Kuta Beach Getaway

May 20, 2010 by  
Filed under Attractions, Exotic South East

Bali has been Indonesia’s top tourist destination for decades, with Kuta Beach establishing itself as a surfing mecca on Asia’s popular backpacking route in South East Asia. Long golden beaches, stunning coral reefs, a vibrant island culture, international cuisines, luxury shopping, and world-class surfing are just a few of the activities that visitors can enjoy here. Today, Kuta is known as much for its luxury accommodations, fancy restaurants, and posh nightclubs as it is for its wild parties and festivities. Amongst it all we managed to find a few rare gems that have injected a fresh dose of creativity to the lifestyle and glamour of this once sedate fishing village.

Eats – Local Favorites

Smack in the middle of Kuta Square, Dulang Cafe serves unpretentious local cuisine at a reasonable price. You’ll probably notice the bright greenish-blue canopy while you walk and shop around the area. Head in and you’ll find some of the best local fare in town, such as the juicy Sop Buntut (Oxtail Soup), which comes in two versions – one with fried meat, and another with stewed meat. Other local favorites include Ayam Penyet and the spicy Sambal Terasi that comes with it!

surf

Play – Surf and Turf

Surfing is the name of the game at Kuta Beach. There are a number of options for surfers of every age and ability, so there’s no reason to miss out on the fun. Kuta Beach is famous for its sandy bottom, which not only creates a relatively safe environment for those just learning, but also allows surfers to cut loose without having to think about any coral reefs or rocks lurking below the surface of the water. Beginners can take their pick of various surfing schools in the area. Two of the most popular are Rip Curl School of Surf and Quiksilver Surf School Bali.

Photo credot - Meaduva

Photo credot - Meaduva

Drinks – Party On

Not far from the Bali bombing memorial, M-Bar-Go, a large two-story bar has recently opened and created some fierce competition with other dance bars in the area. A favorite with expats and locals alike, M-Bar-Go has great music and even holds the occasional fashion show to spice up the atmosphere. Right next to it, Sky Garden is another happening venue.

Stay – Boutique Charm

Deep inside the famed Poppies Lane, dekuta boutique hotel has just recently opened its doors. The hotel is just steps away from the Kuta beachfront, but secluded enough to keep you away from the bin and din of the local nightlife. This unpretentious hotel offers a blend of unique personality and chic interior design. Travelers can expect comfort, ambiance, and flair at an affordable price. We recommend heading to the depalm rooftop bar and lounge to enjoy a mesmerizing Kuta sunset for a fresh change from the usual crowded bars of Kuta.


Unearthing Asia is a travel zine focusing on Lifestyle, Culture and Attractions all over Asia. Don’t miss out on the best Family Holiday Deals and inspirations in the region of Asia, such as this list of divers paradise in Indonesia.

Koh Phangan Comes of Age

June 16, 2009 by  
Filed under Culture, Exotic South East, Feature Highlights, Nature

Lying in the shimmering turquoise waters of the Gulf of Thailand, Koh Phangan is a party-goer’s paradise of legendary proportions. With its infamous Full Moon party every month for the last two decades, Koh Phangan has truly established itself as the destination of choice for party-animals, hippies and backpackers alike. Recently however, it has evolved into 5-star boutique resort destination, an astonishing transformation on all accounts.

The Full Moon festivities at Koh Phangan. Photo credit - Sendhil Solai.

The Full Moon festivities at Koh Phangan. Photo credit - Sendhil Solai.

Having escaped the brutal development of its sister island Koh Samui, Koh Phangan remained until recently the quiet, little-known sister of the two; failing to show up on all but the most backpack savvy trails, and flying entirely under the radar of commercial hotels and package-holiday tourism. But change is a-coming to this jungle paradise isle, as the big hotels and developers turn their beady eyes from the already ravaged Koh Samui and realize that today’s luxury guests want something a little different for their dollars.

Broad, white, sandy beaches at Koh Phangan. Photo credit - EyalNow.

Broad, white, sandy beaches at Koh Phangan. Photo credit - EyalNow.

The little-known hippy paradise of Koh Phangan may be able to provide exactly that. With its broad, white sandy beaches, set against unspoiled jungle backdrops and glittering ocean, Koh Phangan exudes a special magical privacy to invigorate even the most jaded international jet-setter.

Added to that, its relatively slow development will hopefully mean it has learned its lesson from neighboring Koh Samui’s mistakes. At the moment it certainly seems that way; as the small number of developers and big hotels moving in are not only developing with an eye to natural aesthetics, but with a common commitment to green ethos and protecting the island’s gorgeous flora and fauna.

Koh Phangan. Photo credit - Dido.

Koh Phangan. Photo credit - Dido.

Attracting the most attention in the five-star resort stakes is the stunning Thong Nai Pan, on the northeast corner of the lush island. Thong Nai Pan has been called ‘the jewel of Koh Phangan’ and for years was the best kept secret in the region, as inaccessible as it was by bumpy pickup over an unpaved jungle track.

Now Thong Nai Pan has been recognized as the truly five-star destination on Koh Phangan and this year new luxury resort, Rasananda, opened its doors for business, right next to the traditional $5-a-night backpacker huts of old Koh Phangan.

That these two polar opposites – backpackers and jet-setters – co-exist so seamlessly on one beach is perhaps testament to the special magic of Thong Nai Pan. And credit must be given where it’s due to Rasananda management; who have managed to create an elegant, beautiful resort that still gives a nod to the rustic Thai charm which entrances visitors to Thailand every year.

Koh Phangan. Photo credit - Fortes.

Koh Phangan. Photo credit - Fortes.

At the moment, luxury 300-thread-count towels lie on sun-loungers next to hippies on their way to the next low-key destination of choice for backpackers. At night the jungle reverberates to the sounds of the traditional Thong Nai Pan parties and bongo drums; but quietly, so as not to disturb the guests in their $300 dollar-a-night rooms. Who knows how long that arrangement is set to last? But currently, and unusually it seems to be entirely harmonious.

And in addition to these high-end tourists, the beach has naturally attracted an interesting community of expats. Thong Nai Pan’s off-the-beaten track location has proved a huge draw to these intrepid folk: the result is an eclectic mix of interests and nationalities represented on the beach; from Alaskan kayak-builders to Israeli cheese-makers. And with more residences being built privately and by small local developers, the community is set to increase in both size and diversity.

Full Moon party. Photo credit - Top Tripster.

Full Moon party. Photo credit - Top Tripster.

So the wild hippy paradise of yesteryear is changing. But uncommonly for Thailand it is being altered with sensitivity, taste and discretion. The result is very different from days-gone-by – more refined definitely, but no less beautiful.

Now when the full moon shines on Koh Phangan it finds not just the drunken revelers of yore, but beautiful residences, resorts and restaurants; complementing the exquisite natural surroundings, and created in harmony with the environment. And as it comes of age the jewel in its crown, Thong Nai Pan, sets a leading example not just for Koh Phangan but for development in Thailand as a whole.

About the Author. Natalie Revie. Natalie Revie is a freelance writer, restaurateur and jungle momma. She lives on Koh Phangan Island in southern Thailand where she indulges her joint passions for food, culture, travel, and writing, daily. She believes in letting spirituality emerge through the common, the everyday: this is what makes for truly beautiful writing.

Relaxing on Israeli Shores

June 15, 2009 by  
Filed under Attractions, Crossroad of Asia, Nature

Everybody has often seen photographs of tourists relaxing in the Dead Sea, floating and reading a newspaper. While experiencing the gems of being in the Dead Sea is an unforgettable experience, there’s plenty more along the Israeli shore to see and enjoy some fun in the sun. Here are a few recommended stops along Israel’s other coastlines for your consideration

Gordon Beach, Tel Aviv. Photo credit - RunnerAlan.

Gordon Beach, Tel Aviv. Photo credit - RunnerAlan.

Gordon Beach, Tel Aviv

Going to the beach in Tel Aviv means people-watching, so where else to go but where the masses are? The Gordon Beach at Tel Aviv is one of the most popular beach in Israel. The beach is nice and clean, and with plenty of amenities you can choose to relax in a lounger under the umbrella or just find a clear patch of sand and sun. Many swear by the Gordon Restaurant for tasty seafood snacks, refreshing salads, and other Middle Eastern treats. In the summer you can sometimes find a beach party or live music event going on, adding to the classic Tel Aviv seashore atmosphere.

Haifa Bay. Photo credit - Mprivoro.

Haifa Bay. Photo credit - Mprivoro.

Hof Hashaket, Haifa

Hof Hashaket is known as ‘the serene beach,’ mostly due to the fact that its location in Haifa Bay behind a breakwater makes it so calm it is virtually a salt water swimming pool. It is a very quiet place, perfect for relaxing in the sun and working on that golden brown tan. There are a few amenities in the area as well and the beach is easy to get to. Take note, though, that there are separate bathing days for men and women – Sunday/Tuesday/Thursday for women and Monday/Wednesday/Friday for men. Saturday is for both women and men.

Sea of Galilee. Photo credit - DavidKing.

Sea of Galilee. Photo credit - DavidKing.

The Beaches of Kineret, Sea of Galilee

The Sea of Galilee has some heavy spiritual influence, but part of the draw to this region of the world is the breathtaking scenery – indeed watching a sunset along the shore of the sea is one of the most holy experiences you can get. The beaches around Kineret vary from rocky and pebble-strewn to long, white sandy coasts. Beyond the beaches, the area is full of historical sights, nature reserves, and walks along babbling brooks and streams. Stay at one of the resorts along the sea as many of them have their own private beaches.

Eilat beach. Photo credit - Or Hiltch.

Eilat beach. Photo credit - Or Hiltch.

Princess Beach, Eilat

Most of Eilat’s sunny Red Sea shores will remind you of a tropical Caribbean hideaway, with the bright multi-colored umbrellas, funky beats coming from the nearby bars, and a happy-go-lucky atmosphere. At night the scene turns decidedly romantic – and who wouldn’t after seeing one of the famous Eilat sunsets, a dazzling show of fire. The beaches are clustered together near the city so it’s easy to get around; in fact, if you strayed too far you’d end up across the border in nearby neighbor Jordan. Eilat is also great for water sports, diving/snorkelling, as well as cycling and driving tours of the desert.

If you Go…

While the waters are usually warm enough for a swim, watch out for strong undertow, sea urchins, and stinging coral almost anywhere along the Mediterranean coast. There is also a pollution problem in some areas. Don’t let that put you off – just be careful, relax, and enjoy, just like the Israelis do. And don’t forget your sun cream.

About the Author. Andy Hayes. Andy Hayes is a freelance travel writer and photographer based in Edinburgh, Scotland. When not crossing the world to have his next Asian travel adventures, he is hitting the walking trails near home. To get in touch or see Andy’s other travelogues, visit his website, Sharing Experiences.

Peace and Quiet in South Thailand

April 28, 2009 by  
Filed under Culture, Exotic South East, Feature Highlights, Nature

The south of Thailand is home to hundreds of miles of shoreline, some of the most pristine in the world. Many say that many of the most popular Thai locations, such as Phuket – Thailand’s largest island – are just overrun and no longer have their original appeal and charm. But still, that hasn’t stopped the masses of tourists from descending on these beach-side towns year upon year.

Interest in the region skyrocketed after the area was featured in Hollywood films. First was Ko Tapu, now known as James Bond Island, which was featured in the 1974 Bond Film ‘The Man with the Golden Gun’. Then Leonardo DiCaprio’s deadly adventures on The Beach – filmed near the Phi Phi Islands in 2000 –reaffirmed the world’s fascination with the ultimate Thai beach holiday.

While it is true that many places in southern Thailand are overcrowded and well spoilt, it is still possible to find that secluded hideaway and enjoy some rest & relaxation. Here are a few suggestions to avoid the crowds and enjoy yourself.

Turquoise blue water at Ko Rok. Photo credit - adrian_wright.

Turquoise blue water at Ko Rok. Photo credit - adrian_wright.

Ko Rok

Ko Rok is a pair of twin islands that are frequented by visitors for the amazing coral reefs, in a perfect setting for snorkeling and diving. There are miles of near-blinding white beaches that are relatively quiet. A great choice here is camping; you can find most supplies you need on the island and you’ll take pleasure in peaceful, quiet nights adorned by both stunning sunsets and sunrises.

West dock of Ko Tarutao. Photo credit - Argenberg.

West dock of Ko Tarutao. Photo credit - Argenberg.


The setting sun at Ko Tarutao. Photo credit - VannagoCaraRupa.

Ko Tarutao

Ko Tarutao is a part of the Tarutao National Marine Park. Originally developed to build a prison, Ko Tarutao made its claim to on American TV as the backdrop for an episode of ‘Survivor’. Most tourists opt for the hustle and bustle of nearby Ko Lipe, but the national park operates bungalows and camp grounds for those who want peace and quiet.

Ko Kut. Photo credit - wimbledonian.

Ko Kut. Photo credit - wimbledonian.


The beachside view at Ko Kut. Photo credit - shinjung_69.

The beachside view at Ko Kut. Photo credit - shinjung_69.

Ko Kut (also known as Ko Kood)

Ko Kut is on the southeastern tip Thailand and is the closest island to neighboring Cambodia. Many of the tourists visiting here are Indochinese, especially those seeking out weekend getaways. The island is relatively underdeveloped and much overgrown lush forest remains, making it a great destination for the hard core nature lover. Many of the resorts on the island cater only to packaged tour guests so be sure to make your travel arrangements in advance.

When To Go

The high season in all of Thailand is October through February, when prices go up and the shores get more crowded. This is all for good reason, though, as this maximizes the weather. Recently the rainy season has started late and ended late, so a good tip is to head over in late February or early March as things quiet down but the rains haven’t come flooding in yet. Regardless of your timing, be sure to be prepared for ill weather and try to book key reservations in advance, as if something is sold out you might find yourself quite disappointed.

Photo credit on main page – Rene Ehrhardt

About the Author. Andy Hayes. Andy Hayes is a freelance travel writer and photographer based in Edinburgh, Scotland. When not crossing the world to have his next Asian travel adventures, he is hitting the walking trails near home. To get in touch or see Andy’s other travelogues, visit his website, Sharing Experiences.

It doesn't matter whether you book one month or one week before you travel, you can find the very best lastminute sun holidays online and at the very best prices too.

Rockingham, Your Aquatic Playground

March 16, 2009 by  
Filed under Enchanting Oceania

They say Perth is the most isolated city in the world, a fact that gives the impression of a lonely city in the middle of nowhere, far from civilization and any other vestiges of humanity. But in truth Perth’s surroundings leave visitors spoiled for choice for ideas for a driving holiday.

Whichever direction you travel there are fresh and different destinations to explore and quaint holiday resorts set amidst beautiful scenery.

The Rockingham beach is popular with kids. Photo credit - AAAlain.

The Rockingham beach is popular with kids. Photo credit - AAAlain.

On a recent visit to Perth I decided to take a day out and head south to the vibrant and growing coastal centre of Rockingham. The 50 kilometers run down the Kwinana Highway took me about 45 minutes, and although I was expecting just another seaside resort the general feeling of the town and the outstanding scenery gave me a pleasant surprise.

The standout feature and the basis for much of the recreational activity are the beaches. The main beach is Rockingham beach, a white expanse that borders the smooth waters of the Cockburn Sound. Not as crowded as I thought it would be on a summers day, its a great beach for swimming and has a very family atmosphere. There is a wide, concrete cycle-way running up its length that will please exercise junkies, and on the grassy foreshore there are a number of picnic and barbeque areas.

The beach runs down to Point Peron, and below the point is Shoalwater Bay Beach, which is popular because we are allowed to walk our furry four-legged friends on it. Below that beach we come to Warnbro Sound, where apparently there is a nudist beach at Port Kennedy, at the south of the town.

Point Peron. Photo credit - Candice Lee.

Point Peron. Photo credit - Candice Lee.

The slogan that Rockingham has used to promote their tourism is “Your Aquatic Playground”, so much of the recreational activity is water based. The diving and the snorkeling is apparently spectacular although I didn’t do any of it myself, and it is easy to hire the necessary gear and to hire other equipment like jet-skis and tinnies. Tinnies are the transport of choice for fishermen who frequent the bays, coves and beaches of the shoreline trying their luck for the many species here. Jew-fish grow especially large, and are a popular prey.

Point Peron is a popular fishing spot as well, as it has lots of rocky feature and borders a large sandy bay. Its also a great place for a walk, as most of it is a nature reserve and there are a number of footpaths that criss cross the point. Another haunt for fishermen is the jetty at Palm Beach, which has a very tasty deli right next door.

Fairy penguings in Penguing Island. Photo credit - rosswebsdale (top) and Spiros2004 (bottom).

Fairy penguings in Penguing Island. Photo credit - rosswebsdale (top) and Spiros2004 (bottom).

There are a few islands lying off the coastline that are popular amongst tourists seeking a days adventure. Penguin Island lies 700 meters off shore and is home to a colony of fairy penguins from March through to December. You are also likely to see the other local resident, the Australian Sea Lion, on your tour of the island which departs from Mersey Point just south of the township.

There are a few islands lying off the coastline that are popular amongst tourists seeking a days adventure. Penguin Island lies 700 meters off shore and is home to a colony of fairy penguins from March through to December. You are also likely to see the other local resident, the Australian Sea Lion, on your tour of the island which departs from Mersey Point just south of the township.

Further offshore is the larger Garden Island, which is over 10 kilometers in length and has a shoreline which contains an exciting mix of beaches and bays. A haven for wildlife, look out for the native tammar wallaby while you are there.

I was impressed by the upbeat vibe of Rockingham. This is a town that is clearly looking to the future, especially if the huge developments taking place at the Waterfront are anything to go by.

I’d expect that as the Perth city-sprawl extends outwards there will be little to differentiate between Rockingham, Fremantle and Perth, but something tells me that even as this happens it will still hold onto those qualities that make it a classy and peaceful seaside resort. I hope so anyway!

About the Author. Gavin Wyatt. A journalist with a passion for travel. Originally from Zambia he has traveled around the world to end up on the sunny shores of Australia. For more of his articles visit Perth Car Hire.

Summer Holiday at Redang Island

January 19, 2009 by  
Filed under Exotic South East, Feature Highlights

My weekend get-away journey to Redang, the island of Summer Holiday fame, began with an excruciating twelve hours bus ride up north towards the state of Trengganu, Malaysia. From there on, I had to wait another hour as the ferry lumbered on. But even then, I was already restless with thoughts of white sandy beaches and crystal clear water. Halfway through the trip, I gave up trying to fall asleep and joined several other tourists up on deck, enjoying the windy ocean breeze. As we marooned slowly by the pier, a noticeable air of enthusiasm broke out amongst the passengers – we have arrived.

Panoramic view of Redang Island. Photo by sumasiapa at deviantart.

Panoramic view of Redang Island. Photo by sumasiapa at deviantart.

Redang Island is famed for its crystal clear waters, white sandy beaches, and the tropical fishes that inhabit the numerous coral reefs.

Measuring a mere 7 km long and 6 km wide, this island paradise is the largest amongst the nine that forms the Redang Archipelago. It is a favorite destination amongst Malaysians and Singaporeans, with most tour packages offering a three days, two nights stay that is just the right amount of time for you spend here. The island is very low on sights, so most visitors spend their time lazing on the beach or exploring the corals.

The roads on the center of the island connect together the airport, the jetty, two resorts, and the southern fishing port, but provide no connectivity elsewhere. Most resorts provide their own means of transporting tourists in from outside, but exploring the other side of the island would be almost impossible. There was no room for exploration, for wandering around, getting lost in a foreign far away place. Instead, I was stuck in my own resort, only able to enjoy the services available here.

Villas and resorts stood side by side next to the beaches.

Villas and resorts stood side by side next to the beaches.

Redang Island.

Redang Island.

Redang Island. Photo by sumasiapa at deviantart

Redang Island. Photo by sumasiapa at deviantart

Once I conceded this point however, I grew to enjoy my time here a lot more. The famed beach did not disappoint, with smooth, soft white sand and crystal clear ocean water.

Snorkeling is a popular activity, and I didn’t even have to go on a boat trip to enjoy being with the fishes. Arm yourself with bread for fish food and you can see them already very near to the beach. For the more initiated, there are also various dive sites for you to enjoy. Several of these sites are fairly new diving destinations, with the visiting restrictions lifted only in 1999. You’ll be able to enjoy good visibility in the deep clear waters, although visibility can drop dramatically after a storm.

At night, Redang’s clear sky provides a breathtaking view of the myriad of stars. I lay on the cool sand and let my eyes adjust to the darkness, revealing even more stars. Thousands and thousands of them. Yet another way to pass the time here, lazing the night away. Thoroughly, this island is a place to relax, escape from the numbness of nine to five and just while your time away. There isn’t much to see or do, but for those who know what they want, this may just be the perfect fit for that much needed summer get-away.

About the Author. Nikolas Tjhin. Freelance graphic artist and travel fanatic. Twiter-addict and social media novice. Adventure budget traveler and stay home weekend worker. Before working on Unearthing Asia, Nik’s journeyman career has seen him do work for various creative studios in Wisconsin, Minneapolis, Singapore and Jakarta. Now that he’s settled down for the time being (till 2010) in Jakarta, he’s focusing his efforts on social media and his location-independent-service-provider career.

Puerto Princesa – A Jewel in the Sea

January 19, 2009 by  
Filed under Exotic South East

Various small islands dots the Palawan beach

Various small islands dots the Palawan beach

Few places in the Philippines, indeed in all of Southeast Asia, can compare with the beauty of Palawan. Throughout the years, its pristine islands and sandy beaches has tantalized the minds of many, and few are able to resist its charm. Puerto Princesa – its capital – serves as a center for tourism and trade, with most tourists using it as a stop over before heading to the various reefs of corals and coves around Palawan.

As I made my way into the hotel, I flashed a smile at a group of tourists passing by. I can smell the ocean salt in the air, a sure sign of the various beach activities they must have participated in – swimming at the beach, snorkeling, or diving to the depths of Palawan’s magnificent seas. I made a mental note to check out the beach, but first I have a whole new city to explore.

If we look at the map of the Philippines and the Palawan Island, we’ll find Puerto Princesa right in the middle, the province itself bounded by the South China Sea in the west and the Sulu Sea in the east. Totaling an area of approximately 260 thousand hectares, it is the second largest city in the country with approximately one hundred and twenty thousand inhabitants. It is a city that prides on its cleanliness and natural beauty, and has often been dubbed the capital of ecotourism.

Legend has it that Puerto Princesa was named after a maiden who used to roam the island on certain evenings of the year.

Others would say that she receives her name from being a haven for everyone, from the seafarers who dock there to the nature lovers and environmentalists who are amazed by the protected area. History tells us however, that it was named after a Spanish Princess in 1864, Princes Eulalia of Spain. When she died, the place was named Puerto de la Princesa and as time progressed, this was reduced to Puerto Princesa.

Island hopping is a popular activity here, with the Sta Lourdes wharf serving as a port for tourists who want to rent boats for fixed tours or to simply go wherever they like. There are also city tours that brings you to various attractions such as the Iwahig penal colony, the Crocodile Farm, Butterfly Garden and Mitra’s Ranch. The Iwahig is a unique wall-less prison colony where convicts act as they would living in a village. They cultivate rice and other crops, do fishing or carve handicraft products for souvenirs.

A serene lagoon envelopes the entrance to the underground river.

A serene lagoon envelopes the entrance to the underground river.

Stalactites and stalagmites formations inside the underground river.

Stalactites and stalagmites formations inside the underground river.

Top of my list of must-see attractions however, is Palawan’s most esteemed wonders – the Underground River.

The Subterranean River National Park at Puerto Princesa is a haven of natural beauty that has been nominated to become one of the Seven Wonders. It boasts a 8.2 kilometers long river that goes through a mesmerizing cave before it makes its exit right into the South China Sea. Exploring the meandering cavern is made easy with the various tours available on site, and you will be awed by the exquisite beauty of the stalactites and stalagmites in rainbow colors.

As the tourist boat gently made its way through the scintillating river, I laid on my back to take in the wondrous view. Passing through the beautiful river was a breathtaking experience comparable to none, and right at the mouth of the cave lies a clear, peaceful lagoon that supports a thriving wildlife. Truly, there is much more to Palawan and Puerto Princesa than its oceanic adventures and virgin beaches.

About the Author. Char Magalong. Char Magalong, freelance web designer and programmer, spent two years living, working and traveling in Singapore. Another two years stint right after that in Malaysia led to homesickness, after which she promptly returned to the Philippines. With her myriad of treasured experiences for apt comparison, she comments regularly on the beauty of Philippines and its surrounding country side.