Category Archives: Travel

Exploring the Cape Town City Bowl – what to see and do

 

After slogging my way through a monster backlog of work and surviving the Cape Storm of 2017, I finally got out of Observatory and into the heart of the city, which is known as the Cape Town Bowl. I didn’t get out to see everything, but I hit the big spots…

V&A Waterfront

An oceanside re-development that has brought a touch of class to downtown, the V&A Waterfront is an awesome place for shoppers and foodies to spend a lazy afternoon.

The food market is a big draw for many visitors. I ate lunch at home, but I did have some Millionaire’s ice cream from a vendor here. Vanilla ice cream with bits of shortbread … yum.

Can’t have a touristy place without a giant chess board. I didn’t partake – not in the mood to get checkmated in five moves like a chump 😛

The V&A Waterfront also has a giant Ferris Wheel built in the style of the London Eye. Would have gone up, but it was closed for inspection in the wake of the Cape Storm.

Bo Kapp

The traditional home of the Cape Malay people since they arrived in Cape Town in the mid-17th century from Indonesia, Bo Kapp stands out from the downtown core with its brilliantly painted homes.

Feel free to walk through the streets of this community and snap pictures, but be sure to respect the privacy of the residents who live here.

Within one of the pathways leading between homes, you’ll find these murals which depict the heritage of the Cape Malay people almost as well as any book you’ll read on the subject.

Castle of Good Hope

The Dutch first established the Cape Colony in what would become Cape Town to serve as a refuelling point for ships heading to/from the Far East. Unfortunately, the remoteness of the region opened it up to attack from pirates. The Castle of Good Hope was built to counter this threat.

Despite what you might think, today’s downtown core doesn’t pose a threat to this fortification, but back in the day this cannon and others guarded it against on-land offensives.

The ramparts of the Castle of Good Hope are particularly impressive. The rainy day, while tricky to photograph in, makes for photogenic cobblestones.

With multiple levels and rooms within this elaborate structure, plan to spend at least an hour exploring and finding amazing things to photograph.

Been to these attractions while in Cape Town? Share your experiences in the comments!

Plettenberg Bay – the crown jewel of the Garden Route

Cape Town had some serious gravity to it – with all its amazing things to see and do (and a buttload of work to get done), I spent three weeks there to start my time in South Africa. After catching up on projects, sightseeing, and waiting for the aftermath of the vicious Cape Storm to be cleared away, I was free to finally hit the road in SA.

The ranchlands of the Western Cape between Cape Town and the Garden Route

Destination #1: The Garden Route. Not an easy place to visit, as there are numerous places to stay – George, Knysna, Jeffery’s Bay – all these places had a pull to them. Once I typed in ‘Plettenberg Bay’ into Google Images, though, my fate was sealed: I simply had to make this my base in this beautiful region.

Shortly after arriving, I knew I had made the right choice.

I only had time for a quick look about town before retiring for the night. The next day was a wash, giving me a convenient excuse to get further caught up on work. With 20 degrees Celsius and sunshine predicted for the following one, though, I would quickly fall for this beautiful resort town

 

A well-deserved beer after a fun day walking this incredible beach

A well-deserved beer after a fun day walking this incredible beach

Oh, I forgot to mention something – despite it being officially winter at 34 degrees South Latitude on this particular day, the water was 17 degrees Celsius – bearable for hardy swimmers and plenty warm enough for experienced surfers.

Ever been to Plett? Geek out on how awesome this place is in the comments below!

PHOTO: A beautiful day in Observatory, Cape Town, South Africa

I have a habit of travelling to places outside peak season. And so it was with South Africa, as I landed in Cape Town in June. Good timing, eh? Not really. The seasons are reversed in the Southern Hemisphere, meaning it was almost winter when I arrived in SA.

As luck would have it, though, it was much warmer than normal when got to my hostel in the neighbourhood of Observatory – 23 degrees Celsius to be exact. Sweet place to stay, by the way – it’s served by the third station from downtown on the Southern Line of Metro Rail, and it is full of indie restaurants and cute shops.

Pleasant weather like the kind depicted on this day is fleeting, though – one week later, and the worst storm in 30 years struck, bringing the winter rains and temperatures to a city dying of thirst. One year on, and Day Zero still looms on the horizon – here’s hoping this winter brings downpour after downpour.

The Mexico trip thus far: dodging winter, tackling my social media habits, and more

Progress (professional, personal, or otherwise) often proceeds incrementally before going exponential.

Unfortunately, it seems I’m stuck in the former phase. Don’t get me wrong – taking a rain cheque on Canada’s never-ending winter of 2018 has been awesome (though, I am starting to get concerned the polar vortex might never leave the Prairies).

Two steps forward, one step back

Photo by qimono on Pixabay

Who knew running a business in paradise would be so hard? — Photo by qimono on Pixabay // CC0

Like going the wrong way on a moving sidewalk, I’m making progress, but not as quickly as I could be – this is mainly due to deeply ingrained habits I have yet to shake.

I have had success on some fronts – I have managed to raise rates on some clients, and bring others aboard at higher rates than in the past.

Other battlegrounds have been a slog – specifically, my use (abuse?) of social media. Despite initial efforts to harness them for business purposes four years ago, I have largely been a passive consumer of sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram.

Being continually slammed with work in 2017 reinforced this, as I would retreat into these platforms for relief from the constant 12+ hour workdays which, depressingly, appeared to have no end in sight.

Moving in the right direction

Photo by Mediamodifier on Pixabay // CC0

Won’t be popping FB pills no more  — photo by Mediamodifier on Pixabay // CC0

Thankfully, as mentioned in a previous post, I summoned the courage to cut a high volume client loose late last year. This gave me the space I needed to recover from what had been an unsustainable workload. It also gave me time to reflect on the trajectory of my life and career.

Here’s one epiphany I’ve had lately: social media sites (apart from content created by family, close friends, and top-shelf brands) are little more than a time sink. If not actively managed, it can swallow up hours which could have been used to enrich your life, your career, or your business.

After dissecting my use of social media, I have stopped checking feeds first thing in the morning, I have imposed a 2x daily limit for checking accounts (apart from business use), and have slapped a five-minute time limit on scrolling through my Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram feeds.

Some people cut these platforms out of their lives entirely, and I understand why. As someone who makes their living online, though, maintaining a professional presence is a must.

As such, I have committed to re-establishing my presence on this site’s accounts – however, I’ll be doing my best to avoid falling down the social media rabbit hole – wish me luck 🙂

Mexico (and Guatemala) so far

All is quiet in San Cristobal DLC before the arrival of Semana Santa (Holy Week)

All is quiet in San Cristobal DLC before the arrival of Semana Santa (Holy Week)

Enough with the dry, boring stuff: over the past two months, I have been holed up in Mexico. Most of my time has been spent in Playa del Carmen – however, I am presently writing this from the mountain town of San Cristobal de las Casas.

I’m on the return leg of a trip which took me to Guatemala. Initially, the journey was also slated to include Nicaragua, but a sudden foot injury ended those dreams. Let’s just say I will never go on a pub crawl in flip-flops again.

In the week ahead, I will be returning to Playa, as the seaweed invasion which engulfed its beaches back in early March has vanished. Stay tuned for posts detailing what I have been up to lately, as well ones telling from my year-long trek through Asia, Africa, and Europe, which went down throughout 2017.

How has the first quarter of 2018 gone for you? Tell me about it in the comments below!

6 Simple Ways to Save Money on Your Hotel Stay in Dubai

When staying at a hotel, you get what you pay for.

Choose lower rates and you may find that the hotel’s provisions are quite limited or lacking in overall quality, resulting in an altogether lackluster and forgettable stay.

On the other hand, when you spend a bit more on your choice of lodging, you are more likely to have access to more impressive facilities and services, and enjoy more comforts and conveniences that will have you looking forward to coming back to the hotel every day.

However, paying big bucks is not necessarily the only way to secure a pleasurable stay at, say, one of the topnotch hotels in Jumeirah, Dubai. The next time you plan to come to the City of Gold, try following these useful tips and discover how to book a room at an upscale hotel in Dubai without paying a fortune, and even saving some money in the process.

  1. Travel during off-peak months

If you really want to save money on your trip to Dubai, schedule your travel during the city’s off-peak months: May to September. These are the hottest months in the UAE and, as such, the country does not receive as many tourists during this period.

During the off-peak months, expect lower hotel rates, so you pay less for a great room. You can also enjoy amazing discounts on airfare and entrance fees on some tourist attractions you want to visit.

  1. Compare hotel rates online

Before booking your accommodation, regularly visit the websites of various hotels in Dubai. Check out different hotel comparison and hotel deal sites as well. But do not immediately a book a room at the first hotel you find offering the lowest rates; spend additional time browsing online until you come up with a sufficient list of different hotels and prices you can choose from.

Make sure you take note of their prices. Aside from using these in making your final decision, you can also use them as negotiating points when you get in touch with hotel booking staff.

  1. Book directly with a hotel

If you plan on booking your accommodation online, consider getting in touch with your shortlisted hotels directly and not through third-party sites. Inquire about their rates and the perks they offer by email or by calling them up.

It is best to call the hotel you are interested in directly since you can ask as many as questions you want. You will also be able to tell the staff or reservation agent about the rates you saw online and ask if they can match this, or even offer something lower. And you do not have to pay a fortune for long distance calls since you can use Skype and other apps to call the hotel in Dubai.

Talking to an actual person offers the great benefit of scoring discounts, a better room, or some additional perks such as a complimentary breakfast or free massage at the hotel spa. Do not be embarrassed to ask; lower rates or no, you can still try to get some freebies. Although you may not get any discounts, you can still get more value for your money.

  1. Make sure you know the total cost before booking or paying in advance

Before booking your room or paying a reservation fee, request a quotation. Go over it carefully and check if the amenities and services you need and want are free or if you have to pay extra for them.

Keep in mind that some hotels charge a resort fee, gym fees, parking fees, etc. To avoid any unpleasant surprises, always ask about everything that is included in the total fee you will be paying. Find out how much you would need to pay for the additional amenities and services you are interested in.

  1. Consider getting a travel package

In case Dubai is your only destination and it is your first time to have a holiday here, look for a deal online that already includes airfare, airport transfers, hotel accommodation, meals and other services.

Many travel agencies offer these packaged deals and often, these can be cheaper than buying the components individually. If you can’t find the appropriate one, consider looking at special packages direct from the hotel themselves.

Again, before choosing your travel package, make sure you read up on various deals before settling on one. Get details about everything included, the kind of room you will get, travel details, etc.

Do not pay for anything until you are satisfied with all the information you get. This is because if you change your mind and you have already paid, you will have a hard time getting a refund and you will not get the full amount you paid.

  1. Join a loyalty club

Lastly, if a particular hotel brand or chain consistently meets your budget and comfort expectations, find out if they have a loyalty club and sign up for it.

Popular chains often have different hotel tiers that range from economy, upscale to luxury or high-end in various cities across the globe. You can, therefore, choose a hotel that meets your budget anywhere you go. Best of all, you may get to enjoy lower costs, free room upgrades, and a variety of other perks which you can only get if you are a member of a hotel’s loyalty club.

With some research and thorough prep work, staying at an amazing hotel in Dubai without spending a fortune, and even saving some money in the process, is truly possible.

How to Experience the Best of Dubai’s Modern and Traditional Allure

Photo by CC user Simon Bierwald on Flickr

Photo by CC user Simon Bierwald on Flickr

Well-traveled folks know that Dubai is the perfect amalgamation of old and new. In this desert city, you will find a main street surrounded by the latest modern designs for infrastructure. Make a turn to the backstreets and you will be surprised to find really old buildings inhabited by traditional locals.

Thanks to this, Dubai is all the more a fascinating place to visit — especially if you are all about combining history and culture with exciting innovations for your trip. It offers a bounty of experiences wherein you will feel as if you have travelled back in time — and yet, after a two-minute walk, you have seemingly managed to travel to the future because of all the modern developments around.

So, what are these “old and new” experiences that Dubai has in store for you? Check out the following six ideas:

1. The Desert Safari Tour

The desert is not that long a drive from the bustling modern urban hubs of Dubai. But once you get here, it will be like you travelled to a place where time stood still — especially if you signed up for a camel ride to take advantage of the different aspects of the classic desert safari tour.

There is nothing more old school than travelling across the desert via camel. However, while you are traversing the dunes, it is not unlikely to spot 4×4 vehicles speeding up and down the deep dips and ascents leading to the safari camp.

And speaking of the safari camp, it offers al fresco dining for tourists, and this includes traditional Dubai fare.

What is the modern element to be found in having dinner at the safari camp? It has got to be all the foreigners taking pictures and getting coaxed into learning parts of the special performance of a dance that is over a century old.

2. A stay at an Arabian-themed hotel

Staying at a beautiful Arabian-themed 4-star hotel in Dubai is sure to set the mood nicely for a splendid vacation. Such a hotel boasts of fine Arabian interior design and furniture, plus spa services that will make you feel like an Arab royal. What’s more, you will find modern facilities like a gym, conference rooms, and really hip restaurants.

If you are looking for accommodations with a harmonious blend of modern and traditional allure, a hotel with charming Arabian palace interiors is certainly highly recommended.

3. A walk around Bastakia Quarter

This heritage site is a must for all tourists because of its traditional architecture and artsy stores and galleries. You will enjoy the maze of wind-towered structures, and then comfortably conclude your exploration at the Arabian Tea House Outdoor Café.

The café serves international cuisine. You can enjoy soups, salads, pasta, yummy pastries, and a vast selection of refreshing tea concoctions.

4. Dinner at the DIFC

Come to the DIFC for dinner because there are plenty of dining establishments here that will introduce you to both traditional fare and the latest Instagram-worthy eats.

You will be sure to find a restaurant here that will take you around the globe with its menu. Choose to dine like a local and eat authentic Emirati dishes that have been around for centuries, or take the worldly gastronomic routes and sample the flavours of Japan, France, Spain, the US, and others.

5. Shopping at Deira Spice Souq

This is definitely old Dubai, but you will see a lot of foreigners here having a blast getting the best deals on exotic herbs and spices. Also, the moment you get here and catch a whiff of the pungent aroma of all the merchandise, you’ll automatically get a feeling of being in olden times (or perhaps the setting of Disney’s “Aladdin”).

In addition to this experience, though, you will know that things have become modernized here because there are “souq ambassadors” taking care of tourists. These personalities create an experience of the spice souq that visitors can really appreciate. They introduce unfamiliar herbs and spices and provide these products’ equivalent in other countries. Plus, they protect tourists from aggressive and assertive merchants.

6. Stroll through Marsa Al Seef

In this cultural hotspot, visitors to Dubai can take a peek at Dubai’s past as well as enjoy the edgy cosmopolitan vibe that the city is also known for. After browsing through local artwork and witnessing examples of traditional occupations such as boat building and pearl diving, guests can then immerse themselves in shopping and relaxing at various retail stores, restaurants, cafes and galleries.

These are just six ways you can experience a blend of old and new Dubai. When you come to the city for a tour and start off with these, there is no doubt that you will find other provisions that highlight its modern and traditional appeal even more.

AUTHOR BIO

Habib Khan is a seasoned Hotelier, currently the CEO of Planet Hospitality and General Manager of Arabian Courtyard Hotel and Spa. Khan has more than 30 years of diversified international experience in the hospitality industry. He is an expert in developing, transforming, and managing hotels, with an ability to analyze and solve problems in a challenging work environment.

Monkey Beach: your perfect getaway from busier areas of Penang

Penang isn’t viewed as a hotspot for tropical resorts. Spending a few days in the Georgetown area will show you why – a densely populated place featuring urban development right up to the waterfront, you can only imagine what the water is like.

Up and down the east coast, residential, commercial, (and across the strait in Butterworth, industrial) development makes going in the ocean a less than appealing prospect.

The west coast, while much less developed, is also not a great place to go for a swim. This part of the island features mostly mangroves – great if you’re going kayaking, but not so wonderful if you are looking for a paradise beach.

The north coast is the best option for those seeking relaxation on Penang. Yet, peace and quiet is at a premium here as well, as resort areas like Batu Ferringhi are rife with mass tourism developments, and watersports (like jet skiing) is a very popular activity here.

Think you’ll have to board a ferry to Langkawi to find your beach? Hold up just a minute. There is a spot I need to tell you about.

Introducing Monkey Beach

 

I first became acquainted with this hidden gem during my first venture overseas in 2010-2011. After asking the owner of the homestay where I was staying about Penang’s best beaches, she expressed a great deal of enthusiasm for Monkey Beach.

Not everyone was convinced – a young Swedish woman decried the presence of trash on its shores. I wavered on whether or not to go before deciding to see it for myself.

After a few moments of doubt, I decided to go. I’m glad I listened to the locals over the subjective whims of a fellow foreigner – otherwise, I would have never discovered this underrated spot.

Getting to Monkey Beach

Monkey Beach is situated within the bounds of Penang National Park, which protects the flora and fauna found on Penang’s mostly unspoiled northwestern corner.

Whether you are in Georgetown or Batu Ferringhi, you’ll need to hop on Rapid Penang bus #101, as this route terminates at the front gates of the park.

After signing in (admission to the park is free), you’ll have two options.

The easy way

Take a speedboat to the beach. This will take about five minutes, and will cost about 20 RM ($4.90 USD/$6.30 CAD/£3.65GBP/€4.15EUR) each way, though prices may be negotiable.

The sweaty way

Hike through the jungle along the coast. The walk will take about 75 minutes each way, and will take you past a beach where Universiti Sains Malaysia has a dock and a marine biology research post. Keep on the trail past this point – this is not Monkey Beach.

The third way (what I do)

Hike in, cool off at the beach, and then take the boat back. You’ll save money over the easy way, and you’ll earn your swim on the way in!

Monkey Beach: one of the most special places in all of Penang

I’ll be honest: activity at Monkey Beach has picked up over years. There are vendors who never around before, and instead of being able to count other travellers on one hand, I had to use two hands on my most recent visit.

Despite this, Monkey Beach is easily one of the most chill places on Penang.

Go for a swing on a tire, or read a book while relaxing in a hammock. The choice is up to you!

There are plenty of excellent photo ops up and down the beach. Just don’t do I what I did on my first backpacking trip and put your camera in the pocket of your swim trunks. Despite a rice bath back at the homestay, its sea-soaked circuits were fried beyond repair.

As mentioned above, there are plenty of food/drink sellers here now. Don’t expect a deal – you’re paying for convenience here.

Ready to leave? Find a boat captain (who may be having a midday siesta – remember, this beach is quiet most of the time) and strike a deal for a return trip to the front gates of the national park. Do NOT pay more than 20 RM if you can help it.

Ever been to Monkey Beach on Penang? Tell us about it below!

5 Travel Tips for the Young & Broke

Go out and travel while you’re still young. You may not have a lot of money right now; You may even be broke. But travelling at this stage in your life provides a number of benefits.

For one, once you get back, you can choose to re-enter the workforce without any issues. Plus, as compared to older travellers, younger people are more willing to trade inconveniences for the experience. You can get by with staying in hostels and cheap food.

Also, the experience can make you realize that you can still have fun even with limited funds available at your disposal. Gathered here are a number of travel tips for the young and broke from visa consultants based in Dubai.

1. Consider the costs

Before you hop on a plane or make travel arrangements, you need to do your research. There are plenty of areas around the world where you can stay for cheap but you need to know where they are first.

Find out what the costs are for flights, food, accommodations, acquiring the necessary permits and visas and other major expenses. You will also need to consider having a separate fund for smaller expenses such as entertainment and souvenirs.

2. Stay flexible

Having an open itinerary can come to your advantage. Don’t be too rigid when it comes to your travel dates, where you should go and what you want to do during the trip.

Peak travel dates can vary depending on the location. When you choose to travel to Spain, for instance, the date may coincide with the annual running of the bulls. It would be a fun cultural event to watch and experience for yourself but it won’t do your wallet any favours.

Determine when the off-peak dates for travelling are before you book your tickets or accommodation. Airlines and accommodations are more willing to offer deals, discounts and promos to entice more people to travel during these low months.

3. Create a travel fund

After getting the gist of how much the trip will cost, you can use that amount as your goal. Allocate a small part of your paycheck to go into your travel fund. Do this on a regular basis. This way, you can pay for your trip using your money and not rely on credit.

4. Live like the locals do

You may not be staying long in the area but living like a local allows you to live even with limited funds. For instance, you can save more by staying in a person’s home, dormitory or hostel than in a hotel. There are websites that will allow you to get a short-term rental in a room or bed space. Check their distances to where you plan to go.

At times, lodges near a tourist spot may cost more per night but will help you save on transportation costs than staying in a room kilometres away from where you want to go.

When it comes to food, head to the nearest local market. There you can immerse your senses in the different sights, sounds, smells, tastes and textures. Local markets are great places to try out the local cuisine without draining your funds.

If you are covering large areas during your trip, use mass transit. Take the train, bus or whatever mode of public transport the locals use to get to your intended destination. By compromising on comfort and convenience, you can get to your destination at a fraction of the cost of a taxi ride.

5. Work overseas

If you plan to stay long in another country or region, you will need to find a way to support yourself financially. You may need to get advice from a consultant to see what types of visas or permits you will need to apply for work.

Depending on where you plan to travel, you can find a job as a farm worker, au pair, bartender or tour guide. The money you earn may not be enough to pay a mortgage but working can help you earn enough money to travel around.

With the number of options available, you don’t need to be rich to be able to travel around. Follow our advice and soon you could be off to a brand new adventure.

AUTHOR BIO

Bevan Berning is an Immigration professional and owner of Pathway Visas, an Immigration Agency dealing mostly with skilled immigration to Canada and Australia. Bevan’s enthusiasm for the industry has kept in the Immigration field for the past seven years. Bevan is South African by birth and has been residing in Dubai for the past eight years.

Experiencing the best of Thailand on a budget

Photo by CC user Jonas_Mittag on Pixabay

Photo by CC user Jonas_Mittag on Pixabay

Want to get away from your stressful everyday existence? We all do from time to time, but one glance at our bank balance leads many of us to believe that escape isn’t possible. This is a common misconception, as holiday travel has never been as cheap as it is now.

Below, we’ll show you how you can experience the best of Thailand on a budget – once you get a taste for this intoxicating country, you won’t ever be the same again!

Book a cheap flight

Any trip to Thailand starts with the booking of the flight which will take you, your family, and/or your friends there. Jump online and review all the options available for Mumbai to Bangkok flights, or from wherever you happen to be in the world.

Price will be one of the key considerations, but also be sure to check departure/arrival times, connections, and the amenities available aboard.

Arriving past Midnight may force you to negotiate with Bangkok taxi drivers, some of whom are known to rig their meters or drive hard bargains with tourists unfamiliar with the local going rate for flat fares.

If you get to BKK at a reasonable hour, you can take advantage of the Airport Rail Link, a train which will take you from Suvarnabhumi Airport to the centre of Bangkok in about 20 minutes for 45 baht (₹88/$1.36 USD).

Favour guesthouses and hostels over hotels

Thailand is well-known worldwide for the value it provides visitors. From activities to food, you won’t have to take out a loan to afford a holiday here.

The same applies to lodging, as Bangkok is home to some of the most competitively priced luxury hotel rooms in the world. If you are really minding your money, however, we recommend booking rooms in guesthouses or boutique hostels.

These accommodation types aren’t the fleapits they were a generation ago – a considerable number of them have gone upmarket in recent years. They come with private rooms which have plush mattresses, fresh linens, fridges, cable TV, and other perks.

However, you get to take advantage of the social atmosphere of a hostel, as you will have access to common areas, which often come with bars, comfy seating, high-speed internet, and a slate of planned activities from one day to the next.

With private rooms starting at 600 baht (₹1,170/$18.50 USD), going this route will help you save cash while maintaining a level of comfort befitting of your holiday.

Go north

Many Mumbai to Bangkok flights are packed with visitors eager to head south in pursuit of Thailand’s fabled beaches. However, know that the cities of the north contain worthwhile cultural attractions core to the identity of the Thai people.

Not only will you have a chance to tour uncrowded temple sites in places like Sukhothai and Chiang Mai, you will find that everything from accommodations to meals will be cheaper in the north.

A hostel whose private rooms cost 900 Baht (₹1,760/$27.50 USD) in a place like Koh Samui will sell them for around 500 baht (₹975/$15.25 USD) in Chiang Mai.

While lunch can cost as much as 230 baht (₹430/$7 USD) on the beach at Railay Beach, a healthy Thai lunch in the centre of Chiang Rai can be had for as little as 60 baht (₹120/$1.90 USD).

Travel to unsung islands

Have your heart set on a paradise beach? Of course you do. Instead of traveling to places like Phuket or Koh Samui, though, consider heading to lesser travelled isles like Koh Chang (the one in Eastern Thailand near the Cambodian border) or Koh Lanta in the south.

These places have beaches which boast plenty of room even in high season, idyllic tropical scenes out of your wildest dreams, and reasonable prices.

In a country with an embarrassment of riches when it comes to tropical getaways, you lose almost nothing going off the beaten track.

Making the most of a winter holiday in California

Los Angeles is the perfect place to go on a winter holiday in California

Photo by CC user ahhdrjones on Flickr

Want to escape the worst aspects of winter in North America? Have you considered planning a winter holiday in California?

With electrifying cities, enchanting coastline and soaring snow-capped mountains, a trip to America’s most exciting state will serve to recharge your batteries during what is normally the most depressing time of year.

Looking to travel in comfort? Don’t put up with the hassles of staying in a hotel, as there are plenty of California vacation rentals available from San Diego to the Napa Valley.

As such, there is no shortage of luxurious spots throughout the Golden State where you can make yourself at home after an exhausting but satisfying day of activities and sightseeing.

With amenities ranging from outdoor pools and hot tubs with privileged views, to state-of-the-art electronics and furnishings, these villas will make your downtime during your California

That being said, let’s explore what California has to offer you this winter.

1) San Diego

If warmth is a priority for you and your traveling companions, be sure to base yourself in the San Diego area.

Average day time highs in January are in the mid 60’s Fahrenheit (about 18-19 degrees Celsius), but temperature can get up well into the 70’s (23-24 degrees Celsius) on the warmest days.

The ocean is a bit chilly for swimming in winter, but surfers will be perfectly comfortable if they don a thin wetsuit, as the water is typically in the low 60’s (about 15-16 degrees Celsius) during the coolest parts of the winter season.

The San Diego Zoo is a great option for families, and after dark, the Gaslamp Quarter has plenty of restaurants and nightlife options for adults looking to live it up.

2) Los Angeles

Those looking for a high-energy holiday in California will want to search for a villa in Los Angeles. Whether you want to go star hunting in Beverly Hills or on the streets of Hollywood or enjoy theme parks ranging from Universal Studios to Disneyland, there are plenty of options for travelers of all interests.

Traveling surfers will love the opportunity to match wits with local wave shredders on Huntington Beach (aka Surf City USA), while culture hounds will have their days filled by hopping from museum to museum (don’t miss the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Getty Center, or The Broad).

3) Napa Valley

If you are going to spoil yourself during your time in California, be sure to spend several nights enjoying America’s finest food and drink in the Napa Valley.

Winter is the low season in this popular gastronomic destination, meaning that those that come here at this time won’t have to cope with the crowds that pile into this peaceful paradise during the summer and fall.

When you aren’t admiring the view of rolling hills and vineyards from your villa up in the benchlands, enjoy a variety of winery tours, dine in a number of exquisite restaurants (seven of which possess Michelin stars), or soar above the valley in a hot air balloon – the possibilities are endless!