Tips on Unexpected Things That Can Happen When You Travel

Tips on Unexpected Things That Can Happen When You Travel

Unexpected things that can happen when you travel and tips on dealing with those events

Travelling is one of the most exciting things you can do in life, but this travel blogger has learnt that a lot of things can go wrong and one can never be too prepared. Here are some of the common, unexpected things that can happen when travelling and how you can prevent them from turning your vacation into a nightmare.


1. Split luggage and/or shopping too much

I am usually guilty of over-packing and even if I know there will be lots of shopping at the new destination, my suitcases often are really hard to zip up. If your luggage has had enough, a zip may burst now and then. Usually in the worst possible moment i.e. when you’re in a hurry to get on a train or in the airport, certainly where there are many eyes that can see you turn bright red as all of your undies and trinkets get exposed.

There are also times when you may forget the code of the lock or lose the key and there is no way to open a bag but to have to break the zip. This happened to me while travelling in Peru, and we had to cut a carry bag open just because we lost a key and it was the middle of the night so no one could help us.

At those moments you will definitely need to be buying a new bag at your destination, and unfortunately if you’re at the airport and in a hurry, the premium you’ll pay on bags is high.

One time while starting our trip around South America, we realised that we needed to send one of our bags home so we don’t have to lug it around the Amazon jungle. We went to the local post office in Buenos Aires and they asked us to get a quote from DHL. The total sum to send a bag would be around $500 US! Had to keep the bag :(


(my overpacking – not a good look)


Send your heaviest necessary items ahead, e.g. if you’re going to be travelling for a while and then ending your trip with a camp or a hike where you’ll need a lot of specialised equipment. Use companies that can safely and at reasonable cost deliver your items without you having to pay excess baggage airline fees. World Baggage is an Australian excess baggage company providing secure, excess baggage services at a lower cost than the airlines.

If your bag does happen to get damaged and you have to replace your luggage, you can always claim your warranty (if your suitcases have it) and send the damaged luggage to a brand’s service centre. You are responsible for getting the product over to the service centre and in this case you can also use the World Baggage service to courier the bag.

 2. Visa issues (especially in transit)

There are times when you’ll be travelling through a certain destination, staying only a few hours in a city or country to get to another location. During those transits it is usually not required that you obtain a visa, but it’s best to research and ask around just in case.

I was travelling from Sydney-Guangzhou and then Guangzhou-Hong Kong- via Beijing – Sydney. To travel to China, you need a tourist visa and I had it for 1x entry into China as I would be leaving the country through HK on the way home. No one said anything about the 3 hours I would spend in Beijing. On entry into Beijing, the passport control people had a real issue with my visa saying that I only obtained permit to enter the country one time. Luckily after some time they let me into the airport so I could get my Sydney flight.


If you’re entering a certain country that requires visas on entry more than once, check if you require anything that lets you enter the ‘transit zone’ without any problems.

 3. Not having the right clothes 

While travelling for over 6 weeks around Europe in September, all weather forecasts pointed to warm, summer inspired days. We packed light jackets and autumn boots and did fine all the way through Italy. When we got to Paris, the next day, there was a sudden cold spell and we along with many Parisians had to rush to Galleries Lafayette to purchase emergency cashmere sweaters, woolen scarves and hats! Some mornings it was -2 degrees Celsius!



Have lots of clothes that you can layer in case it gets too cold unexpectedly when you’re travelling. Also have some ‘budget’ for warm clothes that you might have to purchase when in a new destination, and in some countries good quality clothes for winter are not very cheap.

 4. You will get sick of some foods after a while (yes even Pizza!)

After travelling some time in Italy and seeing the most amazing sites and historical areas, we honestly got sick of pizza and pasta. It seemed that all restaurants, especially near to tourist locations had the ‘copy and paste’ menu. Pizza Pasta, Pasta Pizza and Calzone.


Look at the size of that pizza! (Venice)

One day we had to have pizza for brunch because most restaurants start serving pizza and espresso at 10am! I was craving Japanese food for about 3 weeks but we couldn’t find any good options to satisfy those cravings! We are quite lucky in Sydney to have lots of different food from so many cultural backgrounds and it will be really good, authentic stuff, not a token ‘exotic’ restaurant. So when travelling and seeking diverse foods, think when in Rome….


If you really get sick of one type of food, google some local, authentic restaurants that have a high rating on wholesome foods, like locally grown vegetables and local seafood. Make a booking at those places and look for restaurants further away from the main tourist destinations. The staff might not speak any English (good sign by the way) but you will get some really great food!


 5. You might get scammed in the most unexpected ways

Before travelling, you’ll surely read a few blog posts or articles about scams while travelling. Some of them are very obvious – people creating diversions in a crowded space to get inside your bag, asking you to sponsor their ‘charity’ by buying a pen etc.

When in Paris, me and my husband got scammed royally and I had no idea that scam artists could be so well researched and unlike anything you’ll hear in the ‘beware pick pockets/scammers’ department.

We took a train into the Parisian CBD from the airport. This is the time when you have to be the most careful – lugging around suitcases and clearly looking like a tourist is bound to attract unwanted attention. We needed a taxi to get us to our hotel. In Paris it’s really hard to get a taxi on the street and we had a few unsuccessful attempts. A well-dressed man came over to us; he spoke fluent English and was very friendly. He told us about leaving his wallet at the hotel and how his girlfriend and her mother was in Disneyland and he had to get to them with some cash as they were also stuck….The story was very well rehearsed. He made polite conversation and told us he’d been to Sydney and named the most luxurious hotels, he said he was an investment banker and worked at UBS, that he lived in Switzerland and he just needs 100 Euro which he would pay us back. Then came the most shocking thing – my husband ended up giving him 100Euro and then the man helped us get a cab in exchange. While in a cab I was in awe that we just gave money away, as my husband is usually a skeptical person. Just goes to show you that when you’re tired and disoriented from travel and in a new location, you can easily fall victim to scam artists – really well rehearsed scam artists.


Incredibly crowded tourist areas with potential for pickpocketing (Photography: David Coleman


When after a long flight and carrying large luggage with you, try not to speak with anyone unless they are an official (information, police officer etc). Try not to believe any stories, yes you’ll want to help but think of why is this scenario happening only when they see you with big bags! Easy tourist target, coincidence – I think not!



Written by Julia Kim Murphy

Australia Lifestyle and Travel Blogger








There is no doubt that travelling is one of life’s greatest pleasures. Holidays are meant to be exciting but often, the planning process, the long haul flight and subsequent jetlag can leave us feeling more exhausted than we’d like to be. To counteract these hurdles, it’s handy to have some travel hacks in mind.

So we spoke to Connie Ting, Flight Attendant at Cathay Pacific, to get her top tips on how to make your next travel experience a breeze.

  • Think Ahead

You won’t be going anywhere if you realise that your passport expires just before your travels. Check to see that your passport is valid for at least 6 months from departure date and for the duration of your trip. Some countries have different requirements so be sure to confirm ahead of time. Similarly, check the visa requirements for the destination/s you’re travelling to. Some countries allow you to purchase a visa on arrival and some require a preapproved visa which can take a few weeks (or months) to process. Vaccinations are another important requirement to think about.

  • Pack Smart

Minimise the chances of missing your luggage on the baggage carousel by opting for a colourful suitcase over a black one. Alternatively, tie ribbons or anything that will help identify your luggage when it’s on the carousel. A great space saving and organisational tip is to pack your items into labelled groups and in suction bags. That way you reduce the rate of unpacking and repacking with clearly marked bags for specific countries, weather or occasions.  This also makes it easier when you go through customs and you’re required to open up your luggage. The last thing you want is for everything to topple out of your suitcase.

  • Eat Smart

If you have any special dietary requirements, make sure you state your preference at least 24 hours ahead of the flight. It’s always best to eat a nourishing meal ahead of your flight so you’re less likely to be tempted by the less healthy options at the terminal. If you are trying to find something during a layover, look to see where the flight attendants are eating as a good reference. Make sure you drink enough water before you fly and keep hydrated during the flight. Try and avoid drinking coffee before the flight as this will add to dehydration and may also keep you awake when you’ll want to get some shut-eye.

  • Maximise In-Flight Comfort

Always wear comfortable and loose-fitting clothes when flying, especially if it’s long haul. If it gets too cold, you can request for a second blanket but always pack a scarf or cardigan in your carry-on for safe measure. If you normally wear contacts, avoid doing so on a flight as the cabin air will dry out your eyes in no time. Opt for your trusty glasses instead. You can always pack spare contacts in your carry on and change into them upon landing. Other essentials include eye masks (to block out light), a neck pillow and ear plugs.


  • Beat Jetlag

It’s hard to avoid jetlag after a long flight, but there are ways to negate the effects. If your flight arrives in the morning, try sleep throughout the second leg so you arrive fresh and therefore are more likely to fall asleep that night. If you have a layover, take advantage of any available airport facilities such as a showers, massages, gyms or nap rooms. Anything that gets the blood flowing is great for circulation, helps keep the body regular and can reduce jetlag.

P.S. Cathay Pacific surveyed Australian holidaymakers on their pre-flight and in-flight travel behaviour and preferences. They’ve captured an interesting snapshot of the findings via an infographic (see below).

Cathay Pacific_How Aussies Travel Infographic_Combined_FINAL APPROVED


TripAdvisor Top 25 Landmarks to Visit in the World – Part 2

TripAdvisor Top 25 Landmarks to Visit in the World – Part 2

The 2016 Traveller’s choice awards have revealed the top 25 destinations to travel in the world! That’s a big call for some of the landmarks because there is so much out there to do and see – I am an avid traveller and so far my list of places to visit is not getting any shorter.
In my previous post for Part 1 I gave a breakdown of the top half of the 25 posts and and added my commentary about the destinations revealed. I broke it down into two parts because the original post ended up containing so much information that I wanted to share and write about these beautiful destinations.
In this post, I again will share with you some secrets of my travels to those spots I’ve been to and also once more, I am adding destinations to my  “TO VISIT” column.
This is Part 2, starting from destination/landmark number 12.


12. Hagia Sophia Museum / Church (Ayasofya), Istanbul, Turkey
To Visit


One of the most memorable locations in a James Bond film and certainly impressive. It is said that this structure changed the history of architecture. In 1953 this building became a museum, but prior to that, it served as an immensely important construction holding many holy relics and changing with wars, conquests and tribulations. Started as an Orthodox Church in 537 AD and when Constantinople was conquered, it became a Mosque from 1453.
Hagia-Sophia-Museum Turkey


13. Grand-Place, Brussels, Belgium

To Visit

 A key tourist destination and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This square is measured 68 by 110 metres. Historically started as a popular market, owned by a Duke, that could continue its trade in all weather. The Town Hall served as a temporary hospital during WW2. The Grand Place continued to serve as a market until 1959 and is still called the Great Market. The neighbouring streets carry the historic existence of the market with names reflecting the sellers; butter, cheese, herring etc.


Grand-Palace, Brussels
Image via
 If you’ve seen images of this giant flower carpet – it happens every couple of years (in August) on this square. All flowers are begonias, creating intricate colourful patterns on the giant carpet stretching a full 24 by 77 metres, a total of 1,800 square metres. This tradition started in 1971 and due to extreme popularity with tourists, has been carried on to this day, attracting millions every time. 

14. Eiffel Tower, Paris, France


 Who can miss the Eiffel tower when in Paris? Constructed for the World’s Fair in 1889, the tower is now more iconic than ever. If you’re visiting, you will no doubt have the temptation to climb to the top of Tour Eiffel but the lines can be very long. I remember waiting upwards of 3 hours in a queue to go up the tower in an elevator. Once you’ve finished at the top observation deck, you will be lining up again to come down. Such the experience! I loved observing the tower from all angles of the city and at night it’s lit up by a sparkling light show. In winter, the bottom floor of the tower turns into an ice skating rink and if you wish, you can also dine at one of the restaurants located on numerous floors.


Paris Eiffel Tower
Evening in Paris
paris travel live shop travel blogger
The streets of Paris
15.  Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, France


Who can forget the Hunchback of Notre Dame? The famous cathedral that’s downright spooky in some respects. In others, all romanticism and art. The scary gargoyles , were designed by sculptors and used their imagination and creativity to sculpt these  creatures. Their purpose is not only decorative, but they are used to help drain rain water off the roof to protect the walls from getting damaged. One of the finest examples of Gothic architecture, the Cathedral has been around since the 13th century.


16. Great Wall at Mutianyu, Beijing, China

To Visit


“The only construction visible from space.” or the myth, that’s now been broken, says. The wall is more than 2,300 years old and has been rebuilt and re-constructed in parts under different dynasties many times. Most times when we see tourist photos of the Great Wall, it is a section or two of the wall that’s been completely restored for the purpose of tourism. Currently there’s approximately 1/3 of the wall that’s been sited as ‘missing’ due to natural erosion, locals taking the bricks for home building and possibly other types of degradation which occur with age. If you’re interested in visiting there are many recommended parts of the wall to visit, most popular from Beijing. Depending on what type of expedition you’d like to do, all levels of fitness can be explored. More here.
Image via

17. Acropolis, Athens, Greece

To Visit


 Another UNESCO World Heritage Site. Perhaps one of the oldest on the global list. The Acropolis is an ancient Citadel located on an extremely rocky site at the top of the city of Athens. This area contains a lot of ruins of ancient buildings, with the most famous one being the Parthenon (pictured below). The Parthenon served as a sacred ground and provides a monument of Greece’s Golden Age.
Acropolis Athens Greece
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18. Corcovado – Cristo Redentor, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

To Visit

One of the most recognisable landmarks in the World and one of the 7 wonders, with the recent Olympic games 2016, anyone will recall this symbol of Rio De Janeiro. Christ the Redeemer, or Cristo Redentor is a gigantic statue (30 metres tall) of Jesus Christ by a French sculptor.  Mount Corcovado is located in central Rio De Janeiro and is called ‘hunchback’ mountain in Portugese. The submission to have Christ the Redeemer with arms wide open as a symbol of peace was approved in 1920. Now Christian believers can host weddings and baptisms at the chapel atop the Corcovado mountain.

Corcova Rio De Janeiro
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19. Big Ben, London, United Kingdom

To Visit

I remember drawing the Big Ben in art class when I was a kid. It’s a structure I studied in intricate details but have never ended up visiting London. I am sure if anyone is in London, then the Big Ben is kind of unmissable. Located at the North end of Palace Westminster and is now officially called Elizabeth Tower. The clock tower has become a symbol of the UK and is the most popular film location in London. Technically, Big Ben is the name given to the massive bell inside the clock tower, presumably named after Sir Benjamin Hall, which weighs more than 13 tons (13,760 kg).  The clock tower looks spectacular at night when the clock faces are illuminated.

Big Ben
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20. Chichen Itza, Chichen Itza, Mexico

To Visit


This is the largest of archeological cities of the pre-Colombian Mayan period, located in Mexico. It’s recommended to visit the site with 1-2 nights to spare and to rise early in the morning to experience the beauty of this city with sunrise and less tourists, similar to Macchu Picchu. Located about 125 km west of Cancun and is a rugged place full of massive pyramids, temples and columns. It is said that the Chichen Itza was the most powerful city in Yucatan.
Chichen Itza
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21.Temple of the Reclining Buddha (Wat Pho), Bangkok, Thailand

To Visit

The temple is one of the largest in Bangkok and is famous for the giant reclining Buddha (46 metres long) that’s covered in gold leaf.  The Buddha’s feet alone are 5 metres long and are decorated in mother of pearl illustrations. Tourist sites say it is worth walking around the rest of the temple and seeing more golden statues, four chapels and the beautiful courtyard. Wat Pho was the first public university in Thailand and is now a centre for medicine and traditional massage. You can even get a relaxing foot or head and shoulder massage at the end of your visit and it is recommended to book ahead.

Image via  

22. Burj Khalifa, Dubai, UAE


This is officially the tallest building in the World. The Burj Khalifa lights up in beautiful lights at night and is located next to Dubai Mall. If you’re planning to visit, it’s best to purchase your tickets online as the queues to get tickets can be long and there is also a capped limit on the number of passes they issue per day. You don’t have to go up to the top of the tower to appreciate the height. Just try and crank your neck to see the tip of the building, you won’t believe how far you have to tilt your head back just to see where the tower ends.

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23. Australian War Memorial, Canberra, Australia

To Visit

This is what happens when you live in a certain place long enough, you don’t visit the touristy places around where you are. I have been to Canberra but never visited the War Memorial, which made the top 25 landmarks to visit this year. The Australian War Memorial was opened in 1941, and is now regarded as one of the most significant memorials in the world. There is an extensive military museum. Every year on April 25th it is Anzac Day in Australia and on this day we remember all Australians who served and died in war and on operational service. Dawn Service, National Ceremony and Last Post Ceremony take place on this day at the Australian War Memorial. 

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24. Sydney Opera House, Sydney, Australia


I used to work at Sydney Opera House, although our office was located nearby, I still had frequent meetings and saw many shows at the Opera House itself. This structure continues to attract tourists from all over the world and its always interesting to just observe the unique structure from the outside. In all weather, the Opera House looks stunning and if you’re lucky enough to visit Sydney during winter, you’ll see the sails light up in a myriad of colours and media projections as a part of the annual VIVID festival. There are daily tours for the Sydney Opera House – you can explore the insights from all the resident companies, including Australian Ballet, Opera Australia and Sydney Symphony Orchestra, and go behind the scenes to view the Concert Hall and Joan Sutherland theatre from the performers perspective.

Sydney Opera House
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25. Fushimi Inari-Taisha Shrine, Kyoto, Japan



We visited Kyoto after spending a few days in Tokyo and it was quite a change of pace. Kyoto has more historic origins and there are many temples and shrines to visit to learn about Japanese culture. The Fushimi Inari- Taisha Shrine is probably the most famous, identified by the large orange Romon gate and the torii gate covered hiking trail, which starts with two dense, parallel rows of gates called Senbon Torii (“thousands of torii gates”). The hike to the summit of the mountain takes 2-3 hours but you’re free to turn back any time you want.  Foxes are thought to be Inari’s messengers so you will see many statues of foxes in the shrine grounds. Many visit the Shrine to explore the mountain trails around the area, but when we visited, this was not something that we wanted to do.  It’s funny because I took a photo of the station called JR Inari Station, which is where you get off to go to the Shrine. Inari restaurants and Fox Udon are popular dishes at the nearby restaurants and have fried tofu (said to be foxes’ favourite food).


Image via

Have you been to visit all of these landmarks? I certainly haven’t but just researching the places I haven’t been to gave me so many new ideas on where to travel next. I hope this article gave you some more information on these Global landmarks. Happy travels!

Go back to part 1 of the 25 Top Landmarks to visit in 2016 to see all 25 landmarks to visit.





Best Getaway Places in Australia this Winter

Best Getaway Places in Australia this Winter

Winter gets us Aussies less motivated, needing more sleep, leading less healthy days and sometimes downright blue altogether.
In a recent study by Accor hotels,  1,500 Australians were surveyed on winter habits.
77% reported feeling tired and having trouble waking up, 70% binge watch TV, 59% do less exercise and 56% overeat.


While it’s perfectly normal to feel a bit less energetic in winter, if you find yourself neglecting your exercise and healthy eating habbits, you’re probably doing yourself more harm than good in the long run.


The best solution to maintaining your physical and mental health this winter is to become more consious of eating habbits and being more vigilant with exercise. Join a gym that has fun classes so you don’t have to run outside in the cold. Classes will motivate you to participate more and if you are attending with a friend you can hold each other accountable.


An additional feel good is taking a short trip somewhere warmer than where you already are!
There is nothing like breaking up the winter cycle with a little bit of sunshine.
After all out of the Aussies living in warmer areas like Queensland only 38% reported feeling blue compared to their Canberra residing counterparts out of whom 58% reported mood downturns in winter.


Alternatively, challenge yourself in trying something new e.g. If you’ve never skiid before, opt in for a weekend getaway at a ski resort and get a couple of lessons. New experiences and fun physical activity like skiing and snowboarding in winter are bound to kick in some positive vibes into your routine.


If you don’t have much leave, it’s best to stay around Australia. We are lucky to have so many options to travel around, most great destinations are only a few of hours away!


Queensland is my top pick for getting away in winter because the further north you go, the more it feels tropical and warm.


Great Barrier Reef
 Butterflyfishes and turtle


Stretching over 2,000 km, the Great Barrier reef is indeed a incredible natural wonder. If anything, it’s better to visit Cairns in winter, because the temperatures a cooler (ranging between 26-27 degrees celsius, vs low to mid 30s in the summer) and the water is meant to be clearer so when it comes to snorkelling and diving, the two most popular activities at the reef, you’ll surely get your money’s worth. There are more than 1,500 fish species, 134 species of sharks and sting rays and more than 30 species of marine mammals – the reef is always full of life.
It’s important to remember that theReef is very fragile so its important to educate yourself on some practices while you are there.
Protecting the reef tips:
- Wear a wetsuit rather than putting on sunscreen that damages the reef
- Take all rubbish with you
- Never rest on coral or disturb marine life
Hamilton Island




The largest island in the Whitsunday group of islands ( There are 74 islands in total) which has it’s own airport making it easier to fly directly onto the island and start enjoying the warm temperatures as soon as you get off the plane.
There is a vast range of accomodation on the island, including the very luxurious Qualia resort. Read the Daily Telegraph review here.
Hamilton Island is the perfect getaway destination. The island is big enough to cater to all your holidaying needs, you can engage in popular water sports, and activity as well as shopping, tours and of course choose from a range of incredible dining options.


Daydream Island
 daydream island living reef


Daydream Island is located an hour’s ferry ride from Hamilton Island and is the only living reef resort in the World. Here you can get up close and personal with sting rays and bamboo sharks. You’ll be accompanied by lots of marine life as you’re having breakfasts and dinners in the main restaurants – the reef runs all the way around the dining and living facilities making it incredibly interesting to observe fish and other creatures moving through their daily cycle. There are 3 main restaurants on the island offering decent dining options. There are also many free activities such as open air movies and fish feeding. There is also a mini golf park, a spa and a a marine biology education centre on the island. So if you’re keen to learn more about Nemo, Dory and baby stingrays, this is definitely a fun place to visit.
Lizard Island


lizard island australia
Lizard Island is a bit of a luxurious experience and is located in the most northern part of Queensland directly on the Great Barrier Reef. There are 24 powdery white sand beaches, a luxurious spa which I reviewed here 


You can snorkel and dive right off the beaches and enjoy the exclusivity of this resort with a private villa.
This kind of getaway would not be cheap but could be saved for a special occasion, or if you really wanted to spoil yourself.


Airley beach 


Airlie beach QLD


Traditionally a backpacker’s good time town, Airley beach is fast becoming a more upmarket destination – its still a very beautiful and incredibly affordable destination however. There are myriads of accomodation options from hotels to Air BNB. The beauty of staying in Airlie beach is that you’re not paying for the exclusivity of island resorts but you are still super close to all the Whitsundays action. Options here are to take day trips to the islands, go sailing and explore all the local eateries, bars and boutique shops. If you need to you can always zip back to Brisbane.


 Noosa Australia


Noosa is located a bit north of the gold coast and in winter, it won’t be as warm as Airley beach or Hamilton island. With temperateures ranging from 20-25 degrees during the day, it’s still warm enough to swim but in the evenings you’ll have to get a little rugged up. There is plenty to do and see in Noosa. Apart from the beautiful beaches, you can enjoy the town and explore nature walks, Australia Zoo and the many shopping destinations .


Gold Coast


Gold Coast High Rises and Beach


The Gold Coast is a popular schoolies destination for all Australian school kids. In winter, you are not risking running into hoards of graduating teens and so your trip is guaratneed to be more relaxing! The Gold Coast boasts beautiful beaches, lots of entertaining venues including bars, pubs, casinos and nightclubs. If you’re into all of that, it’s good to stay in Surfer’s paradise as there are my options for apartments and hotels really close to the main esplanade and the beach. The casino (Jupiter’s) can be entertaining during the night with lots of shows and dining options. If you wanted a more quiet day/evening, rent a car and head to Broadbeach which is only 10-15 minutes away. There are more upmarket dining options available and it’s also a quieter more relaxing space.


Image Credits:


TripAdvisor Reveals Top 25 Landmarks to Visit in the World – Part 1

TripAdvisor Reveals Top 25 Landmarks to Visit in the World – Part 1

The TripAdvisor 2016 Traveller’s choice awards have revealed the top 25 destinations to travel in the world! That’s a big call for some of the landmarks because there is so much out there to do and see – I am an avid traveller and so far my list of places to visit is not getting any shorter.

I am curious to see the full list and give my commentary about the destinations voted as the most impressive to visit. I can share with you some secrets of my travels to those spots and for myself – I am keen to see what spots I haven’t been to yet and those will definitely be added to the “TO VISIT” column.

Let’s go!

1. Macchu Picchu, Peru


Yes, I love that the 1st place on the top 25 list is Macchu Picchu. I was there in 2010 and I’ve never seen anything like this landmark again, and probably never will.

travel blogger machu picchu

What you learn about the incredible civilization and witness the sheer genius design, build and functionality will blow you away. The best time to go is super early in the morning. I remember waking up at 4am, taking the bus on top of the mountain from the village below. If Macchu Picchu has been on your To See list for a while, I would encourage you to go see it as soon as possible. Reason being is that this landmark is so old and there are so many tourists that no doubt there will be further erosions (just like the Egyptian pyramids) and the structure won’t be the same in the next 10 or so years. I am sure when we went the site was not the same as it was a decade before that, but the point is things don’t last forever, especially such ancient civilisation places.

Unfortunately, all our photos taken on camera got lost when my laptop got stolen in 2012 but I found a couple of pics on Facebook, thus the lower quality so I apologise for that.

2. Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque Center, Abu Dhabi, UAE

To Visit

Just looking at the photos of this beautiful Mosque makes me want to travel to Abu Dhabi and wander through this gem of an architectural pioneer. As a number 2 on TripAdvisor’s list, it’s easy to understand why global travellers have rated this landmark so highly. I’ve been to Abu Dhabi but only through the airport in 2011 and there was a lot of construction going on. The airport was incredibly new and the Etihad airline was luxurious and premium. I think my next stint to Central Asia or my home country of Kazakhstan visit will have to involve a detour via Abu Dhabi.


3. Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia

To Visit

Angkor Wat is the largest religious monument in the world. It was constructed in the 12th century and was a Buddhist temple. A portugese monk that visited in the 16th century said that the temple “is of such extraordinary construction that it is not possible to describe it with a pen, particularly since it is like no other building in the world. It has towers and decoration and all the refinements which the human genius can conceive of.” And this is what I am going to stop doing – trying to describe it with a pen aka my typing and just pop this one on my ‘To Visit’ list quietly.
angkor wat unesco

Image via

4. St Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City, Italy


Part of our honeymoon trip at the end of 2012, a visit to Italy couldn’t be complete without going to Rome, a city so full of history with literally layers of centuries in historical importance. The Vatican is an area within Rome’s borders and is considered a separate country. St Peter’s Basilica is where the pope lives and governs through Vatican law. St Peter’s Basilica is one of the largest active churches in the world and is vastly decorated with artwork and marble, containing many tombs where popes have been buried and notable sculptures.

St Peter's Basilica Inside Travel BlogInside the St Peter’s Basilica

Saint Peter's Basilica

St Peter’s Basilica facade

5.  Taj Mahal, Agra, India

To Visit

Definitely on a top priority on the  “To Visit” list. One of the most romantic structures with such a story of love attached to the mausoleum of Taj Mahal. Emperor Shah Jahan built the Taj Mahal ( “Crown of Palaces” in Persian) for his wife Mumtaz Mahal who died at the age of 39 during childbirth. The Emperor was so devastated by his wife’s departure that he introduced a 2 year mourning and ordered to build the Taj Mahal as a tomb for Mumtaz Mahal, a Persian princess. It took 22 years to build and the structure, since 1643, has continued to mesmerize and inspire lovers around the globe.taj-mahalImage via


6. Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba, Cordoba, Spain

To Visit

Historically,  Spain and many parts of Europe used to be occupied by Muslim rule and myself and my husband have previously visited the Seville Cathedral, in Spain, as a part of our honeymoon trip in 2012. The cathedral has the base of a mosque and updated with Catholic church structures. It’s a hybrid of a sort that combines Muslim and Catholic faith in one beautiful structure. Looks like Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba has retained it’s Muslim roots, even in the title. It’s important to understand the history of specific architectural structures and very interesting to learn how these change, under which influence. I would love to visit this Mosque - Catherdal as the interior looks artistically incredible.

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mosque cordoba spain
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7. Church of the Savior on Spilt Blood, St Petersburg, Russia

At -30 degrees celsius, during my cousin’s wedding photoshoot, we got out of the bridal party limo and managed to snap a few shots of the famous cathedral. Although I must admit, I didn’t go inside, we did explore the area of St Petersburg while visiting for 1 week. Don’t forget that it’s not just the cathedral that you’ll be visiting if you haven’t done so yet, it will also be the Hermitage, The Mariinsky theatre and the various other famous landmarks and museums to learn more about Russian culture and history. I speak Russian as my first language so it was quite easy for me to get around, but I would recommend a tour guide if planning to visit Russia as the language can be a real barrier when you’re travelling blogger st Petersburg Spilt blood cathedral

8. The Alhambra, Granada, Spain

To Visit
If it wasn’t for the Traveller’s Choice awards from TripAdvisor, I wouldn’t have found out about this landmark in a hurry. We’ve been to Spain in 2012 but only visited Madrid, Seville and of course Barcelona. Judging from the photos of the Alhambra in Granada, the landscape looks a lot like Seville and Granada is geographically located along the same latitude. The Alhambra is grandiose and has so many Muslim incriptions, works of art and decorations.
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Palace Decorations at the Alhambra

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9. Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool, Washington DC, District of Columbia, USA

To Visit

Haven’t been to Washington DC. In the States I’ve only ever been to California and Seattle. Basically the West Coast has been explored, but not anywhere else. It is imperative that on the next visit to the US, we see New York and perhaps Washington DC. Do you remember that famous movie scene out of Forest Gump when Jenny jumps into the DC Memorial pool to be re-united with a new Vietnam war veteran? It would be incredible to visit this spot and admire President Lincoln in his gigantic chair.

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10. Milan Cathedral, Milan, Italy
To Visit

I haven’t been to Milan. In Italy I’ve visited Rome, Venice, Sienna, Pisa, but not Milano. Milan is a city famous for fashion, ecommerce, culture and arts. It is also home to the 5th largest cathedral in the world, Milan Cathedral or Duomo di Milano, and the 2nd largest Church in Italy, 2nd to St Peter’s Basilica. The Cathedral was built in Gothic style which originated in 12th Century France. Gothic architecture characteristics include the pointed arch, the ribbed vault and the flying buttress. (Reference from Wikipedia page)


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11. Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, California


The last time I visited San Francisco was in 2007 or 2008. It’s a beautiful city but this famous red bridge is definitely an icon which we often see in Hollywood films and this structure, built in 1937, has a certain romantic flair. It is possibly the most photogenic bridge in the world and can be explored by driving, walking, biking or hiking. I remember it being really windy – San Francisco can be quite cold because of this bay wind, so bring a jacket and a scarf when visiting and take lots and lots of beautiful photos!

In part 2 I will continue down the list to the rest of the landmarks rated as Top in the world by TripAdvisor users.
I hope you can leave some comments, if you wish, on stories and experiences you may have visiting these landmarks.
Happy travels!

Go to part 2 of TripAdvisor Top 25 Landmarks to Visit



Top Apps to Download Before You Travel

Top Apps to Download Before You Travel

As a travel blogger, I spend some time travelling around and have been known to rely heavily on my phone for all sorts of helpful information. I am not sure how we used to function without phones but a lot of people I know  even have 2x phones they carry around with them (me!). I am currrently enjoying a long weekend in Bali but I left one of my phones at home! Luckily, the 2nd one still made it and I started thinking about why I rely on my phone so much when I travel and what apps I find useful.

Here are my top useful Apps when travelling internationally:

XE Currency

XE app

A great app to have when travelling internationally. If you’re like me, all of the decimal points when converting currency can be confusing and stressful especially when you’re presented with a bill that has too many zeroes and almost everything is done in cash. In these situations I just go to this app on my phone and enter the currency vs AUD and then the world makes sense again. This app also works offline by saving the last updated rates which works great for me because I hardly ever have roaming data.
Free, Available on iOS and Android


Google Translate

Google Translate app

You may not be a foreign language pro, but this app helps you translate the basics no matter where you are. The benefits – you only have to download one app, because if you’re travelling through a few countries, that saves you having to download one for every language you encounter.

Just like with the currency app, choose your default ” Translate From” and “Translate To” languages and you’re in business. You most likely won’t be able to have a conversation with a local using this app, but at least you will avoid the worry accidentally going into the wrong bathroom because you are not sure what it says on the door. Cool feature – you can hold your camera up to a word– such as a sign, or a menu – and the app will translate it for you.

Free, Available on iOS and Android



Kindle app

I usually use my Kindle app on my iPad mini when I travel but recently I started also reading books through my iPhone 6. The font is big enough and it saves you having 2x devices in your carry on. I also like that this app connects across my Ipad and mobile so when I am on a particular page and have read ahead on mobile, logging into the iPad app, it will remind me that I’ve read a few pages ahead and will ask if I want to skip to that part. Is there anything better than getting immersed in a good book – especially when you’re travelling? I would argue no, but happy to hear your alternatives.

Free, Available on iOS and Android



VSCO app

I use a few phone editing tools when I travel. I don’t know how to use photoshop so mobile apps that edit my photos are best for me! VSCO is a really popular app to use for Instagram photos because let’s face it, the filters Instagram gives us are not that great! It takes a bit of getting used to and also can seem a bit fiddly if you’re not used to editing photos on your phone, but over time you’ll see why you’ll get addicted to using this app for photography – Instagram worthy or not.

Free, Available on iOS and Android


Messenger App – Yabb

Yabb app

Yabb is a free messenger app to keep you connected to friends and family while travelling. Jump onto a WiFi network and use this app to message or call anyone in your contacts – completely free. You can also search and send  Youtube videos within the app and there is a handy “Whisper” feature to help give your messages more privacy and you can even set a ‘self destruct’ setting to remove private conversations within a time limit.

Free, Available on iOS and Android 


Hotel Tonight

Hotel Tonight App

If you so happen to find  yourself in a hotel that looks nothing like the one you pre-booked  from photos online (True story!) or if you AirBnb apartment is strangely creepy (Friends’ true story!), see if you can use your Hotel Tonight app as a great last minute way to find accomodation.  The app works by connecting your location search with unsold rooms at the top hotels to then give you really great rates, at last minute. See the full list of cities/hotels HERE.

Free, Available on iOS and Android


If you have any cool apps you can recommend to me, please let me know on my Insta @liveshoptravel or in the comments below!