Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Boutique Hotels

The lodging industry is one of the oldest businesses to exist in this world. It has been around ever since people started traveling from one place to the other for trade and other purposes. What began as the need of the hour (rest and shelter during long journeys) soon turned into an industry that offered comfort, convenience, even luxury, to their boarders. For example, The Greeks built thermal baths that allowed their guests to rest and recuperate. Romans constructed palatial mansions for travelers, while Caravanserais along the famous Silk Road from Turkey to China offered shelter not just for men but also their beasts.

In the 21st century, hotels have evolved into a flourishing business that has become an inseparable part of the travel industry. The styles range from flamboyant properties to bare-bone youth hostels, and all-inclusive honeymoon resorts to quaint country inns.

However, as competition grew and hotels started offering standard services across the chain, there was need for something innovative in the market. People, tired of impersonal services, started moving towards smaller hotels that offered personalized attention and unique experiences.

And thus was born the darling of the hospitality industry – boutique hotels. Today, they are the most sought after stay option for leisure travelers and the ultimate name in exclusivity. More and more people are choosing to stay in boutique hotels, because they’re almost always guaranteed to have a good time and get great value for their money

Given the popularity they enjoy, it’s worthwhile taking a peek into the fascinating history of boutique hotels and trace their evolution over time.

History of Boutique Hotels

The earliest boutique hotels appeared in the early 1980s, the first two of them being The Blakes Hotel in South Kensington, London, and the Bedford in Union Square, San Francisco. The term ’boutique hotel’, though, appeared much later in 1984, coined by Steve Rubell. He compared his own establishment, Morgans Hotel, to a small boutique, obviously wishing to highlight its exclusivity and set it apart from other hotels that were cropping up everywhere, much like the monolithic department stores.

This is not to say that boutique hotels are a modern invention. There are plenty of documented instances of similar lodging experiences dating back to the 13th century when staging posts were set up for travelers in Mongolia and China.

Here are a few more examples of one-of-a-kind boutique hotels that were popular back in the days:

  • In 1705, César Ritz opened a boutique hotel at Place Vendôme, which earned him high praise from King Edward VII who called him “king of hoteliers and hotelier to kings”.
  • In 1822, Venitian artist Giuseppe Rubino transformed an old palace into a gorgeous hotel and called it “il Rubino”.
  • In 1880, the Sagamore Hotel on Lake George (in the state of New York) became the first to provide electricity in each of its guest rooms, creating no small stir among visitors in those times.
  • In 1900, Edouard Niiermans, known as the ‘architect of palaces’ transformed Emperor Napoléon III’s summer residence – Villa “Eugenie – into a beautiful and niche hotel.
  • In 1919, Barcelona inaugurated a stylish hotel that was equipped with hot and cold water in its bathrooms.

As you can see, there have been numerous occasions throughout the history of the lodging industry when hoteliers applied creativity and offered top-notch services to stay ahead of the competition and offer something extraordinary to their visitors.

Boutique Hotel of the 21st Century – Characteristics that Set It Apart

Today, the term ’boutique hotel’ is used to describe small establishments with around 150 rooms. They are privately owned, or part of a small group of hotels, and are best known for iconic, memorable and, at times, eccentric design themes. The concept of boutique hotels became a trend after hotelier Ian Schrager and French designer Philippe Starck used unique designs to build their hotels. And now, it has become a flourishing industry of its own, complete with unique traits and qualities.

Here’s looking at some of the more important ones.

Size Does Matter

Boutique hotels are generally considered small, but they’re not in the same category as Bed and Breakfast hotels or homestays that have less than 10 rooms. Boutique hotels can have up to 150 rooms, which does make it appear smaller when you compare it to most chain hotels.

However, it is this intimate scale that helps create a home-like ambiance with peace and privacy aplenty. These cozy properties often have a communal “living space” where the guests can sit and interact with each other.

Personality Speaks Volumes

Since boutique hotels are independently owned and not affiliated to any big chain, they are a brand in themselves. They have a distinctive vibe to them that sets them apart from the others. It is their unique personality and absence of cookie cutter solutions that guests find refreshing, thereby drawing more and more people towards boutique hotels.

Design by Desire

Boutique hotels are known for their intriguing interiors, which are very often created by leading designers and architects. Generally speaking, these niche hotels tend to maintain an upmarket look, combining historic elegance with chic details. The decor conveys a progressively forward style and the overall design could range from contemporary and quaint, to homely and artistic. Each guest room is decorated individually, complete with exclusive amenities and upscale linen.

It’s All in the Charm

You know how you walk into a big hotel, but nothing really spectacular or interesting jumps out at you? Boutique hotels will have none of that and the first thing that grabs your attention is their eccentric personality. They are funky, trendy, and offbeat. For instance, the Hotel Monaco in Washington D.C. will bring a goldfish in a bowl to your room, if you don’t have a pet of your own.

Lovely Location

While there aren’t any hard and fast rules about where a boutique hotel should be situated, it’s no coincidence that the best of them have a great location going for them. When designing boutique hotels, most hoteliers choose the hippest and most happening places to set them in. You may even find them in high-end neighborhoods, removed from the hustle and bustle, but still close to the attractions and highlights of the city. Yet another popular choice for boutique hotels would be in areas that are far removed from the city, in the lap of nature and surrounded by lush greenery.

Superb Service

One of the most distinguishing features of boutique hotels is the highly personalized and exclusive services they extend to their guests. The staff is courteous and friendly and is likely to know your name from day one. The hotel provides bespoke luxury amenities, like an extensive pillow menu, custom toiletries, and an array of relaxing spa services. A sumptuous spread of food and drinks menu is also a signature part of a boutique hotel. All these services combined create a top notch and singular experience for the guests.

Delectable Dining Options

Another feature that makes boutique hotels stand apart from other hotels is their significant focus on creating extraordinary restaurants and bars, which are modish and trendy. These hotels make a great reputation for themselves, which is independent of the conventional star ratings. Thanks to their appeal, they’re able to draw crowds not just locally, but also globally.

As you can see, there are a number of reasons why boutique hotels are fast gaining popularity among travelers, who are demanding more than comfort and convenience from their stay options. They want to be surprised, they want to experience something new, something completely different from what the run-of-the-mill hotels offer. In fact, these days, if you’re not staying at a boutique hotel, you’re considered unfashionable.

I don’t mean to imply in any way that hotels are boring or uninspiring. There are excellent hotels all over the world offering out-of-the-world service to their guests. However, boutique hotels break the traditional mold and refuse to be boxed in by regular standards. Offering visitors style, distinction, intimacy, and warmth, they leave guest with an experience they can cherish forever. And isn’t that what hotels set out to do in the first place?

Finding a Hotel Tonight Is Easier Than You Think

Finding a hotel tonight, or any night for that matter, is much easier than you think. In fact, the travel industries are such that the consumer is no longer working on the whim of an outside agent working in semi-secrecy. Consumer protection progress in the industry, as well as streamlined planning tools, have made it so that anyone can jump online & find what they need.

In this case, we’re focusing on the ease with which someone can plan a stay at a hotel as soon as tonight. Perhaps the single greatest reason that planning a quick hotel stay has become so simple is the advent of the World Wide Web – the Internet. The Internet has allowed us to have a wealth of information at our fingertips for a few decades now, and with that knowledge comes some serious power. For example, there was once a time when knowing what hotels were nearby was the only real way you could choose a hotel. You subsequently had to look them up in the phone book (barring you didn’t make a mistake in their name), and you really had to hope that there was something available at the very last-minute. The number of variables was through the roof, and in many ways, consumers were operating at the discretion of the hotels.

This would be enough to convince even a hardened traveler to cry, “Uncle”, but the real struggle to book a room came when you had to travel out-of-town. Imagine being on a road you’re following on a physical map, and inevitably you’d end up somewhere whose geography you didn’t know, and you certainly didn’t know of any hotels, motels, or motorways you could bank on for a last-minute room. Today, however, you can know your way around town by way of your phone’s Internet access.

Perhaps the other most significant reason for being able to book a hotel room with ease comes by way of competition in the industry. There was once a time when you had a limited amount of choices for hotel stays. Regardless of whether you were traveling & moving about due to vacation or work, you were in a position where your lodging money went one of only a couple of places. Nowadays, you’re able to do quick online searches as to the quality (star rating) of you proposed lodging, amenities, as well as proximity to & involvement with your destination. Moreover, there are a number of hotels vying for your business, which means they are willing to work with prospective customers on pricing & flexible booking simply because they want your booking in a major way. With so much choice & with an added boost in saving on your booking, you as the consumer are the big winner.

When it comes to finding a hotel room tonight, you should set your mind at ease. A little common sense, some quick wit with online searches, and a comfort in knowing that you as the customer have some serious booking power should be your guides to hotel booking nirvana.

Ayers Rock in The Kata Tjuta National Park – The Long Climb and an Even Longer Descent

I admit that sometimes I act without thinking too much about the consequences. This caused me already several problems in my life.

As you know I spent already a few days in Uluru. One morning, after considering the pros and cons I decided to climb the Rock.

I suggest that you seriously think about it before doing it.

Ayers Rock is massive, majestic. It commands respect. It’s 348 metres high; like a 95 story building. The track to the top is more or less 1.6 km long. It’s perilous and treacherous. If you are in top physical conditions it will take more or less 3 hours to complete the “expedition”. The first part has got a chain. You can hang on to it and this will help you immensely. It is a tiresome climb and you need to be prepared. If you do not feel 100% you should give up and be happy with your decision: people died here.

About 34 people lost their lives, mainly because of heart attacks. A few people got hurt.

Do not forget the heat.

Another hazardous factor is caused by the wind.

I got there early in the morning. I did not want to accomplish my mission in the middle of the day because of the rising temperatures. I had a pair of good trainers, and a bottle of water and a wind-breaker in my little backpack, just in case.There were not too many people around.

I looked at the sky. It was blue, not too windy either. I started climbing. It was not as easy as I thought. I used the chain all the time trying not to look down.

Sometimes I had to stop to catch my breath.

I remembered clearly that I had to avoid grabbing something in case it fell. It could be fatal.

The ascent is hard, steep and, at times, scary. I used also my hands to climb when the help of the chain was not available anymore. Sometimes I stopped to look around. In the distance I could see the Olgas or Kata Tjua, which means literally ‘many heads’ in Aboriginal.

It is a group of large, domed rock formations not too far from The Rock.

I was nearly there. I could see some little pools of waters all around. Obviously it had rained recently. I noticed a few clouds in the sky. The temperature dropped a little bit.

I finally reached the top. The scenery was amazing. Awesome! I walked around, there was a huge distance of red soil all around me. I could see the round shape of planet earth. I had the feeling that I was alone in the world. It was a very intense. The immensity and the loneliness of the environment made my heart sink.

I spent half an hour on the top. It was time to descend. There were very few people around me. The weather suddenly changed. The sky was grey and it became colder.

I thought: “I hope that it is not going to rain because in this case I could be in trouble.”

I started to move downwards. It was not too difficult but sometimes I had to sit and go down like that… on my bum…

I managed to reach the chain, finally. At that stage it started to rain. The rock underneath my feet became slippery. I got scared. I had good trainers but not good enough with such a weather. I looked down. Fear: that was what I experienced. It kept on raining. Now my feet could no longer hold on to the ground. I stopped. I looked down again. There very few people.

I saw a man waiving at me. He started to climb. He must have noticed that I was facing some difficulties. After a while he reached me. Yes, he saw that I was having serious problems. He told me that he belongs to a rescue group in his hometown, he was just on holiday at the moment and he came up to help me. Lucky!

He had very good climbing and tracking boots. He was very strong and very tall. He was behind me. He told me to put my feet in front of his, because he could hold on to the ground without slipping.

We both hold on to the chain. Being robust my weight did not create him problems.

At that time it was seriously raining. What a tragedy to be there by myself I thought…

I do not remember how long it took us to reach the ground underneath us, but finally we got there. I was very happy that it was all over… He told me that I should have considered the ascent seriously before starting the climb, that I should have been more careful.

I learned a lesson I am afraid… and I was very lucky… I was very grateful to him.

There is another reason why people should not go up Ayers Rock and not only because it is dangerous. Uluro is a sacred site and the Aboriginal owners ask to respect their law and not to climb it.

The climbing route is a sacred path of spiritual significance that is only taken by few Aboriginal men on special occasions. At that time I was not aware of it. I should have been more informed and more respectful.

5 Ways to Travel Solo Without Going It Alone

Solo travel has become a hot topic. Unlike “single(s)” travel, it is a broader group. It can include those who are single, married or have a partner/significant other. It may be a business person looking to add a leisure weekend or extension to a trip for work. Two stumbling blocks to solo travel can be: I. whether it is lonely to vacation as a “party of one” and ii.whether eating alone, especially dinner, is really uncomfortable.

Now having visited 68 countries and all 50 states, I have found 5 good ways to go alone without feeling you are “going it alone”.

1. River Cruise and Small Ship Cruises

I highly recommend river cruises and small ships. They are especially a good fit for a first time solo traveler. However, they are also great for well-traveled solos in two cases. That is where destinations like Cambodian boat villages are not otherwise easy to reach. Secondly, they work well in places where security is an issue.

Here are the key advantages of such river and small ships for solo travelers, they:

  • Give you time alone but a group for tours and meals
  • Can be competitively priced when compared to a piecemeal approach
  • Make unpacking a one-time chore
  • Work well with land packages
  • Often have discounted package pricing including flights

2. Select your own lodging, and take day trips.

Here are the key advantages of this independent approach:

  • Affords you the opportunity to select your own interests and travel style.
  • Provides more opportunity to interact with local residents.
  • Gives you a “day-off” when you need it.
  • Works with a range of budgets.

3. Combine both of the above approaches.

I really favor this approach when I travel. On solo travel for 17 days at New Year’s, I toured Southeast Asia. I started with a private taxi tour in Siem Reap, Cambodia. I then joined a top Mekong River Cruise on to Vietnam. On the last leg, I had five days in a 5-star hotel in Bangkok. In my last stop, I tried all 3 ways of sightseeing: 1. A large bus tour 2. A private guide and 3. Self-directed subway tour.

This blended approach puts you in the driver’s seat and:

  • Will let you set your own course while being free to pick and choose
  • Gives you a part-time group of travel mates but also time alone
  • Makes it possible to follow a budget (or splurges) tailored to what works for you

4. Sign up ahead for a class abroad.

This has become very popular now for cooking classes in France and Italy. However, for decades, language classes abroad have lured students for short-term or full summer programs. Add to that options for photography classes, skiing and scuba diving.

Here are the key benefits to this approach:

  • Provides you with a ready-made group
  • Gives you a local contact to hear what not to miss off the tourist path
  • Make it possible to connect with classmates for meals or sightseeing
  • Results in providing local contacts in an emergency

5. Join a volunteer group or exchange program.

I have done this twice. My first trip out of the US was at 18 joining 5 other girls on a summer YMCA project in Trinidad and Tobago. It was the best way to learn about day-to-day life in another country and participate in community activities.

The benefits were endless. They included:

  • Meeting local residents outside of the typical tourist path
  • Seeing distant and often more unusual destinations
  • Providing volunteer efforts to communities than may have experienced natural disasters or other hardships.

If you are new to solo travel, take a look at each of these options. You will be surprised how fast solo travel gives you the chance to make new life-long friends from around the world so that you feel you are solo to more.

Windy City winters can't stop kids

Sure, Chicago winters are cold, but hearty locals try not to let that get in the way of work and play.

“I’m a Windy City baby, so I just prepare myself,” said Edna Hackman, 51, to a Chicago Tribune reporter. “I’m used to it.” Hackman and dozens of others were out doing laundry at a Laundromat despite the recent cold snap. “You’ve got to come out to do what you’ve got to do. You can’t sit up in the house just because it’s cold.”

That’s especially true for kids. There’s only so much to endure indoors before they think about painting the cat, or start wondering what happens to grapes in a microwave (they can burst into flames – don’t do it).

Thanks to Chicago CityPASS, there are numerous dazzling activities families can enjoy together, no matter what the weather is doing.

Start Skyward
Everyone will forget about the chill in a nanosecond when they zoom up 103 floors to Skydeck Chicago at Willis Tower. Formerly known as the Sears Tower, the Willis Tower is the Western Hemisphere’s tallest building. CityPASS holders can skip the cashier line and head on up in a high-speed elevator that rises 1,600 feet per minute.

At the top, you can enjoy “Reaching for the Sky,” a 9-minute video about the rise of Chicago architecture.

Then, if you can stand it, step out onto The Ledge: a 4.3-foot, glass-floored platform, jutting out from the Skydeck. At 1,353 feet in the air, just looking down is going to quicken the pulse of kids and adults alike. From there, you can look down on Wacker Drive and the Chicago River. Tell the kids, NO SPITTING.

The Skydeck itself offers 360-degree views of up to 50 miles where sharp-eyed visitors can view four states from their perch: Michigan, Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin. One would think that would be enough, but there’s also a Skydeck scavenger hunt, quizzes and interactive displays.

Go See Sue
Few things will pierce the protected dreams of your little tykes like Sue, the largest and most complete Tyrannosaurus rex ever found. At 13 feet tall and 42 feet long, this many-toothed fossil stands in a ready-to-pounce pose at The Field Museum.

With a wealth of natural and historical displays, The Field Museum can occupy a solid day. Chicago CityPASS holders get expedited entry into permanent and ticketed exhibitions. A CityPASS ticket also gets you into one 3D feature. Now showing is “Titans of the Ice Age 3D”. Peek into a time of saber-toothed cats, wolves, giant sloths and mammoths. The film will keep the kids still for a bit.

Other exhibits include a journey into an ancient Egyptian tomb (complete with 23 mummies); plus there’s Underground Adventure, where you can pretend that you’ve been reduced to the size of a bug.

For the truly adventurous, The Field Museum holds sleepovers called Dozin With the Dinos, with family workshops, self-guided tours, and other activities before sleeping by favorite exhibits … including Sue.

Dazzle Inquisitive Minds
Museum of Science and Industry may be the largest science museum in the Western Hemisphere, but it’s hardly frumpy. Until May 4, MSI is presenting Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives, featuring 300 artifacts and covering 90 years of Disney wizardry. Many nuggets are rarely seen, including clips of Walt Disney’s earliest animated pre-Mickey works. There are props, models and costumes from classics such as “The Little Mermaid”, “Pirates of the Caribbean” and “Mary Poppins”.

Another exhibit is Black Creativity Innovation Studio, through March 1, which highlights important contributions of African-American innovators to science, technology, engineering and medicine. Also, The Last Reef: Cities Beneath the Sea, which plunges visitors into a colorful undersea world of this important ecosystem.

Imagine a Space Adventure
Use your CityPASS to take the family to Adler Planetarium — America’s first. There, you’ll marvel at the tight quarters astronauts endured in NASA’s Gemini 12 space capsule in the Shoot for the Moon exhibit. Younger kids will have fun creating their own space adventure in Planet Explorers. And the Adler’s galleries and theaters will enthrall all ages with the wonders of the night sky and beyond. A CityPASS ticket includes a VIP Adler Pass that offers flexible admission, your choice of one 3D show, and the Atwood Sphere, which shows the night sky over Chicago as it appeared in 1913.

Meet a Beluga Whale at Shedd
Last, but most definitely not least, is Shedd Aquarium. There’s so many animals to see (32,500), you’ll probably just spend the day running after your kids. You’ll share in the eerie tingle of seeing tanks of sharks circling overhead and stingrays floating by. And you’ll giggle at the dolphins and beluga whales.

CityPASS admission includes entry into 80 different habitats in the Waters of the World galleries. And let’s not forget the snakes, caimans, spiders and rays in Amazon Rising; the moray eels, parrotfish and turtles in Wild Reef; and the popular Polar Play Zone for younger kids. There’s also a 4D film.

The Shedd’s newest feature is the Beluga Encounter, where visitors can stand with a trainer and come face-to-face with a whale. The session includes learning some training techniques and an opportunity to touch the beluga’s skin. It’s not cheap, however, at $250 a person, and must be reserved in advance. The 30-minute Penguin Encounter is less expensive, $68.95 for adults and $58.95 for children.

On Feb. 21, the Shedd is holding its Asleep with the Fishes Group Overnight event. Kids ages 6-12 should bring pajamas, a sleeping bag, a check for $65, and join the staff for an evening of special aquatic adventures, games and activities. Another sleepover is planned for March 14.

What You Need to Know About the Notting Hill Carnival

This event welcomes the vibes of calypso music, food stalls offering Caribbean flavors and delights and so much more. It is important to note at this point that the roads used by the parade are closed off, so if you are thinking of attending, it’s worthwhile making use of the local bus service to get to the carnival and back home or to your hotel.

This carnival has been held in Notting Hill since 1966 and has more than fifty thousand participants taking part in the parade and event with thirty sound systems which are strategically placed throughout the streets and more than one million people attend each and every year.

There are some very important things you are going to want to remember if you are thinking of attending the Notting Hill Carnival this year with the first being that you will want to use the bus service and to your own vehicle or the tube. While the tube may appear to be the most convenience, the tube service is suspended during the event, but there are extra buses which are put on service to manage the spectators and ensure you get to and from the event safely. It’s worthwhile speaking to your concierge service to identify what bus service to use, along with the time for that day.

The next thing is as a woman, don’t fall into the trap of wearing high heels, ensure you wear flat shoes, sandals if it’s a nice day. There isn’t much seating space and if you want to move along with the parade and experience all the carnival has to offer, then you will be thankful for wearing sensible shoes rather than high heels which can make the day uncomfortable.

In addition to this, the Notting Hill Carnival does take place in the summer months and the sun in London can get exceptionally hot, especially if you are not used to it. Be sure to pack a bag for you and the family which includes sun cream, a sun hat and sun glasses. It’s advisable to throw in a few bottles of water to reduce the risk of dehydration while attending this fun event.

Remember this is a day of family fun, so take the children along. If you have younger children, ensure that they have comfortable shoes. That they have your telephone number in case they get lost and for younger ones, take the push chair. You may think the push chair is going to get in the way, but when you spend a day on your feet enjoying the festivities, carrying your youngest child is not something you are going to want to be doing you will be thankful you packed the push chair to take along with you.

When you choose where to stand to watch the parade, take careful note of where the speakers are located and try and move a little bit away. Remember these speakers are catering to thousands of people and they can be exceptionally loud. Unless you love loud music, you may find moving away slightly will make your experience a little more enjoyable.

5 Major Attractions of Nepal

Nepal experiences a huge diversity in terms of tourists as different people are tempted to visit this country for a variety of reasons. While some fancy the adrenaline pumping of the Himalayas, some are intrigued by the outstanding culture and traditions of the country. A lot of travelers visit Nepal in a hope to rediscover the soul from within and in turn attain a spiritual awakening. The country is blessed with the stupendous beauty of nature, huge mountains, vivid landscapes, beautiful temples and monasteries, and vibrant places like Kathmandu. This article briefs about the 5 major attractions of Nepal among the wide choices to explore in here.

1. Kathmandu

The capital city of Nepal is a must-visit place as nearly every itinerary begins from here. The beauty of Kathmandu is incomparable and unmatched to any other city in the world. The lively ambiance, vibrant monasteries, with sights of looming snow-capped peaks in the backdrop makes it a sight to cherish forever. There are a lot of outstanding places to explore in Kathmandu, the Pashupatinath Temple, the Monkey Temple, the Buddhist Shrine are among the finest places to visit. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Durbar Square is a primary attraction in Kathmandu, which was damaged by the 2015 earthquake but still boasts the grandeur in the best way.

2. Pokhara

The gateway to the Himalayas at a distance of 200 km from Kathmandu, the Pokhara rests at the base of the foothills and is surrounded by supreme sights of some of the highest mountains of the world. The picturesque beauty of the surrounding Mt. Manaslu, Annapurna I, and Dhaulagiri makes the landscape postcard perfect. The region around the Lake Phewa is blessed with an unparallel serene ambiance ideal for a relaxing stay. The second largest town of Nepal is much less chaotic than Kathmandu and gifted with an enchanting landscape.

3. Chitwan National Park

Nepal gets a lot of attention for the enticing trekking routes and the high mountains, but the Chitwan National Park packs a different kind of thrill for the tourists. It is a beautiful place that showcases the best of wildlife of Nepal and homes to some amazing animals like the Rhino, Bengal Tigers, Sloths, Leopards, Bears, and many others. The elephant ride lets you explore the best of this National Park blessed with a Tropical Monsoon Climate. A journey through this amazing place creates a memory that will be etched in the heart of the travelers for long.

4. Trekking in Annapurna Region

Trekking and hiking in Nepal is a fascinating thing to do as this rewards the travelers with the bewildering and enthralling sights of nature’s extravaganza. The Annapurna Trekking route is the most popular trekking route of the country as it covers a number of outstanding locations and can be modified according to the wants of the trekkers. The Annapurna Region is also a delight to explore as it displays the enchanting glory of the Nepalese country side and even features of the Tibetan Plateau. This journey also gives an insight into the culture, traditions, and life of the locals at a large.

5. Trekking in Langtang

Another bewitching destination in Nepal is the Langtang Region. It is an outstanding place that ideally serves the travelers with an incredible hiking experience and some captivating sights. The high passes, vibrant landscapes, magnificent views, old monasteries, pukka mountain scenery, and the compelling beauty of the Rhododendrons are a delight for every traveler. A much easier and less tiring destination in comparison to the Annapurna and Everest Trekking trail, the Langtang Region packs some commanding sights that bask in its own glory.

Apart from these 5 destinations, Nepal is also well known and popular for many other mesmerizing locations that can make our extension from India a truly delightful experience. Experience the best of Nepal as it has loads and loads to offer.

15 Things Not to Do in Japan

If you have plans to visit Japan, there are some things you need to know. Familiarizing yourself with some basic Japanese cultural practices will go a long way in making your trip there enjoyable. Also, you are not likely to get into trouble. Here are things you should not do based on Japan culture.

1. Don’t enter a house wearing your shoes

Are you used to walking around in your house in your shoes? Well, you might get yourself in trouble if you do that in Japan. There is a special place where you should keep your shoes before entering the house. Also, there are slippers for guests when entering a room.

2. Don’t shout on the train

Trains are very common in Japan. However, people don’t make noise while in trains. They are always silent. If you have to speak to someone, do it in a low tone. Use your earphones if you have to listen to some music.

3. Don’t use your phone on trains

As indicated earlier, Japanese don’t like any noise in the trains. You will rarely find someone using his phone to make a call in the train. If you have to use your phone, send a message or talk in a low tone so as not to distract other people.

4. Don’t eat on trains

Japanese do not eat when traveling on commuter trains. Drinking is okay unless the train is too crowded. However, in long distance trains, eating and drinking are allowed. Food and beverages are also sold in such trains.

5. Don’t forget to remove toilet slippers

Once you get to Japan, you will notice that there are slippers only used when going to the toilet. These slippers are easily noticeable since they have particular words or pictures. Always remember to remove them when entering your house or walking on the streets.

6. Don’t tip anyone

While it is common to tip anyone after an excellent service in many cultures, Japan is an exception. No matter how satisfied you are with their service, they never accept tips. In fact, someone will come running after you, returning the tip!

7. Don’t ignore someone you are speaking with

If you are talking with a Japanese person, always stay calm and attentive. You may sound impolite and rude by just failing to show that you have understood a point. Whenever speaking, show your attentiveness by talking back.

8. Don’t photograph everything

Despite Japan being a beautiful country, you are not allowed to take photos everywhere. It is advisable to always ask someone before taking photos. You must be granted permission to take pictures in museums, temples, and shrines.

9. Don’t hug anyone you meet

Hugging is common in western countries. However, in Japan, it is not. You don’t hug someone you come across in Tokyo streets. Most of the older folks don’t like the habit. If you want to hug someone, then it’s best to know their age group and whether they are comfortable with it.

10. Don’t eat or drink when walking

It is uncommon to find Japanese eating or drinking while they are walking. Even on the streets with food stalls they always find a place to sit. Now you know how to behave when you are on Japanese streets so you don’t look foreign.

11. Don’t receive a present with one hand

Whenever receiving a gift or a visiting card from a Japanese, use your two hands and bow. Then tell him thank you. On receipt of a gift, don’t open it until the person who has given it to you has left.

12. Don’t throw away trash haphazardly

Another thing you might find hard to get used to is how to handle your trash. In most cities around the world, there are a lot of trash cans however, Japanese cities are different. People are encouraged to carry their trash until they find a place to dispose of it.

13. Don’t fail to say “thank you”

The verb “thank you” is highly valued in Japan. Learn to say it after being served in a hotel or store. Familiarize yourself with how bowing is done in Japan. You must always bow and say thank you when you meet with elders.

14. Don’t write down a person’s name in red ink

In Japan, it is OK to write “goodbye” in red ink but not a person’s name. The Japanese consider it to be disobedient. Therefore, if you have to write down your Japanese friend’s name, you know which color to avoid.

15. Don’t be shy

It is common for tourists to ask for help from locals. When you get to Japan, don’t be shy or afraid of asking for anything. They are very friendly and helpful. Even when you accidentally forget something somewhere, go back as no one is going to take it away.

Choosing A Houseboat In Alleppey For The Most Rewarding Trip

Alleppey in Kerala, India is probably most popular because of the endless backwaters, lagoons and canals it has to its name. It is therefore not a wonder that the Nehru Trophy Alleppey Snake Boat Race is among the most attractive for travelers including myself. Considering that the race falls in August, I have always planned my travel to be around the same time to ensure that I get to enjoy all the fun. Don’t get me wrong, Alleppey does have lots of other attractions including religious places, stunning beaches, old temples and paddy fields but houseboat cruises make some of my favorites here.

To complete my trip, I always make sure that I get myself a boathouse; there is really nothing as fulfilling like it. The well inter connected canal, lakes and rivers here make houseboat living simply amazing. Kerala may have lots of other places where house boat cruises can be enjoyed, but Kerala beats them all. The best thing is that I get to decide just how long I wish to enjoy the houseboat; it is possible for me to rent one for a few days to make my trip here nothing but rewarding. But for this to happen, I am always keen on the houseboat that I settle for and the process as well to get me the best.

  • I start by inspecting the houseboat before I commit to anything. I do not believe in booking early unless it is during peak months. Booking early before getting to Alleppey increases chances of having to deal with agents which could increase the costs. I believe in seeing my boathouse beforehand so I can ensure it has everything that matters and that the decoration is just superb. The boats here are in good condition, but it does not hurt to be sure before paying anything for mine.
  • Before paying for my houseboat in Alleppey, I also take time to compare the available options. By looking at a few of the available boats, it is easier for me to select the one I love most. The quality is not the same and hence sampling a few make it possible for me to end up with the best. Some of the things that matter when making the selection include bed, mattress, bathroom, mosquito net, air conditioning and meals. It is important to ensure that there is ample supply of bottled water, snacks and meal that I prefer so my needs are covered throughout the cruise.
  • Just like looking at any other accommodation property, size does matter when I am going through the houseboat options. Of course it will depend on the number of people I am taking with me and the kind of cruise I wish to enjoy. I love houseboats with an upstairs deck and an eating area downstairs. This way, I get to enjoy lots of privacy upstairs and enjoy amazing views from here separated from the staff offering important services.

The Ideal Cars for Transporting Many People

Do you ever find that you need to transport many people at a time but don’t have a big enough car to do it? Maybe it’s time for you to get a bigger car. Here are a 6 bigger cars to consider.

Ford Transit Connect LWB

This seven passenger car can fit two more people than the average car. The passengers also don’t feel as cramped as they would in a standard car. Not only does it have extra leg space but it also has head space for the taller people. The car also doesn’t use too much fuel considering its size and the amount of people it can carry.

Mercedes-Benz M-Class

Although it is considered a status brand, this might be one of the cars that could fit many people. It’s bigger than many other SUVs and it also has an impressive engine. It is powerful and comes with the option of 4matic all-wheel drive.

Honda CRV

This is an SUV that has loads of space. It has more than enough space for large items of luggage and a decent amount of space for any of your passengers. It is also a modern and affordable car that can accommodate a number of passengers.

BMW X Series

Like the Mercedes, BMW is also on top of the status list because of how amazing the engineering is. The X series might be a five seater car but it has a large amount of space in the back. Packing luggage and briefcases won’t be a problem with this car.

Kia Soul

Perhaps one of the cheapest cars for a family, it still has the quality and space that you are looking for. The Kia Soul is nicely compacted for easy driving and parking. Plus the frame of the car is quite large so you will have extra space on the inside.

Toyota Fortuner

This off-road car is one of the older models that have always been a favorite for adventure enthusiasts. Going on a camping trip with friends has never been easier and as comfortable. Not only can you enjoy the space on the inside but you also won’t have to worry about damaging the suspension and the tyres because of the way it was built.

When traveling with many people you have to make sure that you are doing it legally. By law, you are not allowed to overload a car with more than the intended amount of people.