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Why I Quit My Job To Travel

Smiling faces

Last week, I took a wee trip to Rishikesh – the land of sadhus and of many people’s spiritual rebirth. I have a personal affection, some attachment to this place. This is where I once spent two months, practicing meditation and taking spiritual lessons.

But this time, my arrival was accompanied by a sense of unexpected realization. I wondered, as I grabbed myself walking along its frenzied, confused walkways, that how lucky I am to experience places like Rishikesh again and again. And yet, it is never the climax of my trip. It is always the beginning.

“We travel, some of us forever, to seek other places, other lives, other souls” Anais Nin

It has been more than two years now, since I quit my job and started travelling, yet I never shared here why and how it all happened. It would be nice to say that I wanted to understand myself, and find my inner consciousness, but frankly speaking, it’s not true. The only part which is true is that I’ve had enough living the same boring 9 to 5 corporate life every day. I wanted to do more than that. I wanted to see the world. Meet new people. Learn better ideas. Find out what’s wrong with this system of corporate culture, that it never made anyone happy – no matter what they achieved in their life. Simply put, I wanted to educate myself in a way that no school, no job ever did before.

traveller

But one thing is saying that I want to do this and the other thing is realizing I am actually doing it.

Traveling is no less than a pursuit of happiness for me. Yet, throughout this time, I’ve often stumbled upon questions like “Why I quit my job to travel” or “How did I manage to make such a decision” or “What’s next” – with all this, what others actually wanted to ask me was why did I not go for a two-week calculated holiday (or a couple of month’s sabbatical, if I am being pretentiously brazen about it) to quench my thirst of travel, as an averagely sane person would otherwise do.

The truth is, there is no fun in that. I have taken enough of these recreational holidays – as people often term them – in my life. When I was working I found myself claiming the boundaries of my city almost every weekend, with a couple of friends, drinking a bunch of beers and coming back, but that was no solution. The minute you enter the premises of your office, the next day, it feels as if that sweet, sally trip, that in fact, went past in the blink of an eye, actually never happened. I wanted something more than that. Something bigger. Something permanent.

Discontentment Is Good

Discontentment is the very first step to a new beginning. My discontentment towards my job brought me into this. I’d always loved India, but I never loved my life in India. I loved my profession (of writing), but I never loved my job. It seemed I was just accepting things as they came, and as everyone says “this is life and you got to learn to deal with it.”

But I think I never managed to master that art. Though I tried to suppress my unsatisfied soul the traditional way, by changing jobs and running after money. But it was just not enough. My audacious, fertile mind – discontented and grumbling – kept pushing me until I shifted focus.

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The Journey That Changed It All

I took my first solo trip back in 2014 (you can read about it all here), while I was still working, to trek for a few days under the colossal Himalayas. It was a life changing experience. Though there was nothing extraordinarily great about the journey, the freedom in travelling solo was, in fact, quite addictive. And that was it. I spent the next few months, saving as much money possible from the job I was doing, having a very clear focus in my mind – to leave this lifestyle behind and travel the world.

“I am not the same, having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world” Mary Anne Radmacher

Though it may sound cool and easy how I managed to quit my job and get ahead with the mission See-The-World. But trust me, it wasn’t.

Two years Later

Though my journey as a solo traveller and as someone on a perpetually limited budget – particularly during the first year of travel-blogging – has had many highs and lows, when I look back and think of what travelling has given me during all this time, if there’s one thing that comes to my mind, it is: a mileage of a different kind.

I mean forget about the money I’ve made and the number of sponsored trips I’ve scored during all this period, the kind of self-transformation travelling have provided me with, compensates everything.

And speaking of what’s next, I think I’ll continue travelling for as long as my heart will desire, and if I ever wanted some stillness, or a periodic absence-of-movement in life, I can always go back and resume what I was (before 2016) doing. But this time, to only do it much better!

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Hot Air Ballooning In The Gold Coast

It felt all okay initially as our hot air balloon took the flight from in the Gold Coast, but as it continued rising higher and higher my knees started going weak. “How high are we going today”?I asked the pilot, with a doubtful voice, expecting him to sense the nervousness in me, but ignoring me at all and with a big playful smirk on his face, he spat, “over 3500 feet”.

More than a km higher from the ground, and a few long minutes away, as my eyes finally adjusted and my head came to its place — a bit relaxed now, after something a habit — I realised that my last experience of hot air ballooning in Goa was, in fact, a low altitude ride over the suburbs of the central Goa. It may just be as beautiful and surreal as an experience, but the flight certainly didn’t feel this high!

The Hot Air Ballooning in the Gold Coast was certainly in the top experiences I was looking forward to since an invitation from the Queensland Tourism to explore the region on a 5-day trip had landed in my inbox, but nowhere near did I expect it to be so special.

It was 4 in the morning when our driver from ‘Hot Air’ picked us up from our hotel. The weather was clear and cold, but a good hot-air ballooning session was expected. It took us almost one and a half hour and a few pickups on the way before we reached our flight destination — behind the rolling hills of the majestic Gold Coast Hinterland. There were two balloons who were taking off simultaneously with each one having about 18 guests and a pilot.

Our pilot, with his playful Italian accent, assured for a great flight with some unusual views. “See this chilly morning, you may just be feeling a bit cold now, but once you’ll get up there you will be thanking for it and all the mist you’re going to see on the way”.

And alas, he was true. As we took off and rose about 2000ft above the group, the sweeping views of the majestic Gold Coast Hinterland with regular intervals of temporary mist made it up to us. We were told that the winter months of May and June are the best for Hot Air Ballooning for all the beauty it has to offer.

It was a kind of experience that’s hard to convey in words: from the gradual take-off to the panoramic views of tranquillity and calmness to watching the world come to light, every bit of it, every moment, was precious. And the hot air balloon pictures we took on the way, well that made the entire experience a bit more priceless!

After a little more than an hour ride, we started descending. As the ground approached, our pilot told us to hold on, there could be a bump. I have heard of people having huge bumpy landings during their flights (in some cases, the bucket also getting flipped) but both of my times in a hot air balloon have been smooth. There is a little jolt once you hit the ground, but if the conditions are good and your pilot is experienced, the landing can never be as painful as many expect it to be. We braced ourselves for a tiny little hop and in a couple of seconds, we came to a stop.

As we stopped, an off-roading trailer approached us to take us back to our parked van.

Once we were out of the basket, we helped the crew and pilot pack up the balloon as volunteers. It was a lot of work indeed pushing the air out and folding the nylon in, but in less than 10 minutes we were packed and taken for the breakfast at a nearby winery, where a glass of champagne and some hot buffet lunch was waiting for us.

By the time we reached the winery, the sun had come much above the horizon. It was indeed a perfect end to a perfect morning in the air!

Continue planning your trip to the Gold Coast with this ideal Travel Itinerary for the Gold Coast.

Disclaimer: I was invited by Queensland Tourism for a 5 day trip to the Gold Coast. Though the trip was hosted by them, all recommendations and suggestions are solely my own. I only recommend what I personally try and find worth appreciating.

A Day Trip To The Lady Elliot Island From The Gold Coast

Visiting Gold Coast in Queensland? Don’t miss a day trip to The Lady Elliot Island — the most picturesque highlight!

As I carefully treaded on what appeared as a million broken shells and conches, with my shorts carefully rolled up, I experienced a soft touch of the residual waves of the Coral Sea caress my feet and playfully slip the sand from underneath my soles. I looked at the chirpy turquoise blue waters before me and suddenly realised why this place is considered as a mecca for snorkels and divers. I was not even 10 steps away from the beach and the beautiful coral life had already started and stretched for as far as I could see. A few dozen colourful, tiny fishes had moreover approached me before suddenly disappearing into nothingness as if almost inviting me to their beautiful world underwater!

I remember when an invitation from the Queensland Tourism landed in my inbox, asking me if I would be interested in exploring the Gold Coast region during a few days of an action-packed journey, the first thing that came in my mind, before even checking out the itinerary, was snorkelling in the Great Barrier Reef. I mean for any scuba diver, diving or snorkelling in the Great Barrier Reef is like tasting the holy grail — and I was no different. Then a quick read of the itinerary and my anticipation turned into a sweet reality. On the last day of our 5-day trip in and around the Gold Coast, we were flying to this lovely unheard-of island called the Lady Elliot Island.

The 1.5-Hour Flight To The Lady Elliot Island: The First Highlight

And then the last day happened, and I found myself sitting groggily (with bloodshot eyes, thanks for a few extra drinks the previous jazz-night in the hotel!) at the hotel reception waiting to be picked up around quarter to 6. The hotel transfer to Lady Elliot’s private flight terminal in the Gold Coast was a total blackout, but as soon as we got into our charter plane and took-off, things became ineterstingly unavoidable.

The surreal ariel views of the entire Gold Coast, North and South Stradbroke Islands, Moreton Island and Fraser Island as we slowly made our way to the Lady Elliot Island kept hold me. We flew over white sand beaches, beautiful suburbs, periodic cliffs and of course, an eternal turquoise sea. And since it was a small chartered plane and didn’t fly much higher (like big planes do) spotting life on land was easier.

Located about 450km north of the Gold Coast the flight to the Lady Elliot Island takes almost 100 minutes from the Gold Coast, and 80 minutes from Redcliffe in Brisbane.

Snorkelling With A Turtle: A Dream Come True

Located at the southernmost tip of the Great Barrier Reef, the Lady Elliot Island is known (among those who know about it!) for its unspoilt coral life. Its remote location on the edge of the continental shelf gives it the clearest water on the reef and also some of the best marine life.

The Lady Elliot Island is moreover particularly popular for its manta rays — in fact, there are consistently more resident manta rays here than virtually anywhere else on the planet. But during our visit to the island, and two equal 30-minute snorkelling episodes we, unfortunately, could not spot any.

On a brighter note, however, we got to swim with a turtle — and that too, for not just once but thrice. As unreal as it may sound, the experience of floating with the turtle and even going underwater with it for a few brief seconds (as I held my breath) was an experience of a lifetime.

It appeared that the turtle was not at all afraid or bothered to be swimming right beside me — after all, I was in his world, and he was the king!

If you end up visiting the Lady Elliot Island between February through to April, you can even experience turtle hatching.

Other than turtles, we explored a beautifully diverse coral of the Great Barrier Reef with fishes of all colour and sizes and shapes appearing suddenly before gracefully disappearing into the vast sea. The visibility was also as good as 20+ meters away.

Day Trip To The Lady Elliot Island: The Itinerary We Followed

Upon arrival at the Lady Elliot Island (after a 15 min hotel to Lady Elliot Island’s private flight terminal in the Gold Coast and a 100min flight) our guide took us on a brief orientation tour of the island before escorting us to the Day Guest facilities to collect our snorkel equipment.

Please note that all snorkelling equipment (for day trippers as well as those who are staying at the island) is included in the price so no need to carry anything with you but just your daily essentials and a swimsuit. Even sunscreen and flip-flops are provided so wear shoes if you want to and forget about them getting wet.

Once done, we had a 20-minute boat ride to the snorkelling spot, in the glass-bottom boat, making the journey interesting to another level. As we finished the snorkelling-tour and got back to the island (which took a total of 2 hours) we had time to either explore more of the island, relax on a beach, play volleyball or snorkel at another destination. We chose to snorkel (for another half an hour) — following which was a hot and cold buffet lunch waiting for us.

Post lunch, we had a guided stroll across the Lady Elliot Island’s nursery — the very reason for any vegetation on the island and a brief fish feeding session.

The entire tour started around 8.45 in the morning (after our arrival at the Lady Elliot Island) and finished at 2.30 in the afternoon (before catching our flight back to the mainland).

Useful Tips For Your Day Trip To The Lady Elliot Island

  • All day trips and long holidays at the Lady Elliot Island can be booked directly from their website.
  • For day trips, you get your in-flight breakfast, a buffet lunch and tea-snack after the finish of the tour, so no need to bring any packed lunch.
  • The 800AUD per person price (from the Gold Coast) for day trips may sound a little bit too much, but given the experiences (which includes two 100 min flights and other things) I personally found it all a total worth. A trip to the Lady Elliot Island, despite a hefty price, is certainly going to be a highlight during your holiday in the Gold Coast.
  • You also don’t need to carry thing extra than your swimsuit and a towel. All necessary snorkelling gear as well as sunscreen and reef walking shoes are included in the price and provided happily.
  • You can start your tour from one destination (say from the Gold Coast) while in return, choose to be dropped off to the different destination (eg Brisbane) if informed in advance.

Scared Of Water? Don’t Want To Snorkel? I’ll Still Advise You To Go For The Tour!

Though snorkelling is certainly the best part of the entire day trip to the Lady Elliot Island, if you’re scared of waters, it’s still worth a visit. And there are two reasons for it. Actually, there are three:

One reason is the scenic flight to the island, which is a great treat for all the views it has to offer.

The second reason is that 15-minute boat ride to the snorkelling location (and back) that is done in the glass-bottom boat, making it possible for even those who are not getting into the water to explore life underwater in the Great Barrier Reef.

And third, is the natures calendar: visiting during winter to experience feeding the Mantra Ray, visiting between November and March to experience Turtle nesting, and visiting between February to April to experience Turtle hatching. If visiting during June to October, however, you can spot some migrating whales.

Spend At Least One Night On The Island

Though most international travellers visiting the Lady Elliot Island do only a day trip to the Lady Elliot Island, I found that the best charms of the island can be explored only by going a little slower. Plan a one day trip, and experience the serenity of the place. Though the island has a total occupancy of 150 people (and 100-day visitors) it still feels pretty deserted at all times, offering its guests a near-experience of staying on an island with no life around.

There are different accommodation options to choose from, ranging from eco cabins to glamping tents to island suites.

A few days of holiday with your family and friends, as you do nothing and lose yourself into the oblivion and the beauty of the Lady Elliot Island, you find a world far unparalleled and beautiful.

And hey, did I tell you that there is no phone reception at the entire island? Makes it even better, right?


If you are looking for cheap flight tickets from India (or someplace in Southeast Asia) to the Gold Coast, I will suggest checking out fares for Scoot Airlines. They’ve been flying to the Gold Coast in addition to a few other destinations in Australia for amazingly cheaper prices. I am sure their prices will give you another reason to be planning a holiday to Australia, and to the Gold Coast in particular!


Continue planning your trip to the Gold Coast with my ideal Gold Cold Travel Itinerary

Disclaimer: I was invited by Queensland Tourism for a 5 day trip to the Gold Coast. Though the trip was completely hosted, all recommendations and suggestions are solely my own. I only recommend what I personally try and find worth appreciating.

How To Spend 5 Days In The Gold Coast: An Ideal Itinerary

Planning a trip to the Gold Coast in Queensland and not sure what to see and do? Follow this 5-day see-it-all itinerary and make the most of your Gold Coast Holiday.

Recently I had a chance to visit the most frequented place for Indian tourists in the Queensland region of Australia — the Gold Coast, during a blog trip with Queensland Tourism and Scoot Airlines. A nearly 60-km expanse of photogenic beaches, the Gold Coast, that I, before my visit, expected to be no different than any other upcoming beach-destination in Australia (dominated by water sports, traditional cafes, and a laid-back Australian life) started surprising me as soon as I get there. As I explored its one neighbourhood after the other, I realised that the Gold Coast had much more to offer than what I had initially thought it will. It wasn’t just another laid-back beach towns in Australia (which in fact it was) but much more than that. There were nature trails, beaches, crazy unheard-of-before adventure tours, beautiful wildlife, cafes, casinos and everything else you can think of — and to actually see it all, I had to in-fact extend my holiday and stay back another 3 nights.

So out of many different experiences, laughter, confusion, memories and my 8-day stay in the Gold Coast, these are a few handpicked experiences I would recommend you to try. What I also recommend is staying for at least 5 days in the town to be able to soak it all in well!

Spending 5 Days In The Gold Coast: An Ideal Itinerary

DAY1: GETTING UNDER THE SKIN OF THE GOLD COAST

Fueling Up At Cafe D’Bar

About 15min drive from the Gold Coast Airport lies one of the serenest and most popular surfing beaches — the Snapper Rocks and about 1-minute drive away from the beach is the traditional D-Bar cafe. Located on Point Danger, while overlooking the famous surf breaks, Cafe D’Bar offers a picturesque coastal dining experience, featuring local seaside art and homewares during the day and home to live music throughout the night. On a perfect sunny day, as we had it, a satisfying breakfast, perfectly blended with cafe D’Bar’s traditional laid-back ambience is all you need to kickstart with your real Aussie holiday.

Next, Spend A Few Morning Hours At Snapper Rocks To Get Your Bearing

A perfect place to go if you want to surf, and even if you don’t the Snapper Rocks beach (and the adjoining Coolangatta as well) will quintessentially introduce you to a true Aussie lifestyle near the shore(s) — that’s either beautiful and relaxing or active and adventurous. If you’re into surfing, there can’t be a better place than the Snapper Rocks in the entire Gold Coast to try it, and even if not, it’s still a great place to watch others surfing as you relax and unwind. If you’re lucky, you might also spot whale further out in the ocean.

So spend a good share of your morning around the area, before you head to Currumbin Beach for lunch.

Lunch at Currumbin Beach Vikings Surf Life Saving Club

Nestled on Elephant Rock, The Currumbin Beach Vikings Surf Life Saving Club offers visitors a view of the Gold Coast like no other place does. I completed (like literally!) my day with beautiful views of the ocean on my right and a filling (massively big!) veggie burger with some fries and a drink, before a few hours of walk in and around the sanctuary of Currumbin that was next in our list.

Visiting The Wildlife Sanctuary Park of Currumbin

One of the prime experiences for anyone to be travelling to Australia, no matter what part of the country they are visiting, is spotting a Kangaroo and a Koala. But what if you also get to feed one and hug the other. Well, that’s what the wildlife sanctuary of Currumbin offers, in addition to a few other things.

Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, that in fact, is also a wildlife conservation organisation, offers Kangaroo feeding and Koala cuddling experiences. Just pay a 60 AUD entry fee (for adults) and explore its 27-hectare of rainforest, and with that, a few endangered species of reptiles, birds and other wildlife animals.

With over a dozen different shows and activities, one can spend an entire day at the park and not get bored. However, if short with time (yes, a 5-day trip to the Gold Coast is still not enough!) just try a few recommended activities like Kangaroo feeding and Koala cuddling (to complete your Aussie trip) and get going.

Try to visit the park around 2 pm to witness a Free Flight Bird Show, where different species of (trained) birds — ranging from a cockatoo and a barking owl to Australia’s largest bird the impressive wedge-tailed eagle — will literally free fly back and forth over your head.

Exploring The Surfers Paradise In The Evening

The Surfers Paradise is the most happening and the very centre of the Gold Coast city. It’s in the Surfers Paradise where most travellers and backpackers looking to get some sun, surf, and spending time partying can be found throughout the year. A couple of hours stroll at the Surfers Paradise the day you ended up in the Gold Coast will help you get the essence and understand the town better There are moreover enough places to eat and get a few drinks around.

Day2: VISITING THE FREQUENTED

Breakfast At Sykpoint Observation Desk

A must see for everyone visiting the Gold Coast, SkyPoint Observation Deck unveils beautiful 360-degree views from the coast to the hinterland, giving you a fair idea of what to expect from the city — and that’s a bit more beauty than you’ve seen in your life. A breakfast at Skypoint observation desk is a great way to kickstart your day. For 32 AUD (or just 15 AUD if you don’t want the breakfast and only the entry to the Skypoint Observation Desk) you get one full-day ticket to explore Skypoint observation desk as well as enjoy a lovely buffet breakfast.

Climbing The Skypoint

To make your visit to the Skypoint even memorable, however, just like we ended up doing try a 1-hour tour of the Skypoint Climb that offers unparalleled 360views of the entire Gold Coast city. Rising 270m into the air, SkyPoint Climb is Australia’s highest external building climb and is entire southern hemisphere’s highest point. Tickets start from AUD 74 per person.

Spending The Rest Of The Day Exploring The Themepark of Dreamland

From Kangaroo feeding to adult-thrill rides, learning about the Aboriginals to a Madagascar-themed setup for kids, the theme park of Dreamland has something for everyone. One can spend an entire day inside the premises and not get bored — after all, it’s the biggest theme park in the entire Gold Coast and one of the biggest in Australia. We had spent almost 4 hours trying a few thrill rides in addition to activities like holding a Python, Tiger presentation, and an interactive walk-through experience celebrating Aboriginal culture, wildlife and stories of native Australia. There are almost 50 rides and attractions in the park in total, with a lovely in-house restaurant too (called the Billabong Restaurant) for some buffet lunch.

It’s a lovely place to spend a day for families, especially for families with kids under 15 years old as the entire place offers a lovely fantasy world. Just make sure you plan a visit on a weekday and not on a school or a public holiday, it may get quite busy and crowded.

Trying Vegan In The Dinner

Among the all other things to appreciate about Australia, one thing is the fact that a big chunk of Australians, every day, are becoming Vegan. And to appreciate and understand that fact a little more, a visit to one of the many vegan restaurants across Gold Coast (or whatever part of Australia you’re visiting) is a must. For trying some great vegan food in Gold Coast, a recommended stop, however, is  Greenhouse Canteen & Bar in Miami. Just try one of the many platters they’ve complemented with a drink to conclude your day beautifully.

Day3: GOING OFFBEAT

Catching The Sunrise & The Surreal Ariel Views of Gold Coast While Hot Air Ballooning

If you think that the Gold Coast is all about exploring beaches and trying water sports, think again. Because there is enough to see and do in the Gold Coast that has nothing with do with the sea and one such thing that tops the list is a hot air ballooning ride. A morning Hot Air Balloon ride is an exceptional way to watch the sun rise over Surfers Paradise as well as the rolling hills of the majestic Gold Coast Hinterland. The only problem is, you will have to wake super-early, but trust me if you can handle that, a hot air balloon ride may just be the most memorable experience of your entire holiday in the Gold Coast.

Prices start at AUD 280 that also includes a buffet breakfast followed by the ride & a glass of champagne at a local vineyard with return transfers, of course!

A half Day Tour To Natural Bridge and Springbrook

This is another offbeat thing to do while in the GoldCoast. Experience World Heritage listed Gondwana rainforest — one of the most extensive area of subtropical rainforest in the world and home to wild kangaroos, wallabies, platypus and koalas. With beautiful waterfalls and scenery and unique Australian wildlife, this half-day tour to Natural Bridge and Springbrook National Park is a great way to try a nature trail in the Gold Coast & exploring the region’s most iconic rainforests, waterfalls and panoramic lookouts of white chalk cliffs.

Though there are a few companies doing the same tour, I did it with Southern Cross 4WD Tours and totally recommend them. It took a total of 5 hours to cover the two places, a half an hour drive on both sides and a quick stop-over at a cosy café on-site for some freshly baked cookies and afternoon tea.

Dining At The Bazaar

Though I was staying at the hotel QT itself and The Bazaar happened to be their in-house restaurant, a dinner at the Bazaar is certainly recommended. Popular among the locals and tourists alike, The Bazaar offers a fine buffet-style dining experience with food ranging from smoked beef to lobsters to veg Pizzas. They also offer a great selection of locally brewed beer for enthusiastic beer-guzzlers (try a Balter though!). Even if you wished to eat at someplace else, a quick visit to The Bazaar during one of the evenings while you’re in the Gold Coast is totally recommended.

DAY 4: SHOPPING + FUN TOURS

Shopping At Pacific Fair 

Offering an expansive collection of luxury, iconic global brands and leading Australian retailers, Pacific Fair is the Gold Coast’s unmissable shopping and dining destination. It has over 400 stores all belonging to luxury and iconic retailer brands making it exclusive in the entire Queensland if you are looking for a blend of the world’s best brands. The ambience of the Pacific Fair is moreover worth appreciating which includes various cosy sitting pods and community areas making it a great place to wander through, even if you are not going to be shopping much.

Pacific Fair is moreover a great place to find a great section of foods. Post our three-hour shopping spree, we had our lunch at a place called Bin 232 — which I particularly loved for its great selection of cocktails and a lively atmosphere.

Adventure Jet Boating Ride

For those who are not into surfing or find solo jet-ski hire a bit too much to handle, a Jet Boating ride is a great option to try some adventure water sports while you’re in the Gold Coast. A 55-min of fun and adventure, the ride that takes you through a 35km stretch of Moreton Bay Marine Park, with wonderful scenery and sightseeing at your disposal. Enjoy 360 degree spins, high-speed drifting, power slides, beach-buzzing and other exciting manoeuvres through the beautiful, pristine waterways. If you’re lucky, you may also end up spotting some wild dolphin spotting.

For a tour, as I had it, I can recommend Paradise Jet Boating located on the Main Beach, that happens to be Australia’s only jetboat tour to be certified by Eco Australia — recognising a commitment to Eco-sustainability, customer safety, quality experience and great service.

Next, A Fire Truck Tour

No wonder, a ride in a firetruck and holding a real working water-hose is on everyone’s wishlist – especially during their early days of life. So for those travelling with kids, something as crazy as a fire truck ride and posing and clicking pictures while holding a fire nozzle and wearing real Fire Helmets can be an exceptional thing to do while in the Gold Coast.

Both, the Fire Truck Tour and The Jet Boating take less than two hours in total to finish.

Dinner At The Island Bistro Followed By Drinks At The Island Rooftop

Located right in the centre of the Surfers Paradise, the in-inhouse restaurant of The Island hotel is a great place for a casual dining experience. With impressive burgers, seafood, steaks, wood oven pizzas and fresh locally-sourced produce, The Island Bistro is certainly a place I would like to recommended among all the places I had tried during my stay in the Gold Coast. And if you have a taste for some live music, the Island Rooftop (the bar-with-a-view) is a great place to chill out and relax after the food over a few cocktails, or your usual beer.

During our visit, we had a lovely jazz- band playing for us.

DAY 5: THE HIGHLIGHTED LADY ELLIOT ISLAND & THE GREAT BARRIER REEF

A Day Tour To The Lady Elliot Island

Any trip to Australia is incomplete without visiting and exploring the rich coral life at the Great Barrier Reef. And if you’re visiting the eastern coast of the country, it becomes even more crucial. From the Gold Coast you can access the most southern end of the Great Barrier Reef and with it, perhaps one of the most unspoilt and unexplored island in the region: the island of Lady Elliot. The island is regarded as one of the best snorkelling and diving locations on the reef, famous for its unspoilt coral reef and an amazing array of marine life.

Located at about 1.5-hour flight from the Gold Coast (or 100-min to be precise) the Lady Elliot Island can be explored during a day trip from the Gold Coast (as well as from Brisbane). However, if you have time a one night stay is totally advised to enjoy the place even more.

The flight to the island and back is itself a highlight that offers scenic views of the Gold Coast, North and South Stradbroke Islands, Moreton Island and Fraser Island. The day trip (that starts with a hotel pickup at 5:45 in the morning and finishes at around 5 in the evening with a hotel drop) includes a brief 1-hour snorkelling trip with a 15 min glass bottom boat ride. During most days, the visitors get to spot (and even swim with) a turtle and/or a manta-ray. The trip also includes an in-flight breakfast and a  buffet lunch with a choice of wine, beer and soft drink.

A trip to the Lady Elliot Island is certainly going to be the highlight of your entire time in the Gold Coast.

Read More: A Day Trip to Lady Elliot Island From The Gold Coast

Concluding Your Tour At The Nightquarter

Conclude your trip to the Gold Coast with a cheer and a festive vibe with a visit to the Nightquarter in Helensvale: a weekend market full of colourful market stalls, exotic street food and live music all stocked up into one happy playground. At Nightquarter, you will find everything: culture, food, art, fashion, music and local talent of every kind. The entire place is moreover so photogenic that you’re going to end up clicking more pictures here than during your entire trip.

For those looking for a happy ending, try a Nutella Ice-cream cookie at the Nightquarter after the food.


Where To Stay In The Gold Coast

The Gold Coast has enough accommodation option, ranging from budget backpacking hostels to high-end hotels, with most of the hotels being located at the Surfers Paradise.

  • During my visit to the Gold Coast, I stayed at three places in total in the town and found all three worth recommending as they all served a very different niche. So, to those looking for a high-end business class sort of ambience, can try QT Gold Coast. At prices still not too brutal to afford, the QT offers a great luxury experience.
  • For almost a similar price, but a more cosy, loud and a friendly ambience, try The Island Hotel. Located right in the centre of the Surfers Paradise, the Island Hotel is only a stone through away from most attractions and nightclubs in the town.
  • If, however, your budget is comparatively less and you’re looking for a friendly backpacking hostel, I can recommend Surfers Paradise YHA. Tucked away from the crowded centre the hostel offers a great friendly atmosphere, with a big common room, a communal kitchen and a TV room. And since the hostel is a little detached from the city centre, they offer a free pickup and drop too (four times a day) to make it easier to make it easier for their guests to commute to the city centre. So enjoy the perks of staying in a quieter neighbourhood while still having virtually everything at your disposal.

If you are looking for cheap flight tickets from India to the Gold Coast, I will suggest checking out fares for Scoot Airlines. They’ve been flying to the Gold Coast in addition to a few other destinations in Australia for amazingly cheaper prices. Though a low-cost airline, for those who appreciate a little more comfort they have a premium economy and business class too. I also flew to the Gold Coast with The Scoot airlines.


Have you been to the Gold Coast? Do you have anything to add to the itinerary?

Disclaimer: I was invited by Queensland Tourism for a 5 day trip to the Gold Coast. Though the trip was hosted by them, all recommendations and suggestions are solely my own. I only recommend what I personally try and find worth appreciating. Also, in addition to a 5-day trip with the Queensland Tourism, I overstayed 3-more nights in the Gold Coast to experience it at my own pace and on my own.

How To Find A Good Hostel

With more and more people trying solo travelling today, the trend of staying in a hostel, over boring guest-houses, is certainly picking up — but to be honest, good hostels are rare to find!

It’s not the physical appearance that makes a hostel good or bad. I’ve stayed in some of the fanciest hostels during my travels (in cities like Perth or Berlin or Bangkok that are considered to be the friendliest backpacking destinations in the world) but the hostel-experience there bored me to death. And then I’ve stayed at some of the most unheard-of places and in hostels that looked untidy and smelled of someone’s last night’s dinner, but I had an amazing time because of the people there.

To have a good hostel experience, it is important to have a good social atmosphere. After all, hostels have more to do with people than the physical place itself. So while finding a good hostel, here’s what I always look for!

Breakfast: Breakfasts is when you have the most convenient and common time to meet and chat with other travellers in your hostel. I hate places where the breakfast starts at 7 in the morning and finishes at 8.30. I’m not sure who the travellers are that they know, but I’ve never met anyone (definitely not a hostel-lover backpacker) who wakes up that early.

While booking a hostel, I always look for a place that comes with free breakfast and that too the one doesn’t end before 9 am. Breakfast time should at least be 3 hours long so that you have enough time to meet other travellers, make plans with them and load up on snacks for the rest of the day (thereby cutting down your food budget).

Flexible Checkout: Though I have no particular reason to say why, but never stay at a hostel with a checkout time before 10 am. A hostel that wants its guests to be out before 10 is more fit to be a disciplined business hotel than a flexible backpackers hostel. Hotels with a late checkout understand backpackers better and often provide a more relaxed and chilled environment. There’s just something very wrong about a hostel asking you to be packed and out so early in the morning.

Lockers: I hate those hostels that have no safety lockers for guests. And while it’s surprising, I have stayed in many hostels that provide no lockers or charge for using one. A no locker in a hostel is a total deal-breaker for me as I always have a lot of valuable electronics that I want to keep in safe during the day when I am out, exploring. A no locker for me means carrying a 5kg of electronics with me the entire day just to make sure that they are safe.

berlin hauptbahnof

Common Area: If a hostel doesn’t have a common area, it’s not a hostel in a real sense. A hostel should always offer its guests a place to hang out and socialise. Common area facilitates interaction and helps solo travellers make friends. The best hostels I have stayed are always the one with a much bigger common area than anything else in the entire hostel, that is full of books and other things to motivate people to use the space.

A Bar: Though most hostels don’t have it, if I find that a hostel has an inhouse-bar I always go for it. It is true that drinks in a hostel-bar are often expensive, especially after 10 in the night, the fact that a bar provides a highly social atmosphere cannot be disregarded. A bar is always a great place to socialize with other hostel guests.

Organised Activities: Another thing that shows that the hostel you’re choosing to stay understand the idea of making people socialise with each other is a weekly organised activity. The Thursday movie night, the Saturday pub-crawl, the Monday city-walking tour — they all make a good excuse for people to get together.

And Remember, Cheap Doesn’t Always Mean Bad: We always have an inclination towards a higher price. If one hostel is charging 1000 Rupees a night and the other is charging 600, we will naturally believe that the one with a 1000 Rupee price tag is better. No, it’s not true. Look for the reviews for that particular place, and evaluate how social the atmosphere at the place you’re planning to stay can be!

Also Read: Tips On Finding A Budget Travel Accommodation

My First Hospitality Venture FootlooseCamps: A Campsite In Sethan

From being a full-time nomad to starting my first hospitality venture: A Campsite In Sethan

When in 2015 I was facing a lost battle with my corporate life, unsatisfied and wanting more my myself, I had no idea that in just a couple of years I would be exploring countries on media trips. I’d no idea that tourism boards would be inviting me for experiencing what their country has to offer in return for promoting them on my digital channel(s). In short, I didn’t know that I would become a travel influencer!

And what I certainly didn’t know, after quitting my job to travel and facing more financial problems than I could ever imagine, during the initial year of travel blogging, that very soon I’ll have my own hospitality business.

FootlooseCamps, as I now tell the world with a proud look and a confident face, is my first hospitality venture — a brainchild, a chef-d’œuvre!

Long-Term Travelling Made Me A Risk Taker

Before I started travelling, I was one of those people who would never take risks in their life, someone who would only want to play safe and invest in things where the gave a guaranteed return — something akin to investing days and months in return for a monthly pay-check. But travelling taught me how to take risks. Though of course I never learned about playing a blind shot, and I think I never will. But the fact that I am more open to ideas and possibilities now what makes me a risk-taker.

And FootlooseCamps is an outcome of that learning — of taking risks I was hopeful for!

The Love For Sethan

The idea of starting a campsite in Sethan germinated about 6 months ago, during the summer of 2016, when I visited Sethan yet once again and ended up staying — as always — for a couple of weeks. I remember how every day, after a few nights, I would wake up and decide to spend just another night.

Its stillness, its beauty, felt addictive, and the local hospitality — a hope, for the better world!

Sethan: A Place For Slow Travellers

Sethan is not a place for hurried tourists but for slow travellers, for those who appreciate the cliched idea of ‘taking the road less travelled’ and exploring offbeat places.

For the hurried tourist, for those for whom the idea of holidaying is drinking a few beers in the night, dance their arse off over the bonfire and waking up groggily the next morning, I’d advise to stay away and sticking to the frequented places like Manali and Shimla. Becuase for them, Sethan has nothing to offer.

Getting to Sethan is expensive than most places you can think of and so is staying and eating for the kind of experiences it offers: that is raw and rustic. Sethan moreover has no tourist attraction(s). It has no famous temple and neither does it have a waterfall. But what Sethan has is an experience of a different kind.

FootlooseCamps: My First Hospitality Venture

So, when the idea of starting my first hospitality network germinated in mind, I chose a place like Sethan, where tourism had just picked up, and where transportation was not just limited, but controlled too!

himalayas manali

TIP: The road to Sethan (which, however, is only 15km away from Manali) has no public bus or shared jeep/auto service. Though well connected with the road, one is required to obtain a permission (that costs around 100 Rupees per vehicle) to access the area. One can self-drive and pay for the permission, or take a taxi from Manali that cost a whopping 1000 to 2000 Rupees per trip, depending upon the number of passengers and the time of the year.

Since I’ve always appreciated the idea of slow travel, of maintaining a perfect harmony with nature and getting local experiences, my campsite, FootlooseCamps deliver to all those ideas.

It offers (yes I claim it!) The Best of The Himalayan Views, a raw and rustic camping experience, and (to those who appreciate it and whenever possible/asked for) a chance to meet the local community.

Here’s the link to the website for more details: FootlooseCamps In Sethan.

You can also follow the Facebook and Instagram page for regular updates and pictures.

Travel Photography Tips: Learning Composition

Though my Instagram account has always maintained a fairly good engagement, my photographs periodically appear in mainstream travel magazines in India, a couple of travel cafes in India have even framed my pictures on their walls, I still believe that I am still learning more of travel photography every day. Photography is a skill that can only be learned over time. And the more you practice it, the better you become.

Its theory is unbelievably simple, however. Learn the basics of how four things — shutter speed, ISO, aperture and the focus work and you will technically accredit yourself as any other photographer out there. The only problem is, you will have to learn the composition, and that, my friend, is a skill that will come to you with time, and as you’ll practice.

Composition And Travel Photography

The key to impressive travel photography is ‘telling stories’. Your pictures, whether or not look professional, or give an impressive bokeh effect, must look aesthetically good. In other words, they must tell a story.

An easier way to achieve it is by capturing expression and composing the frame in a way it tells a story. For example imagine a worker offering you something in his hand, or a woman washing clothes, or a toddler playing with a camera. They all may make a perfect travel-photo moment, but may not give a good travel-photograph, unless you capture the subject’s expression and blend it with the moment to tell a story. By capturing the emotion or the expression (of the subject) and providing a bit more of what’s happening around in the frame, you add a new dimension to your picture.

Use your imagination, understand what’s important in the scene, and give the frame a meaning. Make a story out of it.

For example, in the same frame, if you can make the woman look a bit tired or agitated; the toddler, absolutely consumed in the moment; or the old man, perhaps submitted, they will all just make for a perfect travel-photo-moment.

A good composition complements your travel-pictures. A bad composition fails them.

Another way to make an interesting composition, as I’ve learned it, is by complementing your subject or using the subject to show a bigger picture. A couple walking hand in hand towards a setting sun, to show some warmth and love; or capturing a camera capturing a picture, to give a perspective to the viewer and prove the importance of the background.

The art of learning good composition is crucial in travel photography, particularly if you’re into capturing life and emotions of a place. But the good thing is, when it comes to travel-photography the more you practice, the better and more creative you become.

A Few Basic Composition Rules To Keep In Mind

Written below is my 5 step travel-photography mantra. For now, I’m redirecting some of the terms to another website, for a better explanation but will soon write my reasoning for them, as and when I’ll get time:

Find a subject, apply the rule of thirds, form any (possible) repetition or lines, add more open empty spaces, and tell a story.

Though understand that there is no right or wrong when it comes to composition, but the fact that human brain loves repetition (hence the repetition of lines in a frame) and definitely no madness (hence more empty space), some basic rules in photography, as mentioned above, cannot be disregarded.

Enough for now. Get your camera’s batteries charged and get going.

A Goodbye Tip: If you’re planning to buy a camera, invest in a mirror-less body, or something equally handy, because it may otherwise be true, but in travel photography, it’s truer that ‘the best camera is the one you can always carry.’ I’ve improved my photography so much since I’ve switched to the mirrorless Sony Alpha A6300L Digital SLR Camera, after using Nikon D5200 for a few years. Thanks to Sony 6300’s compact size, I can carry it anywhere, and experiment in different situations – from trekking to being a pillion on someone’s motorbike. I’ll recommend a mirrorless to travel photographer, any day.

If you found this post useful, you can follow my travel journeys more closely on Instagram

9 Tips For Planning Any Motorcycle Trip

Motorcycles were invented for the same reason roads were – to travel and tell stories. When I started backpacking full-time, one of my biggest fantasies was going on a long solo motorbiking trip in the Himalayas. And there was a time when I was totally hooked on it, resulting in many motorbiking trips across New Delhi, particularly in the Himalayas.

I think people who own a two-wheeler but don’t go on road-trips are unlucky and are definitely missing out a lot. So if you’ve always wanted to do the same and experience a motorcycle road-trip, make 2018 your year and go on that fantasy road-trip across India.

But before anything, here are a few tips you need to keep in mind before you hit the road. These are the tips that I learned from my experiences of riding in India.

Get yourself a proper luggage system

If you think investing in a proper luggage for a trip is a wastage of money, you’re mistaken. A proper luggage system not only improves on your luggage carrying capacity and organising things better but also distributes the weight evenly for increased stability. While looking for a luggage system, choose a hard-shell bag over soft fabric bags.

Get a proper GPS system

Investing in a good GPS system that provides good coverage would be a wise decision when heading out on a road-trip. Apart from going on trips, it can also come handy in daily traffic and intercity travel. You can also buy a capable GPS software on your smartphone itself. Smartphone mounts are available in the market that offers steady hold and waterproofing as well.

Good riding gear is a lifesaver

You should think about investing in a good touring gear that will keep you safe on the road. Getting a good helmet for should be on your priority list. Good riding gear not only protects you from accidents but also helps you stay confident while riding – not to mention, it also provides pockets for extra storage and makes for a less dehydrated touring experience.

Get yourself a hydration kit

Touring long hours can make you dehydrated and tired. You become prone to accidents as your body tends to lose focus due to lack of water. And to save yourself from this, it is very important to take fluids while riding regularly. A hydration pack will serve you by making it easy to access and carry sufficient fluids for your ride and keep the water level in your body normal.

Always carry spares

Bikes are prone to wear and tear on long tours, and you should always carry some essential spares with you. Clutch/accelerator cables, headlight bulbs etc. are spares that always come handy. You should also take classes from a capable mechanic on making basic repairs and fixes by yourself. Don’t forget to always carry a puncture repair kit with you.

Always carry some spare cash

In case of emergencies, cash is required to fix things up. No matter how many cards you’re carrying, put aside some cash for emergency situations, and you’d be surprised how helpful that stash can be.

Always plan your day in advance

No two days are ever the same when you’re on the road, travelling long distances. You may be riding on a lonely highway one day while the next day you might find yourself riding through a forest or a rocky terrain. To know what lies ahead goes a long way in helping you plan accordingly and be prepared. Planning helps you stay stress-free, enjoy your ride, take pictures, eat on the way and make the most of the trip.

During my solo motorbiking trip in Spiti Valley, I always planned my days in advance and not only did it help me complete the circuit without any difficulties on the road but also let me stop on the way, click pictures, and enjoy my ride more. During the days when I had long distances to cover, I would get up early and start early, and when the distances were short, I’d catch a few more hour’s sleep. Planning your ride in advance helps, and it helps significantly.

Fuel up in the morning

Hitting reserve before tanking up is not an advisable strategy on long tours. You should always fill up in the morning before heading off. This helps you save time on fuel stops and maintain the pace. You could be going through stretches with no petrol pumps and having a filled tank will save you from a lot of trouble.

Make sure your bike insurance policy is active

While you are planning to have a gala time, unfortunate events like accidents can arise to halt your journey. So make sure that your bike insurance policy is active. Comprehensive two-wheeler insurance will help you in case your bike involves in an accident with another vehicle or person. Not only the policy will compensate the other party, but it will also pay damages caused to your vehicle. In case, the policy lapses, reach out to your bike insurance company and get your policy renewed.

If you are buying the policy for the first time, it is advised to go for a long-term bike insurance policy and free yourself from yearly policy renewal.

Now that you’re ready, it’s time to hit the pedal and start zooming on the roads. Don’t forget to stop and click pictures wherever possible. After all, it’s the memories that let you cherish your experiences for a lifetime.   

Patola & Tangaliya: Two Indigenous Handicrafts of Gujarat You Cannot Afford To Miss

I had already fallen in love with the misunderstood state that is Gujarat last year as I travelled to Kutch and Saurashtra region last year for almost a month. Misunderstood, because you’re often a bit sceptical while planning your trip to Gujarat — due to a limited information available online. But as soon you get there and start exploring the state you fall in love with it — almost hopelessly. From a rich culture to beautiful art & crafts to some of the mind-boggling natural phenomenon Gujarat has something for everyone.

During my recent blog trip with Gujarat Tourism, we explored a few more highlights in and around Ahmedabad, other than what I covered the last time. There were centuries old temples, local art forms and some architectural marvels on the list. While all of them were equally beautiful, the two highlights of the trip that I loved the most and recommend to anyone visiting Gujarat, and around Ahmedabad in particular, are the indigenous craft forms of Patola weaving and Tangaliya.

Patola Weaving in Patan

If ancient art forms are something that catches your fancy, the Patola art of Patan cannot fail to impress. Legend indicates that, sometime in the 12th century AD, King Kumarpal of Solanki dynasty invited 700 families of patola weavers from Jalna (South Maharashtra) to settle down in Patan in north Gujarat. Now, 9 centuries later, only one family is still devoted to the efforts of preserving the art — and Rohit Bhai Savli and Bharat Bhai Savli represent that family (with over 35 generations doing the same work) whom we had the chance to meet during our visit to Patan.

Speaking of the town of Patan, the town itself is a place of exploration. And the moment you enter the – what once was — the gated city of Patan you are welcomed by the ruins of the ancient fort. You will be amazed to know that Patan was originally founded long back in 745 AD by Chavda Rulers, and remained the capital of the province before being destroyed in the 13th century. Today, the entire city is well dispersed with wonderful temples, ruins and step-wells which offer plenty to admire to an intrepid, especially those with an interest in history. One beautiful spot, to not miss in Patan, however, remains the UNESCO heritage site of Rani ki Vav.

And blending perfectly with the tone of ancient Patan is the art of patola. Back in the days, it was believed that by wearing a patola saree (which was believed to contain religious and miraculous powers) one felt like God. Today, patolas are gifted on auspicious occasions.

It was its quality that made it popular in not just India but in other countries as well, including Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. The Indonesians were, however, the biggest importers of patolas (though a particular kind weaved out of silk). All the elites loved these them.These patola sarees were and still are a prized possession, worn exclusively on special occasions like Vedic rituals and weddings. Patola sarees are still considered sacred in a number of communities.

A few patola designs can moreover be seen in the Ajanta paintings and the palace in Kochi, with most of the current designs of patola weaving being over 900 years old. So if one could talk of a legend in weaves, patola silks would be the very epitome of it.

Tangaliya Weaving in Bajana

Tangaliya weaving is another peculiar art form not to miss when you’re in Gujarat. Found in a few cities in Surendranagar district, namely, Bajana, Wadhwan, Sayla, and a few others, Tangalia art has over 700 years old legacy associated with it. The textile is typically usually used as a shawl or a wraparound skirt by women of the Bharwad shepherd community.

We had a chance to explore Tangaliya weaving in the town of Bajana with Dahyabhai Motibhai Parmar who has been into the business since 33 years himself — an art that was passed on to him from his father. For 200-300 years, Dahyabhai’s family has been weaving tangaliya products for Bharvad Shepherds.

Dahiya Bhai, however, had also pursued a designing course to improve his knowledge about the concepts of designing which is translated efficiently in his work these days. So don’t be shocked if you see a 400-year-old artwork with modern motifs, Eiffel Tower or symbols of the Christian religion. Just call it Dahya Bhai’s trademarked style.

Speaking of the legends and folklore, there is an interesting story behind Tangaliya art. The story has it that Tangaliya was invented by a shepherd boy who fell in love with the daughter of a weaver. When married her against the will of his parents, his parents disowned him, resulting in the newly-wed couple ending up staying with the girl’s parents. While continuing herding sheep, the boy slowly learned the art of weaving from his in-laws and used sheep wool for weaving shawls. His designs and the art of weaving was so distinct that it quickly picked up and become popular – hence the art of Tangaliya weaving was found. An interesting sidelight to this story is that today the art is never taught to daughters of the family, as daughters can pass on this knowledge to other families when they get married and create competition for existing craftsmen.

Well, whatever the folklore remains a hidden truth or a naked lie, the fact has it that the patolas and tangaliyas, just like precious ornaments, were like a dream of every lady in the bygone ere, and so is now!

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Hallan Valley

4 Best Places for Camping in Manali

camping himalayas
I remember when I first visited Manali, it was some 5 years ago. Dreading the summer heat in Delhi and wanting a quick escape, Manali, at 2800m above the sea level, seemed like a perfect option. Here, in Manali, I had heard, it’s not just the weather that stays pleasant throughout the year (below 30 degrees even during the warm summer days) but the experiences are always great too, for there are enough local tourist attractions in Manali.

In about 30 or 40 km of radius from Manali, you have Buddhist monasteries to visit, adventure activities like camping and paragliding and river-rafting to try, some of the highest motorable passes to conquer, and nature parks to explore. And if you’re still not sure, you always have an impressive Himachali hospitality to make your experience better.

But if you just happen to be a nature’s lover and the reason for you to be visiting the Himalayas is unwinding your daily life in the city, then I can’t suggest going for camping in Manali more. There are various travel companies that are offering Manali tour packages, including for camping. But to make your decision easier, here is a list of my 5 preferred places for going camping in Manali:

Sethan

campsite in Manali

Located 15 km from Manali, Sethan offers a quick escape from the crowded streets of Manali and promises a relaxing time under the company of a bunch of friendly Buddhists. The natural vistas in Sethan are moreover unworldly, especially after the sunlight, as the Kullu Valley, a few hundred feet below, starts shimmering. Sethan is moreover an ideal place for backcountry snowboarding in the Himalayas.

In Sethan, I can recommend my own campsite Footloose Camps FOR A GUARANTEED EXPERIENCE! Write me a message on my Facebook page before you book the place and see if I am around. I can take you to a few Buddhist people’s houses for a quick cup of chai or for some other equally local experience!

Solang Valley

Himalayas

How does spending a night surrounded by lush green meadows and beautiful mountains sound? Lovely, doesn’t it? Well, that’s what Solang Valley, located at approximately 12 km away from the main city of Manali, has to offer. And if you’re into adventure activities, Solang Valley also has a lot of thrill and adrenaline rush to offer, with activities like zorbing, paragliding, trekking and ATV rides. Just add camping, in the mountain ranges of about 2400 metres to 3600 metres high in Solang, in your itinerary, and take your experience to another level.

Right Next To River Beas River

beas river manali

If you love water and are an adventure lover, then camping at the Beas River would be an amazing experience. Not only is this a great place to enjoy water sports but this popular campsite also offers amazing breathtaking views all around. The water from the melting snow of the Himalayan glaciers fill the river and generate rapids of high grades which in turn facilitate white water rafting. Stretching for about 470 kilometres, the Beas River is one of the best sites in Manali for riverside camping.

Hallan Valley

camping near manali

Anyone who loves nature and peaceful serene places must visit this beautiful Hallan Valley that is around 25 km away from Manali. This picturesque valley, which also happens to be one of the tiniest valleys in Himachal Pradesh offers spectacular views of the Kullu Valley. In case you’re into adventure, you can go biking from here all the way downhill to Manali while catching glimpses of some beautiful apple orchards. Hallan Valley is also soon to get Asia’s largest zip line. So whatever your style of travelling is just chill by soaking in the natural beauty or indulging in some adventure-action Hallan Valley is a perfect getaway.

A Practical Tip

The best time for camping in Manali is between April and July and between September and October. However, the best time to visit might also vary from one campsite to the other, so do check the same before planning your trip. As Manali is located in the ranges of snow-clad mountains, it makes sense to plan a visit to the place and camp when the winter has not completely set in and the weather is still comfortable and warm.

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5 Must Visit Places In Kuala Lumpur

Malaysia’s capital is a vibrant hub of cutting-edge tech, lush green parkland, bustling shopping spaces and a reverential love of its past. Visitors to this stunning city, in the heart of the country’s mainland, can expect a heady mix of good food, stunning sights and stories to take back home with them.

While any city has tons to see and do, Kuala Lumpur can be savoured over the course of a 48-hour stay, with plenty of highlights, not least the Batu Caves north of the city, or any number of natural wonders beyond its borders. Here are a few recommended places to visit during a fleeting Kuala Lumpur love affair.

The PetronasTowers

While it’s an obvious choice, what many visitors don’t realise is that the Petronas Towers are much more than a looming ode to Malaysia’s business savvy. Not only are they handsome and photogenic, but they’re also surrounded by immaculately kept parkland. Thoughtfully, that park’s been laid out with vantage points clearly signposting the best angles for snaps of the towers, while glittering Lake Symphony makes for joyous picnic company.

Sri Mahamariamman Temple

The mainstay of any Kuala Lumpur travel guide, Sri Mahamariamman Temple is the oldest Hindu temple in the city. Whatever the faith of those visiting it, few can fail to be inspired by its dazzling, vibrant facade, featuring famous myths and legends from Hinduism. Visitors are free to wander the grounds and soak up the culture, although be advised that this is a working temple, where worship and customs are observed.

The Golden Triangle

If it’s a taste of the big city you’re after, the Golden Triangle district of Kuala Lumpur is rich with activity. While shopping for designer labels or the latest gadgets is one thing, it’s what the Golden Triangle offers in its nightlife that really sets it apart. It’s here that the hottest nightclubs, coolest lounge bars and most upbeat live music venues all compete to give visitors a fantastic night out. During your 48-hour stay, you should definitely check it out.

KL Bird Park

Boasting the largest walk-in aviary space in Asia, KL Bird Park is a must for any animal lovers visiting the city. The birds are given complete freedom to fly and hop about as they wish and the stars of the show include flamingos, peacocks, hornbills and macaws. Feathers of every colour can be found here, while the scenery has been laid out to create a real tropical feel.

Central Market

There are so many stalls, stands, performances and food outlets clustered around Central Market in Kuala Lumpur that it almost feels like a miniature Hong Kong. The market, also known as Pasar Seni, definitely has the cultural mix of Hong Kong, hosting influences from China, India and beyond, a fact that’s reflected in the souvenirs on offer and the food you can try. Live music and lively street performances also draw the crowds.

Altogether, Kuala Lumpur has lots to offer and a couple of days here can quickly become one of the most memorable city breaks of a lifetime. The city’s always moving, growing and changing, making it one of Asia’s most inspirational capitals.

Also Read: Two Zen Retreats Near Kuala Lumpur | Malaysia Travel Guide