Best value destinations


With visitor numbers steadily rising, Nepal remains a tremendous option for budget travellers. After all, the number of countries where you can live on the price of a Starbucks latte or two are diminishing rapidly. Sure, to do that you’ll need to stay in budget accommodation somewhere other than Kathmandu and resolutely stick to simple local food, but many consider this a price worth paying for paying a low price. Though costs rise once you enter national parks, if you’re up for trekking on your own and staying in teahouses, Nepal is not only the best-value spot for Himalayan hiking, it must be a contender for offering the most astonishing rewards for the least upfront investment of anywhere in the world. In fact, this remains true even if you factor in a porter and guide and opt for an organised trek.

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Best places to get fit

23 October, 2012

They say everyone always gains weight on vacation. Not here! This article is an excerpt from Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2013.

Wildfitness Kenya

Get in touch with your hunter-gatherer roots at this nature-oriented fitness resort, where you’ll be instructed in the principles of ‘wild moving’ (barefoot running, swimming, climbing), ‘wild eating’ (lots of meats, fruits and vegetables, no dairy or processed foods) and ‘wild living’ (good sleep habits, ‘tribal bonding’ with others). The location for all this back-to-BC learning is a palm-shrouded boutique hotel overlooking the white sand and gin-clear waters of the Indian Ocean. So when you’re not channelling your inner caveman, you can relax on the roof deck or luxuriate in a deep tissue massage – thanks, modernity!

See for more details.

Hiking the Appalachian Trail

Though most ‘thru hikers’ aren’t tackling the 3500km-long Appalachian Trail just to lose a few pounds, it’s certainly a side benefit for some. In fact, keeping the weight on while trekking up the sides of heather-shrouded mountains and through rugged green valleys is so difficult that hikers swap tips on the highest-calorie foods to bring along for the journey. Most hikers can pack in 4000 to 6000 calories a day while still losing weight and gaining enough muscle to tackle the killer peaks of Maine’s Mt Katahdin at the end of the trail.

The Appalachian Trail begins in Springer Mountain, Georgia, and traverses 14 states before ending in Maine. For trail info, see

Detox retreat, Bagus Jati, Bali, Indonesia

Offering detox regimes promising to cure you of everything from anxiety to bloated stomach to ‘vagueness’, this New Age-meets-Eastern retreat in Bali’s Ubud district will help centre your mind as it slims your waist. Set on a steep emerald hillside, Bagus Jati’s Balinese-style villas overlook a lush, misty valley of ferns and betel nut palms. Daily treatments range from herbal teas to acupuncture to mud wraps. For exercise, get your downward dog on in the round yoga pavilion surrounded by sun-dappled bamboo forest. Or kick it up with a five-hour predawn trek to witness the sunrise from the peak of Mt Batur.


Bikini Bootcamp, Tulum, Mexico

The setting – a luscious stretch of golden beach on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula – should take some of the sting out of the butt-kicking daily schedule at this much-imitated fitness retreat. Days begin at 6.45am and hop from gruelling vinyasa yoga classes to sweaty beach volleyball games to power abs workouts. Downtime means swimming in local cenotes (water-filled sinkholes) or hiking through the spooky Mayan ruins of Tulum. If you’re down with a bit of a New Age-y vibe (think ‘tribal drumming’ lessons, dawn journaling sessions), then this might be just the place to kick off your New Year’s get-fit resolution. Solo travellers are welcome and encouraged.

The Bootcamp is in Tulum, an hour and a half south of Cancun. See

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Best in Travel 2013 – Top 10 cities


23 October, 2012

1. San Francisco

Darling of America’s west coast

Best for: Culture, events, food

Quirky shop front decoration, Haight Street, The Haight.

Famous for hills, earthquakes and a penchant for liberal politics, San Francisco continues to attract kindred spirits, eagerly embracing all newcomers to the bosom of its cultural mélange. If you need an extra incentive to get yourself to San Francisco, the city has an ace up its sleeve – the 34th America’s Cup is coming to fog city in 2013, and big changes and upgrades are afoot all along San Francisco’s heaving waterfront.

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Best in Travel 2013 – Top 10 countries


23 October, 2012

1. Sri Lanka

Cut-price paradise back on the map

Best for: Culture, off the beaten track, value for money

Statue of Hindu deity at Koneswaram Hindu temple, Fort Frederick.

Statue of Hindu deity at Koneswaram Hindu temple, Fort Frederick.

© Copyright Lonely Planet Images

Battered tragically by the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami and wracked by civil war from 1983 to 2009, many areas of the country have remained off limits to even the most intrepid traveller. Now the bitter conflict is over, investment is fuelling the tourism industry, and visitor numbers are steadily increasing. Prices are affordable, and with low-cost flights from the convenient travel hub of Bangkok, Sri Lanka is emerging as one of the planet’s best-value destinations.

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Best value destinations

Best value destinations

23 October, 2012

Savour every centimetre of that shoestring with these budget-friendly boltholes, perfect for an economic downturn-busting break. This article is an excerpt from Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2013.

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Best in Travel 2013 – Top 10 regions Read more:

3. Mustang, Nepal

Last chance to see ‘forbidden kingdom’

Best for: Activities, off the beaten track, culture

Tilicho Peak and Annapurna I from Tama Gaon.

The completion of a road connecting Mustang to China in the north and the rest of Nepal to the south will make all the difference to this remote region. Lo Manthang, or Mustang as it’s usually called, has been dubbed ‘little Tibet’ or ‘the last forbidden kingdom’; though politically part of Nepal, in language, culture, climate and geography, it’s Tibet. Until 1992 nobody from outside was allowed in; for a while after that it was opened up to a few hundred a year, and these days it anyone can enter, though the pricey trekking permit keeps the numbers down. Expect that to change.


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