An Awesome Arizona Itinerary


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Arizona is an outdoor-lover’s dream, with deep canyons, dramatic landscape and a whole host of adventures where the land formations are the star of the show.

With its red rocks and water-carved canyons, exploring Arizona is all about appreciating the wide-open spaces and the way the sky lights it up throughout the day.

Incorporating some of Arizona’s most incredible things to see, some of which are mega-famous and some of which are lesser known, this is my ideal Arizona itinerary:

Sedona

arizona itinerary
This itinerary begins in Sedona after leaving Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. Sedona is an artist’s town surrounded by beautiful rock formations, with multiple hikes in the area worth checking out. Some of the more famous and beautiful ones include the Devil’s Bridge, Bell Rock and Cathedral Rock. They’re all pretty short, moderate hikes with a big payoff at the end.

Depending on how long you have to devote to your Arizona trip, it may make sense to base yourself here for a couple of days to chill out and enjoy the vibe while doing some of the nice, short hikes in the area.

Havasu Falls

arizona itinerary
Those famous baby blue falls truly are that color in real life! If you manage to score a permit for Havasu Falls, prepare to be amazed.

To be able to access the falls you’ll need to hike in for 10 miles, armed with all of the gear that you’ll need for your time there. Permits go on sale once per year in February, though there may be cancellations throughout the year, which would give you a chance to nab some last-minute permits. It takes a lot of work to get there, but it’s worth it! You can read more about all of the important things to know about Havasu Falls here.

Grand Canyon South Rim

arizona itineraryI can’t
believe I’m saying this, but ‘Grand’ somehow seemed like an understatement while looking at the Grand Canyon. It truly is the biggest, most vast canyon I’ve ever laid eyes on, carved by the mighty Colorado River.

The South Rim will be the most geographically proximate for this itinerary, and it tends to be more breathtaking as well, with several stunning overlooks all along the Desert View Drive. I headed there in the afternoon, which gave me plenty of time to stop at most of the overlooks on my way to the Sunset at Yavapai Point. I highly recommend stopping at the less popular, lesser-known overlooks on your way; they are often even more spectacular than their more popular counterparts! My favorite was Lipan Point.

Flagstaff can be a good place to spend the night, though you will have to backtrack a bit. Alternatively, you can spend the night in Cameron. Though the hotels are not as abundant with only a few options such as the Cameron Trading post and their RV Park, it will save you some time if you’re on a tight schedule.

Horseshoe Bend

arizona itinerary
Heading north towards Page is where you can see some of Arizona’s most famous spots. Surely, you’ve seen photos of Horseshoe Bend with its pleasing symmetry. This is one of my favorite spots for sunset photos in the area.

This one is pretty easy to get to, with a parking lot right near the overlook. It’s only about a 10-minute walk from the parking lot to the overlook itself. There are no railings, so be careful on the edges and get there early if you want a good spot for sunset photography.

Antelope Canyon

antelopecanyon
Arguably the most famous slot canyon in the world, the Antelope Canyon truly is mesmerizing. This one is located on Navajo land and in order to access these slot canyons, you’ll need to join a tour. During popular times of year (May through September), it’s imperative to book ahead of time if you want to be in there for prime-time light beams. For my fellow photographers, that’s usually at some point during midday, and you’ll probably notice that these tours are priced a bit higher.

There are actually two Antelope Canyons: Upper and lower. Upper is more famous and also can be narrower, and lower is a bit wider, though there are stairs to access it. For a full comparison of upper versus lower plus links for booking you can read my blog post here.

The Wave

arizona itinerary
Like Havasu Falls, the Wave is incredible to see in person from what I hear, though I’ve never had the pleasure; the permitting process is so competitive. There are two ways to get permits for the Wave. You can show up in Kanab, Utah, the day before you wish to go, or you can try your luck with the online system four months before you wish to go. Permits are reserved half-and-half between the two. The only downside is you have to pay for the permit application online whether you get approved or not.

From what I hear, it’s totally worth the hype and I hope that one day I get to check it out. Since I was unable to get permits, I went to the next place on this list instead and was totally blown away.

White Pocket

arizona itinerary
White Pocket is totally different than the Wave, but it’s not too much further away and you might just get lucky and be the only one there. You’ll see wave-like rock formations and white rocks that look like turtle shells. Perhaps what’s more amazing is the way the sun moves throughout the day, completely changing the colors and the way the rocks look. The jury is out on how this was actually formed, with several different theories, but one thing is for sure: There’s nothing else quite like it in the world.

Part of the reason why this one is less popular is because you have to drive through deep sand get there, so it is best to take a tour with the local guide. Read my recommendations for visiting white pocket here.

Monument Valley

arizona itinerary
When you venture into Monument Valley, which shares a border with Southern Utah and is located near Mexican Hat, it’ll be obvious how the area got its name. The rock formations seem to appear out of nowhere and indeed, many are hat-shaped.

The Monument Valley is located on a Navajo reservation, as are many of the suggestions on this list. To get in, you’ll need to pay an entrance fee and take a tour, which you can join by showing up. Give this a few hours so that you can fully enjoy the Monument Valley’s formations.

Canyon de Chelly

canyon de chelly
A worthy detour from Monument Valley to Page, Canyon de Chelly (pronounced like ‘Shay’) receives far fewer visitors and was nearly devoid of other tourists when I visited in February. It’s a national monument that is also located on a reservation, and in order to hike into most of it you will need a local guide. However, the Spider Rock Overlook, which is the park’s most famous attribute, is accessible without a guide.

If you have the time and it’s not the middle of summer, which would be too hot, there are multi-day guided hikes throughout the canyon which must be quite a unique experience that not many people do. You can find out more here.

Painted Desert

arizona itinerary
Finally, on your way back to Phoenix, why not check out Petrified Forest National Park and Painted Desert for fossils, badlands, buttes, ancient petroglyphs, and at some points of year, wildflowers!

Much of this park can be seen from overlooks, although there are some back-country trails that at cooler times of year could be worth checking out. Check out the National Park Service for more information on planning your visit.

Though those are my personal highlights, Arizona is a huge state full of national forests and even more national monuments and deserts. There’s also Tucson, Flagstaff and the drive from Phoenix into California. The good news is it’s all amazing and you can’t really go wrong.

To repeat this route, fly into Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. I recommend renting your car with Alamo Rent-a-Car, whom I partnered with to bring you this awesome itinerary. You can see more Arizona suggestions on the Scenic Route Guide I wrote for their blog as well!

All of the roads on this itinerary are well-maintained and the map below will help you navigate:

As you can see, there’s a lot of driving time involved, however it’s mostly on roads without much traffic and through stunning landscape where the clouds turn orange as they reflect the ground below. I’d give this at least a week – more if you plan to hike to Havasu Falls.

Enjoy exploring one of the most incredible American Southwest states!

Where to go on a road trip in Arizona? Here are 10 unmissable stops that you should include in your Arizona road trip itinerary. See the Grand Canyon, the Havasu Falls, the Antelope Canyon, and 7 other awesome places! Photos, maps, and insider tips included - click to read now. #Arizona #ArizonaRoadTrip
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An Awesome Arizona Itinerary

*This post was brought to you in partnership with Alamo Rent-a-Car, however all thoughts of Arizona’s best places are entirely my own. Your trust always comes first!

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In the studio with Peter Williamson, illustrator of Wild Things – Lonely Planet’s travel blog


Pete sketching in his studio in Kent, England © Pete Williamson

Pete Williamson’s illustrations often depict ominous scenes and dark landscapes, but his latest project involved illustrating unicorns, fairies and monsters for our new Lonely Planet Kids title Wild Things. We chatted to Pete on how he got inspiration from walking in the woods with his daughter and how he started out illustrating books.

Tell us about the brief

The brief was to create engaging characters and images to inspire children to get outdoors and use their imagination – whether it be magical adventures, looking for fairies, witches, dragons, portals to other worlds or making potions. My daughter was eight when the brief arrived and already really loved going out into the woods and fields at the end of our garden and making potions from petals, mud and anything else that caught her imagination; so this was a project that I really identified with and was happy to be involved in. A lot of it was illustrated during a heat wave so I did a lot of wandering in the cool of the woods for inspiration.

How did you make a start?

I work in a very traditional way. I start with really loose pencil sketches on paper then trace my sketches onto Fabriano art paper, ink them up and then scan into Photoshop where, if necessary, I clean the images up digitally. I use simple copy paper instead of fancy sketchbooks that I’d be worried about spoiling with mistakes, as I wanted the illustrations to have the feeling of energy that children’s drawings have.

This brief called specifically for a sketchy pencil style and illustrations that could be placed around text and photographs, almost as if someone had taken the book out with them on a walk, and had imagined ‘wild things’ and scribbled them down before they forgot them.

It was interesting to finish the illustrations at an earlier stage in their creation than I usually would. It felt like very pure drawing as I didn’t ink in the line work or add watercolour; it was all just pencil and paper, and I think that simplicity of expression fitted in well with the Wild Things ethos.

Were there any challenges?

After illustrating 65 or so children’s books, I find the principal challenge is not to repeat myself while at the same time working within my established style. This project called for subjects that I wouldn’t usually draw (no dark atmospheric landscapes, odd creatures or eerie, weird laboratories) and using methods I rarely use, so the project was fun throughout. For me, the initial sketching is one of the most energetic, exciting times in the creation of a book, so being briefed to create purely in that sketchy style was great.

What’s the one item in your studio you can’t live without?

I think it would have to be a black and white photograph I have hanging above my drawing desk. It’s of the musicians John Zorn and Sylvie Courvoisier playing, I think, some kind of improvised duet in a small room in New York. I just know that the music is strange, beautiful and honest – pure imaginative expression. The photo is a constant wake-up call that reminds me to strive for creative integrity at all times

How did you get into illustrating books?

I worked as a designer in animation for over a decade but I was always interested in illustrating in children’s books as my very first influences were picture books such as Dr Seuss, Maurice Sendak and Asterix.

I uploaded a character from an animated film I was co-creating to my website and it was noticed by two art directors who were looking for ‘dark’ and ‘quirky’ illustrations for Guy Bass’s Dinkin Dings and the Frightening Things and The Raven Mysteries by Marcus Sedgwick. Those two commissions were really successful (each winning a Blue Peter prize) and led to further book series with Marcus and Guy and also with many other writers, including Francesca Simon, Matt Haig , Steve Cole and even Charles Dickens!

Right now I’m working on my 67th book – a brand new collaboration with Guy Bass, which is looking great. I’m also starting to show my work in galleries and it’s had a really positive response.

Where in the world are you based?

I’m based in Kent, 50 minutes outside London, pretty much surrounded by woods and fields.

Follow Pete’s drawings @pete.williamson.illustration.

In the studio with Peter Williamson, illustrator of Wild Things – Lonely Planet's travel blog Some sketchy looking characters…
In the studio with Peter Williamson, illustrator of Wild Things – Lonely Planet's travel blog Various fairies for Wild Things
In the studio with Peter Williamson, illustrator of Wild Things – Lonely Planet's travel blog Another collection of cute critters
In the studio with Peter Williamson, illustrator of Wild Things – Lonely Planet's travel blog Getting stuck into the mythical creatures
In the studio with Peter Williamson, illustrator of Wild Things – Lonely Planet's travel blog Experimenting with some magical natural materials
In the studio with Peter Williamson, illustrator of Wild Things – Lonely Planet's travel blog Fairy feast: Peter’s illustrations overlaid in the book.
In the studio with Peter Williamson, illustrator of Wild Things – Lonely Planet's travel blog Unicorns and dragons
In the studio with Peter Williamson, illustrator of Wild Things – Lonely Planet's travel blog Another overlaid unicorn sketch
In the studio with Peter Williamson, illustrator of Wild Things – Lonely Planet's travel blog The front cover of Wild Things





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14 Things You Need to Know About the Havasu Falls Hike


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Ever wonder why the water of the Havasupai Falls is so blue? Thanks to minerals like calcium carbonate and magnesium in the water, as well as the Havasu Creek that washes away the silt, the water remains a baby blue color against the orange canyon year-round, providing a spectacular sight to hikers willing to go the 10 miles in (and back out).

The following is a comprehensive guide to help you prepare for the hike to the falls in Havasupai, as well as get through the permitting process, find all the best photo ops, and pack the lightest possible pack for the expedition. Ready to dive in? Here are 14 things to know about hiking to Havasu Falls (plus a few things I learned the hard way, so you don’t have to!):

1. Havasu Falls is located on the Havasupai Reservation

Pai means people, and Havasu Pai means “people of the blue-green water”. The water in Havasupai is said to flow over the land and through every member of the tribe, which I thought was such a beautiful saying.

The tribe has lived in the Grand Canyon for more than 800 years. According to Grand Canyon’s site, “By 1919 with the establishment of the Grand Canyon National Park, the Tribe was restricted to 518 acres, 5 miles wide and 12 miles long in a side canyon. The Tribe has since had returned to them 188,077 acres of their former homelands which makes up their reservation today”. Today, the 600 tribe members still live in their original homeland and sustain their life by farming and working on tourism-related jobs. Since the falls are located on a reservation, and due to the large volume of those interested in going, permits are required, which brings me to the next section:

2. You’ll need a permit

The only option to visit the falls is to book a 3-day permit. They do not allow day hikes or anything shorter or longer. Permits for Havasupai sell out immediately, and can only be booked online. To get permits for 2020, create an account on the Havasupai Reservations website PRIOR TO February 1st. Be on the site before 8am Arizona time on February 1, 2020 and click when the button illuminates for permit sales. I signed on right at 8am and it took about 2 hours to get mine in 2019. The page crashed several times, forcing me to refresh it about 20 times before I got through. By then few dates were left so I took what I could get and ended up with late March.

Reservations cost $100 during the week and $125 over weekends and must be booked for exactly 3 nights, so it’s $300-$375 per person. Reservations cannot be resold unless you go through their system, and can be booked for a max of 12 people.

3. Pick the right season

Havasu falls
March – a bit too cold for swimming

Permits for Havasu Falls are available from February through November, and peak season is from May-September, whereas the monsoon season is from July-August. If you are visiting during this time, evacuation is possible. Here are some things to consider:

  • February – April: Temperatures tend to be cooler and it might be too brisk to want to go swimming. Hiking will be much easier during these cooler months since most of the hike in (and out) is totally exposed to the sun.
  • May – June: Slightly warmer weather, however it can be buggier too. Average temps for June run 96F/36C.
  • July – August: Expect the hottest temperatures that Havasupai experiences, at an average of 99F/37C. This is also the monsoon season, but curiously the most popular time for permits. I can’t imagine backpacking in this weather so that was never an option for me. If there is a flash flood like in 2018, it’s possible permits will be canceled without rebooking or refunds offered.
  • September – November: Temperatures can still be quite hot in September, but going into October and especially November, expect colder temperatures and the possibility that it’ll be too cold to swim depending on the year.

In conclusion, the best times to go are April, May, and October if you want the best of both worlds – more moderate heat that might still inspire you to swim.

Also keep in mind that rain doesn’t necessarily mean the canyon will close. It rained on me during my hike in and then the clouds passed and all was well. Flash floods are more likely in the summer months when things are drier all around and the ground is less able to absorb stormwater.

4. What to expect from the hike

havasu falls hike
The elevation you start at, looking down at the elevation after the switchbacks

The hike to Havasu Falls from the trailhead is 10 miles. It’s an easy-to-navigate trail that meanders through a lovely orange canyon as you make your way the 8 miles to the town of Supai to check in and another 2 miles from there to the campground and Havasu Falls itself.

I was surprised when I saw the hike rated as ‘difficult’ on my AllTrails app. Since it’s mostly flat I thought reviewers were being dramatic. The hike down, assuming you’re not doing it in 100-degree heat, is pretty easy. It goes down switchbacks (but nothing like what you’d encounter in Zion, if you’re familiar) at first and continues at an ever so slight decline until you reach the town of Supai. From there it turns a bit steeper again until you reach Supai Falls and the first campground.

The hike out felt more difficult to me. I realized that the slight incline would become harder on the terrain, which is mostly sand and rocks. I got a blister for the first time ever in my hiking shoes from all of the rocks and foot movement, and I failed to time it right. If you hike in midday, you’ll be in the sun. Since it’s a 10-mile hike, it’s hard to avoid getting midday sun at some point, which is why I can’t see myself ever attempting this in the summer months.

The final switchbacks to get out aren’t all that bad. If you’re not used to hiking or backpacking, it might feel brutal but if you hike regularly, you’ll be just fine.

Here are a few important things to know:

  • Begin your hike as early as possible to avoid the heat (or if you can’t get there early to hike in, aim for the afternoon while giving yourself enough time to get there before dark).
  • The hike in usually takes 4-7 hours and the hike out takes 5-8 hours. It took me 4 in and 5 out with a few breaks and a steady pace.
  • There’s almost no shade, so time your hike to have the shadows of the canyon walls and bring sunscreen and a hat.
  • Hiking poles are helpful to stabilize on the rocks and the switchbacks.
  • There’s little to no water on the trail, so carry your own in. I’d bring a minimum of 2 liters down and 3 up, per person, in the hotter months and only slightly less if it’s a shoulder season.

5. There are options if you’d rather not carry your gear

havasu falls hike

If you’d rather not carry all of your own gear, you can book a mule to carry most of your camping equipment and food down for you. They cost $400 round-trip per mule and can carry up to 4 bags, 32 lbs (14.5 kg) per bag. You can reserve them when you book your permits by logging into the same site.

However if you’re an animal lover, I urge you to pack light and carry your own gear. I’ve heard through the grapevine that these animals don’t have the best lives and how could they, traveling back and forth over rocks in such extreme heat? For this reason I carried my own pack. In the next section I’ll help you to lighten your load and make it easier to backpack in.

Finally, there’s a helicopter option as well. You probably didn’t end up on this page because you’re interested in flying in or out, but in case you are, you can fly for $85 per person one way, on a first-come, first-served basis. Though their website doesn’t say, I assume you’ll have to use a pack mule for your gear if you use this option. Find out more here.

6. What to pack and how to prep

14 Things You Need to Know About the Havasu Falls HikeIf you’ve backpacked previously, you’ll already have an idea of what to bring in terms of tent, cooking equipment, etc. If you haven’t then keep in mind that the most important thing you can do is keep the weight of your pack down. Bring food that isn’t in jars, can be rehydrated, and isn’t super heavy. Bring a tent that is made for backpacking, and sleeping bags that are lightweight, too. Depending on the season, you might not need a heavy one at all.

Here’s my ultimate backpacking checklist with all of my tried and true gear.

There are also a few things that are special to Havasu Falls to keep in mind:

  • You’ll want a second set of amphibious shoes. There are several waterfall crossings if you want to see Beaver Falls, and taking hiking boots off and putting them back on over and over is such a drag. It’s best if these cover your toes, have tread, and are lightweight. I love this pair.
  • There were at least 50 partially used gas cans left behind on the rangers’ table – used as a kind of leave behind and take as needed area, which you’ll see when you enter the campground. I suppose it’s risky to count on being able to get fuel down there, but I certainly could have done that!
  • You have to pack out all of your trash, so keep that in mind when selecting which food to bring.
  • Bring a bathing suit and microfiber towel.

7. The food situation

For the most part, you’re going to need to bring your own food into the campsite and should plan for three days. That said, there are a few food options along the way (maybe).

Your first option will be at a small café at the beginning of Supai 8 miles in. The faded sign reads, ‘world-famous’, so you know it’s got to be good, right? They serve burgers, sandwiches, and other junk food. You should also be able to stock up on things like Gatorade, though I wouldn’t count on it being open all the time.

As you walk further in, you will see several stands that may or may not be staffed serving up nachos, fry bread, and Indian tacos, which are ground meat served with fry bread. I’m pretty sure ‘fry bread’ is exactly what it sounds like although I’ve never had the pleasure of trying it.

Again availability of snacks is hit or miss. There’s a funny sign when you walk by one of the stands that says they open at 9:30, are sometimes there at 10:30, and might be serving by 12:30. So, don’t count on it being available, but it’s a nice surprise if it is!

8. Where to camp

havasu falls hike

The campsite begins at the base of Havasu Falls and runs all the way to the top of Mooney Falls. You can camp anywhere, though there are some things to keep in mind:

  • You have the option of crossing a bridge to camp on an island or you can camp near one of the canyon walls.
  • Campsites are all first come, first served.
  • There are three bathroom areas: the entrance, in the middle, and the end. I camped in the middle but it seems to me that the bathrooms at the entrance get serviced more often. They were cleaner and more likely to have toilet paper.
  • The bathrooms are just drop toilets, so don’t expect showers or running water of any kind. Please practice leave no trace principles, which means actually using the bathroom and spreading out your gray water from the toothbrushing or cooking as far from the water source as you can, which is hard to do down there, I know.
  • There are no trash cans so you’ll need to check out your trash. Keep in mind that anything you leave down there most likely has to be carried out by a mule, a poor little mule.
  • There’s no huge advantage to camping in the beginning, middle, or end except for proximity to the falls. If you are at the end you’ll be closer to Mooney or at the beginning, closer to Havasu and the natural water spring.

9. How to keep your food safe

The squirrels and I did not mutually agree that human food is for humans, despite my best efforts. I found out the hard way that hanging your food, even if it’s far away from the tree and strung between two trunks, is NOT enough at Havasupai.

I was initially camping near the canyon wall and later realized it must have been right near where they’re living. It didn’t take them long to ravage what I had, leaving me with meager rations. I moved my tent to an island instead and found some buckets that had been left behind by other campers. There were also some buckets with a lid, like Home Depot sells, at the front of the entire camp as well. Use one of these or consider bringing your own to be extra safe. Either hang or place rocks on these and you should be good, since squirrels thankfully can’t chew through the plastic. Alternatively, take one of these with you. I wish I’d known how clever and resourceful those guys would be!

10. Additional hikes: Beaver Falls, Mooney Falls, and the hike to the Colorado River

havasu falls hike
Beaver Falls

There’s more to Havasupai than Havasu Falls! Save some energy and throw your waterproof shoes on because both Beaver Falls and Mooney Falls are worth checking out on day 2 or 3, and you can even go all the way to the Colorado River if you are feeling up to the challenge.

Mooney Falls: You can easily reach the top of Mooney falls by walking to the end of the campsite. You’ll notice on the Havasupai website that they do not recommend going beyond the campsite and you’ll see a bunch of signs warning you about the dangers as well.

Truth be told this is an incredibly sketchy waterfall to get to the bottom of. The stairs become slick and incredibly steep and you’ll be getting misted with water while you try to make your way down the chain links. I have a pretty high tolerance for such things and I thought it was sketchy AF. Still, I’d do it again.

havasu falls hike
Sketchy AF after this

Beaver Falls: The first photo in the section is of Beaver Falls’ tiered pools. This was the part of the trip that I was most excited about and it did not disappoint! To get to these, it’s another 4 miles or so down a trail from Mooney that isn’t always clear. Once you get to the bottom of the chain links and ladders at Mooney, you’ll notice a path directly to your left. Follow that and always have a look out for the clearest most obvious path. You’ll have to cross the river several times and this is why the amphibious shoes are so important. If it’s warm enough it’s best to wear quick dry shorts as well, and a bathing suit so that you can swim. I’d also suggest a dry bag like this one for your camera just in case.

Colorado River: If you leave super early in the morning, you can see a side of Havasupai that few see, and hike all the way to the confluence with the Colorado River. You’ll be walking through water for much of this hike and it will be about 16 miles round trip. If you have the time and energy it looks amazing. Find out more here.

Fifty Foot falls and Navajo Falls: Between Supai and Havasu Falls you’ll see some cascading water to your left. You can walk down and see another set of falls there that are similar to Beaver. Fewer people visit these and though they do have more algae which makes it less blue, they’re still lovely. More here.

11. Photography tips

havasu falls hike

The baby blue color of the falls is spectacular in any light, but I found that it looked the best under diffused light, meaning a light cloud cover. Since I was there in March and it had been raining, most of the weather I got was like this. In the rare moments that the sun was beating down on the falls, they were totally bleached out to my camera, though still beautiful to the naked eye.

Since we can’t control the weather, I’d avoid shooting the falls during midday. Early in the morning or later in the afternoon are both good times to take photos. By the time I made it to Beaver Falls, it was about 4pm which was perfect. Otherwise, you can get awkward shadows.

Just make sure that if you do decide to go to Beaver Falls in the afternoon you have enough time to make it back to camp before dark. Remember, you have that sketchy ladder to climb up at Mooney!

You can learn more about my photography gear here, and more about how I take my own photos here.

12. Drinking water tips

As mentioned earlier in the post, there isn’t going to be drinking water along the trail so make sure that you come prepared. Once you get to the campsite, there is a spring near the beginning where you can fill up.

I just used the spring to fill up my water bottles and was perfectly fine. If you’re uncomfortable with this, bring a filter or backup method for cleaning your water. I’m a fan of the steriPEN for the spring water, but you’ll probably want to bring a filter if you plan on taking the water from the river or near the falls due to all the minerals.

The farther you camp from the beginning of the campground, the farther you will be from the clean water source. In this case you may want to bring a filtration method.

13. Getting to the Trailhead

The most geographically proximate airports are Las Vegas, which is three hours away, or Phoenix. I flew into Phoenix then drove to Flagstaff for my overnight and drove in the next day. The journey still took about two hours from Flagstaff.

Keep in mind that most times of the year it’s incredibly hot, so you want to get to the parking lot to start your hike in as early as possible. That said, there are animals on the road and it’s a bad idea to try to drive in while it’s still dark.

There’s no campsite at the parking lot, though if you’re in a camper van or have a truck you could feasibly car camp.

One of the best and closest options for overnighting close to the parking lot and trailhead is the Hualapai Lodge, which I recommend booking immediately after you get your permit since it tends to book out quickly.

Alternatively, head out later in the day and plan on an afternoon hike. This can be risky if it’s during a hot time of year, as it may not have cooled down yet, and you have to be pretty confident of your hiking time. I started my hike around 12:30 in the afternoon and was able to make it in before the permit office closed. Frankly I’m unsure what happens if you arrive after the permit office is already closed for the day. Typically, you would bring your ID to check in and you will be given a wristband. There will also be someone checking in cars before you’re even allowed to park.

14. Getting out

When it’s time to head out, just keep in mind that you will need a bit longer to hike back up and out than you needed to come in. Since it’s a gradual downhill for most of the way in, it’s an ever so slight uphill all the way out.

The earlier you can pack up and head out the better. Alternatively, head out in the afternoon but make sure that you leave yourself enough time to be out before dark.

Admittedly, I didn’t time my exit very well and ended up hiking in the sun. This was OK because it was March and clouds were rolling in and out which provided shade, but I could see how miserable it can get in the summer!

Finally, make sure that you are driving out while there is still some light to deal with the aforementioned animals on the road.

And there you have my ultimate guide to Havasu Falls, and all that you need to know to have a wonderful trip.

Though Havasu Falls takes a considerable amount of effort, and funds these days, seeing that baby blue water for the first time with my own eyes made me realize that no, it’s not Photoshop and yes, it really is that amazing!

Enjoy your time, take lots of photos, leave no trace, and have a blast!

Make sure you know these before hiking to the Havasu Falls! Learn the best time to go, what to expect, how to prep, what to bring, and how to get in & out. A FREE printable backpacking checklist is included! #Havasu #Havasupai
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March edition – Lonely Planet’s travel blog


What type of venue is Ed Sheeran planning to open on London’s Portobello Road? Find out in our quiz © William Perugini / Shutterstock

Which popular board game now has a life-size version in Hong Kong? And what false claim is currently drawing tourists to Sydney University? Test your knowledge of the latest happenings in the travelsphere with our travel news quiz, featuring some of this month’s most intriguing Lonely Planet news stories.

TAKE THE QUIZ

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The Perfect Idaho Hot Springs Itinerary


I have a secret that only locals and a few well-informed tourists know: Idaho is stunning and chock full of enchanting hot springs.

After soaking in the hot springs in Sun Valley a couple of years ago I vowed to return and see more of a snowy Idaho and its numerous springs, of which there are an estimated 100+. I had to know which were the best. I am an enthusiast, after all.

I charted a road trip with the intention of seeing Idaho’s best hot springs. From the natural to the resort springs, these are the best of the best:

1. The Springs – A Mountain Hot Springs Retreat in Idaho City

The private jacuzzi – just one part of the whole experience

I began my trip in Boise, which has a hip downtown area with great food and numerous options to overnight if you need to. From there it’s a stunning drive to Idaho City, which would be my first hot spring of the trip.

This spring is one of only two on this list that is more of a spa rather than a natural, free of charge spring. To have the private tub pictured above, complete with server for drinks and snacks, you’ll need to book ahead of time and pay $45 per hour. You can also access the larger warm pool, steam bath, and jacuzzi for $20 per person for an all-day pass, or if you’re staying at the Inn like I did, $8 per person.

I enjoyed this spring and can see why it’s worth spending a day there ordering food and drinks, with access to a warm changing room with showers and even massages. It’s also easy to access if in snowy conditions, whereas the other springs on this list are more remote.

I came to find on this trip that I prefer the ‘primitive’ or natural springs, not only because they’re free, but it’s just more my style. Still, this is a great spring to break up the drive between Boise and Stanley.

Stay: The Inn is a great value and gives you cheaper access to the springs. I’m not sure how many options there are in Idaho City (‘city’ being a loose term for a town of 500 or so people), and thought the Inn was great.

Eat: Trudy’s Kitchen has a nice offering and again, with very limited options, you can find some healthy food there, and pie!

2. Kirkham Hot Springs

idaho hot springs
Let it snow!

This is in my top three favorite hot springs for variety, heat, and views! I understand that these are ordinarily quite popular but I did have them all to myself for a brief period of time in the winter.

The access road and campgrounds will be closed in the winter, but there’s a pull-off with some parking and you’ll see clear footprints in the snow to the springs. You’ll come to a couple of pools before reaching the Payette River. Stop in these before or after. They don’t have the views but they’re the biggest and I loved them just the same.

Next, walk down some steps to the river and you’ll see the steaming waterfalls. This part is awesome but you haven’t seen it all yet!

idaho hot springs
Hot springs shower? Yasss

It’s your call if you want to put on shoes for the last pool – it’s a sharp and sometimes slippery and jagged walk. I went barefoot because I think shoes are foot prison and found a shallow, super warm pool with the million dollar view as a reward for my efforts.

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BOOM. Check out that view!

From Kirkham, continue on the 21 to Stanley. You’ll also pass a roadside pull-off for the Bonneville Hot Springs which I didn’t get a chance to soak in though they came highly recommended. I certainly would have if there had been more time in the day but for some reason on this trip I was sleeping 10-11 hours per night and getting leisurely starts to the day, which was just fine with me!

3. Mountain Village Resort, Stanley

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Perfect photo op

These springs are the only others on this list that aren’t primitive springs, though they’re fed by a natural spring. After seeing photos I had to experience them with those rustic barn doors and seriously stunning views of the Sawtooth Mountains. I genuinely wonder if there’s a town that can rival Stanley in terms of winter wonderland quaintness.

You can visit these springs for free if you stay at the hotel, and you might as well, since it’s cheap and next to one of the best restaurants in town. That said, you’ll have to share with up to 7 other people, which is likely to be the case if you go at sunset or golden hour, which are popular times. It can be fun or annoying depending on who you get in there with you.

Stanley is a popular snowmobiling destination, and you can rent snowmobiles and self-guide or take guided tours. I was there strictly to soak and didn’t partake but word on the street is rentals are around $200/day (9AM-4PM).

Eat: Mountain Village Restaurant has nice breakfast and some vegan options. There’s also a decent pizza place. The whole town is under 100 residents so you won’t have a ton to choose from, though more is open in the summer.

4. Boat Box Hot Springs

idaho hot springs
So unique and quirky

Just 5 minutes out of Stanley you’ll see the famous Boat Box Hot Springs. It’s a metal tub right on the river that’s easy to access from the road and free to use.

This spring wins the award for most unique. It looks like a witch’s cauldron!

That said, there’s only room for a couple of people at a time, maximum four if you really like each other. It’s a popular spring so expect to wait for your turn! The pull-off only has room for 2-3 cars which helps. I waited about 45 minutes for my turn and kindly asked the next car that pulled up to do the same. It’s worth it for the experience but don’t expect to be able to soak for hours undisturbed in Boat Box.

5. Sunbeam Hot Springs

idaho hot springs
Another favorite

This one is up there with Kirkham as one of my favorites, probably because it’s the only spring on this list that I had totally to myself. The single pool is super warm and it’s right on the river, plus there are several perfectly situated rocks to lounge up against. The water flows through nicely as well so the algae is minimal. When I was there it was a dreamy winter wonderland that, even though it’s right off the road, felt secluded.

There’s the pool to the right that I went to, and a little tub to the left that reminded me of a less photogenic Boat Box. It was impossible for me to leave the natural pool once I got in so I’ll have to leave that tub for another time.

This one is only 10 minutes beyond Boat Box so if it looks crowded on the first pass-by, know that you can hit Sunbeam and return on your way back to Stanley. I stayed in town for 2 nights before venturing onwards in order to have a full day in Stanley.

6. Goldbug Hot Springs

idaho hot springs
Probably the most beautiful though the competition is stiff

This is probably Idaho’s most famous hot springs and also amongst the most popular. This surprised me since it’s a 2-mile hike in and is located in the middle of nowhere, but the views make it obvious why.

I was a bit disappointed when I pulled up and saw 10 other cars in the lot, which I later learned is a slow day! However, there are numerous pools at the top of varying temperatures from perfectly warm to about as hot as it can be without being too hot.

idaho hot springs
In one of the hotter pools

The trail up is easy to follow and not very difficult. It’s only steep in the beginning and at the end and not for very long. I didn’t personally feel that snowshoes were necessary but sure wish I’d brought spikes or Yaktrax as the trail was super icy in some places. It was pretty sketchy, to be honest, so bring some when you go if it’s the winter!

I heard that come March, it’s a lot more likely to share these springs with tons of people. That said, it was a fun atmosphere and clothing is optional at these springs, which ought to make the nudists happy!

Stay: From here you can head north to Salmon to see a couple more springs or stay in a town on the way back out to Twin Falls, which is where I ended my trip. I overnighted in Arco due to darkness and road conditions and can only say options for food are severely limited. However, I just loved the owner of this motel and thought it was fine for the night. The price was right too at $59!

7. Sun Valley

idaho hot springs
A bit too much hot and cold but still pretty

From Goldbug, you can backtrack to Sun Valley via Stanley or head to Sun Valley directly from Stanley. If you’re mainly after awesome hot springs you would have already seen better ones elsewhere. This one in Sun Valley has a lot of hot and cold and not too much comfortably in between pools. However, Sun Valley is a fantastic ski and snowmobile destination, not to mention an awesome town with friendly people. Check out the Frenchman’s Bend Hot Springs as well, which I heard mixed reviews about, on your way south.

The hot springs in Idaho are perfect for a winter road trip. Click to read a complete itinerary with 7+4 unmissable hot springs, accommodation and food tips, plus a map to help you plan your trip to Idaho in the winter! #Idaho #HotSprings
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Honorable Mentions:

I happened to visit Idaho during a particularly snowy time of year. This is a blessing and a curse as it’s perfect for hot springs but makes driving difficult and avalanche danger much more pronounced. Had road conditions permitted there are a few more I would have loved to see:

1. Jerry Johnson:

Apparently Idaho’s most famous and popular hot springs, Jerry Johnson is north of Salmon, accessible if you keep going up from Goldbug. It’s a short, 2.6 mile round trip hike to get to the springs which get rave reviews on Yelp. There are three soaking pools.

2. Stanley Hot Springs:

Not to be confused with Stanley, Idaho. If you keep going on the 12 you can reach these hot springs, provided you’re willing to do a 9.3-mile roundtrip hike. It sounds like an adventure with a worthy terminus to me.

3. Rocky Canyon Hot Springs:

Back towards Boise, if you head north on the 55 and take the Banks Lowman Road exit, you’ll be able to reach this hot spring after fording a river. Given this, it’s not the best winter hot spring, but the cascading pools look quite magnificent for a spring or fall trip.

4. Trail Creek Hot Springs:

If you head north, you’ll find these hot springs off the NF-22. For some reason on Google Maps they’re labeled Samuel’s Hotsprings. This is a popular one and is known for perfect temperatures and easy accessibility.

Map:

Road conditions:

If you’re going in the winter months like I did, take a car with 4 wheel drive and ideally some chains. As storms come through, the roads between these springs can close or become icy and snowy. The Idaho Transportation Department is a great resource and is constantly updated. Alternatively, dial #511 for road updates.

Signal is hard to come by in these remote areas so check conditions before you start driving.

The lovely moments between spring and clothes:

There’s no easy way to transition from nice, warm springs to getting the heck out of your suit as quickly as possible and into dry clothes. It was well below freezing when I was there and was often snowing. For the most part, I had privacy to change (not that I particularly care – most of the natural springs are clothing optional as well) and waited until I was super warm in the springs to make the transition.

To make it easier, bring a nice, dry towel and keep it in a dry bag until the time comes, or maybe even a bathrobe. If you’re in freezing temperatures, keep your hair dry unless you can immediately jump into a warm car, meaning don’t dunk at Goldbug.

Gas and food:

I recommend always filling up before you get down to a quarter tank. Most of the towns on this route are under 100 people, and facilities, as well as cell signal, are limited. The same goes for snacks. Go shopping in Boise or Twin Falls, wherever you start, rather than counting on finding healthy snacks along the way. It’s not impossible, it’s just fewer and farther between.

Budget:

I loved how cheap this trip turned out to be! In the warmer months, it could be even cheaper if you camp along the way. Gas and lodging were great values in my opinion. It came out to about $100 per person per day including gas, food, and lodging. I can’t even get accommodation for that in California!

While these are the best springs in Idaho, I imagine there are even more in California, Nevada, and Wyoming and my thirst is only whetted. Stay tuned for more posts like this in the future because Pandora’s box has been opened.

What are some of your favorite hot springs? What did I miss?

Planning a winter road trip to Idaho? Here are 11 best hot springs that you cannot miss when in Idaho, especially in the winter. Accommodation and food tips, plus a map to help you plan your trip are all included in this post. #Idaho #HotSpring
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Samai Haider – Lonely Planet’s travel blog


Samai and her travelling toddler hiking in Switzerland © Samai Haider

This month our spotlight is on the incredible writer, traveller, economist, artist and photographer Samai Haider. Samai shares her travel stories on her self-titled blog and is living proof that travelling with young children is not only possible, but may just be the most rewarding decision ever.

Give us the low-down on your blog…

My blog samaihaider.com isn’t a travel blog in the traditional sense. It is more of a repository for all my published work – much of which is, admittedly, driven by my travels. While all my articles are written with the intent to provide information about a destination, I weave in personal anecdotes from my trips to create stories that I hope will give readers a true sense of the place and its people. I also use the platform to showcase my artwork, either sketches I’ve done while travelling, or abstract paintings inspired by the dramatic landscapes I’ve encountered on the road. Travel sparks my creativity, and through my writing and art, I hope to show others how travel can touch every inch of your soul.

Describe your travel style in three words…

Immersive. Budget-friendly. Gastronomic.

Top three places you’ve visited?

This list has been frightfully difficult to curate, but after much deliberation, my top three would be: Easter Island, Iceland and South Africa.

Samai's son on the steps of a 12th-century monastery in Bhutan Samai’s son on the steps of a 12th-century monastery in Bhutan © Samai Haider

What inspired you to start backpacking with your toddler?

As someone with an incurable case of itchy feet, I couldn’t fathom the possibility of staying away from the road as a new parent. When my son was a few months old, my husband and I took him on brief forays around the state, then weekend getaways interstate, before we finally took the plunge and went on a six-week jaunt to Europe.

As people who cherish being unencumbered by suitcases, preferring instead the freedom of hopping on and off buses and trains at whim, we thought Europe would be a comfortable place to ease back into backpacking. We headed off with only the most basic of baby supplies stashed into our single backpack and, of course, the staple in every new parents’ inventory, the nappy bag. We didn’t know if we could be the impulsive travellers we used to be, or even if the baby would take to being uprooted every few days, but we had to try.

On that trip, as we watched our year-old son happily chow down on escargots in Paris and take delight in riding tuk-tuks in Bangkok, we realised that even the youngest amongst us can be versatile and derive pleasure from new places.

Samai's son playing with children on Copacabana beach, Rio de Janeiro What better way for a kid to learn about the local culture than to meet the local kids? © Samai Haider

What have you learnt about yourself, your toddler or the world at large from travelling this way?

Backpacking with a two-year-old has been a vastly different experience from our travels in the past, and these days we find ourselves as dedicated connoisseurs of playgrounds over museums. Travelling long-term with a toddler, it is even more evident that the ups and downs of life don’t just stop because you’re doing what you love. So, I’ve learnt to be more flexible with my plans. I have learnt that it is possible to see previously visited sights in a new light, through my toddler’s eyes. I’ve learnt to linger in a place to absorb the local culture while making connections with people along the way.

I have also learnt not to underestimate a toddler’s memory or ability to form opinions. So far, my son has absorbed ‘Bhutanese dzongs’ into his vocabulary, adopted empanadas as a dietary staple in Argentina and, while in London, demanded a visit to London Bridge so he could sing ‘London Bridge is falling down’ while walking across it. But more than all the wonders I’ve witnessed so far, what has truly been life-changing has been watching my son bond with children across the globe, with little regard for language, age or race. I’ve learnt that a child’s play transcends all barriers.

Samai's son trying to dig up more Moai on Easter Island ‘Maybe there’s more Moai under here?’ © Samai Haider

Top tips for anyone thinking of travelling with under-twos?

  1. Maintain some semblance of a routine to help settle your child into their new surroundings.
  2. Be prepared to tackle temper tantrums and nappy changes in some fairly unorthodox situations. We have vivid recollections of changing nappies under the watchful gaze of the Moai on Easter Island and scrambling to quell an impending meltdown atop a 3000m-high Himalayan pass.
  3. Prep a child for air travel using books and stories so they know what to expect at the airport and while on the plane. While we made up our own stories about the airport (which became a favourite bedtime ritual), when it comes to flying, Maisy Goes on a Plane remains a personal favourite.

If you’re a member of our Pathfinders community and would like to share your story, drop us an email at pathfinders@lonelyplanet.com and tell us what exciting things you’re up to on your blog.



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Why I Got a Life Coach (And How I Feel About it 2 Years Later)


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A few years ago an email landed in my inbox asking if I’d ever considered a life coach.

I had tried therapy previously but found that it didn’t really click for me. Yet I was at a time in my life when I was willing to try it again, because I had so much going on and I needed some support that friends and family couldn’t provide. Coaching is not about trying to fix something that is wrong, it’s about being able to talk openly about your life experience with someone who is trained to ask you the questions that you should be asking yourself.

Before writing about it, I wanted to be absolutely sure that meeting with a life coach was worth it and would have a positive impact on my life. Over two years later, it’s been enough time for me to confidently say that having this source of support and objective guidance in one’s life truly does have the potential to upgrade our confidence, productivity, and relationships.

How it Works

bmtmadventures
FaceTime sessions in Lima.

I travel almost constantly, so meeting with someone in person and maintaining a strict schedule just wouldn’t work. I have actually never met my life coach in person. We do everything over FaceTime.

I’ve had sessions with her from the Serengeti in Tanzania to my old apartment in Berlin. As long as I have a strong enough Internet connection, which is easier and easier to come by these days, we can do a session.

Our sessions usually consist of me updating her with what’s going on in my life and discussing any pain points I’m having.

So often it’s hard to really see what’s going on when you’re in it. Having someone who is not a friend, and doesn’t have opinions and emotional investments in your decisions to talk to is invaluable. It’s not about problem-solving or trying to fix you, it’s about being able to speak to someone who doesn’t know anyone you know and who can give you truly objective guidance. A good life coach should not tell you what to do, but should ask you ‘why’ – why you hold certain limiting beliefs, why things have to be a certain way, or why not take another path? They should help you dig to the root of and to see patterns in your life that you may be totally missing. It’s not so much about the answers as it is the questions.

As much as I love my girlfriends and my family, they can’t provide objective advice to me. And I can’t do that for them either. Moreover, none of us are trained to do so. I don’t want to burden those I love with my problems on a weekly basis, either. It’s so much nicer to speak to someone who wants to help and has dedicated their life to it.

My coach is a licensed therapist with years of experience. I would highly recommend seeking a coach who has a similar pedigree. I see a lot of people becoming ‘life coaches’ these days who don’t really have the experience or proper training to do so, and I’d be wary of those.

Changes I’ve Seen

koh yao noi
Way more confidence and self love!

My coach has helped me to identify and let go of many limiting beliefs around the worth of what I put out there and how I show up in relationships. Our sessions gave me the confidence to speak more openly about my personal struggles on this blog, to put out products like the Photo Muse Masterclass, and helped me to feel confident enough to start running women’s adventure tours.

The biggest change has had to do with my personal life and interpersonal relationships. They are much healthier now and I can see my part in things more clearly these days. In the past when I’ve confided in a friend, if I didn’t end up taking her advice I would feel a bit sheepish letting her know. The last thing I want to be is burdensome or secretive with friends. I find it’s just much easier to speak openly with someone who, even though we have met almost weekly for two years, is not going to judge what I do and is instead going to help me arrive at the answers myself. It’s simply a different dynamic when it’s a professional helping you. I find it so much less emotionally taxing and I don’t feel guilty over taking up her time or resources. That’s the entire point of it.

I’m also able to send my coach periodic texts throughout the week. It comes as part of my package with her. This is particularly helpful because sometimes I just need some mid-week follow up or to bounce ideas off of her.

Finding a Coach

So where should you look for a coach? First it is worth considering if this person‘s values align with yours. If you’re particularly religious or spiritual in some other way, it helps to find someone who approaches the world in a similar fashion or you’ll be speaking a different ‘language’.

I would also go with your gut. There’s nothing wrong with speaking to multiple people before you find your match. You can also use services that help you find the perfect coach by answering questions and getting matched up.

I used awarenow, which is an online service that matches up coaches with clients based on a range of questions, needs, and areas of focus, and offers packages ranging from $35 to $125 per session. I booked 10 sessions at once for $99/50-minute session. You can get 10% off when you use the coupon code ‘Kristin’.

I got really lucky when I got matched up with Tara and we clicked immediately. I credit this to the matching process at AwareNow. I have the top package which gives me the most time and access. I have found that this ideal for me and yes, 100% worth the money.

I don’t have any agenda in sharing this other than to say that it truly has helped me. Any money spent on therapy might seem like a lot, but I’ve always felt that investing in myself was the most important thing that I could do, whether it’s paying for exercise classes, coaching, and healthy food, self-improvement is always way more worth it to me than a shopping trip or weekend of cocktails. The benefits are so much more enduring.

Particularly for those who are entrepreneurs, especially at the beginning, the expense might seem gratuitous and like something worth putting off. But I have found that this pays for itself many times over. I often get amazing marketing ideas during our coaching sessions, and she helps me see aspects of it that I wouldn’t have thought of because I’m so close to the work, and helps me feel the confidence that I need to move forward.

So after two years, yes, I can finally say that coaching is worth it and no, it’s not just some cliche Californian thing to do. It’s healthy, it’s about self-love, and I am better off for it. I just needed to be sure first before telling you guys.

Have you ever tried life coaching or therapy? How has it impacted your life?

Instead of going for therapy, I decided to get a life coach and here's how I feel about it after 2 years. #LifeCoach
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*I was initially offered a few free sessions and discounts to test this service. Since then I’ve paid in full. I just want to be transparent with you guys! I do get a small commission for referring people to the service, however this is why I took my time in recommending it. I wanted to be sure first, and your trust always comes first. 





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Singapore, the ‘green city’ – Lonely Planet’s travel blog


Singapore’s small but idyllic coastline © Jessica Palmer

Lonely Planet Pathfinder, Jessica Palmer of familyholidaydestinations.com, recently spent 11 days exploring Singapore with her family. From the vibrant hues of the Gardens by the Bay to the surprisingly tranquil East Coast Park beach, here are her highlights…

Cities are not usually my thing. Even though they can be incredibly vibrant and exciting, I don’t enjoy the lack of nature, fresh air and, often, cleanliness of the concrete jungle… Singapore however, is completely different! Singapore has nature, colour and space. It has architecture designed with greenery in mind, and gardens designed with healing in mind. Singapore is modern, clean and friendly. I set out to explore Singapore’s green areas with my young family, and very quickly discovered that it really does deserve the title of ‘Green City’, and is a fantastic place to visit with children!

Sci-fi movie landscapes

This looks like something out of a sci-fi movie, right? It’s actually the view from the Singapore Flyer two minutes before the heavens opened! The Singapore Flyer is basically a huge Ferris wheel, or as it’s called here, an ‘observation wheel’. You’re looking at 101 acres of glorious green lung right in the heart of Singapore – the famous Gardens by the Bay. Hiding behind the rain haze is the South China Sea, full of enormous ships carrying all sorts of things.

Cycling Pulau Ubin island

A cheap, ten-minute bumboat ride from Changi Point ferry terminal will take you to the island of Pulau Ubin. After stepping off the wharf into Pulau village, you will be greeted with a single street, lined with hundreds of pushbikes for hire and plenty of options for kids. From here we cycled on dirt tracks through the jungle, passing cheeky little long-tail macaques rummaging through a bag they had obviously stolen, before finally arriving at Chek Jawa Wetlands. Here you can stroll on a sturdy bridge over the mangrove wetlands, as well as a coastal bridge over the ocean. If it’s low tide you can see a host of marine life under the coastal bridge too.

Fort Canning Park

I came across a construction worker escaping the Singapore humidity by having a nap in the shade of this overgrown fort wall. It wasn’t long before his supervisor marched up the hill and told him to get back to work! I had a little chuckle to myself as, not for the first time, I was reminded that some things are the same no matter what country you are in.

Fort Canning Park is a beautiful green space on a hill that has witnessed some of Singapore’s historical milestones. It was once home to the palaces of 14th century kings, as well as the headquarters of the Far East Command Centre and British Army Barracks. In 1942, a decision was made to surrender Singapore to the Japanese in the underground tunnels and bunkers known as Battlebox, which you can now visit via a tour.

Beach life

This is Singapore’s East Coast Park, and whilst the beach is no French Polynesia, it’s still nice and clean with plenty of sand and ocean. The seafront park stretches for 15km and has coconut palms, bushland, overgrown trees, and lots of green grass. There is also an awesome kids park and restaurant area, as well as a paved walking track that cyclists and skaters take advantage of.

Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden

The Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden is seriously amazing! It’s located at the Singapore Botanic Gardens and is a great example of how Singapore caters to little people. Chock full of greenery, the garden somehow manages to combine both fun and learning, with a hedge maze, water play area, playground, obstacle course, zip-line and a potting and sensory garden. The kids really enjoyed being allowed to touch and smell the different herbs and plants in the sensory garden, and, to be honest, I did too!

The Cloud Forest Dome

The Cloud Forest Dome is out of this world! This three-storey waterfall is what you’re greeted with upon entry, and a series of pathways (and escalators and elevators if you need) take you to the top and back down again with different zones and gardens along the way. A huge bonus is that both this dome and the flower dome are cooled, which is a welcome relief from Singapore’s humidity!

Do you love to write about your travels? Or perhaps Instagram is your thing? Find out more about how you can contribute to Lonely Planet here.





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The 8 Best Places in the World for Female Digital Nomads


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The dawn of the internet and the globalization of our world have made it easier than ever to live and work remotely. We live in a time where there’s never been so much ability to connect across the world from anywhere with a strong enough WiFi connection.

For those of us who have developed skills or discovered industries that allow us to work remotely, the option of working from more than just our hometowns has opened up more and more.

Looking for your next working home base? Here are 8 cities that are perfect for female digital nomads, rated based on their safety for women, housing prices, public transportation options, food choices, Internet, and entertainment:

1. Chiang Mai, Thailand

The 8 Best Places in the World for Female Digital NomadsChiang Mai is THE spot for digital nomads in Southeast Asia. It’s super cheap, delicious, and if you’re just starting out it’s a great place to land.

Safety for women: Chiang Mai has a strong expat community, making it easy to meet other digital nomads. English is generally spoken and understood, locals are friendly and respectful. Covering up is recommended and sometimes compulsory when visiting temples and religious sites but otherwise, Thailand in general is safe for women.

Visa: Most expats and digital nomads in Chiang Mai try to obtain a double (3 months) or triple (6 months) entry tourist visa in their home country, and do the border run every 60 days, though you can extend each entry by 30 days if you pay about $60 to the immigration office before the scheduled run. Most people are happy with this option, as they get to explore the neighboring countries and have a little getaway. However, if you do not wish to do the visa run and plan to stay in Thailand for a year, look up on the 1 year ED visa and learn the Thai language.

Housing, Food, and Transportation prices:

  • You can find a decent 1-bedroom apartment for about $300-$800/month through the many property agents around. Alternatively, you can rent a beautiful 1-bedroom apartment on Airbnb for about $900/month, which might be a good start before committing to a longer term lease when you first arrive. Utilities are usually included in your rental.
  • Most apartments come with high-speed, stable Internet. You can also station yourself in a coworking space, which is getting more and more popular in Chiang Mai. Local SIM cards are very cheap and come with a stable 4G connection.
  • Vegans rejoice! In the old city, there are so many vegan cafes, you’ll never get bored. Local street food is cheap and delicious, and if you are feeling fancy, Chiang Mai is not short of mid-range and high-end restaurants as well.
  • Transportation options include the songthaew, the classic tuk tuk, and Grab (Southeast Asia’s version of Uber). A short songthaew ride costs about $0.50/ride. Grab is often a better choice than tuk tuk as they are reasonably priced. If you are confident on the road and have a valid international driving license, long-term scooter and car rentals are easy and affordable. Expect to pay about $80-$100/month for a decent scooter, and about $500/month for a decent sedan car.

Entertainment: Chiang Mai is full of yoga studios and meditation centers. There are also many cooking classes if you are interested in learning how to cook authentic Thai food. Pai, one of my favorite spots in Thailand, is only a winding ride away. You could also go on fun day trips from Chiang Mai. To meet other expats in the area, you can join the Chiang Mai Expat Women’s group on Facebook. Social apps like Tinder and Meetup are also fairly popular in the area.

➳ READ: 9 awesome things to do in Chiang Mai, Thailand

2. Taipei, Taiwan

The 8 Best Places in the World for Female Digital NomadsI will always have a soft spot in my heart for Taipei. It’s a safe place with super friendly locals and it’s so easy to live in and enjoy. Though it was long ago now, I absolutely loved living there as a student and dream of returning.

Safety for women: Taipei is generally very safe for everyone. It’s a very walkable city with pedestrian walkways and strict traffic laws. Locals are very warm and welcoming.

Visa: It is pretty straightforward for most people – you get a 90-day visa on arrival. Taiwan is one of the main flight hubs in Asia so when your visa’s up, simply book a flight out for a weekend getaway and come back to get a new visa. If you are holding a Canadian or a UK passport, your visa can be extended by another 90 days through a local immigration agency.

Housing, Food, and Transportation prices:

  • Taipei’s housing is one of the most expensive in Asia. That being said, apartments tend to be in a strategic location, with convenience stores, supermarkets, clinics, restaurants and cafes all a stone’s throw away. If you are on a budget, co-living spaces are growing rapidly in the city. Expect to pay about $550-$660 for a private room in a co-living space. You can rent a studio apartment on Airbnb for about $750-$950/month. Utilities are usually included in your rental. Coin laundry is cheap and widely available.
  • Most apartments and co-living spaces come with high-speed Internet. If you prefer to work outside, there are plenty of coworking spaces in the city.
  • Similar to Thailand, the night markets will spoil you with all kinds of items you can try out. For local street food, you can expect to pay about $3-$5 for a full meal. For some reason, cafes can be pretty expensive in comparison. Expect to pay about $10-$15 for a meal in a mid-range sit-down restaurant.
  • If you play your cards right, getting around in Taipei can be completely free! The bike-sharing system allows you to ride for free for the first 30 minutes. After that, it is only $0.30/half an hour. Trains and buses are widespread and reliable. Taxi fares tend to be quite costly. While I do not have any personal experience with Uber in Taiwan, according to my local friends, it isn’t any cheaper than taxis.

Entertainment: There’s always something going on somewhere in Taipei. Festivals, concerts, and weekend markets will keep you entertained. If you feel like getting out of town, thanks to the efficient railway system, you can take day trips via Taipei High Speed Rail to other parts of Taiwan easily. Even within Taipei, you can hike up to Mount Elephant and enjoy being in nature with a view of the concrete jungle.

➳ READ: That one time I became an illegal alien in Taiwan

3. Bali, Indonesia

The 8 Best Places in the World for Female Digital NomadsThere’s a reason why everyone loves Bali – it’s beautiful, full of gorgeous villas, and you can have an easy life as a digital nomad there. Bali is almost a cliche spot for digital nomads now. You will probably see more westerners than Balinese everywhere you go. For that reason I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with it but to live, it’s hard to beat Bali.

Safety for women: The locals in Bali are completely used to foreigners, and for the most part, they are welcoming and helpful. Try to establish a deeper relationship with a local family, who will be able to help you with local deals and errands. Be aware of the game of love in Indonesia, though.

Visa: You will get 30-day visa on arrival, and the visa can be extended by another 30 days at the airport or at any immigration office. If you plan to stay longer, apply for a 60-day visa before visiting Bali. That visa can be renewed 4 times for 30 days each time, earning you a total of 6-months in Bali. Another popular method is through the Social Budaya visa. You will get the same length of stay as the 60-day visa (60 + 30×4 days), but the visa requires a local sponsor. There are many local agents who will help you deal with all of this for a fee.

 Housing, Food, and Transportation prices:

  • A beautiful villa complete with a private pool for $600/month? Yes, that’s completely possible in Bali! There are hundreds, if not thousands of villas all over Bali available for both short and long term rentals. I recommend getting an Airbnb (like this one in Ubud with a rice field view) for the first month, and explore different areas to find out where you like most, as different areas have a different atmosphere – Ubud is spiritual, Canggu is young, Seminyak is lively.
  • Most villas come with stable Internet, though they tend to be slow. Cafes are usually filled with digital nomads working on their laptops. Coworking spaces are beginning to mushroom in popular areas. SIM cards are easy to get and cheap through SimPATI.
  • Every corner you turn to in Bali, there’s bound to be at least one hipster looking cafe. Authentic Indonesian food is almost a little bit hard to find on your own, but you can always ask the locals where they have dinner. Expect to pay about $10-$15 for a full meal in a mid-range restaurant or a popular cafe. Local food can cost as little as $1 if you know where to find it. You can find the best vegan restaurants here.
  • Renting a motorbike is the most common way to get around in Bali, albeit not the safest. Roads are bad in certain areas, and there’s always traffic. If you choose to rent one, be sure to get a sturdy bike, and while this should go without saying, always wear a helmet. If you are not confident on a bike, Grab comes in bike form, and they are very cheap for short distance rides! Expect to pay less than $1 for a short ride. Finally, you can also hire a private driver, which can be helpful for your airport transfers.

➳ READ: The best vegan food in Bali

Entertainment: Surf’s up, baby! You will see surfers with their surfboards attached to their bikes everywhere. If you are new to surfing, Bali is a pretty good place to pick it up. You can also go check out the waterfalls, join yoga classes, or take a boat trip to Lombok, the Nusa Islands or the Gili Islands. To meet other digital nomads in the area, join Facebook groups like the Bali Expat Community or Bali Digital Nomads.

4. Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

The 8 Best Places in the World for Female Digital NomadsHo Chi Minh City has slowly but surely become a digital nomad favorite since it’s so cheap, it’s easy to find a place to live, and you can eat so well there for so little money. If you want high value for your money and super fast internet, Vietnam delivers.

Safety for women: Like any other buzzing, rapidly developing city, Ho Chi Minh City is full of life (and people. And traffic!). Petty theft is, unfortunately, pretty common. You just have to practice the same precautions as you would back home and you will be fine! It will take some time to get used to the ever-crawling motorbikes situation, but trust the locals and let them do their thing while you cross the road. Vietnamese are fun and awesome to hang out with.

Visa: You can apply for a 1-month or 3-month visa online or through the embassy before flying to Vietnam. Note that a 3-month visa is required to officially rent a place in Vietnam. US citizens can apply for a 1-year visa online or through the embassy for $135. The ease and affordability of obtaining a visa is one of the reasons why many digital nomads choose to base themselves in Vietnam.

Housing, Food, and Transportation prices:

  • Rentals are very affordable in Ho Chi Minh City, even in prime locations! We are talking about $350-$550/month for a nice, 1-bedroom apartment in the city center. On the outside, the buildings may look old and worn, but many places have completely renovated the apartments to make it comfortable to live in. Ho Chi Minh City is full of alleys and narrow streets, so consider renting an Airbnb for the first few days or weeks while finding your favorite corner.
  • Most apartments come with stable Internet. Popular cafes are usually filled with digital nomads working on their laptops. and coworking spaces are beginning to mushroom in popular areas.
  • Food is so deeeeelicious! You can easily get by on $1.50 on a lunch or dinner of street food, generally consisting of soup, fresh spring rolls, rice with various accompaniments, or noodles with meat. In addition, Vietnamese coffee is amazing, and typically only $1. Western food is easy to find, and because of the country’s French influence, you will find many French cafes on the riverside. Expect to pay about $5-$10 for a meal in a western restaurant.
  • Hop on a Grab bike! Renting a bike or a car is not recommended in Ho Chi Minh City because of the traffic. Grab bike is extremely cheap at about less than $1 for a short ride, anyway.

➳ READ: A Vietnamese food guide from North to South

Entertainment:There are a number of interesting museums and galleries in Ho Chi Minh City. You can also take a bus to other towns, like Da Lat and Hoi An for a long weekend holiday. There seems to be a lack of online community for digital nomads and expats, but you can always easily strike up a conversation with people at the cafes and coworking spaces.

5. Lisbon, Portugal

The 8 Best Places in the World for Female Digital NomadsFor a place with super friendly locals, gorgeous weather year-round, and the ocean, look no further than Portugal’s Lisbon.

Safety for women: Lisbon is one of the safest cities in Europe. A combination of low crime rates and friendly locals mean you have little to worry about as far as safety goes. That being said, you’ll want to be mindful of petty theft and pickpockets in touristy areas.

Visa: Most nationalities get a 90-day Schengen visa on arrival. Unfortunately, you can only enter Portugal for 90 days every 180 days. So if you wish to stay longer than 3 months, check out the recently launched StartUP Visa that will allow you to stay in Portugal for a year if successful. ” or “Most nationalities get 90-day Schengen visas on arrival. Unfortunately, you can only enter Portugal for 90 days every 180 days. So if you wish to stay longer than 3 months, check out the recently launched StartUP Visathat will allow you to stay in Portugal for a year if successful.

Housing, Food, and Transportation prices:

  • A nice 1-bedroom apartment in a lovely neighborhood will cost you about $1000-$1500/month, which is quite hefty. However, if you don’t mind a smaller studio or living outside the city center, a rental can cost about $750 or less. Don’t be discouraged by the high rental prices, as other expenses in Lisbon can be kept quite low!
  • There are plenty of good restaurants and cafes to keep your stomach happy, especially if you are a fan of seafood. Local cafes tend to be very affordable as well. Expect to pay about $5-$10 for a full meal.
  • Lisbon is a lovely city to walk in. As you will be living in a small city, you can get to pretty much everywhere on foot. When you don’t feel like walking (and I can’t blame you – Lisbon can be hilly!), Uber rides are convenient and affordable. If you prefer public transportation, you can get an unlimited pass for as low as your high rent is justified by how easy and affordable it is to get around town.

Entertainment: The weather in Lisbon is pleasant all year round. Hang out at the beach, have a lovely picnic at the park, or just go for long walks and admire the lovely local neighborhood during your free time. There are also many day or weekend trips to Porto, Sintra, and other small towns nearby. There are often events held especially for the digital nomad community – join the Lisbon Digital Nomads Facebook group to keep yourself updated.

6. Berlin, Germany

The 8 Best Places in the World for Female Digital Nomads
What a city!

Imagine a city that truly never sleeps, is easy to afford, and is hands-down the coolest place to be of the moment. That’s Berlin for you, where you never have to wear heels or anything but black. I lived in the city for 5 years and loved the affordability and wealth of things to do. Berlin is like an onion with endless layers.

Safety for women: An uncomfortable truth about Berlin is although this city is full of artists and hipsters, many of them are unemployed and struggling. There isn’t much violent crime here but like most major European cities there is a ton of theft, and the thieves are really, really good. That being said, throughout my 5 years of living in Berlin, I was robbed once, in a crowded festival, and did not encounter any other major problems otherwise.

Visa: Most nationalities get a 90-day Schengen visa on arrival. Unfortunately, you can only enter Germany for 90 days every 180 days. If you wish to stay longer, you will be happy to hear that Germany is one of very few countries in Europe, and the world in general, that allows Americans, Canadians, Israelis, South Koreans, Japanese, Australians, and New Zealanders to stay long-term on an artist or freelance visa. Here’s a full guide on applying for it.

Housing, Food, and Transportation prices:

  • A nice 1-bedroom apartment costs about $700-$1200/month, though the prices fluctuate depending on the neighborhood you are staying in. Most places do not come with full kitchen. Yep, you often have to buy the kitchen when you sign a lease. It’s also hard to get a lease without a visa, so I recommend staying in a shared flat (WG) for the first few months or so. I paid about $950/month for a top floor, 2-bedroom apartment in the hippest part of town.
  • The culinary scene in Berlin is vibrant and interesting. As one of the more forward-thinking European cities, being a vegan in Berlin is super easy. There’s also a great mix of different cultures, including Turkish, Chinese, and Vietnamese to help keep things interesting. Expect to pay about $2-$5 for a small dish. As for a meal in a mid-range restaurant, expect to pay about $8-$15. You can find lots of cheap street food too.
  • Buy yourself a second-hand bicycle (almost everyone I know had their bike stolen at some point. Don’t bother with a fancy bike) and you are sorted out! Berlin is a nice city to ride in. Most roads have dedicated cycle paths, and vehicles know to look out for cyclists. The city is also flat enough to walk. Public transportation is reliable and convenient. I recommend only taking a taxi when you are traveling in a group or in a hurry, as they are pretty expensive.

Entertainment: I lived in Berlin for 5 years and was never bored! There’s just so much to do in Berlin, like joining events that involve gazing into a stranger’s eyes for 45 minutes, exploring an old airport, a listening-station-turned-graffiti-park, and a bunch of other things to do. If you want to get out of the city, there are many fantastic road trips from Berlin.

➳ READ: Which Berlin neighborhood should you stay in?

➳ READ: How to get the freelancer visa to live in Berlin 

7. Barcelona, Spain

The 8 Best Places in the World for Female Digital NomadsA vibrant city full of art and unique Catalan culture, Barcelona is one of the most fun and captivating cities in Europe. Enjoy nice weather year-round and close proximity to some amazing landscape and history in Spain.

Safety for women: Similar to Lisbon and Berlin, Barcelona is generally pretty safe, but you’ll want to watch out for pickpockets and thieves who tend to target foreigners. Dress up like the locals and walk confidently. Practice the same precautions as you would back home and you will be fine.

Visa: Most nationalities get a 90-day Schengen visa on arrival. Unfortunately, you can only enter Spain for 90 days every 180 days. If you wish to stay longer, you will be happy to hear that you can now apply for a Resident visa (Non-lucrative) that allows you to stay up to one year.

Housing, Food, and Transportation prices:

  • You can find a decent 1-bedroom apartment for about $700-$900/month. Barcelona is a pretty big city, so don’t rush into signing that lease contract. Rent an Airbnb for the first month and explore your options.
  • Spanish food is generally very yummy and hearty. There’s also a good mix of international cuisine all over Barcelona to choose from. Expect to pay about $8-$10 for a meal at a sit-down restaurant. One thing to note is that Spanish tend to eat late – dinner typically starts at 8:30pm!
  • If you are comfortable on a bike, rent a Vespa and you will blend right in with the locals. The city is also bicycle-friendly, and totally walkable. Trains are reliable and efficient, and especially great for your day trips out of Barcelona.

Entertainment: There’s a lot to do in Barcelona! For most of the year, the weather is pleasant enough for an idyllic afternoon on the gorgeous beach. There are also many interesting museums, buildings, and churches for the art history buffs out there. Join the Barcelona Digital Nomads Facebook group if you’d like to meet other digital nomads, or simply have questions to ask!

8. Tallinn, Estonia

estonia-3729913_1920For something a little different, super quaint, and easy to afford, check out Estonia, the new kid on the block when it comes to welcoming digital nomads with open arms.

Safety for women: The Baltics are generally safe to travel and live in. Estonia is a small country with lots of friendly faces, and English is widely spoken. Tallinn, in particular, has a vibrant startup scene, so you are likely to meet lots of expats and locals working on innovative projects. That being said, the country does have a reputation for car theft and illegal drug use. As always, practice the same precautions you would at home.

Visa: Most nationalities get a 90-day Schengen visa on arrival. Unfortunately, you can only enter Estonia for 90 days every 180 days. That being said, the current visa situation in Estonia is exciting – the country plans to launch a digital nomad visa by the end of 2019, which will surely attract an even bigger group of remote workers to the country.

Housing, Food, and Transportation prices:

  • You can find a decent 1-bedroom apartment for about $600-$800/month, though that requires some digging and going through a few agents. For your first month in Tallinn, consider renting via Airbnb.
  • As mentioned earlier, Tallinn has a vibrant startup scene. The country is named as one of the world’s most digitally advanced societies – this means you have nothing to worry about when it comes to the Internet and getting work done.
  • Unfortunately, meals tend to be quite expensive. Expect to pay about $10-$15 for a full meal in a restaurant. For that reason, try to find an apartment with a kitchen, so you can buy your own groceries and cook at home.
  • You can pretty much get to everywhere on foot – just make sure you have good walking shoes as it’s mostly cobblestone. Bus and trains are generally reliable.

Entertainment: There are many lovely parks and hills in Tallinn to hang out at when you are tired of staring at the computer screen. If you are a history buff, indulge in the city’s museums and countless buildings worth seeing all over old town. For an easy day out, there are tons of coffee shops as well as weekend markets.

Inspired to move abroad yet? Regardless of where you choose, you’re in for an adventure that will give you an opportunity to meet new people, potentially save loads of money over your current living situation, and at the very least, will allow you to see a new corner of the world more deeply.

For my digital nomads out there, what are your favorite spots?

Which cities are the best for female digital nomads? Here is a breakdown on safety for women, visa, cost of living and lifestyle of 8 awesome cities that are popular among digital nomads. Whether you are a blogger, youtuber, designer or any other kind of remote worker, this list will help you decide where to base yourself in while working remotely. #DigitalNomads
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February edition – Lonely Planet’s travel blog


What type of butterfly migrates to Mexico each winter? Find out in our quiz © JHVEPhoto / Shutterstock

Do you know which country is home to the Hill of Crosses? Or the city where Aussie soap Neighbours is set? Test your knowledge of travel trivia with the February edition of our monthly travel quiz, based around stories featuring in this month’s Lonely Planet magazine – on sale now. Can you score full marks?

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Find quizzes just like this, plus plenty of travel inspiration and planning tips in Lonely Planet’s UK magazine.



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