You searched for food - Bruised Passports Offbeat Travel and Fashion Blog Tue, 05 Mar 2024 07:50:18 +0000 en-US hourly 1 5 Reasons You Must Visit Burundi, a unique country in Africa Tue, 05 Mar 2024 07:50:18 +0000 Let’s travel to the heart of Africa shall we? This year we decided to visit the tiny country of Burundi...

The post 5 Reasons You Must Visit Burundi, a unique country in Africa appeared first on Bruised Passports.

Let’s travel to the heart of Africa shall we? This year we decided to visit the tiny country of Burundi and let me tell you it is quite a hidden gem – just waiting to be discovered by adventurous travellers seeking authentic cultural experiences and breathtaking natural beauty. Despite being one of the smallest countries in Africa, Burundi has history, vibrant traditions, and stunning landscapes that make it a truly worth-while destination.

burundi landscape
Lush greenery everywhere

5 Things to do before visiting Burundi

  • Make sure you speak to your GP and take Chlorophyll tablets to guard your body against Malaria. We also have Yellow Fever vaccination certificates, but weren’t asked on arrival.
  • Fill the arrival form on this website! Burundi offers an easy evisa/visa on arrival for Indian citizens (you must fill information here before flying into Burundi. Visa costs USD 40 for 3 nights) and citizens of most other countries. However you must fill this form before arriving. Also make sure you have US dollars to pay the visa fee as there is no ATM at the visa issuing section of the airport. As a rule of thumb, it is advisable to carry some extra US dollars while travelling in Africa. The local currency is Burundian Franc (BIF). 1 INR = roughly 35 BIF (Jan 24)
  • We suggest combining this trip with a few days in Rwanda or Uganda – both connected via convenient flights to India! Bujumbura (Burundi) is a short direct flight away from both these countries! We suggest comparing prices and booking here.
  • Don’t believe everything you read on the internet! Before we visited, we got the feeling that Burundi might be unsafe or unwelcoming. But it was the exact opposite – we met the nicest people and had the best time!
  • Having said that, we would suggest booking a tour to explore the country with a local operator instead of renting a car and exploring independently. This is because of 2 reasons – French is the official language. English isn’t widely spoken or understood. Additionally, locals in the countryside are not used to seeing many tourists. We booked a 3 day trip with Gisabo Tours – including pick-up and drop-off at the airport – on the recommendation of a friend! And I have to say, I cannot recommend them enough. The small company is run by young, passionate Burundians and over the course of the 3 days they went from being guides to friends. They introduced us to some of the best locations in Burundi, helped us experience cool cafes in Burundi, took us to local hide-outs, made us try local dishes, and we ended up having so much fun together. You can also contact Audace on Whatsapp on this number (+257 79 74 46 10)  if you’re going to Burundi. Of course, you can pick and choose from the things to do in Burundi (more information on it down below) but 2 things you must include in your itinerary – Gishora drummers and visiting the tea plantations of Burundi
What a fun bunch at Gisabo tours – left Burundi with so many new friends 🙂
uganda airlines direct flight entebbe to bujumbura
Direct flights operate from both Entebbe (Uganda) and Kigali (Rwanda)

Where to stay in Burundi

We suggest basing yourself in Bujumbura to explore the country. It makes for a good base! However please take hotel ratings and photographs with a pinch of salt! We ended up in a hotel that we did not enjoy at all but upon talking to our guides, we found 2 good hotels – both of which we would recommend. Kiriri Garden Hotel is a luxurious option but it tends to be overpriced or sold out during peak times! In that case we would also recommend Hotel Club Du Lac Tanganyika, which boasts of a beachfront – again, booking in advance is suggested as we couldn’t find availability in either of these hotels due to the last minute nature of our trip!

If you choose to stay in Gitega, Isango Hotel is a decent option! The food here is really good – we stopped here for lunch and took a look at the rooms while we were there. You can always get in touch with the folks at Gisabo Tours and they can suggest and arrange accommodation for you.

Now that the logistics are out of the way, here are 5 reasons you must consider visiting Burundi

Cool art and coffee scene in Bujumbura

1. Going off-the-beaten path is exciting

As many of you travel lovers will know, it has become increasingly difficult to seek authentic cultural travel experiences in today’s day and age! But Burundi provides a fascinating glimpse into East African heritage. You can immerse yourself in the beats of a traditional drumming ceremony, witness vibrant dance performances, and engage with local artisans producing intricate crafts.

And if you’re a nature lover, you will enjoy Burundi’s natural wonders – from the tranquil shores of Lake Tanganyika, one of the largest freshwater lakes in the world, to the lush greenery of Kibira National Park, home to an array of wildlife, including chimpanzees and rare birds. If time permits, you should also visit the gorgeous Karera falls.

landscapes on a day trip from Bujumbura

      2. The people and food!

No matter where we went in the country, we were greeted with such warmth in Burundi! The country’s people are known for their hospitality and resilience in the face of adversity and you will definitely feel like a cherished guest. Whether you end up sharing a meal with a local family or conversing with a fishermen on the shores of Lake Tanganyika, visitors to Burundi are embraced with open arms and genuine kindness.

But that’s not all! The country has some of the best fruit in the world – including the sweetest pineapples! If you enjoy trying local food, then you must try Burundi’s flavourful local cuisine. One must-try dish is Brochettes – skewers of grilled meat often served with spicy sauce – offering a delicious taste of Burundian street food. Another is Isombe a hearty stew made from cassava leaves, often cooked with ground peanuts and served with plantains or rice. Ubugali – a staple food made from maize flour is typically served alongside various meat or vegetable dishes. We tried each of these and really enjoyed getting to know African spices and flavours better!

Could fly back JUST for the amazing fruit. OMG so Yum!

3. Visiting Gishora for Drummers: An unforgettable experience

If there is one thing that will be the highlight of your trip, it is this! Visit Gishora, a small village located in the southern province of Bururi, renowned for its vibrant drumming tradition. For centuries, drumming has played a central role in Burundian culture and it is considered sacred in the country.

At Gishora, we had the opportunity to witness a mesmerising drumming performance by the Royal drummers of Burundi who have inherited the ancient techniques passed down through generations. The rhythmic beats of the drums will transport you to another realm altogether!

The Gishora Drum Sanctuary is a a UNESCO World Heritage Site and we highly recommend visiting it. It makes for an unforgettable experience!

What an exhilarating experience
One of our favourite cultural experiences from all our travels
What FUN

4. Exploring Kibira National Park & the tea plantations of Burundi

We went to Burundi expecting cultural richness but we did not expect to see lush green tea plantations, similar to the ones we’ve seen in Kerala or Sri Lanka! Nestled amidst the rolling hills of the country’s countryside, the tea estates of Burundi offer a captivating glimpse into the art of tea cultivation and production. You can opt for a guided tour or just explore the plantations on your own. These also make the perfect backdrop for some really nice photographs. We visited the Teza tea plantation, and would highly recommend going there for some beautiful scenes.

Seemingly unending tea plantations – what a sight!

5. Urban life and café culture

One of the reasons we wanted to visit Burundi is that in recent years, it has emerged as an unexpected hub for third-wave cafes and specialty coffee enthusiasts. The country has become renowned for producing high-quality Arabica beans – if you’re a coffee lover we suggest visiting third-wave cafes such as Buja Cafe in Bujumbura to sample Burundi’s coffee! You can mull over the nuances of specialty coffee and also immerse yourself in the local art scene at this bohemian space in the capital

Happy customer at Buja cafe 😉

And that’s it – I hope we’ve persuaded you to travel to Burundi – a truly immersive and enriching experience for those seeking to discover the hidden treasures of Africa. From its vibrant cultural heritage to its natural landscapes, Burundi will leave the traveller in you fully satisfied and you will come back from the country with so many stories to tell.

So long, Burundi! You were a revelation

The post 5 Reasons You Must Visit Burundi, a unique country in Africa appeared first on Bruised Passports.

]]> 1
Why you MUST plan a city break to Kigali, Rwanda – Visa Free For Indians! Wed, 28 Feb 2024 14:36:34 +0000 From its bustling markets and cultural landmarks to its thriving coffee culture, Kigali offers visitors a captivating blend of tradition,...

The post Why you MUST plan a city break to Kigali, Rwanda – Visa Free For Indians! appeared first on Bruised Passports.

From its bustling markets and cultural landmarks to its thriving coffee culture, Kigali offers visitors a captivating blend of tradition, innovation, and natural beauty that is the perfect follow up to East Africa after our amazing Kenya Safari trip. Kigali is one of the cleanest and most organised cities of East Africa and here’s why we think you should consider exploring the vibrant streets and hidden gems of Rwanda’s capital city.

gorilla family in Volcanoes national park in Rwanda kigali
Hello Mister 🙂

Getting to Rwanda and Where to Stay in Kigali

Rwand Air offers direct flights (with a “technical stop” in either Entebbe or Mombasa) from Mumbai to Kigali making it easily accessible for Indians. In addition to this, Rwanda is visa free for Indians (Yayy!), making it ideal if you want an unusual destination without the hassle of visas. The local currency of Rwanda is Rwandan Franc (RWF). 1 INR is roughly equal to 15 RWF.  You can download Yego or Move app for booking taxis. On the day you land, it’s probably best to arrange a pick-up from the hotel you’re staying at. It’s usually around USD 30 (total) for this service.

Kigali is a modern and bustling city, and offers accommodation of all types. It’s best to stay in the downtown area as most of the attractions and restaurants/cafes are in walking distance. We stayed at the Marriott Kigali and had a very comfortable stay. Some other options are Radisson Blu, Four Points By Sheraton, and Park Inn By Radisson. As always, best to compare prices and book here.

flight to rwanda kigali from india
Lush greenery everywhere
Clean and well maintained streets everywhere

Gorilla Tracking – Must Do experience in Kigali

Kigali is the gateway to the iconic gorilla tracking safaris of East Africa. Gorilla tracking is undoubtedly the highlight of a trip to Rwanda and thousands of tourists from around the world fly in to Rwanda for this experience. It is possible to do this safari in Uganda as well but if you’re flying into Entebbe, then in all probability it will be a 3 day trip from Entebbe to do this safari! However if you decide to go gorilla tracking from Kigali, this is a day trip. Permits for this safari are extremely limited and cost an eye-watering $1500 per person! But having done it, we can safely say it is worth it!

We were a little worried about who to book this experience with as it has a 4 am start but upon a friend’s recommendation, we booked our Gorilla tracking tour with Hermosa Life Tours and Travels and it was a great decision. It is a super safe and reliable company and ensured we had the experience of a lifetime! They came to our hotel and took all documents needed for the permit, and ensured that everything went swimmingly.

We started early morning from Kigali, drove to Volcanoes National Park (you get a private vehicle) and began our hike through dense jungles and misty mountains to encounter majestic mountain gorillas in their natural habitat. Each group gets an experienced guide at Volcanoes National Park and the opportunity to observe these incredible creatures up close. You can witness entire gorilla families and babies going about their daily life (once you track a family, you get 1 hour to spend around them)! This experience is so exhilarating that it cannot be summed up in words – an adventure that will leave you with memories to cherish for a lifetime.

forest view near Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda
Gorgeous sunrise views on our way to Volcanoes National Park
John regaling us with tales from the jungle
gorilla family in Volcanoes national park in Rwanda kigali
The Silverback – head of the family. What an experience coming face to face with these creatures
Cutest family 🙂

Things to Do and Where To Eat in Kigali

Mount Kigali: For panoramic views of the city and surrounding countryside, hike to the top of Mount Kigali. Whether you choose to trek at sunrise or sunset, the breathtaking vistas from the summit are sure to leave a lasting impression. You can also take a taxi to a point from where the trek to this view point is short.

Kigali Genocide Memorial: Start your journey with a visit to the Kigali Genocide Memorial, a poignant tribute to the victims of the 1994 Rwandan Genocide. The memorial offers a somber yet essential reflection on Rwanda’s tragic history and the resilience of its people.

Kimironko Market: Dive into the vibrant atmosphere of Kimironko Market, where bustling stalls offer an array of fresh produce, spices, and artisan crafts. Immerse yourself in the sights, sounds, and aromas of this bustling marketplace, and don’t forget to haggle for souvenirs to take home.

Nyamirambo District: Explore the colorful streets of Nyamirambo, Kigali’s oldest and most diverse neighborhood. Known for its lively atmosphere, eclectic architecture, and vibrant street art, Nyamirambo offers a fascinating glimpse into Rwanda’s cultural melting pot.

Inema Arts Center: Discover Rwanda’s burgeoning contemporary art scene at the Inema Arts Center, a dynamic hub showcasing the work of local artists. Explore galleries filled with vibrant paintings, sculptures, and mixed-media installations that reflect Rwanda’s rich cultural heritage and modern identity

Question Coffee: Rwanda has some of the best coffee in the world! If you’re a coffee aficionado, you must visit Question Coffee, a cozy cafe dedicated to promoting sustainable coffee farming and empowering local growers. Savour a freshly brewed cup of single-origin coffee or sample a selection of espresso-based drinks, all sourced directly from Rwandan farmers. You can read more about the initiative here.

Bourbon Coffee: You can also visit Bourbon Coffee, a popular cafe chain with several locations across Kigali. Relax in the stylish surroundings and enjoy a wide range of specialty coffees, teas, and light bites while soaking up the vibrant atmosphere.

Indabo Cafe Kiyovu: If you want outdoor seating in a very Bali like setting, head to Indabo in Kiyovu. We loved the ambience, the food, and the smoothies.

Rooftop Rendezvous Bar at Ubumwe Grande Hotel: More than the food, this is the restaurant to visit for the views! The food is mediocre but this rooftop restaurant offers an amazing view of the city of Kigali. Go around sunset and enjoy the view over a couple of beers, followed by dinner.

Explore the local markets and admire the colourful clothing. Locals are always smiling 🙂
Unending views of Kigali and the mountains from Rooftop Rendezvous bar and grill
One of the coolest cities we have been to in a while
question coffee in kigali rwanda
Question coffee – we fell in love with the coffee and cafes in Rwanda

I hope we’ve given you enough reasons to put Kigali on your travel bucket-list – make sure you visit this unique city and tell us what you thought of it! Any questions – just ask below and we will get back asap 🙂

The post Why you MUST plan a city break to Kigali, Rwanda – Visa Free For Indians! appeared first on Bruised Passports.

]]> 0
The Ultimate Guide To Planning a trip to Bhutan Mon, 12 Feb 2024 03:57:02 +0000 With the expansive information available online, it is becoming increasingly rare to chance upon a place that is unexpectedly charming!...

The post The Ultimate Guide To Planning a trip to Bhutan appeared first on Bruised Passports.

With the expansive information available online, it is becoming increasingly rare to chance upon a place that is unexpectedly charming! But every once in a while we travel to a country that leaves us smitten – our trip in Bhutan was one such adventure! From the moment we landed till the moment we left, I was left marvelling at the sheer stature of the landscapes, the peace of the surrounding, and the happiness on the faces of Bhutanese people! After having travelled extensively in India, we were thrilled at the prospect of visiting its beautiful neighbouring country.

Punakha Dzong view point in Bhutan
Oh the beautiful sights that await you 🙂

Here is everything you need to know about planning the ideal trip to Bhutan :-


Druk Air flies directly from Delhi to Paro a couple of times every week. We suggest planning your trip in a way that allows you to opt for these direct flights as they are very convenient. It was our first time flying with Druk Air and the service and aircraft both were above expectation! The best part about this flight are the scenic vistas as you land at Paro Airport – so don’t forget to reserve a window seat for yourself! (left side when travelling from Delhi to Paro and right side on return :-)). We suggest comparing prices and booking here.

flight views delhi paro delhi druk air
The views from the plane are gorgeous

Best time to visit Bhutan

Bhutan is an ideal destination to visit year round, except for the months of June-August due to monsoons. Try to coordinate your visit with a local festival – most festivals happen during September but others are spread throught the year. We travelled in the month of December and had a great time.

paro airport in bhutan
That’s the baggage belt at Paro airport – how cute!!

Must Dos & Highlights of a trip to Bhutan

There are countless things to do in Bhutan and we’ve tried to include as many as possible in our guide, but here are a few that you MUST not miss:

  • Tiger’s Nest Hike
  • Trying your hand at archery
  • Sampling Bhutanese cuisine and local spirits
  • Dochula Pass
  • Breakfast with monks
  • Visiting iconic 52-meter-tall Buddha Dordenma
  • An evening at a local Karaoke bar
  • Healing Dotsho bath with hot stones
  • Exploring Punakha Dzong
dochula pass covered in snow
LOVE! – it snowed the day we were crossing Dochula pass on our way to Punakha

Visas and booking your trip to Bhutan

Bhutan prides itself on being one of the few carbon negative places in the world. The emphasis on sustainability and the happiness index means that there are rather strict guidelines that discourage mass tourism in the country! For eg it is compulsory for all tourists to have a 24X7 local guide in the country. For this reason, it is best to book the entire trip with 1 hotel chain that can offer a package that includes visas (for nationalities that need it), guide, hotel rooms, experiences, transportation, and all meals. We booked our entire trip with Six Senses Bhutan and cannot recommend the experience enough. You’ll be pampered from the pickup at the airport to the drop off, that is for sure 🙂

Indian nationals do not need a visa to enter Bhutan, however they are required to have travel insurance for the duration of the trip, a booking at a government enlisted property, a tour guide, and have to pay a Sustainable Development Fee (SDF) of INR 1200 per person per night. All details can be found on this link.

The local currency of Bhutan is Ngultrums, but Indian rupees are widely accepted. 1 BTN = 1 INR (as of Jan 24).

Now that the logistics are out of the way, let’s go over a day-by-day itinerary, including places and experiences that you definitely need to plan the perfect trip in Bhutan.

You’ll be amazed at all the experiences Bhutan has to offer

Day-by-day itinerary for your trip in Bhutan

Day 1: Fly from Delhi to Paro

Paro Airport is a gorgeous building and offers the perfect introduction to Bhutan. Meet your guide as you exit the airport after passing through immigration and luggage collection and drive to your hotel.

We stayed at Six Senses Thimphu, also known as the Palace In The Clouds. Of all the hotels we stayed in Bhutan, this is one of the most beautiful! Situated high above the valley floor, overlooking apple orchards and young pine forests, with gorgeous views of the Buddha Dordemna, Six Senses Thimphu is the perfect base for exploring Thimpu and kickstarting your trip in Bhutan.

If you can tear yourself away from the incredible views at this hotel, spend the evening enjoying a Jet Lag or Deep Tissue Massage followed by a healing Dotsho bath – this treatment is something you must not miss in Bhutan as it is a wellness ritual that uses hot stones and is known to cure joint pains and aches. One thing is for sure – it will leave you truly relaxed and rejuvinated for all your adventures in Bhutan

On day 1, we suggest dining at Namhkha, the hotel’s signature restaurant that offers an array of Bhutanese and continental dishes.

Beautiful rooms with panoramic views at Six Senses Thimphu
Beautiful rooms with panoramic views at Six Senses Thimphu
six senses bhutan lodge thimphu balcony view
Morning coffee views like these – YES Please 🙂
A Dotsho bath is a MUST


Day 2 : Explore Thimphu

Set aside Day 2 for exploring Thimphu Valley including Buddha Point, Memorial Chorten & its local markets

After breakfast, depart for Changangkha Temple, a sacred pilgrimage site overlooking Thimphu Valley. From here drive towards the iconic 52-meter-tall Buddha Dordenma. This is one of the highlights of the perfect trip to Bhutan. Once you have taken in the sheer size of the Buddha, step inside and discover the 125,000 smaller Buddhas inside (photography is not permitted inside).

Afterwards join Thimphu residents as they pray at the Memorial Chorten. Take in the hustle bustle of Thimphu and if you’re not tired, try visiting the Folk Heritage Museum, Zorig Chusom, (The National Institute for 13 Arts & Crafts) and the National Textile Museum. You can also visit a local paper making or incense making workshop.

Alternatively you’re in the mood for a hike, request your hotel to arrange one to Talakha Goemba situated on a ridge at 3,050 m. Rarely visited, this monastery boasts some of the best views of Thimphu Valley. This hike takes approximately 2 hours but is well worth it. On the way down stop at Lungsigang, a charming picnic spot for late afternoon tea and some energy boosting Bhutanese sweets and snacks.

Buddhe Dordenma Statue – it’s massive!!
Spend a leisurely afternoon at Memorial Chorten talking to the friendly locals
Time for an afternoon dip in the hotel’s heated pool overlooking the buddha statue
And if you’re lucky, you’ll wake up to snow covered forests 🙂

Day 3: Drive to Punakha via Dochula Pass

After breakfast in Thimphu, begin your 2.5 hour journey towards Punakha. But make sure you stop en-route at Dochula Pass. On clear days, this pass offers stunning views of the Himalayan range. Take your time admiring the 108 chortens and walk around.

We planned our visit in a way that would allow us to experience one of Bhutan’s most iconic festivals at Dochula Pass – Druk Wangyul gave us the perfect opportunity to experience the rich colors and traditions of Bhutan. This festival, is held in honor of Bhutan’s fourth king. Apart from the traditional singing and dancing which takes place here, one of the most outstanding features of this special occasion is the scenic beauty of the panoramic Himalayan range which acts as a backdrop for the colourful costumes displayed at the festival.

Gradually the landscape changes to a lush and subtropical valley with charming farmhouses and terraced rice fields. Stop as you enter the valley for a stroll across the rice paddies to Chimi Lhakhang, a fertility temple, to learn about Drukpa Kinley, the revered ‘Divine Madman’. The adjacent village has some surprisingly graphic phallic paintings to honor the saint on its homes and shops – a truly unique pitstop!

Check in at Six Senses Punakha’s also known as ‘Flying Farmhouse’, as it is home to a unique floating wooden structure that serves as the lodge lounge and reception and offers gorgeous views over the pool and surrounded rice fields. Each of the spacious rooms offer incredible views of the valley and an open-plan living situation with floor to ceiling windows that makes one feel at one with nature.

Enjoy the views and if you’re in the mood for a bit of exercise in the evening we suggest a hike alongside the river climbing up to Khamsum Yulley Namgyel Chorten, a temple built by the Queen Mother to bring peace to the world. Just a short drive from Punakha Dzong, it takes about 50 minutes to climb from the road through beautiful, terraced rice paddies to reach the chorten which was completed in 1999 after eight years of construction. The visitor is rewarded with stunning views of the valley below just as the sun begins to set.

Soak in the colour and culture of Bhutan at one of the local festivals
108 chortens at Dochula pass in Bhutan
Gorgeous panoramas at Dochula Pass – a must visit from Thimphu
Spacious suites at Six Senses Punakha
Can you see why it’s called the Flying Farmhouse 🙂


Day 4: Visiting Monasteries and Pomegranate Martinis by the river

Wake up early for yet another highlight of this amazing trip to Bhutan! Visit a local monastery, that has been adopted by Six Senses, to join the cutest young monks for a traditional monastic breakfast. Afterwards, spend some time learning more about their lifestyle and sharing a simple breakfast with them.

In the afternoon, cross the country’s longest suspension bridge on foot before visiting the gorgeous Punakha Dzong, one of Bhutan’s most impressive landmarks. Located at the confluence of two rivers, Punakha Dzong is six stories high. Take your time to explore this architectural wonder with gorgeous courtyards, murals, and its prayer rooms. Make sure you take lots of photographs as this is a place you’ll want to remember.

Afterwards, experience something truly luxurious if you are staying at Six Senses Punakha! You can catch the sun set over Punakha Dzong as you sip on pomegranate martinis,experience and enjoy light snacks in a rice field with a rushing river as your backdrop. We would highly recommend booking the Pomegranate Martini experience if you are celebrating a special ocassion or planning to propose. It provides the perfect backdrop!

Breakfast spot for today 🙂
So much fun was had spending the morning with these munchkins
Punakha Dzong in Bhutan
Look at that!! One of our favourite experiences in Bhutan

Day 5: Drive from Punakha to Paro

Finally it’s time to leave Punakha. Paro is a 4 hour drive away. Enroute, you can stop at Rinpung Dzong and The Paro National Museum which displays a fascinating collection of Bhutanese relics. Make sure you walk along the busy streets of the town to explore the local handicraft scene or visit the colorful fresh market. You can also visit one of the colourful karaoke bars for a spot of fun!

From the town it’s a 20-minute drive up a high mountain road past stunning views of the valley below to the lodge. Six Senses Paro is situated at an elevation of 9,415 ft (2,870 m.) and offers amazing views of the surrounding area! We suggest spending a relaxing evening at the hotel trying local Bhutanese costumes (a kira and a gho) and trying your hand at archery, Bhutan’s national sport. This is great fun

Have a relaxed dinner at the hotel’s cosy and scenic restaurant Jangkho. The food here in absolutely scrumptious – don’t forget to try local specialities like momos and Ema Datshi, a hearty Bhutanese curry with chillies. You can also take a momo making class here at the restaurant if you’re interested!

🙂 We HAD to do this – a ton of fun
View from our room at Six Senses Paro
Dinner is served!! with a side of the most gorgeous views of Paro valley 🙂

Day 6: The iconic Tiger’s Nest Hike

Set out early this morning on a challenging full day hike to Taktsang Goemba, more famously knowns as Tiger’s Nest. The hike begins at the base camp in a forested ridge and you will have to climb to an elevation of 2,950 meters. One of the most significant cultural icons of the Kingdom, the highly revered monastery was built on a sheer cliff face above Paro and is visible from the valley floor. During cooler weather clouds can shroud the monastery, highlighting its sanctity and remoteness.

Your guide will share stories of the monastery’s history along the way. Pine forests decorated with moss and prayer flags surround you as you make your way along the paths of this sacred trail. Hang prayer flags and wish upon the wind. The hike is fairly challenging and takes approximately 4-5 hours. But it is well worth the effort

If you’re not tired, visit Kyichu Lhakang, a 7th century sanctuary located nearby and one of the oldest religious structures in the Kingdom. An absolute gem for history buffs and architecture enthusiasts alike, it is said to have two magical orange trees that bear fruit throughout the year.

As you return to the hotel after the hike, make sure you relax by heading to the sauna or booking yourself another hot-stone massage to make the aches and pains go away.

You’ll be greeted to these panoramas on your hiike to Tiger’s Nest
Finally made it – it’s quite a strenuous hike, but TOTALLY worth it


Day 7: Cultural activities and blessings

Spend your last day in Bhutan learning how to make the Prayer Flags that you’ve seen everywhere in the country! You can book this experience directly at your hotel. Drive to the home of a local family that has been making prayer flags by hand for generations. Learn the secrets of their craft and make your own prayer flags before a hearty lunch of local favorites.

Wrap up your trip with a Butter Lamp Blessing. We visited the tiny 16th century Samtenling Monastery, just a ten-minute walk from our hotel. Here there are no tourists – we lit 108 butter lamps, believed to dispel darkness in the Universe, and this was followed by a blessing led by the resident monks. It was a uniquely spiritual end to our trip in Bhutan

SO peaceful 🙂

This is the perfect itinerary for a week-long trip in Bhutan. However if you have a few more days, we also suggest adding Gangtey and Bumthang to your itinerary of Bhutan as well. If you have any questions regarding Bhutan, leave them below and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible 🙂

So long Bhutan! we’ll definitely be back 🙂


The post The Ultimate Guide To Planning a trip to Bhutan appeared first on Bruised Passports.

]]> 6
Planning the perfect city break to Almaty, Kazakhstan in 5 minutes Mon, 22 Jan 2024 07:46:30 +0000 Almaty in Kazakhstan is a truly unique city – a bustling urban metropolis surrounded by the most gorgeous mountains on...

The post Planning the perfect city break to Almaty, Kazakhstan in 5 minutes appeared first on Bruised Passports.

Almaty in Kazakhstan is a truly unique city – a bustling urban metropolis surrounded by the most gorgeous mountains on all sides. It’s intense scenic beauty, coupled with the fact that Kazakhstan offers visa-free entry to Indians, makes it ideal for the perfect city break. Here is everything you need to know for planning a trip to Almaty. With a backdrop of the Trans-Ili Alatau mountains, Almaty offers a diverse array of activities for all kinds of travellers – whether you are seeking adventure, cultural exploration, or relaxation.

girl at big almaty lake in kazakhstan
Beautiful landscapes just 30 minutes from Almaty

Flying to Almaty, Kazakhstan

Air Astana (and its budget arm FlyArystan) link Almaty to most major cities in the world. Direct return flights from New Delhi to Almaty start at approximately INR 20,000 per person. It takes 3 hours to fly from New Delhi to Almaty, making it ideal for a short break. Immigration is seamless upon arrival. We carried print outs of our flight and hotel bookings but we were only asked for our boarding passes by the immigration officer. However we would still recommend having these on you, should the need arise. You can compare fares and book here.

direct flight between Delhi and Almaty Kazakhstan
Super convenient flights from New Delhi to Almaty

Things to keep in mind upon arriving in Almaty – Visa, Currency, Transport

Kazakhstan is visa free for Indian travellers (December 2023) but it’s always best to check the latest visa requirements before your travels as these rules keep changing.

The local currency is KZT (Kazakhstani Tenge) – 1 INR = 5.4 KZT and 1 USD = 450 KZT ( December 23). Cards are accepted widely but we always recommend carrying small currency notes to begin with. You can withdraw some local currency at the airport.

Make sure you download the Yandex Go App on your phone. Uber doesn’t work in Kazakhstan. However local cabs are extremely cheap and plentiful. Use it to request taxis, no matter where you are, even at the airport.

Also make sure you download Google Translate or any other translation app of your choice as English is not very widely spoken or understood.

Upon reaching Almaty, we recommend buying a SIM card from the airport so your apps work seamlessly. There are 2 options at the airport – Beeline and Tele2. You can choose either. One sim with 10 GB data costs INR 900 ($11). Best to pick this up from the airport itself so you can easily order Yandex taxi for your transfer to your hotel.

Best time to visit Almaty, Kazakhstan

There is no bad time to visit Almaty – it is a gorgeous city. However the two best periods to visit are during peak summer (August-September) as the lakes are absolutely blue in colour during that time of the year and then during winter months (December-January) in case you want to enjoy snowfall and winter sports. 4 days are sufficient for Almaty and its surroundings.  Do beware that this is one of the coldest cities in the world, so make sure you pack well for your winter trip to Almaty. You can read our guide to packing for extreme winter here.

Where to stay in Almaty

It is easy to base yourself in Almaty and plan day trips to several scenic places in Kazakhstan. For this reason we ended up staying in Almaty during our entire time in Kazakhstan. We chose to stay at the Ritz Carlton in Almaty and truly cannot recommend it highly enough. To be honest, we chose the hotel because it offers incredible views of the city of Almaty. But upon getting there and staying there for the better part of a week, we realised it is truly the best hotel in the city.

Staff is friendly. Rooms are spacious and tech-savvy. But even so, they are packed with the old world charm Ritz is famous for! Everything from the tea cups and toiletries to the wardrobes and bathrobes is carefully curated. We chose a mountain view room and we would highly-recommend you do the same! Look at the view we woke up to each day. We miss it dearly 🙂

Another thing that the hotel is famous for is its breakfast buffet! And we can safely say it lives up to the hype! The spread is high-quality and expansive. You will find everything from continental staples to Kazakh sweets and breakfast dishes. But the best part is that you can devour these delicacies with a view to match. There are plenty of hotels depending on different budgets and locations.

Beautiful view of the city and the mountains from our room
Scrumptious breakfast with a splendid view

Things To Do in Almaty

There are lots of things to do in Almaty. But here are some you must check out on your city break in Almaty, Kazakhstan

  1. Kok Tobe A visit to Kok Tobe, meaning “Green Hill,” is a must for panoramic views of the city and surrounding mountains. Reachable by a scenic cable car ride, this hill hosts the iconic 372-meter-tall television tower. At the summit, the Kok Tobe Park provides a leisurely escape with a mini zoo, souvenir shops, and the famous “LOVE” sculpture. The observation deck a nice 360-degree view of Almaty, making it a perfect spot for photos.
  2. Try the food – Kazakh food provides a unique mix of Asian and Russian influences. You must try Kazakh sweets and traditional dishes like Besbarmak (boiled meat and thin squares of homemade noodles similar to lasagne sheets), manti (steamed dumplings stuffed with minced meat), local cheeses such as Irimshik and Kurt (dried balls of sour milk with salt). Navat in Almaty is a nice restaurant chain to sample these foods!
  3. Zenkov’s Cathedral Zenkov’s Cathedral, also known as the Ascension Cathedral, stands as a remarkable example of wooden architecture. Built entirely without nails in 1907, this Russian Orthodox cathedral is a symbol of cultural heritage. Set within Panfilov Park, its vibrant exterior and intricate detailing make it a picturesque landmark. Visitors can explore the interior adorned with frescoes, gaining insight into the city’s historical and religious roots.
  4. Arasan Baths Nestled in the heart of Almaty, the Arasan Baths provide a rejuvenating retreat. Dating back over 50 years, these Turkish-style baths offer saunas, steam rooms, and therapeutic massages. The mineral-rich waters provide a soothing experience, allowing visitors to unwind after a day of exploration. The Arasan Baths offer a glimpse into Almaty’s historical bathing culture, providing a tranquil oasis in the midst of the bustling city.
  5. Central State Museum If you want to learn more about Kazakhstan’s rich history and cultural heritage then visit the Central State Museum. Located in a grand building, the museum showcases artifacts, exhibitions, and displays that trace the country’s journey through time. From ancient artifacts to modern art, the museum provides a comprehensive overview of Kazakhstan’s diverse cultural tapestry.
  6. Green Bazaar Immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of the Green Bazaar, a bustling market where locals gather to sell fresh produce, spices, and traditional Kazakh goods. This sensory-rich experience allows visitors to taste local delicacies, shop for souvenirs, and interact with the friendly vendors, providing a glimpse into daily life in Almaty. This is also the perfect place to buy famous Kazakhi dried fruits.
  7. Almaty Botanical Garden: Nature in the City Escape the urban hustle by exploring the Almaty Botanical Garden. Situated at the base of the mountains, this peaceful oasis showcases a diverse collection of plants, flowers, and trees. The garden provides a tranquil environment for leisurely strolls, picnics, and nature appreciation.
Zenkov’s cathedral on a cold foggy day
Enjoy the cable car ride at Kok Tobe and Shymbulak
Navat restaurant in Almaty
We frequented Navat restaurant – the ambience and food was super

Day Trips from Almaty, Kazakhstan

  1. Shymbulak Ski Resort For those of you who visit Almaty during winter months, this is a must-do half day trip. You can take a Yandex cab to the Shymbulak Ski Resort, which is a haven for skiing and snowboarding enthusiasts. Upon getting there, take an all-inclusive Gondola Ticket that take you right to the top station (around KZT 5000 for return trip). Located in the Zailiyskiy Alatau mountain range, Shymbulak offers a range of slopes for all skill levels. The picturesque surroundings and the crisp mountain air create a winter wonderland that is perfect for both adventure and relaxation.
  2. Big Almaty Lake Approximately 28 kilometers south of Almaty lies the breathtaking Big Almaty Lake, a turquoise gem nestled in a glacial valley at an altitude of 2,511 meters. The lake’s vibrant colour, framed by rocky slopes and snow-capped peaks, creates a mesmerising sight. The pristine beauty of Big Almaty Lake makes it a perfect destination for nature lovers and photographers alike. You can hike to the lake during summer time and drive to the lake during winter when it is frozen. It’s advisable to check with your hotel concierge whether the lake is open or not.
  3. Kaindy Lake If you are in Almaty for longer than 4 days, then you must plan a day trip to Kaindy Lake, a natural wonder located about 130 kilometers east of Almaty. Often referred to as the “Sunken Forest,” Kaindy Lake was formed after an earthquake triggered a landslide, creating a natural dam. The resulting lake submerged a spruce forest, leaving ghostly tree trunks rising from the turquoise waters. Visitors can explore the lake’s shores, go hiking in the surrounding mountains, or take a boat ride to fully appreciate the surreal beauty of this unique destination. You can combine it with a visit to Kolsai Lake and Charyn Canyon if you don’t mind a packed trip!
  4. Kolsai Lake & Charyn Canyon Situated in the northern Tien Shan mountains, Kolsai Lake is a series of three stunning alpine lakes, each more captivating than the last. Surrounded by coniferous forests and snow-capped peaks, the lakes offer a peaceful escape from the urban bustle. The first lake is easily accessible by car, while the second and third lakes require a moderate hike. The crystal-clear waters of Kolsai Lakes are perfect for photography, hiking, or just enjoying the charms of nature. Charyn Canyon, often referred to as Kazakhstan’s Grand Canyon, captivates with its dramatic red rock formations.
    Shymbulak is a MUST when you are in Almaty

    man at big almaty lake in Kazakhstan
    Big Almaty Lake in winters – we hear it’s even prettier in autumn

And that is it – the perfect guide to planning a trip to Almaty in Kazakhstan. Let us know if you have any questions or comments. We’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

The post Planning the perfect city break to Almaty, Kazakhstan in 5 minutes appeared first on Bruised Passports.

]]> 2
Exploring the surreal Arctic North on Ponant’s L’Austral Sun, 06 Aug 2023 09:49:24 +0000 It is not often travellers get to experience unparalleled luxury in remote panoramas. To us, that unique combination is something...

The post Exploring the surreal Arctic North on Ponant’s L’Austral appeared first on Bruised Passports.

It is not often travellers get to experience unparalleled luxury in remote panoramas. To us, that unique combination is something French luxury brand Ponant has mastered over the years. Where else will you find haute cuisine and menus designed by Michelin-starred chefs serves in remote wilderness with sightings of Polar Bears, penguin colonies, or whales, and icebergs.

We’ve been on several voyages on Ponant vessels, including an unforgettable voyage to Antarctica, but today we wanted to talk about another memorable and educational voyage – to the Arctic North. Ponant offers various itineraries in the Arctic North that go to Svalbard Islands, a Norwegian archipelago in the Arctic Ocean; Greeland; and the Thule region in Canada (more on that below)

Polar Bears in Svalbard


L’Austral itineraries visit Longyearbyen, one of the Northernmost settlements in the world


Packing for an Arctic Voyage

It’s a truly tricky to pack for an Arctic Voyage because you need to pack everything from thermal leggings and tops to black-tie outfits and medicines. Fortunately for you, we have a detailed packing list for winter cruises right here – treat it as a checklist and it will make sure you are absolutely well prepared for your voyage 🙂

Just in case you forget something, there is a small shop onboard with clothing items and accessories. However we would recommend double-checking your packing before departing on your Arctic voyage -, especially medicines, toiletries, and tech equipment.

Packing well is important for this cruise – read our detailed list before you pack!


Ponant’s L’Austral – Rooms, Dining, and layout

Embarking on a cruise aboard Ponant’s ship L’Austral promises an unparalleled experience of luxury, sophistication, and world-class amenities. Think of it as a journey that redefines modern cruising.

Dining options on L’Austral: A Gastronomic Adventure at Sea

Dining is truly the highlight of Ponant voyages and L’Austral takes dining to new heights with its exceptional culinary offerings. The ship boasts multiple dining venues, each promising a unique gastronomic journey. The main restaurant usually has a buffet style setting, with menus that change each day – expect everything from gourmet French delicacies to pizzas and a large salad bar.

Dinner is usually a more intimate and exclusive experience as L’Austral has a specialty restaurant that offers sit-down dinners with carefully curated menus. Expect premium ingredients and exquisite presentation and truly exception wine lists.

But that’s not all. The main lounge offers live entertainment, cocktails, and panoramic views, making it an ideal space to unwind after a day of exploration. The outdoor bar, situated on deck, offers refreshing drinks, allowing guests to savour panoramas while socialising with fellow travellers. My favourite part is the view from the swimming pool, next the bar, on L’Austral. Elegance and sophistication are the two words we would use to sum up the dining opportunities on board!


Expect gourmet meals cooked with the finest ingredients on Ponant’s L’Austral


Outdoor snacks with views to match in Svalbard

Rooms on L’Austral

The staterooms and suites on L’Austral exemplify luxury and comfort – think plush furnishings, neutral colour palettes, bedside lights and luxurious yet refillable Diptyque toiletries, refillable glass water bottles that ensure a restful and responsible holiday. Beds are comfortable and we slept like babies most days at sea. Most cabins are equipped with balconies (a must for this part of the world!). And offer butler service to all guests – room service is free, 24 hours a day. The room service menu has a range of salads and comfort food such as burgers and sandwiches, which can be delivered to your cabin free of charge, anytime of the day.A true luxury at sea!

But if you want even more space, the suites offer additional space by way of a living area and storage. These are ideal if you’re travelling with family or for a special occasion such as a honeymoon.


Stateroom with balcony on Ponant L’Austral


Spa & gym facilities on L’Austral

You can spend all your time staring at panoramas, but you must take out some time to exercise to those views at the gym. And if you’re in no mood to exercise on holiday, then do book yourself a relaxing treatment at the onboard spa on L’Austral. From rejuvenating massages to invigorating Sothys facials to Kerastase hair treatments, the spa’s skilled therapists pamper guests with personalised therapies. Nothing comes close to the unique combination of soothing aromas, and ocean views – the ideal environment for unwinding and recharging.


What to expect from Svalbard and the Arctic North

Ponant offers several itineraries, ranging from 1 week to 3 weeks in the Arctic North. These go to some stunning places such as the Northernmost town in the world, the remote villages of Greenland and Canada’s Arctic North. However if you are short on time, there is one we would highly recommend, it is the one week itinerary to Svalbard that offers all the highlights of the Arctic North in just a week!

As most of these areas are well and truly remote and the weather unpredictable, it is hard to know what exactly to expect on a day. However here are some highlights visitors can expect

  • Polar Bears: Whichever itinerary you pick you are bound to have polar bear sightings in the Arctic North. Let me tell you – there is truly nothing that comes close to observing these amazing creatures in their natural habitat
  • Northern Lights: If you choose a winter voyage, then you will be able to see the incredible Aurora Borealis, not just on the ports but from your ship too. Goosebumps are bound to follow
  • Sailing and kayaking between ice floes and icebergs in remote areas is truly an experience like no other. The fjords are so beautiful that it almost seems like you are in a picture postcard or a film!
  • You will experience what life looks like in some of the northernmost villages in the world
  • From Beluga Whales and Orcas to Seals and Humpback Whales, you can expect some amazing sightings each day – it was this that left us completely awestruck!
  • From puffins to sea gulls to skuas, you will see dozens of gorgeous birds in Svalbard and the Arctic North


I hope this gave you a great idea of what to expect on Ponant’s L’Austral. This voyage was truly one that we won’t forget in a lifetime. If you’re looking for unparalleled luxury in some of the most remote areas of the world, this voyage is the one for you!

Want to book an Arctic Expedition on Ponant? We have a lot of unmissable offers right now – do check them out before booking your trip

Wild birds on ice sculptures in Svalbard

Imagine seeing the Northern Lights from Ponant’s L’Austral during winter time


The post Exploring the surreal Arctic North on Ponant’s L’Austral appeared first on Bruised Passports.

]]> 0
Going Offbeat: Planning a city break to Minsk, Belarus Fri, 04 Aug 2023 07:31:32 +0000 Aah Minsk, the vibrant capital of Belarus! Nestled at the crossroads of Eastern Europe, Minsk seamlessly blends history, culture, and...

The post Going Offbeat: Planning a city break to Minsk, Belarus appeared first on Bruised Passports.

Aah Minsk, the vibrant capital of Belarus! Nestled at the crossroads of Eastern Europe, Minsk seamlessly blends history, culture, and modernity – think historical monuments with hipster cafés and street art. Discover a city where Soviet-era architecture coexists with contemporary landmarks, offering a unique and intriguing atmosphere.

To be honest, our short trip to Minsk was a result of a late night watching Friends, the episode where Phoebe’s scientist boyfriend David jets off to Minsk! Friends fans will surely remember that! But we had a nice break exploring its parks, museums, and quaint markets. And savouring the rich flavours of Belarusian cuisine. From its historic sites to its vibrant nightlife, Minsk was a unique city-break into a lesser-explored corner of Europe for us.


Minsk, Belarus in winter time

Getting Around In Minsk

What is the best way to get around? The metro! Minsk has one of the most affordable metros in the world – it costs just €0.25 for a single journey. If you are lazy about taking the Metro, then taxis are pretty affordable too. For instance a 5 kilometre journey costs around €3



Staying in Minsk

Hotels in Minsk are extremely affordable and well-equipped. You can find hotels to suit most budgets, but we recommend choosing something central, especially if you’re in Minsk for a short time. Hampton by Hilton City Centre is a great option as is Double Tree By Hilton   as they are perfectly located, well-equipped, and mostly importantly safe.


Things to see and do in Minsk

1) Metro Stations

Minsk’s Metro Stations are like art galleries and will remind you of the ones in Tashkent. Some of the most unique metro stations to visit are Ploshcha Lyenina, with a massive statue of sickle and hammer, Kastrychnitskaya, and Ploshcha Yakuba Kolasa. However do beware that photography is not allowed at Metro Stations and policemen are allowed to confiscate cameras.

2) Old Town

Unlike most European cities, Minsk doesn’t have a huge Old Town. There is, however, a small part of the city that serves as Minsk Old Town. It’s located between the Republic Palace and Svislach river. You can find here the town hall as well as a few old churches and museums. The area is alive until late hours, especially in the summertime.The Old Town might be tiny but it is really charming. You must go for a gander – you’ll find cobblestone streets with quaint cafes, artisan boutiques, and hidden courtyards.

3) Trinity Suburb

Few steps further, across the river, you can find the Trinity Suburb with pretty pastel houses and cobbled streets. This historic district has colourful facades, cobbled streets, and a vibrant cultural life. You can expect street performances, art galleries, and traditional crafts, to regale visitors. You MUST stop at one of our personal favourite places, which is a little photography spot with the river and trinity suburb in the backdrop.


You must stop at this beautiful photo spot overlooking Trinity Suburb


4) All Saints Church

Definitely the most beautiful Orthodox church in Minsk and a must visit for all tourists

5) The Parks of Minsk

Minsk’s parks, especially Gorky Park and the Loshitsa estate and park, are some of the most beautiful places in Minsk, especially in the snow. This makes them very popular for wedding photographers.

Even during summer, they offer a serene escape in the heart of the city. Gorky Park, a cherished oasis, boasts vast green spaces, pedal boats on serene ponds, and recreational activities. The Loshitsa estate enchants with its 18th-century charm, featuring landscaped gardens, a palace, and a serene lake. These parks are Minsk’s lungs, providing a breath of fresh air for locals and visitors alike.

6) Traktorozavodskoy or Zavodskoy District

Unlike other glamorous Minsk districts, Traktorozavodskoy District in Minsk is a former industrial hub, which has transformed into a vibrant neighbourhood with a distinct character. Its streets are lined with a mix of Soviet-era architecture and contemporary buildings, reflecting the city’s evolution and urban diversity. This industrial heart of the city bears the marks of its past while embracing a contemporary spirit. Here you can expect to find bustling markets, local eateries, and creative spaces. Iconic landmarks like the Victory Square and the Great Patriotic War Museum stand as tributes to history. If you’re a curious and inquisitive traveller, then do visit this corner of Minsk

7. Oktyabrskaya street

If you’re looking for a place to take colourful photos or enjoy places like Shoreditch in London, or perhaps you enjoy stunning street art and want see the largest graffiti in the world, then do visit Oktyabrskaya street! It’s particularly popular with youngsters, hipsters and creative locals in Minsk.

Oktyabrskaya Street, named after the October Revolution of 1917, is somewhat of a historical and cultural artery, lined with a mix of architectural styles that reflect Minsk’s journey through time. The street is punctuated by various landmarks, institutions, and points of interest. These include theatres, iconic Soviet-era apartment buildings, shopping centres, and government buildings. Oktyabrskaya Street plays a vital role in Minsk’s urban life as this is where a number of events, parades, and gatherings are hosted.

8. Try local food

If you’re after local fare, you must try hearty and comforting dishes like Draniki (potato pancakes) and Machanka (pork stew) are staples, for a taste of authentic Belarusian food. Don’t miss trying traditional dairy products like syrniki (cottage cheese pancakes) and exploring local markets for fresh produce, bread, and artisanal treats that embody Minsk’s culinary diversity.

Union coffee, Coffeevarium, and Milano Café are cute cafés, that have decent breakfast and coffee. If you’re after a uniquely Soviet experience, that also makes for great photos check out Centralny Univiersam Snack Bar at Independence Avenue. The food isn’t the main reason why you should stop here – it’s the interior that makes the place unmissable.Think chandeliers and marble columns – it’s a fast food bar but looks amazing. Try their legendary Coffee Oskar which is coffee, cognac, and egg white.

If you want to try local food at affordable prices, the best place is a stolovaya – a sort of diner/canteen where all the food is already prepared and you can pick what you would like to eat.There are many in Minsk but one of the most popular ones that came recommended by locals is Lido. It is a chain restaurant, but if you’re in Minsk for a short time, you will probably find it easiest to go the one next to the Ploshcha Yakuba Kolasa metro station or Nyamiha metro station. It is also one of the few that have menus in English as well. If you’re after some draniki – Belarusian potato pancakes, then Grunwald Café is a great place! You can try ones with sour cream and meat as well!


Quaint markets of Minsk are a delight, especially during winter time


That’s it – everything you need to plan a short city break in Minsk. Minsk is a unique and quirky little city, offering a mix of that European vibe along with remnants of its Soviet past. Let us know if you do make it there too 🙂

The post Going Offbeat: Planning a city break to Minsk, Belarus appeared first on Bruised Passports.

]]> 5
Michelin Star Restaurants that are worth the hype! Thu, 03 Aug 2023 10:30:59 +0000 I love educating myself about new flavours and new cuisines. But that’s not all – fine dining for me is...

The post Michelin Star Restaurants that are worth the hype! appeared first on Bruised Passports.

I love educating myself about new flavours and new cuisines. But that’s not all – fine dining for me is often more than just the food. I love dressing up for a special occasion, lingering over a meal with my loved ones, and pushing the boundaries of my taste buds and expanding my knowledge. And I’m grateful our travels allow us to do just that!

Ever since we started travelling, we’ve been fond of experiencing new cultures and places through local dishes, fine dining, hole-in-the-wall eateries and scenic restaurants. In the process, we’ve been to our fair share of amazing and also supremely-disappointing Michelin star restaurants.

So we thought we would maintain a list of Michelin-starred  from across the world that are truly worth the hype. If you’re spending your hard-earned money on a meal, it better be worth it right? We’ll keep updating this list as we keep discovering new restaurants.

1. Shang Palace at Shangri-La Paris/Hong Kong

Shang Palace is an iconic Cantonese restaurant that is the signature of Shangri-La hotels worldwide and it truly lives up to the hype! If you enjoy Chinese food and flavours, then this one is for you.

This is one of the few restaurants where you could practically order anything off the menu – from the dumplings to the Cantonese roast duck – and be assured of food bursting with flavour. If it is your first time there, we suggest opting for the Tasting Menu with a variety of courses curated by the chef. If you are not too hungry or you have firm favourites, go for the à la carte menu

Shang Palace is a must visit if you stay at ShangriLa Hotels, especially in Hong Kong or Paris


No shortage of memorable meals in Hong Kong 🙂


2. Cibo, Dijon, France

It’s not often that you find a restaurant that is worth 1.5 hours commute. This Michelin-starred eatery in Dijon is 1.5 hours away from Paris and many people make the trek just to taste chef Angelo Ferrigno’s exquisite food. We’ve talked about why you should make that trip to Burgundy from Paris – spoiler! Mostly for the culinary delights and the wine 🙂

Cibo is very different from most Michelin-star restaurants as it has a very minimalist, almost Scandinavian vibe about it. There is no strict dress-code and most guests dress rather simply for the meal. Perhaps this is because the food here is the star of the show.  The 15 course degustation menu is rolled out over 3 hours, so expect a languorous evening laden with food that looks like art, and tastes even better!

The food displays a fresh take on molecular gastronomy and is bound to make guests fall in love with French ingredients. But even the accompaniments – everything from the breads to the petit fours – are baked to perfection! The wine list here is commendable too which is only to be expected as this is the heartland of Burgundy, where some of the finest French wines are produced! Highly recommend!

Le Cibo michellin star restaurant Dijon France
Would happily go back for a meal at Cibo <3


3. Tim Ho Wan, Hong Kong

This list would be incomplete without one of the most affordable Michelin star restaurants that now has branches sprouting all over the world! Tim Ho Wan might not be the finest meal you will eat but it is definitely worth a visit.

Go early as it tends to get crowded as the day progresses – opt for their signature BBQ pork buns and an assortment of nibbles such as dumplings and ribs. Tim Ho Wan also have a vegetarian version of their popular dumplings on the menu. This is often the first Michelin-star eatery for many people and it is easy to see why

Sunset Hong Kong from Victoria Peak
Hong Kong has an incredible culinary scene!


Do you love incredible food on your travels too? You must read 5 best restaurants in Dijon if you 🙂

The post Michelin Star Restaurants that are worth the hype! appeared first on Bruised Passports.

]]> 0
A memorable day road trip in Turkey : Istanbul & driving along the Aegean coast Tue, 01 Aug 2023 14:13:09 +0000 A road trip in Turkey is truly the stuff of dreams. The best part about planning a short road trip...

The post A memorable day road trip in Turkey : Istanbul & driving along the Aegean coast appeared first on Bruised Passports.

A road trip in Turkey is truly the stuff of dreams. The best part about planning a short road trip in Turkey is that you can get everything from mouth-watering food and amazing beaches to ancient historical sites and bustling cities, all in one road trip! This itinerary will take you from Istanbul to Izmir to Pamukkale to Sirince to Bodrum to Antalya – it can easily be covered in 7-10 days but if you have longer, there are endless places where you can spend a week or two travelling slowly and enjoying that Turkish beach life.

A road trip along the Aegean Coast of Turkey is a wonderful way to explore the stunning landscapes, historical sites, and delicious cuisine of the region. Here’s a suggested itinerary for your road trip, including information about the best things to eat and the most beautiful beaches:

We hope you’ll find everything you need to plan a road trip in Turkey in this article. If you have any questions leave them below and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can


Our suggested itinerary for a road trip in Turkey – read on for details


Flying into Istanbul and renting a car

No matter where you’re coming from, chances are you will fly straight into the busy capital of Turkey. You can easily compare prices here and rent a car in Turkey here. If you’re planning to spend a few days in Istanbul, then we would recommend renting the car on the day you’re supposed to leave Istanbul. This is because of 2 reasons – firstly, Istanbul is quite crowded and driving can be a hassle! Secondly, public transport is quite good in Istanbul. So a car isn’t necessary to explore the city.


MSC Preziosa review ports
The Roman Ruins of Ephesus in Turkey

Days 1: Check into your hotel in Istanbul

Like any other big city, it is easy to spend weeks exploring Istanbul. But if you’re on a schedule, then we would recommend spending at least 2 days in Istanbul. Istanbul is a vibrant and historical city that straddles two continents. This makes it a captivating destination for travellers. There are endless hotels for all budgets in Istanbul but since your road trip in the Turkish countryside will feature many modest and extremely-affordable hotels, we would recommend splurging on a luxurious hotel when you’re in Istanbul.

If you love amazing views or you’re celebrating a special occasion, then we would recommend Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at Sultanahmet. Located steps away from Istanbul’s most famous landmarks, the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque, the Four Seasons Hotel at Sultanahmet boasts stunning panoramic views of these architectural wonders. It also has a gorgeous rooftop bar, which offers amazing views of the city. If you want next-level opulence, consider Ciragan Palace Kempinski Istanbul, a luxurious hotel housed within a restored Ottoman palace on the shores of the Bosphorus. The hotel’s rooms offer great views of the waterway and the Asian shore. Finally, if you want a truly centrally-located hotel, close to everything, then InterContinental Istanbul, located in Taksim Square, is also a great option.


Days 2-3 Explore Istanbul

Istanbul is a city with an extremely rich history and an abundance of iconic landmarks. We suggest exploring at least some of these places in your 48 hours in Istanbul

  • Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmed Mosque): Start your day early with a visit to the Blue Mosque, one of Istanbul’s most famous landmarks. Admire its stunning blue tiles, impressive domes, and six towering minarets. Arrive early to avoid the crowds and to experience a sense of tranquility in this beautiful architectural marvel – this is usually the first stop for most visitors in Istanbul
  • Hagia Sophia: Right across from the Blue Mosque is the Hagia Sophia, a former cathedral and mosque that now serves as a museum. Marvel at its massive dome and intricate mosaics, which represent the blending of Christian and Islamic art.
  • Basilica Cistern: Just a short walk from the Hagia Sophia, visit the Basilica Cistern, an underground reservoir that once supplied water to the city. Explore the eerie atmosphere and admire the rows of ancient columns and the famous Medusa heads.
  • Topkapi Palace: Head to the Topkapi Palace, the former residence of Ottoman sultans. Explore the opulent rooms, lush gardens, and impressive collections of artefacts, including treasures, jewellery, and weapons.
  • Lunch at a Local Eatery: Enjoy a delicious Turkish lunch at a local eatery. Try traditional dishes like kebabs, mezzes (appetisers), or a hearty bowl of Turkish lentil soup.
  • Grand Bazaar: After lunch, make your way to the Grand Bazaar, one of the world’s oldest and largest covered markets. Get lost in its labyrinthine alleys filled with shops selling everything from spices and textiles to jewellery and souvenirs. Make sure you bargain with the friendly shopkeepers to get the best deals.
  • Spice Bazaar (Egyptian Bazaar): Located near the Galata Bridge, the Spice Bazaar is a sensory delight with its aromatic spices, dried fruits, nuts, and Turkish delight. Stock up on some unique flavours to take home.
  • Bosphorus Cruise: Treat yourself to a relaxing Bosphorus cruise. This boat tour allows you to see Istanbul from a different perspective, sailing between Europe and Asia and passing by picturesque waterfront mansions, palaces, and historic sites.
  • Galata Tower: If you don’t mind a bit of exercise, climb to the top of the Galata Tower to enjoy breathtaking panoramic views of the city, especially at sunset. This medieval stone tower offers a perfect vantage point to witness the golden hues cast over Istanbul’s skyline.
  • Dinner with a View: Head to a rooftop restaurant or a waterfront eatery for dinner and enjoy a delicious meal while taking in the glittering lights of the city or the serene waters of the Bosphorus.
  • Taksim Square and Istiklal Avenue: After dinner, take a leisurely stroll along Istiklal Avenue, a bustling pedestrian street filled with shops, cafes, and street performers. The vibrant atmosphere here captures the essence of Istanbul’s modern energy
  • Enjoy the nightlife or a Turkish Night Show: You can spend your evenings exploring Istanbul’s vibrant night life or if you want a more traditional evening, then there are several entertaining Turkish Night Shows, where you can watch traditional dance performances like the energetic belly dancing and the enchanting whirling dervishes.


These are a few places everyone explores in Istanbul. If you’re still not tired of exploring or simply enjoy going offbeat, then here are a few unconventional suggestions of things to see and do in Istanbul

1. Explore the Princes’ Islands: Escape the hustle and bustle of Istanbul by taking a ferry to the Princes’ Islands. This cluster of small islands in the Sea of Marmara offers a serene and car-free environment. Rent a bicycle or even a horse-drawn carriage to explore the charming streets lined with historic wooden houses and lush gardens. Enjoy the laid-back atmosphere and breathtaking views, and don’t miss sampling the islands’ famous seafood and delectable desserts.

2. Visit the Miniaturk: Step into a tiny world at Miniaturk, a theme park featuring over 100 miniature models of famous Turkish landmarks and historical sites. Wander through this fascinating outdoor exhibit, which showcases Turkey’s rich heritage, and marvel at the attention to detail in the scaled-down replicas of palaces, mosques, and ancient ruins. This is a good stop, especially if you’re with kids!

3. Uncover Street Art in Kadikoy: If you enjoy street art and hipster districts, head to the vibrant neighbourhood of Kadikoy on the Asian side of Istanbul. The colourful murals and graffiti adorning the walls offer insights into the city’s contemporary culture and creativity. You can also join a street art tour to learn about the artists behind the masterpieces and the stories they tell through their art.

4. Turkish Coffee Fortune Telling: Experience a fascinating aspect of Turkish culture by partaking in a traditional Turkish coffee fortune-telling session. Many cafes and restaurants in Istanbul offer this ancient practice where a skilled fortune teller interprets the patterns left by the coffee grounds in your cup. It’s a fun and insightful way to gain a glimpse into your future and the meanings hidden in the symbols.

5. Wander through the Chora Church: While the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque draw most of the attention, the Chora Church (Kariye Museum) is also quite the gem. It houses unique frescoes and mosaics that depict religious scenes with incredible artistry and detail. Stepping into the Chora Church is like stepping back in time to the golden age of Byzantine art and architecture.

6. Take a Ferry to Anadolu Kavağı: Escape the city’s urban hustle by taking a leisurely ferry ride to Anadolu Kavağı, a charming fishing village at the northern end of the Bosphorus. Hike up to the Yoros Castle, an ancient fortress with panoramic views of the strait, and enjoy a traditional seafood meal at one of the village’s waterfront restaurants. If you’re doing the rest of this road trip, you can skip this as you will see many similar villages on the rest of this road trip 🙂

7. Visit the Istanbul Toy Museum: If you’re travelling with kids, the Istanbul Toy Museum is a delightful and quirky attraction, housing an extensive collection of toys from various eras and countries. It is also a nostalgic place for adults as you rediscover toys from the past.

9. Sufi Music and Whirling Dervishes: Experience the spiritual side of Istanbul by attending a Sufi music and whirling dervishes performance. The mesmerising ritual provides a unique insight into the city’s religious heritage. It is truly a spell-binding experience – highly recommended!

10. Hammam Experience at a Local Bathhouse: Instead of visiting the well-known touristy bathhouses, seek out a local hammam for a more authentic and affordable experience. Enjoy a traditional scrub and massage in a centuries-old setting, indulging in a rejuvenating and culturally rich spa experience.

We hope these few days in Istanbul will provide an introduction to Turkish culture, people, and food. Once you’ve had your fill of the city and experienced everything from the Grand Bazaar to mystical Sufi performances it is time to get your amazing week long road trip in Turkey started. Rent your car and get ready to leave Istanbul and drive almost 5 hours to Izmir

Our love affair with Turkey
Hookahs for sale at Grand Bazaar in Istanbul


Learning about the historical monuments of Turkey in Istanbul


Day 4 – Drive to Izmir

Izmir is Turkey’s third-largest city and the perfect pit-stop on your road trip in Turkey. We suggest spending 2 days here. First check into your accommodation – make sure the hotel offers parking. A couple of great options are Zeniva Hotel and Ramada Suites. You can also opt for a gorgeous beach-facing and affordable apartment such as this one in the neighbouring Cesme if you enjoy self-catering accommodation.

Izmir is a lively city – make sure you visit the Konak Square and see the iconic Clock Tower, a symbol of the city. Stroll along the Kordon Promenade, a scenic waterfront area with beautiful views of the Aegean Sea. Don’t forget to try traditional Izmir cuisine at a local restaurant. Especially Kumru, a popular sandwich filled with sucuk (spiced Turkish sausage) and cheese. You can also try some delicious Izmir Kofte, spiced meatballs unique to the region. Even if you’re vegetarian or vegan, you will find several restaurants catering to you in Izmir.


Our love affair with Turkey
Little known gems in Izmir
Driving on your road trip in Turkey


Days 5 & 6 – Explore Cesme & Alacati

You can easily continue to stay in Izmir and take a day trip to Cesme, a pretty seaside town in Turkey. Cesme is known for its stunning beaches and thermal baths, so don’t forget to pack sunscreen and your swimsuits.

Explore Cesme Castle, spend a lazy day at Cesme Beach, a long and sandy stretch offering crystal-clear waters perfect for swimming and sunbathing. If it is too crowded, you can always drive along the coast to a quieter stretch of beach as well. Enjoy a seafood dinner at a local restaurant by the harbour. You must try some grilled Aegean fish or a plate of fresh seafood mezze if you enjoy local flavours.

You can devote an entire day to Alacati or combine it with your drive to Cesme to Alacati, a charming town famous for its narrow cobblestone streets, beautiful architecture, and vibrant local market. Explore Alacati’s quaint streets, art galleries, and boutique shops. Indulge in a traditional Turkish breakfast known as Kahvalti at a local café. The spread typically includes olives, cheeses, jams, honey, and freshly baked bread – truly one of the yummiest breakfasts in the world!

Cesme, Turkey has unlimited photo opportunities and stunning beaches
Photo credit: Wikipedia

Day 7 – Head to Pamukkale and Hierapolis

After a couple of relaxed days at the beaches of Turkey, it is time to head inland to Pamukkale and Hierapolis, located in southwestern Turkey. This is where natural wonders merge with ancient history. This unique UNESCO World Heritage Site is a must-visit destination for travellers even though it has recently started to get really crowded thanks to some viral social media posts. Hotels in Pamukkale aren’t the best but Herakles Thermal Hotel and Pam Thermal Hotel both make for a good base to explore the area

Pamukkale, which translates to “Cotton Castle” in Turkish, is a breathtaking natural wonder that captivates visitors with its surreal landscape. This geological marvel consists of terraces of white mineral-rich travertine, formed by the flow of thermal waters cascading down the hillside. The result is a series of milky-white, calcium-rich pools that resemble cotton cascades, creating a magical and otherworldly sight. Pamukkale’s thermal waters are also believed to have healing properties. So it provides, not just an aesthetic experience but a unique and therapeutic one

Adjacent to Pamukkale lies Hierapolis, an ancient Roman spa city. Hierapolis was established to take advantage of the thermal waters of Pamukkale for their therapeutic benefits. Today, visitors can explore the well-preserved ruins of Hierapolis, including the stunning grand theater, the Temple of Apollo, the Roman bathhouses, and the necropolis. One of the most fascinating features of Hierapolis is the ancient pool known as the Cleopatra Pool, believed to have been frequented by the Egyptian queen herself. The warm, mineral-rich waters still invite visitors for a relaxing swim amid the historical ruins.

The stark contrast of the dazzling white terraces against the backdrop of historical ruins makes this site an extraordinary and picturesque experience.

Day 8 Sirince

Sirince is a beautiful laid-back village, straight out a picture postcard. You can make this a quick pitstop or spend a relaxed few days here, depending on how much time you have at hand. We suggest staying in a unique experiential hotel listed here
From taking in the view of the hills to exploring the vineyards and tasting its signature mulberry juice, there are endless things to do in Sirince. But you must spend a morning at the ruins of Ephesus, which are a short drive away from Sirince, just outside Kusadasi. These are one of the most iconic Greco-Roman ruins in the world, so you must not miss them at all.
Sirince in Turkey is STUNNING
Photo Credit:


Day 9 – Drive to Bodrum via Lake Bafa

As you check out from a couple of quiet days in Sirince, it is time to drive to the party capital of the Aegean Coast – Bodrum. Make sure you drive via Lake Bafa Natural Reserve – take a quick pitstop for a picnic or some photos – and drive onto Bodrum. Akkan Hotel is a good option as it offers scenic views. You can also opt for a gorgeous beach-facing apartment such as this one if you’re travelling with family or friends.

Spend the day exploring Bodrum’s beautiful beaches. Bitez Beach and Gumbet Beach are great options for relaxing and swimming. Bodrum Castle is an impressive medieval fortress overlooking the harbour. It also offers some nice photography opportunities. You can also visit the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, located in Bodrum.

In the evening, enjoy a seafood dinner at one of Bodrum’s seaside restaurants, paired with a glass of Turkish Raki. Or try some traditional Turkish kebabs or Lahmacun, a thin and crispy Turkish pizza – so good! But make sure you aren’t too full because Bodrum really comes alive at night. You can go partying or dancing at one of the many places in town.

If you enjoy scenic spots or photography, do drive from Bodrum to Datca one day. Datca is a tranquil and scenic peninsula with beautiful bays and crystal-clear waters. Relax at one of the serene beaches in Datca, such as Aktur Beach or Palamutbuku Beach.


Our love affair with Turkey
Kebabs in Turkey = Culinary Heaven

Day 10 Ending your road trip in Turkey and more suggestions

This ends a spectacular road trip in Turkey. If you have some more days in Turkey, then you can drive onto Antalya and explore even more of the Aegean Coast. You can also drop your car in Bodrum for a small surcharge and fly to another Turkish hotspot Cappadocia.

If not, it is now time to drive back to Istanbul and drop your car at Istanbul Airport before catching a flight back home. No matter what you do, you will end this trip with amazing memories of countless scenic drives, little villages, Turkish culture, and the delicious flavours of Aegean cuisine

Our love affair with Turkey
Colourful Restaurants in Turkey

The post A memorable day road trip in Turkey : Istanbul & driving along the Aegean coast appeared first on Bruised Passports.

]]> 9
A Road Trip in Tamil Nadu – Ooty, Coonoor, and the Nilgiris Mon, 31 Jul 2023 12:14:14 +0000 A road trip in Tamil Nadu translates into driving through the clouds, misty tea estates, and culinary gems. Here we...

The post A Road Trip in Tamil Nadu – Ooty, Coonoor, and the Nilgiris appeared first on Bruised Passports.

A road trip in Tamil Nadu translates into driving through the clouds, misty tea estates, and culinary gems. Here we will provide pointers for everything you need to plan a trip to Ooty, Coonoor, and the Nilgiris – especially a list of things to do in the area, places to see, and where to eat in Ooty and Coonoor.

Let’s go, shall we?

Tea Estates galore on a road trip in Tamil Nadu 🙂


Renting a car and choosing a hotel on a Road Trip in Tamil Nadu

Renting a car will make exploring places on this trip not just easy, but cost-effective too! We flew from Delhi to Coimbatore and rented a car in Coimbatore. However it is easy to rent a car, no matter which airport you land at! You can compare prices and rent a car here

There is no shortage of good accommodation in Ooty and Coonoor. However prices tend to fluctuate dramatically depending on the season and dates. So we are providing not one but four great options for you. You can check them all out and decide what is perfect for you and your family:

  • Gateway Coonoor or McIver Conoor are charming options for those of you who like hotels with a lot of character- the Colonial buildings are well preserved and the staff is really nice too.
  • Destiny The Farm Resort is another hotel, perfect for those of you who enjoy scenic accommodation. This is ideal for guests who just want to relax in nature instead of packing their trip with things to do and see
  • If you’re keen on an luxurious and immersive holiday, then look up MindEscapes. From gastronomy to fitness and pillow menus to nature trails, this retreat has it all.


Ooty and surrounding towns make for the perfect monsoon getaway 🙂


Things to do & see on a road trip in Tamil Nadu

The highlight of a trip to Ooty and Coonoor is to relax in the midst of nature and enjoy the surroundings – think misty hills, tea plantations, and little coffee shops on winding roads. However there are a few places you must visit and things you must do on this road trip in Tamil Nadu

  • Ride an old school train in Ooty:Take a ride in the colourful compartments or dance on the roof if you’re an SRK fan for this is where Chaiyyan Chaiyyan was shot. Try to book a first class ticket as the train tends to get very crowded. Did you know this toy train that runs on a super scenic route between Ooty & Mettupalayam dates back to 1908 and is actually a designated UNESCO Heritage Site?
  • Visit a tea estate and a tea factory:There is no shortage of tea-estates in the Nilgiris. Visit one closest to your hotel and make sure you take a tour of the adjoining tea factory too
  • Dolphin Nose Viewpoint makes for a great drive through winding roads – the viewpoint is a must visit for photographers, especially on a chilly morning
  • Another viewpoint you shouldn’t miss is Doddabetta Peak. There are 24 peaks in Nilgiris and this is the highest, making it the perfect vantage point to absorb views of the area
  • Emerald Lake is located in a tiny village in the Nilgiris. Not many visitors make it there but its a great pitstop on a road trip in Tamil Nadu, especially on a clear day. If you have time to visit just one lake, make it Emerald Lake
  • Of course there are several other lakes in the area. The most popular and (consequently) most crowded is the Ooty Lake. Other lakes you can visit include Upper Bhavani Lake, Avalanche Lake, Bellikkal Lake, Pykara Lake, and Kamaraj Sagar
  • If you enjoy doing new things on holiday, you can take a cheese-making workshop at Acres Wild Farm. You can sample local cheeses here and if you enjoy homestays, you can even stay here


This old-school train ride in Ooty is a must do on your road trip in Tamil Nadu


Scenic train ride in Ooty, Tamil Nadu

Where to eat on a road trip in Tamil Nadu

We got amazing food, irrespective of where we stopped in the area – be it a restaurant inside a luxurious hotel or a hole-in-the-wall eatery. Here are some commendable suggestions we got from locals:

  • If you are open to a drive, you must visit this small eatery called Rock Bistro on the way to the iconic Dolphin’s Nose viewpoint. The food is tasty & affordable, but it’s this view of the Nilgiri Mountains that we stayed for! Amazing views indeed!
  • Hot chocolate at Moddys Chocolate in Coonoor
  • Culinarium at Ketty, on the way from Coonoor to Ooty, for desserts and views
  • Open Kitchen Coonoor is a good option if you are craving burgers or pizzas
  • Place to Bee at Ooty is a cosy cafe that promotes conservation of bees
  • Little Earth, near Stephen’s church, has a cute little store and good food
  • Earls Secret at Kings Cliff in Ooty is a really nice restaurant with great ambience
  • Sugar Dribble Cafe in Ooty is a cute place to unwind with a baked treat
  • Hari Mess in Kotagiri is a tiny eatery that has acquired an iconic reputation due to its food
  • Centaur in Coonoor is small takeaway that came highly recommended for the best Malabar Parantha
  • Ooty & Coonoor town centres are also home to lots of cute cafés that serve great food like Cafe Diem and Third Wave Coffee.


View from Rock Bistro en-route to Dolphin’s Nose


We hope this gave you lots of ideas on how to spend a relaxing holiday in Ooty or Coonoor. This is a beautiful part of India and you must plan a road trip in Tamil Nadu to see enjoy the beauty of the Nilgiris when you get a chance.

The post A Road Trip in Tamil Nadu – Ooty, Coonoor, and the Nilgiris appeared first on Bruised Passports.

]]> 3
Planning a memorable trip to Gujarat – Bhuj and White Rann of Kutch Tue, 25 Jul 2023 12:45:27 +0000 A short trip to witness the White Rann of Kutch Gujarat promises incredible food, some amazing sites, and so much...

The post Planning a memorable trip to Gujarat – Bhuj and White Rann of Kutch appeared first on Bruised Passports.


A short trip to witness the White Rann of Kutch Gujarat promises incredible food, some amazing sites, and so much culture. We suggest planning a trip between November and February so you are greeted with good weather to explore.

It is easy to fly into Ahmedabad or Bhuj from most major cities. Once you are there, you can rent a daily cab with a driver! In terms of hotels we suggest spending 2-3 nights in Bhuj and 1-2 nights at the Rann of Kutch. Time Square Club is a nice hotel to book in Bhuj or you could also look up Radisson Kandla. And as for the Rann of Kutch, try to book something close the gates of the Rann, so you can visit the salt flats at midnight as well. We suggest White Rann Resort for its proximity to the salt desert.

White Rann Resort is a good option as it’s close to the white salt desert
Tents at White Rann Resort
Bhujio Hills is a great viewpoint

Now let’s go on to the things to do in the area. Here’s a detailed guide with more than 10 reasons to visit Bhuj, Kutch and surrounding areas in Gujarat:

  1. Salt Desert of Gujarat: The Rann of Kutch is a vast salt desert that stretches across the border of Gujarat and Pakistan. It is a unique and breathtaking landscape that offers stunning views, especially during the Rann Utsav, a festival celebrated here every year. Visitors can witness the vast expanse of white salt and enjoy various activities like camel rides, cultural performances, and stargazing. This is often the first stop for most tourists and while it is beautiful, don’t forget to check out at least some things from the rest of this list while you are in Bhuj 🙂
  2. Prag Mahal: Prag Mahal is a magnificent palace located in Bhuj. It showcases a blend of Italian Gothic architecture with local craftsmanship. Visitors can explore the intricately designed halls, beautiful paintings, and a towering bell tower offering panoramic views of the city.
  3. Aina Mahal: Aina Mahal, also known as the Palace of Mirrors, is another architectural gem in Bhuj. It was built in the 18th century and displays a remarkable fusion of Indian and European architectural styles. The palace features intricate mirror work, ornate glass windows, and exquisite marble carvings.
  4. Bhuj Chatedi: Bhuj Chatedi is a complex of tombs dedicated to the royal family of Kutch. These beautifully crafted structures boast intricate carvings and are an excellent example of Indo-Islamic architecture. You can admire the elaborate designs and learn about the history and culture of the region – try going early as it tends to get really crowded as the day goes on
  5. Bhujio Hills: Bhujio Hills is a small hillock located near Bhuj. It offers a panoramic view of the city and is famous for the Bhujio Fort situated atop it. Visitors can climb to the fort and witness the spectacular sunset over the cityscape. We wouldn’t recommend anyone with the mildest vertigo or any mobility issues to go here as the steps are quite uneven and high!
  6. Kutch Canyon:An offbeat find, Khari Nadi Gorge: Khari Nadi Gorge, also known as the Kutch Canyon, is a geological marvel located in the Kutch region. It offers a unique landscape with rugged cliffs and deep gorges. You can go trekking here – keep your camera ready while exploring this natural wonder.
  7. Mandvi Beach: Mandvi Beach is coastal stretch known for its views. The beach is also dotted with windmills, adding to its charm. Mandvi tends to get quite crowded, especially at sunset but the neighbouring stretches of beach remain a lot less crowded. Now that the must-sees are covered let’s go onto some more suggestions in the surrounding areas if you have some extra time
  8. Ramkund Bhuj: Ramkund is a holy pond located in Bhuj where devotees take ritual baths. It is believed to be a sacred spot and holds religious significance. Visitors can witness the religious rituals or purely experience the spiritual ambiance of the place
  9. Lakhpat: If you’re up for a day trip, Lakhpat is a ghost town located near the India-Pakistan border. It was once a prosperous trading center but now stands abandoned. Visitors can explore the ruins, visit the Lakhpat Fort, and witness the haunting beauty of this deserted town.
  10. Bhadreshwar Jain Tirth Mundra: Bhadreshwar Jain Tirth is an important pilgrimage site for Jains located in Mundra. It features a grand temple complex with intricately carved pillars and idols. Visitors can explore the serene surroundings, participate in religious ceremonies, and admire the architectural beauty.
  11. Ram Ni Vav: Ram Ni Vav is a stepwell located in Bhuj city. It is known for its stunning architecture and intricate carvings depicting mythological scenes. Visitors can descend into the well and witness the mesmerising artistry.
  12. Flamingos in the Small Rann: The Little Rann of Kutch is a vast salt marsh where you can spot a large number of flamingos during the winter season. You can take a safari here and witness the mesmerizing sight of these elegant birds in their natural habitat if you’re lucky!
  13. Hunnarshala Foundation: Hunnarshala Foundation is an organization dedicated to promoting sustainable and vernacular architecture. Their office in Bhuj showcases innovative and eco-friendly building techniques. If you’re keen on architecture and sustainable design, then do can visit this beautiful office and learn about their initiatives.
  14. Siddhpur: Finally 2 suggestions for those of you who you have extra time in Gujarat and plan to visit Ahmedabad on your trip. A bit further afield, Siddhpur is a town known for its unique blend of Bohri Muslim culture and European-style houses. You can stroll through the narrow lanes, admire the well-preserved heritage houses, and experience the rich cultural heritage of the Bohri community.
  15. Sun Temple Modhera: A short drive from Ahmedabad, The Sun Temple in Modhera is a stunning example of ancient Indian architecture. Dedicated to the Sun God, it showcases intricate carvings and sculptures. Visitors can witness the grandeur of the temple and attend the annual Modhera Dance Festival held in its premises.

These are just some of the many reasons to visit Gujarat. The region offers so much by way of history, culture, architecture, and natural beauty, making it an amazing destination for travellers in India. Do consider it for your next holiday 🙂

Sunset at Mandvi beach
Playing with perspective at White Rann of Kutch

The post Planning a memorable trip to Gujarat – Bhuj and White Rann of Kutch appeared first on Bruised Passports.

]]> 2