Great News for Budget Travelers!
Where are you going next? That's a question I ask myself all the time—both as executive editor at Budget Travel and as, well, someone who loves the word next almost as much as the world going. So I'm really psyched to announce that Budget Travel is making it easier than ever to book an amazing travel deal.
We've vastly expanded the number and variety of our Real Deals to help get you where you want to go for the right price. That means in addition to the sweet package deals our editors serve up every day, we are now offering affordable getaways courtesy of Travelzoo (recent deals include vacations in the Caribbean, Ireland, Italy, Spain, and other must-see locales around the globe). You'll find new deals here every day, you can search by destination or by the area you'll be leaving from, and you can arrange deals by price or trip length.
With more deals, more variety, and unbeatable prices—not to mention our award-winning feature stories, photography, and up-to-the-minute blog posts—Budget Travel is more committed than ever to giving you everything you need to choose your next dream trip.
Me? I've got my eye on Ireland. How about you? Where are you going next?
6 Reasons to Visit Myanmar
This article is a guest post by Ja Racharaks. When you start investigating Myanmar as a travel destination, you'll discover how many monuments have been constructed throughout the country's history that exhibit truly grand scales of devotion and determination. Myanmar is the home to at least six of the world's greatest attractions—and although three of these items have technically lost their titles in recent years, all have retained their genuine sense of significance and beauty. The World's Biggest Book: Kuthodaw Pagoda, MandalayThe Kuthodaw Pagoda is located at the base of Mandalay Hill and within the complex lies 730 Kyauksa Gu, stone-inscription caves, which contain the "pages" of the book. Not a traditional paper item, the book's text, a complete copy of the Tipitaka, the Pali Canon of Theravada Buddhism, is written on both sides of marble slabs 3.51 feet wide, 5.02 feet tall, and 5.1 inches thick. In this instance, the marble slabs are the "pages" and the Kyauksa Gu are the "leaves" of the book. The World's Longest Teak Structure: U Bein Bridge, AmarapuraClose by Mingun, about 12 km down the Irrawaddy River from Mandalay on the eastern side of the river is Amarapura. Founded by King Bodawpaya as his capital city in 1783, the township is now a part of Mandalay. The bridge spans 3,937 feet across Taungthaman Lake, created from teak wood reclaimed from an old royal palace. Named after the mayor who had the bridge built, it's still used as an important passageway for locals. With fears that some of the 1,086 pillars are becoming dangerously decayed, efforts have been made to repair the bridge, with some of the pillars being replaced with concrete. The World's Largest Iron Buddha: Sandamuni Pagoda, MandalayAt the base of Mandalay Hill is the Sandamuni Pagoda, home to the world's largest Iron Buddha statue. Commissioned by King Bodawpay in 1802, it has made many trips around the country according to the placement of capital cities and wars, makingn its final move to Mandalay in 1874. Cast out of 18563.94 kg of iron, it's said that the image is endowed with the attributes of the Full Moon, which gives the image its name, Sandamuni. The World's Largest Reclining Buddha (Surpassed): Maha Bodhi Ta Htwaung, Monywa TownshipOtherwise known as the region of "a thousand great Bo trees," the area is famous for its standing and reclining Buddha as well as for thousands of images of the Buddha and Bo trees. On the hill, seen from miles around, are the Giant Reclining Buddha and the Giant Standing Buddha. The Reclining Buddha has a length of 333 feet and a width of 60 feet. What's more, you're able to explore inside the Reclining Buddha where there are more than 9,000 images of the Buddha and his disciples. The Giant Standing Buddha, otherwise known as Laykyun Setkyar, is actually the second largest Buddha statue in the world at a height of 424 feet with 31 floors inside. The Reclining Buddha has been surpassed by a stone reclining Buddha carved in China's Jiangxi Province to be completed at a length of 1,365 feet. The World's Largest Pearl (Surpassed): Nay Pyi Taw Gem Museum, Nay Pyi TawAmong the jade boulders and Myanmar's largest ruby, the Nay Pyi Taw Gem Museum also has what was previously considered to be world's largest natural pearl. The pearl is 6.2cm x 5cm x 3.1cm and weighs 845 carats. It was found in 2001 in a mother of pearl oyster during an oyster fishing expedition at Macleod Island in the Mergui (Myeik) Archipelago, in southern Myanmar. The current largest pearl is called the Pearl of Lao Tzu or Pearl of Allah, found in the Philippines inside a giant clam, is 24 cm in diameter, and weighs 32,000 carats. The World's Heaviest Functioning Bell (Surpassed): Mingun Pahtodawgyi, MingunAbout 11km up the Irrawaddy River from Mandalay lies the Mingun Pahtodawgyi, which is a spectacle in itself. Intentionally unfinished, the stupa was started by King Bodawpaya in 1790. He had stopped its construction at 50 meters after hearing a prophecy that foretold his death if he were to ever complete it, a 150 meter immense structure. In fact, some could call this (unofficially) the world's largest pile of bricks. To go along with the grandeur of the stupa, the king also commissioned a gigantic bell to be housed within it. At a five meter diameter and weighing 90 tons (199,999 lbs) the bell's bronze construction made it the world's heaviest functioning bell. The bell held its title on and off for almost 100 years but is now surpassed by the Bell of Good Luck in China.
7 Things to Do in Vernazza (Besides Hiking)
This article was written by Jessica Spiegel on behalf of Viator.com. Most of the people who have been flocking to the pretty town of Vernazza in the Cinque Terre for decades do so because of the famous hike that connects Vernazza with other towns along the coast. Hiking remains the top thing to do in the Cinque Terre, but it’s by no means the only thing to do. Here are 7 other things worth checking out. The BeachBy many accounts, Vernazza has the prettiest harbor of all the Cinque Terre towns—and although none of the beaches in the Cinque Terre are particularly noteworthy, Vernazza’s harborfront beach can be a lovely place to spend a sunny day. The beach in Vernazza has the benefit of being entirely public, so there aren’t any umbrellas or beach chairs set up that you’d have to rent. You just need to find an available spot on the beach, put down a towel, and enjoy the sun and sea. Doria Castle TowerOne of the features that makes Vernazza so picturesque from the trails on either side of it is the Doria Castle Tower that sits on the promontory overlooking the harbor. Built in the 11th century to help protect Vernazza from pirates, it now serves as a gorgeous lookout point. Boat ToursIn addition to hiking or taking the train between the villages of the Cinque Terre, there is also boat service connecting the towns during good weather. You don’t have to think of it as transportation, however. Hop on a boat in Vernazza and ride back and forth along the coast for lovely views of the villages and cliffs from the water, a vantage point many visitors never get. Wine TastingUp and down the cliffs in the Cinque Terre you’ll see vineyards, so why not sample some locally-grown wine while you’re in Vernazza? Much of the Cinque Terre wine is white, and one of the best-known wines is a sweet wine called sciacchetra that’s often paired with biscotti for an afternoon snack. Visit any of the wine shops (called “enoteca”) in Vernazza to see what’s local and get some Cinque Terre wines to bring home. Church of Santa Margherita d’AntiochiaThe bell tower and pretty tiled dome of the Church of Santa Margherita d’Antiochia are part of what makes Vernazza’s harbor so picturesque, so don’t miss visiting the actual church. No one knows when the original church on this site was built, but it could be as old as the 11th century. Major architectural changes were made in the 17th and 18th centuries, with more restoration work in the 20th century. ShoppingEvery Cinque Terre village has ample shopping options open during the high season, and Vernazza is no exception. In addition to the wine shops listed above, there are shops selling local foods (such as pesto and olive oil) and plenty of postcards and souvenirs. Many of the souvenirs are similar from town to town in the Cinque Terre, so if you’re in the area for a few days you can browse shops in each town to find unique gifts or mementos. VoluntourismIn October of 2011, Vernazza and Monterosso were both heavily damaged by the mudslides that resulted after torrential storms. The towns have recovered incredibly well, thanks in large part to the help of volunteers who spend part of their vacations restoring the villages and the hiking trails. There are still projects that are ongoing in Vernazza and throughout the Cinque Terre, so if you’re interested in doing some good work during your stay check out the Save Vernazza website.
5 Things To Eat In Japan
This article was written by Sia Ling Xin, who travels and writes about it for Asiarooms.com, a blog and online community focused on travelling in Asia. You can also find her on Twitter. The Land of the Rising Sun is known for crazy manga, super-punctual trains and a penchant for raw fish. Many a time, I've heard friends grouse about not going to Japan because they do not enjoy sushi. Even if you're not a fan of sliced fish on rice and seaweed, Japan has whole host of delicious offerings. Here are some of my favorites. RamenThe ramen in Japan tastes nothing like its air-dried and pre-packed cousin college students are known to consume excessively. Instead, imagine chewy noodles and a thick, rich broth that fills your tummy like no other on a cold night. There are many different soup bases—miso, shio, shoya being the most popular—and purveyors of a certain type may vehemently decry the others. If the first bowl you tried was not to your liking, simply note down the type of soup base it is, and try another kind out when you stumble upon another ramen restaurant. A bowl of ramen typically comes with chicken or pork chasu (a type of marinated and sliced meat), an egg (a well-executed ramen egg should always have a gooey yolk and savoury white) and all sorts of garnishing such as spring onions, leek and sesame seeds. TonkatsuThis is the Japanese version of the fried pork chop, cut into thin strips and served alongside rice, a salad of shredded lettuce, and miso soup. If you're into guilty pleasures, this crispy, tasty piece of goodness will be your go-to meal when it comes to Japanese cuisine. Many people fear that the cutlet may be tough and greasy, but the Japanese have perfected the art of deep-frying, so put aside that worry and tuck in. TempuraSpeaking of Japanese deep-frying techniques, tempura is probably the first thing that comes to mind. Prawns, sliced pumpkin or eggplant, and or even whole soft-shell crabs, are dipped in a starchy batter and deep fried. Instead of tasting heavy and filling, though, a well-executed tempura is always light, grease-free, and a delicious snack or finger food. Tempuras go great with Japanese cold noodles, or soba, as the hot and cold contrast nicely. Tempuras are often dipped in a savoury broth not unlike a thin, watery version of soya sauce, and topped with grated daikon and ginger. OkonomiyakiThe name of this pancake-like dish translates to 'grill-as-you-like'—and that is exactly how the dish works. Anything from cabbage to sliced octopus, or bacon and shrimp, may be wrapped inside a floury batter and grilled until it becomes a thick, fluffy pancake. It is then topped with a variety of sauces, such as Japanese mayonnaise and ketchup. Dried bonito flakes (parmesan thin slices of dried, fermented tuna) and seaweed may also be added into the mix. The result is a wholesome, sure-fire crowd pleaser that even fussy kids will love—even the most squeamish person will not notice the octopus in there. Some okonomiyaki restaurants have tabled with hotplates installed, which allow diners to grill their own pancakes. After feeling the heat of grilling your own pancake, down a couple of cold Japanese beers to round off your perfect dinner. Gyu-donIf you're a fan of beef, you have to try Japan's gyu-don, or beef bowl, at least once. A bowl of fluffy rice would be topped with thinly sliced beef and onion simmered in a flavourful broth. The beef and onion may taste mildly sweet, almost as though caramelised, and chili flakes may sometimes be added to give this dish a spicy kick. Some also like to crack a raw egg atop the rice bowl, which makes the rice rich and slick, giving the dish another dimension. Those who are sick of rice or prefer something soupy may want to try out the beef udon—just as warming and delicious as the beef bowl, you can enjoy your egg half-cooked in this steaming hot dish.
5 "Boomtowns" You MUST Visit ASAP
It's crunch time! Bloomberg recently released its list of cities around the globe that will be the most crowded in the year 2025. The top five? Hong Kong; Salvador, Brazil; Mexico City; São Paulo; and Singapore. All the more reason not to put off traveling to these destinations any longer! Bump them up on your bucket list instead, using some of our favorite travel tips for each town as guidance: Hong Kong. Go during the Chinese New Year celebration, in February. High season in Hong Kong is December, so by waiting a couple of months, you'll not only save on airfare and hotel rates, but there are fewer visitors and less hotel occupancy. Plus, you'll get to attend the annual Hong Kong Arts Festival, which takes place around the same time. Salvador, Brazil. Consider checking out Salvador's Carnival as an alternative to Rio's. The celebrations are just as eye-popping, but most events are free. Mexico City. A mere $4.50 buys you admission to the Museo Diego Rivera Anahuacalli, which Rivera himself designed. Inside are thousands of pre-Hispanic pieces from Rivera's own collection. São Paulo. Completely free and constantly changing, Beco de Batman, in the Vila Madelena neighborhood, is a long, winding alley of gorgeous street art. Think of it as an open-air graffiti gallery. Singapore. For less than $10, you can score a full meal from a “hawker centre”—an outdoor collection of halls that sell inexpensive food, such as chicken satay and a wide variety of noodle dishes. To avoid tourist traps, dine with the locals at Chinatown Food Centre, Maxwell Food Centre, or any neighborhood hawker centre.