Backpackers to Ukraine

A Backpacker’s Travel Guide To Ukraine

Ukraine is a beautiful corner of Eastern Europe that many tourists overlook. It’s a large country and therefore has an abundance of exciting things to see and do different kinds of things to do, from admiring the Black Sea coastline to its awe-inspiring gold-domed Cathedrals and ancient-old capital. We’ve got the latest if you’re a backpacker looking to soak up the sights, sounds and scenery in Ukraine, for less…

Where to stay and when to visit

Ukraine fits perfectly in the travelogue of a backpacker since the daily cost is the bare minimum (depending on your necessities). You can easily discover a different kind of rooms, guesthouses, hostels, resorts and more – even in popular cities like Kyiv.

Ukraine Hotel

Be mindful about staying in a hostel if you prefer to keep to yourself, since there’s a mixture of different people, aside from tourists, who may be sharing a room with you. If you’re open to meeting new people though, hostels can be your best bet for both experience and cost.

The food is pretty cheap in Ukraine too, so you can easily fix up a bite to eat for breakfast or lunch in a cafeteria for no price at all.

Autumn in Ukraine
National Natural Park Synevir, the Carpathian Mountains, Ukraine

The climate in Ukraine is continental, meaning freezing winters and toasty summers (which are progressively warmer the further south you move). Do not visit in the winter since the average temperatures plummet below 0°C, and while spring brings the warms, it turns the ice and snow into mud – not ideal for backpackers to explore in! From May onwards, the summer months boast pleasant temperatures averaging at 25°C – but there is the possibility of thunderstorms throughout these peak months. The autumn month of September sees a drop in temperature but pleasant blue skies remain, with highs around 23°C – making this time of year the best for tourists to get the most out of the country and all it has to offer.

What to do

There are plenty of cheap things to do in Ukraine, which is ideal for savvy backpackers to save on money while exploring at the same time. We’ve highlighted a few of our favourite pastimes that are either free or totally affordable:

KYIV

Autumn view of Kiev
Autumn view of Kiev

The capital of Ukraine, Kyiv is one of the best and cheapest places to visit in the country, with plenty of history, sights, shops and tours to discover if you’re new to the area.

  • Chernobyl Tour: Discover the site of the worst nuclear disaster in human history with a guided tour.
  • Kyivo-Pechers’ka Lavra: Built by monks, you won’t find another holy place quite like this.
  • Andriyivski Uzviz: Connecting two neighbourhoods, this street is bursting with wonderful architecture to admire.

ODESA

Odesa, ukraine

Odesa is a vast and beautiful city sure to keep you entertained while you’re visiting, with some pretty landmarks to tick off.

  • Deribasovskaya Street: A bustling pedestrian walkway full of food, drinks and entertainment.
  • Primorsky Boulevard: Take in the architectural wonders along the boulevard and towards the seafront.
  • Potemkin stairs: Enter the city through these iconic stairs, symbolic to Odesa.

UMAN

Sofiyivka park in Uman, Ukraine
Sofiyivka park in Uman, Ukraine

This city has panoramic views that’s why tourists don’t leave this city unexplored if they land in Ukraine. If you visit Uman in autumn then you are not going to leave this place easily as it looks breathtakingly awesome.

  • Sofiyivka Park: An English garden hidden in the heart of Uman.
  • Tomb of Rabbi Nachman of Breslev: If you’re spiritual, it’s the best place to visit in Uman.
  • Ostashivskiy Lake: A pretty spot for picnics, with beer tents and pop-up food stalls.

LVIV

Lviv, Ukraine
Lviv, Ukraine

There is a whole UNESCO protected town in Lviv, which is the main reason this place is our highlights – a must-visit for history-lovers. There’s more to Lviv than it’s history and culture though, this town is quirky and vibrant in the right balance – so you’ll find something to suit everyone here.

  • Rynok square: A 13th-century square that can’t be missed for its intricate architecture.
  • Old Town: This quaint square is bursting with local food and drink, shops, cafes and more.
  • High castle: Take the small walk up the hill for some amazing food and views to match.

If you want to explore the more rural areas and uncover the real Ukraine, visit Mezyn, Dzembronya, Strusiv, Grushevka, Opishnya, Iza and more.

How to explore

Explore Ukraine
Tourist girl with a backpack and camera standing in the meadow at the mountains. Carpathians. Ukraine

There’s no better place than Ukraine for a backpacker because everything is so cheap and convenient. The public transport in Ukraine is easy to navigate, economical and efficient, so you won’t have to worry about walking from A to B!

Here are the different modes of transport that you can take in Ukraine:

  • Train
Carpathian mountains, Ukraine
Train on the railway bridge in Carpathian mountains, Ukraine

The cheapest mode of transportation that you can find in Ukraine is a train ride. But if you have a time crunch, then it might not be the right option for you, since the trains are pretty slow here. If you know where you’re heading, there are newer express trains available which run between different destinations  – but you’ll need to book tickets in advance.

  • Bicycle
Explore Ukraine by bicycle
Explore Ukraine by bicycle

If you don’t mind a little exercise then why not hire a bike to explore the place at your own pace? Plus, it all adds to the backpacking experience, right? You’ll pass bustling markets and have a chance to stop and mingle with the locals.

  • Bus
Explore Ukraine by Bus
Explore Ukraine by Bus

Buses come in handy when you don’t want to take the train, however, they can be a little crowded – so if you get claustrophobic it might not be the best option for you. If you’ve ever been on the London Underground, we’re sure it’ll be a doddle.

  • Taxi
Explore Ukraine by Taxi
Explore Ukraine by Taxi

Taxi services are available around Ukraine and you can order an Uber from 7 major cities, but it’s worth noting that travelling by taxi here can be an unpleasant experience for foreign tourists and service can be patchy, so it might be best to take the train instead?

Try not to hitchhike while you’re in Ukraine; while the destination is safe for tourists it’s sensible to not get into a vehicle with other strangers if it can be avoided.

Tips and Tricks to get the most out of your Ukraine holiday

Holidays to Ukraine
Holidays to Ukraine

Here are some of our top tips that can come handy if it’s your first time in Ukraine.

  • Forgot something essential? You can always buy in the small underground shops.
  • Inside an orthodox church, it’s respectful to cover your head if you are a female and uncover it if you are a male.
  • You can’t use any other currency in Ukraine, so you’ll have to use ATMs where you can.
  • Carry proper documents while you’re here

If you go on backpacking tours often, then you may already have this wonderful destination on your list. But if you’re new to the whole spontaneous thing, then Ukraine is definitely the best place to start your journey. Fancy booking a last-minute trip? We’ve got fantastic flight deals available to book with Crystal Travel, simply give us a call and we’ll do the hard work for you.

Grab your bags!

Solo Travel

A Backpacker’s Travel Guide To The Bahamas

Long gone is the era of well-crafted itineraries, today, travellers are all about spontaneous travel and impromptu plans – adding to the overall excitement. And why not?! We got in touch with a nomad who lives for the moment and spoke about their latest travels in the beautiful Bahamas…

The Bahamas
Bahamas Beaches

Where to Stay

When to go bahamas
Enjoy your stay in Bahamas

The Bahamas is not exclusively cheap in terms of travel or living, but if you know where to look you’re in luck. There are a few islands that are somewhat untouched by the prying eyes of abundant tourists, but if you look hard enough, you can find accommodation here to be extremely cheap – plus you won’t have to fight for a space on the beach!

Such islands include Cat Island, Andros, Abaco, Long Island, Crooked Island and Inagua, where you can experience total R&R amid the Bahamian beauty. On these islands, you’ll find that seafood is fairly cheap – and of course delicious – helping you to keep your pockets fuller for longer. It’s worth noting however that if there’s a popular upcoming festival, the islands prices will shoot up in anticipation of partygoers visiting to celebrate – so it’s best to avoid these dates if you’re trying to travel on the cheap.

when to visit the bahamas

When to Visit Bahamas
Best time to visit Bahamas

The best time of year to visit the Bahamas if you want to soak up the Caribbean sun, is between the months of November to April when the weather is pleasantly warm yet with less rain than the summer months. The average temperature is around 24°C, which is ideal if you want to explore without overheating!

What to do

Want to explore the island without spending a small fortune on attraction tickets and tours? We’ve rounded up some of the best things to see and do in the Bahamas, that won’t cost you so much as a penny.

Pristine Beaches

Beaches in Bahamas
Pristine Beaches in Bahamas

The Bahamas is brimming with exotic white-sand beaches, so you’ll have your fair share of time spent on the sand. As a backpacker, you have total freedom and flexibility with regards to where you go and when, but we have a few favourite beaches we’re sure you won’t want to miss while you’re here. A few of these best public, free beaches include Cabbage beach, Cable Beach, Coco Plum beach, Lighthouse beach, Pink Sands beach, Jaws beach and beyond.

Queen’s Staircase

queens Staircase in Bahamas
Queen’s Staircase in Bahamas

If you want a change of scenery beyond azure blue waters (we could personally stare at them for weeks on end!), then you need to visit Queen’s Staircase. This historical landmark in Nassau – the capital city of Bahamas – consists of 65 steps, carved out of solid limestone by slaves in the late 1700s. If you like history and culture, this attraction is free to visit – however you can hire someone if you wish to know more about the history of this place.

John Watling’s Distillery

bahamas distillery
JOHN WATLING’S DISTILLERY

If you fancy a tipple, take a free independent or guided tour of the John Watling’s Distillery. You’ll see barrels of rum lined up and discover the processes of rum making. There is a minimal charge for tasting their in-house rum, where the waiter explains the art of tasting and how to do it properly!

Port Lucaya Marketplace

Port Lucaya
PORT LUCAYA MARKETPLACE

It’s one of the top open-air marketplaces in Freeport, which you can visit while you are in the Bahamas. There are many opportunities for dining, entertainment and shopping within this bustling market; and in addition to local shops, there are boutiques too, which offer something different yet local. If you get tired of all the exploration, take a seat and unwind in the bars or diners within the market.

Dean’s Blue Hole

Deans Blue Hole
Dean’s Blue Hole

If you’re after a dive-in experience in paradise, you’ll find one at the Long Island area of the Bahamas. Dean’s Blue Hole is believed to be the deepest blue hole in the world, where the water plunges to a depth of 663 feet (202 metres) sure to test your adrenaline! Not into watersports? Lace up and go for a climb up one of the rugged cliffs, the effort will be worth it when you’re rewarded with breathtaking views at the top.

How to Explore

Explore Bahamas
Explore Bahamas

Another way of living like a local on your Bahamas holidays is by using the local transportation. If you want to explore the roots of the place, interact with locals and join them on the public commute – you’ll soon get talking about the best places to visit unknown to tourists.

The cheapest and easiest modes of transport in the Bahamas are:

Jitney

This bus has a capacity of around 30 people, making it a spacious way to travel from A to B. However, these are not available on all of the islands, so be sure to check in advance.

Water Taxis

Water Taxi service in Bahamas
Water Taxis in Bahamas

The Bahamas houses around 700 islands, and taking the road can rack up some serious dough. There are plenty of ferries available with a variety of different routes – the prices vary depending on your destination, availability of seats and age.

Taxi

Taxi service in Bahamas
Taxi services in Bahamas

If you can’t flag down a Jitney, taxis are the next best way to travel if you’re not comfortable with driving in another country. The rates may vary but be careful as some journey costs may be fixed.

Tips To Get The Most Out Of Your Bahamas Holiday

Travel tips
Holidays to Bahamas
  • Seafood is cheap and fresh, so you’ll want to indulge in local food at local eateries as much as you can.
  • Don’t get in a vehicle with strangers, especially at night time
  • You can camp at the beach if you don’t fancy renting accommodation.
  • If you want to explore nearby places, hire/buy a bike for a cheaper way to travel.
  • Travel off-season, avoid crowds and lap up the island’s natural beauty yourself!

Inspired by this carefree way of travelling? You can catch a last-minute flight to this Caribbean Isle for fantastic prices when you book with Crystal Travel. Explore our deals today and call to tailor your backpacking adventure…

Photo gallery

Photos Gallery: Brazil, Costa Rica and the Bahamas

Brazil, Costa Rica and the Bahamas identify themselves as three of the most alluring destinations in the world. We’ll be the judges of that. Here’s a little sneak peek into what you can expect to see in these exotic destinations, from the moment you touch down.

Brazil

You’ll fall in love with Brazil with just one glance. If you have the right itinerary, you’ll explore an eclectic mix of natural beauty, golden beaches and bright city lights…

Local areas are bursting with life; there won’t be a minute of monotony here.

Costa Rica

You’re right in the lap of nature if you’re visiting Costa Rica, famous for its thrilling adventures, rugged rainforest and sweeping coastline.

The country’s panoramic landscapes and lush biodiversity will take your breath away. With rainbow-coloured birds, verdant forests, volcanic mountains and beautiful stretches of the ocean, it’s an oasis for nature lovers.

The Bahamas

Coral white-sand beaches and lapping turquoise waters make the Bahamas a blissful escape. This tranquil Caribbean Island hangout is ideal for those seeking a laid-back atmosphere, great food and even better weather.

Consider yourself an adventure-lover? The Bahamas has a plethora of water activities to try your hand at, from snorkelling and scuba diving, to paddle boarding and boat trips. Go on, dive in.

If you wish to visit any of these destinations in 2021/22, let us be your one-stop-shop from flights to hotels. Tell us your travel preferences and we’ll tailor a holiday that best suits you.

Phuket

15 Best Winter Sun Destinations to Visit around the World

Eager for a splash of winter sun? We don’t blame you. Escape grey skies and woolly jumpers for warmer weather in some of the world’s most exotic destinations in 2021. If you’ve been wondering where is hot in January, we’ve handpicked a list of some of the best places for year-round sun so you can start packing your suitcase for 2021.

1- The Maldives

Maldives Travel
Maldives

Say goodbye to the gloomy dark skies and welcome the bright sunshine in the unmatched beauty of the Maldives. With over 1190 islands in the Maldives archipelago (185 uninhabited), there’s an abundance of paradise isles to unwind on. Stay in a luxurious Water Villa, get active with watersports, pamper yourself with rejuvenating spa treatments and indulge in world-class food from the finest restaurants. Wherever you stay, you’ll have an unforgettable time in the Maldives.

Best time to visit: November – April

Average Temperature: 29.9°C

Top Attractions: Meeru island, Maafushi, Ari Atoll.

2- Malaysia

Malaysia

Full of luxurious hotels and resorts, Malaysia offers an enchanting escape in Southeast Asia. Whether you want to explore the incredible wildlife, admire skyscrapers in the bustling city, or relax on a white-sand beach, no two days are the same in this gorgeous destination. With almost 900 islands, water adventures, beach resorts and innovative cities, there really is something for everybody in this corner of the world.

Best time to visit: December – April

Average Temperature: 27°C

Top Attractions: Batu caves, Mount Kinabalu, Perhentian islands.

3- South Africa

South Africa wildlife

South Africa makes for a perfect coastal escape in the winter months, with the best beaches, wildlife and adventure sports available to lap up. If you like to surf, you’ll be in for a treat as this part of the Atlantic experiences fantastic waves all year round. Or, if national parks and wildlife is your thing, head to Kruger National Park for an iconic safari experience or admires famous Table Mountain National Park. South Africa is one of the best winter holiday destinations for its diversity.

Best time to visit: December – February

Average Temperature: 28°C

Top Attractions: Cape of good hope, Robben Island, Boulders beach.

4- Thailand

Phi Phi island, Thailand

Verdant forests, stunning islands, and paradise-worthy beaches, Thailand is one of the most popular places to spend your January holidays. Hop from island to island and discover all this incredible destination has to offer, from its beautiful animal sanctuary to lush forests, eclectic nightlife, drool-worthy street food and much more. Go rock climbing, discover hidden lagoons, scuba dive or spend a day with the elephants all while soaking up the toasty whether – the list is endless.

Best time to visit: December – February

Average Temperature: 31 – 34°C

Top Attractions: The grand palace, Railay beach, Similan islands.

5- Barbados

Barbados

A tropical climate blesses Barbados throughout the year, making it a perfect destination for any month or season. However, if you wish to experience the dry season of Barbados then January is the best month to do so. Mouth-watering dishes, swimming with the turtles and lots of well-earned lazy afternoons can be spent here with your loved ones.

Best time to visit: December – April

Average Temperature: 29°C

Top Attractions: Harrison’s cave, Carlisle bay, Animal flower cave.

6- Dubai

Dubai Beach

If you’re looking for the best of both worlds, Dubai certainly has the wow-factor. Perfect to visit in January, you’ll be met by an abundance of things to see and do here – from shopping in city-sized malls to attending cultural events, taking part in adventure sports and wandering exotic souks – there really is no end to the entertainment. This world-class destination isn’t short of luxurious resorts either, so you’ll be sure to stay in style while you’re here. The summer warmth is quite unbearable in Dubai, but the winter months are the most pleasant times to explore the place.

Best time to visit: November – April

Average Temperature: 26°C

Top Attractions: The Dubai Mall, Burj Khalifa, Dubai safari.

7- Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka Attraction

Golden beaches and blue skies calls are what you can expect on holidays to Sri Lanka, a perfect winter escapade this season. Aside from picture-perfect beaches, history lovers can also spot some amazing UNESCO world heritage sites with olde-worlde ruins to discover. With amazing views from different cliffs, enchanting fortresses and breathtaking temples, this Sri Lankan holiday might be all that you have been waiting for.

Best time to visit: November – February

Average Temperature: 27°C

Top Attractions: Sigiriya fortress, Yala national park, Galle Dutch fort.

8- Cyprus

Cyprus

Cyprus may not be far-flung or exotic as our other featured destinations, but it certainly brings the heat. The sun shines for almost the entire year here, (approximately 340 days) and it’s one of the warmest places to visit in the Mediterranean. Whisk the family away to a landscape of beautiful beaches, rich history and lush forests, each of which sure to help you forget about the drizzly weather back home. Cyprus can offer you both unspoiled natural beauty and atmospheric streets, so you can have a holiday that’s as laid-back or lively as you wish.

Best time to visit: November – February

Average Temperature: 23°C

Top Attractions: Tombs of the kings, Nissi beach, Coral bay.

9- Laos

Laos

Laos serves up spiritual and cultural vibes to visitors that wish to explore this corner of Southeast Asia. You’ll discover intricate ancient temples, cascading waterfalls, verdant jungles brimming with Gibbons and plenty of adventure sports – from kayaking to white-water rafting, zip line experiences and more.

If you like to shop, there’s plenty of market stalls oozing spilling with handmade arts and crafts for those all-important keepsakes.

Best time to visit: December – March

Average Temperature: 27°C – 29°C

Top Attractions: Phousi hill, Kuang Si waterfall, Wat Xiengthong.

10- Morocco

Morocco

You are going to the right place if cultural beauty, bustling street markets, opulent buildings and intricately handcrafted ceramics is what you’re after. Morocco has a mild temperature in the winter months making it a perfect sunshine destination to beat the chills. There’s plenty for you to see within its cobbled streets, from colourful belly dancers and snake charmers to intimate shops selling unique souvenirs. One of the best destinations to put on your bucket list.

Best time to visit: November – March

Average Temperature: 20°C

Top Attractions: Bahia palace, Ouzoud falls, Koutoubia.

11- Egypt

Egypt

The winter months in Egypt are certainly toastier than in the UK, with average highs of 19°C in Cairo and 22°C in a popular tourist resort, Sharm El Sheikh. Prepare to be enchanted by your visits to Cairo, Giza, Sphinx, Luxor, Aswan and more amazing places the country holds. You’ll notice ancient buildings, monuments and pastimes in abundance when you visit this interesting destination, with ornate carvings, statues and sculptures around every corner. Prefer a little R&R while you’re away? The luxury hotel resorts lining the Red Sea are sure to satisfy sun-seekers…

Best time to visit: December – February

Average Temperature: 19°C – 22°C

Top Attractions: Great Sphinx of Giza, Karnak, The Egyptian museum.

12. Vietnam

waterfall in Vietnam

Vietnam experiences warm weather in January, with average temperatures of 26°C in the south, 23°C in the central regions and a cooler (and more comfortable) 18°C in the north. Discover the vibrant cities including Hoi An, Hue and Ho Chin Minh City, with their rich history and bustling atmosphere – or, go more rural and visit Halong Bay with its turquoise waters or verdant Cat Ba Island and you’ll feel a million miles from home.

Best time to visit: November – February

Average Temperature: 25°C

Top Attractions: Chu chi tunnel, Temple of literature, Ha Long bay.

13- Mexico

Mexico Beach

The perfect destination for exploring white-sand beaches, ancient Mayan architecture and an underwater world of exotic marine life – Mexico holidays are a fantastic option if you want an all-round sunshine escape in January. This sunny winter holiday destination is well-suited to those who enjoy being close to nature, love to adventure and lap up their fair share of buzzing nightlife and tasty food. Whether it’s cenote swimming, scuba diving, or simply lounging on Cancun beach that you’re looking forward to most, your Mexico holiday won’t disappoint.

Best time to visit: November – April

Average Temperature: 25°C – 27°C

Top Attractions: Tulum, Xcaret park, Pyramid of the sun.

14- Myanmar

Myanmar

Myanmar is generally a humid destination, but during the winter months, the climate becomes dry and a little cooler, making it a perfect stop for you. Typically there are fewer visitors around this time, so you won’t be overwhelmed by large crowds. You can admire the spectacular ancient sights, temples and amazing natural wonders at your leisure – ahh bliss.

Best time to visit: November – February

Average Temperature: 21°C – 24°C

Top Attractions: Inle Lake, Sule Pagoda, Ananda temple.

15- Oman

Oman

Oman’s diverse landscapes can be best experienced when the summer desert heat gets over-shadowed by pleasant winter temperatures. A scintillating sea breeze is going to embrace you when you’re exploring what this Middle Eastern gem has to offer, from its valleys and ravines to swaying palm trees and clear waters…

Best time to visit: October – April

Average Temperature: 26°C

Top Attractions: Jebel Shams, Wadi Ash Shab, Nizwa fort

So, there we have it, our list of the best places to visit in winter around the world. Call our experts at Crystal Travel and let us help you plan your trip this upcoming January 2021, for less.

Norway holiday

10 Most Beautiful Places to Visit in January around the World

There’s no better time than January to beat the winter chills and start the New Year with a bang, in some of the worlds far-flung destinations. Why wait any longer for blue skies, sandy beaches and pockets full of sunshine? Dive into our list of the most beautiful places to visit in January around the world.

1- Norway

If you don’t mind the cold, why not wrap up and experience a proper winter wonderland in Norway. January is the coldest month in Norway, which is one of the obvious reasons why it attracts fewer tourists, allowing you to explore the place at your own pace (and with plenty of space). Indulge in exciting snow sports or get lost in the dreamy landscape with frosty nights and lazy sunrises.

Top Attractions: Pulpit rock, seven sisters waterfall, Kjosfossen falls, Fonna glacier.

Average Temperature: High -1.8°C (28.8°F)

2- Bali

One of the best places to travel in January if you’re a sun-seeker, is Bali. This exotic Indonesian Island destination boasts fantastic sunshine ideal to warm things up when the winter chills hit the UK. It’s worth bringing your umbrella though since January is the wettest month with unpredictable rain spells – often a welcome cool-down from the heat!

Top Attractions: Mount Batur, Sacred monkey forest sanctuary, Bingin beach, Sanur.

Average Temperature: 26°C (78°F).

3- New Zealand

New Zealand

You can’t visit this amazing destination without soaking up an aerial view of the glaciers – a stunning experience. January is the warmest month in New Zealand with average temperatures of 24°C in the north and 19°C in the south, making it one of the most popular times for visitors to explore this island country.

The place is divided into North and South Island and it all depends on your curiosity where you land, as both the areas have attractive exploration options. From rooftop bars, beaches, erupting geysers and more, New Zealand makes for the perfect place to visit in January.

Top Attractions: Lake Tekapo, Waitomo Glowworm Caves, Fox glacier, Abel Tasman National park.

Average Temperature: 25°C (77°F)

4- South Africa

South Africa

South Africa blooms the best in January, boasting a mix of moderate temperatures and no rainfall. It’s a great stop to explore everything this beautiful destination has to offer, from exotic wildlife to quirky party locations and dozens of natural attractions. Wander comfortably in the South African sun with a glass of wine in hand, touring the country’s renowned vineyards.

Top Attractions: Maclear’s Beacon, Cape of Good Hope, Boulders Beach, Robben Island.

Average Temperature: 18°C (64.4°F)

5- Dubai

DUBAI

This man-made wonder nestled in the heart of a golden desert attracts tourists from all over the world. Dubai is renowned for its sheer luxury, world-class experiences, grandeur and record-breaking architecture – with exciting attractions sure to make for a memorable trip. The temperature in January is a comfortable 24°C, making it the perfect option if you’re seeking a splash of winter sun. Explore the bustling city or spend time relaxing on Jumeirah beach – Dubai can be as lively or laid-back as you wish.

Top Attractions: Burj Khalifa, The Dubai Mall, Dubai Creek, Jumeirah Beach.

Average Temperature: 24°C (75.2°F)

6- Maldives

Maldives

No list is complete without a mention of the Maldives. Crowned as one of the best January holiday destinations, these paradise islands are a haven for those who want to lap up the luxury in style, with fun-loving watersports, rejuvenating spa treatments, first-class restaurants and state-of-the-art water villas to match. What better way to unwind after the festivities?

Top Attractions: Ari Atoll, Hukuru Miskiy, Fuvahmulah, Kuda Rah.

Average Temperature: 27°C (80.6°F)

7- Vietnam

Vietnam

Dry and sunny weather awaits you in Vietnam, a country that has natural beauty in abundance. There’s so much to discover here, from the world’s largest caves to beautiful Halong Bay, or take a hike up Cat Ba Island. Catch the enchanting Lantern Festival in Hoi An for the perfect way to see in the New Year. The early months serve up an eclectic blend of lively and serenity in Vietnam, making it one of the best holiday destinations in January.

Top Attractions: Cu Chi tunnel, Temple of Literature, The marble mountains, Ben Thanh market.

Average Temperature: 24°C (75.2°F)

8- Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka

The best time to visit Sri Lanka is from December to March, perfect if you wish to escape the winter chills. Mix beautiful mountain backdrops and natural attractions with fast-paced urban life, and you’ve got the perfect balance for your Sri Lanka holidays. The landscapes, greenery, tea plantations, blue skies, Buddhist temples and golden beaches will make you fall in love with this corner of South Asia.

Top Attractions: Sigiriya Fortress, Adam’s Peak, Galle Dutch Fort, Elephant orphanage.

Average Temperature: 27°C (80.6°F)

9- Australia

Australia

Where better to find the sunshine than by travelling halfway across the world? If you want to see in the New Year before everybody on the planet, then Australia is the place to do it. With an average and super toasty temperature of 28°C, it’s no wonder it’s classed as one of the top January holiday destinations. Celebrate In style and watch the epic fireworks display in Sydney and Melbourne.

Top Attractions: Honeymoon Bay, Cumberland River, Cedar Creek, Coorong Beach.

Average Temperature: 28°C (82 °F)

10- Thailand

Thailand

Thailand is known to show it all in only one trip, right from amazing cities to rainforests, the place has it all and in full glory. The days in Thailand in January are sunny and dry, making it one of the best places to go in January. Drive the Great Ocean Road, have a BBQ on the beach or wander Darling Harbour.

Top Attractions: The Grand Palace, Railay Beach, Khaosan Road, Ko Samet.

Average Temperature: 27°C (80.6 °F)

So there you have it, our compilation of some of the best places to visit in January – just in time for2021! Did you found your dream winter escape? Call us now to book a tailor-made holiday this January, for less.

Christmas Celebration

How is the festive period likely to be different this year?

Christmas is upon us and amidst the pandemic, the festive season is going to look a little different this year. Families are encouraged to celebrate within their households in their local area only, to ensure the safety of loved ones and others you may come in contact with throughout this period.

Celebrating Christmas at Home
Celebrating Christmas at Home

1- Christmas Bubbles

It is possible to celebrate Christmas this year by forming Christmas Bubbles. However, with the new lockdown rules implemented as of midnight on Saturday 19th December, these bubbles are only acceptable in certain tiers.

  • Tier 4 is prohibited to form bubbles or mix with other households
  • Tier 3 can form a bubble of three households on Christmas Day only.
  • The members of these bubbles can mix and enjoy in each other’s houses, a place of worship or in an outdoor public space or garden. Also, the bubble member’s list should be fixed as no swapping is allowed.
  • If you have children returning from university, they are automatically considered as a part of your household.
  • Other children who are not at university but are spread across the nation cannot form a bubble with their parents and must stick to their local areas.

2- Online celebrations

Online weddings, meetings and family reunions played a major part of 2020 with regards to both business and personal gatherings (hands up if you did one too many zoom quizzes?). Since there are restrictions on throwing a big party this year, zoom parties will most likely be the way forward – so be sure to have that WiFi working!

3- Communal gatherings

Currently, places of worship including churches will remain open even in the Tier 4 areas. This relaxation may however be reviewed for safety reasons, so it’s advised that, if you can, to attend church services online.

4- Online Christmas shopping

All major retail stores are likely to remain closed, so online shopping for gifts and essentials is probable. With this comes the possibility of popular items (Your Christmas Turkey) out of stock, so be sure to get online and buy as soon as possible with social distanced delivery.

Here’s to wishing you all a safe Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Family travelling at leisure

How Travel is going to look like Post-Lockdown

The second phase of lockdown has finally come to an end and with it came the new guidelines for how travel is going to look in the near future.

The Lockdown Tiers

Though the rules are a little more lenient, restrictions across the UK are by no means completely lifted. After the national lockdown was lifted, the government implemented a three-tier system which came into effect on 2 December 2020, placing different areas in the UK in either Tier 1, Tier 2 or Tier 3 ranking from medium risk to high and maximum risk.

Tier 1 – Medium Risk

+ The rule of 6 will apply indoors and outdoors

+ Spectator sports can resume with a crowd of 50% of capacity or 4,000 spectactors (whichever is smaller)

Restaurants and cafes opening after lockdown

Tier 2 – High Risk

+ You cannot mix with anybody you do not live with or who is not in your support bubble indoors

+ The rule of 6 applies in outdoor spaces such as parks, beaches or countryside

+ Pubs and bars can only open if they serve substantial meals – alcohol can be served with that meal

+ Pubs and restaurants must shut at 23:00

+ Shops, gyms and personal care services can re-open

+ Hospitality venues must stay closed, except for delivery and takeaway services

+ Spectacor sports must not resume

+ Non-essential foreign travel allowed, subject to quarantine rules

+ People advised not to travel to and from Tier 3 areas

People resuming going to office

Tier 3 – Maximum Risk

+ You cannot mix with anybody you do not live with or who is not in your support bubble indoors or in private or pub gardens

+ The rule of 6 applies in outdoor spaces such as parks, beaches or countryside

+ Shops, gyms and personal care services can re-open

+ Hospitality venues must stay closed, except for delivery and takeaway services

+ Spectacor sports must not resume

+ People advised not to travel to and from Tier 3 areas

Maintaining social distance for better protection

Places You Can Travel To

After the national lockdown, the all-domestic and international flying ban was lifted allowing non-essential foreign travel to be permitted following quarantine rules.

Small group of people interacting

The government has released a list of destinations that will not require you to self-isolate upon arrival from or return to the UK. However, you do need to have spent a minimum of 14 days in your desired destination or in the UK alone before travel.

If you are planning a last-minute holiday in 2020, this list outlines the destinations that are safe for guests to visit without self-isolation:
  • Anguilla
  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Aruba
  • Australia
  • The Azores
  • Bahrain
  • Barbados
  • Bermuda
  • Bhutan
  • Bonaire/St Eustatius/Saba
  • British Antarctic Territory
  • British Indian Ocean Territory
  • British Virgin Islands
  • Brunei
  • Cambodia
  • the Canary Islands
  • Cayman Islands
  • the Channel Islands
  • Chile
  • Cuba
  • Dominica
  • Falkland Islands
  • Faroe Islands
  • Fiji
  • Finland
  • Gibraltar
  • Greek islands: Corfu, Crete, Kos, Rhodes, Zakynthos
  • Greenland
  • Grenada
  • Hong Kong
  • Iceland
  • Ireland
  • the Isle of Man
  • Israel and Jerusalem
  • Japan
  • Laos
  • Macao (Macau)
  • Madeira
  • Malaysia
  • Maldives
  • Mauritius
  • Mongolia
  • Montserrat
  • Namibia
  • New Caledonia
  • New Zealand
  • Northern Mariana Islands
  • Norway
  • Pacific Islands (Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Vanuatu)
  • Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie and Oeno Islands
  • Qatar
  • Rwanda
  • Seychelles
  • Singapore
  • South Korea
  • South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands
  • Sri Lanka
  • St Barthélemy
  • St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha
  • St Kitts and Nevis
  • St Lucia
  • St Pierre and Miquelon
  • St Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Taiwan
  • Thailand
  • Timor-Leste
  • Turks and Caicos Islands
  • United Arab Emirates
  • Uruguay
  • US Virgin Islands
  • Vietnam
People getting back to travelling

If you’re looking to book a winter sun escape to one of these destinations, call our dedicated team of travel experts to receive the latest flight deals available.

Story-Bridge

10 Best Things to See in Brisbane

Known for its stunning year-round sunshine, Brisbane is nothing short of a paradise. It’s a great place to travel to for many of it’s own reasons, but also because it makes for a great base point if you wish to explore nearby attractions. The attractive beaches of Brisbane are a big enough draw if you’re a sand lover, with a selection of beautiful beaches to sink your toes into.

Can’t decide where to visit first? We’ve listed 10 of our top tourist attractions in and nearby Brisbane so you can start planning your travel itinerary, today. Getting in touch with us is easier than ever. Call at 0207 612 0500 and connect with our travel experts for a hassle-free booking.

1- Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary

LONE PINE KOALA SANCTUARY

If you’re an animal lover, take a trip to see the Koalas at the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. You can have a cuddle with a friendly koala alongside taking pictures with (less cuddle-y) snakes and other animals that are well kept in the sanctuary. Other popular attractions include platypus feeding and admiring other local animals such as kangaroos, wallabies, dingoes and more.

2. Botanic Gardens Mount Coot-tha

BOTANIC GARDENS MOUNT COOT-THA

Botanic Gardens Mount Coot-tha is considered as one of the most amazing places to visit in Brisbane due to the panoramic views you can get from here. It’s 7 kilometres away from the city and expands over 128 acres, where you can discover cactus and bamboo plants, plus the enchanting Japanese gardens. Walking tracks are available throughout the area with free guided walks and also a minibus tour to make exploration easy. There is also a restaurant on-site explorers can indulge in local and international cuisine.

 3. Museum of Brisbane

MUSEUM OF BRISBANE

Being modelled and reopened in 2013, this museum reveals the rich history of Brisbane and its people.  The collection comprises of more than 5000 pieces of art from local and contemporary artists, displayed proudly for public viewing. It’s located on the top floor of the City Hall, which adds to the experience thanks to its brilliant views over the city.

4. South Bank

SOUTH BANK

South Bank is a lively area that’s loved by locals and tourists alike, peppered with atmospheric plazas, special hosted events and diverse restaurants to indulge in. Swimming in the man-made lagoon is one of the top things to do in Brisbane on a hot sunny day to cool off, but you can also go biking or for a leisurely stroll here. The Wheel of Brisbane is a popular landmark in South Bank, which opened in 2008.

5. Story Bridge

STORY BRIDGE

There are three bridges in the world like the one in Brisbane, also known as Story Bridge, situated in Sydney and Auckland. If you like to explore on foot and soak up spectacular views, this is the experience for you – lasting approximately two hours you’ll be able to roam 80 meters above the level of Brisbane River. The climb is suitable for all fitness levels and ages 10 or above.

6. West End

WEST END

You can’t travel to Brisbane without visiting this vibrant neighbourhood and its Farmers Market. Quirkiness is in abundance in the West End, sprinkled with chic coffee houses and vintage shops, making it a great option for some budget-worthy browsing. Better still, its famous for its West End Fire Festival, where you can witness amazing night shows and circus acts for an evening of entertainment.

7. Kangaroo Point Cliffs

KANGAROO POINT CLIFFS

Walk to the left of the Brisbane River and you’ll discover Kangaroo Point, which consists of a set of cliffs. Live like the locals do, grab your walking boots and visit this landmark to climb the cliffs (with an instructor too, if you wish) – or if you prefer two feet on the ground, why not take a picnic to enjoy amid the beautiful surroundings?

8. River Cruise

RIVER CRUISE

Discover Brisbane in a whole new light when you go on a leisurely river cruise with City Cats or City Ferries. There are different hop-on and hop-off terminals, which can be used for visiting other areas at your own pace. Aside from the beautiful setting, you can also soak up sights of historical landmarks along the way.

9. Eat Street Market

If you can’t decide where to eat next, head to the world-famous Eat Street Market. Foodies will be in their element, as there are no less than 70 food stalls here, each serving up a variety of delicious international delicacies to sample. You can find every kind of food here, from vegan dishes to meat eateries, so the options are endless!

10. Byron Bay

BYRON BAY

There are many destinations not too far from Brisbane to visit on a day tour, however, Byron Bay is undoubtedly the most famous of all. Be ready for live music, an awesome atmosphere and some spectacular waves – making it nothing less than a paradise. Rent a car and enjoy the outskirts of the city while you’re en route, it’s a great way to discover the area’s natural beauty.

Soak up the fantastic year-round weather and take advantage of both the laid-back and lively vibes available in Brisbane. Crystal Travel provides cheap flights to Brisbane for your next sun-kissed escape, with flights to Brisbane available from all major airports. Call our travel experts today and don’t miss out on our latest deals.

Astounding Places in Philippines that Resemble Foreign Destinations

What about visiting the whole world in one place? Yes! It is not a joke. Who would not like to save the money, resources and time to travel to various tourist attractions around the world when it is possible to visit all those hyped destinations at one place.

There is a whole world that awaits you in the Philippines with a wide array of cuisines to taste and many different people to meet. Ahead of striking beaches, magnificent mountains, exotic islands and bustling arenas, Philippines has much more to offer from its unfathomable treasure house. Here, we will acquaint you with the striking similarity that exists between various places within the Philippines and the other countries in the world.

1- Calauit, Coron Palawn = Africa

CALAUIT, CORON PALAWN

Calauit Safari park is a wildlife sanctuary that is stretched in a 3700-hectare island in Calamian Islands. It is a dwelling place to an extensive population of African animals such as giraffes, zebras, antelopes, elephants etc and hence this place has amply earned the name of “Little Africa”. You can even dress up in a safari theme with a cowboy hat and khakis and post a picture in a wildlife backdrop.

2- Coron Bay, Palawan = Halong Bay, Vietnam

CORON BAY, PALAWAN

Would you like a touch of history to your beach destination? If yes, Coron Bay is your place in the Philippines. Owing to the wrecks that sunk near the bay, when the US army launched a massive airstrike, this bay has been a favourite spot for the divers and is located in between Busuanga and Culion Islands. Besides the underneath wrecks, there are gorgeous cliffs that are so breathtakingly beautiful that the whole scenario will remind you of the Halong Bay in Vietnam.

3. Fortune Island, Batangas = Greece

FORTUNE ISLAND, BATANGAS

The Fortune Island boasts of its iconic pillars and stupendous sculptures of mythical creatures and symbolic Gods to be inspired by ancient Greek architectural style. On the shore one can witness an overwhelming replica of sunken San Diego and Spanish Galleon. Here people can engage in any activity of their interest like snorekelling, swimming, hiking or cliff jumping. Click a perfect profile photo in a blue or white flowery dress with amazing Grecian columns contributing to the perfect backdrop. 

4. Candijay, Bohol = Sapa Valley, Vietnam

CANDIJAY, BOHOL

The Cadapdapan Rice Terraces in Barangay Candijay in Bohol might not be as splendid as those in other remarkable places like Batad or Banaue in the Cordillera region, but still, it has own captivating aura that will make your visit to Philippines worthwhile.

5. Batanes = New Zealand

BATANES

Batanes is the dream destination in the Philippines. Its awe-inspiring views and gushing waves banging against the cliffs is a striking sight to behold. The whole scenario seems as if it comes alive straight from Lord of Rings like it is another world out there. If you wish to visit the places around Batanes, the area predominated by the Ivantans, you have to perhaps come struggling through the angry waves.

6. Sitangkai, Tawi-Tawi

Taguig has its own thing to give a competition to Venice. Sitangkai is an island in Tawi Tawi that is largely known as the “Venice of the South”. This sword-shaped island serves as a main gateway to the municipality. While cruising along the canal, one can observe footbridges that link the communities from both the sides of the canal. Boats solely are the chief medium of transportation on the island. This place will surely give you a glimpse of Bangkok’s floating market.

7. Siargao, Bantayn Island or Boracay = The Bahamas

SIARGAO, BANTAYN ISLAND OR BORACAY

The archipelago of the Philippines is dabbed with amazing islands with white sand beaches and sparkling turquoise waters. When you will saunter through the Siargo, Bantayan Island, Samal Island, Boracay etc you will feel as if you are in the Bahamas though you would be on one of the famous Philippines’ attractions.

8. Binondo, Manila = China

BINONDO, MANILA

The Chinese who have settled in the Philippines had a great influence on the trade and culture of the country. Binondo is the conventional centre of community life for the Filipino – Chinese. No wonder this place became the world’s oldest Chinatown. You will agree on this when you will book cheap flights to Manila and see the place yourself.

9. Venice Piazza Grand Canal Mall, McKinley Hill, Taguig = Venice or Macau

VENICE PIAZZA GRAND CANAL MALL

This could be a mixed experience when you are visiting the famous places in Philippines. Not only in Venice, a Gondola ride is possible in Manila also. McKinley Hill in Taguig started the Gandola rides in Manila owing to its picturesque canal at the Venice Piazza Grand Canal Mall. It has more of an influence of Macau than Venice. You can set your focus in any direction to click a picture in Macau or Venice, whichever you prefer. 

10. Sirao Flower Farm, Cebu = Amsterdam, Netherlands

SIRAO FLOWER FARM, CEBU

Your flights to Cebu will take you to the Busay community in Lahug which holds a long history of growing flowers. It was not much famous till the last few years but slowly the place gains popularity when people started visiting the place and shared pictures of red and yellow blooming flowers. Since then, the flower farm has been the most frequently visited destination in the Philippines. The bright flowers of Celosia were brought by the delegates of Cebuano who visited the Netherlands.

11. Vigan IIocos, Sur = Spain

VIGAN ILOCOS, SUR

When you are looking for places to visit in Philippines, don’t forget Vigan, Llocos Sur. Here you will find some ancient treasures of Spanish-influenced heritage sites like the Heritage Village of Vigan which will take you back in time.

12. Bilar Man-Made Forest, Bohol = Sagano Bamboo Forest, Kyoto, Japan

BILAR MAN-MADE FOREST, BOHOL

In Bilar, Bohol, there is a Mahogany forest that stretches to around two kilometers.  It is a man-made forest that is so unique and perfect in shape that it inspired many filmmakers to shoot some movie scenes in the area. These forests definitely resemble the Sagano bamboo forest in Japan.

So, we have equipped you with many destinations in the Philippines that would suffice your needs to travel to different tourist destinations across the globe. What you have to do is, just book your flights to Philippines and gear up for the excitement!