#MakeFirstMomentsHappen: Will you take the leap of faith?

Posted by - September 12, 2018

Afraid to travel solo? Fear of flying? Not a fan of the deep blue sea? Take the reins and do it anyway! Source: Shutterstock.
MOMENTS, adventures, and experiences don’t just automatically fall onto your lap. You have to make them happen for you.
And that’s what Cebu Pacific Air (CEB) is encouraging travelers to do through its #MakeFirstMomentsHappen campaign.
The Manila-based Philippine low-cost airline recently rolled out a video series aimed at inspiring travelers to make moments happen.
The first of the videos, “First Break“ features a young professional named Leah who is working towards taking a break with a milestone adventure to mark her birthday.
Her adventure of choice? Cliff diving at Initao, Cagayan de Oro, a beachside destination famed for its protected virgin forests, white sand beaches, and exhilarating water adventures.
Though probably not for everyone, especially those with a morbid fear of heights, her literal leap of faith is meant to encourage “everyJuan” to travel, experience destinations, and take on adventures for the first time.
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“It has always been our goal to support everyJuan to fly to their dream destinations. Now, we want to take things to greater heights, and share and celebrate exciting first memories and experiences with our loyal patrons,” waytogo quoted CEB Director for Corporate Communications Charo Lagamon as saying.
#MakeFirstMomentsHappen has also gained quite a bit of traction on social media, with scores of aspiring travelers hashtagging their travel bucket lists and dreams.
“Solo travel is a bucket list and a challenge for myself. I’m afraid but also excited. I guess that’s the joy of it, to explore places you’ve never been to, be with people you’ve never met and discover that this life has so much more to offer,” Twitter user @Oorangtheworld posted.
“In this world full of uncertainties and self-doubts, I want to take this chance to travel alone, to know how far I can go to chase my precious dreams. And I want to gain that self-confidence that I need to face the judgments of other people,” @anaklarissapaps wrote.
Source: Shutterstock.
CEB flies daily across 37 domestic and 26 international destinations.
Its main base is Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila, with other hubs at Mactan-Cebu International Airport, Clark International Airport, Kalibo International Airport, Francisco Bangoy International Airport, Iloilo International Airport, and Laguindingan Airport.
The next part of the #MakeFirstMomentsHappen video series is expected to be released on CEB’s Facebook page.

In pictures: The idyllic town of Khao Yai

Posted by - September 11, 2018

Why you should visit this whimsical Thai destination before it becomes too mainstream. Source: Shutterstock.
PLANNING on venturing into lands anew for something unusual and quirky to do? Thinking you may have already seen the best of Thailand?
Then you need to put the idyllic town of Khao Yai on your travel bucket list.
Located three hours’ drive away from Bangkok, the Unesco World Heritage-listed Khao Yao is spread across four provinces – Saraburi (west), Nakhon Nayok (east), Nakhon Ratchasima (north), Prachinburi (east) – and is one of Thailand’s best-kept secrets.
Whether you are a nature lover or a wine connoisseur you are bound to have the best time possible and a truly memorable stay.
Khao Yai is rich in natural resources because it is blessed with a lush, mountainous landscape offering endless greens, fertile valleys, and jungle-clad breathtaking waterfalls.
Your Instagram will thank you too as Khao Yai boasts the perfect postcard-worthy backdrops for your feed.
From the rows upon rows of pastel winter flowers at the sprawling The Bloom to Thailand’s very own The Shire that will be the envy of all your Lord of the Rings-loving friends.
Source: Shutterstock
If you are big on wine tasting, be sure to get on a farm and wine trail for an enjoyable excursion to a handful of vineyards in Khao Yai’s wine region.
Enjoy the scenic views of sunflower patches and rolling hills before kicking back and settling in at the vineyard with a cold glass of award-winning Pirom Khao Yai Reserve.
And if you think could not possibly be any more that Khao Yai will have to offer, wait till you see Palio Village, a cluster of stores themed around a Tuscan village.
Be transported to a mini Italy as you stroll along the quaint neighborhood’s Italian-themed streets dotted with an eclectic mix of cafes, fashion boutiques, souvenir shops, and bakeries.
Source: Shutterstock.
Like all Thai destinations, food is also abundant in Khao Yai so when you are not busy soaking up the picturesque region, grab a meal at one of its many unique restaurants.
Savor the delectable Thai-French fusion cuisine at the stately Lookkai Khao Yai garden restaurant or visit the vintage Lan + Lee + Lar Restaurant for a traditional Thai food.
Khao Yai is also popular for its pretty cafes so be sure to put 22°C Cafe, Bunny Coffee, The Mew Cafe, 382 Space Coffee & Bakery, and The Witches Brew Restaurant on your cafe-hopping checklist.
Take a look at all the magic that Khao Yai has to offer:
Getting there: The easiest and fastest way to get there is by car and you will need a car to get around Khao Yai. You can rent one from just about anywhere in Bangkok or look up platforms like Klook or Kayak for deals.

These are the world’s most epic hikes

Posted by - August 28, 2018

So many peaks, so little time? Here are the best in the world, handpicked for you. Source: Shutterstock.
THE WORLD has no shortage of hiking sites, and thrilling peaks and Lonely Planet has just saved you some time by sieving through the thousands of peaks and walking trails to list out only the best.
In the newly-published Epic Hikes of the World guidebook, Lonely Planet’s writers collaborated to uncover 50 most incredible hikes in 30 countries that adventure travelers are bound to love.
Among the best are those located in Asia-Pacific. This includes Japan, India, Malaysia, China, Australia, and New Zealand.
Discover why they are considered the world’s most epic hikes:
Shikoku, Japan: 88 Sacred Temples of Shikoku Pilgrimage The Shikoku Pilgrimage or Shikoku Junrei is a multi-site pilgrimage of 88 temples associated with the Buddhist monk Kūkai (Kōbō Daishi) on the island of Shikoku, Japan.
It involves visiting the 88 “official” temples of the pilgrimages, but not necessarily in order.
Garden of Taihoji Temple in Matsuyama, Ehime Prefecture, Japan. Taihoji is No 44 of Pilgrimage to the 88 Sacred Temples of Shikoku. Source: Shutterstock.
The standard walking course is approximately 1,200 kilometers long and can take anywhere from 30 to 60 days to complete.
The pilgrimage is traditionally completed on foot, but modern pilgrims may use cars, taxis, buses, bicycles, or motorcycles.
Many pilgrims begin and complete the journey by visiting Mount Kōya in Wakayama Prefecture.
Ladakh, India: Markha Valley The Marka Valley trek in India is one of the most famous treks of the Ladakh region, allowing visitors to experience magical and remote Buddhist kingdom of Ladakh.
While trekking, tourists will pass through beautiful Buddhist monasteries, mountain villages, high altitude pastures of Nimaling, the high altitude peak Kangyatse, and even the odd tea “house” tent.
A traveler at a campsite along the Markha Valley trek in Ladakh, India. Source: Shutterstock.
Depending on where you start and end your trek and how fast you hike, it can take you anywhere between two to eight days.
For those who are interested, guided tours complete with five-star camping with cutting-edge outdoor equipment are available.
The shortest way of doing this trek is to start from Chilling Village and end the trek at Shang Sumdo village.
Sabah, Malaysia: Mount Kinabalu In Malaysia’s state of Sabah, also known as the “Land Below the Wind” is the country’s highest peak and the third highest in Southeast Asia, Mount Kinabalu.
Towering at 4,095 meters tall (13, 435 feet above sea level), it is a popular hiking and climbing trail, but it is not meant for newbies.
A stunning sunrise near Mount Kinabalu’s Low’s Peak, about 3,900 meters high. Source: Shutterstock.
Scaling the mountain incorporates “tangled jungle, granite ridges and barren plateaux, traversing Borneo’s highest and holiest mountain is a task that requires nerves – and legs – of steel,” Lonely Planet wrote.
However, with cozy resorts and campsites along the way, and breathtaking panoramic views for days at the peak, hikers often return to accomplish the challenging trek.
Mount Kinabalu was listed as a Unesco World Heritage Site in 2000 for its “outstanding universal blues,” the first in Malaysia to be recorded.
Beijing, China: Gubeikou to Jinshanling on the Great Wall of China Steeped in history, the Great Wall of China is a popular hiking route with both locals and foreigners alike.
One of the most hiked routes is Gubeikou to Jinshanling, which covers Gubeikou Great Wall, the restored Jinshanling Great Wall, and the unrestored Jinshanling Great Wall.
The Great Wall of China stretches into the distance at the mountainous section of Gubeikou and Jinshanling. Source: Shutterstock.
Built in the Ming Dynasty in 1368, Gubeikou was a strategic pass of the Great Wall, offering important access to Inner Mongolia and northeast of China.
The hike takes about five to six hours, and it offers the opportunity for hikers to compare what the Great Wall may have looked like when it was initially finished versus how it looks like now.
Want to be a part of the hike? Several guided tours are available at tour-beijing.com and chinatravellers.com.
Sydney, Australia: Seven Bridges Walk Sydney’s Seven Bridges Walk is an annual event that takes participants on a 28-kilometer course which crosses the iconic bridges of Sydney Harbour to raise funds for cancer.
During this walk, you will explore Sydney entirely on foot and cross all seven of its bridges: Pyrmont Bridge (which goes through Darling Harbour), the Anzac Bridge, Iron Cove Bridge, the Gladesville Bridge, Tarban Creek Bridge, Fig Tree Bridge, and the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
The Sydney Harbour Bridge stretching across the shore against the Sydney skyline in the background. Source: Shutterstock.
Every couple of meters or so is a photo opportunity as you will get gorgeous views of Sydney Harbour, the new Barangaroo Reserve, Darling Harbour, and Glebe Foreshore, to name a few.
Along the way, there are event villages where you can enjoy refreshments, entertainments, and facilities.
Participants can walk all or part of the course, which is a clockwise loop, meaning you can start and finish wherever you like.
South Island, New Zealand: Routeburn Track New Zealand’s Routeburn Track in South Island’s Fiordland National Park is said to be the “ultimate alpine adventure, weaving through meadows, reflective tarns, and alpine gardens.”
A world-renowned 32-kilometer hiking track, which overlaps two national parks, starts on the Queenstown side of the Southern Alps and finishes on the Te Anau side, at the Divide.
Hiking in the Southern Alps on the Routeburn Track in South Island, New Zealand. Source: Shutterstock.
Along the track, you will be rewarded with sprawling views of spectacular vistas over vast mountain ranges and valleys.
There are four huts along the track – Routeburn Flats Hut, Routeburn Falls Hut, Lake Mackenzie Hut, and Lake Howden Hut – so comfortable overnight trips are possible.
Much of the Routeburn Track is accessible to independent hikers, but there are also guided tours available.
So many peaks, so little time?
Which one will you challenge yourself to first?

Lainey Loh | @laineyx
A certified daydreamer, when she's not physically travelling, she's often going places in her head. Her first love is coffee & her second, wine – & she accepts bribes in either forms. She's also entirely capable of deep conversations about life & random musings just for laughs, but do excuse her if she appears AWOL mid-chat – she's just going places in her head.

Check out this new ‘weightless’ backpack

Posted by - August 24, 2018

Backpacks are rarely comfortable on long hikes. But Lightning Packs could be about to change this. Source: Lighting Packs
WHETHER you’re hiking, running, commuting or just strolling around town, this new backpack is sure to make your journey easier.
The new HoverGlide by Lightning Packs is being called the “world’s first floating backpack.”
No, it’s not magic, just some seriously impressive engineering and a lot of forethought for the easily tired trekker.
The backpack works through Suspended Load Technology (SLT) and is attached to a sliding rail and pulley suspension system, allowing it to move up and down as you walk.
The bounce of the backpack reduces impact forces on the wearer by up to 86 percent while running and 82 percent when walking, making it 20 percent easier to carry.
The HoverGlide is also going to save you money on future physiotherapy bills as it reduces stress on your back, decreases the potential risk for injury; and Lightning Packs guarantees your neck and knees will feel the benefit too.
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The backpack is the brainchild of University of Pennsylvania professor and muscle physiology expert Dr Lawrence Rome.
After an extensive research process, Rome published his findings in Nature, an academic journal.
Among the findings, Rome and his university colleagues found that a HoverGlide backpack with a weight of 27 kilograms felt more than five kilograms lighter, which led them to discover that the walker uses less energy to carry the load.
So, the HoverGlide not only reduces stress on your muscles but conserves much-needed energy.
Lightning Packs has designed four different styles ranging from 28 liters to 55 liters to suit every lifestyle.
Each backpack has been military-tested on both the US Army and US Marines. They are all durable, lightweight, breathable, and water repellent.
This is what you need to know about the four different backpacks.
HoverGlide Tactical Source: Lightning Packs
This pack is best suited for emergency first responders, military personnel, and those tackling long and demanding runs.
The pack is built on a 20-inch frame, with ample pocket space for gear as well as a webbing grid that accepts MOLLE units (medic bags).
HoverGlide Hiker
Source: Lightning Packs
Lightning Packs described this bag as a “versatile, durable day or weekend pack with plenty of pockets that you can quickly access while hiking.”
Also built on a 20-inch frame, the HoverGlide Hiker has plenty of space for liquids and hiking essentials.
HoverGlide Commuter
Source: Lightning Packs
If you’re fed up of lugging a heavy laptop around, the HoverGlide Commuter is perfect for you.
The 20-inch frame is ideal for carrying your laptop, a tablet, books, art supplies, and whatever else you need.
HoverGlide Trekker
Source: Lightning Packs
The HoverGlide Trekker has the biggest of all the frames at 24 inches and has a 55-pound capacity.
This bag is perfect for multiday treks with enough space for a small tent, food, drinks, clothes, and a medical kit.
When can you grab one of these muscle-saving backpacks? Not just yet.
“We are in pre-marketing right now,” Rome told Travel Wire Asia. “Our Kickstarter campaign for HoverGlide goes live mid-September.”
If you sign up with the Lighting Packs mailing list, you’ll be invited to the HoverGlide launch event and be entered into a prize draw to win one of these backpacks.
We’ll let you know when the Kickstarter page is open so you can be part of the future of backpacks.

In pictures: The ‘flower’ of Indonesia

Posted by - August 22, 2018

There is so much beauty left to be discovered on Flores, a fascinating island on in this part of the world. Source: Shutterstock.
A WORLD AWAY from the famous Bali island of Indonesia is another world undiscovered called Pulau Flores, otherwise simply known as Flores.
While Bali is bursting at seams activities to do, places to see, things to eat, and tourists from just about anywhere in the world, Flores still sees very few tourists.
The name Flores (derived from the Portuguese word for “flowers”) is a bit of an irony as it is not particularly known for colorful blooms.
However, it is one of the best places in the region to go diving as the island’s underwater world is home to elegant manta rays, gentle turtles, the occasional shark, and colorful schools of fish.
The spot is only recommended for seasoned divers, though, as the currents here can be swift, strong and unpredictable.
If exploring the unknown beneath the crystal clear waters to discover the coral gardens is not your cup of tea, then sink your toes in the pristine powder white sands as you stroll down the beach instead.
If you have got a bit of an adventurous streak (and why would you not, after making it this far down Indonesia’s chain of islands?) be sure to visit Kelimutu, a volcano close to the small town of Moni.
Kelimutu may look like any seen-one-seen-them-all volcano but at the summit is a surprise that will be a feast for your eyes.
Three tri-colored crater lakes lay nestled at the top of Kelimutu, and each one sparkles with a different color as the result of the different gasses bubbling away under the surface.
The westernmost lake, Tiwu ata Mbupu (Lake of Old People) is usually blue; Tiwu Nuwa Muri Koo Fai (Lake of Young Men and Maidens) is typically green; Tiwu Ata Polo (Bewitched or Enchanted Lake) is usually red.
According to folklore, the lakes are a resting place for departed souls and those who have died will be sent to different lakes depending on their merits in life.
Then, make a pitstop at Bena, one of the traditional villages in Flores that is untouched by modernization.
Situated about 16 kilometers from Bajawa at the foot of Mount Inerie, the village boasts two rows of centuries-old traditional high thatched houses along a ridge as well as impressive stone formations and ancestral shrines.
After grabbing a cup of Bajawa coffee, take an hour’s hike from Bena to Tololela, a traditional village with altitude 650 meters above sea level located in the Manubhara village.
Like Bena, the Tololela compound is home to rows of authentic wooden houses topped by straw roofs.
Feel free to walk around and talk to the locals to learn about their culture, but remember to ask for permission before taking pictures and not just stick your camera into their faces and spaces.
There is so much beauty left to be discovered on Flores, a fascinating island on in this part of the world.
Take a look at what else it has to offer:
Getting there: The easiest and fastest way to reach Flores is by air from Ngurah Rai Airport in Bali. There are daily flights from Denpasar to Labuan Bajo (90 minutes) or Maumere (about an hour and 25 minutes).
For more information, visit the Flores Tourism website.

Should you go shark or croc cage diving?

Posted by - August 22, 2018

Is putting both the observer and the animals in great danger worth a “proud underwater selfie” with them? Source: Shutterstock.
THE NEW generation of travelers are all about experiences and venturing into the unknown because mainstream attractions and activities just do not cut it anymore.
There are a handful of adventurers who are willing to take a leap of faith and do something different while chasing the adrenaline rush on their travels and that is why adventure tourism is on the rise.
Adventure tourism can be split into even smaller niches in the tourism industry to involve dark or disaster tourism, extreme sports tourism, and shock tourism.
The one thing they all have in common is participating in dangerous situations such as bungee jumping off a tall structure, skydiving around Mount Everest, traveling across the Chernobyl zone, or canyoning across gorges and waterfalls.
It is not for the weakhearted.
But the extremities do not stop there.
Source: Shutterstock.
In the early 2000s, a new form of underwater diving or snorkeling emerged in which an observer is put inside a protective cage and then lowered to the seabed to monitor sharks from up close.
It is used for scientific observation, underwater cinematography, and more recently, a tourist activity. When it was commercialized, it was given the “recreational” name of shark cave diving.
How does it work? A “shark-proof” metal cage, built to withstand being rammed and bitten by the sharp-toothed, blazing-fast swimmers is used by the underwater diver.
In some cases, after tourists are lowered in a cage, the tour guides would use bait to attract sharks to the cage – a procedure known as chumming.
The most commonly observed sharks are the bull sharks and the great white sharks, both of which are known to be aggressive at times.
The duration of the experience can last anywhere from half an hour to an hour, depending on the tour operator and the package.
However, this controversial activity has been met with disapproval from some conversation groups, scuba divers, and underwater photographers as they consider it to be potentially dangerous.
Source: Shutterstock.
Shark cage tourism can alter the natural behavior of sharks and change how they respond to swimmers or boats.
“Dive tourism, which aims to please (meaning they want to make money) puts food in the water, which results in increased visitations from the sharks in that area. In some species, this leads to higher population numbers in the area,” National Geographic quoted Florida Program for Shark Research Director George Burgess as saying.
“Feeding of sharks has the effect that it can get rid of that natural concern between the shark and human, or, in some cases, teach them to equate the human with free food.”
Source: Shutterstock.
There have also been examples of sharks in the shallower water learning to respond to the sound of the boat’s motor, according to Burgess.
In South Australia, abalone divers have been attacked by great white sharks and divers believe that great white shark cage diving tourism has altered shark behavior, making them more inclined to approach boats.
Abalone diver Peter Stephenson has called for a ban on shark cage diving, calling it a “major workplace safety issue.”
Why is it dangerous? In 2005, British tourist Mark Currie could have ended up as a shark’s meal when a 16-foot great white shark rammed and bit through the bars of a shark cage during a dive off the coast of South Africa.
He managed to be pulled to safety by the boat’s captain, who fended off the apex predator with blows to its head.
In 2016, a similar incident occurred when a shark cage that diver Ming Chan was in during a dive off the coast of Mexico was beached by a great white shark.
According to diver Brian, whose video of the horrifying event went viral afterward, it started when the great white shark lunged at the tuna bait used to lure it to the cage.
“So this shark lunged at the bait, accidentally hit the side of the cage, was most likely confused and not able to swim backwards, it thrust forward and broke the metal rail of the cage,” Brian said.
“There was a single diver inside the cage. He ended up outside the bottom of the cage, looking down on two great white sharks. The diver is a very experienced dive instructor, remained calm, and when the shark thrashed back outside the cage, the diver calmly swam back up and climbed out completely uninjured.”
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More recently, a new-ish form of cave dive has emerged.
In the heart of Darwin city in Austalia, curious holidaymakers can now sign up for a face-to-face encounter with a 16-foot saltwater crocodile via an activity aptly named Cage of Death – separated by only a thin plastic barrier.
Tourists pay AUD170 (US$125) per person or AUD260 (US$191) for two pax to “marvel at their size and their prehistoric features.”
Put in the aquatic enclosure, tourists are first hoisted over the water to see the beast swirling below before they are lowered into the waters. Keepers will then feed the reptile to keep it moving around in the water.
The encounter, which lasts for about 30 minutes, promises “360-degree views of you and the crocs as our on-site photographers capture amazing images both inside and outside of the crocodile enclosures.”
Tourists are first hoisted over the water to see the crocodile swirling below before they are lowered into the waters.
Source: Expedia.
In 2015, a Dutch tourist Cynthia Spaan feared for her life when the gantry for the cage that she was in got stuck, leaving her suspended above a crocodile for half an hour.
“It knew something was going on and he was basically sitting underneath just waiting for his meal to drop,” witness Anson Segall said.
“Radios were in full use, people running back and forth.”
After running around frantically, the staff succeeded in getting Spaan out of the enclosure unharmed. Still, it was an incident that could have gone horribly wrong.
Another outfitter, Big Animals Expeditions, promotes diving with crocodiles in the remote waters of Botswana for upwards of US$14,000 per person.
“We are inextricably drawn to predators. We know how dangerous they are, but we want more than anything to get close to them. This is your chance to be in the water with an apex predator capable of taking down animals far larger and stronger than humans,” the operator said.
In their current forms, are these diving activities sustainable or will they only lead to more accidents and tragedies?
Is putting both humans and the animals in potentially great danger worth a “proud underwater selfie” with them?
More importantly, are these extreme adventure travel operators really in it to raise awareness or is it just all about the money?

Lainey Loh | @laineyx
A certified daydreamer, when she's not physically travelling, she's often going places in her head. Her first love is coffee & her second, wine – & she accepts bribes in either forms. She's also entirely capable of deep conversations about life & random musings just for laughs, but do excuse her if she appears AWOL mid-chat – she's just going places in her head.

Freedom camping in New Zealand is changing for the better

Posted by - August 17, 2018

Freedom camping is a once in a lifetime experience and New Zealand offers some of the best routes. Source: Shutterstock
JUST you, the open road, a camper van, and a different destination every night.
While it sounds like a faraway dream for many people wanting to escape busy city life, it’s actually an adventure everyone can easily have.
It’s known as “freedom camping,” and New Zealand is one of the best places to experience it.
Not only does New Zealand boast stunning natural settings to camp in, the government and local businesses are constantly coming up with ideas to improve the experience of freedom camping.
One of the most recent developments in freedom camping innovation comes from a South Island solutions company, KiwiCamp.
KiwiCamp is the brainchild of Chris Wagner, a seasoned freedom camper who wants to install basic service facilities on camping routes across South Island, following on from its success in Blenheim, Marlborough.
The newest edition of KiwiCamp is being rolled out in Rūnanga on the west coast of South Island with investment from the government’s US$5.6 million (NZD 8.5 million) freedom camping investment fund.
Freedom camping rules apply to different vehicles. Source: Mark Mialik / Unsplash
The simple yet innovative fabrications are sustainable, affordable, and durable in design and offer “smart payment technology to make life easier for both operators and users.”
Ablution blocks will be installed in designated freedom camping sites and provide free toilet and recycling facilities for everyone.
They will also offer budget amenities including showers with solar heated water, a laundrette, dishwashing facilities, and access to WiFi and charging points.
And when we say budget, we mean your bank account won’t even notice.
Free secure parking Free waste recycling station Hot Showers – US$1.30 Dishwashing facilities – US$0.33 Laundry facilities – US$2.65 Power charging points – US$0.66 per hour or US$0.33 half hour To make KiwiCamp’s facilities even more user-friendly, Wagner and his team have set up KiwiCash, a micro-payment platform to use at the services.
“Using near field communication (NFC) technology your KiwiCash card identifies you and connects you to your online KiwiCash account,” KiwiCamp explained.
“This allows you to make secure, easy payments for services with a tap of your card on one of our card readers.”
However, this payment option is currently only available at the Blenheim campsite.
Blenheim KiwiCamp ablution building. Source: KiwiCamp
The announcement of the newest addition to KiwiCamp comes with the release of the Responsible Camping Working Group report commissioned by Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis.
The report focuses on the legislation and regulations regarding freedom camping, which haven’t been revised for 33 years.
But some industry players, such as Top 10 Holiday Parks chief executive David Ovendale aren’t happy that the rules of freedom camping in New Zealand might be rewritten to accommodate budget campers.
Ovendale told Stuff that establishing budget campsites such as KiwiCamp where campers would be staying in close proximity to fit more people into one site “would be uneconomic.”
“We’re the most seasonal business outside the snow industry, and we can’t afford to give it away in the high season,” he added.
“We make 12 months revenue in four months, so asking parks to discount to accommodate a lower margin freedom camper in a designated area is seriously not going to fly.”
But Ovendale won’t have to worry about any major changes just yet as Rotorua MP Todd McClay told the New Zealand Herald that there wouldn’t be any legislative change in freedom camping for at least two years.
Source: Shutterstock
So, until then, here’s what you need to know about freedom camping in New Zealand.
The rules epend on what type of vehicle you’re traveling in: self-contained or non-self contained.
If you’re traveling in a self-contained vehicle, such as camper van which can function without outside resources, you can generally camp on district council land and Department of Conservation (DOC) land.
However, each council has their own rules so decide on the district you want to camp in, then check here for restrictions.
Most lakeside spots in New Zealand are fine to camp in but always check. Source: Shutterstock
If you’re traveling in a non-self-contained vehicle, you’ll need to find a designated campsite or car park with a nearby toilet block.
Backpacker Guide NZ has useful and up-to-date information on where you can find freedom camping sites in North Island and South Island.
The basic rules of freedom camping remain the same wherever you are though.
Never just assume you can camp wherever. Always check for signs and don’t camp on private land. Always clean up your rubbish. Either take it with you or put it in the bin. Never go to the toilet in public even if you think nobody’s watching. Either use your campervan toilet or pull into public loos. Happy camping, campers!

In pictures: Kyoto by the Sea

Posted by - August 17, 2018

Discover a place in Japan where a community has lived in coexistence with the sea for centuries. Source: Shutterstock.
THE COASTAL AREA of Kyoto Prefecture is often overlooked, but there are actually plenty of popular travel spots.
In fact, Kyoto by the Sea has prospered since ancient times and is the home of many legends.
Its scenery is nothing short of magnificent, with sweeping views of rolling mountains and the rolling waves of the Japan Sea.
It is an entirely different side of Kyoto Prefecture, where civilization blossomed before any other region in ancient Japan with a special culture.
Thus, it holds many secrets and undiscovered gems, historic wonders and beautiful sightseeing spots unspoiled by overtourism.
Adventure-seekers and gastro-tourists will surely love its bountiful offerings, from outdoor attractions to delectable specialty dishes.
Prepare to gorge on Kyoto by the Sea’s impressive line-up of quality products such as local sake, fresh Taiza crab, fatty Ine yellowtail, Tango cockles served sashimi-style, and more.
On the other end of the spectrum, those hungry to fill up their Instagram with the best of Kyoto by the Sea will love Ine, a seaside town with 230 unique buildings called the funuya boathouses.
It is there that the community of Ine has lived in coexistence with the sea for centuries.
Ine also boasts Mukai Shuzo, a sake brewery that sits on the water and perhaps the only one of its kind.
Founded in 1754, the family-run brewery prides itself in serving a special reddish sake that uses an ancient variety of rice.
Sake lovers will appreciate sipping on Mukai Shunzo’s tasty sake while listening to the gentle sound of lapping of the waves under their feet.
One must also never forget to visit Amanohashidate, known as one of Japan’s three most scenic views.
It is a pine-covered natural land bridge in emerald green that spans the mouth of the sapphire blue Miyazu Bay.
When viewed from above, the magical 3.6 kilometers strip of land looks like a dragon floating through the sky.
Those who enjoy a little bit of adventure can stroll or cycle down the strip, or take a ferry to the “dragon’s head” to discover tea shops and the Chionji Temple.
Feast your eyes on what Kyoto by the Sea has to offer:
For information on how to get to Kyoto by the Sea, go here.

Want to disconnect for a while? Try a survival-themed vacation

Posted by - August 16, 2018

Traditionally dressed Papuan people in wooden canoes. Source: Shutterstock
THE word “vacation” is used very lightly here, as this survival experience probably won’t resemble the relaxing vacations you’ve enjoyed in previous years.
Oceania Expeditions is offering a castaway experience for those who find it hard to disconnect from the “always-on” lifestyle many 21st-century professionals lead.
We’re all guilty of constantly checking e-mails, updating Twitter, or flicking through strangers’ Instagram stories. But a survival-themed holiday will save you from this mindless connectivity as you’ll be too worried about where your next meal is coming from.
Plus, there won’t be any signal on the remote island of Kabakon in Papua New Guinea where Oceania Expeditions will be abandoning you.
The Kabakon Survivor experience is a chance to learn about yourself, how far you can push your body, and whether or not you can survive without constantly using your thumbs (to type and press like, that is).
But it isn’t as grueling as a real-life desert island experience might be.
You won’t need to worry about making your shelter as you’ll be staying in a traditionally thatched bungalow overlooking the St. George’s Channel of the Bismarck Archipelago; a stretch of water far more beautiful than its name lets on.
For five days and four nights, you’ll mostly be left to your own devices.
Villagers from a neighboring island will occasionally pop over to teach you how to build a fire and catch your fish supper with a spear from an outrigger canoe.
The villagers, known as the Karawara people, will also help you to forage for fresh fruit on the island including papaya, banana, and pineapple.
There are no impressive watermelon sculptures at the buffet table here. In fact, there’s no buffet at all.
Once you’ve hunted and foraged for your dinner, the Karawara children will help you to weave mats and hats while telling you stories and singing songs, much like the fictional tale of Swiss Family Robinson. Except, this is real life.
To ensure a vacationer’s safety, Oceania Expeditions provides a full safety and gear briefing before they get to the island.
The island where the Karawara people live is mere minutes from the borrowed paradise where disconnected vacationers will be staying. So, in the unlikely event of an emergency, they’ll be on hand to help.
On return to civilization, vacationers will experience a night of luxury in a stunning resort, complete with day spa, hot showers, restaurants, and of course, WiFi.
This adventure is perfect for couples and families who need to reconnect in real time, not just on the occasional Skype call.
If you want to challenge yourself and prove to your network provider that you can put down your phone for a week, inquire about prices on their website today.

What’s causing the insane ‘human traffic jam’ at Mt. Fuji?

Posted by - August 15, 2018

Discover when is the best time to climb/hike Mt. Fuji. Source: Shutterstock.
OVER THE WEEKEND, hordes of tourists flocked to the majestic Mt. Fuji, an active volcano about 100 kilometers southwest of Tokyo, Japan.
Known locally and respectably as “Fuji-san”, at 3,776 meters high, the mountain is the country’s tallest peak and one of its three sacred mountains. In 2012, Mt. Fuji was listed as a Unesco World Heritage site.
The nearly perfectly shaped volcano, often the subject of numerous Edo Period works of art, has been recognized as a pilgrimage site for centuries.
Loved by all, summit hikes to Mt. Fuji is a popular activity for both locals and international tourists alike.
However, on Aug 12, 2018, attempting to climb the spiritual peak proved to be challenging when an insane human traffic jam clogged up the hiking trail.
七合目!すごい渋滞で全然進まない… pic.twitter.com/X2tQbUbklQ
— Mikio Kiura (@kur) August 12, 2018
Twitter user Mikio Miura snapped shots of what appears to be long and crowded queues of people making the climb over his weekend visit.
“There’s a crazy traffic jam and we can’t move forward at all,” Kiura, who was at the seventh station of his trail, tweeted.
He later updated his status writing that he was moving only “a few steps every few minutes”.
Despite the “human sandwich” situation, Kiura persevered and appeared to make it through.
富士山の他の写真ないんかいって言われたので他の写真も貼っておきますね。 pic.twitter.com/NqINwjgFWy
— Mikio Kiura (@kur) August 14, 2018
What brought on the crazy crowds? Climbing season.
To climb Mt. Fuji, visitors have to wait for the period in which mountain huts are in operation.
It has been said that the official climbing season in early July to mid-September, but the best time to climb is from the end of July to late August.
This is because the mountain is usually free of snow, weather conditions are relatively stable in those weeks, and access to the site is easily available.
The terrain on the climbing route on Mt. Fuji. Source: Shutterstock.
To add on, the reason for the large turnout over the weekend could also be attributed to the start of Japan’s Obon holiday, which runs from Aug 12 to Aug 16, 2018.
The annual Buddhist festival, also known as Bon festival, is an annual Japanese holiday which commemorates and remembers deceased ancestors.
It is believed that each year during Obon, the ancestors’ spirits return to this world in order to visit their relatives.
It is the busiest days for domestic travel because, during this period, office workers and students get a week off.
Meanwhile, if you’re not a fan of climbing an active volcano, there is another easier way to catch a glimpse of Mt. Fuji.
Simply hop on to the Shinkansen (Japanese bullet train) between Tokyo and Osaka. If you are traveling from Tokyo in the direction of Nagoya, Kyoto, and Osaka, sit on the righthand side of the train.
A clear day should give you a nice view of the mountain from around Shin-Fuji Station, about 40 to 45 minutes into the journey.

Lainey Loh | @laineyx
A certified daydreamer, when she's not physically travelling, she's often going places in her head. Her first love is coffee & her second, wine – & she accepts bribes in either forms. She's also entirely capable of deep conversations about life & random musings just for laughs, but do excuse her if she appears AWOL mid-chat – she's just going places in her head.