Monthly Archives: September 2016

Best places to spend Christmas

We asked our social media followers to tell us their favourite destinations for a Christmas holiday – here are the results.

1. England

There are some truly atmospheric corners of England to visit at this time of year and plenty of things to do, from country escapes in The New Forest to Christmas markets in Manchester. Thanks to @Burley_Manor and @travelred for their votes on Twitter.

2. New Zealand

On Twitter, @Kellie_Rooke chose New Zealand as her preferred Christmas destination. She recommends the country for “a BBQ near the beach, sun shining and Sauvignon Blanc in hand”. We think that sounds pretty perfect.

3. Barbados

On Twitter, @vickeblueyes was one of those voting for a sunny part of the world for this festive season. She recommends you kick back and relax on the beach with a glass of Mount Gay rum, getting that much-needed Vitamin D from the glorious sunshine.

4. Germany

For an ultra-Christmassy break, @marykingtweets recommends Berchtesgaden in Bavaria, Germany. Here you’ll find fantastic mountain scenery and a brilliant Christmas market.

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5. Brazil

There’s no better place to spend Christmas than in Brazil, according to @dianaguerra. “There’s nothing like a Santa wearing shorts and getting a tan”, she says. Spend the day sculpting sandmen (rather than snowmen) on Ipanema beach in Rio.

Japan Guide Travelling

With its tech-centric entertainment, ancient temples, lightning fast rail system and traditional art forms, Japan offers a fascinating mix of the new and the old. Between rural Hokkaido and the tropical islands of Okinawa, you’re bound to find something to embrace as a curious backpacker. And with the following insider tips, backpacking Japan can be both memorable and affordable.

1. Skip the train

Rail passes can be pricey and often completely unnecessary given the cheap deals offered by airlines, ferries, and buses. Low-cost carriers like Vanilla Air or Peach can whisk you to another major city for as little as ¥3000 one way.

Overnight ferries – such as the Sunflower, which runs from Osaka to Beppu – give travellers tatami mat sleeping space and the chance to party with locals on deck (just be sure to bring an eye-mask and earplugs if you actually want to sleep). Similarly, overnight buses crisscross the country at highly discounted rates.

 

2. Or buy discounted train tickets

If riding the shinkansen is a non-negotiable part of your Japan experience, opt for deals like the Puratto Kodama. This one-way ticket saves you ¥4000 off the regular bullet train fare between Tokyo and Osaka. Or take advantage of the seasonal Seishun 18; five days of unlimited local train travel.

3. Come prepared with socks

It’s customary to remove your shoes before entering most indoor spaces in Japan, including shrines, traditional restaurants, and ryokan. If you’re going to wander around in your socks (make sure they’re clean), they might as well be stylish. If you’ve not got anything suitable from home, head to a local Don Quijote store to up your sock game.

4. Shop at Daiso

Forget something? Need a makeshift costume for a random night out? A cheap souvenir? Visit one of the 3000 Daiso stores scattered throughout the country, where most items are ¥100 and you can buy anything from craft supplies to shampoo.

5. Escape the gaijin trail

While plenty of bucket list destinations may be among the most memorable places you visit, adventurous backpackers are bound to find more tranquility and less hand-holding away from the pockets of tourist friendly areas.

From Tokyo, consider jetting to the nearby Izu Islands, volcanic gems with deserted beaches. From Kyoto, marvel at the sand dunes of Tottori or head to Amanohashidate, nicknamed “Kyoto by the sea.”