The Medical Tourism Spotlight Is on New Zealand

If you’re living with chronic knee or hip pain at night, or are seeking hip or knee pain relief, then you’ve probably already visited a doctor. Depending on your condition he may have recommended hip replacement surgery, knee replacement surgery or hip resurfacing surgery. And, depending on your current insurance program you’ve likely seen how expensive those surgeries can be.

There is an alternative option to paying the high U.S. cost of these procedures – medical or health tourism in New Zealand. Of course you can elect not to have knee or hip replacement surgery at all, but managing the pain and what it does to your quality of life may make this choice unfeasible. Health tourism can reduce surgery costs significantly, but pricing considerations aside, there are certain risks – seen or not – that you need to consider before choosing your medical tourism destination, including:

  • ‘Superbugs’ and other infectious diseases
  • The number of vaccinations required for travel to certain health destinations
  • The travel time needed to get to certain medical tourism destinations
  • Risk of terrorism and other violence
  • The quality of technology used at the medical facilities at certain health tourism destinations
  • The quality of the food and water at certain destinations

People interested in health tourism as an option need to consider the larger picture, beyond the procedure itself; from the beginning of your travel for hip or knee pain relief, to the facilities and personalized care, to the recovery period before your travel home. It needs to be stress and problem free so you can get back to enjoying your quality of life faster. That’s why New Zealand is a fantastic option!

Recently, according to the 2010 Global Peace Index, New Zealand was rated as the world’s most peaceful country. It was rated very low or at low risk in the following areas:

  • Level of violent crime
  • Number of homicides
  • Level of organized conflict
  • Potential for terrorism
  • Political instability
  • Hostility toward foreign travelers

New Zealand has extremely low rates of the infectious diseases MRSA, Hepatitis A, VRE, Tuberculosis, and HIV. Most other, popular destinations for health tourism require or strongly urge vaccinations for typhoid, malaria, rabies, hepatitis A, and Japanese encephalitis. Traveling to New Zealand requires no vaccinations!

In New Zealand, the food is safe and the water is clean. Food safety standards are strictly regulated by the New Zealand Food Safety Authority and Food Standards Australia & New Zealand. In New Zealand, the medical facilities are clean and state-of-the-art, all using the latest technologies. The doctors and medical staff are all highly-trained – many in fact are trained in the U.S. English is the primary language in New Zealand, a factor that is so important when discussing a major medical treatment such as knee or hip replacement surgery.

New Zealand is also easier to get to than many other orthopedic procedure destinations. Direct flights from Los Angeles will have you in Auckland in just about 12 hours.

New Zealand is on the cusp of becoming a major destination for health tourism. Knee replacement surgery, hip replacement surgery, and hip resurfacing surgery can be performed at up to 50% less than the cost of the same procedure in the U.S. You don’t have to live with chronic pain anymore.

Sunshine Coast Tourism Bounces Back

In spite of the floods, the oil spill, and a bout of bluebottle jellyfish, not to mention the recession, Australia's Sunshine Coast recorded another bumper Easter break. Coupled with the news that the Sunshine Coast has seen Queensland's strongest growth for business visitors in the last financial year, the region has much to celebrate.

Figures from the Queensland Business Events Survey show 20,000 business visitors came to the region, spending a minimum average of almost $ 400-a-day. The figures are particularly significant at a time when businesses are cutting back on their conference expenditure. They demonstrate that quite often a business trip to Sunshine coast accommodation can easily be combined with a family holiday.

As a result of the unprepented flooding in the week before Easter, there was projected gloom and doom in the region as some tourism operators were forced to close their businesses over one of the coast's busiest weekends of the year. Owners of campsites and caravan parks for example around the flood hit areas of Kin Kin and the upper reaches of the Noosa River were trying their best to warn visitors to stay away over the Easter weekend as the floods had washed away or severely damaged facilities.

However, the region benefited from its close proximity to Brisbane and aggressive marketing from the tourism industries as Brisbane residents flocked to book last minute deals. Great value deals and targeted advertising rejected in better than expected occupancy rates on the coast. A $ 2 million marketing and advertising campaign, aimed at highlighting the coast's clean and safe beaches after the oil spill, was also expected to draw visitors from Sydney, Melbourne and New Zealand. But many Sunshine Coast accommodation facilities reported that they had been booked for months in advance by visitors unwilling to risk losing out on their annual Easter break by leaving it until the last minute to book. From camp sites to luxury five-star resorts, 'no vacancy' signs were being joyfully displayed everywhere.

With the benefit of simultaneous school holidays across Australia, visitors were able to spend longer in the region after the Easter weekend, finding plenty of ways to spend their money in the coast's many tourist facilities. Rough surf conditions and more rain meant that tourists looked to entertain themselves in the Sunshine Coast's countless restaurants, amusement facilities and shopping centers.

A bumper seafood supply on the Sunshine Coast over Easter was also expected to keep visitors happy over the holiday period. With consumers trying to eat more healthily and being conscious about eating locally caught seafood, Sunshine Coast fishermen were anticipating a surge in demand for their abundant supplies of spanner crabs, Mooloolaba prawns, Moreton Bay bugs, fish and scallops. The recent oil spill had little effect on sales as the region's authorities were very quick to publicize the fact that Sunshine Coast seafood was safe to eat.

Expect to find many more great deals on Sunshine Coast accommodation up and down the region as the quighter autumn and winter seasons approach. With coldest month of July having an average daily maximum temperature of 20.9C, tourism operators will be vigorously promoting the warm and dry winter climate that the Sunshine Coast enjoys.

The Albertine Rift Valley and Its Habitants

Rwanda as a country located in East Africa is best known today for two things, that is to say, the genocide and gorillas. Fortunately the latter is part of history and the country can concentrate on the former. As one of the best places to view the mountain gorillas, and with spectacular scenery and a rich diversity of species, Rwanda is fast gaining a reputation on the tourism map.

But why is Rwanda so blessed? It has all to do with its location on the African continent. Rwanda lies on the eastern rim of the geological phenomenon known as the Albertine Rift.

The Great Rift Valley stretches almost 5000km from the Arabian Peninsula, through east Africa into the northern reaches of Mozambique. It is the result of the separation of the African and Arabian tectonic plates, a process that began around 35 million years ago in the north. The process is maintained by the ongoing separation of East Africa from the rest of Africa along the East African Rift.

In East Africa the rift is characterized by two distinct separations, the eastern rift – which is what most people think of when they hear the term 'rift valley' – and the little known western rift, known as the Albertine Rift.

The Albertine Rift stretches from the northern end of Lake Albert to the southern end of Lake Tanganyika extending through the countries of Uganda, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi and Tanzania.

It is one of Africa's most important biodiversity conservation sites. This rift incorporates the ice fields on top of the Rwenzori Mountains, active volcanoes, hot springs, bamboo, alpine vegetation, montane forest, savanna and the lowland forests of Semliki. The snow-capped Ruwenzori Mountains form one of the largest and most significant catchment areas in Uganda, and are the most permanent source of the White Nile.

The Albertine Rift forms the epicenter of Africa's montane rainforest circle. Both its fauna and flora have links to the west and southwest with Cameroon and Angola, to the northeast with the Kenyan Highlands, and the southeast with the Eastern Arc Mountains, and extremely via the Malawi Rift with southern Africa.

On the western side it abuts the Guinea-Congolian lowland rainforest. Collectively, its central location within Africa, juxtaposition of habitats, and provisional altitudinal zonation, makes the Albertine Rift globally outstanding for its high species diversity and large numbers of endemics; highlighted by the area containing the world's last population of Mountain Gorilla.

Covering only 1% of the African continent's landmass, the Albertine Rift overtheless contains more than 50% of mainland Africa's bird species and almost 40% of its mammal species. The Albertine Rift area also contains more endemic mammals, birds and amphibians than any other site in mainland Africa.

After making up such a small percentage of the total landmass of Africa the Albertine Rift also contains almost 15% of Africa's plant species.

There are a number of sites in the Albertine Rift that are protected as National Parks, Wildlife Reserves or Forest Reserves, represented in all the countries. Some of the better known national parks include:

o Virunga NP, DRC
o Bwindi Impenetrable NP, Uganda
o Rwenzori Mountains NP, Uganda
o Queen Elizabeth NP, Uganda
o Kibale NP, Uganda
o Virunga Volcanoes, DRC, Rwanda, Uganda
o Nyungwe NP, Rwanda
o Kahuzi Biega NP, DRC

With an increase in tourism and the realization of the importance of the area, protection will increase and funding will be become more freely available. However, unrest in the Democratic Republic of Congo is still of great concern for the future of the Albertine Rift area.

The area is an important watershed for the supply of clean water to the communities living not only in the vicinity but those in further reaches and the lakes are the most productive in Africa necessitating strict conservation measures.

The increase in tourism to the area should provide the push needed to overcome any negative ideas associated with this incredible wilderness destination.

Top Reasons to Visit Vietnam

Globetrotters are allured by the mesmerizing tourist attractions of Vietnam. Day by day tourism sector has seen immense growth in Vietnam. The avid travelers are amazed to explore the treasure of famous tourist sites in Vietnam. Vietnam’s apparent sleepy and languid demeanor camouflages myriad delights and excitements. There’s simply no dearth of things to do in Vietnam and you can be rest assured that your Vietnam vacations will not have a single dull moment. Vietnam tours are another name of fun and excitement. There are many tour operators that conduct fascinating Vietnam tours and travels through a number of Vietnam package tour.

Holidaying in Vietnam is great indeed for sightseeing in Vietnam. The country is dotted with several famous tourist sites in Vietnam. Among many places of interest in Vietnam captivating natural beauty, tranquil villages, serene lakes, ancient pagodas, beautiful lakes especially allure the travel freaks. Even the history lovers like to discover the popular tourist attractions. Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Hue, Hoi An are major cities of Vietnam that are frequented by visitors.

Sightseeing tours in Vietnam take the travelers to various places of historical, religious significance and Vietnam Culture Tour.Splendid architecture of the citadels, royal tombs, palaces and temples is marvelous site. Dien Bien Phu, C? Loa citadel, Hoa Lo prison, Ho Chi Minh mausoleum and Ba Dinh square and Quang Tri are not to be missed while touring in Vietnam.

Things to do in Vietnam give a wide range of choices. The shopping freaks are especially attracted to the shopping arcades of the country. You might find the markets not as flashy as of Paris or New York but certainly the charm of markets is unmatched. Shopping is an engaging activity. Country’s souvenirs are so artful and traditional that you cannot resist yourself from buying them. Vietnamese handicrafts, mostly lacquer ware will surely command your attention. The excellent Vietnamese jewelry its exquisite workmanship will astonish you and your shopping bags will be piled up these items. Some areas like Hoi Chin Minh City and Hanoi are best places to have trendy clothing and real antique pieces. People also like to have Vietnam War- Army watches and military clothing as momentums of the country.

Entertainment in Vietnam has countless alternatives. Nightlife of Vietnam is pulsating and the party buffs are thrilled by the invigorating nightlife here. Vietnam tourist guide will help you know more about nightlife in Vietnam. Pool, Discos, bars, clubs are a common site here. Even in the far-flung and remote mountainous regions like Sapa, Karaoke bars are very popular amongst the various nightspots of Vietnam.

There are numerous bars and nightclubs in Ho Chin Minh City, Vietnam, the most popular ones amongst them being Apocalypse Now, Q Bar, Underground Bar and Grill and Carmen Bar. Nha Trang too offers an array of choices with regards to bars and nightclubs. With these options, you certainly wouldn’t need to worry about the things to do in Vietnam after dusk sets in.

Why not plan a Vietnam tour instantly to explore more attractions here!

Taj Mahal – Agra Tour

Taj Mahal, a most celebrated piece of Mughal architecture and craftsmanship is the most visited attraction of North India Tourism. This epitome of love crowned as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World which is visited by almost every tourist who comes here from several parts of the world. This ultimate monument of love is also granted with status of the best World Heritage Sites in India.

Taj Mahal is the most famous attractions India Tourism located on the west bank of river Yamuna in Agra, Uttar Pradesh State. This mausoleum is the symbol of eternal love which was built by the Mughal Emperor Shahjahan for his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal. This grand edifice signifies and glorifies human love which has withstood the test of time, and still stands in all its glory of architecture. Scores of tourists prefer Taj mahal Tours they can experience the grandness of this astounding architecture.

This is the mausoleum which was built by the Muhgal Emperor Shah Jahan in 1648 A.D. as a tribute of romance with his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal. It was built by 20,000 workers working day and night for around 22 years. This monument is made up of white marble and red sandstone. With this 28 type of precious and semi-precious stones were embedded in the interiors of the monument which adds extravaganza to this grand structure.

The design of Taj Mahal is basically a Persian style embedded with an Indian architectural pattern. The Taj Complex is divided into four distinctive parts and each has its own significance and characteristics. The Taj Gateway facing the Taj Mahal is the massive red sandstone Gateway. It is decorated with verses from the holy Koran. While the Taj Garden provides a breathtaking view of lush-green flora going all the way up to the plinth of the Taj. This garden illustrates the Islamic style of architecture and symbolizes spirituality.

The Mausoleum is the mighty structure of the Taj placed on a 6.7 meter high plinth. Four minarets each of 41.6 meters height flanked by the four corners of the plinth and balance the tomb. These minarets are so spectacularly designed that in case of any mishappening, the pillars would not fall on the tomb. Each minaret has an Arabic letter written and famous for their calligraphic representations.

Tombs in Taj Mahal are set on a square pedestal. The base structure in the tomb is large and has many chambers. Of the various chambers, the main chamber has the cenotaphs of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal. The steles of the tomb are decorated with precious and semi-precious stones and the ceilings are strategically constructed to echo voices and melodies.

Cardiff Wales – Well Worth Your Time to Visit!

If you’re ready to experience a beautiful part of Wales, then Cardiff should be high on your list of places of places to visit. This is the capital city and it has a long and rich history, as well. Home to many cultural and sporting events, this city is one of the most popular tourism spots in Wales. Over 11.6 million people choose Cardiff as their destination in 2006.

A Short History Lesson

With the archeological evidence available throughout the area, it’s possible to date this great city to the Neolithic period, around 6,000 BC, which was 1500 years before Stonehenge. Eventually, the Romans would conqueor this area around 75 CE and it became an important military outpost. Abandoned by the Romans towards the end of the 4th century, In 1080, William I of England began to work on the castle within the city the Romans had built. However, some of the original Roman work is still visible in one area of the castle.

In 1404, the city was burned to the ground by Owain Glyndwr. It was quickly rebuilt and became a Free Borough in 1542. In 1581, Elizabeth I granted the city its first royal charter and in 1905, King Edward VII granted its city status. From there, the city grew quickly and coal was it’s number one industry. After a decline following the first World War, the industrial areas of the city began to boom. Eventually, the city would house the National Musuem of Wales, the University of Wales, and the National Assembly of Wales.

With the construction of Cardiff Bay in 1999, the city’s bay area has quickly grown, both in industrial means and as a tourist location. This area includes the Wales Millenium Centre, which hosts many cultural events throughout the year.

Visiting the City

Cardiff City Centre offers over a wonderful shopping and culstural experience for tourists, including the ever popular Cardiff Castle. With over 9,000 hotel rooms throughout the city, it’s quickly become “the” place to visit when in Wales. A temperate climate for most of the year, the area actually receives less rainfall than most other locations in Wales.

Most of the tourists visit the City Centre, the Bay area, historical sites, and of course, the musuems, art galleries, and sporting arenas to catch a match. You can easily spend weeks within this city and still feel as though you haven’t seen everything it has to offer.

A Final Thought

Cardiff is one city that should be high on your list of places to visit. It’s beautifully designed with plenty to keep you occupied. Come see why this city is the number tourist destination in Wales.

Hotel Infrastructure in Thailand

Bangkok, capital of Thailand is the heart and soul of the country and one of Asia’s most dynamic cities. You will be pleasantly surprised in this frantic and steamy tropical city offering gleaming skyscrapers, glittering temples, colorful street markets, sophisticated shopping malls, bustling nightlife, and a vibrancy at every turn which reflects the incredible economic growth of the last few years.

Despite Bangkok became a booming, modern capital with a lot of tourists recently, it still manages to retain its unique Siamese heritage in the wonderful food, Buddhist tolerance, exotic architecture, culture, and Thai hospitality. If you use “Sky train” symbolizing Bangkok’s rapid development you can get some great views over a capital in constant change and a convenient way to get around the main areas. Bangkok is one of the most exciting and exotic cities in the world without any doubts!

When you are in Thailand you will be pleasantly met with a great tradition of hospitality and nowhere is this clearer than in its hotels. You will see the famous Thai smile and get excellent facilities, excellent service etc. Take any international poll and you will find at least one Thai hotel in the top ten in the world! And moreover, whatever your budget, there is something to meet your means as accommodation in Thailand is not just a series of top-of-the-range hotels and luxury Thailand property. You can choose from various guesthouses, resorts, rooms with a view to the city or to the ocean!

Thailand hotel infrastructure is excellent and hotel accommodation is available in all categories, from the most basic, cheap guest house to hotels that range top by international standards. And you can find accommodation not only in Bangkok, but hotels of all categories, right up to the top in provincial towns and tourist destinations as well.

Usually luxury five star hotels are located in very expensive districts of Bangkok together with famous and popular property in Thailand around. There are many things to see and to do in Bangkok, such a great Metropolis that is also a great place for shopping. Bangkok offers you an extraordinary selection of Hotels, tourism infrastructure, Thailand property, Resorts and Serviced Apartments from budget Guest House and Cheap Hostels to 5 stars Hotels and Resorts.

Thailand has international standard accommodation not just in the capital Bangkok and some popular beach resorts but almost all over the country that is not typical for most developing or newly industrialized countries attracting foreign investments in property in Thailand projects. Tourism in Thailand became the biggest business and reason for such fast development. Only 10 or 15 years ago tourists couldn’t find international standard hotels, but today you will see them at far off places like Mae Hong Son which a few years back wasn’t even accessible by road all year round.

Foreign visitor can even experience both nature and the comfort in exotic luxury accommodations built right in the jungles, for example in Kanchanaburi province if they wish and ready to pay.

Among all Southeast Asian countries the Kingdom of Thailand draws the highest amount of visitors as this country has irresistible combination of breathtaking natural beauty, inspiring temples, renowned hospitality, robust cuisine and ruins of fabulous ancient kingdoms. Thailand has everything from the verdant limestone islands of the Andaman Sea and the stupa-studded mountains of Mae Hong Son, to the tranquil villages moored along the Mekong River and the pulse-pounding dance clubs of Bangkok and every type of traveler will find what he needs for great vacations.

Tours in Paris


The Eiffel tower, the Notre Dame and the Louvre are the images that leap to the mind when one hears the name of the city Paris. For eons gone by, the city has been a favorite haunt of poets and artists from the world over. Reams have been written about the city's beauty and charm. France, the country itself is considered one of the most beautiful in the world and its capital shines as the jewel in its crown.

The capital of France is one of the top most tourist destinations in the world (it was voted the best city in the first world to visit in a poll powered by the Luxury Travel magazine). If you are looking to visit France, Paris should definitely be the first location on your itinerary. Steeped in history and culture, the city has, for ages, directed the fashion scene of the world and set the standards for fine cuisine.


Provence is a region of France that lies in the south-east part of the country, adjacent to Italy. The area was the first Roman province outside of Italy and that was named the 'province' which changed to 'Provence' in French.

This region has been one of the most prolific wine producing regions in France (and if a specific region is pointed out in the country that is the largest producer of wine in the world, you know it has to be something special). But even so, Provence's claim to fame is the long line of painters who have depict the region in their work. Provence has been the adopted home for such luminaries as Fromment, Puget, Cézanne, van Gogh, Renoir, Picasso, Braque, Marquet, and my personal favorite, Monet. With such an eclectic mix of artistes, Renaissance to post modern, bearing testimony to the bewitching quality of the region, you should definitely put Provence on your holiday destinations while visiting Europe.

If you are planning to visit France and want to experience the best of the country, you need a reliable partner who can arrange everything for you and make your vacations stress-free. Welcome to Paris Provence; it is your one stop shop for all your bookings for a trip to France. Log on to our website at and book tours, accommodations and airport transfers; everything that you would need for a trip to the cultural and gastronomic capital of the world.

Vietnam, North to South

Tourism in modern Vietnam is enjoying a boom time. As safety for tourists to Vietnam no longer presents great concern, this beautiful country can be explored from north to south, from Ha Noi to Ho Chi Minh (Saigon)

Visiting Vietnam offers travelers a rich and varied cultural history, combined with the charm of a country which is still very large rural, the exceptions being Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh. Its tourist industry has developed to the extensive that accommodation of excellent quality is available at popular destinations.

Hanoi is a unique city dominated by French colonial architecture with tree-lined boulevards, peaceful lakes and oriental temples. Recommended places to visit include the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, One Pillar Pagoda, Fine Arts Museum and Temple of Literature and the Lake of the Restored Sword and the Old Quarter of Vietnam's capital. Additionally the Museum of Ethnology and a traditional Vietnamese water puppet show in the evening at Thang Long Theater are very enjoyable.

Traveling to Halong Bay, takes approximately 3 1/2 hours by road (170 km) from Hanoi. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site as is Hoi An. Halong Bay, in the South China Sea, is made up of 1969 islands and islets rising from the blue water on the area of ​​15,000 sq. km.

The bay is quite spectacular because of its craggy islands, islets, the mists and the sun. It is exceptional in shape, size and color and rich vegetation. There are many beautiful caves and stunning beaches to explore in the summer and autumn. The islands are said to be where the dragons descended into the sea when Vietnam was defending itself from Chinese invasion.

The foods of Vietnam vary from the north through the central region to the south, all with their own distinct regional variations. The common bond is the use of rice or noodles. Whatever your choice is for vegetarian, multiple dishes, contrasting flavors, varied textures and exotic ingredients Vietnamese cooking offers a wide selection to satisfy the most discerning visitors, To name but a few traditional favorites, Cha Ca, Banh Chay, Banh Troi, Nem Ran (spring roll but called cha gio in the south) and Pho Bo, a traditional beef soup and Gio Lua which is found at its best in the north.

The Vietnam climate allows for light traveling specifically as any necessary clothing can be bought locally and cheaply. As Vietnam stretches some 1000 miles (1,600km) so the temperature and rainy varies from north to south and from lowland to highland.

The far North (Bac Bo) resembles the four seasons we are familiar with in the temperate world. The low temp. in the winter (Jan-Feb.) can go down to about 35-40 deg. F. (2 to 5 deg. C) but in the summer, it can get to as high as 105 deg. F (40 deg C). The winter is the dry season while the summer is the wet one.

Central Vietnam – Lowlands and Highlands: (Dalat, Hue, Da Nang, Hoi An, Nha Trang)

Summer: May – October Average temperature 23-24C Average rainy 210mm

Winter: November – April Average temperature 17-23C Average rainy 95mm

Central Vietnam – Lowlands and Highlands: Dalat, Hue, Da Nang, Hoi An, Nha Trang The weather is fairly similar across both, although the highlands tend to be slightly cooler with higher rainfall as the majority of rain normally falls on the mountains before arriving at the low coastal areas.

Lowlands Summer – the weather is warm and reasonably dry from May to September. The monsoon winds then change bringing above average rain during late September. This time is not ideal as rain can be fairly constant – flooding and, in extreme cases, typhoons are also a possibility.

Highlands Winter temperatures can fall slightly below the average and rainy is higher than at lower elevations. However, most rain tends to fall during the summer months when it can be very wet – although these summer months do provide a respite from the often intense heat of other areas. The exception is on the Central Highland (Kontum down to Lam Dong) where it's cool year-round (temp. From 55 to 65 deg. F (13 to 18 deg C), with moderate rainfall.

In the Far South (Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) and the Mekong Delta or Nam Bo), it's pretty much warm year-round but the Dec. -Jan, low can be down to around 60 deg.F (15 deg C). The high temp., However, rarely gets above 90 deg. F (35 deg C). The dry season begins in Nov. and reflecting through April. The rainy season is from May through October.

Summer: May – November Average temperature 24-31C Average rainfall 265mm

Hot, humid and rainy but heavy downpours are usually short lived.

Winter: December – April Average temperature 22-33C Average rainfall 25mm

Remains hot and humid, although humidity levels are more bearable between December and February. During April and May the southwest monsoon winds bring rain showers to the Mekong Delta and southern Vietnam.

Ho Chi Minh City in south Vietnam lies on the Saigon River north of the Mekong River delta. The former French colonial city, home to over 5 million, is a bustling modern metropolis where travelers enjoy the historic sites and architecture and marvel at the intricacies of local Vietnamese handicraft.

Tao Dan Park a strong and youthful life force, and make it a fresh and peaceful space in the heart of the city. Open markets include Ben Thanh Market, the most famous in HCM City. Others are Binh Tay Market and An Dong Market but be sure to haggle when making a purchase.

Other places of interest include the City Museum with its secret tunnel under Gia Long Palace. A boat trip on the Megong Delta is certainly a must before enjoying the wonderful restaurants, bars, coffee shops and clubs particularly centrally located around District 1.

Ho Chi Minh is famous for its shopping. Dong Khoi and Luu Van Lang, a small street on the side of Ben Thanh Market decorated with ornamental trees and special lighting systems, being very popular for fashionable clothes and footwear. These connect with Nguyen Trung Truc Street and Phan Boi Chau Street where if you can not find what you want you probably do not need it.

Tour Cape Town’s Beaches by Train on Your South Africa Holiday

When enjoying a holiday in Cape Town you might like to experience an economical and unique tour of the southern peninsula of Cape Town and the coastal suburbs of False Bay, by train. The suburban rail service that serves the suburbs along the line from Cape Town to Simonstown an inexpensive and relaxing way to travel and see so many of the coastal attractions from a unique perspective – the seat of a railway carriage. Although it is an interesting trip for adults, children wi; delight in such a journey from the surfers paradise suburb of Muizenberg to Simonstown.

Board the train at Muizenberg, where you will be sure to admire the historic Colonial red brick and stone faced station building with a teak clock tower, built around 1913. It houses a couple of antique shops and a popular restaurant overlooking the ocean. The train journey offers a unique viewing opportunity, as you travel along the spectacular False Bay Coast and the train snakes along the shore, passing beautiful white beaches and tidal pools; at times skirting the sea with just a wall of rocks between the rail and the ocean. You should open the carriage window and inhale the fresh sea air, as you marvel at the spectacular view that you will have across the whole of False Bay. At St James you will see the colourful bathing boxes on the beach, famous subject of many holiday postcards, and watch the bathers at play in the tidal pool. Along the rail trip you will see surfers riding the waves, speeding towards the rocks, and people in kayaks paddling across the bay. Further down the line is enchanting Kalk bay, a working fishing harbour suburb, and popular destination with both locals and tourists because of the main road with enticing galleries, restaurants, antique shops and other delights for browsers and collectors. You are bound to delight in the colourful fishing boats bobbing at their moorings in the harbour, and perhaps succumb to the temptation to alight for a morning of shopping and picture taking.

As the train rounds the corner towards Fish Hoek, it runs right along the sea and affords a marvellous opportunity to watch the whales basking and at play. You may be lucky enough to spot one just a few metres from the the train line. Clovelly station will be your next marker; the only station in the world with a sign prohibiting fishing from the platform. The train will continue along Fish Hoek beach where you might spot fishermen pulling their catches in. The journey continues, hugging the shore of Simon’s bay, with even better opportunities for whale watching, as the bay abounds with these magnificent creatures between June and October each year. Simonstown is home to the South African Navy and it is not unusual to see one or more of the warships or submarines manoeuvring in the bay. At the journey’s end in Simonstown one will find another historic station building, and there is plenty to see and do in this popular naval town. A walk to the centre of the town will take you through the interesting historic mile and an eclectic selection of historic buildings. Be sure to take a cab to visit the famous African penguin colony at Boulders Beach, which was recently rated by a UK magazine as the best family beach in the world.

Whilst one can purchase train tickets at Muizenberg station, Cape Town’s Metrorail Southern Line Tourism Route offers a hop-on hop-off ticket from Cape Town through the suburbs of Observatory, Newlands, Muizenberg, Kalk Bay and Fish Hoek Stations for just ZAR30 per one day ticket or ZAR 50 for a 2-day ticket- (US$ 4-6 respectively). If you purchase the hop-on-hop off rail ticket you will also receive a map showing all the attractions of each of the suburbs within a 2 km walking distance.

A further innovative partnership project was launched at on 27 May 2010; between Cape Town Tourism, Metrorail Western Cape and The Green Cab, known as the Rail and Ride initiative, It offers a scenic travel opportunity by rail and eco-friendly cab from Cape Town to Simonstown, commencing in the first week of June 2010, in time for the 2010 World Cup. The route will include a Southern Line train ride from Cape Town to Fish Hoek, followed by a “Green Cab” taxi ride along the scenic coastline to spectacular Cape Point, and a return to Simonstown. The tour can be pre-booked and visitors travelling on the Southern Line Tourism Route will travel in a designated carriage accompanied by informed tourist guides and dedicated security guards. Green Cabs are available at Simonstown station to take one on a guided tour through Simonstown by way of the famous African penguin colony at Boulders beach to the spectacular Cape point nature reserve. The cost of ZAR 600 (US$80) includes transport, tour guide, security as well as entrance to Boulders Beach Penguin Colony and Cape Point Nature reserve, making it excellent value for money. The Rail and Ride service will be offered on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, departing from Platform Five at Cape Town Station.

For more information about the Rail and Ride tours contact Metrorail: or the Green Cab +27 (0)86 184 3473 or call Cape Town Tourism on +27 (0)21 487 6800.