Category Archives: Leisure Travel

China Open Two Terrifying Glass Walkways In Tianmen and Shanghai

It’s official. China has gone mad.

If you thought that the Great Wall of China was enough, well think again! In the past week, they’ve added two new attractions that are a must for thrill seekers.

Zhangjiajie National Forest Park – 100m Glass Walkway

High up in Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, they have put a whole new spin on mountain climbing by converting a wooden walkway into a glass-bottomed one. The new section, named ‘The Coiling Dragon Path’, is a 100m walkway that is only 1067m up in the Tianmen Mountains. Talk about living the high life!

There is no need to worry about the walkway, though. To prove the strength of the glass, officials first cracked it (eh….what??) and THEN drove a car full of people over it.

And if that wasn’t enough, this guy also hit it with a sledgehammer. (I trust the hammer more than the car anyways.)

The path is the park’s third walkway. The predecessors/second being the world’s longest glass bridge, measuring at 430m across.

Jinmao Tower, Shanghai – Handrail-Free Walkway

 

Shanghai Bridge.PNG
You’d want to be seriously brave to take on this one in Shanghai…

 

You don’t need to venture to the forest to get those big thrills. In Shanghai city centre, part of the Jinmao Tower has been converted into a handrail-free walkway. 

Up on the 88th floor, 15 people at a time can pay to see the Shanghai city from this ridiculous angle. All that’s holding you back from a 400m freefall is a rock climbing harness and your acrophobia (fear of heights). According to the Straits Times, it’s the highest outdoor handrail-free walkway in the world!

Chinese thrill seekers are on top of their game this summer! Want to go join them? Check out our China packages or drop us a line info@usit.ie or on (01) 602 1906

Five Reasons Why September Is the Best Time To Go InterRailing

When you stop to think about it, Europe is actually pretty small. Look at a World Map and it becomes apparent that you can get from Dublin to Athens quicker than Perth to Sydney. It’s no surprise then that InterRailing has been, and will continue to be, one of the most diverse summer adventures you can have, and on a budget too!

Continue reading Five Reasons Why September Is the Best Time To Go InterRailing

Wanderlust in Beautiful Bali: James’ Ultimate Guide To Paradise

Dreaming of an escape to paradise on your next trip? James is just back from 3 weeks in beautiful Bali and he has more than a few highlights to share…

Bali is an incredibly unique island with a unique personality and atmosphere. There are people from all nationalities and all walks of life living on or visiting the island. The island is packed with adventure, great food, endless nights and friendly locals. To experience the warmth of Indonesia and all the Island has to offer is tough to do in a few weeks if I am honest, but we gave it our best shot!

Getting to Bali, a long slog but so worth it!

Bali is not the easiest place to get to from Ireland but it is 110% worth it when you arrive. We went through USIT using the book now pay later option which allowed me to pay a certain amount of money to guarantee my seat and gave me time to gather the funds and pay the balance by an agreed date. It was a great stress minimizer financially. USIT have loads of different Bali package options, starting from only €779 including flights!

We departed on June 18th from Dublin at stupid o’clock and we travelled Via Amsterdam and Hong Kong. We arrived into Bali on June 19th at 13:00 and had an airport transfer organised by the hotel to collect us and bring us to our first hotel. We flew with Cathay Pacific and had a great experience flying with them. Looking back I should have done a stopover on the way or on the way back for a night or two in Singapore or Hong Kong which is a good option but at the time we just wanted to get there!

Cliffs, Surf and Insane Views of Uluwatu

James uluwatu

Our first location was Uluwatu which is an area located on the cliffs south west of the island. Uluwatu is famous for its great surf breaks, the Uluwatu Cliff temples and some of the best beach bars in Bali. We stayed in The Saphire Cliff villas located beside Padang Padang Beach (surfers must), Sundayz beach club and Single Finn Bar and Restaurant. The hotel was amazing and perfect for couples as you had a private villa with complete privacy. The pool was shared but was always quiet and the hotel was never over busy which was great for a chill-out

We visited the famous Cliff Temple and ate in Single Fin Restaurant  (incredible food). Single Fin also has the best views in Ulawatu. The waves crashing into the cliffs below and a sunset which left us speechless. If an Irish lad has a capacity for romance, this place will bring it out!

The Astonishing 5-Star Ayana Resort in Jimbaran

Pushing the boat out for our anniversary we stayed in the 5-star Ayana resort for our anniversary. The resort is enormous with a private beach, Luxury private villas, two hotels run by the same management but with different styles. The resort is packed with restaurants to cater for your every mood. There are a number of spectacular bars on site with more insane views of the cliffs and the sunset.

Did Someone Say Room Upgrade?

Ayana Resprt.PNGWe had mentioned it was our anniversary and we were immediately upgraded to the best room in the hotel (Irish charm, we can’t even control it!). The Staff were exceptional and truly set the bar for 5-star resorts across the world. Every whim was catered for and each resort worker had a smile bigger than the last.

The Resort is completely self-sufficient with Bars, Restaurants, choice of pools, tennis courts, Gym, free WIFI, free transport from place to place inside the resort via Golf Buggy and a private secluded beach. You really do see another side to service and luxury staying here and I will never forget it. We ate in Rock bar on the first night which is a bar & Restaurant built into the cliffs edge overlooking the sunset. The food was tapas based and although It is more expensive than the rest of Bali, it is definitely worth it for the views and amazing food. We also ate in Kisik Restaurant also built into the cliffs and The Mexican restaurant inside the Rimba Hotel.

Jimbaran is vast and outside the resorts walls there isn’t much really going on. I would advise staying here for 2-3 nights anymore and it could get boring but 2-3 nights is perfect in my opinion. It is so chilled and you feel like you truly have escaped the real world and gone to resort heaven.

Party Time and Getting Loose in Seminyak

As almost perfect as the Ayana was, the one thing it lacked was a bar with live music or a party atmosphere. The bars were incredibly chilled which was nice but give me an Indonesian guy singing U2 at the top of his lungs over that any day.

Seminyak was a welcomed change to our new chilled, meditative-like state after the Ayana. Seminyak is one of the party capitals of Bali packed full of restaurants, bars, live music clubs and nightclubs to cater for whatever mood you’re in.

Haven Hotel & Seminyak’s Strip

We stayed in the 4-star hotel named The Haven which is located beside Double Six beachJames Surfing Seminyak
in Seminyak and was a 10-minute taxi to the centre of the action, Seminyak Square. I would definitely recommend staying around double six beach. The surf breaks are by far the best in Seminyak and the beach has Beach clubs every 50 meters with different genres of music playing. Every bar has an outside sitting area with comfortable bean bags to chill on and watch the sunset. If you haven’t guessed by now, every day ends with a sunset in Bali.

We ate on the strip every night in Seminyak favourites Char Char Grill, Batik and the Italian corner. Throughout the day there a host of beach clubs you can go to, the main ones being Potato head, Ku De Ta and Cocoon. Seminyak was insanely good and pretty hectic! After 3 days we were looking forward to some R&R in our next stop, Ubud.

Underwhelming Ubud Saved By Tegenugan Waterfall

Ubud is located in central Bali and is the Cultural capital of Bali. We had been told that Ubud was much different to anywhere in Bali then we have already seen. Not as commercial, busy and fast as most other Bali tourist towns. We had an image of tranquillity in our minds that didn’t really get lived up to in reality. From day one we had a bad taste in our mouth from the sheer traffic inside Ubud and trying to work our way through it to our hotel so painstakingly close. Not the tranquil haven we had been told about. Although…

Loka Hut Hotel & The Jungle

We stayed in the 5-star Lokha Hut Hotel which was located about 15 minutes outside the Ubud town centre. We got great value for the 2 night stay through USIT. An infinity pool and spa overlooked the Jungle Canopy. Now we’re talking! Every morning we would be awoken by the sound of the jungle all around us and surprisingly you’re not in a bad mood. It feels good to be woken up by birds chirping and monkeys cackling, much better than the dreaded iPhone sirens!

Monkey Business

James Monkey

On our first day in Ubud we rented a driver for half the day and set out to see the sites. Our first stop was the monkey forest were monkeys roam freely throughout the forest looking for banana donations from much obliging tourist. If you wish to get up close and personal with the monkeys, anyone can buy bananas to hand out and make some new monkey friends. It was awesome, and hilarious! These little guys know what they want and how to get it. The Dell Boy’s of the chimp world!

Tegenugan Waterfall and Oh My God!

James Waterfall

From there went set off for Tegenugan Waterfall. The waterfall was just spectacular, I cannot stress this enough! From where your driver drops you off there is a 15 minute walk down to the waterfall and the views along the way are that of the real Bali I had envisaged in my mind. At the waterfall, you can swim in the pool made by the sheer power of the waterfall and take as many pictures as you want. We stayed for about an hour swimming in the water, taking photos and soaking up the beauty of the waterfall itself.

Backpackers Paradise in Gilli Islands & Nusa Dua

From Ubud, we arranged a car transfer to the Ferry port town of Pdang Bai to catch a ferry heading east the famous Gilli Islands. Our Hotel arranged everything and at a fairy reasonable price for the two of us. We decided to opt for the early 9am ferry which resulted in us having to leave Ubud at a painful 6am to be on time for the ferry. The ferry got us in at 11am which was perfect as the day was not wasted travelling as was a few of our days on this trip. You don’t wanna be wasting time sleeping in a place like Bali!

Gilli Trawangan

We stayed in Gilli Trawangan, the biggest island out of the trio of Gilli Islands. Gilli T is the most popular for backpackers and travellers looking to escape the main island and enjoy the party atmosphere which Gilli T is famous for. The Island itself is tiny compared to its surrounding neighbours of Bali and Lombok which look like something from Jurassic park during the Ferry Crossing. There are no cars or mopeds on the island and after 2 weeks in Bali it is a welcome relief. We stayed in Villa Ombak which was located on the more popular east side of the island where all the bars & restaurants are located.

Bar Crawl, Less Than Sober Cycling and Beautiful Beaches!

We rented bikes for the day and cycled all around the island stopping off at every beach bar (one every 20 metres) to test out their drinks menu. By the time we got back around we could have done with some stabilisers but everyone else was in the same tipsy boat!  The island really is paradise and the beauty is unparalleled, the beaches on the east side are beautiful whether the tide is in or out with crystal clear blue water and white sand. Proper ‘PC wallpaper’ set ups.

Turtle-less Turtle Snorkelling…

We hired a boat on the second day to take us on a turtle snorkelling trip which took us to Gilli Air, the second largest of the islands. We were out all day and it’s a good way to see the other islands if you plan to just stay on one of them. Gilli Air is a lot more tranquil and reserved and would be perfect for a couple of chill nights.

The Next Best Thing – Turtle Conservation Project

James Turtles

As we didn’t see any turtles on our “TURTLE” snorkelling trip, we decided it was only right to visit the turtle conservation centre on Gilli T as they buy turtle eggs from Farmers on the surrounding islands who are taking them to sell at a market, Instead of the turtle eggs ending up in the markets, the Conservationists buy them and house them until the eggs hatch and they are ready to go back into the Ocean. They keep the baby turtles in tanks for a few weeks before releasing them so if you don’t get a chance to see them snorkelling or diving then this is a must. The donation that tourists provide goes towards the maintaining of the centre and buying the eggs from the farmers.

One Last Party, Nusa Dua & The Sadness Of Having To Leave

Gilli T is full of Bars and restaurants so there is always something to do at night. The bars are packed full of backpackers and travellers enjoying the Gilli T lifestyle and partying late into the night. We left on day three to head back to the main Island, the ferry brought us back to Pdang Bai and from there we made our way to our next and final destination of Nusa Dua for some much needed R&R after the madness of Gilli T! We stayed in the Inaya Putri resort, another slice of paradise for two days before it was time to depart the most beautiful place I’ve ever been to, and the best adventure so far.

My Top Travel Tips For Bali

  • The Currency is Indonesian Rupiah. The easiest way to look at it is that €10 is 150,000 IND or €100 is 1,500,000 IND.
  • Always ask the Taxi drivers to go by the metre when you get in unless you have struck up a deal before getting in. the metre will give you the cheapest rate location to location.
  • The electricity output is the European two prong connection
  • Travel as light as possible if you decide to move around a good bit
  • Ask if there are any upgrades available in the hotels and sometimes they can be extremely cheap to upgrade to a better room.
  • Plan your route as best as possible to avoid long travelling days. on holiday these travelling days can be a nightmare for a simple journey.

Looking for a quote on an adventure to Bali this year? Give our experts a call on (01) 602 1906 or info@usit.ie.

 

Monster Heatwave To Hit The US Next Week! 6 Awesome Ways To Enjoy It

Just when you thought Ireland was fighting back in the weather stakes, the US has once again trumped (sorry) us! With the Atlantic current, El Nino being particularly mild in 2016 and the effects of climate change in play, parts of the States will hit over 40 degrees in cities like Las Vegas and Pheonix early next week.

 

Heat USA.PNG
That is one seriously warm 48 states! Via National Weather Service

 

Weather forecasters are predicting the heat wave will strike in the first few days of next week and it will be a pretty much coast-to-coast affair. For anyone lucky enough to be out there in the US, whether at Camp, on the J1 or a year-long Grad Visa we are commanding you to stock up on the sunscreen and make a plan to get the most of the awesome weather.

Chase and Catch Pokemon In Central Park

NYC Central Park

Getting sick of the Pokemon GO craze? Well, maybe skip this one. We’re big fans of anything that gets people out exploring the world, plus we get pretty much unlimited Pokeballs as our office in Dublin is a Pokestop!

Having said that, a Pokehunt around Central Park in a heatwave sounds like one exceptional way to spend an afternoon so charge your phone, invest in a cap and go find that Rhydon hiding underneath one of the beautiful bridges.

Free Kayaking On The Hudson River

downtown-boathouse

If you’re in New York and you haven’t done this yet then next week is the perfect chance! The Downtown Boathouse operates Tue-Sun as a non-profit and provides the public with FREE ACCESS to kayaking facilities and classes. Might be an idea to book it now though, because there will be plenty of people want to cool off this time next week.

See Chicago By Boat

We’re gong to go out on a limb and guess that if you’ve been in Chicago for anymore than 40 minutes, you’ve walked down Navy Pier or took a pic beside ‘The Bean’ in Millenium Park. They’re a given so for something a bit different why not watch the glistening Chicago skyline float by from Lake Michigan?

Good food, great cocktails and some spectacular views – this is a venture to rally the troops for! There’s plenty of good cruise operators to go with but our favourite is the guys at Odyssey which cost about $40.

Perfect Weather For Lolapalooza To Come To Town

 

Lol
Image via edmcchicago.com

 

This could not have worked out better, as Chicago’s legendary music festival rolls into town, greeted by the heatwave! This year’s lineup includes Radiohead, The Red Hot Chilli Peppers, LCD Soundsystem and a whole host of top bands.

We’re going to be honest, the festival is Sold Out and while you need to be careful getting your hands on a pass from non-official channels, it’s worth researching some buy/sell sites and #ticketfairy on Twitter. Of course, you’ve probably already got your ticket so in that case, we are crazy jealous!

Stroll Around Boston’s Esplanade Park

Boston_Public_Garden_panorama-636x317

Esplanade is an absolute hive of activity along this 3km stretch of leaf land alongside the Cambridge River. On hotter day’s you’ll see families left, right and centre enjoying the sun plus Boston’s enormous running community will also be out in force. Too hot for that carry on? Perhaps.

Have a Picnic Atop Grizzly Peak and Watch San Fran Sparkle

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If you’re in San Fran, then you know Grizzly Peak is where it’s at for the best views of the city. A peak needs to be at least 1000m to be a mountain, this is only 536m high so we are officially forbidding you from crying off and not taking on the climb. Pack a picnic and a blanket and once you reach the top, the hours will just melt away and it’ll be like heaven. We may call in sick and head here to be honest. Mulling it over…

Of course, this is just a flavour of the pretty much endless list of things to do in the US during a heatwave. What are you guys up to? Let us know on Twitter & Instagram and we’ll publish the best ideas.

Be safe, soak up that sun.

 

 

Beautiful New Zealand Beach Bought via Crowdfunding And Made Public

Power to the people!

Crowdfunding is becoming more and more popular to give like-minded people the opportunity to back ideas they’re passionate about and this may just be the best one yet!

Seeing that this beautiful stretch of private New Zealand coastline was up for sale, Kiwi’s Duane Major and Adam Gardner decided to set up a Crowdfund to re-claim this little piece of heaven at Awaroa beach on the northern tip of New Zealand’s stunning South Island and give it back to the public.

The project gained serious traction with 40,000 people contributing over $2m to free the beach from private ownership and have it become part of Abel Tasman National Park. Having raised most of the funds needed, a $350,000 donation from the New Zealand Government helped get the sale over the line.

Finally, on the 10th July the deeds officially changed hands and was simultaneously opened to the delighted public. What a brilliant example of people power..and what a beautiful beach!

Thinking of discovering the Land of the Long Cloud? USIT is Ireland’s No.1 travel company for Working Holiday Visas to New Zealand. Drop us a line today info@usit.ie or on (01) 602 1906.

 

5 Life Lessons You’ll Learn From Visiting India and Nepal

When it comes to choosing a holiday destination, many factors are at play – the weather, the resorts, the cost, the landmarks etc. All of these blend together for a while and battle each other Top Trumps style in your head until eventually you find a winner and thunderbirds are go!

Take a brief moment to rank your holiday priorities. Now, if we’re to guess that relaxing, unwinding and comfort immediately sprang to your mind would we be wrong?

Continue reading 5 Life Lessons You’ll Learn From Visiting India and Nepal

Andes, Incas, and Llamas! Come hike the Inca Trail!

High up in the Andes Mountains, through the depths of the jungle, and along treacherous trails is the city the Inca people used to call home. The hidden city of Macchu Picchu can be found, but let me tell you, this trip is not for the weak of heart. Continue reading Andes, Incas, and Llamas! Come hike the Inca Trail!

A Crazy Cheap, Six-Stop InterRail Route For Your Summer!

InterRailing season is in full swing with carriages upon carriages being packed out with excited students and graduates exploring the very best that Europe has to offer.

Continue reading A Crazy Cheap, Six-Stop InterRail Route For Your Summer!

Croatia Gets Europe’s First Zipline, 100m Above The Sea!

It’s common knowledge at this stage that one of our favourite destinations to visit in Europe is beautiful, sun-soaked Croatia. The beaches are stunning, the architecture (Game of Thrones fans, you know) is breathtaking and the people are so accommodating and friendly. In fact here’s 25 Pics that will convince you Croatia is actually heaven!

Now, Croatia has added yet another unmissable experience to it’s ever growing travel armoury with Europe’s First Zipline Over Water!

 

Crikvenici
The seaside town of Crikvenica opened the zip line on June 24th, 2016 (image via nathanmac87)

 

We’ve featured a similar zip line in Haiti recently that looks like the most fun you can possibly have in a seated position and now Croatia has followed suit by opening this one in Crikvenica, near the hugely popular coastal town of Rijeka. The 500m line offers stunning views of the Kačjak peninsula from 100 feet up and will reach approx 65km/h just like Croatia’s most popular zip line (for now) at the Centina River.

We cannot wait to have a go!

We’ve been taking more bookings this summer for Croatia than ever before so if you’re still on the lookout for the perfect summer getaway there’s our Croatian Island Hopper from only €609, cruise packages around the Adriatic starting from €715, Global InterRail Passes from €200 and much more!

Crazy for Croatia? Cool, get in touch with us info@usit.ie or on (01) 602 1906 and let’s get this adventure moving!

8 Incredible Experiences You Need To Have in Iceland

It’s fair to say that there hasn’t been this much talk about Iceland since causing travel chaos in 2010, thanks to Eyjafjallajökull (Eya-flatya-yerkutz, apparently!) throwing clouds of ash 30,000ft into the sky, affecting airspace in 20 countries!

Ash Cloud
We all remember the carnage caused by the Icelandic Ash Cloud in 2010

In 2016, between 8% of Iceland’s entire population migrating to Paris for their historic win over Austria at the weekend and ‘White Walkers‘ roaming Icelandic film sets in Game of Thrones all season, there’s plenty of talk about Europe’s most isolated nation. Iceland’s isolation is one of the reasons you’ll immediately find unimaginable hidden beauty and adventure, turning it into one of Europe’s most popular holiday destinations this year.

Iceland Fans
Up to 10% of Iceland’s population are estimated to be in France ahead of their clash with England

Here’s eight incredible experiences that will convince you your next destination should be here…

1. Bask In The Endless Midnight Sunsets

Ireland might be relatively blessed with summer sunsets but Iceland is a completely different animal altogether. During the summer months, particularly in June, the sun never dips far below the horizon due to how far North Iceland is. What results is known as the Midnight Sun, where the darkness is chased away for weeks on end. It may be a little more difficult to sleep but with views like this, you won’t want to…

2. Bathe in the Blue Lagoon

Probably the most well known tourist attraction in Iceland is this beautiful and tranquil geothermal spa, less than an hour away from the capital, Reykjavik. This body of milky blue seawater has a year round temperature of between 37 – 40 degrees and the naturally occurring silica, sulphur and other minerals have incredible rejuvenation properties for your skin, muscles etc. It’s also one of the only places in the world where you can tell your friends you swam from one continent to another as it’s situated on the fault line between two tectonic plates – if you’re the bragging type!

Iceland
Probably Iceland’s most well known tourist atttraction

3. Explore a Volcano, From The Inside!

This, this is truly an experience you won’t find anywhere else on Earth. The dormant Thrihnukagigur (don’t even bother trying) volcano hasn’t erupted in over 4,000 years and it’s magma chamber, often referred to as the beating heart of a volcano has dried up allowing people to actually descend the 120 feet INTO the belly of this dormant beast. You will feel like Jules Verne wrote ‘Journey To The Centre of Earth’ about this descent and it’s an experience you will remember for the rest of your life!

4. Snorkel Between Two Tectonic Plates

The Silfra Fissure is a 100 metre deep crack between the North American and Eurasian plates and is widely known as having the clearest water anywhere on Earth! It’s one of the most unique diving spots in the world, right up there with the Great Barrier Reef or the Red Sea.

The reason the water is so sensationally clear is due to the cold year round temperature (don’t worry, the thermal dive suits are nice and warm!) of 2 – 4 degrees and the unique naturally occurring filtration process from the Langjökull glacier which passes water through porous lava underground and slowly leaking into ‘The Big Crack’. It’s a very special experience.

5. Watch the Most Beautiful Northern Lights You Could Imagine

We couldn’t talk about visiting Iceland without mentioning the Aurora Borealis. If you’re lucky enough to have seen the Northern Lights before you be telling anyone who’ll listen to put it on your Bucket List. In Iceland, the spectacular show is even more vibrant. Such is the isolation and lack of light pollution across the Icelandic landscape, you get views like this…

Iceland NL
This is what happens when the Northern Lights meet a Solar Eclipse and a volcanic eruption!

6. Explore Other-Worldly Ice Caves Across Iceland

So we’ve already proven that Iceland is the land of fire, now it’s time to explore the ice! Most of these ice caves have been carved out of the glaciers by flowing rivers that have since dried up, creating these astounding underground tunnels that glow the most brilliant shades of blue.

Iceland’s second largest glacier, Langjökull is possibly the best place to go exploring the ice caves with tours available all year round.

7. Whale Watching off the Coast of Reykjavik

There are very few capital cities that can boast 23 different species of whale that visit it’s coastline all year round but Reykjavik is one of them. Minky and Humpback Whales are common visitors and you’d have to be unbelievably unlucky not to see one. If you’re luck is in however you could expect to see Killer Whales, the second largest whale in the world, the Fin Whale and even the biggest creature in the history of the planet – The Blue Whale.

May to September is generally the best time to go Whale Watching but tours run year round and are one of the best ways to spend a day in Iceland.

8. Take on Iceland’s Golden Circle

The best way to explore the remainder of Iceland’s unmissable locations (as if there wasn’t enough here already!) is to travel around the 300km ‘Golden Circle’ outside Reykjavik. The Golden Circle takes in pretty much every kind of terrain on the volcanic island including, Geysir, a huge hot spring so spectacular that it’s name has since been adopted to describe the phenomenon itself and Europe’a answer to Niagara Falls – Gullfoss.

It’s only when you learn about all these incredible places that Icelanders call home you realise how football mad they must be to all pack up and head to EURO 2016! I don’t know about you, but I think I’ll follow them back to their place!

USIT offer Icelandic tour packages starting from €476 and an all-in break to Reykjavik from €1089. Get in touch for a quote at info@usit.ie or on (01) 602 1906.