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What should be your best transportation option? – Part 1 – Bus or airline

January 21, 2015


That’s always the question for a lot of travelers. Whether to take an bus or fly between cities with long distances between them? While traveling by bus is cheaper than flying, it can take up to about 10 times the time. Also, some countries may have airlines offering cheap flights, whereas some may have companies offering comfortable buses as opposed to a chicken bus.

For example, during our trip to Colombia last month, we decided to fly from Bogota to Armenia, taking one hour via Avianca airlines. And we took a bus from Medellin to Cartagena taking 13 hours on Brasilia. So what factors help you make those decisions?

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Tour review: Red Planet Expedition, Uyuni, Bolivia

January 15, 2015
Red Planet Expedition


Address: Calle Sucre, between Ave Ferroviaria & Ave Potosi, Uyuni, Bolivia

This experience is from our trip to Bolivia in July 2013

Firstly, there are a lot of tour companies in Uyuni offering the same tour(s) around Salar de Uyuni. So shop around; contact various companies for rates and tour plans, before deciding on any one company. Having said that, I decided on Red Planet Expeditions after reading multiple reviews online that were more positive than negative.

Many travelers have rates guide Gonzalo as a terrible, so beware of that. I was lucky enough to have Oscar as our guide because he was kind, funny, helpful, friendly and spoke perfect English.

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Hotel review: La Casa Azul, Cali, Colombia

January 15, 2015
La Casa Azul, Cali, Colombia

Breakfast included: Yes

Address: Av 4aN # 5N – 09, Barrio Centenario, Cali, Colombia

The first impression of walking in to the courtyard of this homely hotel was a ‘wow!’; and with it’s blue-white walls and large, spacious rooms anyone would be amazed at how low-priced this place is. Located in the heart of northern Cali, close to the old city, this is a great place to stay (read below for more!) with restaurants and cafes just walking distance from the hotel. The front gate is always locked which ensures safety of the guests.

Breakfast of eggs, bread/jam/butter, coffee and orange juice is served everyday and included in the price. Being there on Christmas night in 2014, we had an opportunity to share a home-cooked meal prepared by the owner of the hotel, that included a three course dinner and wine for COP 25,000 per person (approx USD 10).

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Best places to travel in each month of the year

January 14, 2015


New York Times released the 52 places to travel in 2015 last week, but one of the questions every traveler asks is ‘what is the best time to go to ___?” And there’s not definitive answer, and it’s best to check the weather conditions and prices, along with other factors, to decide on the next destination.

But put together a handy list of the best places to travel in what month, with these factors in mind. With locations both in the U.S. and abroad, you should be able to find a destination that fits both your budget and schedule:

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Google Translate app update will be your best friend when traveling

January 14, 2015


If you have a smartphone that has Google Translate then make sure to update it before you leave for your next exotic destination. The latest update, announced today, will add the ability to translate printed text by aiming your phone’s camera to it, and the app will translate it in real-time without using any internet data.

The feature available on Word Lens app for a while now will be integrated into Google Translate after the company was acquired by Google.

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Take the free walking tour if you’re visiting Medellin in Colombia

January 12, 2015


There are a lot of things to do in Medellin, the second largest city of Colombia – For example, take the Metrocable up to Parque Arvi for stunning views of the city and a piece of serene nature. Downtown Medellin boasts some of the best sights to see in the city, so instead of walking in the downtown area, which is not the safest as per locals, sign up for a walking tour provided by Real City Tours. And it’s free!

The company offers two tours in a day – 9:00am and 2:30pm – Monday through Friday. REMEMBER THIS – Being the top activity to do in Medellin on TripAdvisor, you MUST book in advance since they get sold out in a jiffy. For any particular day, they open the bookings about 48 hours in advance, so make sure to jump in the bookings as soon as they open. You will receive a confirmation email upon successful booking.

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Mass flights cancelled to Philippines for Pope’s visit

January 12, 2015


Pope Francis is visiting The Philippines and because of that airlines are cancelling flights after the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines announced limited operations at Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) from Thursday, January 15, to Monday, January 19.

The list of airlines that have cancelled and rescheduled flights to and from Manila during the papal visit include Cebu Pacific, TigerAir Philippines, AirAsia, Philippine Airlines and Cathay Pacific. Passengers scheduled to travel on these dates must visit their airline’s website for information on re-booking and refunds, if any.

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Experiencing Eje Cafetero (Coffee zone) in Colombia – Pijao & Buenavista

January 9, 2015


The first thing anyone would think of Colombia is the coffee. One of the largest exporters of coffee in the world, Colombia’s Eje Cafetero (Coffee Zone) is a highlight on any traveler’s list. And although there are many operators and companies that offer tours to some of the towns or places in the coffee zone, we met Juan Agudelo in our hostel in Armenia, while a fellow backpacker was about to go on a tour with him to Salento and Valle de Cocora.

After a brief conversation with Juan, we found out that he has a company called ‘Experiencia Cafetera‘ that specializes in tours around the towns of Pijao and Buenavista, which are in the coffee zone. We immediately signed-up for a half-day tour to these towns.

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Bicycle tour & meeting a local artist in Popayán, Colombia

January 8, 2015


Popayán is a quaint little town in the south of Colombia comprising of white-washed houses and small lanes within the old town. One of the best activities to do in Popayán (and highly recommended by TripAdvisor) is the “downhill” bike ride from the natural thermal pools up in the mountains to the town center.

This is where we dipped in thermal pools, had some delicious food and met a fascinating local artist who invited us to her home to have a look at the paintings she has created over the last 40 plus years.

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The countries with the best public wifi are…

December 17, 2014

bestwifi3Travelers love wifi hotspots and with a growing number of public hotspots in the world, it is extremely useful for business and leisure travelers because they do not have to pay for international mobile data.

But connectivity and quality of public wifi networks comes at low speeds and unavailability because of technical reasons. Moreover, the one city’s public WiFi does not reflect the whole country’s context.

Rotten WiFi users have measured and evaluated the quality of public hotspots in 172 countries worldwide, testing hundreds of networks. The collected data revealed Top 20 countries with best public WiFi in this infographic:

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Visas & passports – a rogue guide

December 16, 2014

Given the number of questions about visas and requests for detailed notes I have had over the last few years of my travels, I should have written this note ages ago.

My observations here stem from my own personal experience, ranging from the delightful to the tortuous, at embassies & consulates around the world.

I have been to over 200 embassies on my own during these last 7 years. Not counting visas & stamps obtained on arrival, I have been able to get around 90 visas of roughly 70 nations. At times, I will borrow from anecdotes related by others.

So here is the summary, from my experience of personally visiting around 205 embassies of 100 countries, in 70 countries:

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Make extra cash while traveling by carrying others’ packages

December 11, 2014


How would you like to make extra money while traveling? We have all heard that and there are many ways to do that. Peer-to-peer services like Uber and Airbnb allow you to make some extra cash in your town, and now a new startup called Carry takes on the courier and package shipping industry to your doorstep.

Instead of using UPS, FedEx, postal services or similar, the company looks for people who need something delivered by travelers who are going to the destination. Some of the existing listings include taking an iPhone to Mexico from Los Angeles for $350, and bring medication from London to New York for $44.

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10 gorgeous places in Iceland that should not be missed

December 4, 2014

[View of Reykjavik from top of Hallgrímskirkja church]

A lot of tourists visit Iceland for a few days or a long weekend of three days and cover the basic ‘Golden Triangle’. But driving around the country is the best way to experience this wonderfully marvelous country. And these sights make the trip worth-while. Every visitor must include these ten spots in their itinerary:

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Bangkok airport launches automated taxi kiosks

December 4, 2014

Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport launched automatic queue-card kiosks aiming to improve travelers’ access to taxi services. Up until now, travelers have to approach the taxi counters for manual system where staff wrote down a passenger’s destination before handing it to a taxi driver.


The ten new kiosks, found outside Gates 4 and 7 on the first floor of Suvarnabhumi Airport’s terminal building, are designed to cut waiting times by managing the lines and directing passengers to numbered taxi ranks. Passengers need to press a button on a touchscreen kiosk for service. The kiosk prints a ticket, which shows a queue number, parking lot number, where the assigned taxi parks, driver’s name, and license plate.

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Tsingy de Bemaraha National park, Madagascar

December 3, 2014


Located inland about 70 km from the west coast in the northern sector of the Antsingy region of the Bemaraha Plateau, north of the Manambolo River Gorge, in Madagascar, much of the reserve integral to Tsingy de Bemaraha comprises limestone karst, delimited to the east by abrupt cliffs which rise some 300-400 m above the Hanambolo River valley and extend several tens of kilometres from north to south.

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