Monday, April 16, 2012

Brides Magazine selects venerable travel betwork Virtuoso to reveal top honeymoon destinations

When it comes to planning a honeymoon or romantic getaway, the travel possibilities can be endless. Choices may include a secluded beach vacation, European tours, intrepid safaris, as well as adventures in new and exotic lands, often leaving couples in a destination decision quandary. The good news for discerning couples: high-end travel agency network, Virtuoso, has teamed up with the renowned Brides magazine to provide insight on the hottest honeymoon destinations now.

Collaborating with the revered travel network, Virtuoso, Brides magazine gained access to an army of 7,200 elite travel specialists, questioning each on what they consider the very best destinations for newlywed couples. Taking advantage of Virtuoso's more than 60 years of travel expertise, the survey determines Italy, French Polynesia and Maui as the top three honeymoon destinations from a full list of 20 locales in total. Additional destinations in this category cited Greece, Mexico, Bali, Thailand, Costa Rica and Australia as favorites amongst the newlywed set.

"Virtuoso's reputation as the premiere network of travel agencies and advisors made them a perfect partner for this year's Honeymoon Awards," said Jacqueline Gifford, Travel Editor for Brides magazine. "Their level of travel knowledge is unsurpassed and their insight led to an impressive and comprehensive list of world's-best destinations, hotels, resorts and cruise lines - everything couples need to get started on their own honeymoon."

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Bali beefs up security, but tourists unfazed

Police on Indonesia's resort island of Bali stepped up security in tourist hotspots yesterday after five suspected terrorists were shot dead in raids, but tourists remain unfazed by the incident.

"We beefed up security in all places around Bali especially in strategic places such entertainment spots, hotels and malls. What's clear, we are on alert," Bali police spokesman Hariadi said.

"We guarantee maximum security for tourists. They should not be alarmed and should continue to enjoy their holiday," he added.

Muslim-majority Indonesia has been rocked by a series of attacks staged by regional terror network Jemaah Islamiyah in recent years, including the 2002 Bali bombings which killed 202 people.

Police said that on Sunday evening they gunned down five people in two separate raids in the Denpasar and Sanur areas in the south of the island, which is popular with tourists for its beaches and lush interior.

Over one hundred members of the elite Detachment 88 counter-terrorism force were seen in Sanur where three suspects were killed at a villa, a correspondent saw.

The men "planned to carry out an act of terrorism and several robberies" and are believed to be part of a group who killed an officer in a spectacular 2010 bank robbery to raise funds for terrorist attacks, police said.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Bali escape hatch on our doorstep

Bali is the too-easy escape hatch on our doorstep, a seductive zone of spas and sunsets, waves and temples, plus the chance to shop to the brink of bankruptcy.

Guide to Asia:


Regardless of Bali's labels - the island of the gods, the morning of the Earth, or paradise mislaid - the place continues to draw us in. About 700,000 Australians visit each year, despite the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade's long-standing travel warning. In general we return sunburnt, surfed out, credit maxed, hungover and happy as Larry.

Southern Bali could be renamed the Shore of a Million Motorbikes, such is the all-day traffic jam that oozes across its Sanur-Denpasar-Kuta-Seminyak sprawl. Yet somehow we keep the cool that we don't have at home - the trick is, of course, to be driven, don't drive - and make our way through the traffic to art galleries, rafting safaris, cooking classes, beachfront weddings and spa sessions, more or less on time.

Catering to an estimated 2.7 million annual international visitors and a very large numbers of domestic tourists, Bali has bloomed with theme parks for families. Toucans, hornbills, ibis and scores of other rainforest species flit beneath the canopies of Bali Bird Park in Batubulan. Kuta's Waterbom Park is a gleeful melee of children and huge waterslides with vivid names like Super Bowl and Smash Down. The Elephant Safari Park Lodge at Taro, north of Ubud, has jumbo shows and an on-site resort while its competition, the Bali Safari and Marine Park at Gianyar, presents the huge Bali Agung stage spectacular.

Meanwhile, Kuta Beach could be the world's biggest tanning park. Here heliotropic visitors rotisserie themselves to bronze or blisters while besieged by a walking, hawking supermarket of masseuses and trinket spruikers.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Learning How To Travel On A Trip To Bali

F*ck you!" she heard as she hurried off in anger. I was with my mom in Bali and as I ran to catch up with her, I again wondered what I had gotten myself into.

I had come to Bali with my family a few days earlier. My cousin had just gotten married and for their honeymoon they decided to travel to Southeast Asia, visiting the places of his childhood. Rejected from graduate school and "between jobs" (read: unemployed), I decided to accept their invite and serve as their translator, porter, honeymoon photographer and all around handyman -- my own indentured servitude. Adrift in my own sea of uncertainty, I joined my family on a journey to a land known for its beaches and beauty.

Most our days in Bali followed a similar pattern: touristy sites, then beaches and fabulous dinner -- a routine that forced me up early each morning for a workout lest my beach body paranoia lose its daily battle to my "I'm-on-vacation" eating mindset. The pattern was comforting, but after a few days, sitting and sipping cocktails was just losing its charm. Shouldn't I be doing something productive?

There was a Hard Rock Bali and a Planet Hollywood Bali. I don't think I traveled across an ocean to eat a Hollywood Burger or a New York Strip. After awhile a beach is a beach, a bar is a bar and hotel pools are just hotel pools. Don't get me wrong, these things are amazingly fun, but why spend your entire time just doing the same things you can do anywhere? Where is the soul of a place that makes the journey worthwhile?

Monday, July 4, 2011

Bali is beautiful. I have everything here’

Getting there: There are no direct flights from India to Denpasar, Bali. Stopover in either Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur or Singapore

Visa: Visa on arrival. Only USD or Rupiah accepted

Where to sleep: There are hotels for everyone – from backpackers to luxury seekers. The only tip is all hotels can negotiate to include either breakfast or airport transfers or guided tours, but book early

Getting around: There are plenty of taxis, but my personal preference would be to hire a two-wheeler for the day. If you do plan on doing that please ensure you get your International Drivers License and a personal Insurance policy

Eating: There are plenty of options in Bali when it comes to restaurants, but if you are a vegetarian, ask the waiter about the ingredients as sometimes they do tend to add fish sauce to vegetarian dishes

Not to miss: If you love to surf, head to Padang Padang near the famous Uluwatu Temple. If you are looking to get away for some quiet time on the beach, don't head south to Kuta where the milling crowds are. Instead, head north to Lovina

Bali Travel Information

Bali Travel - Top Bali Sites

Bali Travel Guide