The Runaway Guide http://www.runawayguide.com Run Away & Travel The World Mon, 22 Dec 2014 04:52:22 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1 Best Time To Visit Thailand http://www.runawayguide.com/runaway-country-guides/best-time-to-visit-thailand/ http://www.runawayguide.com/runaway-country-guides/best-time-to-visit-thailand/#respond Mon, 22 Dec 2014 00:04:26 +0000 http://www.runawayguide.com/?p=7904      

raining in thailand

Although anytime of year is a good time to go to Thailand, it’s best to go during the low season. At this time, it’s easier to find cheap flights and all prices can be haggled down.Thailand has two low seasons that coincide with it’s rainy seasons. Note that the amount of rain can vary significantly between the north and south and from coast to coast. The seasons below best represent Bangkok and Southern Thailand.

  • Low Season #1 April-June
    This season is best characterized by afternoon showers. However these showers are often intermittent, and you can often go 2 or 3 days without rain at all. Note that April tends to be the hottest month throughout Thailand, and by hot I mean so hot and humid you won’t want to do anything.
  • Low Season #2 August-November
    This season is the best time of year in terms of prices and weather. It ranges from late August to Early November. These showers originate from monsoonal storm systems so it tends to swing between a few days of rain and a few days of sun.

     

Visa Requirements

For Citizens Of: US, CA, AU and most EU citizens. (
Other nationalities can refer to Thailand’s Ministry Of Foreign Affairs)

Visa Type: Exempt
Price: Free
Duration: 30 Days
Important Information: Visa is reduced to 15 days if entering by land. Overstaying your visa results in a 500 Baht/day fine on departure.

How To Find Cheap Flights To Thailand

  • From North America
    Currently, Norwegian Air offers the cheapest flights to Bangkok from both New York and Ft. Lauderdale for around 400-600$ one way.
  • From Europe 
    Again, Norwegian Air remains the cheapest option with direct flights as low as 200$ from Oslo, Copenhagen and Stockholm to Bangkok.
  • From Oceania
    If you’re coming from New Zealand or Australia, the cheapest tickets to Bangkok are with Air Asia. Flights average between 175$ and 300$ depending on the season. Be sure to book in advance.

How To Get Around Thailand For Cheap

  • Domestic Flights
    Air Asia and Nok Air are two budget airlines that offer flights all over Thailand for as low as 30$. It’s often cheaper to fly from Bangkok to Southern Thailand than to go by train. But be sure to book in advance for the cheapest fares. Check out the Best Budget Airlines In Southeast Asia.
  • Trains
    Thailand has a relatively reliable and extensive rail network. Although it’s more expensive than the bus, it’s loads more comfortable. The cheapest way to get a ticket is to book directly at the train station. Check out How To Get From Bangkok To Ko Pha Ngan.
  • Busses 
    Going by bus is almost always the cheapest option. You can get an over night bus from Bangkok to Surat Thani for as little as 320 baht/11 dollars. To book a ticket head directly to Bangkok’s southern bus station, Sai Tai Mai.
  • Boats 
    Although Lomprayah ferry company is the fastest, it’s also the most expensive. To travel to the islands for cheap look into more local ferry companies like Raja and Seatran.
  • Hitchhiking 
    Hitchhiking in Thailand is easy and safe, but not at the same time. Although pickup trucks and cars will stop for you, they’ll also want to charge you money. However, if you tell them you’re on a budget, many will give you a smile and a ride anyways. It doesn’t hurt to speak a bit of Thai.

How To Sleep Cheap In Thailand

  • Bungalows (300 Bhat/9$)
    Thailand is full of cheap and relaxing beach side bungalows. Budget bungalows can be found on every beach and cost around 300 baht/9$ a night. Deluxe bungalows with A/C usually go for around 600 Baht/ 20$.
  • Hostel Dorm (100 Baht/3$)
    With the amount of budget hotels and bungalows, Thailand doesn’t have a big hostel scene. But there are of course a few in each big city and dorms can be found between 100/150 baht or 3 to 5 dollars a night.
  • Budget Hotels (300 Baht/9$)
    Whether you’re in Bangkok or on an island, budget hotel rooms can be found for as low as 300 baht/ 9$ a night.
  • Beach Hotel (Free!)
    No one will stop you from sleeping on the beach or setting up a hammock between two palms. Local Thai’s and passed out tourists do it all the time.

How To Eat Cheap In Thailand

  • Street Food 
    The cheapest way to eat in Thailand is at local street stalls. The cheapest stalls are those a little outside of town or off the main streets. Sticky rice with mango, pork or chicken on a stick, a plates of Pad Thai cost around 30 baht/1$.
  • Night Markets
    Thailand is famous for is day and night markets. Here, all the best street stalls are gathered in one place to form a chaotic collision of cheap and delicious food.
  • Off The Land
    Thailand’s tropical climate means mangos, papayas, rambutri, and pineapple grow in abundance. If you can pick it, you can eat it!

Top Adventures & Destinations In Thailand

  1.  Full Moon Party On Ko Pha Ngan: Ko Pha Ngan is 1 of 3 islands in the gulf of Thailand. It’s got some incredible beaches, cheap bungalows and a great backpacking scene. But it’s main draw is The Full Moon party, an unrivaled beach party. For more info, check out, A Backpackers Paradise: Ko Pha Ngan.
  2.  Diving On Ko Tao: Ko Tao is just a short ferry for Ko Pha Ngan and is known for it’s excellent diving. It’s also one of the cheapest places, after Honduras, to get a diving certificate.
  3. The Limestone Giants Of Railay: Railay is just a 150 Baht boat from Krabi. It’s a spectacular little town surrounded by majestic lime stone cliffs that seem to defy gravity. When you think of Thai paradise, this is one place you’ll find it. Check out, How To Hike To The Secret Lagoon In Railay.
  4. Long-term Living In Chang Mai: Chang Mai is known for it’s jungle treks and buddhist temples. It’s also known for it’s huge expat community. If you’re looking for fast internet speeds and want to live long term, you can do it in Chang Mai for cheap.
  5. The White Temple Of Chang Rai: Wat Rong Khun is a remarkable all white temple in the north eastern city of Chang Rai. Definitely worth a visit if you’re up not.
  6. Buddhist Retreat’s In Ubon Ratchathani: Ubon Ratchathani is know for having a couple of Buddhist temples offering week and month long silent meditation sessions.
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5 Quick Tips for Having an Excellent Walking and Cycling Holiday http://www.runawayguide.com/travel-resource/5-quick-tips-for-having-an-excellent-walking-and-cycling-holiday/ http://www.runawayguide.com/travel-resource/5-quick-tips-for-having-an-excellent-walking-and-cycling-holiday/#respond Fri, 12 Dec 2014 17:56:06 +0000 http://www.runawayguide.com/?p=7779 P1050492A walking and cycling holiday is one of the best ways to experience a country while enjoying the health benefits of exercise and the therapeutic benefits of the great outdoors. Combining both pursuits also gives you a great mix of seeing landscape in a different way, while also keeping things fresh and interesting. It’s because of that, unsurprisingly, that these types of vacation are steadily climbing in popularity.

As for having an excellent walking and cycling holiday that you’re likely to remember for a long time to come? Here are five quick tips that might help with that.

Comfortable Shoes

Getting a good pair of shoes that you can preferably use for both activities is really important should you wish to remain pain and blister free. Make sure you try out various styles and sizes before you leave and try and break your shoes in gently by doing gentle exercise of this type before ramping up the intensity while on holiday.

All Weather Clothing

If you’re considering having a walking and cycling holiday in France or anywhere else in Western Europe, the chances of rain, or any other type of weather, are fairly high. To be on the safe side (and to ensure you don’t get washed out or completely burned) take a variety of clothing that you can slip on at a moments notice that will protect you from the elements.

Get in Shape

To really help maximise your holiday experience it’s a good idea to get in shape before you take off for your trip. Spend a couple of months or weeks leading up to the trip gently exercising in order to not put yourself under so much strain come vacation time. Exercising outside is obviously cheaper than a gym and is much more better equipped to prepare you for the outdoors than an indoor treadmill ever would.

Basic Bicycle Knowledge

Understanding how a bicycle works, its component parts and how to fix a tire are all useful and time efficient activities to undertake as you prepare for your trip. Knowing how to quickly repair a bicycle, especially if stuck in the elements and far from help, is something you can learn to do easily at home and help save you a lot of grief in case of emergency.

A Little Research

A little research and planning can go a long way when it comes to walking and cycling holidays and figuring out the best routes to take and how best to maximise your time. Have a look at enthusiast websites or any guide books about the region you’re planning to explore, no doubt they’ll be plenty of suggestions to help you better prepare.

A walking and cycling holiday is an experience that everybody should look to savour at least once in their lifetime. Not only is it a great and healthy way to see a lot of a place but it’s fun too. Even more so if you share your time with friends and family or even as part of a group.

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5 Top Spots to Catch Live Music Gigs in Brisbane http://www.runawayguide.com/travel-resource/5-top-spots-to-catch-live-music-gigs-in-brisbane/ http://www.runawayguide.com/travel-resource/5-top-spots-to-catch-live-music-gigs-in-brisbane/#respond Tue, 09 Dec 2014 15:17:01 +0000 http://www.runawayguide.com/?p=7776 Brisbane_May_2013If you’re planning a trip to Australia’s sunny city of Brisbane and are a music lover, make sure to check out some of the many live music venues downtown and in surrounding suburbs. While Sydney and Melbourne are two of the more famous cities in Australia, Brisbane has grown into an impressive cultural hub over recent years and is now seen as the best spot in the country to see a wide variety of musical acts.

The city has a regularly evolving live music scene, a large number of venues, and sees not only local bands doing their thing, but many national and international acts. The other benefit of checking out the entertainment in Brissie, as it is known locally, is the affordable price. If you’re backpacking and on a tight budget as you work your way around Australia, you’ll still be able to check out plenty of live music venues in Brisbane that won’t break the bank. Read on for five awesome entertainment spots in the city to visit on your next trip, no matter your type of jam.

1. Brisbane Jazz Club

If you’re a fan of jazz music then make sure you head to the Brisbane Jazz Club at least once. Located in inner-city Kangaroo Point, in the shadow of the iconic Story Bridge and sitting on the Brisbane River, the Club not only provides great music but also fantastic views to the city. Jazz lovers are sure to appreciate the friendly, relaxed atmosphere that this Brisbane institution is known for, on top of the mix of local and international musicians.

The Club happens to be one of the longest-running jazz clubs in the world, and is even home to its own band and building. The Brisbane Big Band, a 19-piece ensemble, has called the club home since 1974. This top-notch musical venue is a community organized, not-for-profit venture that has a commitment to fostering an appreciation of jazz in all music lovers.

2. The Tivoli

Many tourists that plan trips to Brisbane end up staying in the funky inner-city precinct of Fortitude Valley. Located in this suburb’s Entertainment Precinct, The Tivoli is a live music icon and one of the most famous venues in Brisbane. The establishment was built back in 1917 and has since been restored in the classic art deco style.

The versatile venue hosts musical and other live acts from a diverse range of genres, including theatre, dance, and comedy; and also holds many corporate events, private parties, and weddings. The Tivoli is well-known in Brisbane for its elegant decor combined with state-of-the-art technical equipment, and as such is a draw for musical acts all over the world.

3. Brisbane Powerhouse

The Brisbane Powerhouse is Brisbane City Council’s top arts performance venue and a popular landmark in the city. A former power station, this New Farm institution is set in a pretty spot on the bank of the Brisbane River and also handy to popular New Farm Park.

The venue features regular free live entertainment, as well as big name musicians such as Gotye and Paul Kelly. Up and coming artists also flock here to grow their profile, and the Powerhouse is really a hub for a variety of creative acts. The venue hosts entertainment acts in the areas of theater, film, visual arts, and comedy, as well as regular festivals.

4. The Zoo

Another popular Fortitude Valley venue for music lovers is The Zoo, a rock-and-roll live music stalwart that is popular with the indie crowd. This haunt has a cool, grungy style and showcases both popular bands and smaller, local acts.

Tourists can listen to a diverse range of musical styles at The Zoo, with anything from folk, reggae, and acoustic sounds to hip hop, rock, jazz, and pop. The venue has been helping to develop musicians and visual performance artists for over 20 years now, and is the perfect spot to go when you want to be amongst hip music lovers.

5. Beetle Bar

One of the newer live music establishments on the Brisbane scene is Beetle Bar. This funky venue is located downtown and is quite easy to find, with a shiny rooftop beetle to distinguish itself.

Beetle Bar opened in 2010 and is the place to head for original live music in genres such as rock, hip hop, funk, electronic, acoustic, pop, country, and more. The club also provides affordable ticket pricing that suits a wide array of budgets.

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Top 5 Things To Do In Costa Rica On A Budget http://www.runawayguide.com/travel-resource/top-5-things-to-do-in-costa-rica-on-a-budget/ http://www.runawayguide.com/travel-resource/top-5-things-to-do-in-costa-rica-on-a-budget/#respond Wed, 26 Nov 2014 12:28:18 +0000 http://www.runawayguide.com/?p=7692 drinking-coconut-costa-ricaFrom the moment you land or cross the border from Nicaragua, you’re senses are ambushed by a 5 star feast of tropical ecstasy. The landscape is so lush with emerald flora and so vibrant with it’s bio-diverse fauna that it’s almost hard to take it all in. The humid air, laced with papaya and passion fruit, is so sweet you might think you’ve entered heaven’s bakery. Costa Rica is pure paradise, and a must visit for any traveler.

Unfortunately, with prices on par with the US, it’s not an ideal destination for budget backpackers. Food, though delicious, is pretty expensive, and accomodation really adds up. Fortunately, there are plenty of cheap and even free things to do in Costa Rica that’ll allow you to experience the best of the country on a budget.

1) Swim In A Volcanic River

Right outside La Fortuna, at the foothills of Arenal volcano, lies a river. It winds through dense jungle and gently flows over smooth stones. It’s caressed by cool moist air and intermittent rains. It’s also super heated to the perfect temperature of 102 F or 38 C.

You can literally spend your entire day bathing in this glorious natural hot tub. There’s nothing more relaxing in all of Costa Rica, and the best part is it’s totally free.

To get here you can catch a cab from La Fortuna and simply ask the driver to drop you at the “free hot springs” or agua caliente gratis. If you’re looking for more infer about La Fortuna and where to stay, check out A Backpacker’s Resort In La Fortuna.

amazing hot spring river in la fortuna costa rica

Arenal hotsprings/river just outside of La Fortuna.

2) Go Rafting

Racing down a river with new friends, the rhythm of the current and unadulterated nature simply epitomizes Pura Vida or the pure life. It’s terrifying and heaps of fun all at once, and it’s a must do for any Costa Rica trip.

Although rafting isn’t the cheapest adventure in Costa Rica but it’s definitely not out of reach. Most day trips include everything and cost between 75-100$ depending on the company. Check out travelexcellence.com for more tips about white water rafting in Costa Rica.

Rafting outside of La Fotuna

Rafting outside of La Fotuna

3) Go Bungee Jumping

At 143 meters, Costa Rica is home to one of the highest bungee jumps in the world, the Monteverde Jump. You might crap yourself on the platform, you may see your life flash before your eyes as the earth approaches at 100 MPH, and you’ll definitely scream in joy or terror as you’re sucked back from imminent death. If you’ve ever contemplated bungee jumping or even if you haven’t, this is one adventure you should definitely consider. Price: 60$.

4) Search Out The Street Art In San Jose

Of Central America’s diverse cities, San Jose is arguably the cultural capitol. It’s full of live music, sculptures, murals, and graffiti. And there’s no better way to spend a day in this vibrant city than by discovering it’s street art. Although there are tours on offer, there’s so much cool art around you won’t have any trouble finding it yourself.

Cool graffiti in San Jose, Costa Rica

Cool graffiti in San Jose, Costa Rica

 5) Surf The World’s Second Longest Left Break

Pavones located on Costa Rica’s south west coast. This town offers one of the best surf breaks in the world. It’s so long you can easily surf for 10-15 seconds. It’s not just the surf but the tranquil and local atmosphere of this off the beaten path town that makes it an adventure for surfers and non-surfers alike. It’s one of my favorite places in Costa Rica and I’ll definitely be back.

Sunset in Pavones, Costa Rica

Sunset in Pavones, Costa Rica

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Best Countries For A Road Trip http://www.runawayguide.com/travel-resource/best-countries-for-a-road-trip/ http://www.runawayguide.com/travel-resource/best-countries-for-a-road-trip/#respond Mon, 24 Nov 2014 12:51:03 +0000 http://www.runawayguide.com/?p=7695 IMG_3234Taking a road trip is one of the best ways to explore a foreign country. It enables you to go where you want when you want. It also allows you to get off the beaten path. Plus, if you’re a group, it’s often a lot cheaper to hire a car or RV than going by public transport.

This is especially true in the USA, the UK and Australia. Not only are rentals cheap, but an extensive network of roads and highways makes them ideal for a road trip. In the following guide you’ll find out why and how to take a road trip on a budget in the USA, UK and OZ.

USA

There’s no better place for a road trip than the good ole USA. There are fast food restaurants, cheap motels, campsites, gas stations and car rental services everywhere. The entire country seems to be built just for your epic road trip.

The cheapest way to hit the road in America depends on the length of your trip. If you’re just looking to explore the length of California for a week or two, a compact car rental and a tent is the way to go. Rentals can be found for as little as 15$/day. The cheapest rental companies are often the smallest ones. Check out EZ rent a car if you’re flying into Los Angeles.

If you’re planning to explore for a month or more, you might want to consider buying a car. The best places to buy used cars are from mechanic shops. Here you can generally find reliable wheels for about 1000$. Just be sure to look into insurance and other legalities before hitting the road.

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Road Trippin the USA. New Jersey Turnpike.

UK

Like the USA, the UK is an excellent country to explore by car. From London to the Lake District there’s a whole lot to see. Plus while, public transport in the UK is extensive itcan be expensive, making it an ideal destination for a road trip.

The UK is home to many rental companies and compact car rentals tend to be relatively cheap. For the London metropolitan area, check out car hire London. They offer car rentals for as little as 14 pounds/day.

Heading to the infamous Jersey shore.

Heading to the infamous Jersey shore.

Australia

Australia is another country whose vast rain forests, deserts and coastlines are best discovered by car. Lately, everything in Australia has become extremely expensive, including gas. In order to offset costs, you might want to consider renting something you can live in like an RV. Recreational vehicle rentals can go for as little as 2500 AUD, depending on the duration. Check out DriveNow.com.au, where you can compare rates across OZ’s rental companies.

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Charged By A Herd Of Wild Elephants In Kaudulla National Park, Sri Lanka http://www.runawayguide.com/runawaysblog/charged-by-a-herd-of-wild-elephants-in-sri-lanka/ http://www.runawayguide.com/runawaysblog/charged-by-a-herd-of-wild-elephants-in-sri-lanka/#comments Sat, 15 Nov 2014 13:15:38 +0000 http://www.runawayguide.com/?p=7679 P1060442They’ve almost completely surrounded us now. There are four behind us, five to the left and one 12 foot tall mammoth to the right. Foot by foot they converge on our jeep. Their deep growls reverberate into my chest. Their prehistoric trumpets pierce my ears. They stare at us with unwavering blood red eyes. In them I see myself. I see panic. I see an animal ready to take flight for its life.

Suddenly the engine roars. But as the jeep thrusts forward, the heard begins to charge.

The driver instantly slams on the break and we glide to a muddy stop. The heard pauses, their eyes determined, their stance aggressive.

I can sense the drivers fear now. He yells towards the big one, half demanding and half pleading for it to stop it’s advance.

But the standoff continues. Seconds seem like minutes. I consider my possibilities. I could run towards the lake. I might not make it but it might buy some time for my fellow travel bloggers to escape.

I can’t take it anymore.

Yala, yala, drive! I scream like an angry Egyptian cab driver, looking ahead towards our only escape.

wild elephants in sri lanka

The driver hits the gas. For precious seconds the tires spin helplessly in the mud. Suddenly the jeep catapults us forwards.  And then by some divine hand, the elephants are held back. The jeep races to safety. We escape, but our racing hearts are still trapped within the elephants crosshairs.

I’ve felt threatened by animals before, by alligators in Australia and crazy monkeys in India. But I’ve never experienced the kind of primitive fear that a heard of angry wild elephants can invoke. It was terrifying yet awe inspiring, and it provoked a renewed respect for the natural world and these incredible mammals. I have never felt more alive and more grateful to be alive. If you’re looking to roam among wild elephants, Sri Lanka’s Kaudulla National Park is where it’s at.

This awesome elephant encounter is thanks to Travel Blog Conference Asia 2014. It’s a 5 day conference/tour with 50 other travel bloggers hosted by the PTBA, Sri Lankan Airlines, Cinnamon Hotels & Sri Lanka’s only domestic airline, Cinnamon Air. It’s the first time I’ve ever taken a tour or traveled with a group and I love it more than my beloved sugar cane juice.

According the itinerary, we’re going to climb the Machu Pichu of Sri Lanka, an ancient fort city called Sigirya. We’re also going on a river safari to see some crocs. Finally, If I’m lucky, I’ll get the chance to witness Sri Lanka from the air in one of Cinnamon Air’s awesome looking amphibian Cessnas. I’ve always wanted to fly in a small plane and this might be my chance.

Stay tuned and check back tomorrow as this wild Sri Lankan adventure continues!

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London’s Best Food & Music Festival http://www.runawayguide.com/travel-resource/londons-best-food-music-festival/ http://www.runawayguide.com/travel-resource/londons-best-food-music-festival/#respond Thu, 13 Nov 2014 04:26:32 +0000 http://www.runawayguide.com/?p=7674 londonAs one of the most visited cities on the planet, London is a veritable feast for the senses. Brimming with cultural activities that highlight the rich and storied history of the city, any visitor to London will have a plethora of activities to choose from to fill their days and nights.

Although many travelers might choose to experience sights like the London Eye or Buckingham Palace, others prefer to dive deep into London’s culture and experience activities like the locals do. One of the best ways to get up close and personal with a location is by rubbing elbows with those people who call that place home, and London is no exception.

Spending time at one of London’s many museums is certainly a worthwhile pursuit, but experiencing one of the city’s many food and music festivals is also a great way to spend one’s time here. By learning more about how the locals celebrate their many cultural and historical traditions you’ll come away with a much greater understanding of this incredible destination.

If you’re planning a trip to London, consider adding one of these festivals to your itinerary.

1. The Notting Hill Carnival

Held every year on London’s Bank Holiday, which is August 30 and August 31, the Notting Hill Carnival is one of the city’s best attended festivals and draws people from all over the globe. First held in 1964 to celebrate London’s historical connection with the Caribbean, and modeled after Trinidad’s carnival, the neighborhood of Notting Hill comes alive with food, music, and more.

Over one million people attend this festival every year, and with over 30 sound stages, hundreds of booths offering sumptuous food and drink, and parades of floats and sexy samba and calypso dancers, this is one festival that simply revels in raucousness. If you’re traveling alone you may want to consider finding a date in London for this festival. It’s definitely better when experienced with someone else.

Notting_Hill_Carnival_2002_large

2. London Restaurant Festival

London is home to some of the world’s finest restaurants and chefs, and the London Restaurant Festival is the perfect way to showcase the city’s exceptional food culture. The event will be held in October of 2015 and is a three-week celebration of all things food in London.

During the festival, various restaurants offer specially priced tasting menus that highlight some of their finest dishes. Culinary tours are arranged and many of them feature specialty cuisines as their main themes; if you’re fond of Indian or Greek cuisine, for instance, you’ll find a tour to suit your taste. Other foodie activities often include cooking demonstrations by top chefs and more. If you love expertly prepared world cuisine this is a festival that you don’t want to miss.

3. BBC Good Food Show

While not held in London, the BBC Good Food Show is certainly worth mentioning and could be a highlight of an itinerary that features travel to the north of London. Held in Harrogate in Yorkshire, the 2015 BBC Good Food Festival will be held from April 10 to April 12.

Featuring live cooking demonstrations by some of the country’s top chefs, and boasting a specialty food market that features some of the region’s best-known artisanal brands, this event is a must for lovers of high end, hard to find products. The market vendors actively encourage the tasting of their products, so be sure to arrive hungry.

4. Creamfields

While the lineup for the 2015 event has not yet been announced, in the past Creamfields has showcased the best in rock and EDM and attracts attendees from all around the world. The event has incarnations in other cities across the globe, but the original Creamfields is one of the best festival experiences in the U.K. Camping tickets are available and a trip to Creamfields would be the highlight of any trip to England.

Unfortunately, this event is also held during the August Bank Holiday, so you may have to choose between Creamfields or the Notting Hill Carnival. That being said, if you’re a fan of music and want to experience a party like no other, Creamfields wins, hands down.

As more and more people from around the world visit London each year, there are more ways than ever before to experience this one-of-a-kind location. If music and food are among the ways that you love to dive into a destination, be sure to check out some of these festivals and the others like them on your next visit to London.

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Kamakura Chaos With My New Friend D http://www.runawayguide.com/runawaysblog/kamakura-chaos-with-my-new-friend-d/ http://www.runawayguide.com/runawaysblog/kamakura-chaos-with-my-new-friend-d/#comments Wed, 12 Nov 2014 05:42:51 +0000 http://www.runawayguide.com/?p=7637 It was overcast, I hadn’t heard back from my friend and I didn’t know where I was going to stay. I was starting to lose morale and beginning to regret coming to Kamakura when all of a sudden I bumped into a old friend for the first time. D aka De-hi was his name. He had full moon party paint on his face and an unyielding confidence that this day would be a great one. Together we made a Lau Chu (Chinese liquor) fueled ruckus around town, talking to everyone, flirting with girls, and discussing potential Japan tour ideas. Reminded me how a crap day can quickly turn into one of the best while on the road.

P1060189After walking through alley ways I came across this great little house/cafe. Turned out the owner was Japanese but loved Jazz, and used to import hiking gear from Denmark.

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I left the cafe and I asked directions from this group of Japanese kids. Before I knew it they invited me along to see the famous Kamakura Buddha (Daibutsu).

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It wasn’t just this huge Buddha but the dense yet inviting Japanese forest that surrounded it that truly made it a surreal and stunning sight.

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Let the Japanese posses commence! “Cheesu!”

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Taking photos with a few random girls. This definitely a PPP (potential profile pic)

big buddha in kamakura japan

They really got a kick out of D and I, and asked for a dozen pictures with us afterwards.

at a chinese restaurant in kamakura-japan

Next up, the best Chinese restaurant in the world.

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D ordered the full set and a 30$ bottle of VIP Lau Chu (Chinese liquor). It was 11 am ><

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The spring rolls and dumplings were crisped to perfection and dripping with fatty goodness. Everything was created with culinary precision and refinement that Japan is famous for. Don’t think I’ll ever have Chinese this good again unless I come back here.

drinking on the beach in kamakura japan

With a half bottle of hot Lau Chu on this brisk november day, we decided to hit the beach.

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After a few minutes D got antsy and took off with my camera in hopes to acquire covert shots of cute girls.P1060252

On the way to the 7/11 for a beer, a bunch of school girls wanted a picture with us. How could we say no?

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A little part of D fell in love with an employee and begged me to get a sneaky shot which I reluctantly took ><.

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Long story short, this is how the day ended.

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Definitely a day I won’t soon forget. Thanks D!

As it turns out D is running a tour of Shinjuku and Tokyo at large. We talked a lot about potential Japan Runaway Tours and how we could collaborate. If you’re interested in touring Japan with D and I on a budget, let me know in the comments below!

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Leif & Tsuyoshi Go To Kyoto: Shrines, Temples, Diarrhea & Ramen http://www.runawayguide.com/runawaysblog/leif-tsuyoshi-go-to-kyoto-shrines-temples-diarrhea-ramen/ http://www.runawayguide.com/runawaysblog/leif-tsuyoshi-go-to-kyoto-shrines-temples-diarrhea-ramen/#comments Wed, 05 Nov 2014 09:08:28 +0000 http://www.runawayguide.com/?p=7562 November 4th, 2014. I’m not quite sure where I am anymore. Across the street a lady in a kimono bows low to a departing customer. Behind me there’s a McDonalds where a girl is handing out flyers. We make our way across the bridge. Salary man, samurai, salary man, samurai. I look down the river, it’s banks are dominated by huge bank buildings. I look the opposite way and find hundred year old homes. I can’t keep the grin off my face.

If you only visit one city in Japan, Kyoto is the place. This ancient capitol epitomizes Japan, and the wonderful juxtaposition of the ancient with the modern. It’s home to Japan’s oldest and most refined restaurants, and macha green teas. It’s also peppered with ancient Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples. If you’re looking for a glimpse and a taste of ancient Japan, immerse yourself into Kyoto.

japanese pop star smoking in apartment

My cousin Tsuyoshi having a smoke in his apartment in Kobe before our trip to Kyoto.

japanese guy in osaka subway

Making our way through Osaka station, looking for the train to Kyoto. Is Tsuyoshi in a boy band or Yakuza(Japanese mafia)?

Osaka train station

Osaka central station.

japanese students at kiyomizu-deraOne hour and 800¥ later, we arrived in Kyoto.

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First stop, Kiyomizu-dera.  A Buddhist temple and a collection of buildings from ancient Kyoto. This world heritage site truly makes you feel as if you’ve traveled back to ancient Japan.

the view from the top of kiyomizu-dera

Looking up towards the mountains at a lone temple. Fall is on it’s way.

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Many Japanese and Gaijin (foreigners) wear a traditional Kimono when visiting Kiyomizu-dera.

japanese couple taking a selfie at Kyoto Jishu Shrine

At the entrance of Kyoto Jishu Shrine or the “cupid love shrine,” a place were you can deepen your current relationship or pray for a new one.

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Soba noodles, Amazaki (sweet fermented rice drink), hot mugi (wheat) tea and a brisk fall day. For me, this is heaven.

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Tsuyoshi rented a car like he was buying a drink at a vending machine. He put his card up to the window and the door popped open. 8$/hour. Next stop Fushimi Inari Taisha or the shrine of 1000 gates.

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Working on my Japanese pose at the entrance to Fushimi Inari Shrine.

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That’s how it’s done!

Fushimi Inari Taisha

There has got to be more than 1000 gates here!

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This shrine is dedicated to the Shinto god of rice. The gates or Tori mark the transition from the profane to the sacred or from earthly to heavenly.

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The fox is known for being the messenger of Inari aka the rice spirit.

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After watching the sun set over Kyoto’s Kamogawa river, it was time for some food.

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We made our way down a street in Gion district, a place known for it’s traditional restaurants and Geisha houses.

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After salivating at every restaurant window, we finally decided on a joint specializing in Kyo-yasai or Kyoto vegetables.

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A kind of eggplant with a miso based sauce.

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The best Tempura I’ve ever had. Crisped to perfection, remarkable flavor.

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On the way back, Tsuyoshi somehow started getting Diarrhea pangs. Vegetables don’t do that to people.

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Thank god for Japanese public toilettes. Unlike SE Asia, they actually want you to throw the used paper in the toilette. Bit of reverse culture shock for me and I still felt guilty flushing it down.

ramen

Our 5,000¥ /50$ traditional vegetable meal was delicious but just not filling enough. So…we went for 700¥/7$ ramen and boy was it palate altering. No more New York City diner Ramen for me. Nah-ah, not once more, not never. Too spoiled now.

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I can’t even express how much I love this country. Everything, from the cuisine to the nature to the insanely polite people makes me giggle with a kind of childhood joy. I just wish it wasn’t so dang expensive. Fortunately, I’ve got an amazing family, Tsuyoshi, Miki, Akina and Yoko Aikawa up in Yamanashi-ken, who always take care of me. I hope that one day I can take care of them too.

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Get 35$ Towards Top Hotels On Travel Pony http://www.runawayguide.com/runawaysblog/get-35-towards-quality-hotels-on-travel-pony/ http://www.runawayguide.com/runawaysblog/get-35-towards-quality-hotels-on-travel-pony/#respond Sat, 01 Nov 2014 10:26:08 +0000 http://www.runawayguide.com/?p=7471 P1040902Sometimes I love sleeping rough with a ceiling of stars and walls of freedom. But to be honest, I love staying at high end hotels even more. There’s nothing better than escaping to a cozy room with HBO in the middle of a chaotic city. Unfortunately, for someone on the road as much as me, it’s totally unsustainable.

However, I recently came across a hotel booking website that makes mid to high end hotels much more affordable. So affordable that I’m even considering splurging for a night or two.

This website is Travel Pony

Why Is Travel Pony So Cheap?

Travel Pony claims to offer hotels at between 10-30% less than similar booking websites. The reason they can do this is because they don’t spend any money on advertising. In other words, they rely on word of mouth and pass the discounts on to us.

After comparing Travel Pony with other hotel booking websites like Agoda and Booking.com, I found that they really do offer good deals. Although there were a few Luxury hotels, such as the Mandarin Oriental in Singapore that weren’t cheaper, most mid-range hotels were significantly cheaper.

Significant discounts on high-end hotels in Tokyo

Significant discounts on high-end hotels in Tokyo

How To Get 35$ Towards Any Hotel

Right now Travel Pony is offering 35$ towards any hotel. All you have to do is sign up either through Facebook or with your email. It’s easy to do and they don’t send loads of newsletters. Plus they’ll also give me 25$ for the referral. It’s a win win deal for everyone.

Sign Up For Travel Pony & Get 35$

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