MALDIVES – The Sunny side of Life

What is Maldives?

Maldives – Treasured by sailors along sea-trade routes for 2,500 years, the Maldives are home to some of the most luxurious spas and resorts around the world. Maldives constitutes of approximately 1,190 islands which are grouped into 26 natural atolls, or rings, that are protected by surrounding reefs. The islands are of pure white coral sand are low lying, the highest point on any given island being no more than a meter and a half above sea level. Coconut palms and an abundance of tropical plants make these islands an idyllic place for your holiday if you want to see nature at its best.

Maldives is a small country that actually straddles the equator, in the Indian Ocean. The climate is tropical with no major seasonal differences. The skies are usually clear and the sun shines brightly. That is when the cooling sea breezes, about which poems have been written, being about the romantic in you. Although the high season (December through April) attracts more crowd, this time of the year offers the best weather and the longest days on the islands. Though a visit between May & November is more of a gamble, as this is a rainy season and humidity is high. This season also provides the best weather for Scuba diving.

Accommodation options range from expensive to very luxurious. Though these islands may not be the best option for budget travelers, but they are perfect for those looking to splurge on top quality accommodations and amenities located on isolated beaches. The cuisine though is difficult to be truly authentic as the resorts tone down the spiciness to pleas the tourist’s palette. Still fish remains an important entity of the Maldivian cuisine. Don’t leave the islands before relishing the taste of the island’s coconuts, whether in a sweet curry or a frothy drink.

Maldives is also one of the top favorite for surfers searching for the right waves around the globe, Maldives will certainly not fail you and if one happens to be a diving enthusiast, be prepared for a binge! The white coral beaches are simply unbelievable. The fishing is out of this world. Perhaps because of this, the Maldives is increasingly becoming one of the most sought after holiday destinations in the world.


How to reach Maldives?

All resorts arrange transfers from Male International Airport, either via private launch, for the North and South Male atolls, or for the outer atolls, via seaplane service from the air – taxi terminal on Maldivian Air Taxi & Trans Maldivian Airways, Singapore Airlines and Emirates which connects via Dubai, Jet airways and Srilankan Airlines which flies from Mumbai, India and connects via Colombo whereas Air India flies directly to Maldives from Bangalore, India.




Courtesy: Maldives Tourism Board & Travel Channel


It’s more fun in the PHILIPPINES

The Philippines is defined by its emerald rice fields, teeming megacities, graffiti-splashed jeepneys, smoldering volcanoes, bug-eyed tarsiers, fuzzy water buffalo and smiling, happy-go-lucky people.

Comprising of more than 7000 islands, located between the Philippine sea and the South China sea at the very eastern edge of Asia, and at certain times of the year you’ll get the feeling that you have all to yourself. The typical island boasts a jungle-clad, mountainous interior and a sandy coastline flanked by aquamarine waters and the requisite coral reef.

The country’s overwhelming Catholicism, the result of 350 years of Spanish rule, is its most obvious enigma. Vestiges of the Spanish era include exuberant town fiestas (festivals) like Kalibo’s Ati-Atihan, unique Spanish-Filipino colonial architecture, and exquisite, centuries old stone churches lording over bustling town plazas. Yet despite these outside influences, the country remains very much its own unique entity.

Things to Do?


  • Beaches:“World’s Best Island”, rated by Travel + Leisure magazine. The beaches of Philippines are the perfect escape from those cold, icy, extra-long winters. One can rent a Kayak to paddle around the islands with, or get a guided boat tour, which usually includes a perfectly grilled lunch. The nightlife on Boracay Island, will get you partying hard with the crowds, while more secluded beaches bring you to more tranquil shores.


  • Nature & Adventure: In Philippines, both the serious trekkers and lazy beach bums have a wide range of options to explore. Steal a view from the top, soaring by private plane over the smoking mouth, or ascend these fiery mountains by foot, through lava-rock trails. You can visit volcanic Camiguin, or mystical Siquijor and experience the contrast of sandy shores and deserted coastlines, private islands, isolated coves, and quiet bays. You can also prefer scaling the World Heritage Site of the Banawe RIce Terraces, a natural wonder better seen up close. or ziplining or seven stunning waterfalls in Lake Sebu, South Cotabato. For Deluxe delights, Go glamping (glamorous camping) in one of Bohol’s top resorts, where activities include getting to know a tiny Tarsier. Watersports abound! Sailing in Subic Bay and Batangas; white-water rafting down Chico River; even the more extreme kitesurfing is growing more popular by the day in Bicol, Boracay, Coron, Cuyo, and windswept Pagudpud Peninsula — the country’s northernmost tip.


  • Lifestyle:From the thrift shopper to the splurger, Indonesia has got something for everyone. Bargains to hunt and haggle for at street market stalls all over the country. Brand names to collect at year-round sales in malls. Cheerful staff who greet you at every turn. In this country, shops are open from morning till late at night, and especially on weekends. Many of the industrial areas of big cities like Manila have back-to-back bars and restaurants lining the streets, to draw in a buzzing crowd of young professionals after working hours. Overnight tourists will find the quirkier side of fun in places like Quezon City, while urban dwellers and business travelers have time to relax in the posh hotels that fill Makati. It’s a quick walk across the street for great-value shopping in the ever-busy Greenbelt mall stretch. Feeling fancy? Move on over to Resorts World in Pasay City, with its flashy casino lanes, six-star hotels, theater musicals, and big-name outlets. Just make sure you’ve brought your shiniest shoes and lucky charms.


  • Dining:Kick back with ice cold drinks at the percentage of the price you’re used to while watching the sunset at Manila Bay. Or experience hearty Filipino dining at a restaurant or bistro. At dressed-down dampas, you can order fresh crustaceans by the kilo, straight from the market stalls, and then place your order with the restaurant kitchen. For the Filipino, the family meets around local dishes cooked with love, passion, and plenty of soy sauce. Comfort food is on the menu, and meat, seafood, and vegetarian fare is all here in abundance. Of course, so is rice. From organic markets to eat-all-you-can buffets to exotic eats, your Filipino food trip is sure to be an unforgettable fun-filled experience!  Sarap! (Delicious!)


  • Water Activities: From the gentle clear water of Boracay to the gigantic surf breaks of Siargao; you’ll find the island, the beach, the shore that’s just perfect for you. Philippines is an aquatic playground for any water sports whether be it wakeboarding, kitesurfing, parasailing or sailing. Some amazing reefs though – like those in Anilao, Calamianes and Cebu islands – are just a shore entry away. Sit down to launch as soon as you strip off your wetsuit. Just a dip proves that the seas of Philippines are home to the planet’s most diverse marine life – from the largest to the tiniest – and some of the strangest ocean species known to man.



Courtesy: Lonely Planet & Philippines Informatory website


INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL…be smart – act smart

Leisure or Business, irrespective of the type of trip, if you are a traveler then you just need to take care of the below points before you travel.

  • Security & Health:
    1. Insurance: Check your insurance provider if your policy applies overseas for emergencies. If it doesn’t, and you want to add extra coverage, then consider supplement insurance.
    2. Passport: Carry duplicate copies of your passport. If in case your passport got stolen then still you should be able to prove your citizenship and identity. It is also wise to save a copy of your passport on your electronic device which can be accessed from anywhere in the world.
  • Money:
    1. Conversion Rate: Make sure you do your math before you travel to get a sense of where the conversion rate is at. Carry enough cash in-hand as not every place accepts credit card.
    2. Card & ATM’s: Ensure that your credit card will work in the country which you are visiting as many European banks have switched almost completely to the more secure chip-and-PIN technology, and fewer businesses abroad are accepting the outdated magnetic-strip cards. You can carry Forex card where you can deposit the amount before your travel & swipe it no of time at restaurants or any mall or big outlets. The free ATM transaction would be limited for Forex card & once you cross them bank will charge you the nominal amount which will be vary from $2 to $5.
    3. Entrance / Exit Fees: Some countries require travelers to pay in order to enter or leave the country. These fees are not included in the price of your airline ticket, and can range anywhere between $20 to $200.
    4. Deposit at hotel at the time of check-in : Many hotel across the world ask their guest for deposit amount at the time of check in to the hotel. Hotel might ask you the same in cash or credit card details. The amount will be refunded to you at the time of check out after final billing. Your amount can be deducted from the deposit amount if you could have used mini bar, laundry, telephone or any other services which are not included in your stay & refund you the balance payment. If you have given your credit card details to the hotel then always take the no dues letter from the hotel at the time of check out.
  • Local Research:
    1. Advance Purchase: Buying entrance tickets / passes in advance you’ll be able to skip more lines, and find more deals targeted towards you.
    2. Research: It’ll be helpful if you make sure that you’re not missing the events going on in your city. Fun things like festivals, ceremonies and natural events. Also be sure to research as you might get the opportunity to taste the national dishes.
    3. Guidebooks: Guidebooks usually containing maps, keywords or phrases, important areas with nightlife and other necessary details.
  • Electronics:
    1. Adapter: Different countries have different size plugs and voltages. Make sure you carry the appropriate converter and cross- check for the voltage output as it’d be useless to carry something and not able to use it just because the voltage isn’t high enough for that country.
    2. Phone: You don’t want to see your whooping phone bill in your mailbox just because you used the internet and made calls to home. Please ensure that you have international roaming with a pocket-friendly plan activated before you leave the country.
  • Luggage & Packing:
    1. Extra Luggage: Be wise to pack in a few clothes in your hand luggage if in case the airline lost your luggage and you have nothing else to wear.
    2. Check-in Baggage: Each airline has its won set of guidelines as to how many bags can be checked or carried on for free. Make sure to look up what your airline’s rules are to avoid any incremental fees.
    3. Bring Snacks: Traveling abroad is fun, but eating in a foreign country can sometimes become a task. Bring small snacks that will keep you going but make sure you don’t have any liquids in your handbag while check- in.




Courtesy: Travel Zoo


SEYCHELLES…more accessible then ever before

This archipelago of 115 countries is known more for its luxurious resorts than its shoestring potential. But, it is possible to experience The Seychelles’ paradisiacal beaches, laidback local life and extraordinary national parks for a pittance.

Here’s how can you do it:

1. Budget: Though Seychelles is an expensive destination but a growing number of affordable places to stay, particularly on Mahe, Praslin & La Digue helps to cut down on expenses for accommodation. All accommodation is registered by the Ministry of Tourism, ensuring a minimum standard or services and facilities.

Also for eating outlets there lies a host of cheaper options from shore-edge restaurants to stalls offering Creole staples such as grilled fish and chicken curry.

Commuting between the islands here in Seychelles can be a bit harsh on your pockets. There is an affordable ferry service between Mahe, Praslin and La Digue, the cargo boat preferably.

2. Planning: With a robust tourism infrastructure, Seychelles is safe and easy  as a good level of English is spoken. Outside the busy high season (Dec – Jan & June – Aug), it’s not necessary to book ahead instead you can make use of inter-island ferries and bus services to reach Seychelles.

3. Activities: A wide range of activities are available in Seychelles such as Snorkelling & Trekking. A full day excursion for Snorkelling from the bay of Beau Vallon in Mahe to Baie Ternay can be organised at $128, including a barbeque and snorkelling gear. Otherwise one can hire a snorkelling kit from one of the many dive centres and explore independently at $15 per day.

Trekking is available from $45 for a half-day guided walks in the jungle-clad hills of Mahe’s Morne Seychellois National Park, including lunch and transport.



Courtesy: Lonely Planet


Prominent Honeymoon Destinations

Once in a lifetime trip requires a perfect planning which starts with choosing just the right destination. Though usual trips focus upon activities but a romantic Honeymoon trip focuses upon  each other for the newlyweds. VCONNECT Travel & Holidays recommends below options to be the destination of your lifetime.

1. Switzerland: This straight-laced destination might not be sultry or exotic but for honeymooners it is one of the safest, orderly and stunningly beautiful. Couples can simply enjoy each other and that is what the whole point of the trip remains.

2. Mauritius: A destination so enthralling that will enchant you & uplift your soul that every couple receives a personalized attention with a promise of a unique holiday. Mauritius is set in a turquoise sea and happens to be an oasis of peace and tranquility offering you an unmatched privacy.

3. Maldives: An island surrounded by the Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea, Maldives is a place where honeymoon is meant to be. Maldives offers an intimate, secluded and most importantly a beautiful setting for honeymooners. A dinner under the stars or a spa treatment or just laying around in your private bungalow watching the endless turquoise waters.

4. Bali: A destination with magnet at its heart, Bali – The last paradise, compels you to keep coming back. Withsunshine throughout the year, Bali has a tropical monsoon climate for a year round visit. Bali is a truly beautiful tropical island inhibited by a remarkably artistic people who have created a dynamic society with unique arts and ceremonies.

5. Italy: Not to speak for all but Italy does demands an exception. A city built for wandering between ancient neighborhoods and discovering hole-in-the-wall restaurants, live music venues & sidewalk cafes. For some planning for an urban honeymoon, Italy happens to be a classic romantic choice.

6. Paris, France: Paris – City of Love is the world’s most popular destination where spending a day with your partner strolling off the beaten path allows to discover more and more about your better half. It is a city of inspiration, art and fashion. he night scene, the Eiffel tower and the warm atmosphere will make you feel unite.

7. Tahiti: With color of the water so amazing and you will be enchanted the moment you fly into the Islands – Moorea & Bora Bora. The airport is on the Bora Bora island. How about getting to your water bungalow wherein from the suite you can see the fishes all around you, in a Boat. Can’t get more romantic than this.

8. Bequia , Caribbean: Slow pace and easy going atmosphere – is a bit of a backwater – offers a real lazy honeymoon vacation providing you with ample time getting to know each other. The island is safe, compact and enjoys perfect weather almost all round the year.

9. Thailand: The tropical beaches of Thailand are a veritable paradise of aquamarine water, sugary white sand and breathtaking dramatic islands making it one of the Asia’s most preferred Honeymoon destination. Some such destinations inside Thailand are Phulay & Maya Bay, Koh Lipe, Patong Beach, Kata Beach & Ko Phi Phi Don.

10. Seychelles: With a year-long warm, tropical climate and highly acclaimed beaches all around the world, Seychelles happens to be one of the highly preferred for the newlyweds. A destination wherein couples can closely bond through activities such as Diving, Fishing, Snorkelling, Surfing, Hiking and Bird-watching.

11. Greece: Coastline stretching endlessly, sun-bleached ancient ruins, strong feta and stronger ouzo, Greece became another hot-spot for planning the vacation of your life. As seen in quiet a few movies, Santorini has been acclaimed continuously due to its crystal-clear  sapphire waters and whitewashed villages.



Like every glittering metropolis, however, it can be easy to miss the highlights amid all the noise and haste. Theatre, Art, Fashion, Shopping, Nightlife, Meals you’ll never forget is what London has to offer.

This mini-guide is filled with the information you need to get in and out of London while impressing the clients and co-workers and still having time to eat royally, take jealousy-inducing pictures and pick up the kinds of souvenirs the folks back home will actually keep.

1. Fastest airport transport

London has several international airports and all are serviced by public transportation into central London in around an hour and a half. But why struggle on and off trains with luggage if you don’t have to?

By far the most comfortable way to get from the airport into the city is by using a car service.

2. Great rooms, great views

London has plenty of high-end accommodations, from heritage hotels to glossy futuristic skyscrapers. For Old World style, Claridge’s is a top choice. Its opulent art deco interiors have played host to stars like Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant. Some Deluxe King rooms have views of Brook Street, a Mayfair parade lined with fine restaurants and lavish boutiques.

3. Best meals

London is teeming with competitive foodies and the best restaurants are often filled weeks in advance — it’s wise to book ahead.

4. Unique clothes

All the big international brands are represented in London and there are plenty of high-end department stores, but the best-kept secret is the city’s boutiques, which show off the wealth of homegrown fashion.

5. Best Selfie spots

As London was named “selfie capital of the world”earlier this year, it’d be wrong to leave without getting a few. The obvious places remain the best. For the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, you’ll get the best shot by walking halfway across Westminster Bridge, which crosses the Thames. For a stunning picture of yourself next to St. Paul’s Cathedral, go to the Millennium Bridge, which runs between the cathedral and the Tate Modern art gallery.

6. Neighborhoods in a nutshell

One of the joys of London is its neighborhoods. Locals talk about each area as a “village” with its own identity and feel. Here’s a brief selection that you won’t regret taking time out of your day to explore.



Courtesy : CNN Travel

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The Beach is Calling !!!

We’re all familiar with the undesirable qualities of City Life so thank the gods of urban planning for the occasional sandy edge. Below are few cities where one can strip of into shorts or a bikini and enjoy  a day with their toes in the sand.

1. Miami Beach – Miami, Florida

More than 14kms of the east coast of the barrier island that holds the Florida city is taken up by palm-backed white sand and this beach plays an important role in civic life. With a reputation of hedonism and truly said and heard that its nightclubs – especially in the South Beach area – are magnets for the rich, famous and beautiful. The neighborhood of the South Beach rewards exploration with major arts events such as the annual Art Basel Miami Beach .

2. Clifton Beaches – Cape Town, South Africa

Despite the icy waters of the Atlantic Ocean, practically year round, beaches of Clifton remain a magnet for the visitors due to their spectacular natural beauty and unbeatable African sunsets. The beaches are divided into four small but interlinked coves by massive boulders, they cater to different demographics. First for the local moneyed set, second for the sizable gay contingent, third being family oriented and fourth being the liveliest among all as this is where the Cape Town’s hip set come to top up their tans.

3. Bondi Beach – Sydney

Though most of Australia’s beaches lie in close proximity of cities, but sydneysiders are justifiably bullish about the one’s on their doorstep. Coogee, Manly and gorgeous and often practically deserted northern beaches such as Palm Beach all have their advocates but for an iconic all-rounder you can’t miss with Bondi. Bondi happens to be one of the World’s most famous strips of sand, lying in the heart of the city, it ensures its popularity with tourists and locals alike.

4. Waikiki Beach – Honolulu

Hula girls and twangy guitars may mostly be confined to Honolulu’s hotel lobbies these days, but Waikiki Beach retains a widescreen aura fostered in countless movies. This city happens to be as one of the top holiday destinations in the United States, but the turquoise waters and views of the Diamond head crater make up for the surfeit of concrete and garish short-sleeve shirts.

5.  Barceloneta Beach – Barcelona, Spain

Not the most beautiful but yes the hardest to beat when it comes to atmosphere. Lying in the heart of the city and lined with Palm trees and backed with buzzing bars and cafes, it is a 60m long abstract golden fish. Not to mention the superb seafood tapas creates a value of its own.

6. Brighton Beach – UK

Brighton has earned its reputation as “London on Sea”.  The towns fusion of hip urban energy and fresh sea air acts as a tonic to travelers and commuter ills. Marked with low tides, this beach is a far cry from the paradise clinches but it resonates charm and pulses with energy.

7. Ipanema Beach – Rio De Janeiro

This 1,600m long and 90m deep stretch of white sand is famous for the “tall and tanned and young and lovely” females that throng the beach. Majestic granite peaks create a spectacular backdrop while the Cagarras Islands in the distance offer a counterpart to the brilliant blue of the Atlantic. This is where dental-floss bikini and the crocheted G-string for men made the debut.



Courtesy : CNN Travel

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Berlin 25 years later

Throughout its tumultuous history, Berlin has seen strife and triumph unfold in its streets, from weathering the dark days of the Cold War to emerging as a unified city in 1989.

One of the most famous sites is the Brandenburg Gate is beautifully curbed and marveled followed by Templeholf airport which once used to be the busiest now serves as a recreation ground for Berliners to host Kite festival. People of Berlin has a playful spirit as the people have an interest in new things and the resources here just seem to be unlimited, a lot of skills and enthusiasm and an eagerness to get involved in things for all sort of creative endeavors. Talking of creativity Street Art, no city comes close to Berlin’s exquisite array of talent and sets an example of reunification of the people of Berlin.

Urban innovation in Berlin have been considerate as the old buildings find new life with glass roofs and atrium’s and an unmatched riverside beach atmosphere. The Halloween season attracts a lot of tourists and students all around the globe. An unbeatable event takes place in Berlin every Sunday during Spring and Summer where thousands of people gather to sing Karaoke late into the night. The subcultures of Berlin can be felt during the Mauerpark flea market where different groups perform around the field.

Pergamonmuseum, the museum of Berlin houses a large collection of classical and near-east antiquities. And not to forget their also lies a hidden lake very close to the Berlin Zoo. City of Berlin is marked by a Bear known as Berlin Bear and this bear stands on the Moabit Bridge, the fighting lion structure though reminds of the city’s difficult past and depicts the strength of unification.

Berlin is politics, history, culture; its fast, quiet, a playground, colourful, grey, romantic and many more things undescribed.



Courtesy : CNN Travel

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Five of my favourite must Do’s in Brussels

When I landed in Brussels a couple of days ago, the resident manager of the Citadines Toison D Or told me, ” Brussels is a city where you must relax. ” And I completely agreed.

Antique market at Sablon

Every weekend, there is an antique market that opens up at Sablon..and guess what, it is just ten minutes from the residence where I am staying. I was there all of this morning,roaming around the stalls and talking to the dealers. There were paintings, tiles, books, records, porcelain wares, jewellery.

Comic strip museum

There are several museums here – history, arts, culture, music, chocolates, beer..but my favourite remains the Comic art museum. I had written an entire post here on how comic arts are a part of Brussels. Walls of streets and hotels have comic art strips on them.

Have some beer with puppets

Once you are done admiring the Grand Place, take a tour into the lanes and you will discover the Royal Theatre Toone. There is an ancient marionatte theatre, here with wooden benches and a small gallery which also serves as a pub and cafe.

Get your hands groovy with chocolate

There is an aroma of chocolate the moment you enter the streets of Brussels. Every street is filled with chocolatiers..some still make hand made chocolates while others, the big retailers get them made in a factory outside the tour.

Try the local beers

Belgium I hear is home to hundreds of beer and if you have not tasted the local beer then you have not had the taste of Belgium at all. You can visit the traditional bars here or go on an organised brewery tour which will take you outside the city as well or like me, just sit and do some beer tasting.


Curtains on #Citadines30 – Memories and moments

It is almost late afternoon in Brussels and the sun is not yet up and the air is nippy. It is my last day here, participating in the Citadines #30 along with three other bloggers from France, Germant and London. It has been a whirlwind tour, ten days of travelling across the European Union, across France, Germany and Belgium, spending three days in every country. I started with Cannes where bright sunshine greeted me and then I headed to Berlin where it was a mix of cloud and shine and finally at Brussels where after three days of blue skies, its a tad bit cloudy today. But the entire event started with Paris, the city of dreams, romance and fashion.

In my first post, Vote for me, the lone Indian travel blogger at Citadines #30, I wrote about the ten reasons why I am excited about the event. And now ten days later, I want to share with you some of the moments that defined the trip to me.

The Concept

Personally it gave me a high to be chosen as the only Indian blogger to participate in the event and I was very excited. I loved the concept of travelling solo in every city and being able to do my own thing at my own pace. I was a bit jittery especially at airports (a confession – I hate airports) and lugging a heavy baggage across railway stations, but then the moment I landed in a new city and started exploring it, I forgot all about it, until it was time to leave again. Sigh, now I have to pack !