Why Europe Is The Best Place To Travel Solo.

“You’re going alone?! How are you going to meet people?!”

 

That was the response I received from many people when I told them that at the age of 18, I was heading off to travel around Europe for a month on my own.

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The Ultimate South East Asia Travel Route.

When you travel through a region you want to try to visit all the best places available! South East Asia is such a varied and exciting place that luckily, you can never run out of places to visit and things to do! Thailand has crazy cities mixed with beautiful tropical islands, and both are waiting to be explored! Laos, a communist country, is very laid back and a lot less developed than its neighbours, however, it contains Luang Prabang – one of my favourite cities in the world. Vietnam has the craziest cities ever but also beautiful seaside towns that are just like little oases. Whilst Cambodia has the famous Angkor Wat temples, beautiful jungles and a dark history waiting to be explored.

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Don’t Miss Out On The Top 10 Activities In Tahoe This Summer!

Welcome to Lake Tahoe…

Lake Tahoe is the largest alpine lake in North America and is only just behind the Great Lakes in terms of volume! Situated in the Sierra Nevada Mountains at nearly 2000m above sea level on the California/Nevada border, the turquoise blue lake has 72 miles of gorgeous shoreline for you to explore. The lake is surrounded by snow topped mountain peaks, thick lush forests, and sprawling meadows. Various towns and bays lie along the lake shoreline, offering some spectacular cabin rentals in Lake Tahoe. The whole lake area has so many activities on offer it’s a good job you can drive to anywhere along the lake within two hours of wherever you are!

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You Won’t Believe This Cave In Vietnam Exists!

There’s always something special about exploring what mother nature has created in this world. What’s even better is knowing that what you’re exploring is so unique and rare that you’re one of only a handful of people to have ever seen it in person. There’s a feeling that comes with that; exploring the untouched and dangerous territory, the satisfaction of knowing that you haven’t followed the beaten path, and telling a story when you get home that only a few can tell.

Unfortunately, there are few places like this left in the world. However, Hang En Cave situated in Phong Nha National Park, Vietnam is one such place.

Towards the middle of Vietnam and Hidden deep within the Vietnamese jungle lies this beast of a cave – the world’s 3rd largest. It’s so remote and isolated that it took until 1994 for British explorers to discover it. The mountains in the area are 99.9% pure limestone – the purest in the world. As a result of this pureness, the limestone can easily be eroded away by water, creating the largest caves in the world!

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What’s great is that you can actually visit Hang En Cave by booking onto a two-day guided trip with Oxalis Adventure Tours, what’s even better is that you get to spend a night in the cave in tents! And that’s exactly what 21 year old me decided to do 4 years ago when I was on a month long trip to Vietnam.

To get to the cave you have to embark on an unforgiving 12km trek through the dense Vietnamese jungle. The landscape has hardly been touched by humans and is so raw; you will find yourself traversing steep inclines and declines, wading through rivers, climbing over fallen trees, and struggling in the Vietnamese heat.

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The tour groups range in sizes up to 16 but it’s often less than this. Within the group, I was the second youngest at 21, there were two American couples in their 20’s from California as well as a well as a Dutch couple who took awesome photos, two 20 something dudes from Denmark, and a slightly older American couple with their daughter. From the start, at the company HQ, the group really jelled well together which made the trek easier as we were constantly finding out about each other.

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What does give you a slight respite is that you don’t have to carry absolutely everything. There are porters on your trip that carry the tents, helmets, medical equipment, and the all important food! At a clearing around half way through the trek, you will stop in the shade and the porters will set up lunch for you. It as basic sandwiches with cheese, meats, and some chocolate on the side but it was a heavenly break from the mid-day heat!

What’s great is that all of your tour guides and porters are Vietnamese locals. Seemingly plucked out from the local population, they have very good English and come across very professional. They know so much about the area and showed us the remnants of a US bomb from the Vietnamese war. There’s a lot of Unexploded Ordinance (UXO) in the park left over from American bombing campaigns so the porters ask you not to stray too far from the path you’re walking!

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After the 12km trek, that although was exhilarating and so special, felt like an eternity, you capture your first glimpse of the massive cave opening above the tall grass. This huge opening is a 120m high and was formed due to rock falls that created the opening, but also blocked most of it off! Once you clear the 12ft high grass, you wade through a small river to a discrete opening in the rock to the right of the big opening, this is your entrance to Hang En.

Hard hats with lights on and gloves are passed out to the group before entering. You walk into the opening and enter a low-ceilinged part of the cave that is pitch black in all directions, your head lights barely lighting the way in front. The river that is outside also enters this part of the cave with you and you need to cross it again on your journey.

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After climbing a few rocks you literally start to see light at the end of the tunnel. This is the main cave hall. I’ll let the next three pictures show how you follow the river and enter the cave hall.

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The porters who trek ahead of you set up camp before you get there. There are tents for individuals or couples and the food for dinner is already cooking. As you settle into your tent you have a chance to marvel at the beauty you are surrounded by. The cave is 2km long and up to 160m high and you feel like an ant in its vastness. The tents are set up along the shoreline of two small bodies of water. The one that is fed by the river from outside is warm as the water has been heated by the sun, whilst the one that is next to it is cold as it is fed by ground water. Hopping between the two and relaxing in the warm water is a must after you settle in.

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After you settle in there’s a chance to hike further up into the cave and look at your campsite from above which truly shows you the size of this cave. The cave is so special that it’s been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its unique structure and ecosystem. The cave was also featured in the 2015 version of Peter Pan due to its fairy tale credentials!

After you have eaten a traditional Vietnamese dinner, which isn’t deep fried sparrows, you can sit by the fire with your fellow trekkers and watch the cave come alive with thousands of bats that have been sleeping during the day. These bats nest in the roof of the cave and you can watch them whizz around above your head for hours. When the cave became dark we had some fun with our head lights and long exposure photography!

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After you finally decide it’s time to sleep, you do so in the belly of a beast. Hang En is so big yet so beautiful, you will go to sleep with the sound of a thousand bats flying above you, ready for the hike back to HQ the next day.

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Gift Idea: Check Out These Great Maps Of Your Favourite Destinations!

Unique ways of remembering trips always make a great gift, either for a friend or a way to treat yourself ;). After you’ve had a great trip to a destination, you have your photos, but it’s always nice to have another ay to remember it! Forget your fridge magnets, it’s all about map art! Passing a map on a wall in your house you will be able to see all the different destinations you’ve travelled to, each one evoking different memories and feelings! Modern Map art provide great maps of most destinations across the world!

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The Top 4 Luxury Hotels in London

London is known for having some of the world’s oldest and most iconic luxury hotels. It’s not surprising, considering it’s one of the world’s oldest cities. It was founded by the Romans back around 50 AD, and the concept of letting a guest stay in one’s house, or accommodation so to speak, actually dates back to Biblical times.

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This is The Ultimate Packing List For A Backpacker.

Don’t you just hate it when you get to your destination and realise you forgot your toothbrush? I know right? Even if you have packed everything and cant think of anything else, you always leave the house thinking you have left something behind and you wont realise until you arrive at your destination! Well luckily for you, to avoid any packing based mishaps or anxiety,  I’ve compiled this list for y’all so you don’t forget anything on your travels. So print this off, tick off the items below and you’ll have sparkly teeth and charged up electricals for your whole journey!

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