Bhutan’s dark secret to happiness

Bhutan's dark secret to happiness

Citizens of one of the happiest countries on Earth are surprisingly comfortable contemplating a topic many prefer to avoid. Is that the key to joy?

On a visit to Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan, I found myself sitting across from a man named Karma Ura, spilling my guts. Maybe it was the fact that he was named Karma, or the thin air, or the way travel melts my defences, but I decided to confess something very personal. Not that long before, seemingly out of the blue, I had experienced some disturbing symptoms: shortness of breath, dizziness, numbness in my hands and feet. At first, I feared I was having a heart attack, or going crazy. Maybe both. So I went to the doctor, who ran a series of tests and found…

“Nothing,” said Ura. Even before I could complete my sentence, he knew that my fears were unfounded. I was not dying, at least not as quickly as I feared. I was having a panic attack.

What I wanted to know was: why now – my life was going uncharacteristically well – and what could I do about it?
“You need to think about death for five minutes every day,” Ura replied. “It will cure you.”

“How?” I said, dumbfounded.

“It is this thing, this fear of death, this fear of dying before we have accomplished what we want or seen our children grow. This is what is troubling you.”

“But why would I want to think about something so depressing?”
“Rich people in the West, they have not touched dead bodies, fresh wounds, rotten things. This is a problem. This is the human condition. We have to be ready for the moment we cease to exist.”
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5 Reasons You Need to Freestyle Travel

5 Reasons You Need to Freestyle Travel

It feels like we go through our Facebook timeline and only see pictures of people “having kids“ and “getting married”. But have you seen the other half? You know who I’m talking about. They are the spontaneous, the I don’t know what I’m doing but I’m booking a one-way ticket to Italy, friends.

You live vicariously through their Instagram feed and you wish you were wining and dining in Rome. Oh and get this, not only did they book a trip to Italy but—they went alone and with no itinerary! What?! Most people wouldn’t even think about going out to dinner alone. So what gives? What could possibly make people get out of bed and decide to book a solo trip? Easy—to live. From someone who’s been freestyle traveling close to 10 years, here are 5 reasons you need to be freestyle traveling now:

Genuine Experiences

Freestyle travel opens doors. Behind door #1 you have culture. I’ve never been quite amused about reading about people in magazines or in textbooks. If you want to learn about “culture” close the book and experience it yourself. Some of the best stories will not be found in books but in dusty old travel journals and memories imprinted in your heart. Some of my most memorable times have been staying with host families, couch surfing or Airbnb-ing. I would have never been able to share the stories I have now had I sat home and watched Nat-Geo.

5 Reasons You Need to Freestyle Travel

Expanding Your Network

freestyle travelSome of the best friends and people I’ve met have been on my trips. I once met a guy at a park in Barcelona and after I left the city we’ve maintained our friendship and have continued to stay in touch after 5 years. Imagine being able to say you have friends all over the world? You want to go to Thailand…great you may have a friend studying abroad there. It’s becoming easier to meet other people abroad. Thanks to technology that possibility is right at the tip of your fingertips and just a flight away.

Life Is Not A Checklist

freestyle travelMany times we get wrapped up into creating the most epic bucket list. I need to do “X” before I do “X” and then I need to see “X”. While you travel, be flexible. Schedules are meant to be broken. If you try to fit everything in an itinerary you will be highly disappointed. Freestyle travel requires something to go wrong. Like the time I had my bags delayed for 2 days and almost canceled a three-week backpacking trip to Central America. Have a backup plan in case something goes wrong. If worst comes to worst learn to wash your only clothes in the sink, pray for bags to show up and walk into town for a cafe con leche.

Getting Lost Is Real

freestyle travelThe phrase, “Get lost!” takes on a whole new meaning as a freestyle traveler. It’s more of challenge than it is a threat. Turning corners in alleys don’t frighten me, they excite me! Learning the language in a foreign country requires high skills of charades because asking for the nearest toilet is at some point life or death as it is comical. You are more in tune with your five senses when you’re out of your elements. Food is more delicious, the colors are more vibrant and people genuine seems more interesting than back home. Following the yellow brick road led Dorothy to The Emerald City. Where will your road take you next?

Me, Myself and I

freestyle travelDespite all the cheesy travel quotes you find on Pinterest about travel, doing some globe trekking on your own WILL prompt you to ask yourself and question the world around you . Being alone is okay. Take advantage of those small moments and learn a little more about yourself. They say no one knows you better than you know yourself. I challenge you to test that with a solo trip. Maybe you find yourself while climbing to the top of a mountain or you finally learn how to feel peace and serenity afloat on the sea. Be selfish. This is time for you to learn wisdom in thy youth.

Florence: The symbol of the Renaissance

Florence: The symbol of the Renaissance

180 miles north of Rome, Florence is one of the great cities of the world. Everywhere you turn in this incomparable town you will see exquisite masterpieces of architecture and art which recall the days when Florence was the undistuped leader of the Renaissance world, under the rule of the powerful Medici family.

Magnificent palaces like the Galleria degli Uffizi, built to house the State Judiciary in 1565 and now one of the largest and most important mseums in the world; Palazzo Pitti, in the Boboli Gardens, which has a modern art gallery and a silver museum as well as Raphael works, Titian and Giorgione. Donatello’s famous statue of St George is in the Bargello Museum (a prison of the 16th century).

The second pair of bronze doors which Ghiberti designed for the Baptistry of the Cathedral of Santa Maria dei Fiori, were described by Michelangelo as ‘the gates of paradise’ and the cathedral itself, with its celebrated bell tower is a glowing masterpiece of colored marble. Every square and every ancient building is a work of art – the 13th century church of Santa Croce, where Machiavelli and Michelangelo are buried; the Dominican monastery of San Marco, with its beautiful Fra Angelico frescoes; the Accademia di Belle Arti, where you can see Michelangelo’s superb statue, David. A copy is in the Piazza della Signoria, which is a busy square in the city and one of the most beautiful open air galleries in Europe.

Florence is also one of the top gourmet cities in Europe. Try bistecca alla Fiorentina, the Fiorentine way with a big juicy steak, or tortino di carciofi (eggs with artichokes), or triglie o baccala alla Livornesei which is a fish and tomato sauce concontion.

Places to enjoy these masterpieces – the roof gardens of the Baglione Palace hotel, where you can dine and dance in the evenings. The Open Gate (Viale Michelangelo); Ristorante Ponte Vecchio, near the famous 14th century bridge; Sabatani (via Panzani); Villa San Domenico (via della Piazzola); Otello (via Orti Oricellari); and if you want to eat American now and then, Doney’s (via de Tornabuoni) does a good line in snacks as well as specials, like scampi alla Medici. Harry’s Bar is a favorite meeting place and Jolly Club is a lively discotheque.

Piazza San Marco, Venice, Italy

Piazza San Marco, Venice, Italy

Venice is built on 118 islands, criss-crossed by 160 canals and linked by 400 foot-bridges. There are no roads, only canals; no traffic, only water buses and water taxis and the gondolas. A labyrinth of alleys and stairs and little bridges link the main waterways. Have coffee at Caffe Quadri, or Caffe Avena, or Caffe Florian (the oldest cafe in Venice) in the grandest square in Europe – Piazza San Marco. And you cannot go to Venice without calling in at Harry’s Bar, on the Grand Canal (entrance on Calle Vallaresso), made famous by Ernest Hemingway.

See the Palazzo Ducale, where the Doges lived in princely style; the Rialto bridge; the great Cathedral of St Mark (with Titian’s masterpiece, Last Judgement, in the Vault of Paradise); the Accademia art gallery; the Ca’ d’Oro the School of San Giorgio degli Schiavoni with famous Carpaccios and the School of San Rocco with magnificent Tintoretto paintings. If you climb the 15th century Clock Tower you have a superb view of the whole of Venice. When shopping in Venice things to look for include fine handmade lace, jewelry, leather goods, and above all, glass.

You could go to the island of Murano and see the glass being made, and Torcello, for its cathedral with beautiful mosaics. Luxury hotels in Venice include the Danieli Royal Excelsior, right next door to the Doge’s Palace, the Cipriani on Giudecca island and the Bauer Grünwald. Even if you do not stay there, it is a delightful place to dine and dance on the roof garden. Ernest Hemingway preferred the smaller, quieter, Gritti Palace. Dine at La Taverna Fenice, La Caravella, Harry’s Bar and Florians. For seafood try Al Graspo de Uva and Peoceto Risorto. Places to visit from Venice include: the Lido, just across the lagoon. It has a marvelous beach, with fine hotels like the Excelsior Palace.

World’s Most Unique Travel Destinations

World's Most Unique Travel Destinations

A big part of travel is that feeling you get when experiencing something completely new, something you haven’t seen or done before. Many travel destinations offer an amenity or two that other places don’t–but there are only a few locations in the world that offer a truly unique experience.

Some of these places are wonders of nature–a spot where the flora or fauna can’t be found elsewhere, or where the mountains stretch the landscape to impressive formations. Other destinations are unique because of man-made features–entire islands created out of sand, underwater museums designed to decay, or hotels shaved from ice.

Hot or cold, undeveloped or overly elaborate, these locations offer something you can’t get anywhere else, which is as good a reason as any to plan a trip.

The Azores

Explore the dramatic natural beauty and bounty of crater lakes in this collection of nine volcanic islands in the middle of the North Atlantic. Portuguese by language, it has a culture and cuisine all its own. Feast on the geothermally heated hotpots called cozido das furnas, which consist of mixtures of meats and stews and are a feature of the area near Sao Miguel.

Bhutan

High up in the Himalayan Mountains sits the world’s newest democracy, whose 30-year-old king has been instrumental in developing the country’s parliament, and injecting a democratic voice into Bhutanese affairs. The term “gross national happiness” was coined by the country’s former king, who began the Buddhist country’s path to modernization. It now straddles both the old world and the new, and has earned the nickname, “the last Shangri-La.”

Grindavik, Iceland – The Blue Lagoon

Anne Banas, executive editor of SmarterTravel.com, recommends the stark beauty of the Blue Lagoon in Iceland. “They call it ‘The Land of Fire and Ice’ for a reason,” says Banas. “It’s one of those things that you have to do in a lifetime. You’re swimming in these silica mud waters, but then it’s snowing outside.” Stay at the Blue Lagoon Spa, where you can take a geothermal steam bath, or have drinks while you soak in the lagoon.

Cancun Underwater Museum – Cancun, Mexico

The brainchild of the artist Jason de Caires Taylor, the world’s largest underwater museum features 400 statues by the artist, in a dizzying array of poses and features. The just-opened sculpture park sits in shallow waters in Cancun, allowing snorkellers, swimmers, and scuba divers alike to witness the sculptures grow seaweed and barnacles, and begin to form a supplementary reef for area fish.

Madagascar

Madagascar, sitting approximately 225 miles off the eastern coast of Africa, in the Indian Ocean, is so remote, it’s been host to many one-of-a-kind evolutionary developments. Ninety percent of its native plant life is found nowhere else in the world. “It still feels like a lost wonderland, with unique and diverse plant and animal life,” says Tom Hall, a U.K.-based writer for Lonely Planet.

Italians and Wine Culture

Italians and Wine Culture

Italians drink wine as an aperitif, with the meal and after the meal they finish off with a hair-raising distilled wine called grapa. Chianti is probably the best known Italian wine, but the quality varies, so look for the sign of the black cockerel on the label, and settle for reliable makes, like Frescobaldi, Melini and Ricasol. Other good red wines (rossi) are Barolo, Valpolicella, and a full-bodied wine from Scily called Corvo.

Connoisseurs say that Brunello de Montalcino is the best Italian red wine. Some of the best white wines are Orvieto, Frascati, and Soave and, if you like a sweet, light sparkling wine, Asti Spumante is very refreshing. Martini and Cinzano are famous Italian aperitifs, but for a change try Punt e Mes, or Campari. Strega is an interesting liqueur and Sambuca (tastes of licorice). In general, it is safer to order wine by the bottle or half-bottle rather than the carafe. Rome is ful of fascinating drinking places. Perhaps the best known is the Cafe de Paris, of La Doce Vita fame, on the famous via Veneto.

The Cafe Greco (via Condoti 86) was a favorite haunt of Mark Twain and Oscar Wilde and Buffalo Bill. Baretto, on the same street, is one of the places to be seen having your before-dinner drinks – if you can get in. Bar Zodiaco (viale Parco Bellini, 90), the lovely Monte Mario near Observatory, and the Bar Tre Scalini has a lovely terrace in one of Rome’s most beautiful squares, Piazza Navona. This is a great place for ice cream too.

Brasil: Copacabana Beach, Rio de Janeiro

Brasil: Copacabana Beach, Rio de Janeiro

Copacabana is a bairro (neighbourhood) located in the South Zone of the city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It is known for its 4 km balneario beach or 2.5 miles , which is one of the most famous in the world.

The district was originally called Sacopenapã (translated from the Tupi language, it means “the way of the socós (a kind of bird)”) until the mid-18th century. It was renamed after the construction of a chapel holding a replica of the Virgen de Copacabana, the patron saint of Bolivia.

Characteristics

Copacabana begins at Princesa Isabel Avenue and ends at Posto Seis (lifeguard watchtower Six). Beyond Copacabana, there are two small beaches: one, inside Fort Copacabana and the other, right after it: Diabo (“Devil”) Beach. Arpoador beach, where surfers go after its perfect waves, comes next, followed by the famous borough of Ipanema. The area will be one of the four “Olympic Zones” during the 2016 Summer Olympics. According to Riotur, the Tourism Secretariat of Rio de Janeiro, there are 63 hotels and 10 hostels in Copacabana.

Brasil: Copacabana Beach, Rio de Janeiro

Copacabana Beach

Copacabana beach, located at the Atlantic shore, stretches from Posto Dois (lifeguard watchtower Two) to Posto Seis (lifeguard watchtower Six). Leme is at Posto Um (lifeguard watchtower One). There are historic forts at both ends of Copacabana beach; Fort Copacabana, built in 1914, is at the south end by Posto Seis and Fort Duque de Caxias, built in 1779, at the north end. One curiosity is that the lifeguard watchtower of Posto Seis never existed.[4] Hotels, restaurants, bars, night clubs and residential buildings dot the promenade facing Avenida Atlantica.

Copacabana Beach plays host to millions of revellers during the annual New Year’s Eve celebrations and, in most years, has been the official venue of the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup.

Secret Beaches of Phuket, Thailand

Secret Beaches of Phuket, Thailand

Phuket’s beaches are world-renowned and tourists flock from across the globe to visit the famous beaches at Patong, Karon, and Kata. So much so that many people complain these beaches have lost their charm. They say Phuket can no longer claim to be an idyllic tropical island getaway.

The beaches are too crowded. Sun loungers line the entire length of the beaches, sometimes in rows three or four deep. Jet skis, banana boats and parasail boats plough through the water while vendors ply their wares up and down the beach. They say Phuket is finished as an island getaway destination and only caters to the party crowd.

These people have not spent enough time exploring Phuket. There are more than 40 beaches around Phuket Island and there is something to suit all tastes. If you want a beach with good holiday facilities but not too crowded then Nai Harn, Kamala, Surin, Bang Tao and Nai Yang all have good hotels and restaurants yet do not draw big crowds. If you really want to get away from the crowds then Nai Thon and Mai Khao beaches in the north of the island are usually very quiet.

Still all these beaches are well known in Phuket and firmly in the tourist travel guides. In this article, we will look at some beaches that still remain undiscovered to most tourists. We will not even include Laem Sing or Yanui in this list. They are both charming beaches but they have become well known and usually have plenty of visitors. Some of the following beaches are not even known to many of Phuket’s residents. These are Phuket’s secret beaches.

Secret Beaches of Phuket, Thailand

Banana Beach

This beautiful beach is in the northern half of Phuket between Bang Tao Beach and Nai Thon Beach. It is a lovely two-hundred meter strip of sand, studded with rocks in the middle and ringed with trees. It is a good swimming beach and there is some great snorkeling. There is no accommodation and just a single beach restaurant with a handful of sun loungers at the southern end.

There are usually only a handful of visitors at this beach. The majority of them arrive by longtail boat from other beaches but in fact, you can see the beach from the coast road above and there is a trail down.

Pansea Beach

Right at the northern end of Bang Tao Beach is beautiful and peaceful Pansea Beach. There are two up-market resorts here yet the location retains its refreshing tranquility. Just offshore is Kala Island (or Kata Island depending who you believe) which shelters the shallow bay from waves so it is always calm. The waters are too shallow for swimming and when the tide is out you can walk to the island. It is a great beach for paddling and ideal for children to play. There are no refreshments here so it is a good idea to bring a picnic.

Pon Beach

This secluded little beach is in the headland north of Patong. The locals know it as Nai Yair Beach. It is amazing how few people find this beach considering it is located so close to the hordes at Patong. There is nothing here but a couple of rural shacks and a few grazing cows. It is a sandy beach but not good for swimming due to the rocky seabed. There is some good snorkeling.

There are usually a couple of locals renting sun loungers and selling refreshments. They can also provide you with a small barbecue to cook your own. There may be a small charge for crossing the private land to reach the beach.

Paradise Beach

In the headland south of Patong, there are two beautiful beaches that remain relatively unspoiled. They are not as undiscovered as the other beaches we mention on this list but still a break from the heaving masses at Patong. The first is Paradise Beach. Right at the tip of the headland, you can reach it by road (track) or boat.

It is a beautiful beach with overhanging trees. There is no accommodation but there is a restaurant and there are plenty of sun loungers. The beach is not the best for bathing due to the rocky seabed close to shore but there is some excellent snorkeling. There are usually plenty of people around but still it is surprising how many people in Patong do not know this beach is here.

Freedom Beach

You can only reach this stunning beach by boat. It is in the headland south of Patong all the way around and back towards the Karon Beach side. Still it is well worth the boat ride with fantastic bathing and snorkeling.

There are a couple of restaurants and plenty of sun loungers under the trees. The locals take great care of the beach and it is always pristine. Plenty of people do make this a day trip from Patong but the beach is never crowded and again it is surprising how many people in Patong do not know this beach is here.

Nui Beach

This beach is most known for how difficult it is to reach by land. Located between Kata and Nai Harn, the only way to reach it by land is down a two-kilometer dirt track that is almost impossible to traverse in a car. You can just about do it on a motorbike but it is better to walk or let one of the locals take you down on their ATV for a small fee.

It is also known as the most expensive beach in Phuket because you have to cross private land to reach it and they charge 250 baht for the privilege. This fee does get you a sun lounger and drink. When you do arrive, it is a beautiful secluded spot with good swimming and snorkeling. There is a rustic restaurant overlooking the beach but no accommodation. It is never crowded.

Ao Sane Beach

This beach is in the headland at the north end of Nai Harn Beach. You need to go through Le Meridian Phuket Yacht Club’s car park to reach it but they do not stop you. There is a restaurant here and some budget bungalows by the beach. There are usually a few people around but it is never busy.

It is actually a series of three small beaches split by little rocky headlands. None of them is good for swimming due to rocks and corals close to shore. There is some excellent snorkeling.

Laemka Beach

This little beach is at the southern end of Phuket between Rawai and Friendship Beach. It is not signposted and a little difficult to find but a beautiful spot. The Evason Resort and a small bungalow resort are nearby but still the beach remains quiet. It is one of the few southern beaches where you can have a swim and there are nice views out to the southern islands.

Ao Yon Beach

Nestled deep into Cape Panwa is Ao Yon Beach. This is the best beach on the southern side of Phuket. Although it is well developed with residential property, there are no hotels or restaurants by this beach. It is home to Phuket Yacht Club and there are always plenty of boats moored in the bay. It is a beautiful stretch of sand and a good bathing beach. It is usually very quiet and a real getaway.

Arizona: Hot climate, desserts and very mild winters

Arizona: Hot climate, desserts and very mild winters

Arizona is the 48th state of United States of America. It is located in the southwestern region of United States. The capital of Arizona is Phoenix which is the largest city of Arizona. It was the last state declared by the government of United States in the United States of America. Arizona does not have a very moderate climate and therefore it is liked by the people who are interested in spending their vacation in hot summers.

Arizona is known for its hot climate, desserts and very mild winters. It was also termed as the fastest growing state of United States of America in terms of population. It consists of about 4 million people. Phoenix is the most popular part of Arizona and also its capital. The other important cities in Arizona are Mesa, Glendale, Peoria, Chandler, Sun City, Sun City West, Fountain Hills, Gilbert, Avondale, Tempe Tolleson and Scottsdale.

Arizona is a state which solely follows American culture. However, the weather affects its culture. The food pattern is the same as that of the rest of United States of America. Arizona is very famous for its cooking patterns. The tourists here can also enjoy desserts. Arizona is one of safest places in United States of America. The infrastructure is developed in a very good and secure manner. Arizona is also very famous for its sports. It has its own teams for different sports, just like the other States of United States of America. Arizona is a very wealthy state in terms of education and sports. People who like educational and sports activities come to Arizona to study and learn.

The top attractions in Arizona are Bisbee, Canyon de Chelly, Jerome, Lake Powell and Monument Valley. These are the most beautiful places to visit in Arizona. The most famous hotels in Arizona are Anthem, Bellemont, Page, Paradise Valley, Parker, Oak Creek Canyon and Oro Valley. These hotels are the best and most luxurious hotels in Arizona. They are very well developed and have the best and the latest amenities.

These hotels serve various types of cuisines to their guests. The hotel management takes care of maintaining different types of cuisines according to the type of the guests from different countries. The music is also very diverse in Arizona. It is based on the native English music which is followed all over America. However, it also contains some French and Spanish words in it.

As far as sport is concerned, there are many popular players who are now playing as professionals in the American teams. These teams play at the world level championships and leagues. Arizona is also famous for having the maximum number of female governors, than any other state in the country. It follows a very rich education pattern. The universities and schools are very sensitive about their education level and student management. The state government is also very active in maintaining law and order in the state to make the natives as well as the tourists feel safe and secure.

Places to Visit in Fiji Islands

Places to Visit in Fiji Islands

Fiji, officially the Republic of Fiji, is an island country in Melanesia in the South Pacific Ocean about 1,100 nautical miles (2,000 km; 1,300 mi) northeast of New Zealand’s North Island. Its closest neighbours are Vanuatu to the west, New Caledonia to the southwest, New Zealand’s Kermadec Islands to the southeast, Tonga to the east, the Samoas and France’s Wallis and Futuna to the northeast, and Tuvalu to the north.

Fiji is an archipelago of more than 330 islands, of which 110 are permanently inhabited, and more than 500 islets, amounting to a total land area of about 18,300 square kilometres (7,100 sq mi). The farthest island is Ono-i-Lau. The two major islands, Viti Levu and Vanua Levu, account for 87% of the population of almost 860,000. The capital, Suva on Viti Levu, serves as Fiji’s principal port. About three-quarters of Fijians live on Viti Levu’s coasts, either in Suva or in smaller urban centres like Nadi (tourism) or Lautoka (sugar cane industry). Viti Levu’s interior is sparsely inhabited due to its terrain.

Sun-drenched beaches, turquoise lagoons, swaying palm trees – Fiji supplies all the classic images of paradise. No wonder, then, that every year thousands of travellers come to this South Pacific archipelago for the ultimate island escape. With over three hundred islands to choose from, Fiji is an amazingly versatile destination. Whether you’re after a luxury honeymoon retreat, a lively backpacker island or a family-friendly resort you won’t be disappointed. You’ll also find a warm, hospitable people, an intriguing blend of Melanesians, Polynesians and Indians.

Places to Visit in Fiji Islands

With a reliable tropical climate, a good tourist infrastructure, English as its main language and no jabs or pills to worry about, travelling in Fiji is as easy as it gets. As the hub of South Pacific tourism, the country attracts over half a million visitors a year, mostly from Australia and New Zealand, its largest “neighbours” lying over 2000km southeast. Of the northern hemisphere travellers who arrive, many are backpackers from Europe or surfers and scuba divers from North America.

While it can be tempting to spend your whole time in Fiji sunbathing and sipping cocktails from coconuts, there are plenty of activities to lure you away from the beach. Within a ten-minute boat ride of most resorts you can find yourself snorkelling with dolphins and manta rays or scuba diving at pristine coral reefs. In addition, at the exposed edges of the reefs are some of the world’s finest and most consistent surfing breaks. Nature lovers are also spoilt for choice, both underwater and on dry land, and wildlife-spotting opportunities are plentiful, whether you’re seeking turtles, exotic birds or 3m-long tiger sharks.

Away from the resorts is another Fiji waiting to be discovered: a land of stunning mountains, rainforests and remote villages. Here you’ll find fantastically hospitable Fijians living a similar lifestyle to their tribal ancestors. Staying a night or two at a village homestay will give you an authentic insight into ethnic Fijian culture as well as the chance to sample yaqona or kava, the national drink.

Fiji is also home to a large Indian community and their influence is seen in the delicious Indian food served in almost every town, Bollywood films showing in the cinema and vibrant Hindu festivals celebrated throughout the year. While Fiji is not renowned for its towns or cities, three are definitely worth taking the time to explore: quaint, colonial-era Levuka, yachting hotspot Savusavu, and Suva, the lively capital city and the best place to party in the South Pacific.

However long you spend in the country you’ll notice an unhurried, good-humoured lifestyle. This is the essence of Fiji Time – an attitude that can be both inspiring and infuriating. Away from the highly organized upmarket resorts, life runs at a different pace; bus and ferry timetables serve more as guidelines and a simple meeting in a village can last for days. It’s best to leave your inner control freak at home – you never know, you may come back a calmer person.