Travel Tips

What are some of the best places to visit in October, 2017?

Feet sneakers walking on fall leaves Outdoor with Autumn season.
This month is an opportune time to travel: fewer crowds & moderate temperatures make for perfect conditions in many regions around the globe So, what are the best places to visit in October ? Most of us associate October with fall, and you certainly wouldn’t be wrong. It is easy to forget though, that there is another hemisphere to this world, and when our days are getting shorter, theirs are getting longer. And just as our temperatures are decreasing, theirs are heating up. So picking the best places to visit in October depends enormously on what kind of activity you are …

This month is an opportune time to travel: fewer crowds & moderate temperatures make for perfect conditions in many regions around the globe

So, what are the best places to visit in October ?

Most of us associate October with fall, and you certainly wouldn’t be wrong. It is easy to forget though, that there is another hemisphere to this world, and when our days are getting shorter, theirs are getting longer. And just as our temperatures are decreasing, theirs are heating up. So picking the best places to visit in October depends enormously on what kind of activity you are looking for. Whether it is beach-related, or you simply want to enjoy a new city, I tried to list the very best that I know of in the article below.

best places to visit in october in europe

Locals sitting outside of the beer tents, enjoying puny ‘weissbier’ instead of regular glasses.

 

 

1. Oktoberfest Munich, Germany

Having spent most of my formative years in Munich, Germany, I happen to know a thing or two about the Oktoberfest. First off, the name is misleading as the Oktoberfest usually starts off on the 3rd Saturday in September and secondly, the Oktoberfest is without a doubt one of the best places to visit in October in Europe.

Pro tip #1: This year will see an extended Oktoberfest that includes the 3rd of October, which is the unification of Germany and a national holiday as well. So this year only, the Oktoberfest ends on a Wednesday (October 4th) More beer for everyone!

Now, another thing you should know is that the locals call it ‘Wiesn’, which is pronounced as ‘weezn’, with that last ‘n’ almost inaudible. It’s a reference to the fairgrounds the festival is held on, and by the end of the festival, the grounds will be soaked in stale beer and other bodily fluids.

I have to admit that security has increased over the years, as the authorities wisely decided to consider the potential threat of terrorism. This is nothing new by the way, as back in the nineties, left-wing anarchists made it a habit to threaten the festival almost every year. What this translates too is tight security in and around the beer tents, and again at the different subway platforms that can get really (and I mean REALLY) crowded.

Best places to visit in October

These are standard Oktoberfest sizes and their price is subject to heavy discussions every year.

Your game plan should be to get a costume, since it is considered the cool thing to do. Free up enough time to make two visits at least and make sure to eat a lot while drinking. The standard beer mugs are massive and it takes a strong constitution to drink more than two and not be a blabbering idiot. But then again, you are bound to encounter lots of those and it is all good, since people do tend to get drunk around the ‘weezn’.

Pro tip #2: Hotels are all booked out during this time period, so take that into account.

 

 

2. Bangkok is mourning in October, Thailand

Seeing that we are based in Thailand, we love writing about Thailand and its various islands. However, October is a bit special this year as the country is coming to grips with the funeral of its beloved Rama 9 King Bhumibol Adulyadej. At this point we know the funeral will be held from the 25th until the 29th of October, with rehearsals on the 7th, the 15th and the 21st.

Bangkok is mourning in October

Unidentified Thai mourners at the Royal Palace. Note that the funeral will have an enormous impact on Bangkok throughout the month of October.

The public has been asked not to organize any festivities during this period, which will probably translate to no nightlife whatsoever in the capital. The islands will follow suit, so keep this in mind if you are planning your holiday for that period. Beach holidays will be fine and families will be able to tell little to no difference.

The party crowd however will notice a ban on alcohol and a request from authorities for a more restrained behaviour during those all-important dates. So if you are coming down for the standard full-moon package, maybe it is best to postpone your Thailand plans for a later point in time? For travellers determined to attend the funeral ceremony; I heard that there will be a special area reserved for foreigners.

Pro tip #3: A large part of the ceremony is to be held in the vicinity of Khao San road. Traffic in the area will see a massive increase from the 25th until the 27th and it would be wise not to stay in that area during that period. The entire continent is incredible in October, but due to the very specific circumstances I simply can’t say that Thailand is one of the best places to travel in October in Asia.

devotees of a Chinese gods walking on fire

This is a mild picture by comparison. Google ‘Phuket vegetarian festival’ and you will understand.

Pro tip #4: Should you decide to come anyway, and you heard about the Vegetarian Festival in Phuket – it is NOT about food. This is a spiritual festival involving young men piercing their cheeks with all kinds of gruesome instruments in a holy procession. Phuket will be exceptionally crowded and for someone who is unaccustomed with this tradition it is not a pleasant thing to look at. The Vegetarian Festival takes place from 20th until the 28th of October.

Madeline Island Ferry 7 in Bayfield shore

Bayfield shore on Lake Superior in the midst of Indian Summer.

 

 

3. The Bayfield Apple festival, Wisconsin USA

What can be considered almost a real vegetarian festival is the Bayfield Apple fest. Back in 2015 the annual Apple Festival was hailed as one of the ‘10 Best Fall Harvest Festivals in the Nation‘ by USA TODAY. So if you like ‘them apples’, make sure you get out to Bayfield in Wisconsin this October.

The Festival runs from October 6th until October 8th, in a charming small town on the shores of Lake Superior. Expect a very local celebration of the autumn harvest, incredibly beautiful autumn colours in the trees and apples. Lots of apples…

For two days, you are going to see endless stands with fresh apples, apple pie, apple tart, even apple dumplings and apple cider. The list goes on and on as the residents of Bayfield will try to make pretty much any dish with apples. Being a fan of simple and honest pies, I think apple pies have that no-nonsense quality and it is truly one of the best pastries I can think of. Well-made American apple pie is almost worth a transatlantic flight with your loved one.

Homemade Apple tart with cinnamon and copy space

Yes please!

But the Apple Festival is also interesting for families, as the celebration also features a grand parade, a carnival with pony rides and plenty of things to do, see try and purchase. All with that charming rural charm that you can’t find in American cities. If you want to see one of the best places to visit in October in the US, this is the festival to go to. The colours of autumn alone are well worth the trip.

 

 

4. Nuit Blanche Toronto, Canada

Nuit Blanche is French for ‘white night’, but its real meaning stands for skipping sleep for one night. This year, on September 30th, you will want to take out that special someone.

where is best to go in october

Nathan Phillips Square, I expect some big art installation on this spot.

First of all, you get to show him or her that you are an intelligent person who likes art shows and exhibits, and secondly, you get to see the entire city of Toronto being temporarily transformed. Programs can be looked up online, but if the 2016 edition is anything to go by, it is going to be wild.

No less than 350 International, National and local artists have joined forces to work on over 85 different projects all over town. So whether you like complicated light installations, performance art, all-night exhibitions or politically charged pieces, this is your night.

As this event has steadily grown in size over the years, corporate sponsors have hopped on board, eager to show that they too have ‘a heart for the arts’. As a result, everything is well organized and apart from the different showcases, several talks, round-table discussions and one-on-one interviews will be held all over town as well.

From graffiti artists like Brian Leitch (‘KWEST’) to Pakistani activists like Shahzia Sikander, there is something for everyone to see. And Toronto itself is already a beautiful city destination so consider this art festival a win-win.

 

 

5. Paris, France

Through the entire month of October, Paris is a great travel destination. Having lived in the 18th arrondissement myself, I had to walk home a lot when the subways stopped at midnight. Paris is incredibly French and romantic and one of the best places to visit in Europe in October.

Sacre Coeur Basilica on Montmartre Hill in Paris, France

The Sacre Coeur in Montmartre, one of the most romantic places in Europe.

These were some of the best walks I remember, as I would cross over the ‘butte Montmartre’, the highest point in the city and home to the Basilica of Sacre Coeur. It is a beautiful white house of prayer, and not many people know this, but there is a vineyard in Montmartre too. And in October, during the ‘Fête des Vendanges’, the approximately 1000 bottles that this urban vineyard yields are auctioned.

If there ever was a French Wine Festival to attend, this is the one you should start with. Taking place from the 11th of October until the 15th, there will be wine, local restaurants will have promotions around the festivities and the event ends with a firework show over the Sacre Coeur.

If you are a foodie, you may even want to stick around until the Salon du Chocolat arrives in town. From the 28th until the end of the month, Paris Expo will feature special events, tastings and a lot of suppliers. There will be demonstrations by top chefs, chocolate sculptures and even a chocolate fashion show (it is Paris after all).  Although technically an industry event, visitors are very welcome too because everyone loves chocolate.

 

 

6. Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Nobody complains more about tourism in Amsterdam than the locals themselves. But October is that month when the city gradually opens up. No longer do you hear the eternal sound of suitcases on cobblestones, and the city hotels lower their prices as the off-season simply doesn’t allow them to put those annoying premiums on all of their rooms.

Visiting Amsterdam is a must do in October

Amsterdam is cosy, cosmopolitan and urban all at once.

And that’s good news for you, because Amsterdam is a city best enjoyed when the crowds are out of town. So what is there to do, apart from the obvious sights. Well for starters, the Amsterdam Dance Event is in town, and for professionals this is the most anticipated event on the nightlife calendar.

Part industry event, part electronic music festival, ADE, as this festival is known, draws in professional entertainers, industry professionals and the fans. So if you happen to be in town during that period, expect some crazy exclusive line-ups in all the clubs around town, along with some additional events and performances by internationally acclaimed producers and DJs.

Also big on the EDM calendar is Awakenings. Where Awakenings is normally held in June, there is a smaller edition on the 18th of October as well, giving visitors to Amsterdam the chance to attend a legendary name in EDM.

big on the EDM calendar is Awakenings.

The standard Awakenings location a giant out-of-use gas tank.

For visitors who are not into techno and house music, the PINT Bokbeerfestival should go down well. It is considered the largest beer festival in the country (Holland is tiny), and visitors will have the choice to drink from a hundred different Bokbeers. These Autumn beers stand out with a different flavour, which some describe as ‘stronger’, ‘malty’ and ‘robust’. Also note that the colour differs from regular beer, as its will resemble a dark amber, right up to a brown hue, which is very different from the usual ‘pale ale’.

 

 

7. Hawaii, USA

If that little man in North Korea manages to keep a lid on things, Hawaii is also a great destination to be in October. September and August tend to be the hottest months, so it is nice to see things cool down a little. Hawaii truly is one of the best places to visit in October in the US.

best places to visit in october in the us

A waterfall on Maui, Hawaii.

With an abundance of public beaches, beautifully savage nature, active volcanos and tropical weather, it is a wonderful travel destination in itself. If it only weren’t so remote from everywhere else in the world. You either fly from the American mainland, or you happen to be on the other side of the planet, making Narita airport (Japan) a great stepping stone as well.

I thoroughly recommend doing a lot of planning before traveling there, since housing prices vary wildly in pricing and it makes a lot of sense as well to pick the island you will be staying on. Once you have that figured out, get a rental car and you should be good to go.

A trip tp Hawaii is not complete without splurging on seafood dinners, as the fish is some of the very best I have ever eaten. Being on a tropical island where everyone speaks English does come in handy, as you can talk to pretty much anyone about what to do and where to go.

Apart from the regular tourist activities, hiking is highly recommended. Many of the animals and plants are unique to the island, and there is always a hill nearby the conquer, a forest to explore or a crater to look into.

For activities of the more lazy kind, find out where the nearest surf beach is, and spend an hour or two watching the local watermen surfing on some of the best breaks in the world. They make it look easy, and it should be inspiring enough to book a surf lesson.”

 

 

8. South Africa

Another destination that’s slightly off the beaten path is South Africa. Just as remote from the rest of the world as Hawaii, October is the last month of the whales season on the Cape, and the area starts heating up rapidly.

Travellers can either stick to the coast, or make their way land inwards to the National Parks. November and December see a lot more tropical storms, but October is usually still holding out, creating that window where it isn’t too hot and rainy.

where is it still hot in october

Take a loved one on a safari to Kruger National Park.

As mentioned before, you will get to see some whales on the coast and the national parks will often have new-born game. I didn’t know this at first but these places have actual seasons for baby mammals, and October roughly translates to baby Eland, Tree squirrel, jackal, buffalo and warthog. And lots of monkeys too. It’s basically The Lion King and Madagascar all over again.

 

 

Conclusion

So you got some cities, some regions and even an entire US State to play around with. Places to avoid because of the weather are the United Kingdom, Berlin (their version of a continental winter is horrific – wet and cold), Prague and Scandinavia as a whole. Unless you don’t mind the rain and rapidly decreasing temperatures, I recommend focussing on the Southern Hemisphere for this month. Stay safe!


More InspirationCheck out other amazing places you need to visit


Author's profile picture


Sacha Albarda is an copywriter/online media expert living in South-east Asia for the better part of a decade. Asked what he likes best about living there, he usually answers that it’s “the tightly organized anarchy”.

-->
Travel Tips & Vietnam

Read some of our more fun things to do in Vietnam

what to do in order to enjoy Vietnam
A precise guide to the places to visit and the things to do in Vietnam for an unforgettable experience With the country being disproportionally long, making a list of fun things to do in Vietnam would normally take into account some sort of route. But there are simply too many things to see and do, and I can’t expect anyone to completely stick to my personal itinerary anyway. Therefore, it makes most sense to just make a list of ten incredible or smart attractions you should really consider when you are in the neighbourhood. And I am well aware there are …

A precise guide to the places to visit and the things to do in Vietnam for an unforgettable experience

With the country being disproportionally long, making a list of fun things to do in Vietnam would normally take into account some sort of route. But there are simply too many things to see and do, and I can’t expect anyone to completely stick to my personal itinerary anyway.

Therefore, it makes most sense to just make a list of ten incredible or smart attractions you should really consider when you are in the neighbourhood. And I am well aware there are tons more, but you have to start somewhere, right?

 

 

Halong Bay – Northern Vietnam

I first came along Halong Bay during a photo shoot in Krabi, Thailand. While we trying to get the best possible lights, a traditional Chinese junk slowly moved into our pictures, complete with red sails and the typical stern towering over the water. One of the photographers remarked that this whole experience was just like ‘Halong Bay’ and years later I finally found out what he meant.

Halong Bay in Northern Vietnam

Halong Bay with a textbook Chinese Junk at sunset.

It turned out that the idyllic combination of clean water, limestone towers and an abundance of traditional boats (which is why we came to Krabi in the first place) also exists in Vietnam. Except their version is infinitely better. The entire area was recently declared a UNESCO Heritage Site and it makes perfect sense.

The bay is dotted with almost 2,000 little islets, covered with plants, birds, lizards and some very angry monkeys. For a truly spectacular experience, get ready to fork out a little more money and try to find a cruise that accommodates as few people as possible.

The less people on board, the higher your sense of exclusivity and there really is nothing like waking up on your own traditional vessel, while the crew is preparing the first coffee of the day.

 

 

Cu Chi tunnel systems – Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon/South)

The Cu Chi tunnels is something especially Americans like to go visit. Given that their country’s history is so tied up with the history of Vietnam, I get it. The conflict has cost almost 60,000 US soldiers their lives and millions of Vietnamese sadly perished in the too. As the American war machine was technically superior, the (North) Vietnamese had to improvise and one of these improvisations was guerilla warfare.

Given that Vietnam already had an enormous tunnel infrastructure from their last conflict with the French, they simply expanded the existing structures. As a result, there were underground hospitals, storage facilities and entire training grounds beneath the soil by the 1960s.

Rife with booby traps above and below the ground, special infantrymen called ‘tunnel rats’ were sent in to destroy the tunnels with explosives, and ‘neutralize’ enemies, while the Viet Cong would try to pick of the intruder before he could do any damage.

fun things to do in Vietnam

I shutter at the damage these booby-traps inflicted on anyone soldier accidentally sliding through there.

Located outside Ho Chi Minh, the Cu Chi tunnels are part of an enormous network, that cover most of Vietnam. Visitors of the war memorial park get to crawl in parts of the tunnel system that are well maintained, with several spots being enlarged to accommodate Caucasian tourists (we happen to be taller than the average Viet Cong soldier). If you always wanted to shoot an AK-47, an M16 or even the M60 (Rambo II, final scene), you can’t miss out on the Cu Chi tunnels.

 

 

The Mekong Delta – Southern Vietnam

The Mekong is an enormous part of South-western Vietnam and can be considered the lifeblood of the country. If you happen to be in this part of the country, make sure to book some sort of guided tour out into the little villages or better yet, float out there.

Seeing the hustle and bustle on these waterways will allow you to understand the deep connection the Vietnamese people have with the water, both as a means of transportation, an irrigation system and even a defensive barrier in ancient times.

There are so many floating markets to see, and contrary to other places in Asia, there is still real trading going on and none of it is aimed at the tourists. As I mentioned earlier at Ha Long bay, it really pays off to spend a little extra on your tour here, as a budget ticket will buy you a place on an overcrowded barge together with 30 foreigners, whereas a little extra can make all the difference.

So, be ready to buy a more exclusive experience for your Mekong Delta Tour, and bring a camera with a fully charged battery.

adventurous things to do in Vietnam

Farmer shipping a buffalo to sell on the floating market. In the Mekong Delta, buffalos are the literal workhorse.

Pro tip: Whenever someone from another boat or canoe tries to hand you something, always ask how much it costs first, to avoid ‘unpleasant surprises’. These are traders and some are very entrepreneurial.

 

Hang Nga Crazy House – Da Lat (Southern Vietnam)

The Hang Nga Crazy House or Hang Nga guesthouse is an unusually shaped guesthouse at Da Lat, in Southern Vietnam. Immediately triggering thoughts of Dali’s architecture in Barcelona, this unusual building stands out. And the best thing is that you can spend a couple of days here at a very affordable price. Each room carries a different theme, and you will find just as much westerners as locals eager to stay in this place.

Crazy House scenery in Da Lat,Vietnam

Taking a page from Dali’s book of architecture…

Talking to the owner reveals a lot about the everyday struggles of the indivdual as they stand out in one way or another in a Communist regime. But with perseverance and a lot of help from her peers, she managed to overcome initial struggles and the ‘crazy house’ is now a tourist staple and even its greatest detractors admit that the place has put Da Lat on the map.

The area is mostly known for bike tours and the usual list of pagoda and temples, but nothing quite like the crazy house exists anywhere else. Or, as one guest mentioned: “Thanks for showing me the meaning of life. The fairy tale house took me back to my childhood, to when things were pure and natural.”

 

 

The Imperial City – Hue (Central Vietnam)

The Imperial City is a walled palace within the citadel of the city of Hue, the former imperial capital of Vietnam. Now for fans of Kung Fu films, there are very locations in Vietnam that are more ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’ than this particular site. Find the throne in the ‘Hall of Supreme Harmony’ and notice how it resembles the set from another Asia-influenced movie of recent times: ‘The Wall’.

10 things to do in Vietnam

With the right filter, this is InstaGram gold.

The spectacular symmetric architecture with bright reds and golden accents looks amazing, whereas outside the compound is filled with straight moats, delicate pavilions and curvy rooftops. Similar to the Forbidden City in Beijing, access to the inner sanctum, the ‘Purple Forbidden City’ was restricted to the imperial family only, but nowadays it is open for the general public.

For the most scenic spots in the complex, visit the Thien Mu Pagoda, and make sure to check out the different gates as each one is unique and vibrant with colors. The imperial tombs are spectacular too, although the restoration process has been slow, considering most damage was done during the Test Offensive in 1968.

 

 

Sapa – Northwest Vietnam

Sapa or Sa Pa is a mountainous town in northern Vietnam and most famous for its rice terraces. I figure a lot of travelers come here as they consider it a ‘destination of the beaten path’ (which is a relative term at best), and want to meet some of the local tribes in their natural environment. You should ask yourself how genuine their culture is when half the village is making bracelets and blankets to sell to tourists, but hey, to each their own.

mountainous town in northern Vietnam

At the right time and place, Sapa looks like something from a Windows XP desktop.

Refrain from buying trinkets from the kids though, as you are perpetuating their misery. If you want to do good; bring some pencils and books and hand them to a local school. If you want to go trekking through the rice fields, I recommend joining a group as the guides do know what area is the most scenic. Also note that during the wrong season, the trials can get muddy and thus, slippery.

Pro tip 1: Those Adidas Campus you bought in Thailand are practically useless here, so make sure you have a pair of sturdy shoes out here.

Pro tip 2: Check out the evenings at Sapa Square. It is not unusual to see the locals play ‘foot badminton’ or Da Cau, and the dexterity the players possess is incredible.

 

 

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum – Hanoi (Northern Vietnam)

Vietnam has gradually been opening up to tourism and more and more western influences, so it is easy to forget it is still a communist country. Entrepreneurs and expats living in the country are all too aware of this, but many tourists tend to look past the little signs. For a stern reminder, all you need to do is look up the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, as its intimidating architecture is a textbook communist building.

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum in Hanoi, Vietnam

Not exactly subtle, is it?

Created to honour the country’s father, it was modelled after the mausoleum erected for Lenin, while at the same time it incorporates Vietnamese design accents. The structure is protected by an honour guard from the military and visitors have to show the proper respect. Don’t wear skimpy clothing, don’t put your hands in your pockets, don’t cross your arms and don’t talk while entering the mausoleum.

Personally I prefer the garden around the structure, which features different plants and flowers from all over Vietnam, symbolizing the entire country. It is all meticulously maintained and there is a peaceful quietude around the entire area.

Highlights are the changing of the guards at the Mausoleum, and other tourists being told to cover their legs or stop eating that capitalist chewing gum they are so fond of. Don’t get intimidated by all the rules – the Mausoleum offers a glance at the cult of personality, and it is one of the cheap things to do in Vietnam.

 

 

Mui Ne – Southeast Vietnam

Mui Ne is a little village on the South coast of Vietnam and famous amongst windsurfers and kite surfers in the region. A lot of people also travel here as it is part of their personal backpacking trial and why not. The beaches are beautiful, life is very affordable and the dunes are famous.

Really funny thing you must do in Vietnam

It looks African, but it isn’t. Mui Ne is fantastic.

Many tourists hire a sled to slide down the white and yellow sand dunes, and another popular attraction is the Fairy Stream. This inconspicuous little river doesn’t look like much, until you take of your shoes and try to walk close to it. The sun in Southern Vietnam tends to heat up stones and sidewalks to an unbearable degree, but walking in the river is amazing.

The red dirt sloshes between your toes and just following the creek bed is a simple feel-good experience that cools you off and brings you back to simpler days. Sounds horribly cheesy, but it really isn’t. Go find the Fairy Stream and find out for yourself.

Test yourself with a few kiteboard lessons if you plan to stay for several days, or simply get to know some of the Russians while enjoying copious amounts of vodka. Mui Ne is amazing, and even though it is mentioned in a lot of travel guides already, the area still feels genuine and interesting.

 

 

Motorcycle touring – all over Vietnam

If you are looking for adventurous things to do in Vietnam, this might be the ultimate tip. Friends of mine set up a motorcycle rental shop for this exact purpose in Cambodia, but Vietnam has just as much to offer, and once you get out of the cities, touring is like a dream. Vietnam traffic can get a little weird, but it is well worth it. Getting outside of the cities and beyond the reach of most tour companies is best done on a motorcycle, and once you are out there you get to see the real Vietnamese and their culture.

Motorcycle touring all over Vietnam

Let’s go adventuring!

Having toured several villages myself, it never ceases to amaze me how every village has its own statues with either a farmer or a revolutionary brandishing an AK-47, but then I remind myself – this IS Vietnam after all.

 

 

Son Doong or Hang En cave – Central Vietnam

In the same vein of the motorcycle tour, Son Doong and Hang En belong in that list of adventurous things to do in Vietnam. Hang En and Son Doong are two massive caves located in Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, which happens to be another UNESCO World Heritage Site. Both caves are extremely difficult to get close to, and most tours take several days. But what you get is a unique experience that will remain with you for the rest of your life.

the most adventurous thing to do in Vietnam

Spend the night in the biggest cave of the entire planet.

And if you are usually annoyed by backpackers who are ‘all about the party’, then this is your trip. The caves are 300 million years old, the authorities are making sure the area remains intact and unpolluted and I can honestly say this is a great project.

The very few operators that organize tours here are evaluated on a yearly basis, and as such, they make sure their impact on the cave and its ecosystem is minimal. If you’ve always wanted to see giant cave pearls or stalagmites higher than 70 metres, this is your chance. Note: this is not one of the cheap things to do in Vietnam.

 

Conclusion

I’ve literally compounded some of the very best and most interesting things to do in Vietnam here, but of course there are many more. It all depends on personal taste, and while I had the time of my life in a karaoke bar somewhere in the Vietnamese backcountry, other people may compare that to water torture. In the end, it all comes down to what you are into. Once you know you are coming to Vietnam, pick a region and plan ahead. Take into account what the weather is going to be like, and read up on the different activities. I hope my list of 10 things to do in Vietnam helped.


     More VietnamCheck out other amazing things you can do in Vietnam


Author's profile picture


Sacha Albarda is an copywriter/online media expert living in South-east Asia for the better part of a decade. Asked what he likes best about living there, he usually answers that it’s “the tightly organized anarchy”.

-->
Australia & Travel Tips

Discover the best places to visit in Australia(with amazing insights)

Kangaroo at sunset in outback Australia
Famous for its sandy beaches, sunshine and marsupials, Australia is a dream trip for many travelers worldwide. Lets explore the best places to visit in Australia   For those traveling to Australia for the very first time, distance takes on a whole new dimension. Just getting to Australia itself is a monumental undertaking already, unless you’re a kiwi or already happen to live in South-east Asia. For the rest of the globe, Australia is ‘that one continent down under’, and chances are your knowledge of the continent might be a little on the limited side. So you have heard about kangaroos and seen …

Famous for its sandy beaches, sunshine and marsupials, Australia is a dream trip for many travelers worldwide. Lets explore the best places to visit in Australia

 

For those traveling to Australia for the very first time, distance takes on a whole new dimension. Just getting to Australia itself is a monumental undertaking already, unless you’re a kiwi or already happen to live in South-east Asia. For the rest of the globe, Australia is ‘that one continent down under’, and chances are your knowledge of the continent might be a little on the limited side. So you have heard about kangaroos and seen the Sydney Opera House online somewhere? Then this is your article, as it contains a list of the best places to visit in Australia.

First off, most travellers either make it to the west coast or the east coast. The distances are simply too great and most people have reservations taking inland flights once they have arrived on the continent, which is why I will deal with the two sides of Australia separately. Besides, there really is very little to see in the centre of Australia itself apart from some lost miner villages and Uluru (more on that rock later).

must see places in Australia

An Australian road train.

Again, keep in mind Australia is huge. Perth, one of the main cities on the west coast is closer to Singapore than it is to Canberra, the nations capital. And as with all trips where distance is an issue, I recommend renting a car or some other vehicle at least for a few days. Being able to move around for longer distances is an enormous advantage when you are sightseeing. And like America, Australia is very much a car-friendly country, especially the west coast.

 

 

EAST COAST:

Without a doubt the direction most first-timers will head for, as the east coast simply enjoys a higher profile. Sydney, Bondi Beach and the earlier mentioned Opera House are just some of the most popular attractions that travellers will want to check of their list. But there is so much more to see.

1. Whale Watching At Hervey Bay

Located in Southern Queensland, Hervey Bay is most famous for its humpback whales and one of the must see places in Australia. The whales make their annual migration along the coast from late July to early November. En route to Antarctica, they will usually stop in Hervey Bay to rest with their new-borns and spotting these majestic animals is an incredible experience.

Checkout the best places to visit in Australia

A humpback breaching Australian Hervey Bay.

While extra care is being taken to observe the whales in the most sustainable way possible, there are certainly enough companies to choose from. I don’t want to plug any specific company here as I understand that most operators offer the exact same package, and I got to enjoy more than enough whale action during my trip.

Tails breaching and fins being slapped on the surface all made for an excellent build-up, as we finally spotted a mother breaching with her calf at the same time. It somehow triggers a humbling feeling and the whales left a lasting impression on me.

 

2. Sydney And Street Art

Beyond the typical tourist attractions, Sydney is a hub for creativity and a great city to hangout and take in the vibe. Newtown especially has a mellow atmosphere, with it’s Victorian-era architecture dominating the view. No high-rises here, and you will find some amazing little coffee shops, micro art galleries and artisan brewers instead. Definitely one of the most beautiful places in Australia.

My personal favourite is the street art though. The ‘I Have a Dream’ mural in Newtown is a fine example of urban art being preserved in the area. Painted back in 1991 it has endured to this day and for the Inner West area of Sydney, it is iconic.

One of the best festivals in Sydney

Customs House during the Sydney Vivid Festival.

And Newtown’s King Street is rife with artwork like this. Your plan of action (POA people!) should be to head down to King Street with an empty backpack, and commit to shopping, coffee and copious amount of sightseeing along the way.

Another great piece by international street artist Fintan Magee can be found at Church Street. Look for a couple trying to communicate with bean cans and you’ve found it. An interesting story is that the piece was completely different at first, but miscommunication between the tenants and the property owner saw the original artwork being painted over. Graffiti artists are used to gradually seeing their work erode over time, but this case was exceptional and Magee was commissioned one more time to redo the piece.

the best that Sydney has to offer

The two people trying to communicate with rudimentary means may be a possible comment of the artist on the whole situation. (pic courtesy of Sydney Expert).

 

3. The Twelve Apostles

If urban art, or the Victorian architecture is not your thing and you are looking for more natural sights on the East coast, I got you covered as well. The Twelve Apostles is a collection of limestone towers near the Great Ocean Road in Victoria.

list of places in Australia

Gracious limestone towers out at Ocean Road.

Don’t start looking for all twelve of the apostles by the way, as there are only eight of them left. Limestone tends to erode fast under the elements, so once the wrong side of these towers is exposed rain or waves, the limestone comes apart within months. In 2005, the ninth Apostle collapsed into rubble and it is expected the others will fall over time as well.

To see the Apostles, you will have to be near Port Campbell National Park, and as I mentioned before in the introduction, this is definitely one of the sights that deserve a rental car. The Apostles are spread out over a wide stretch of land, so you can find your perfect spot to look at them. The advantages of having a car for this trip are many, and the costs are often offset by your new found hauling capabilities:

Save on accommodation costs with an additional tent, or you may even have enough space to sleep in the back of your car. The east coast is littered with roadside rest areas and they are all for free.

Great Ocean Road in Victoria

Rest areas along the Australian highway.

Save on food, as you can carry around pretty much anything you need. Supermarket food cooked by yourself will replace restaurant food, and instead of throwing everything away when you leave one hostel, you simply bring it along to the next one with your car. Plus cheap butane gas canisters are available everywhere as well.

A rental car is even a great way to make friends, as travellers always need to be somewhere, and sharing in fuel and costs is yet another way to carry the financial burden of an awesome east coast road trip. Chances are you will be friends for live once the trip is over. Put up some ads in hostels or relevant sites and see what happens.

 

4. Bondi Beach

A great place to check out that doesn’t require a rental car or overly complicated logistics. Bondi Beach is legendary and a mere 20-minutes by bus from the city centre. Similar to California, it features surf shops, skate parks, tattoo shops and it seems like the entire city of Sydney likes to gather here after a day of work for some hard-earned drinks.

Watch the surfers or make an effort in catching a few waves yourself. Bondi Beach is iconic and cannot be missed, if only for a sunset and a slow cocktail.

Bondi is much more than ‘just’ surfing

Essentially Bondi Beach.

Essentially a suburb with a very wide beach, Bondi is much more than ‘just’ surfing. Walking the landlocked streets of Bondi can be just as interesting. Great restaurants and bars are to be found here. Take ‘The Crossing’ for instance. A great cocktail bar with a lot of finely finished wood and some couches in the back for smooth drinking.

 

5. Make the great Ocean Drive

Since we are talking about a coastal area here, it makes a lot of sense to simply travel up or down. In fact, this has been a staple amongst gap-year travellers and it is not uncommon to buy a car all the way in the Southern part and drive it up North over a period of several weeks.

Once you arrive there, you simply sell the car again and start thinking about your next adventure. Do not confuse this route with “The Great Ocean Road”, which is an actual part of the coast. Built by returning soldiers after World War I, it is considered the largest war memorial on the planet, and you can’t miss it if you already planned to check out the 12 Apostles.

beautiful camping spot at the beach.

Adventure awaits on Ocean Drive (bring surfboards too!)

Make sure to read some of the plaques on the route, as they tell the remarkable stories of the construction that took over three years.

 

 

WEST COAST:

1. Perth Vineyards

I was not consciously aware of the West coast of Australia until a few years back. I caught up quickly though during a photo shoot for a surfboard company. The Perth Vineyards produce some great wines and whether you are coming from the North or the East, Discovery Parks in Perth should be your first stop. It’s a mere four kilometres from the city and a great base from which to explore Perth.

Vineyard in western Australia

Perth at its finest.

I stayed in a family chalet for the duration of post-production but there are budget cabins, right up to unpowered tent sites. So there is something there for everyone, and the vineyards are amazing. Go there, join a wine-tasting session or book a guided tour – it is well worth it.

 

2. Margaret River

Even more down South (almost 300 kilometres to be exact) is Margaret River, another one of the best places to visit in Australia. Similar to Perth, Margaret River produces great wine, giving you another opportunity to visit an Australian vineyard. Margaret river is also renowned for its surfing though and if you can swim, you should give it a try.

If you’ve been told your balance sucks and you can’t skateboard to save your life, there are alternatives as well. Stand Up Paddling is very easy to learn and even the greatest novice can get around on the water within 15 minutes. And if you are confident enough to take things next level, find yourself a little break and go try to catch a wave. The sudden feeling of acceleration is addictive in itself. Should you actually be able to stay on the board, chances are you’re a surfer now and your whole life is going to change, mark my words.

Margaret river is renowned for its surfing

Time to get in the water.

Margaret River is also a foodies paradise, with a renowned food Festival in November, and grand vineyard restaurants. Budget travellers can get some great food at the beachfront cafes, and for a wine tour of a different kind, make sure to check out ‘Wine for dudes’ – They are very western Australian.

If you want to get away from it all in Margaret River that’s easy too; simply head out into the woods. There are eco quad bike tours and some very imposing tree species which are unique to this part of the world. Without a doubt one of the most beautiful places in Australia.

 

3. Drift snorkelling in Turquoise Bay

Turquoise Bay is considerably more North, and should be visited by those travellers who never make it to the Southwest coast. Considered to be one of the best snorkel sites this side of the continent, Turquoise Bay features a ‘drift’ taking you across coral gardens full of colourful reef fish only metres from the shore.

The whole region feels slightly American, automatically reminding us of the red rock formations in Arizona. Cape Range National Park is in Australia though and located about 40 minutes of driving from Exmouth. Visitors really should drop by the Milyering Visitor Centre as it is a good place to learn more about the park and its attractions.

We only did the Turquoise Bay Drift, which is accessible from the ‘Drift Snorkel’ parking. Just head south (left) along the beach for at least a hundred metres and then swim straight out. This is where the current should pick you up and slowly carry you over the fish filled coral gardens.

Turquoise Bay is considerably more North

What lurks under the surface?

Get out at the sandbar, walk back up, and do the whole thing again, this time with the GoPro switched on (true story!). As an average swimmer the experience was enjoyable and relaxing, but I can imagine beginning swimmers or children may find the current a little intimidating.

 

 

CONCLUSION

By no means did I intend to undersell Western Australia, I just realised it is less populated than the East. As such, the activities can’t be all that urban and travellers are mostly sightseeing the natural spectacles. Pursuing sports and other activities is a great way to experience West Australia too. Also note that Western Australia is a little more expensive.

Fact is that the East simply has the better infrastructure for travellers, allowing backpackers to move short distances by themselves or public transport. In the East, distance racks up really quick and talking to locals you quickly notice how they casually mention driving for a day to meet a friend. Visit Australia but plan ahead and do not underestimate the time travel takes on the continent.

 

Pro tip: Don’t climb Ayer’s rock (Uluru). It’s considered a holy relic and the aborigines themselves don’t climb it either. And why would you anyway? It’s almost 350 metres up and you are going to climb it in 36 degrees heat. With no toilet on top. Shit will hit the fan.


     More AustraliaCheck out other amazing things you can do in Australia


Author's profile picture


Sacha Albarda is an copywriter/online media expert living in South-east Asia for the better part of a decade. Asked what he likes best about living there, he usually answers that it’s “the tightly organized anarchy”.

-->
Travel Tips & USA

The big list of unique, strange & fun places to go in California


Whether it is a hike, a restaurant, or just a collection of odd things, this list is dedicated specifically to the fun places to go in California   Traveling to a continent other than your own can be daunting. You don’t want to see the usual tourist traps, which is hard with zero references. Ultimately, you want to know about the fun places to go in California. That’s where we come in though; with a list of cities and unique things to do in Southern California. A few years ago my girlfriend and I joined another couple to travel through California. Below …

Whether it is a hike, a restaurant, or just a collection of odd things, this list is dedicated specifically to the fun places to go in California

 

Traveling to a continent other than your own can be daunting. You don’t want to see the usual tourist traps, which is hard with zero references. Ultimately, you want to know about the fun places to go in California. That’s where we come in though; with a list of cities and unique things to do in Southern California.

A few years ago my girlfriend and I joined another couple to travel through California. Below you will find a collection of the places, areas and sights we ware particularly fond of. We also believe several of these spots are undervalued on other travelling websites.

But first off, stay away from Los Angeles! You will want to avoid ridiculous bills and other frustrations and besides, L.A. really isn’t all what it is cracked up to be. Just listen to the Red Hot Chili Pepper song ‘Californication’. When the Peppers say it’s a collection of plastic surgery, Hollywood drama and the Boulevard of Stars, you might as well take their advice.

Fun places to go in California

Apparently there’s 2400 stars on the boulevard. I don’t get the attraction though.

L.A. really works best if you are alone, and you know a local who is well-connected. For family travellers or couples new to the city, expect all doors to be either pricey, closed, or both at the same time. Seeing that there are tons of free things to do in Southern California, I recommend doing a little planning beforehand. For instance, you will want to check out the swimming with leopard sharks in August. For other months, there are plenty of other seasonal attractions as well.

 

 

CALIFORNIA BEACHES – PISMO BEACH

California has a massive coastline that extends over 10,000 kilometres (6,600 miles), but two beaches in particular made our list. Not the most beautiful ones, but interesting for sure. Pismo Beach initially sparked my curiosity as it is mentioned in ‘The Big Lebowski’. And just writing this paragraph had me crack up again, as I can’t help to think of Jeff Bridges covered in ash, furious at John Goodman.

During our road trip a few years ago, we ended up on Pismo State Beach expecting very little. As it turned out, it is the essential calling card of America’s west coast beaches. Imagine long stretches of soft sand and great waves for surfing. Plus, for people who are not into watersports, there is plenty of wildlife under the surface to explore.

unique things to do in southern California

Giant Pismo clams, bought and paid for.

Since California likes its regulations, we had trouble finding a spot to set up an open fire later that day. Eventually though, we found the camping grounds at Avila. California is regulated but Avila accommodates fire pits. We had a similar issue  with the giant Pismo Clams pictured above. I like seafood as much as the next guy, and I like to think your own catch always tastes best. In California however, this is regulated as well. Save yourself the hassle by buying your food and not catching it.

 

 

CALIFORNIA BEACHES – FORT BRAGG

That same road trip, I tried finding several places to visit in Northern California. Not always successful, we eventually stopped at Fort Bragg (not to be confused with the army base in North Carolina!). originally meant as a stopover for the night, my girlfriend and I ended up going to the beach for an hour. This beach is not what you call beautiful or scenic, but the ‘sand’ is highly unusual. And I happen to know someone obsessed with this type of thing.

This guy lives in Paris, but flies all over the world as a pilot. And whenever he arrives at a new beach, he always fills up a little vial of sand for his collection. You never really know how different sand can be until you get to compare samples side by side. And Fort Bragg ‘sand’ stands out from anything I have ever seen anywhere else.

romantic places visit California

With no more new glass being added, glass beach is slowly disappearing (pic: Sea Glass Secrets).

Back around 1900, Americans simply dumped their trash on specific beaches to get rid of it. Since this was the pre-plastic era, pretty much everything deteriorated, including entire vehicles. But glass is different, as it breaks but doesn’t rot. Slowly eroding over time, a colourful type of sand known locally as ‘glass beach’ came to be.

Climb down the cliffs and look down to see what the incessant pounding of waves has done over time. Millions of bottles gradually turned into colourful grains of sand. And to this day, it is the strangest sand my friend currently has in his collection. Fort Bragg will never make my list of ‘best cities to visit in California’, but their glass beach and typical American food is something else. The beach is free and the huge quantities of food are honest.

places to visit in southern California

Hamburgers and blue cheese. Not for the faint hearted…

As mentioned previously, this beach isn’t the prettiest. Cliffs also do not make it super accessible, but to me it was worth the walk. Conclude your visit with a trip to Jenny’s Giant Burger downtown and order the blue-cheese burger. Chances are you will hear your arteries clogging up during the digestion process. Next up, crawl back to your hotel room and sleep off the Itis (this is what Americans call food coma).

 

 

CALIFORNIA BEACHES – OCEANO BEACH

An honourable mention should also go out to Oceano Beach. Earlier on, I mentioned the regulations that California is so famous for. The vehicle emission laws are notorious, so I expected to get nowhere near a beach in our rental car. I didn’t even consider driving off-road through the dunes!

As it turned out a tiny village called Oceano is famous for just that. Since we rented a beat-up Jeep Wrangler, I was dying to see just how well it would perform off road. But the ODSVRA (Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area) gave us that exact opportunity.

best beaches to visit in California

Our trusted Wrangler that carried us over the West-Coast

Note, if you ever go here, make sure your rental contract covers off-road use. Because inexperienced drivers racing up a dune can flip a car effortlessly. Of course our insurance didn’t cover anything like this, but you only live once, right? Also, deflate the tires for more grip in the dunes. It will allow you to get more traction and you will be less likely to get stuck somewhere.

things to do in Los Angeles California

Don’t try this on street tires!

I can honestly say driving here is the most fun I ever had driving slow. And say what you want about American cars, they sure know how to make an off-roader. The Jeep drove over everything, confident and with ease. For people traveling with a regular car, don’t despair! There are rental dune buggies available all over town.

For people less interested in vehicular kicks, the Oceano Dunes accommodate hikers, campers and surfers as well. For a regulated state, Oceano has one liberal recreational area. We saw several service trucks selling firewood, water and some delicious local food.

We did not expect anything like this, and neither did the locals. They told us repeatedly how few tourists they get to see in ‘their’ dunes. To hikers and for people ‘in touch’ with nature, Oceano is one of the best cities to visit in California.

 

 

SAN FRANCISCO – GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE

While making your way up to San Francisco, make sure you drive over the Golden Gate Bridge. It’s iconic, and only by driving on it can you actually appreciate how big it is. So marvel at its imposing architecture, and keep in mind this span was constructed in 1937. Follow up by hanging out at the Golden Gate National Recreation area, where you can do anything from hiking and camping, up to biking.

Close to the Golden Gate Bridge, but on the city side you will find Presidio, or Presidio Park. This area is full of lush green hills and features a high number of unusual sights. While most tourists will undoubtedly go for the Walt Disney Family Museum, nerds will have to go to the Yoda Fountain.

Walt Disney Family Museum

Witness the wisest being of the galaxy (Pic: Jennifer Morrow on Flickr, Creative Commons).

Ironically, my beloved Yoda is now part of the Disney empire as well, since they bought Lucasfilm back in 2012. Another very cool thing to see in Presidio is the Wave Organ in the Exploratorium. It is a little hard to find, and once you walk out there on the pier, it seems to be nothing but some marble and pipes. The wave organ is a wave-activated sound sculpture though.

The organ sounds best at high tides, and mostly looks like an ancient ruin. Built from recycled curbstones and even graves, I think this is one of the more romantic places to visit in northern California. At the very least, the soundscape allows you to relax and enjoy the view of the Golden Gate Bridge. Bring a cover or something to lay down on for some quality dozing.

 

 

SAN FRANCISCO – OAKLAND

Alternatively, turn right around after crossing the Golden Gate Bridge. Drive back into San Francisco and make a left. Find the Oakland Bay Bridge, and drive up to Treasure Island for a host of different activities. This man-made island hosts a flea market and several nice little restaurants and bars.

Photograph of San Francisco

Treasure island is on the left there, in the middle of San Francisco Bay.

It’s also halfway to Oakland, the city on the other side of the San Francisco Bay. Unlike San Francisco, Oakland doesn’t have a high-tech community or a disproportionate amount of vegans. Oakland is a lot grittier and down-to-earth. Originally a port town, gentrification is gradually catching up though. All over the Oakland, old storage facilities house craft breweries and workshops. Creativity is high and it is another great city to spend some time.

 

 

SAN FRANCISCO – SAN FRANCISCO ZOO

What makes the San Francisco Zoo stand out, is the unobstructed view of the animals. To make sure the animals don’t get bored, there is a regular rotation of the cages where possible. I’ve never been a big fan of confined animals, but I like this Zoo. The trees inside the compound are massive, and the animals have a lot of space to roam.

rodents at the San Francisco Zoo

Apparently they’re rodents (rats?)

I had never seen capybara in reality, as it is an Amazonian animal and I am a European after all. Essentially giant rodents, they look bigger than most of the dogs in my condominium. And unlike the dogs I see every day, these animals have a natural arrogant look to them that is funny to look at.

For a bit more of a freak show, make sure to head over to the insect exhibit. Note that at this spot, there is a lot of staff eagerly sharing their knowledge with the visitors. Its one of those great little details that make this zoo one of the places to visit in northern California.

You may not have some immediate questions, but their hissing cockroaches, tarantulas, scorpions and velvet ants will raise some eyebrows. The displays are informative and if you have a kid, you will notice how they insist on reading each single one. All in all, this is one of the best places to visit in northern California if you are here with your family.

 

 

CONCLUSION – Go California!

So there you have it. A fair share of southern Californian destinations and some strange and wonderful places in northern California as well. When you finish reading this article, I hope you got inspired for your next trip to California. And perhaps you made a mental note to see one of the places I mentioned here?

America is massive, and unless you are prepared to deal with Greyhound busses, I recommend getting a rental car. The land of the free is best enjoyed on four wheels, with your own hands on the steering wheel and an iPod full of your songs. Or the songs of your loved one…

 


More USACheck out other amazing things you can do in the USA


Author's profile picture


Sacha Albarda is an copywriter/online media expert living in South-east Asia for the better part of a decade. Asked what he likes best about living there, he usually answers that it’s “the tightly organized anarchy”.

-->
Read Article