean.

So, other than its high salt content, what exactly makes the Dead Sea so special?

Well, one of its highlights is the fact that the Bromine and other metals that can be found in the air of the Dead Sea filter out the harmful UV rays of the sun, meaning that you will only be gaining its beneficial, rather than its detrimental, skin effects.

In addition to the minerals found in the salt within the water, the Dead Sea mud contains calcium, magnesium and potassium, all of which can do so much for the skin, as well as the rest of the body.

There is also 5% more oxygen in the air here than at sea level, which can help with the following:

  • Normalizing the cell division process
  • Dealing with sun exposure
  • Stress levels
  • Psoriasis

In fact, the way in which psoriasis can be so hugely improved by a visit to the Dead Sea has triggered the launch of a number of spas in the area that specifically deal with this skin condition.

Wanting to plan a trip but not sure how long to stay for?

Well, a stay of around 14 to 28 days is ideal, as this really gives your skin the chance to soak up all the wonders of the Dead Sea. However, even if you cannot stay for that long, just a few soaks in the water will be enough for you to notice the difference in your skin. The minerals in the water are tiny enough to be able to quickly and easily penetrate your skin, leading to immediate results.

The temperature of the water in the Dead Sea stays consistent throughout the year, making it perfect for a warm winter vacation.

 


Good for acne, dark circles, exfoliation

SANTORINI, Greece

One of the Cyclades islands in the Aegean Sea, Santorini is known all over the world for its white-washed towns and magical sunsets. Within the Santorini archipelago are two uninhabited volcanic islands; Nea Kameni and Palaia Kameni, and it is these locations in particular that are known for their skin-boosting properties.

The water that surrounds these islands is heated by the volcanoes, making it warm and pleasant, at around 30 degrees Celsius, throughout the year. In addition to this, the water contains a number of minerals that have some fantastic benefits for the skin, including:

  • Sulfur – a gentle exfoliant, and one of the oldest acne-fighting ingredients out there
  • Iron – treats dark circles and speeds up the skin healing process
  • Manganese – packed with antioxidants and a great anti-inflammatory

Another huge health benefit to spending some time in Greece is the Mediterranean diet that you will be eating, as this is known for being the healthiest diet in the world

Santorini itself is a thriving tourism destination, welcoming over 1.5 million tourists each year. With everything from ancient ruins to some of the finest natural beauty in the world, this is a destination that you will want to return to time and time again.

 


good for decadent luxurious spas and one-of-a-kind treatments

 

SCOTTSDALE, Arizona

A desert city in Arizona, Scottsdale is one of the best spa destinations on the planet, with over 50 located in the central part of the city alone. You will find some of the most luxurious spas in the world here, including many that offer treatments that cannot be found anywhere else.

What makes these treatments so unique?

They make use of ingredients that are local to Arizona, of which there are so many that can work wonders on the skin.

Here are just a few that you can choose from:

  • Turquoise Wrap at the Boulders Resort & Spa – this makes use of a rich layer of turquoise clay to draw impurities out of the skin
  • Sanctuary Luxury Facial at the Spa at Sanctuary – this facial massage uses restorative crystals and precious stones that have been heated by the Arizona sun
  • Desert Serenity Scrub at the Phoenician – several desert ingredients are used here, including mineral-rich clay, aloe vera, and native essential oils 
  • Desert Nectar Honey Wrap at The Spa at Camelback Inn – Arizona honey is the key ingredient here
  • Desert Lavender Massage at the Talking Stick Resort – featuring wild chaparral oil and desert lavender, finishing off with a Pima cotton brush

When you aren’t spending your time spa-hopping, Scottsdale has plenty else to offer, including:

  • The natural beauty at the McDowell Sonoran Preserve
  • Hiking Tom’s Thumb Trail
  • Exploring Old Town Scottsdale
  • Touring some of the city’s many museums
  • Visiting the Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center
  • Trying your luck at some of Scottsdale’s many casinos

 


 

COUNTY SLIGO, Ireland

Located in northwestern Ireland, County Sligo is famous for being the home town of poet W.B. Yeats, whose grave is a spot that many tourists visit. In addition to its literary importance, County Sligo has long since attracted visitors due to its local seaweed, which is packed with a wide range of vitamins.

The area used to be home to over 300 bathhouses, each of which specialized in skin care treatments that made use of this incredible seaweed.

Today, only two of these classic bathhouses remain in the area…

But, they are still the perfect spot to visit to give your skin a bit of a treat.

There are numerous studies out there that point to the fantastic benefits that seaweed can have for the skin, such as:

  • Boosting hydration with its essential fatty acids
  • A natural anti-inflammatory that can soothe acne
  • Drawing out toxins from the skin
  • Fighting against cellulite

One of the must-try skin treatments here is thalassotherapy.

This consists of a warm bath that is saturated with seaweed. After soaking in this bath for a while, you will notice a huge improvement in your circulation, as well as a much softer overall complexion, as the seaweed will have drained your lymphatic system of any toxins.

 


good for scars, dark spots, chronic skin diseases

 

KUSATSU, Japan

Japan is famous for its onsens, which are local hot springs that usually have resorts and inns located around them. While these can be found all over the country, there are certain areas that feature hot springs with water of an exceptional quality.

Kusatsu is one of these regions, with the Kusatsu Onsen being one of the most popular in the country, as it contains the largest amount of hot spring water in Japan.

While many tourists simply enter into the hot springs and enjoy a warming soak, there are actually a few distinct traditional bathing styles at the Kusatsu Onsen that are practised by locals:

  • Yumoni – this is a process that involves using long wooden boards to beat the water, which cools it down to a temperature that the body can tolerate. While this is being performed, traditional songs are sung, which helps to relax the body and regulate breathing before you enter the water.
  • Kaburiyu – this involves the bather covering their head with a towel and then repeatedly pouring water down the back of their head. The reason for this is to prevent anaemia or dizziness when entering the water, while also increasing circulation and opening up the pores.
  • Jikan-yu – also referred to as timed bathing, jikan-yu consists of bathing in 48 degree water for 3 minutes at a time, as this has been found to be the optimum amount of time that the body needs to experience healing effects. While bathing, there is a dialogue going on between the bathers and the bath leader, which encourages the bathers to breathe more deeply and enhance the effects of the bath.

No matter which style of bathing you choose, the benefits that your skin will experience from the Kusatsu Onsen are vast:

  • Anti-bacterial properties will heal chronic skin diseases and scars
  • The mixture of volcanic gas and groundwater will soothe any inflammation
  • The alkaline water exfoliates the skin and clears dark spots
  • Sulfur in the water detoxifies the skin
  • Alleviates muscle tension and promotes relaxation

While soaking in the hot springs does provide a warm respite from the chill of Japan’s winter, you cannot visit Kusatsu without making the most of the winter activities that are offered here. Skiing in particular should not be missed, with the Kokusai Ski Resort situated just a few kilometres from the Kusatsu Onsen.

 


good for cleansing, exfoliating, skin healing

 

ROTORUA, New Zealand

Located on the North Island of New Zealand, Rotorua is not only famous for its traditional Maori culture, but also for being the most dynamic thermal area in the country. With everything from steaming geysers to gurgling mud pools to bubbling hot springs, this is one of nature’s finest spas.

While the water itself is great for your skin, it is Rotorua mud that has really become popular. This mud is rich in a number of minerals, including zinc, potassium, calcium and iron.

Wondering how this helps your skin?

Well, it has a number of benefits:

  • Cleansing
  • Exfoliating
  • Repairing damaged skin cells and tissue
  • Speeding up overall skin healing process

For those of you who have an interest in natural skin treatments, you are likely already aware of the benefits that Manuka honey can have. 

You will be happy to hear that Rotorua is filled with Manuka and Kanuka trees, both of which produce honey that has long since been used for medicinal purposes. This is a great opportunity to sample the honey in its purest form, while taking advantage of the many spas in the area that use the honey in skin treatments.

When it comes to heritage and culture, 35% of the population in Rotorua is Maori, making this a great spot to learn more about local traditions. Some of the must-see cultural attractions here include:

  • The Living Maori Village
  • The Rotorua Museum
  • The Tamaki Maori Village

 


Choosing a Destination

With so many fantastic skin-boosting destinations out there, deciding which one to visit can be quite tricky…

To begin with, identify the main skin issues that you want to tackle, whether this may be dehydration, psoriasis or acne. Then, pick a destination that will not only cater to this, but also contains other attractions that you will enjoy. Whether this may be the history and Maori heritage of New Zealand, or the pulsating action of Scottsdale, these destinations will not only help to heal your skin, but will also do so much for your mind, body and soul.

Museo del Prado in Madrid, Spain

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The capital of Spain, Madrid is a city that is filled with color and vibrancy, and also happens to be quite the hub for art and culture. For any art lovers that are spending some time in the city, these are just a few of the spots that you simply have to visit.

Museo del Prado
Based in a neoclassical building that was built in 1785, the Museo del Prado was initially intended to be a museum for natural sciences, but instead became one of the first public art museums in the world. The highlight of the museum is its royal art collections, especially its court paintings from the 15th to the 17th centuries, although there are plenty of other pieces to see too.

Mad is Mad
Mad is Mad is an art gallery located in the neighbourhood of Chueca, and has been around since 2005. This gallery is dedicated to showcasing contemporary art, hoping to educate the public on this style. The pieces that you will see here are quite eclectic, ranging from paintings and drawings to photography and video art, all of which cover a wide range of different concepts. Mad is Mad also boasts an on-site store where they sell pieces at extremely affordable prices, which is possibly one of the reasons as to why they have been so successful in bringing contemporary art to a wider audience.

Interior of Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza

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Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza
Just like the Museo del Prado, the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza is a part of Madrid’s Golden Triangle of art, and its main collection, which comes from the late Baron Hans-Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza, is considered to be one of the most important in the world. This collections consists of 775 paintings, which were brought back to Madrid by the Baron himself. Thanks to the restoration that the museum underwent a few years ago, these paintings are now presented better than ever, thanks to skylights and light marble floors.

The Elba Benitez Gallery
The Elba Benitez Gallery has been running since 1990, and is located in the courtyard of a historical villa, meaning that its surroundings are stunning. This gallery aims to explore the relationship between art and other disciples, including film, architecture, and tourism. There is quite a focus on Latin American art here, but there are many national artists that are also promoted, resulting in quite the diversity of pieces.

Interior of Museo Sorolla in Spain

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Museo Sorolla
Museo Sorolla is dedicated to Valencia artist Joaquin Sorolla, who was known for his bright, sun-drenched paintings, many of which are now used on postcards and greeting cards thanks to their cheery appeal. The museum is located in a mansion that was originally built for the artist himself, with the art being displayed on the main floor, as well as in the artist’s old studio areas. The rest of the house has been kept in its original state, so that visitors can gain a unique insight into the eclectic personality of the artist.

Madrid is a fantastic city for art lovers to visit, as there is such an incredible range of art to be found here. From the ancient to the contemporary, these museums and galleries will no doubt provide you with so much artistic inspiration.

Plaza Mayor in Madrid, Spain

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Known as Plaza Mayor, Madrid’s main square can be found at the heart of the city, in its historic center. Although the square was originally designed in 1560, construction only started in 1617, although it has had to be reconstructed several times over the years due to a number of fires causing damage. Through the course of history, Plaza Mayor has served as everything from a bullfighting ring to a venue for royal weddings, and, today, is the perfect spot to spend the day soaking up Madrid’s heritage and culture.

Stamp and Coin Market
If you are visiting Plaza Mayor on a Sunday, then exploring the weekly Stamp and Coin Market is a must. Even if you are not a collector, this market is so full of life, with stands surrounding the main square, as well as plenty of covered tables around these. There are over two acres of stalls to see here, a number of which belong to professional dealers, making this a great spot to bag ourself a bargain.

Portrait painters in Plaza Mayor, Madrid, Spain

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Streetside Entertainment
As you stroll around the main square, you will likely notice several street entertainers, no matter the time or day of the week. These range from street theatre shows to live portrait painters, ensuring that there is always a hub of excitement going on in Plaza Mayor.

The Calamari Sandwich
Madrid has a number of culinary specialities that definitely need to be tried when visiting the city, and one of these is the calamari sandwich. This is especially popular around Plaza Mayor, and just about every café and restaurant here will serve up their own version of this dish. Consisting of a bread bun that has been filled with calamari, which has been battered and then fried, this sandwich is best enjoyed outdoors in the sun, along with an ice cold local beer.

Sabrino de Botin
If you are still feeling slightly peckish after your calamari sandwich, head on over to Sabrino de Botin. This restaurant has earned itself a place in the Guinness Book of Records, because, being founded in 1725, it is recognized as being the oldest eatery in the entire world. There are many local classics that can be tasted here, but there tapas dishes are definitely one of the highlights.

A view of restaurant at Plaza Mayor, Madrid, Spain

Casa de la Panaderia
After your lunch, spend some time exploring the Casa de la Panaderia, which is one of the most iconic buildings around Plaza Mayor. This four storey building was completed in 1619, although it has been renovated and restored several times over the years. It is currently home to the Madrid Tourist Board and the Madrid Tourism Center, making it a great spot to visit if you are looking for more details on how to spend the rest of your time in Madrid. At the top of the building you will see the royal Spanish coat of arms, which are from the reign of Carlos II.

With its cobblestone streets, imposing architecture and picturesque surroundings, there is no denying the fact that Plaza Mayor is one of the prettiest open spaces in the entire city. Whether you spend the day soaking up its history and architecture, or take a few hours to bar hop around the many tapas bars that are situated here, you will no doubt have a spectacular day at Plaza Mayor.

View of the Royal Palace in Madrid, Spain

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The Royal Palace of Madrid is the official residence of the Spanish Royal Family in Madrid, but is only really used for state ceremonies. The palace used to have royal stables as part of its grounds, which were designed by Italian architect Francesco Sabatini, but, in 1933 these were cleared away, as they had fallen into a state of disrepair. Fortunately, all was not lost, as in its place the Sabatini Gardens were created, a project that was finally completed in the late 1970’s.

A Neoclassical Design
The neoclassical design of the Sabatini Gardens has earned them quite the reputation, with many considering this to be the finest gardens in Madrid. The focal point of the garden is the expansive pond that is set in the middle, complete with a gurgling fountain. Surrounding this is a maze of hedges that have been sculpted into extravagant geometric patterns, making them look even more spectacular from up above.

The Best Viewpoint
From just about every point around the gardens, visitors can enjoy gorgeous views of the palace and their surroundings. However, there is one spot in particular that those in the know will always flock to, as the views from here are unparalleled. Simply make your way to the majestic stone staircase at the foot of the garden, which can be found directly across from the pond. From here, you will be able to view the palace in perfect symmetry, as it is beautifully framed by lush trees on either side, and also boasts a mirrored reflection within the pond in front of it.

The Sabatini Gardens at the Royal Palace of Madrid, Spain

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When to Visit
The Sabatini Gardens are open throughout the year, but one of the best times to visit is during the summer months, as this is when the Los Veranos de la Villa summer festival is held here. This turns the Sabatini Gardens into a vibrant venue for a wide range of performances, from open-air music concerts to Flamenco to dramatic theatre shows. Alternatively, if you are not going to be in Madrid at this time, it would be worthwhile coinciding your visit with the sunset, as the reds and yellows of this time of the day are reflected by the pond in such an extraordinary way. For those who would like to explore the Royal Palace too, there are many guided tours that you can sign up for, and these will teach you all about the history and heritage of the area, as well as point out some of the highlights of the gardens.

Bring a Picnic
For those who want to spend some time in the Sabatini Gardens, soaking up the sun, do try to pack a picnic to bring along with you. There are quite a few picnic areas dotted around the garden, and these are well shaded with cypress and pine trees, while offering stunning views of the scenery around you.

There are several different formal gardens that surround the Royal Palace, but the Sabatini Gardens is, without a doubt, one of the best. With its immaculate neoclassical design and its incredible sense of tranquillity, these gardens provide quite the respite from the hustle and bustle of the city.

woman admiring artwork in a museum

Sacramento is home to a number of different museums, each of which provides a unique educational experience. From the Crocker Art Museum to the Wells Fargo History Museum, these are the spots to visit if you want to spend a day museum-hopping in Sacramento.

California Museum
Begin your day at the California Museum, which is home to the official California Hall of Fame. This museum strives to showcase the state’s diverse history, while taking a look at how California has managed to influence the rest of the world in so many different ways. The majority of the exhibits that you will find here are innovative and interactive, giving visitors the opportunity to learn about the California dream in quite a hands-on way.

Crocker Art Museum
Established in 1885, the Crocker Art Museum, which is just a short walk away from the California Museum, was one of the very first art museums in the country, and is now considered to be California’s leading art institution. In addition to their art collections from all over the world, including Europe, Africa and Asia, the Crocker Art Museum is also home to one of the best collections of Californian art in the country, as well as a comprehensive collection of international ceramics, both of which have helped to earn the museum its outstanding reputation.

a small replica of a horse carriage

Wells Fargo History Museum
There are two locations for the Wells Fargo History Museum, with the Downtown one being nearest to the Crocker Art Museum, although you will pass by the Old Sacramento location later on in the day. The Downtown location is a great place to learn more about the Gold Rush, with interactive exhibits and treasured artefacts, along with gold specimens from the foothills at which gold was first discovered. The museum’s Old Sacramento location focuses on transportation and communication, exploring how the advancements in these areas led to Wells Fargo experiencing a huge surge in growth.

Old Sacramento Schoolhouse Museum
The Old Sacramento Schoolhouse Museum is quite a small one, meaning that you will be able to tour it relatively quickly. This museum features a living replica of a schoolhouse from the 1800’s, and focuses on the role of education in California’s early days. With books, photographs and antique items on display, this is an intriguing museum that will really make you think about how far education has progressed since the 1800’s.

Locomotive at the California State Railroad Museum, Sacramento

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California State Railroad Museum
Another museum located in Old Sacramento, the California State Railroad Museum features 21 restored locomotives and railroad cars, some of which date all the way back to 1862. There are also several exhibits that depict how the development of railroads managed to significantly influence American society.

Depending on how much time you have left after checking out the above-mentioned museums, you may wish to end your day at the Old Sacramento location of the Wells Fargo History Museum, or, alternatively, head to a nearby restaurant for a bite to eat. Whichever you choose, you will no doubt have spent your day soaking up so much history, culture, and local information, giving you a whole new appreciation for your surroundings.

happy couple at vineyard

With its diverse soil and terrain, Sacramento is the perfect region for wine production, which is why there are more than 200 wineries sprinkled around the region. Whether you are after a classic, intensely flavored red, or prefer one-of-a-kind artisan flavors, these are some of the vineyards and wineries around the area that you definitely will not want to miss out on.

Frasinetti’s Winery and Restaurant
Frasinetti’s has been around since 1897, which is why the road that the winery is located on now bears Frasinetti’s name. This family-run establishment embraces old world traditions, but combines this with new world technology, resulting in a mouthwatering selection of home grown wines. The winery also has a full-service restaurant, with the menu being based upon wine pairings, featuring dishes that complement and showcase the different flavors within each of their wines.

Wise Villa Winery
The Wise Villa Winery is one that prefers to have complete control over their wine production process and do this in many ways, from hand picking their grapes to using measured controls during the fermentation process. In addition to all of this loving nurturing, the soil structure, as well as the microclimate, that their vineyard experiences result in grapes that are truly distinctive, being rich and complex in flavor but without too much sweetness, and this translates beautifully into the bottle.

Boeger Winery
Located about 40 miles east of Sacramento, the El Dorado wine district is one of the oldest wine-producing regions in California, after being first established during the Gold Rush period. There are around 50 varieties of grapes that grow in this area, making it no surprise that a number of artisan winemakers have popped up here, making use of the incredible grape diversity to create some unique flavors. The Boeger Winery is one of these, and they grow 90% of their own grapes, giving them a huge amount of control over the wines that they produce. Complimentary tours and tastings are held every day, and you can round up your time here with a meal at their stunning outdoor picnic area.

Gold Hill Vineyard
Established in 1980, Gold Hill Vineyard has received a number of awards for their high quality wines, and have recently been developing the range that they offer. Their expansive cellar features thousands of cases, with some of the newer ones being Italian and Rhone varieties. While tours and tastings are offered throughout the week, visitors should try to attend their Friday Fling event, as this not only features the best of their wine, but also food trucks that serve up tasty artisan dishes, lending quite a casual air to what would otherwise have been more of a formal wine tasting.

The heart of the Northern Californian wine industry, Sacramento embraces the traditions of older wineries, as well as the innovation that comes from the newer ones. Wine production is an important part of life in this region, so it only makes sense to discover some of Sacramento’s wineries if you are fortunate enough to be paying a visit to this area.

Woman picking carrots in farm

With the perfect climate for growing produce throughout the year, plus over 1.5 million acres of farmland, it comes as no surprise that Sacramento is the farm to fork capital of the United States. From foodie adventures to farm tours, here are just a few of the ways in which you can take full advantage of the incredibly fresh produce to be found in Sacramento.

Farmers Markets
One of the best ways to ensure that you are purchasing the freshest of produce is by doing your shopping at a local farmers market. These can be found all over Sacramento, and sell seasonal produce, as well as other items, such as meat, dairy and beverages. From the Capitol Mall Farmers Market every Thursday to the Sunrise Light Rail Station Farmers Market on Saturdays, there are farmers markets to be found just about everywhere in Sacramento.

Food Tours
Food tours are a great way to learn more about the farm to fork concept in greater detail, while seeing how individual organizations carry this practice out. Local Roots Food Tours are half day tours that are available every week, and are basically a walking tour of some of Sacramento’s best farm to fork eateries. Grange: Follow the Chef is another tour that foodies will love, and this is held throughout the spring and summer months. This tour gives participants the opportunity to follow a local farm to fork chef as he chooses his ingredients, ending with watching the chef create a meal from said ingredients.

Happy couple with a basketful of fresh produce

Farm Tours
Farm tours will provide you with a unique insight into the farm to fork movement, and there are certainly plenty to choose from in the area. The Clowell Thundering Heard Ranch is just 30 minutes outside of the city, and is a family-run ranch that grows everything from oranges and limes to kumquats and plums, and even has their own tasting room. Double M Farms sells fruit and eggs throughout the year, and have aviaries with pheasants, quail and chukar, while Vierra Farms have a produce stand that runs until October.

Special Events
Being the farm to fork capital of the country, it comes as no surprise that Sacramento hosts some fantastic food-related special events. The annual 2017 Farm to Fork Festival is coming up in September, and is a vibrant gathering place for local producers to showcase their goods. Legends of Wine is another event that you will not want to miss, as this brings together some of the best wines from the Sacramento region, along with artisan local cheese, fresh lamb sliders, and so much more. Restaurant Week is also coming up in September, and this event features a number of local restaurants who put together dedicated farm to fork menus, throughout the month.

Many would consider Sacramento to be paradise for foodies, as this region is so food-oriented. From picking your own produce at local farms to attending festivals and special events, make sure that you schedule in at least a few farm to fork activities when visiting Sacramento.

Man riding camel through the desert

When visiting the Middle East, one of the highlights for many is taking a camel ride, as this is a long-standing tradition in the area. For those visiting Kuwait, here are a few of the options that are available when it comes to camel riding.

Desert Safari and Camp
For those who want the ultimate experience, a desert safari is a must-do. There are many organizations that offer this around the country, and each one will provide a package that is slightly different, so it is worth exploring a few before picking one to sign up for. These safari and camp packages will all include transport from the city center, and will take you into the desert, where you will be greeted with a traditional Bedouin camp. In addition to taking a camel ride around the desert, you will also be able to try out a number of other traditional activities, including shisha, kite flying, and taking photographs in traditional costumes.

The Kubd Camel Farm
The Kubd Camel Farm is always popular amongst visitors to Kuwait, as this is where you can go to learn so much about these majestic creatures. The camels that you will see here come in multiple shades of black and brown, and you will be able to get up close and really spend some time with them. The desert setting that the farm is set within is perfect for a camel ride, and you will also have the opportunity to taste fresh camel milk. The majority of visitors tend to enjoy this experience, finding the taste quite unique, while being very rich and creamy. This farm is one of the best spots to visit to see camels interacting in a natural habitat, whether this may be eating and socializing or feeding their young.

Camels in a zoo

The Kuwait Zoo
If you are hoping to see other native Kuwaiti animals, in addition to camels, then the Kuwait Zoo is the place to go. In addition to having plenty of creatures on display, this zoo is also one that places a huge emphasis on conservation and education, and have a breeding center where they breed endangered animals that are native to the country. In addition to taking camel rides here, you can also have a ride on a horse or a donkey, while the train that weaves its way around the grounds is a convenient way to get around, ensuring that you can take in all of the sights of the zoo during your visit.

The Camel Markets
While you may not be able to properly ride a camel at the camel markets around Kuwait, they are still worth visiting for the unique experience alone. These places are where locals buy, sell and trade their camels, and the atmosphere here is always buzzing and vibrant, making this a great opportunity to soak up the ambiance of this culture.

Camels are an important part of the culture in Kuwait and are bred for everything from racing to meat. If you are looking for a memorable, traditional experience, then taking a camel ride in the deserts of Kuwait is a must.