How to Celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival

It’s Time to Celebrate the Moon Festival!

With autumn coming upon us, the enchanting celebration known as the Mid-Autumn Festival (or the Moon Festival) is right around the corner! It is a beautiful festival that brings together families, creating warm bonds and happy memories while watching the moon at its brightest time. Another reason to love or visit China for!

Full moon

Time to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival.

This year (2016), the Mid-Autumn Festival falls on September 15th, so in preparation for this charming event, we’d like to present you with all the information you need to truly enjoy the festivities!

The Beginnings and History

With deep roots into the culture and history of the ancient Chinese people, this observance was closely related to the time of the harvest. As the ancient Chinese watched the moon above them and how it grew brighter at the time when the harvest was full and ready, the saw the need to thank this beautiful luminary in view of the good harvest they had, and thus offered sacrifices to it in the autumn.

Mid-Autumn festival lanterns

Beautiful lanterns ready for the celebration.

Beginning in the times of the Zhou Dynasty, these sacrifices were offered only by the royal class. Later, throughout the Tang Dynasty, the general public also started to worship the moon at its brightest time of the year, and the two celebrations were merged together to form the Moon Festival.

The people gathered under the moon at night to express their inner feelings and worship the moon as a family. As time went on, the celebration gained prominence. By the time of the Ming and Qing Dynasties, the festival was a major celebration throughout the country.

Enchanting Legends and Myths

There are different fables and stories that are connected with the Moon Festival. These are generally tragic tales with moral implications. One, a beautiful love story between Hou Yi and his wife Chang’e, tells how a skilled archer shot down 9 of the earth’s 10 suns and saved mankind. As a gift of thanks, he was given an elixir which would allow him, and only him, to live forever. He refused to drink because he preferred to stay with his wife. However, one day when Hou Yi was out, one of his students came to steal the elixir from his home. When confronted by the intruder, Chang’e knew she must protect the elixir, and drank it herself. She was immediately transported, floating higher and higher, until she ended up on the moon.

happy Chinese faces

Everyone in China is looking forward to this Festival.

When Hou Yi arrived home and saw what happened, he set a table of food for his wife to try and bring her back down. To this day, families in China prepare a table of food to offer to the moon. Some children believe that Chang’e (The Moon Lady) still resides there.

spring in China

Spring in China

Another tale, tells the story of a companion of Chang’e on the moon: the rabbit. The Emperor of Heaven, as a test to the animals, appeared as a man to a fox, a monkey, and a rabbit, asking them to bring him food. They each went their separate ways, and the fox and the monkey each brought back food for the man. However, the rabbit found nothing. Feeling regret, the rabbit asked for help to collect some firewood, and when they put the fire together, the rabbit offered herself to be eaten. The Emperor of Heaven, pleased by her attitude, honored her by letting her bones go to the Moon Palace to be seen from the earth forever.

Why All the Mooncakes?

Mooncakes are a very typical food for this festival, shared between family members and usually washed down with tea.

Cez introducing traditional mooncakes to you.

Cez introducing traditional mooncakes to you.

Although the style of the pastry varies depending on where in China you are buying it. The delicate, round cakes are typically an outer shell of pastry with thick, rich filling that is at times made from lotus seed paste or azuki bean paste.

Mooncakes making in progress.

Mooncakes making in progress.

They are a symbol of the full moon, and are usually imprinted with Chinese characters on the outside, words such “harmony” or “longevity”. Sometimes you will also see pictures imprinted into the pastry of the moon or the Moon Lady.

Mid-Autumn Festival mooncakes

Traditional Chinese mooncakes.

The cakes will be served in small pieces in the family, and are also usually given as gifts to friends and acquaintances.

chinese kids making own mooncakes

Making mooncakes with students.

It is interesting to note that at any other time of the year, it is nearly impossible to find this tasty treat.

Mooncakes nicely packed and ready to eat!

Mooncakes nicely packed and ready to eat!

If you would like to know more about mooncakes, check out our Beginner’s Guide to traditional Chinese mooncake post.

Tasting mooncakes.

Tasting mooncakes.

How to Celebrate the Festival Traditionally

The Mid-Autumn Festival is also called the Moon Festival because of its close relation to the cycles of the moon. Thus, going outside at night to sit under the stars and gaze upwards at the beautiful luminary that shines even brighter in mid-autumn is the way that most Chinese will celebrate this festival.

chinese-lanterns-during-the-mid-autumn-festival

Chinese lanterns during the Mid-Autumn Festival.

Another big part of the Moon Festival is lighting lanterns and setting them adrift into the air. Alternatively, carrying them around. You can form and decorate your own lantern. This creates some beautiful views at night when the crowds gather to light them. They can then be hung in parks, in trees, on houses, or basically any other place. Some people write riddles in their lanterns and send them floating for someone else to find and decipher.

Huaqing Hot Springs

Huaqing Hot Springs, China

A tradition that is starting to wane in our modern society is that of putting a table outside with food sacrifices to venerate the moon. They would place fruit and mooncakes on the table, worshipping the moon and ascribing its honor. This, however, is now most commonly seen only in the old villages. Most importantly, the Mid-Autumn Festival is a time for families to be together and celebrate unity and love.

Top Places to Be For the Mid-Autumn Festival

Basically, find yourself a place to see the moon! Whether it be on top of a roof, or near a natural spot such as a lake, make sure you have an unobstructed view of this natural night-light. If you happen to be near Beijing, one of the best places to go is the Altar of the Moon in Yuetan Park. Here is where the royalty of ancient dynasties offered sacrifices to the moon, and you can appreciate the light from above while taking in the rich history surrounding the sight. You can also head to Hong Kong to feel the magic of Mid-Autumn Festival there.

The Mid-Autumn Festival is a joyous occasion that encourages family togetherness and unity while appreciating the beauty that hangs above us in the sky every night. Taking in this wonderful tradition is a must-do when traveling to China in September. This year the event falls on September 15, so make sure you plan your trip accordingly!

Have you ever experienced the Mid-Autumn Festival?

5 Things Not to Miss in Malaga and the Costa Del Sol

About Malaga

Malaga, the largest city in the Costa Del Sol, has a little bit of something for everyone. Beach lovers are well catered for with a number of world-class beaches, while adventure lovers can hike in its nearby mountains, scuba dive in its crystal clear waters, and indulge in mountain biking, jet skiing, and a number of other adventure sports.

exploring-malaga-city

Malaga from above.

Malaga’s rich culture and history are sure to excite every history lover, too. Malaga is also a relatively inexpensive holiday in Spain hotspot, meaning you won’t have to break the bank to enjoy a holiday in Malaga.

a-bit-of-wine

A bit of wine.

Today we are listing 5 reasons why you should consider Malaga and the Costa Del Sol for your next holiday!

#1 Trips to Malaga are surprisingly affordable

It’s no secret that Spain’s economy is experiencing difficulties at the moment. Recent figures show that unemployment has reached a record high of 27%, and it doesn’t look like things are going to change anytime soon. While this is bad news for prospective expats and local Spaniards, it’s good news for holiday goers and early retirees.

malaga

Malaga beach. Who wants to be there right now?

Many Spanish holiday hotspots like Malaga have reduced their prices in a bid to attract tourists. Flights to Malaga are cheaper than ever before, and restaurants, shops, tour companies, and hotels have slashed their prices, too. The wonders of the Costa Del Sol await you upon arriving in Malaga, and it won’t cost you a lot of money to experience them.

#2 Malaga’s beaches are amongst some of the best in the world

Malaga is located close to dozens of beaches, some of which are considered to be amongst the best in the world.

malaga-view

Malaga’s beach.

Of the beaches close to Malaga, Playa de la Malagueta, a 1200m long blue flag beach made up of black sand; Playa Palo, a beach featuring coves and clear waters that are perfect for snorkelling; and Playa Las Acacias, a long and wide beach with fine, grey sand are considered to be three of the best. Each of these beaches has excellent facilities, too, with restaurants and bars located nearby. Several hidden, secluded beaches are located near Malaga, too. These beaches can be easily reached by car or motorbike. They’re the perfect place to enjoy some private sunbathing.

#3 Malaga’s locals are very welcoming and friendly to travellers

Malaga’s locals are some of the friendliest and happiest in Spain. They’re always cheerful and ready to lend a hand if you’re having any problems.

spanish-bar

A typical Spanish bar.

The locals also like to socialise and enjoy themselves. In the evenings, they meet up for dinner and drinks and then spend the night partying away in one of Malaga’s many bars and clubs. It’s not uncommon to find all night street parties taking place in Malaga, too.

#4 Malaga’s rich culture and interesting history to learn about

Malaga’s old city is home to dozens of interesting cultural and historical attractions. It also offers perfect views over the city and its coastline.

fish-market

Fish market.

Alcazaba, a castle built by the Moors in the 11th century, is a particular standout. The castle is located on a hill overlooking Malaga. Considering its age, it’s remarkably well preserved. Inside the castle’s grounds, there’s also a set of gardens containing colourful plants and flowers, and a Moorish palace containing artefacts dug up during excavations of the castle. Other standout sites in Malaga include the Roman Theater, a gigantic theatre created by the Romans hundreds of years ago; the Castillo de Gibralfaro, another Moorish castle; and Malaga Cathedral, a towering beautiful cathedral that sits in the centre of Malaga’s old city.

The best way to visit these sights is on foot. By doing so, you’ll be able to take in the beauty of Malaga’s old city at a relaxing, leisurely pace.

It may be worthwhile to hire a guide while exploring Malaga’s old city, too. A guide will be able to provide background information about the old city’s many buildings, and they’ll also be able to take you to hidden sights located in the old city. Many of the local guides are able to speak English, but they’ll charge more than the Spanish speaking guides.

#5 Malaga’s shops and restaurants are some of the best in Spain

Malaga is full of shops selling clothes, souvenirs, jewellery, and more at budgets to suit every shopper.

Calle Marques de Larios, a pedestrianised street located close to Malaga’s port, is a must visit for every shopper. The street is full of boutique shops selling clothes and show designed by some of the best fashion designers in Spain. The streets surrounding the Calle Marques de Larios are also full of shops, many of them selling handmade items at surprisingly affordable prices.

theatre

A visit in the theatre.

Finally, brand name high street shops like H&M, Zara, and more can be found at the Vialia Shopping Centre, a massive shopping centre located next to the Maria Zambrano train station.

delicious-paella

Delicious seafood paella.

Malaga’s restaurants are also excellent with food from all over the world available at affordable prices. Tapas bars can be found scattered throughout the city with delicacies like boquerones, a dish made from anchovices, and ensaladilla, a russian salad, on the menu, while international restaurants can be found close to the tourist areas near Calle Marques de Larios and the Malaga Cathedral. A number of excellent seafood restaurants can be found close to the beach, too.

Malaga has a little bit of something for everyone

Beach lovers will fall in love with its many beaches, food lovers will be enamoured by the food on offer, adventure lovers will be spoiled for choice with dozens of adventure sports to choose from, history and culture lovers will fall in love with the city’s rich culture and history, and shoppers will be able to spend days happily browsing Malaga’s many shops. Make sure to put Malaga on the top of your shortlist when deciding on possible Spanish break in the future. Malaga is a very relaxed and comfortable place. You’ll always feel safe and at ease when in Malaga.

Are you planning to visit Malaga next summer?

eVisa Applications for Tourists

A great implementation from governments all around the world is that you can now apply for your tourist visas online instead of visiting their embassies. This is really a good news and especially great for all nomads, backpackers and large families that avoided international travel because of the bureaucracy of applying for visas at embassies.

passport with visa

Countries as diverse as Australia, India, Sri Lanka and Kenya all offer e-visa schemes. You can easily check visa requirements here to see if you qualify for the eVisa or not.

Countries Offering Electronic Tourist Visas

Argentina

Their Reciprocity Fee can ONLY be paid online for Canadians and Australians. The ETA is also now available for all Chinese Citizens and can be paid online without visiting an embassy.
argentina flag

Australia

The Australian ETA (Electronic Tourist Authorization) is not available to all visitors but depending on your nationality you can receive visa within 15mins via email. You are allowed to stay in Australia for a maximum of 90 days. This is for business and tourism related short stays.

australia sydney opera house at night

Bahrain

The Kingdom of Bahrain offers eVisas to citizens from more than 100 countries. It typically takes 3-5 business days for approval so plan accordingly when you want to visit this historic country.

bahrain flag

Cambodia

Most tourists can apply for the tourist visa online allowing stays for up to 30 days. With this you can avoid passport send-offs for good!

cambodia angkor wat

Canada

If your country is part of their visa waiver program then you MUST pay their ETA before arrival. You will not be allowed to board your flight if you do not have this document in hand.

canada flagIndia

Citizens from over 150 countries traveling to India for periods up to 30 days can apply online for their tourist visa. An important thing to remember here though is that you can ONLY enter India through 16 designated airports with this type of visa: Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Bangalore, Chennai, Cochin, Delhi, Gaya, Goa, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Kolkata, Lucknow, Mumbai, Trivandrum, Tiruchirapalli, Varanasi. If you will arrive in India by land or sea then you have to visit an Indian embassy to get the correct type of visa.

india taj mahal

Kenya

A lot of tourists can apply online for the Kenyan tourist visa. Be prepared to wait up to 72 hours for the visa to be issued when they are busy.

kenya flag

Malaysia

The Malaysian tourist visa is available ONLY to Chinese and Indian passport holders and can be obtained easily online.

malaysia flag

Myanmar

Staying less than 28 days in Myanmar? Great! You can apply for your visa online.

myanmair bagan scenery

Sri Lanka

Every visitor of Sri Lanka is required to get a Sri Lanka ETA online prior to their arrival.

sri-lanka elephant

Turkey

Tourists can also get the Turkey tourist visa completely online.

turkey flag

The United States of America

The US ESTA program is an entry requirement for visa-exempt nationals who arrive by air. The ESTA document must be obtained online prior to your arrival to the United States and you must print a copy and take it with you.

united-states-of-america flag

Vietnam

Here you do not apply for a tourist visa, but a visa approval letter (also called a pre-approved visa on arrival) that will allow you to enter the country so that you can get your Vietnam visa on arrival.

How can I apply?

You can apply completely online from the comfort of your home in 3 easy steps.

3 eVisa apply steps

Step 1: complete the application form online.

Step 2: wait to receive your visa via email and print the visa document.

Step 3: travel to your international destination and show the visa at the airport check-in desk, and finally to the border/immigrations officer.

It’s that simple so next time, don’t forget to apply online.

What you ever used eVisa? If so, for what country?

How To Prepare Your Camera For Different Weather Conditions

Piotr KulczyckiPiotr Kulczycki is a CEO at Photler.com and keen travel photographer who visited over 100 countries already. It takes a lot of time to do, but creating online portfolio with web builder he provides does not. On top of that you can try it for free and enjoy free photography guides to take a step closer to being professional photographer. Write to [email protected] – for eTramping followers there’s a special offer!


Prepare your camera for various challenges and don’t be daunted by the weather

Beach

You’ve already booked flights and accommodation. No wonder that you’re excited – holidays are about to start! Then it comes – packing. Probably you’ve learned a lot about your destination, so as to be prepared for different culture or climate. However, did you remember about your camera that is extremely sensitive to weather conditions?

Sunset at sea

This blog post will tell you how to protect your gear in different weather conditions. Think about it in advance, so as to take amazing photos during your trip.

Is it hot?

Desert

If the sun is burning, you have to shelter your camera in a: people, cars, or preferably buildings shade. If there is any – you’re lucky. But what on earth to do on the desert or in any place without shadow? Well, just create one. Build a canopy with a towel or a t-shirt.

Desert

Moreover, always remember to take a break from time to time and come back to your air-conditioned car – this will allow the sensor of your camera to rest. However, don’t change temperature for your gear suddenly, because rapid temperature swings can be harmful to all electronic devices as well.

Dust or sand?

Desert

You don’t have to go to a desert to imperil your gear – the beach is enough. Maybe a sand grain seems tiny, but it can cause huge damage. That’s why, your goal is to keep it as far from your camera as possible.

In order to protect your lens use UV filter. It’s cheap, so it won’t be a big deal if there appear some scratches and you’ll have to replace it. Counterintuitive, a good protection option might be purchasing an underwater case because despite, it’s more expensive, it’s an impossible barrier to cross for all scattered grains.

Road

What’s more, avoid putting your bag on the ground (otherwise, sand will get inside and probably cause damages) and after coming back home – launder it.

If you want to change lenses or a memory card, wait until there is no wind spreading sand. Preferably, do it inside your car or a building. If there is none – ask yourself, if great pictures make up for gear losses. If so, take the risk.

Is too cold?

Winter

If you love photographing winter landscape remember, the battery will be flat sooner in such conditions rather than in the room temperature. If this happens – it dies when you still dream about some epic shots – take the battery to your pocket for a moment to warm it up. Afterwards, you should manage to take a few more pictures.

Castle

However, a better option is to carry spare batteries – keep them in your inside pocket of your coat in order to prevent them from losing warmth.

Snowing or raining?

Jogging in the rain

Snowflakes as well as raindrops are so tiny and dangerous as dust grains, so beware. Do the same as all producers of electronic devices – just put Silica Gel sachets in your bag. They will simply absorb moisture. Unfortunately, despite all precautions, every now and then, small amount of snow or rain can get inside and put your camera in a serious danger.

Remember, if you are surprised by a rain or snowfall, you can always put your camera in a grocery bag and cut out a hole for a lens. Such solution is available in almost every place and it’s the cheapest option.

Plastic bag camera cover

Using underwater case or rain covers is a clever trick too, but it requires planning in advance and spending more money. However, if you invest in a reliable gear, you’ll definitely not regret it. In order to keep water away from the lenses use lens hood. Unfortunately, if there is a strong wind it might not help.

Landscape
I hope, you’ll find these simple tips helpful and even if the weather gets harsh, you’ll manage to face it and come back home with stunning photos.

If you’d like to read more amazing tips from Piotr, head to the article he has written for eTramping before on 10 ways to take unique travel photos.

Top 3 Best Kathmandu Eating Places

Heading to Kathmandu soon and looking for top 3 best eating places? You’re in the right place, but let me start from introducing Nepalese cuisine a bit to you.

Nepalese food is a mixture of Indian and Tibetan cuisine. Hence, many of the culinary highlights of Kathmandu are lentil soup and spicy chicken that comes with gravy, marinated pork cooked with chilies, fried rice dishes and two of the most common drinks: rice-based home brew and lassi. Maybe you’ve heard of lassi before? It’s a local milkshake you have to try!

Fried noodles with eggs and veggies. One of our first dishes in Kathmandu.

Fried noodles with eggs and veggies. One of our first dishes in Kathmandu.

Moreover, you can find Nepalese and Western-style food anywhere in Kathmandu because a lot of restaurants serve continental breakfasts, pizzas and pasta dishes. Hence, if you don’t like the local cuisine, do not panic, there is always a place where you can dig into burger and fries!

Veggie spring rolls.

Veggie spring rolls.

Most of the time, we tried to stick to local dishes in Kathmandu and each day we dined out at different places trying traditional Nepalese meals. We’ve got few favourite places and dishes to recommend. Let’s see our top 3 best Kathmandu eating places you can’t afford to miss!

#1 Delicious Thakali restaurant

Located on the first floor of Pariwar B&B hotel, Delicious Thakali was our favourite breakfast and lunch place because we always got what we wanted to try.

Entrance to Delicious Thakali (right side) - one of the top best restaurants with Kathmandu food

Entrance to Delicious Thakali (right side).

The owner was extremely friendly and made the food according to our preferences (no spicy for me and no onions for Cez) so we really enjoyed it and we tried such dishes as omelettes, chicken in gravy and fried chicken wings with plenty of salad.

Mild chicken in gravy.

Mild chicken in gravy.

Some meals we had inside the restaurant and some were delivered to our hotel room so getting food was very convenient for both of us.

Choosing food to order.

Choosing food to order.

As for prices, each meal was very affordable and costed from 100 to 250 Nepalese Rupee. Therefore, we ate more than we should!

The menu in Delicious Thakali restaurant.

The menu in Delicious Thakali restaurant.

Location: Ganeshman Street, Thamel Centre, South of Kathmandu GH, Thamel, Kathmandu 20062, Nepal

Minus: The place is very dark and miserable inside but that’s quite typical for Nepalese restaurants

Rating: 5/5

#2 Gilingche

The menu at Gilingche restaurant.

The menu at Gilingche restaurant.

This is a small restaurant but it has separate smoking and non-smoking zones. We ordered spring rolls, mashed potatoes and fried pieces of chicken – a bit too spicy but we found it very tasty and affordable.

Gilingche inside

Gilingche inside

Tiny pieces of chicken we were very disappointed with.

Tiny pieces of chicken we were very disappointed with.

Seems like there is no way this restaurant would survive in Europe!

Location: Thamel | Beside the Kubeyra Mahal Hotel, Kathmandu,Nepal

Minus: We waited for the food quite long + chicken pieces we were served were really tiny (avoid ordering them)

Rating: 3,5/5

#3 Prem Bakery & Coffee Shop

Prem Bakery & Coffee Shop.

Entrance of Prem Bakery & Coffee Shop.

It is a great place to try local milky coffee, tea and dig into some homemade chocolate donuts. Therefore, don’t miss it out. Although it is a very tiny place, it has a great hospitality. Maybe you can find interesting locals to have a chat with while sipping your freshly made coffee and digging into a doughnut?

Location: Thamel

Minus: There is no place to sit

Rating: 4,5/5

Drinking bulletproof coffee in Kathmandu.

Drinking bulletproof coffee in Kathmandu.

Due to the fact we really enjoyed the local food, we consider going back to Nepal in the near future and trying more dishes we didn’t manage to try during our first visit. We know that Nepalese food has so much more to offer and we are curious about local snacks. Although this is not the healthiest cuisine in the world, it is still worth digging into.

We hope you will enjoy the food in Kathmandu and your visit will bring a lot of new ideas you can implement into your cooking once you are back home.

Do you have any other places in Kathmandu with amazing food to recommend?

Abu Dhabi For Less Than $25 A Day

In today’s post, Neha Singh is going to share with you top tips on exploring Abu Dhabi for less than $25 a day. She is a post graduate in Mass Communications with a pleasant personality and she loves everything about life. Travelling is very close to her heart and writing came very naturally to her. She is an avid trekker and explorer, she often takes out time from her busy schedule to indulge in mountaineering. She likes meeting new people and is keen on exploring new cultures and visit as many new places as possible and she is a strong believer of Mahatma Gandhi’s principles of simple living high thinking.

Welcome to Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi landscape

Abu Dhabi landscape.

Popularly known as the billionaire’s playground, Abu Dhabi is the capital city of UAE and one of the best cities to live in the world. It’s well-planned, organized and a neat city with a relaxed pace. In fact, people who want to escape the maddening pace of the neighboring emirate of Dubai come to Abu Dhabi for a peaceful getaway. It’s no mean feat for a commercial capital city to maintain a high-quality lifestyle.

View of Abu Dhabi from above

View of Abu Dhabi from above.

Abu Dhabi for long has been the additional one-day tour city for tourists coming to Dubai. Over time the city has grown from just a stopover to a major tourist destination. Now Abu Dhabi tours are a great hit amongst tourist with all pocket sizes.

white mosque abu dhabi

Inside the Mosque in Abu Dhabi.

Abu Dhabi over the years has become quite expensive but if you too are a backpacker like me, and love to travel great places irrespective of what’s the common perception of its lifestyle is, here’s how you can enjoy Abu Dhabi within $25 a day.

Best places to visit in Abu Dhabi on a budget

Sheikh Zayed Mosque

Sheikh Zayed Mosque

Sheikh Zayed Mosque.

One of the main highlights of the city, the impressive building of the Sheikh Zayed Mosque is a must see no matter whether you are a luxury traveller or a backpacker. Recently designed and opened in 2007, the building is aimed at highlighting the cultural diversity of the Islamic religion. From 12 tons of chandeliers with Swarovski crystals and 24 karat galvanized gold to the largest handloom carpet of the world, Sheikh Zayed mosque is sure to leave you awestruck. The best way to see this majestic place by taking a guided tour of an hour. Guess what, the entry to this wonderful mosque is absolutely free.

Abu Dhabi Corniche

Corniche Road Abu Dhabi

Corniche Road Abu Dhabi.

Spread across the beautiful eight kilometres of area, the Abu Dhabi Corniche is a delight for people watchers. The exquisitely manicured waterfront has great play areas for children and pedestrian pathways, cafes, restaurants. The place is so beautiful and full of vibrancy that you can actually spend hours here admiring the people, place and feel, all without spending a dime.

Heritage Village

Heritage Village Abu dhabi

Heritage Village in Abu Dhabi.

Heritage Village is a must visit if you want to explore the traditional aspects of the Arabian lifestyle. The Bedouin feel of the desert is perfectly aped with campfire tents, camel rides, goat’s hair tent and much more. Explore the falaj irrigation system used since the ancient ages and other rare artefacts displayed at the museum. The entry to the Heritage Village also is free.

Souk Al Zafrana

No matter what’s your budget, buying souvenirs is always a part of the trip expenses. All you need to know is the best place to buy them at economical prices. Souk Al Zafrana truly reflects the Emirati culture and traditions and offers almost everything from incense sticks to spices, perfumes, and henna along with various small and big souvenir items at bargain prices.

Fastest Transportation on a budget

If you are planning to spend the entire day sightseeing the city, you can opt for a respectable tours and travel cabs like that of Raynatours to give you great insights of the city with a day tour. But in case you are selective about the destinations to visit, the other best mode of transportation would be buses that run in regular frequency and the tickets won’t cost you much. Another interesting way of transportation, preferred by all economical travellers are the water taxis or the ‘Abras’. They don’t even cost a dollar but takes from one end of the city to the other comfortably. The water taxis currently operate from three points – the Khor Al Maqta Hotels, Eastern Mangroves, and Yas Island.

sunset camel abu dhabi

Camel ride anyone?

Tastiest food options on a budget

There’s no denying the fact that Abu Dhabi restaurants serve some of the most exquisite and sumptuous dishes and those can be very heavy on the pocket. But if you know the right places, you will not only enjoy a delectable meal but also can relish it at steal prices. The restaurants near the Hamdan street, Al Nahyan road, and Al Markaziyah can especially be great for giant meals at unbelievably low prices. Where else would you get a full main course meal for Dhs15? Simply take a walk alongside these streets and you can also find various food carts and small stalls selling take away fast foods. These can be delicious and quick fix option to satiate your hunger.

local herbs and spices abu dhabi

Local herbs and spices

Where to stay on a budget

The areas around the city Center can especially be affordable if you are not looking to splurge on luxuries like swimming pools and spas. You may also opt for hostels near Al Muhairy. The options for hostels is not great in Abu Dhabi but there are many budget hotels that can offer decent accommodations in less than $20 a day. If you are willing to spend some more, you can also get the breakfast included option. Most of these places offer free Wi-Fi and clean clothing.

Mostly, a copy of your passport and tickets will be asked by the owners. Don’t worry, it is just for safety purposes. Try locating hotels that are centrally located and at easy access to the local transportation.

Handy tips to travel like a local in Abu Dhabi

1) Making a local friend is always a great help. Now various internet forums help in making great acquaintances in almost all parts of the world, and a cosmopolitan place like Abu Dhabi won’t be any different. Connect with them and enjoy the best experiences.

2) Opt for the public mode of transportation like buses, water taxis instead of private hired cabs and bus tours. you can even get a bicycle for rent on a daily basis and explore the city closely.You have eaten your comfort food all your life, but while

3) You have eaten your comfort food all your life, but while travelling, it’s good to taste the famous delicacies of the new place. Emirati cuisine has so much to offer for your taste buds, you just can’t leave without trying them.

4) Respecting the culture, people, and their traditions can take you a long way. Since UAE is an Islamic country, it’s good to know about their behavioural customs beforehand so as to avoid any kind of legal trouble.

Is Abu Dhabi on your bucket list?

Exploring Venezuela for Less Than $50/Week

In today’s post, a fellow budget traveller and adventurer, Will Hatton of The Broke Backpacker, will be sharing his top tips on how to spend a week in Venezuela for $50! Who’s Will? He is a writer, photographer and a real vagabond, master of the handstand pushup. He is also a conqueror of mountains, a survivor of deserts and crusader for cheap escapades. Will is currently hitchhiking from England to Papua New Guinea, a journey which will take over three years. Will blogs over at The Broke Backpacker about his adventures in some of the world’s least visited countries and his journey to creating an online income, you can follow him on Facebook and on Instagram. For real-time adventure, check him out on Snapchat at WTHATTON.

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Let’s get things started!

Why visit Venezuela?

Venezuela is a truly awesome country, this is a land of steaming jungles, jagged peaks and gorgeous beaches.

Stunning views of Venezuela

Welcome to stunning views of Venezuela.

Venezuela is very different to the rest of South America, for starters; it’s the cheapest country in the world if you have foreign currency to change on the black market. Backpacking in Venezuela is a hell of an adventure. One thing that is absolutely certain is that 25 bucks a day is waaaay too much cash in Venezuela, you can pick up sixty beers for a dollar, and it’s actually possible to get by on in Venezuela on around 50 dollars a week!

Views are definitely worth the effort to travel to Venezuela.

Views are definitely worth the effort to travel to Venezuela.

First Things First

Now, things are cheap in Venezuela, but you will still need to change your money on the black market. Once you have changed your cash, you will likely have a huge wad of bolivars to cart around, keep it low-key and do not flaunt your pillowcase of money. Venezuela is currently experiencing a financial meltdown and the country is indeed in strife.

After changing cash in Merida - 100 bucks worth of local currency.

After changing cash in Merida – 100 bucks worth of local currency.

The generous conversion rate is a blessing for the strapped traveller, and can take a bit of getting used to… with great power comes responsibility! Now is your chance to pay off favours, buy a few rounds, and hell, even treat your mates to an empanada, because Venezuela is dirt cheap. Some people argue that backpackers shouldn’t visit Venezuela; that travelling there is somehow taking advantage of the economic disaster there, but in reality, backpackers are currently some of the only people bringing in foreign currency to the country. Tourism is, at the end of the day, one of Venezuela’s best chances of building a stable economy. I met many Venezuelans and had the privilege of befriending a few: all were happy if a little concerned, that I was visiting their country.

I spent $320 for the entire month I was there – and you could easily stretch that to $200 per month if you needed to, I was partying pretty hard. It’s hard to imagine if you’re not used to how cheap life can be, but I hope to give you guys a sense of the cost of this country, and desperately hope it tempts a few of you braver souls into this glorious, controversial and mega-cheap country.

Petrol

There’s one thing that all Venezuelans can agree on – cheap petrol is a birthright. It’s hard to comprehend just how cheap it is if you’re used to the outrageous fuel costs of America, UK, Australia and so on – but you could literally drive from one side of the country to the other on just a few cents. When most people hear this, they pull the facial equivalent to brain-freeze. For travellers, this obviously means huge freedom to travel while in the country, if you do choose to drive across the region’s scenic cross-country routes. And if you don’t fancy driving, the low fuel cost means internal flights will only set you back between $5 – $8!

Trekking into the jungles around Mt Roraima, the world's highest table top mountain

Trekking into the jungles around Mt Roraima, the world’s highest table top mountain.

Food

Venezuelan cuisine is as varied as its culture – taking influences from the Caribbean, European, African and other South American cultures to create an exciting palette of flavours. And the best news is you can sample some of the best food that the country has to offer in Merida, the backpacker capital, for pennies.

Arepa served for breakfast in Venezuela - it is usually made of ground maize dough or cooked flour.

Arepa served for breakfast in Venezuela – it is usually made of ground maize dough or cooked flour.

Alternatively, you can get a sense of the richness of the food on offer here at the Mercado Principal where traders man stands of all kinds and are more than happy to explain the delicacies on offer.

Accommodation

Merida is cultural, urbane, and crawling with interesting people – especially given its proximity to the prestigious University of the Andes. And the best part is – accommodation is just as cheap as everything else in this crazy country: I was routinely forking out a little over a dollar for a comfortable room. Most travellers end up staying at the Guamanche Posada, a cheap local hostel which I would highly recommend.

Partying

There’s another good reason for recommending Merida: it has a reputation as the undisputed party town of Venezuela! The proximity of the University means the place is thriving with fun-loving students, and the town accommodates them – there is so much to do here for any kind of traveller. The bars are always buzzing, and the nightlife here is some of the best in South America, in my experience. Oh, and did I mention… Venezuelans are some of the most beautiful people on earth?

party

Time to party!

The bars are always buzzing, and the nightlife here is some of the best in South America, in my experience. Oh, and did I mention… Venezuelans are some of the most beautiful people on earth?

Sunset in Venezuela

Parque Nacional Sierra Nevada

Merida is nestled in a little valley in the Andes, and staying here allows easy access to some of the most stunning scenery in South America.

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Just a few hours’ hike takes you into the Sierra Nevada national park, with its huge drops and granite mountains. Coming here really makes you feel like you’re really following in the footsteps of legendary explorers, and is what travelling is all about. Best of all, this natural beauty is completely free!

Incredible wildlife in Venezuela.

Incredible wildlife in Venezuela.

Paragliding

With all this beautiful terrain, I knew I had to somehow get a better view. For you more adventurous types – I’d whole-heartedly recommend a paragliding excursion. It’s a short half an hour drive from the city to the launch site and will set you back $4 for a flight of 30 – 45 minutes. The views across the Andes are literally breathtaking, and there’s something so thrilling about soaring over warm thermals.

River

There is a real danger that the low prices you encounter in Venezuela will kind of spoil you, you may never want to leave. And to be honest, I didn’t either. If you choose to visit Venezuela; be warned, this is a place unlike any other in South America and it helps to have a local friend on the ground, Couchsurfing can be a godsend. The country is beautiful, rich and diverse; the people are kind, welcoming (most of the time) and enjoy a beer… Venezuela is far from everything it is made out to be on the news.

Cliff

Do you now find Venezuela to be a cheap travel destination?