Three seasoned House of Travel consultants explain why you should.
1. TRAVELLING IN VIETNAM with the kids in tow
By ANTONY BOOMER, House of Travel Dunedin
I HAVE BEEN WANTING to take my boys somewhere extraordinary for ages. For a physical, emotional and sensory experience they would never forget, we decided on Vietnam. Whether you’re navigating the narrow, steep and twisty trails through the rice paddies around Sapa, or the mustard coloured walls of Hoi An; sleeping in a stilted homestay, or absorbing the sobering (and at times, knee weakening) Cù Chi Tunnels, Vietnam is most definitely extraordinary. Observing the local way of life is key. One day we came across a chap wandering through a Mekong canal plucking prawns from the riverbank for his lunch. At the same time an elderly lady joined in with a net and started scooping fish out of the water. My boys were delighted. As was I — to take them out of their comfort zone and into something quite remarkable.
MY TOP TIP
"Kids love the nation’s revered dish, ‘Pho’. Broth with noodles, spring onions, chicken or beef, red chillies and lime. Can there be a more delicious revitalising concoction known to man?"
2. SPLENDID ISOLATION in undiscovered Bhutan
By LANCE BROWN, House of Travel Hastings
ALTHOUGH IT IS VOTED one of the world’s top travel destinations, very few make it to Bhutan. Today it remains one of the last untouched destinations on the planet. The country doesn’t even have traffic lights! With breath-taking mountain scenes, strong Buddhist traditions, an emphasis on happiness and a carefully managed tourism policy, Bhutan was closed to the outside world until 1974, but it is quietly revealing itself to travellers. I was amazed to discover a national park created just for yetis, the iconic Tiger’s Nest Monastery, and a nation which gauges wealth by its citizens’ happiness levels, rather than GDP. They appreciate the simple things in life here. I was also pleased to discover the Bhutanese still dress in traditional costume. Their unique garments have evolved over thousands of years but men still wear the Gho, a knee length robe somewhat resembling a kimono, and women wear the Kira: a long, ankle length dress accompanied by a light outer jacket.
MY TOP TIP
“The most direct flight from Auckland is with Singapore Airlines & Drukair into Paro Airport, an airstrip at an elevation of 2,200m.”
EXPLORING THE WONDERS of Sri Lanka
By SHANE OGG, House of Travel Ponsonby
NO ONE EVER THINKS of Sri Lanka, we always fly over the top en-route to someplace else. And yet it has so much to offer. For one, it’s less trodden than parts of India and Southeast Asia, and with 2000- plus years of culture all packed into one small space, you’re presented with world-class sites without the world-class crowds. Achingly scenic, the eyes switch between flourishing tea plantations, dramatic mountains and verdant rainforest, and that’s before they’ve adjusted to the impossibly green landscape. Because 2018 marks 70 years of independence from British colonial rule, there’s never been a better time to experience the optimism of the ever-smiling Sri Lankans. I found them all to be friendly, welcoming and as hospitable as their land is lush. Plus, they are culinary masters. From Chinese delicacies to Indian samosas, in between my countless cups of tea, I was gorging on delectable curries, roti and ‘Hoppers’ — Sri Lanka’s answer to a pancake. Gym here I come!
MY TOP TIP
“The biggest highlight for me would be making it up to the top of Sigiriya (Lion Rock), one of Sri Lanka’s most striking natural monuments.”
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