2014 Top 25 Destinations – Trip Advisor Traveler’s Choice Awards

2014 Top 25 Destinations – Trip Advisor Traveler’s Choice Awards

Every year Trip Advisor compiles the top twenty five destinations based on the reviews gathered from their site, now this is actual user reviews so no mago-mago, no wayo. This is the 6th edition of it.They practically slice and dice user reviews and ratings over 12 months into lists of its most highly recommended global and regional destinations. The Traveller's Choice awards recognize top travel spots globally based on the popularity of destinations, taking into account travellers’ favourites and spots that are frequently rated high. Without no further ado, find below the top 25 holiday spots for 2014... It's time to plan a vacation! 25. San Francisco - California - USA(Lost 18 Spots) San Francisco Each neighborhood in San Francisco has its own unique personality. The Marina district has trendy bistros and picture perfect views of the Golden Gate Bridge, Noe Valley on the other hand offers classy and quiet boutiques. Say hello to the sea lions located  at Pier 39, and try out local cheese and charcuterie around the Ferry Building. 24. Chiang Mai - Thailand (Retained Ranking) Thai You could spend your entire Chiang Mai excursion trying out the renowned Night Bazaar. Once you've finished the game of cheerful haggle, there's a whole lot more to explore. The Botanic Garden and National Museum are awesome spots to douse up some local culture and inhale the fragile fragrance of Thai orchids. The downtown area has remnants of ancient wall of over 30 temples. 23. Lisbon - Portugal (New) lisbon The rich culture and history of the Portuguese capital cit is celebrated by the museums of Lisbon. The Maritime Museum is ideal for children (and adults to!) who love all things nautical.The Casa-Museu Dr. Anastácio Gonçalves is a shrouded jewel of beautiful fine art. To completely appreciate the city's stone architecture that is dramatic, you can take a guided tour,be sure to visit Padrao dos Descobrimentos, the UNESCO World Heritage site the Torre de Bele and  the Mosteiro dos Jeronimos 22. Sydney - Australia (Lost 12 Spots) 22 Sydney offers a lot of contemporary and historical Australian flavor. The superb Sydney Opera House resembles an awesome origami sailboat, skimming gently in a harbor. Stroll through the limited cobblestone lanes of The Rocks and afterward watch some street performance on the Circular Quay before proceeding to the Museum of Contemporary Art. You can wrap it all up by soaking in epic views from the Sydney Tower Eye observatory are epic – You can seize the opportunity to learn about the city layout from high above 21. Budapest - Hungary (New) 21 Over 57 Million liters of water bubble into Budapest's 118 springs & boreholes. This city of spas offer a dumbfounding array of baths, from the shimmering Gellert Baths to Rudas Spa to the limitless 1913 neo-baroque Szechenyi Spa.Get your camera prepared for the Roman ruins at the Aquincum Museum, Statue Park and Heroes' Square and also the 300-foot St. Stephens's arch 20. Bangkok - Thailand (Lost 7 Spots) 20 Bangkok  is the capital of Thailand, it's like a magical fairy land characterized by its floating markets and majestic porcelain laid spires. This city is divided into 50 unique districts with each one offering interesting activities. From the reclining Buddha temple of Wat Pho through Siam Square popular for premium shopping to Dusit that is characterized by its European style Gardens. 19. Cape Town - South Africa (Lost 3 Spots) 19 Cape Town shines at the southern toe of  Africa. "The Mother City@ as it's fondly called offers sweeping sea views, wild life encounters, wine tasting, shark cage diving and plenty of historic sites including Robben Island that houses Nelson Mandela's 27 year jail cell. 18. Chicago, Illinois - USA (Lost 4 Spots) 18 Chicago has lots of museums and theaters which guarantee a rich cultural experience. The city theater is sure to yield lots of laugh in this windy city that is also characterized by fine dinning, modern art, cutting edge comdy and die hard sports fans. 17. Dubai - United Arab Emirates (New) 17 Dubai is one of the most eccentric cities of the middle east and the world, it's futuristic cityscape is breath taking when you're descending into the city, towers above the Arabian desert. This is city bags a lot of records from the tallest building (Burj Khalifa), through the biggest man made palm island  (the palm Jumeirah), the biggest dancing fountain to the biggest natural flower garden Called the miracle garden. 16. St. Petersburg - Russia (Gained 4 Spots) 16 St. Petersburg is both the country’s cultural heart and second largest city. Peruse globally renowned art collection of the hermitage at the Kazan Cathedral and the Winter Palace.This city offers lof of fine dinning, art and nightlife for all and particularly return visitors. 15. Barcelona - Spain (Lost 10 Spots) 15 Take a walk down Las Ramblas or experience the FC Barcelona trophy laden stadium or soak in the biggest collection of Pablo Picasso's work or have some delicious paella with the full view of the La Sagrada Famigliaor just lounge by the lovely beaches, Barcelona just offers the right mix of Art,History,Sports, fine dinning and some Tapas. 14. Buenos Aires - Argentina (Jumped 4 Spots) 14 Tango was born in this city, seductive,bustling and captivating are some of the adjectives that rightly describes Buenos Aires just the the Tango dance itself. The city has lots of neighborhoods that offer thumping night life, romantic restaurants and history.Teatro Colon still impresses as much as it did in the 1908 era. This is the shopping capital of latin America  and offer premium retails therapy along its wide and grand boulevards. 13. Florence - Italy (Lost 5 Spots) 13 Florence is full of art and history. Folks that are interested in photography can take lovely pictures of Ponte Vecchio bridge while shopaholics can wander Piazza Santo Santo for the best bargains. You can wrap the day up with the tuscan cuisine which will transport you to your happiest place instantly. 12. New York - USA (Lost 10 Spots) <> on March 21, 2014 in New York City. A visit to the big apple will expose you to an energetic and restless city with sports, history, culture, restaurant and shopping in abundance. A visit to some of it's well known monuments like the Statue of Liberty, Empire state building, Metropolitan Museum of Arts and the Yankee stadium will give you a really taste of this city that never sleeps. 11. Berlin - Germany (Retained Ranking) 11 Berlin is a city on the edge, from it's architecture to it's fashion and tense political history. The Berlin Wall is a mellow reminder of the super charged post war atmosphere, The graffiti covering the remnant of the was is an indication of the progress they have made. 10. Shanghai - China (Gained 12 Spots) 10 Shanghai is one of the most cosmopolitan cities in China and the largest too. It gives vacationers the unique opportunity to experience the future, present and past all at the same time. The Huangpu River divides  the city into two districts namely Puxi and Pudong. being the old and new sides respectively. 9. Siem Reap - Cambodia (Gained 14 Spots) 9 This city is home to the ancient structures that form one of the biggest religious complexes in the world. The complex coupled with the 12th century Angkor Thom royal city are some of them tourist attractions in this historic city. You can play some haggling games at the Angkor market. 8. Hanoi - Vietnam (New) 8 This capital city of Vietnam is charming. The city has aged well and has been able to properly preserve the monuments, colonial architecture and old quarter while providing for modern developments too.This city has more than 600 temples and pagodas which immensely contributes to the city's appeal. 7. Paris - France (Lost 6 Spots) 7 Romance, Deserts, Fashion, Wine, Perfumes , arts and history are some of the things this lovely town is reputed for. Awaken your soul by taking a trip to the Notre Dame or hunt for a bargain the Marche aux Puces De Montreuil. Blow of some steam at the end of the day with some risque entertainment at the Moulin Rougue. 6. Marrakech - Morocco (Lost 13 Spots) 6 Nicknamed the The “Red City”,  Marrakesh is a magical place, full of palaces, mosques and gardens. Take in the beauty of the city by visiting of the the historic mosques or try out some of it's cuisine which is influenced by their french colonials. 5.Prague - Czech Republic (Gained 5 Spots) 5 Prague offers a bohemian allure which makes it a great destination for beach-weary vacationers who want to insert themselves in culture.  Prague’s best bars are in cellars, these historic pubs set the scene for a great night of traditional tippling. 4. Beijing - China (Ganed 17 Spots) ahead of the Beijing 2008 Olympics at XXX on August 3, 2008 in Beijing, China. Beijing offers a wealth of history, including ancient (Summer Palace, the Hall of Preserving Harmony, Forbidden City) and modern (Tiananmen Square, Chairman Mao Memorial Hall). Word for the wies, go for the Dirt MArket instead of the touristy Silk Market. 3. London - England (Retaind Position) <> on July 31, 2012 in London, England. Buckingham Palace, The crown jewels, Camden Market… London fuses history with  with art, food,fashion, food and good old British ale. The shopping is the mist appealing for the average Nigerian, so just head over to Oxford street and seek out the best bargains. 2. Rome - Italy (Gained 2 Spots) rome The Ancient city Rome can’t be toured in one day. There's just so much to do From the  Trevi Fountain where you can drop a coin and make a love wish through the Colosseum to the Pantheon. At the end of the day fuel up with a a plate of fresh pasta with some succulent fried artichokes and numerous other great meal...yes it is not just the art lovers and historians, the food lovers will love Rome too. 1. Istanbul - Turkey (Gained 11 Spots) 1 Europe meets Asia in Istanbul, This is one of the most affordable destinations in Europe and offers great shopping options courtesy of its extensively developed manufacturing sector.Several mosques,hammams (Turkish Bath)  and Bazaars can keep you quite occupied. Don't miss out the awe-inspiring Sultan Ahmet Camii (Blue Mosque) which is visible from several points in the city. Did I mention that they make some of the best Sharwama or Donner as they call it?

Travel Preparation Tips – South Africa

south-african-fans I was in South Africa for a conference earlier this year; my trip was a last-minute thing because of the delay by the embassy to issue the visa. I however got to Durban (the host city of Tourism INDABA) and realized that I was far from prepared. It took two hours of painstaking search to get an adaptor to power my laptop which was flat-out of battery. This only complicated everything further as all the necessary information both for my hotel reservation and conference details was contained in the laptop. After going through these rigors I then realized that my post paid phone line wouldn’t roam, I should have prearranged that before leaving Nigeria. Let me not bore you with the long list of nasty surprises that I got because of my lack of preparation/information. I resolved to not let folks go through what I did so in a series of “Travel Preparation Tips” posts, I will be detailing all the necessary information that you will need to have a hitch free trip. So here we go with South Africa. Feel free to share any additional tips you might have ELECTRICITY:

Travel AdaptorThe voltage of electricity in South Africa  is 220/230 volts. Most socket are 3 pin or 2 round pins(like what obtains in Europe), based on this your usual Nigerian three pin plug might not work so you'll consequently require a travel/universal adapter picture to the right. I'll advice to always travel with this adapter as it will more often than not come in handy.

TELECOMMUNICATIONS: The usual practice of prefixing the country code, area code and actual phone number with is obtainable in South Africa. You can get country dialing codes from the internet or telephone directory which is usually available at the hotel. You can also get a 24hour help by dialling 10903.  Numbers starting with "08" are toll free while numbers starting with "0860" will be charged at local call rates. "0861" numbers are charged a fixed rate. The popular local city codes are 041 - Port Elizabeth, 031 - Durban,  021 - Cape Town, 011 - Johannesburg and 012 - Pretoria. TIPPING: This is a common practice in South Africa, it is usually about 10% of the value of the service received. Now this is not compulsory, you do it only out of magnanimity. At car parks, the attendants will usually ask if they can watch over your car for you while you're away. If you agree a two Rand tip is usually adequate. In South Africa, they still have the luxury of Fuel station attendants, then can perform additional tasks like checking tire pressure, oil check and windscreen cleaning, a two Rand tip or more is usually adequate for their service. At the airports or hotels, a five Rand tip would be adequate per piece of luggage. WHAT TO WEAR: South Africans are generally laid back so dressing up might not be a very good idea. During their summer which spans from mid-October to Mid-February, cool and comfortable clothes are advisable rain jacket and umbrella will be handy additions too as it rains a lot in this season. Don't forget your swimming trunks too. Winter spans from May to July, the winter is usually not a harsh as America/European winter but it will be helpful to have adequate worm clothing. A hat and sun glasses can come in handy too as the sun gets really strong despite the season. If you are a business traveler,standard formal dressing will be okay although some sectors like the Media dress down. IF you are going for a game drive(wildlife viewing in the wild), neutrally toned clothing will be adequate. You can have a casual smart outfit if you're going for an evening fine dinning. SOUTH AFRICAN PUBLIC HOLIDAYS 1. New Year Day - 1st January 2. Human Right Day - 21st March 3. Good Friday - Variable 4. Family Day (Monday after Easter) - 5. Freedom Day - 27th April 6. Worker's Day - 1st May 7. Youth Day - 16th June 8. Women's Day - 9th August 9. Heritage Day - 24th September 10. Day of Reconciliation - 16th December 11. Christmas Day - 25th December 12. Day of Goodwill - 26th December Public Holidays that fall on a Sunday are moved to the next Monday. CUSTOMS: Visitors to South Africa are allowed to bring in the following items duty and VAT free; 1. Personal effects like clothing shoes etc 2. Other new or used items not worth more than R3000, additional item worth above R3000 but least than R12,000 will incur a 20% duty. 3. Not more than 2 liters of wine per person above eighteen years 4. Not more than one liter of distilled liquor for person above eighteen years. 5. Not more than 200 sticks of Cigarettes and 20 sticks of cigars for person above eighteen years of age. 6. Not more than 250g of cigarette tobacco/pipe tobacco for each person older than eighteen years old 7. Not more than 50ml of perfume and 250ml of toilet water per person. If you have items within the allowed quantities you can take the green channel(nothing to declare, otherwise take the red channel and declare the excess. When leaving you are allowed to take a maximum of R500, you will have to pay a 20% charge for any amount above R500. YELLOW FEVER ENTRY REQUIREMENT Nigerians are required to have a valid yellow fever vaccination card in order to travel to South Africa. Actually you have to get one if you have transited through a country that s considered to be an infected area. This is based on the International Health Regulations of 2005.A valid vaccination should be administered at least 10 days before departure to South Africa That’s all, please do not hesitate to add any points not mentioned in the comment thread.It will be great if you can share your thoughts on the ones mentioned