You searched for australia - Bruised Passports Offbeat Travel and Fashion Blog Thu, 16 May 2024 10:17:07 +0000 en-US hourly 1 5 BEST cruise itineraries offered by Ponant Thu, 14 Sep 2023 07:31:01 +0000 Ponant, a leader in luxury expedition cruising, offers a range of unforgettable journeys to some of the world’s most remote...

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Ponant, a leader in luxury expedition cruising, offers a range of unforgettable journeys to some of the world’s most remote and unique destinations. From the icy wilderness of Svalbard to the pristine beauty of Antarctica and the vibrant cultures of French Polynesia, Central America, and Papua New Guinea, Ponant cruises provide travellers with a unique blend of luxury, adventure, and exploration that is hard to find elsewhere in the world.

Since there are some unmissable offers on Ponant Cruises going on right now, we thought we would give you a lowdown on 5 of our personal favourite cruises offered by Ponant

1. Svalbard Cruise: Exploring the Arctic Wilderness in one week

A Svalbard cruise with Ponant is a journey into the heart of the Arctic wilderness. Svalbard, a Norwegian archipelago located in the Arctic Ocean, is a land of stark beauty and untouched landscapes. A Ponant cruise to Svalbard offers travellers the opportunity to witness the mesmerising Northern Lights, encounter polar bears and other Arctic wildlife, and explore glaciers and fjords in Zodiac boats.

The Svalbard cruise experience with Ponant is characterised by the comfort and luxury of the ship’s accommodations and amenities. Ponant’s expedition vessels are designed for both adventure and relaxation, offering spacious staterooms, gourmet dining, and well-appointed lounges. After a day of Arctic exploration, guests can unwind in the onboard spa or enjoy informative lectures from experienced naturalists and scientists. You can read our detailed Svalbard Cruise experience here

Polar Bears in the Arctic wild in Svalbard


2. Antarctica Cruise: A once-in-a-lifetime journey to the White Continent

An Antarctica cruise with Ponant is an expedition to the ultimate wilderness on Earth – this is an experience you will never EVER forget. Antarctica, a land of ice and wonder, beckons adventurers with its pristine landscapes and unique wildlife. Ponant’s Antarctica cruises provide travellers with the opportunity to explore this frozen continent in ultimate comfort, with fine dining and all creature comforts.

The unreal beauty of Antarctica’s icy landscapes is hard to describe- we literally felt like we were on a different planet. This cruise gives your the opportunity to visit research stations to learn about ongoing scientific endeavours, learn about responsible travel in Antarctica via a series on onboard lectures and talks, and observe colonies of penguins and seals in their natural habitats.Trust me when I say this – no travel experience will come close to seeing a colony full of thousands of emperor penguins. Ponant’s small expedition ships are designed to navigate the challenging waters of the Southern Ocean, ensuring an intimate and immersive experience for all travellers. You can read a detailed account of our voyage in Antarctica here 

Seeing Emperor Penguins in their natural habitat – truly majestic


3. Belize and Honduras Cruise: An affordable itinerary full of culture

If you would like to experience Ponant’s bespoke service without breaking the bank, then start with a 7 day cruise to Belize and Honduras. This offers travellers the chance to explore the rich cultural heritage and stunning natural beauty of the Central American region. This cruise takes guests to vibrant coastal towns, ancient Mayan ruins, and some of the world’s most renowned coral reefs.

Exploring the underwater world of the Belize Barrier Reef, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a highlight of this cruise. Snorkelling and diving enthusiasts can discover a kaleidoscope of marine life, including colourful coral formations and exotic fish species. Onshore excursions allow guests to immerse themselves in the local cultures, with visits to historic sites and encounters with indigenous communities

Expect detox bars, spas, and gourmet meals cooked with the finest ingredients on Ponant’s cruises


4. Greenland and Thule Cruise: Discovering the Arctic’s Cultural Gems

If you, like us, love exploring remote Polar regions, then consider this itinerary! This 16 day expedition takes travellers to Greenland and the Thule Region. This cruise with Ponant explores the rugged coastline of Greenland, where towering icebergs and majestic fjords provide a stunning backdrop for adventure. Guests can embark on thrilling excursions, such as kayaking among ice floes and hiking in the Arctic wilderness.

One of the highlights of this cruise is the visit to the Thule Region, one of the northernmost inhabited areas on Earth. Here, guests can immerse themselves in the indigenous Inuit culture and learn about traditional hunting practices and age-old customs. The cruise also offers opportunities to witness the incredible biodiversity of the Arctic, with encounters with polar bears, narwhals, seals, whales, and seabirds

Beautiful panoramas await in Greenland – this is the village of Kullorsuaq 🙂


Get up close and personal with Arctic wilderness in zodiac cruises on each landing


5. Papua New Guinea Cruise: A Cultural Odyssey in the South Pacific

A Papua New Guinea cruise with Ponant is a journey into the heart of the South Pacific, where travellers can explore the vibrant cultures and stunning landscapes of this diverse region. Papua New Guinea is known for its rich tribal traditions, lush rainforests, and pristine beaches and you can combine this cruise with a road trip in Australia or New Zealand

This cruise offers guests the opportunity to visit remote villages and witness traditional dance performances, mask-making, and other cultural expressions. Explorations into the dense rainforests of Papua New Guinea reveal unique wildlife and breathtaking scenery. Ponant’s luxury expedition ships provide a comfortable base for travellers to relax and unwind after their cultural and natural adventures.

Expect all creature comforts on-board – from detox smoothies to 24 hour room service 🙂


And that’s it. Of course there are many itineraries offered by Ponant – from Seychelles to Japan to Australia – but since Ponant cruises offer a remarkable opportunity to explore some of the world’s most remote and beautiful destinations in style and comfort, we suggest starting with one of these 5 itineraries. Whether you’re drawn to the icy wilderness of Svalbard, the pristine landscapes of Antarctica, the vibrant cultures of Belize and Honduras, or the rich traditions of Papua New Guinea, these expertly-curated cruises will provide an unforgettable blend of luxury and adventure that will keep you coming back for more

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Luxurious Expeditions Around The World With PONANT and Bruised Passports Sat, 19 Aug 2023 19:16:52 +0000 We have been Ponant customers for over 4 years now, but in 2023 Ponant appointed Bruised Passports as its first...

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We have been Ponant customers for over 4 years now, but in 2023 Ponant appointed Bruised Passports as its first ever ambassadors in Asia. Given our love for the brand, this felt organic to us. And the first thing we wanted to do, as part of this, was get Bruised Passports readers deals that weren’t available anywhere else in the market. Read on below for how you can avail them


Ponant are world leaders in making their guests experience remote panoramas responsibly in ultimate luxury. Their Polar expeditions – to the North Pole and Antarctica – are legendary in the industry. And not just because of the polar bears or penguins you might see!

Think innovative and cutting-edge hybrid electric vessels, no single-use plastic, 5 course menus, 24X7 butler service, the finest of wines and cheeses on board, educational talks by researchers and scientists that work with Ponant to protect remote Polar regions and promote responsible tourism in the areas. It is a combination that is truly hard to beat in the industry. For lovers of warmer tropical adventures, Ponant have introduced several shorter voyages to South America, Australia, and French Polynesia too.

Exclusive deals and offers on PONANT for Bruised Passports Readers

Here are some exclusive offers available exclusively to Bruised Passports readers, valid for all new bookings made till 30th June 2024:

    • Offer 1: EUR 900 flight credit per person (which you can use to book your flights to Paris) on the following sailings to the Arctic region of Svalbard  (we have done this voyage a few years ago and can’t recommend it enough – you can read about our experience here)
    • Offer 2: EUR 1500 flight credit per person (which you can use to book flights from your hometown to South America) towards Antarctica sailings listed here. We strongly suggest the one starting on 2nd March as this is a great time to observe the penguins and seals
    • Offer 3: EUR 250 per person onboard credit – you can spend this when you are aboard your PONANT voyage – be it massages in the onboard spa or in the onboard boutique to buy your favourite things. You will always get this credit irrespective of any other offer listed above that you will be availing

Note: OfferT&Cs apply. You will always get Offer 3 , no matter which other offer you choose. More importantly, there’ll always be exciting offers that might not be listed here, so always recommended to reach out to the email address mentioned below along with your preferred voyage/expedition 🙂 

couple under northern lights in greenland canada on a cruise ship
And we were so lucky to witness Northern Lights on the last 2 nights of our voyage. Bliss!!

How to avail the special offers on PONANT available for Bruised Passports Readers

If you’re contemplating making that bucket list trip to Antarctica or perhaps a Northern Lights cruise to the Arctic North, here is what we suggest doing:

  1. Head over to and shortlist the voyages that interest you.
  2. Email with your shortlisted voyage and include the code BPVIP_PONANT in your email.
  3. An exclusive Ponant travel manager will contact you, answer any questions you might have, and help you process your entire booking from start to finish

We have written several detailed articles about our experiences with Ponant, that will help you understand what exactly to expect when you go on a Ponant voyage. Here are some of our favourites so far and we are constantly adding to that list:

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How to plan a trip to Antarctica – EVERYTHING you need to know Sun, 08 Jan 2023 02:54:34 +0000 Want to book a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Antarctica? You’ll find the best prices and offers here  🙂 ******** Truly once-in-a-lifetime!...

The post How to plan a trip to Antarctica – EVERYTHING you need to know appeared first on Bruised Passports.

Want to book a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Antarctica? You’ll find the best prices and offers here  🙂


Truly once-in-a-lifetime! They say you should only see Antarctica after you’ve seen everything else because nothing else will ever compare – that’s truly how beautiful it is!

The sights that await

But let me start by saying Antarctica is not just a trip that you plan like a honeymoon in Paris or even a road trip in Iceland. Firstly, visiting Antarctica is very expensive, which is why most people (including us!) plan this trip for years before finally taking the plunge and actually undertaking it. Secondly, you can expect extreme temperatures and the turbulent Drake Passage, which boasts of some of the choppiest waters in the world.

It takes approximately 2 days to cross Drake Passage and the turbulence can make even the most well-travelled people sea-sick or worse! So 4 days of this entire journey is spent in that state crossing Drake Passage from South America to Antarctica and back! These factors make Antarctica a location where a visit needs to be “earned” both literally and metaphorically.

Having said that, its remote location and incredible panoramas makes it a very SPECIAL place, unlike any other. Here we will tell you everything you need to know for planning a trip to Antarctica – The White Continent

Brace yourself for such dramatic visuals throughout the journey

Visa for Antarctica

You do not need a visa for Antarctica. However it is best to combine this visit with 1-2 countries in South America such as Chile or Argentina, for which you might need visas.

Currently Argentina issues evisas for Indian Passports holders with a valid US or Schengen visa (The eVisa costs $200 at the time of writing and is much more expensive than applying at the consulate, but definitely comes with a LOT of convenience) and Chile doesn’t need a visa if you have a valid US visa. However these rules keep changing, so it’s best to check for updates before booking anything.

Flights for Antarctica

Most polar expeditions and cruises for Antarctica start in Ushuaia, Argentina. For this, it is best to fly from your home town into Santiago (Chile) or Buenos Aires (Argentina). And then onto Ushuaia, Argentina

If you are flying from US or UK or Europe, you can opt for direct flights to Santiago (Chile). If you are flying from one of the bigger cities in India, the shortest option is to take a flight with a short stop over in Europe. We took an Air France flight (Delhi-Paris-Santiago) for our trip. It involved a long stopover in Paris but this was the most convenient connection for us.

If you’re flying from anywhere in Asia or Australia, we suggest keeping a few days to explore Santiago, before flying onto Ushuaia, Argentina. This will help you work off the jet lag and regulate your sleep cycle before you board your polar expedition. Because you don’t want to be constantly tired on your once-in-a-lifetime trip to Antarctica 🙂

Looking forward 🙂

Budgeting for your trip to Antarctica & tips on choosing the right expedition for you

It is easy to estimate an approximate budget for your trip to Antarctica as everything from accommodation to all meals are usually included in the cost of polar expeditions. This is one of the most expensive trips in the world as flights alone cost $3000 or more and most polar expeditions start at $10000+ per person.

However instead of going in for a cheaper expedition, I would personally suggest waiting a few years and saving for a better polar cruise. Not just us, but most people we met on this trip (ages ranging from 25-75) had opted for this option due to 2 reasons.

Firstly, larger ships might be slightly cheaper but they are more polluting and also unable to go to some of the most scenic places in Antarctica due to their size and make (more on this below). Secondly, when the temperatures are extreme outside, you will appreciate luxuries on board a more expensive polar expedition such as heated rooms, gyms, hot showers, relaxing spas, and plenty of fresh healthy food. For these reasons, we booked our Antarctica Odyssey on Ponant’s Le Commandent Charcot. Another great option is also Ponant’s L’Austral which ticks a lot of these boxes and tends to be more affordable than Le Commandent Charcot

But no matter how your book your trip, make sure you have a clear list of ALL inclusions before you pay for your polar expedition. Try to get a package that includes everything from meals and accommodation to expeditions and even airport transfers as costs can really add up while paying separately.

Our home for 2 weeks – Le Commandant Charcot

Responsible travel in Antarctica

The cost factor and remoteness make Antarctica hard to get to. But that can be a good thing for its fragile ecosystem. Before we go onto the details of our trip, I wanted to share the sheer importance of responsible travel in Antarctica. Of course, travelling responsibly is important everywhere in the world, but it is especially important in remote Polar regions.

We had the fortune of being on a Polar Odyssey that had a lot of scientists, naturalists, and researchers amongst the passengers and crew. They told us that while tourism is the continent is often dismissed, the profits help fund a lot of important research work and preservation efforts in Antarctica.

And the right kind of travellers, focussed on responsible tourism & conservation management can truly make a difference. IAATO regulations are very strict in Antarctica and rightly so. They make sure wildlife is preserved and allow travellers to enjoy responsibly. This means only small groups of visitors can see penguin colonies etc at a time now. Make sure you follow these protocols when you are informed about them. Due to this & many other reasons many recent studies, including reports of Lynch and LaRue, found the global population of Adelie penguins has actually increased in the past few years.

So without further ado, here are a few things to keep in mind whenever you plan a trip to Antarctica, straight from the experts we spoke to

  • Never keep anything (clothes, shoes, bags) on the ground when you’re outside in Antarctica. Leave nothing, take nothing
  • Carry reusable water bottles when you go ashore for expeditions
  • Boots have to be disinfected every time you leave and come back on board so you don’t carry traces to or from the continent
  • Always check the carbon emissions of the vessel you choose before booking – there are many green options available these days. In fact the reason we had so many scientists and researchers on board is because we were on Le Commandent Charcot which is a hybrid electric vessel, the first of its kind in the world, which has been designed to minimise the environmental impact of travel to the furthest latitudes. It is also an ice-class vessel, meaning it has the capability to visit many remote polar regions, where most cannot go, making it important for researchers
  • Make sure all your clothes are bio-decontaminated before going ashore for expeditions. Most packages these days have this facility but you should check ahead
  • As all of you know, we’ve organised various anti-littering drives as I really hate tourists littering beautiful places. But be extra careful about stray masks, shoe laces, sanitizer bottles etc and never leave any waste behind on land in Antarctica
  • Always listen to what the Naturalist guides have to say and don’t go near wildlife or disturb them in any way. This is their home & we are just visitors
  • Every expert we spoke to mentioned how every traveller to Antarctica becomes more conscious in their daily life after witnessing its fragile beauty firsthand. And now that we’ve seen it for ourselves, we can see why they say that. Make sure you carry the lessons you learn in Antarctica back to your home country too 🙂
Observe from a distance
Leave it as you found it!!

Our Polar Odyssey – inclusions, facilities, expeditions, and details

Now I wanted to touch upon all the details of the facilities and inclusions on our Polar Expedition so you have a clear idea of what to expect and what to check for before booking

Le Commandent Charcot is an extremely modern but intimate vessel. Every passenger is given personalised attention and I cannot say enough good things about the staff. Everyone from the housekeeping staff to the sommelier to the expedition guides to the Naturalists went above and beyond for every single guest on board.

Staterooms represent the understated French luxury Ponant is famous for! They are designed in neutral tones with comfortable beds and plush bathrooms, equipped with Diptyque toiletries as well as a Nespresso machine. But most of all they are truly well-equipped for a polar expedition – well heated, with large wardrobes, lots of strorage space for bulky woollens, and non-slip drawers for those choppy days at sea. Every stateroom has a private spacious balcony to enjoy the gorgeous vistas (believe us, you’ll be spending quite a lot of time here :)).

In terms of dining options, there are two restaurants on board with menus designed by the iconic Michelin Starred Chef Alain Ducasse. There is one casual buffet-style restaurant and one restaurant for sit-down dinners. There is also:

  • An open air stall with international food options
  • 1 detox bar with a huge selection of smoothies and cold pressed juices
  • An observatory lounge with all-day drinks and snacks at tea time
  • Bar with light nibbles and music for sundowners
  • Complimentary 24 hour in-room dining

This diverse range of dining options ensures you will not be hungry at all, no matter what time of the day it is. Food is so fresh and cooked so well, that we truly enjoyed every meal – be it a simple pan-fried fish or a more elaborate truffle ravioli, the quality of the food will leave you impressed. There are lots of vegetarian and vegan options at every meal. And since this is a French ship, the desserts, breads, and cheeses truly steal the limelight.

Passing time indoors is easy. There is a scenic gym and a gorgeous spa which pampers guests with iconic Biologique Recharge facials and massages. There is an indoor pool and outdoor pool, which is heated using recycled energy from the ship. There are board games on board, live music, and also lots of lectures by naturalists, researchers, and scientists educating everyone about Antarctica and its wildlife. Upon reaching Antarctica, there are exciting expeditions each day, so time indoors is often limited to meals and entertainment.

Comfortable and luxurious staterooms
Views from balcony 🙂
Look at those views – who wouldn’t feel like exercising 😉
Dinner setting at the buffet restaurant
Nuna – the sit-down restaurant with amazing food and views
A spa session after a long polar hike – YES please 🙂
Plenty of beautiful lounging spaces throughout the ship
One place we visited every morning for our share of scrumptious detox smoothies 🙂
Ahem! you guys can only imagine how happy Vid was on seeing this every evening in the buffet restaurant 😉

Polar Expeditions & Excursions in Antarctica – what to expect

Antarctica is an unpredictable destination. This is why landings vary from day to day. The reason we had so many researchers and wildlife photographers on board with us is because Le Commandant Charcot is an ice-class vessel, meaning it can go to places most others can’t. This ensured we saw things we couldn’t even dream of, such as penguin colonies with more than 10,000 Emperor penguins, all under the supervision of experts of course.

Landings in Antarctica depend on the weather conditions and wind conditions, so it is hard to write down exactly what you will see on your trip to Antarctica here. But here are some things you can definitely expect:

  • Witnessing glaciers, ice sculptures, and floating ice bergs
  • Polar Hikes
  • Kayaking
  • Adélie, Chinstrap, and Emperor penguins in their natural habitat. The exact number of course will depend from day to day, but November and December are the best months to spot them
  • Seals in their natural habitat
  • Polar Birds in their natural habitat
  • Killer Whales in their natural habitat

Needless to say, each of these sights left us spellbound. All passengers get a super warm Parka and snug snow boots for excursions.

A polar hike on an overcast day where we…
…met the chinstrap penguins for the first time
Emperor Penguins – truly majestic
We were so fortunate to have witnessed a colony of more than 10,000 Emperor penguins
Mothers feeding their chicks. Adorable!!
Kayaking with a backdrop of majestic mountains – thrilling!
For most excursions we go out on these inflatable zodiacs – an experience in itself
We also saw a colony of Adelie Penguins
Unbelievable sights
Beautiful views while hiking
And you’ll witness the MOST amazing twilight scenes

Packing for your trip to Antarctica

Packing for a polar expeditions to Antarctica or any extreme winter destination can be daunting. If you are planning a polar expedition, make sure you read this packing guide for Antarctica & extreme winter holidays so you go well-prepared for your Polar Odyssey. It has everything you will need – from winter wear and tech gear to medicines and toileteries – that you will need to pack for Antarctica.

And that’s it – everything you need to plan a trip to Antarctica, with tips on budgeting, visas, flights, and actual excursions. We hope you come away from this polar expedition, having learnt many lessons that you can implement in your daily lives – we definitely did! As mentioned above, stay responsible, follow the experts’ guidance and enjoy yourself as much as you can.

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A road trip from Tbilsi, Georgia : Planning the perfect itinerary Mon, 16 May 2022 10:10:39 +0000 Georgia makes for a stunning & extremely affordable road trip. Here is everything you need to know about planning a...

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Georgia makes for a stunning & extremely affordable road trip. Here is everything you need to know about planning a road trip in Georgia – from budgeting to hotels to a day-by-day guide to a road trip in Georgia. We had planned to combine this trip to Georgia with our trip to Azerbaijan a few years ago but couldn’t for some reason.

Visa formalities and Covid protocols for Georgia

In Apr/May 22 there are no quarantine requirements when entering Georgia. You must be fully vaccinated. If you’re not, then you must carry an RT PCR test (taken within 72 hours of departure) to show upon on your entry into Georgia. Indian citizens need a visa to enter Georgia for a short stay, however if you have a valid visa or residence permit for USA / UK / Schengen / UAE / Australia etc., then you don’t need to apply for a visa. The best way to know whether you need a visa for Georgia is to use the Visa eligibility checker here.

Suggested Itineraries for visiting Georgia

Georgia is a small country so it is possible to cover most of it by doing day trips from Tbilsi. If you have 5 days or less, we suggest basing yourself in Tbilsi, renting a car, and doing 2-3 day trips. You can also book these day trips with a local tour agency if you are not comfortable driving.

If you have 6+ days, then we definitely recommend spending a few nights in places such as Kazbegi & Sighnaghi. Here are 2 recommended itineraries for Georgia

4 day itinerary for Georgia

Day 1 Fly to Tbilsi and explore Old Tbilsi
Day 2 Day trip from Tbilsi to Sighnaghi
Day 3 Day trip from Tbilsi to Kazbegi
Day 4 Explore Tbilsi and fly back

7 day itinerary for Georgia

Days 1 & 2 Fly to Tbilsi and explore the city
Days 3 & 4 Drive along Georgia’s wine route
Days 5 & 6 Explore Kazbegi & mountain villages
Day 7 Day Trip To Armenia/Drive to Batumi
Day 8 Fly back from Tbilsi

Gergeti church road in Georgia
The kind of panoramas you can expect on this road trip in Georgia 🙂


Renting a car in Georgia

Driving in Georgia is a bit different from the rest of Europe as drivers can occasionally be a bit more aggressive or not as rule-abiding. However if you are comfortable driving, we would highly recommend renting a car to explore this beautiful country at your own pace.

We booked our car from Tbilsi Auto Rent after reading amazing reviews on Google & Trip Advisor. Their service was seamless and one advantage over other car rentals we checked was that we did not have to deposit any money (or leave a credit card imprint as this rental price included all insurances) at the beginning of the trip. In terms of exact costs, we paid $50 per day for an automatic 4×4 (Mitsubishi Outlander Sport) and $20 each way pick-up and drop-off from the airport. We picked and dropped our car at the airport but you can also pick your car after exploring Tbilisi (free pick-up and drop-off in this case). There’s also someone answering your queries over Whatsapp, so all in all a great car rental experience.

Car rental Georgia Road Trip
Our trusty rental car 🙂

Budgeting for your trip to Georgia

Georgia is an extremely affordable country, one of the most affordable in Europe-Middle East. For this reason, it is easy to plan this road-trip on a budget. The cost of flights will depend on the city you’re based. But once you get there, you can expect to spend approximately INR 12000 per day. Here’s the cost breakdown you need to keep in mind:

•Good mid-range Hotels and apartments cost approximately INR 5000 per night. You can choose ones based on your preferences
•Car Rental : INR 3000-3500 per day (with full insurance coverage)
•Fuel: INR 1200 per day for the itinerary below
•Meals & groceries : INR 2000 per day approximately

Khachapuri traditional Georgian stuffed pastry
You’ll be feasting on plenty of Khachapuri through your trip 🙂


Day-by-day breakdown of your itinerary for Georgia

Days 1-2 Explore Tblisi

Tblisi is a busy but charming capital city. There is so much to see and do, so we suggest setting aside at least 2 days to take it all in.

If you have not rented a car, try to stay in Old Tbilsi – hotels such as Hotel Mercure and The Rooms Hotel are ideal! However if you have rented a car, then make sure you stay in a hotel that offers free parking.

Some of the things you must do in Tbilsi include

  1. Visit the Dezerter bazaar – it is overflowing with fresh produce and a great place to sample local delicacies like Khinkali (dumplings)
  2. Visit the Holy Trinity Cathedral – it’s beautiful
  3. Take a walk along Rustaveli Avenue – it is one of the prettiest roads in the city. You will cross book sellers in the open, vendors, and plenty of European facades. Do make a pit stop at the Opera and the Ballet Theatre
  4. If you haven’t rented a car and want to escape the city try visiting Tbilisi Sea, Turtle Lake or Lisi Lake as they are all easily accessible using public transport
  5. The Chronicles of Georgia is gorgeous on a summer day. One of Tbilisi’s off-beat attractions, the Chronicles is an impressive monument by Georgian sculptor Zurab Tsereteli. Its location on top of a hill overlooking the Tbilisi Sea makes it a great spot for panoramic views.
  6. Tbilisi has some stunning viewpoints. Tabor Monastery is not very well known but it is one of our favourites. It offers a great view of the entire city and is so beautiful at sunset
    Mtatsminda is the city’s most well-known and accessible viewpoint. However do beware it can get quite crowded as both locals and tourists like to visit
  7. If you enjoy the hipster and urban sides of cities, then you must visit Marjanishvili – the area here has some amazing murals and street art. You can also take a tour here to learn more about the artists and the area
  8. Have a laid back brunch in a speciality coffee shop such as Coffee Lab or a local hole-in-the-wall eatery such as Asi Khinkali or Zakhar Zakharich
The Holy Trinity Cathedral in Tbilisi
sunset view of Tbilisi from Tabor Monastery
Tbilisi at sunset from Tabor Monastery


Days 3&4: Kakheti wine country

It is easy to do a day trip to Kakheti from Tbilisi. But if you have some time on you while planning a road trip of Georgia, we would definitely recommend staying for a night in the area. There are vineyards, wine cellars, and shops everywhere in the Kakheti area. We definitely suggest doing these 3 things

  1. Sighnaghi / Signagi, aka the city of love is one of the most charming places in Kakheti. The cobblestoned village overlooks the Alazani Valley and offers beautiful views everywhere you look. Spend some time walking around the village and make sure you have lunch in a restaurant with gorgeous views. The Terrace is an affordable restaurant that offers amazing views of the area. Since it is a 10 minute drive from the village, not many people know about it. However it is stunning
  2. Allaverdi , one of the tallest orthodox monasteries in Europe is also a wine cellar. It is a great pitstop for wine tastings & views! It is a bit of a drive from Signagi, so you can include it in your itinerary if you have 2 days in the area
  3. Visit vineyards and take a wine-tasting tour. You can take a guided tour of the prominent wineries. Make sure you try local delicacies like Georgian draft wine and Imeruli cheese. Once you have explored the area to your heart’s content you can drive back to Tbilsi or straight to Kazbegi
Girl in Signagi Georgia
The beautiful town of Signagi


View of Signagi from terrace restaurant
Gorgeous views from The Terrace Cafe / Restaurant


Day 5 Driving to Kazbegi

The drive from Tbilsi to Kazbegi is a scenic one. However there are several narrow and winding roads as soon as you start nearing the mountains. So make sure you undertake this drive if you are comfortable with hill driving.

Here are some places you must stop along the way:

  1. Jinvali / Zhinvali Water Reservoir is the first stop on this route. It is especially scenic on a hot summer’s day
  2. Make sure you stop at the gorgeous Ananuri Fortified Castle. There is plenty of parking available here and it makes for the ideal photo opp. It tends to get crowded at the Castle, so do walk to the neighbouring bridge to escape the crowds whilst getting great views of the Castle
  3. By this time it is time for lunch. Pasanauri is perfect for lunch as it is home to many local restaurants. We recommend the truly special Guda – it’s a modern restaurant that serves delicious home-made specialities like Khinkali (Georgian dumplings) and Khachapuri (Georgian bread stuffed with local cheeses). Try the lamb or mushroom khinkali for a real treat!
  4. As you start driving towards Kazbegi after lunch, you will cross Gudauri and spot the Friendship monument. The monument offers incredible views of the area. Take a short walk around the monument and you’ll see amazing views everywhere. It is also possible to go paragliding during summer time in Gudauri.
Fortified Ananuri Castle on way from Tbilisi to Kazbegi
Dreamy views on the way from Tbilisi to Kazbegi – this is Ananuri


Days 5 & 6 Exploring Kazbegi & Gergeti

Kazbegi is an area of outstanding natural beauty. In peak summer mountains are green while in winter (all the way to the beginning of May) you can expect snow-laden views. Stepantsminda is a good base as the mountain town has facilities like supermarkets, restaurants, and ATMs. Kazbegi View and The Rooms Hotel Kazbegi are 2 great places to stay in the area. They offer amazing views and a truly experience-based stay

Spend your days doing the following

  1. Drive to Gergeti Trinity Church: It is the first stop of most tourists for a reason. Perched on a hilltop, it might be the most spectacularly located church we’ve seen on our travels. Definitely worth it! And we’d strongly suggest going there early morning or late evening after the tourist buses have departed.
  2. Drive to Truso Valley to soak in the views and drives the area has to offer
  3. Sno is home to giant sculptures of some of Georgia’s most prominent writers and artists. They make for a surreal sight against the mountains.
  4. Try to visit Juta village in Sno Valley, located 21 kilometers from Kazbegi. It is a great base for some pretty hikes in the area. The road there can be a bit tricky but the views are gorgeous 🙂
  5. If you enjoy extreme hikes, You can spend 1 day hiking to the Gergeti glacier – this 21 km hike takes about 10 hours. Make sure you carry good hiking shoes if you intend on doing this on your road trip in Georgia.

Once you are done exploring Kazbegi, you can drive back to Tbilsi

view of Kazbegi mountain from Kazbegi View hotel
Kazbegi mountain as seen from Kazbegi View hotel
Couple at Gergeti Trnity Church in Kazbegi after thunderstorm
Our first visit to Gergeti Trinity church – it had just rained – how magical
Gergeti trinity church at dusk with light
And with Vid you are guaranteed to spend hours to get the perfect shot 😀
Couple at Gergeti trinity church in Kazbegi
And we went back again in daylight – so beautiful

Day 7 Day trip to Armenia/Beach getaway in Batumi

If you’re craving beach views and have 2-3 days to spare, then head to Batumi on your road trip in Georgia. Alternatively it is easy to hop over to neighbouring Armenia for a few days. If you are an Indian passport holder, you can apply for an evisa, which takes approximately 3 days to come. If you are self-driving you also need a special pass to drive to Armenia.

However if you have just 1 or 2 days to spare, you can apply for the evisa and book a day/two-day trip to Armenia with one of the many tour companies that offer this trip. This day trip covers many highlights of Northern Armenia such as some of the most ancient monasteries in the world including the stunning monasteries of Haghpat, Sanahin, and Akhtala.

Even if you’re in Armenia for a day, make sure you try the local cuisine, bursting with fresh flavours inspired by neighbouring countries such as Turkey! Tabouleh, Armenian breads, dolma (minced meat steamed in cabbage leaves), and baked potatoes.

Road trip from Georgia to Armenia
Beautiful pitstops on the way from Georgia to Armenia
drone image of Haghpat Monastery in Armenia
A gorgeous drone image of Haghpat Monastery in Northern Armenia

That’s it. That concludes your incredible road trip of Georgia. Whether you base yourself in Tbilisi or drive around the country one thing is for sure – you will leave the country having experienced history, culture, incredible panoramas, and some great wine 🙂 Have fun. And if you have any questions, leave them below – we’ll answer them asap

And if you want to see a raw behind-the-scenes look at this road trip, check out our vlog of driving in Georgia on our Youtube channel

The post A road trip from Tbilsi, Georgia : Planning the perfect itinerary appeared first on Bruised Passports.

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Planning a short city break at Conrad Manila Wed, 20 Nov 2019 15:24:32 +0000 We have been curating some of our favourite Hilton Honors experiences in Asia this year. In the process, we’ve written...

The post Planning a short city break at Conrad Manila appeared first on Bruised Passports.

We have been curating some of our favourite Hilton Honors experiences in Asia this year. In the process, we’ve written about a lot of scenic and experiential stays in India, Thailand, and even Australia. But for our last experience, we wanted to pick something that would be ideal for travellers who likes the hum-drum of the metropolis and absolutely love shopping – that was how we landed at Conrad Manila!


I should point our that if you’re a Hilton Honors member, you can bid for this experience in Manila using just your Hilton Honors points and if you win the auction, you can savour this entire Hilton Honors Experience for free. Even sightseeing, transfers, and meals are included, so you don’t have to spend a penny from your pocket.    

Upon arriving at Conrad Manila we were greeted at a rather monochromatic lobby and guided towards an elevator. It was only when the elevator opened, that we felt we had truly arrived at Conrad – floor-to-ceiling glass windows overlooking the shore and opulent chandeliers, complemented by luxurious carpets welcome guests to the reception. The hotel boasts of one of the best views in Manila, so make sure you request a bay view room for yourself to wake up to a gorgeous view. This experience actually takes that up a notch and includes the executive bay view room, which also warrants access to the exclusive executive lounge where you can enjoy breakfast every morning and cocktails every evening.

Bay view bedroom at Conrad Manila – Perfect for sunsets 🙂
Such grand architecture and intricate details

Make sure you are well-rested when you head out to Manila – it is a sensory experience like no other. Traditionally tourists use Manila as a jumping point to explore the islands of Philippines, but the city has a few unique things to offer. Here is what we savoured as part of our Hilton Honors experience:

  • Explore Intramuros, the historical part of Manila on a guide tour. It’s an easy way to acquaint yourself with the history of Manila, especially the years of Spanish colonialism. You will see iconic landmarks such as Fort Santiago and Manila Cathedral Houses. The fortified city offers the perfect introduction to Manila before you delve headlong into its more chaotic areas.
Loved walking around in Intramuros – you MUST go on a walking tour


  • If you enjoy tasting local food or cultural sites, then we would also recommend a visit to Manila’s busy Chinatown, better known as Binondo. It is famous as the world’s oldest Chinatown and offers alleyways crammed with shops selling local snacks, gold jewellery, and lucky charms.
Absorbing the chaos and colour of Chinatown


  • If you have some time and enjoy experimenting with street food then make a quick pit stop at Quiapo Market or Concepcion Public Market. It is an easy way to sample local food at low prices – try skewers, spring rolls, and do not miss out on desserts – they’re finger-licking delicious.


  • You might have seen the historical and cultural parts of Manila, but no visit to the city is complete without a bit of shopping. Manila has several sprawling malls selling everything from Asian skincare and fashion to designer bags and shoes. Luckily, you won’t have to venture too far to shop in Manila because Conrad is connected to one of the largest malls in the world. SM Mall of Asia is no less than a tourist attraction and it is easy to spend the entire day exploring it to your heart’s content. You will find everything from high street brands like Forever 21 and H&M to pharmacies like Watsons and Asian skincare boutiques. The mall also has several restaurants and cafés, so one thing is for sure – you won’t go hungry.


  • Talking of food, we’d recommend working up an appetite while shopping and saving up those calories for the hotel’s gourmet offerings. Sample Conrad Manila’s signature afternoon tea, which is extremely popular with locals and you can enjoy it to a gorgeous view of the bay. Expect a mix of traditional afternoon tea such as scones and finger sandwiches and local delicacies such as sweet rice cakes, and ube pastries.
Tea with a view 🙂 This evening we experienced one of the most magnificent sunrises ever
Agree? 🙂


  • If you enjoy Asian food, make sure you try the dinner experience at China Blue where the menu is curated by the famed Jeremy Leung. His food uses traditional Chinese recipes but with a smattering of modern ingredients. Some of our favourites included their famed truffle mushroom buns, fried shrimp wasabi with mango salsa, and their chicken hotpot. Make sure you ask for a table overlooking the ferris wheel, which is all lit up at night. China Blue ensures gorgeous ambience for a dinner that is ideal for a special occasion or celebration.
Delicious food and amazing presentation at China Blue


  • For another culinary experience, make it a point to drop by Hilton’s sister property, Hilton Manila (close to the airport) for a meal at Hua Yuan, their Chinese Brasserie. It serves several Shanghainese delicacies such as roasted duck and braised pork, but their adorable dessert buns are a firm favourite. Take a look:
Look at those dumplings 🙂


  • After all that food comes dessert, am I right? Well you’re in luck. Manila has a whole museum dedicated to desserts – yes, you heard that right. The Dessert Museum is an ode to the mighty sweet tooth. Here you can waltz through rooms filled with donut walls, marshmallow ceilings, unicorn-themed candy, pink typewriters, and giant bowls of cereal. Think of it as Willy Wonka’s world – you even get a different sweet treat in every room you visit. You must drop by The Dessert Museum, especially if you’re travelling to Manila with kids, they will love it!
Quite a unique experience at The Dessert Museum – it’s amazing to see adults turn into kids 😉


  • Wrap up this relaxing break, full of food and shopping, with a luxuriant massage at the Conrad Spa. Ask for a room with a view so you can see the sun go down over Manila or just enjoy great views of the waterfront. It is no secret – massages in Asia are the absolute best. But here at Conrad Manila, the masseuses ensure you feel thoroughly rejuvenated before the treatment ends. In fact, at one point during our couples’ massage, I might have heard a tiny snore coming from Vid’s massage table. Is there any better way to end a successful city break?
Try booking your spa at sunset – trust me it’s magical 🙂

And that’s how you enjoy a food-fuelled sensory break in Manila. While there might not be much to do in the city in the traditional sense of the word, a quick getaway in Manila will definitely leave you wanting more. The city makes for the perfect pit-stop on your way to the islands of Philippines:)

Happy days 🙂

Here’s a short video from our trip 🙂


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Planning a one week road trip in Queensland, Australia Fri, 20 Sep 2019 19:13:55 +0000 We try to visit Australia at least once a year to spend some quality time with Vid’s nieces! And every...

The post Planning a one week road trip in Queensland, Australia appeared first on Bruised Passports.

We try to visit Australia at least once a year to spend some quality time with Vid’s nieces! And every time we are there, we try to explore at least one new place since the continent has so much to offer! But, since the first time we went to Queensland, a couple of years ago, we’ve been going back to explore little corners of the state as often as we can – it is one of our favourite states and we can never get enough.

Aah so gorgeous!

Queensland is huge and it would be no hyperbole to say it is truly the State of endless wonders! But if you have just one week and you want to plan an epic road trip in Queensland to sample lots of different things – the rainforest, vineyards, stunning beaches, hipster hotels, urban cafés, and that incomparable Australian vibe – then here’s what we suggest:

Day 1 Fly to Brisbane & pick up your rental car

Brisbane is well connected to most major cities all around the world. We flew from New Delhi with Malaysia Airlines – an extremely convenient flight which included a short stop over in Kuala Lumpur. I’m not a big fan of airplane food but Malaysia Airlines serves some of the best food in their flights. Do try it out. And if you’re flying Business Class, then you must try their satays or noodle soups. It will transport you to bustling Asian food markets. The service, as in all our previous flights with Malaysia Airlines, was all-smiles and impeccable.

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Coz there is nothing quite like the combination of books, scrumptious meals, and adventures with you; somewhere over the clouds ??? ✨ It’s always such a pleasure to fly @malaysiaairlines because they have THE yummiest food on-board (cue noodle soups and satay ??) but today was exceptional because I was running a temperature and the stewardess looked after me like a family member would – such great service. Kindness makes the world go round! ☺? Feeling all rested now and super-excited to be going back to Australia for a fun project with @Queensland – can’t wait to take you along ✈?? ✨ ✨ #bruisedpassports #flugoaway #MalaysiaAirlines #MalaysianHospitality #travel #australia

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Renting a car at Brisbane Airport

Once you’re in Brisbane, you can pick your rental car. A quick tip – you can also pick the car on Day 3 as you will be walking to most places in Brisbane. However we would recommend picking the car on Day 1 itself if you’re getting a good weekly rate for the rental and your hotel offers free parking.

As for rental companies, you will find booths for most major companies at Brisbane Airport. We always recommend pre-booking a car using a price comparison website like Kayak to get the best price! This is much cheaper than picking a car upon arriving at the airport.

couple with car in Queensland Australia
Get ready for some beautiful drives

Accommodation in Brisbane

Brisbane has a variety of accommodation to suit all budgets. There are some great Air BnBs in the area if you’re on a budget. Apartments are also ideal if you want access to a kitchen or you’re travelling with a large family.

If you’re keen on a hotel, The Calile is a favourite of ours. It’s one of the most unique hotels we’ve stayed at. Its pale-pink interior is bound to transport you to California one minute, Morocco the next. Everything from the subdued golden fittings to the vintage mini-bar is so aesthetically pleasing that you will want to photograph your room time and again. Reserve a few hours for the hotel’s now iconic pool and make sure you don’t miss breakfast at all – the fresh produce, gourmet granola, and coffee will ensure you ask for seconds.

Calile Hotel Brisbane city Australia
We LOVED The Calile


Days 2 & 3 Explore Brisbane

Brisbane is truly one of the most exciting cities in Australia. That’s because it’s good at being both laid-back and trendy at the same time. It’s not large or overwhelming. And yet there is no dearth of things to do.

We suggest keeping aside at least 2-3 days to explore Brisbane. Here are some of our favourite things to do in Brisbane:

Take a Walking Tour

On your first morning in Brisbane, take some time to walk around the centre. You could take a free walking tour or a guided tour with Walk Brisbane. Spend the morning introducing yourself to Brisbane’s major landmarks and its exciting art scene. There are so many fascinating museums such as the Gallery of Modern Art but we loved the street art and sculptures that can be seen in little laneways in Brisbane.

Take an interesting walking tour through some cool areas of Brisbane – the murals and street art are super cool

Picnic with a view

Brisbane boasts of some epic sunsets. And Kangaroo Point and Mount Coot-tha are two of our favourite places to enjoy them. But if you want to take your sunset experience up a notch, why not picnic to a view of Brisbane’s skyline. You could pick yourself picnic supplies from the supermarket. But if you’re celebrating a special occasion and want a truly memorable experience, you could also book one with the Vintage Picnic Company. Their set-ups seems like they’ve crawled out of pinterest- expect twinkling lights, rustic rugs, picnic baskets, and lots of incredible food. We opted for a grazing platter (yummy!) but you could also opt for a 3 course meal.

This picnic in Brisbane was a definite highlight for us

Go Kayaking …. at night

For the adventurous souls, we would highly recommend a bout of Night Kayaking at Brisbane River. Riverlife Brisbane organise this unique tour. We have been kayaking before but this was our first time kayaking at night and we thoroughly enjoyed it. I was a bit worried about kayaking in the dark, but their guide was with us every step of the way, so all worries went out of the window. We had a great time and finished it off with a BBQ dinner by the river.

kayaking at night in the river in Brisbane organised by Riverlife
Kayaking at night with a view of Brisbane’s skyline – what an experience 🙂

Eat to your heart’s content

There is no dearth of trendy cafés and bars in Brisbane. In fact you will find some of the world’s best coffee and fresh food here. But if there is one culinary experience we recommend it’s Eat Street. It is like nothing you would’ve experienced before – a bustling food market with live music and rides. It is reminiscent of vintage fairs but what makes it stand out is the sheer quality of the food. Everything we tried – from the steamed dumplings and nutella ice-cream to the popcorn and tacos was top notch! Eat Street is open only on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Do check it out if you happen to be in Brisbane for the weekend. If you’re there during the week, then Tuckshop time in Woolloongabba is a cute option for brunch.

desserts at eat street Northshore Brisbane
Try the desserts at Eat Street – oh we could fly back for one of these 🙂


Day 4 Go for an adventure in the rainforest

Once you’ve enjoyed Brisbane, it is time to drive far away from the city lights, to the rainforest. An easy 3 hour drive will take you to Lamington National Park. The hinterland is one of Australia’s most unique offerings and you have to experience it for yourself.

O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat is one of the very few accommodation options in the area. The rooms here tend to be a bit dated but the atmosphere is unparalleled. From the second you check-in, you are bound to feel at peace. There is a lot to do in the area surrounding O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat. You can go for guided bird walks. You could hike to one of the many waterfalls in the area. Or you could just spend your night star-gazing with your family.

Rooms at O'Reilly's overlooking the valley
Rooms at O’Reilly’s overlooking the valley
infinity pool at O'reilly's rainforest retreat Australia
Beautiful infinity pool to unwind and relax
sunset views and hike from O'reilly's retreat in Lamington National Park
Beautiful sunset views and a waterfall just a 30 minute hike from the property


Day 5 Enjoy Queensland’s vineyards

Chances are the hikes around the hotel will leave your muscles feeling a bit sore. So take a day to unwind and relax by exploring the neighbouring vineyards. There are plenty of vineyards in the area and you can choose any you want, but O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat offers some great wine-tasting sessions and packed picnics at their Canungra Valley Vineyards. Taste some wines, pick up a bottle if you’d like and spend a slow afternoon eating and drinking under the trees. There’s a nice stream at Canungra Valley Vineyards, that makes for the perfect picnic spot.

picnic at O'reilly's canungra vineyards
A perfect break on the way to Gold Coast – O’Reilly’s Canungra Vineyards


Day 6 Drive to the iconic Gold Coast

Once you’re all rested, it’s time to continue the road trip by driving to the iconic Gold Coast to get your beach fix. The drive is only 2 hours long, so you will have all of Day 6 to explore the area as well. From scenic points of view to water parks, there is so much to do in the area, so we would recommend spending at least 2-3 days here.

Accommodation in the Gold Coast area

There is plenty of accommodation to choose from. Avani Broadbeach offers luxurious and spacious apartments with great views of the ocean. If you choose to stay here, make sure you request for an apartment with a view. Hilton Surfers Paradise is also a good choice – they have both hotel rooms and apartments but their apartments have better views of the ocean.

If classic luxury is not your thing and you’re a fan of trendier accommodation, we highly recommend checking out Pink Hotel. It is located in one of Gold Coast’s coolest suburbs, Coolangatta and it’s retro-chic vibe will have you swooning within minutes. From vinyl players and neon signs to pink falls and flamingoes on bathrobes, you’ll find it all here. A hipster gem this!

Sunrise views from apartments at Avani Broadbeach
Sunrise views from our spacious apartment at Avani Broadbeach
Pink Hotel Coolangatta Gold Coast
The Pink Hotel – As quirky as it gets 🙂
Ocean view room at Hilton Surfers Paradise
Can’t beat that view from the room can you? At Hilton Surfer’s Paradise

Days 6&7 Explore, hike, and unwind at the beach

There are so many things to do in this area that even 2 weeks would not be enough. Here are some of our absolute favourites – you can pick and choose a few based on your preferences:

  • Let’s start with food (of course!). There are some great cafés and bistros in the area but we would highly recommend dropping by ELK Espresso or MLK Broadbeach for brunch. If you drop by MLK, do try their sumptuous Avocado Toast, Eggs Benedict, and Acai Bowls. Both cafés also serve some of the best coffee you would’ve had, anywhere in the world (that’s a big claim coming from a coffee geek, but it’s true)
brunch and smoothie bowls at MLK Broadbeach
The food and the coffee – out of this world 🙂 This is at MLK BroadBeach
  • If you’re travelling with kids or friends, then head to Gold Coast’s amusement parks – both Dreamworld and WhiteWater World have dozens of rides, food stalls, and entertainment, enough for a jam-packed day of fun.
A spot of fun at Dreamworld 🙂
  • Kids also love the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, where visitors can feed kangaroos and see koalas at close quarters
Kangaroos at Currumbin Sanctuary
Watch them kangaroos run around 🙂
  • If you enjoy hikes or photography, we’d highly recommend heading to Burleigh Heads. The beach is beautiful and really popular with locals. But a short hike will lead you to the Tumgun Viewpoint that offers a stunning view of the ocean.
Tumgun viewpoint – gorgeous views till the eyes can see
  • If you want to relax at a beach, then Miami and Currumbin Beach are great options. The Currumbin Rock Pools are a bit of a local secret and great on a sunny day!
Currumbin beach
  • You could also hop on a whale-watching cruise with Sea World Cruises if you have an afternoon to spare (and if it’s whale watching season :)). We did this and it must’ve been our lucky day because we saw dozens of whales and dolphins playing in the water.
whale watching with Seaworld Gold Coast
You MUST go whale watching


  • For something more romantic, we would recommend booking a sunset yacht cruise with Crystal Blue Yacht Charters. It is an incredible feeling to watch the sun go down over Gold Coast as you sip on champagne. If you’re celebrating a special occasion or in the mood for a splurge, you can also book a private yacht cruise for 2 people.
sunset yacht charter Gold Coast
And end the day with this luxurious sunset cruise on a yacht
  • If you’re looking for a special place for dinner and enjoy sea-food, then Baskk is a great option. Everything from the cocktail menu to the main courses is an experience in itself. Make sure you dress up and make a night out of it. Its laid-back, it’s chic, and it’s memorable. Baskk is a recent addition to the achingly-cool Coolangatta, but its in a league entirely its own.
Queensland Road Trip Brisbane
Drop by for an extremely special dinner at Baskk (picture credit – Baskk)


Day 8 Return your car and fly back

It’s that dreaded day – time for your day trip to come to an end. Return your car and Brisbane airport and prepare to fly back to your home country. We hope your mind is swimming with images of Queensland’s gorgeous hinterland, golden sunrises, powdery beaches, scenic hikes, and scrumptious meals. Queensland is often described as a living postcard and we hope this short road trip will help you see why!

See you soon, Queensland 🙂

We’ve tried to include all the details you might need to plan an amazing road trip in Queensland but if you have any questions leave them down below. This is the perfect road trip if you like a bit of adventure, gorgeous drives, and some time at stunning beaches with incredible food all along. We also have some amazing suggestions for other road trips around the world 🙂

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Best destinations to travel with kids : 5 child-friendly holiday ideas Tue, 17 Sep 2019 14:26:22 +0000   Travelling with kids! It’s a question we get asked pretty frequently, so we thought it was high time we...

The post Best destinations to travel with kids : 5 child-friendly holiday ideas appeared first on Bruised Passports.


Travelling with kids! It’s a question we get asked pretty frequently, so we thought it was high time we devote an entire article to it.

Travelling with young kids seems scary. But as many parents will agree, travelling with kids is not as intimidating as it is often made out to be! We have learnt this from close friends who travel frequently with kids. We’ve also met travellers in remote areas of Scandinavia, Canada, or the German countryside having the time of their life with their kids. And every week we get photos from our readers, who go on Bruised Passports inspired trips with their kids.

While you can literally go anywhere from Seychelles to Iceland with kids and so many of our readers have done that, there are a few countries that are just ideal for travelling with kids. Amenities such as kids clubs, kid-friendly attractions, wide variety of food for the fussiest of little travellers, and stroller-friendly walkways are just some of the things that make these countries more attractive than others. Here are our top 5 picks if you’re travelling with young kids. Pick one that suits your budget and we promise you will love it to bits 🙂

1) Singapore

Singapore is the ideal place for a first trip with a very young child. This is for various reasons

  • The country is extremely safe
  • Cabs are plentiful and affordable
  • It is easy to explore within 4-5 days
  • It has plenty of child-friendly attractions such as the iconic Singapore Zoo and Sentosa Island

Check out this super cute photo one of our readers shared from Singapore and read this article for a detailed guide to Singapore 


2) Meet Santa in Lapland

If you want to take your holiday up a notch and your kids are over 5 years of age, there is no better place for a holiday than Lapland often known as Santa Claus’ home town. Finnish Lapland is literally like a real life fairy-tale. We love it because there is so much for kids to do – they can go meet the ‘real’ Santa Claus, marvel at snow-laden forests, and feed baby reindeer. The best part is that parents have plenty to do as well – stay in an igloo, watch the Northern Lights, and enjoy this  amazing part of the world.

Read all our articles about Finnish Lapland here to plan an amazing trip for your kids

Lapland Itinerary Santa Claus Village Rovaniemi
Kids love the reindeer sleigh ride at Santa Claus Village


3) Go on a cruise

It’s no secret – we love cruises and have been on several of them. Cruises are an easy and convenient way to travel to scenic destinations. But cruises also offer incredible value-for-money if you’re travelling with kids. Cruises have kids clubs, activities for both young kids and teenagers, and extensive buffet spreads for the fussiest of eaters – all included in the daily price of the cruise. This makes them ideal for both young kids & teenagers – it’s hard to argue with an unlimited supply of pizzas and ice-creams right?

Some cruises that we would specially recommend with kids include Caribbean cruises and Alaskan cruises – if you like a bit of adventure. Choose a cost-effective cruise line such as Royal Caribbean or MSC Cruises if it’s your first time on a cruise ship and go, go, go. You can read all our articles on cruises here

And here’s a gorgeous photograph one of our readers shared of her family on an Alaskan cruise. She told us her daughter loved the experience:


4) A beach break of dreams

If you’re a family of beach lovers, then plan a trip that involves entire days spent relaxing by the beach. Here are a couple of things to look out for when traveling with kids to beaches

  • Kids’ Clubs: The most important thing to look out for when you’re booking a beach holiday with young kids or toddlers are hotels equipped with kids clubs. But don’t just stop there – make sure you research a bit about the staff to child ratio at the kids club as well. This way you can ensure your child will be looked after well even if you are relaxing in another part of the hotel.
  • Food: If your child is too young or too old for a kids club, then consider renting an apartment where you can cook meals that you know your child enjoys eating. If you prefer staying at a hotel, then try to opt for buffet meals as that way your child can pick and choose the food they like.
  • Destinations: If you’re looking for an affordable beach holiday with kids then Bali is a great option. If you want something a bit more luxurious, Seychelles and Maldives have amazing properties that cater to kids. If your kids are frequent travellers and don’t mind exploring new places with their parents, then Gold Coast (Australia) is a great option

You will find detailed guides for each place on our website. Here are a few photos shared by our readers who planned amazing holidays for themselves following our tips 🙂



5) A city-break in Europe

This is probably the most confusing of them all- the very thought of planning a city break in Europe with kids can be exhausting thanks to visions of strollers on cobbled streets, overpriced taxis, or walking miles to get to a restaurant. But you can plan an amazing holiday if you choose the destination smartly.

There are some obvious winners with kids. Such as Disneyland Paris. But it’s hard to spend more than 2-3 days in such places. So here are a few European cities we would recommend if you’re travelling with kids:

  • Barcelona and Lisbon because both cities have a large selection of family-friendly hotels. A number of restaurants have kids’ corners and The Lisbon Oceanarium is a big hit with kids
  • Copenhagen isn’t just a big hit with adults. Kids love it too. Visit The Blue Planet and the iconic Tivoli Gardens amusement park. Read our guide to Copenhagen here
  • Reykjavik is an amazing option with kids because it is extremely safe and well-developed, so kid-friendly facilities are everywhere. Rent a large apartment in the city and enjoy your time here. Read all our articles on Iceland here 
Tunnel at Aquarium in Copenhagen
Kids love The Blue Planet in Copenhagen


We hope this article gave you some fun ideas for your next holiday with kids. Let us know in the comments below if you would like a Part 2 of this post with more kid-friendly holiday ideas. Till then, it’s your friendly travel experts signing off with bear hugs and warm fuzzies! 🙂

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Crafting our Hilton Honors Experience in Gold Coast, Australia Thu, 04 Jul 2019 14:40:00 +0000 The sky is pink one minute and orange the next. The golden light of the sun outlines the clouds. There...

The post Crafting our Hilton Honors Experience in Gold Coast, Australia appeared first on Bruised Passports.

The sky is pink one minute and orange the next. The golden light of the sun outlines the clouds. There are dozens of birds lapping up the water. Surfers trying to tame the waves. All around us locals are going about their exercise routines. But we just sit there, admiring the sunrise! Sunrise at Surfers Paradise is an experience that is etched in our memory forever.


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Sunrise sorcery ??? The jet lag monster has hit us hard on this trip. But we’ve been dealing with it by sneaking out to the beach for sunrise every day. Today we went skinny dipping under the moon and then came the sunrise ☺? Vid shot timelapses of the sun and I read for hours. This quiet time by the beach has actually been our favourite part of this @hiltonhonors experience. If you visit Gold Coast, would highly recommend staying in a hotel that is minutes from the beach so you can feel that powdery sand on your feet anytime you want. For now, come experience this pastel sunrise with us ?? ✨ ✨ #bruisedpassports #hiltonhonorsexperiences #alwaysexceptional #hiltonsurfersparadise #travel #love #australia

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We visit Australia to spend time with Vid’s nieces ever so often but this time around we were in Gold Coast to showcase an exciting experience for Hilton Honors members. If you’re a Hilton Honors member, you can bid for this experience using Hilton Honors points and if you win the auction, you can savour this entire Hilton Honors Experience. Even sightseeing, transfers, and meals are included, so you don’t have to spend a penny from your pocket.

Here’s all our favourites that are included in the experience itself:

  • Limousine transfers

From the moment you land at the airport, all your transfers are taken care of. You will be pampered with limousine transfers, so you feel like a VIP on your vacation in the Gold Coast.

  • Hotel Stay

Hilton Surfers Paradise is located in close proximity to Surfers Paradise beach. Rooms are equipped with comfortable beds, large windows and views overlooking the ocean, hinterland or city. Breakfast boasts of a huge full buffet selection, including a cereal bar, salad bar, fruit and hot food stations. In addition to this, you can also expect an array of Asian and continental delicacies. The combination of spacious rooms and such an extensive breakfast buffet makes it an attractive option for both couples and families. A spa treatment at Eforea spa in the hotel is included in your Hilton Honors Experience, so make sure you reserve it for a day when you need it the most.

The best part is that the hotel is less than a 5 minute walk from the beach front. This ensures great views but better still, you can walk to the beach at sunrise before the crowds descend. We might have done this everyday (hello jetlag!) and can I just say, this was definitely our highlight of the day every single day!

Ocean view room at Hilton Surfers Paradise
Can’t beat that view from the room can you?
Girl at Surfers Paradise beach at sunrise
This gorgeous view just a couple of minutes’ walk from the hotel!
eforea spa at Hilton Surfers Paradise
We ended our stay in Gold Coast with a relaxing massage at eforea
Hilton surfers paradise
Sunny days and palm-fringed boulevards – all at Hilton Surfers Paradise


  • Meals, drinks, and nibbles

Isn’t food the highlight of every holiday? This Hilton Honors Experience includes several meals that you will love to bits. Grab some cocktails at Fix Bar – they have several interesting ones on offer including a Watermelon Negroni that we loved! Don’t leave without sampling the nibbles, especially the halloumi fries with garlic aioli. You will definitely be asking for seconds.

Another meal that is included in this experience, and one you shouldn’t skip, is a relaxed dinner at Catch Restaurant. Here fresh ingredients, sustainable seafood, and occasionally Asian flavours come together to create a delectable meal, one you will remember for a while. Come hungry and try the signature Seafood Platter for two. If you’re not ravenous, the chargrilled barramundi or braised lamb shoulder is scrumptious too.

Martini and snacks at FIX bar
Could fly back for this Espresso martini and delicious finger food at FIX


  • Entry to Gold Coast’s iconic theme parks

You can’t visit the Gold Coast without visiting its iconic theme parks. They offer the perfect excuse to have some much-needed fun with friends, family, or your partner. Tickets to Dreamworld and WhiteWater World are included in this experience, so we would suggest keeping one entire day for this. Make sure you’re amongst the first to enter Dream World (gates open at 10 am). Scream your lungs out on the crazy roller coasters (The Claw is a specially fun one!), feast on snacks, witness a parade or two, and enjoy the excitement in the air. Dreamworld makes for a fun day out. If you’re a water baby at heart, then head over to the adjoining Whitewater World for the rest of the day. There are dozens of fun rides here – just change into your swimwear and get ready to be splashed with copious amounts of water. Don’t leave without trying the Pipeline Plunge or the crazy Super Tubes Hydro Coaster. One thing’s for sure – you’ll be tired and happy at the end of this day.

Make sure you wear comfortable clothes and shoes. And don’t forget to carry your swimwear and sunscreen for the adventure.

Dreamworld Gold Coast scary ride Claw
Had a field day at Dreamworld – SO MUCH FUN!


  • A visit to Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary

You can’t come to Australia and leave without seeing kangaroos right? Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary is the perfect place to witness kangaroos and koalas in their habitats. The sprawling sanctuary is a magnet for kids, so we would definitely recommend it if you are travelling with your family. Kids can feed baby kangaroos, watch koalas, and even get photos with them.

It can take quite a few hours to explore the sanctuary. But if you’re not too tired by the end of it, we would recommend stopping at Burleigh Heads Beach or even Currumbin beach on your way back to the hotel. The beach offers stunning views of Surfers Paradise and is the perfect place to spend a relaxed afternoon around Currumbin.

Kangaroos at Currumbin Sanctuary
Watch them kangaroos run around 🙂
Koala hanging by the tree at Currumbin Sanctuary Gold Coast
That was pretty much our condition mid-day all thanks to jet lag!!
Currumbin beach Gold Coast
Gorgeous Currumbin beach with the Surfers Paradise skyline in the backdrop
  • Take a surfing lesson or chill at a secluded beach 

It isn’t called the Gold Coast for nothing! The area is home to dozens of powdery beaches. You could enrol yourself for a surfing lesson at Surfers Paradise that is included in your Hilton Honors Experience. And if surfing isn’t your cup of tea, and you just want to relax at the beach or read a book by the water, then we’d suggest heading to one of the many secluded beaches in the area. Tallebudgera Creek, Snapper Rocks, and Greenmount Beach are just a couple of options.

Wrap up the laid-back day by heading to the bustling Miami Marketta. This little food market is inspired by Asian food markets. A number of stalls, boasting of fresh food made from premium ingredients, can be found at close quarters. You’ll find everything from falafel rolls and briskets to pizzas and stews here. But the best part is the live music, which keeps the vibe upbeat. Ideal for a Friday night, Miami Marketta is a wee gem in the area.

Surfer at Surfer's Paradise beach
GO surfing 🙂
Or relax at the many beaches along Gold Coast


Live music and food at Miami Marketta
Wrap up the day with scrumptious food and live music at Miami Marketta


  • Drive the Pacific Highway

If you’d like to extend your holiday, then Surfers Paradise is also the ideal starting point for an iconic drive along the Pacific Highway to Sydney. This is famed to be one of the prettiest roads in the world and makes for a great little road trip. Rent a car in Gold Coast and start driving towards Sydney, before flying out from Sydney. There are a number of stunning stops along the way including Byron Bay, Coffs Harbour, and Port Macquarie but it’s the feeling of driving along the water that we enjoyed the most. You could spend anywhere from 2-6 days on this road trip, depending on the time you have on hand. Do note that this drive is not a part of the Hilton Honors Experience.

Couple driving along the pacific coast
Happiest when on the road 😀


That’s it – those were the highlights of our visit to Gold Coast. This is a Hilton Honors experience ideal for those who love the sun, sea, and the great outdoors. If you want to see some other Hilton Honors Experiences we’ve enjoyed before you start the process of bidding for your favourite ones, you can see them right here.




Disclaimer: We have been Hilton Honors members for over 11 years now, much before we had a website or social media was even a thing! But this year we got the chance to work with them for the first time as digital ambassadors. We are so proud of this association with a program we’ve loved using so much during the last decade! You can read our detailed Disclaimer Policy here

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That Next Level Honeymoon at Namale Resort & Spa Fiji Mon, 16 Jul 2018 08:56:06 +0000 Imagine a palm-fringed paradise which offers over 500 acres of rainforests and beaches. Devouring a three course meal as the...

The post That Next Level Honeymoon at Namale Resort & Spa Fiji appeared first on Bruised Passports.

Imagine a palm-fringed paradise which offers over 500 acres of rainforests and beaches. Devouring a three course meal as the sun sets over the ocean. Getting a rejuvenating massage to the sound of the waves. Swimming with baby sharks. Luxuriating in the splendour of villas far away from civilisation.


fiji airways domestic scenic flight from Nadi to Savusavu
Bula Fiji! Bula Namale!

Namale Resort and Spa is for those who hanker for that next-level honeymoon or romantic getaway. It is no ordinary hotel. The hotel offers scrumptious meals, endless drinks, scenic destination-dining opportunities, water sports and a plethora of cultural experiences all included in the nightly room rate.  But what makes it truly special is that fact that no request is too much for the staff. You could request dozens of candles at your dinner table, freshly-cooked vegetarian food, or even cocktails on a float in the middle of the sea. And the staff will get it done! That’s what makes it unlike any other hotel we’ve visited.

The best part, of course, is that it affords unrivalled privacy and is geared specially towards couples. Luxurious rooms are equipped with everything from plunge pools to projector and room service is free. So you don’t even need to leave your room if you don’t want to! It’s that elusive haven where you can leave both your wallet and your watch packed inside your bags because you won’t be needing either of them! Read on to find out why it’s the ideal romantic getaway 🙂

drone view of one bedroom villa Civa Duavata at Namale Resort and Spa Fiji
Spot us in our room at Namale Resort and Spa?


Picking the right room

Namale Resort and Spa boasts of over 525 of rainforest and beaches with just 20 rooms. No two rooms are alike and each of them have a different name. So irrespective of which one you choose, privacy and luxury is almost a given! Traditional Fijian Bures (huts) and one-bedroom villas are equipped with large bedrooms, spacious wardrobes, bath tubs, luxurious Fijian toiletries, sprawling balconies, and private pools. But it’s the novel touches such an in-room projectors, Apple TVs, and 24 hour room service that make it almost impossible to tear oneself away from the room.

If you are at Namale Resort and Spa for more than 5 days, we’d suggest splitting your time between one of the Honeymoon Bures and one-bedroom villa. The Honeymoon Bure is spacious enough for a couple and offers a large balcony, private plunge pool, and direct access to the beach via a private staircase. We opted for the Susana Bure due to its proximity to the reception and restaurant.

The one-bedroom villa amplifies the luxury factor even further by offering guests the largest accommodation we’ve ever seen on our travels. To call it a hotel room would be a travesty because it comes equipped with 2 dining rooms, 2 outdoor rain showers, bath tub, a sprawling dressing room, a huge balcony with several seating areas and the pièce de ré·sis·tance a large swimming pool overlooking the ocean! We chose the Civa villa because it offers some of the best views in the hotel. Take a look for yourself.

Honeymoon Bure Susana at Namale Resort and Spa fiji
Susana – our Honeymoon Bure for 3 nights
sunset from plunge pool of Susana honeymoon bure at Namale resort and Spa fiji
The sun sets right opposite the plunge pool of Susana
pool at one-bedroom villa Civa at Namale Resort Fiji
Civa, a one-bedroom villa – our home for the second half of our stay 🙂
Master bedroom at one bedroom villa in Namale Resort and Spa Fiji
Beautiful and super spacious interiors
Sunrise from Civa villa at Namale Resort and Spa Fiji
Sunrise or sunset – you choose – both are gorgeous from Civa’s infinity pool



For someone like me, who is always annoyed at how quickly dining costs add up when we are on holiday, the all-inclusive concept is godsent. Of course this means that all drinks and meals at Namale Resort and Spa are included in the cost of the room itself. The hotel has an open bar and 2 restaurants that offer a mix of continental and Fijian delicacies. The menu changes each night but guests can personalise each meal and even request dishes that are not on the menu. We had the most scrumptious Fijian prawn curry on our first night there and I requested it for dinner almost every day after! No request is too much for the chefs at Namale.

But the best part is yet to come. A variety of scenic destination dining experiences are included in the cost of the room as well. This includes

  • Lunches by a private waterfall in the hotel complex
  • Meals at the Lover’s Deck, overlooking the ocean and a natural blowhole
  • Cocktails & dinner at the beach as the sun sets over the ocean
  • Sundowners at the incredibly scenic blowhole deck
  • A candle-light dinner inside a cave

We’d suggest giving as many of these a try as you possibly can. But those are just some of dining opportunities suggested by the hotel. Namale’s motto seems to be – you don’t go for lunch, lunch comes to you! Keeping that in mind, the staff is eager to serve guests a meal literally anywhere they want. You could be sitting in a remote corner of the beach and the staff will bring your meal there!

Main bure dining restaurant at Namale Resort and Spa Fiji
A meal at the Main Bure restaurant – complete with sound of waves 🙂
Couple having lunch by waterfall at Namale Resort and Spa Fiji
Have lunch by a beautiful waterfall? Why NOT? 🙂
Lover's deck with heart shaped jacuzzi at Namale Resort and spa Fiji
Beautiful sunset followed by a scrumptious dinner at Lover’s Deck.


infinity pool breakfast on fiji honeymoon
You can literally ask for your meals to be served wherever you want 🙂



Each evening, the hotel hosts a variety of shows that showcase Fijian culture and history. We loved the energetic Polynesian dance performed by a group of young Fijian students and the traditional Fijian Meke dance. But the one experience we would highly recommend participating in is the traditional Fijian kava ceremony. The rituals surrounding the kava root are deeply intertwined with Fijian culture. While the taste of kava is, at best, an acquired taste, we’d urge you to give it a try and sing along with the local musicians as you partake in the ceremony.

cultural entertainment at namale REsort and Spa Fiji
We really enjoyed the entertainment every evening 🙂
staff at namale resort and spa fiji
The ever smiling and caring staff



It’s easy to spend entire days in your villa at Namale Resort and Spa. But a whole host of activities are included in the nightly price of the room and we’d definitely recommend experiencing as many of them as possible. Here’s some we would definitely recommend:

  • Horse riding by the beach – this was one of my favourite things to do at the hotel. You can book a horse riding session, irrespective of whether you’re an amateur or a pro.
  • Kayaking – just pick up your kayaks from the activity centre and go kayaking under the Fijian sun
  • Water sports – if you’re a water baby, then you could spend your days waterskiing, paddle-boarding, and snorkelling. Namale is also an ideal spot to book a diving session as it is a PADI 5 star resort facility
  • For a bit of fun under the sun, try out the water trampoline
  • And most importantly, spend hours on the beautiful beach under the shadow of palm trees 🙂



couple walking on the beach at Namale Resort and Spa Fiji
The two of us walking by the beach at Namale Resort and Spa 🙂


Loved spending time with the horses at Namale Resort and Spa, Fiji


Add ons

If you have any time left after experiencing the range of included dining and experiential activities at Namale, the hotel also offers some truly special experiences for a fee. There are several of these on offer and the hotel can also arrange any bespoke experience that you might have read about somewhere or always wanted to tick off your bucket list. But here are a couple of paid experiences we would highly recommend:

  • Sandbar Picnic – sail to a remote sandbar in the middle of nowhere and spend the day snorkelling and sipping on chilled beers as you admire the crystal clear waters and spot a baby shark or two
  • Two waterfall hike – if you want to work up an appetite and acquaint yourself with the sights and sounds of Vanua Levu, then book a hike to two gorgeous waterfalls. The day starts with a stop at a local market followed by an uphill hike to the first waterfall. Next, you will get the chance to present the kava root to a village elder and walk to the second waterfall, where you can take a refreshing dip and relax
  • A relaxing treatment at the spa – book yourself a relaxing massage at the Namale spa. For the ultimate indulgence, consider booking the Moonlight Magic treatment. What is that? Imagine being surrounded by a carpet of flowers and candles, as the sun sets over the beach. Following it up with an indulgent body massage with fruits of the Earth like coconut cream and warm oils. Relaxing in a warm hydrotherapy pool. And winding down with herbal tea and nibbles to the sound of the waves and the full moon stretched out over the beach
Sandbar picnic at Namale Resort and Spa Fiji
BULA from the middle of nowhere – a picnic at this sandbar is the stuff of dreams
Honeymoon couple fiji waterfall
Hiked to two waterfalls and got one all to ourselves 🙂


Relaxing spa treatment right by the ocean


a sunset massage is perfect if you're on your honeymoon in Fiji
Spa treatment of dreams – a sunset massage is perfect if you’re on your honeymoon in Fiji


Getting to Namale Resort And Spa

Namale Resort and Spa is located near Savusavu on the island of Vanua Levu. You will need to take a long-haul flight from your country of origin to Nadi International Airport (Fiji). Following this, you will need to take a short domestic flight (1.5 hours) from Nadi to Savusavu. This is an incredibly scenic flight in a tiny aircraft, so make sure you grab the window seat! Namale Resort and Spa is a 30 minute drive from the airport.

Fiji Airways offers convenient flights to Nadi International Airport (Fiji) from a host of places including Singapore, Christchurch (New Zealand), Auckland (New Zealand) and Sydney (Australia). We took a direct flight from Singapore to Nadi. The 10 hour flight was comfortable. The business-class section of the aircraft, an Airbus 330, had 3 rows instead of 4. This ensured spacious seats and more leg room than usual. The menu had a good mix of Fijian and Asian delicacies and a standard range of snacks, cheese platters, and beverages. Of course, the one thing that makes the experience different is Fiji Airways’ characteristic Fijian hospitality. From the second you step foot on board the aircraft, warm smiles and personalised attention make guests feel truly special.

This was the case literally everywhere we went in Fiji. If you enjoy being lavished with attention, then Fiji is the place for you and Fiji Airways the airline of choice 🙂

Appetisers on board Fiji Airways' Singapore-Nadi flight
Delectable appetisers on board Fiji Airways’ Singapore-Nadi flight


Fiji honeymoon Fijian rum on flight
Saying good bye to Fiji with some Fijian rum 🙂
Breakfast in Fiji airways business class flight from Singapore to Nadi
Great hospitality and amazing views – what a morning 30000 feet above the ground 🙂


Fact File

  • We’d suggest combining your honeymoon in Fiji with a city break in Australia or a road trip in New Zealand
  • Namale Resort and Spa is located on the island of Vanua Levu, which is a short and incredibly scenic flight from Nadi International Airport (Fiji)
  • Namale Resort and Spa offers unrivalled privacy and is ideal for honeymoons and romantic getaways.
  • Prices start at $800. The nightly price of the room includes accommodation, all activities, all meals, destination dining, and unlimited drinks. More on
We spent hours on the beach – will miss this!


Here is a video of our time at Namale Resort and Spa


And here’s a little something for all our virtual family – if you book a stay at Namale resort up until June 2019 and mention that you’re a Bruised Passports reader you’ll get a complimentary Super Glow spa treatment (45 minutes) for a couple – you’re welcome 😀


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Top 10 Getaways In India to put on your list right now! Wed, 06 Jun 2018 06:41:48 +0000 Mention India and the next thing you know people are waxing eloquent about the chaotic and colourful bylanes of New...

The post Top 10 Getaways In India to put on your list right now! appeared first on Bruised Passports.

Sunset from a shikara on Dal lake in Srinagar
Can’t ask for a better sunset at Dal Lake, Kashmir

Mention India and the next thing you know people are waxing eloquent about the chaotic and colourful bylanes of New Delhi, entering the iconic Taj Mahal for the first time, or going on a day trip to Jaipur. But there is so much more to travelling in India than visiting the Golden Circle on a whirlwind tour from New Delhi. The heterogeneity of travel experiences available in the country are bound to leave you spellbound. So we curated some of our favourite getaways in India for you. Here is a list of 10 of our favourite getaways in India – there’s something here for you, no matter what kind of traveller you are:


  • 1) A Roadtrip in Sikkim

Glittering glacial lakes, endless pastures, waterfalls at every turn, quiet monastery towns, and scenic drives on some of the worst roads we’ve encountered on our travels made our trip to Sikkim an adventure we will NEVER forget. The state of Sikkim, nestled in the North Eastern part of India, isn’t exactly on the tourist radar. But it should be. The state has so much to offer to visitors. Towns such as Gangtok and Pelling have some gorgeous hotels and sights that ensure a memorable holiday. But the lack of infrastructure, especially in areas such as North Sikkim, make the journey challenging. This one is for those who are adventurers at heart. Read more details about our roadtrip in Sikkim before planning yours.

Gurudongmar Lake, Sikkim
  • 2) Flower fields in Karnataka

The Bangalore-Mysore highway is home to dozens of sunflower and marigold fields during summer months. You will see them lining both sides of the road as you drive from Mysore to the little village of Gundlupet. Take the cue when you spy an ochre patch hidden by swaying palm trees. As you tip-toe into it, expect to find a VAST expanse covered with hundreds of thousands of flowers – it’s hard to get enough of them.There truly is no wrong time to go explore the countryside of Karnataka, but if you want to catch the flowers in full bloom, visit between 1 June and 15 September.

Combine this experience with a smattering of street food in Mysore, a luxurious stay at a coffee farm in Coorg, beachside walks at Gokarna, or a stay by the majestic temples of Hampi depending on the time you have at hand. Tropical plantations punctuated with gold sunflower fields, modern highways flanked by marigold fields as far as the eye can see, neon green paddy fields surrounded by fragrant spice & coffee plantations- a getaway in Karnataka is ideal if you’re travelling with kids or craving a mix of comfort, luxury, and panoramas all at once. Read everything you need to know about planning a trip to Karnataka

The flower fields and coffee farms of Karnataka are bound to seduce you
  • 3) A Whole New Way Of Seeing Taj Mahal

A list of Top 10 getaways in India would be incomplete without mentioning the iconic Taj Mahal. But it’s HOW you do it that matters.

It’s no secret. Visiting touristy places in India can be a bit of a sensory overload. This is nowhere truer than at a place that boasts of being one of the most visited and most photographed monument in the world – The Taj Mahal. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to avoid the crowds or enjoy the mighty Taj Mahal in ways that pay homage to the sheer splendour of the monument- you just have work that little bit harder. I won’t lie – in the process you might have to walk through grubby alleyways, mucky passages, or sit on rickety boats that could give way any second. But that’s how you find that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. You could admire the Taj Mahal from a boat, find hidden corners inside the actual monument, admire it from a hot air balloon, or get up at the crack of dawn for a stellar view of the facade. And when that happens, time stands STILL, it truly does. Read our article on 5 unique ways of photographing Taj Mahal here

Sunrise behind the Taj Mahal from Hathi Ghat
One of the most gorgeous sunrises at Taj Mahal 🙂
  • 4) Luxury and bohemia in Goa

With the influx of tourism to the coastal state, it’s become harder to escape crowds. But it’s easy to savour some truly unique & bohemian experiences on your holiday to Goa. We’d suggest booking a luxurious scenic hotel to start.  We loved our time at Grand Hyatt Goa. Fill your days exploring the little known churches of Old Goa, the offbeat beaches of South Goa, shopping to your heart’s content, and lingering over meals in quaint bakeries and cafes. Read this detailed article on 5 of our favourite things to do in Goa


Explore little known gems in Goa
  • 5) A historical city break in Rajasthan

One of our favourite things to do in India is to take a historical break, sprinkled with colour and shopping, in Rajasthan. Udaipur & Jodhpur are our personal favourites for a short break but you’re in for a treat, irrespective of the town or city you choose. Rajasthan is where picturesque lakes, handsome forts, imposing palaces, vast expanses of the Thar desert, bubbling pots of tea, and well …. stray cows jostle for attention. Spend your days walking through alleyways dripping with history, savouring delectable delicacies, admiring colourful Rajasthan fabrics swaying in the wind, and sharing tales with locals who greet visitors with huge smiles. Shop for colourful trinkets and scarves, go on a desert safari, or just go hunting for an abandoned fort or two


Gangaur Ghat things to do in Udaipur
Exploring historical gems in Udaipur
  • 6) A unique vineyard stay in Maharashtra 

Over the years, we’ve stayed in some great vineyard hotels in New Zealand, South Africa, Australia, US, and even Peru. But last year, we stayed at a vineyard in India for the first time and had a great weekend. We spent languid days biking around Fratelli vineyards, making friends at the winery, observing the bottling process, driving around the Maharashtrian countryside, and most importantly, sampling an array of red wines, white wines, & rosé blends. If you visit the Fratelli vineyards, you must try the 2009 Sette, a rich blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese grapes. The months between August and March are ideal to visit these vineyards as they are LUSH green. But if you are flexible, then we would suggest visiting during harvest months (January- March). This is the BEST time to visit because the vineyards are laden with grapes and there are lots of events (grape stomping, wine master classes etc) scheduled for those months.

Undulating vineyards, memorable sunsets, nuanced wines, home-cooked Indian food, and boutique accommodation – a vineyard stay in Maharashtra makes for a short & affordable weekend getaway. Read all about planning a stay at Fratelli Vineyards here.

The two of us in our jeep at Fratelli vineyards 🙂
  • 7) A Roadtrip To Ladakh

Ladakh is one of the most spectacular places on Earth and my personal favourite. It’s the land where barren landscapes are illuminated by the glimmering sun and monasteries dot the landscape. I love photographing Ladakh.

A road trip to Ladakh is no small feat- it is well and truly the stuff of dreams. Ladakh’s soundlessness, its cobalt blue skies, bright rainbows, and glistening lakes are pure magic. This road trip boasts of iconic landmarks such as one of the highest motorable roads in the world (Khardung La); some of the highest mountain passes in the world such as Zoji La and Tanglang La; splendid scenic drives in remote regions, and some little known gems such as the kaleidoscopic More Plains, Lamayuru, and the hypnotic Gata Loops !! We have a 4 part guide to Ladakh with all details about planning, packing, and budgeting on our website (link in bio), so I won’t go into logistics, but it is truly a road trip like no other. Read our detailed guide to planning this roadtrip to Ladakh here.


A Roadtrip in Ladakh is every bit worth the hype
  • 8) A Surreal Winter Holiday in Kashmir

During summer months orchards are in full bloom & hundreds of luscious red apples dangle precariously off trees. Juicy peaches are being harvested. Walnuts are beginning to ripen in a nearby field. Hyacinths, irises and amaranth flowers line roads that lead to snow-clad mountains. Elsewhere Kashmir’s iconic Chinar trees provide resplendent shade to passers-by. But we’d suggest visiting during quieter winter months for a stunning getaway that you’ll remember for a LONG time. That’s because Kashmir’s winter has an identity all its own. It enthrals and seduces in equal measures.

Whatever you choose, don’t forget to take the time to talk to the people and listen to their stories. Kashmiris are warm and hospitable and regale visitors with stories by the dozen. Of course, there is an unavoidable subtext of political conflicts and violence that mars many a tale, but that is what makes interactions with locals in Kashmir so enlightening. In fact these interactions will definitely be the highlight of your travels in the region.
In terms of sightseeing, you can choose from a variety of scenic and experiential excursions but we’d recommend sampling Wazwan cuisine in Srinagar, waking up early for the floating flower market, hopping on the Gulmarg Gondola, one of the highest operating cable cars in the world, hitting the ski slopes, or driving down to admire nature at Yousmarg. Just writing this is making me want to book a getaway to Kashmir soon – go, go, go. Read our guide to visit Srinagar here
Sunset from a shikara on Dal lake in Srinagar
Can’t ask for a better sunset at Dal Lake, Kashmir
  • 9) Exploring The Backwaters of Kerala

Book yourself a stay on a houseboat in Kumarakom, a great alternative to the crowded Alleppey. This is an experience like no other. When you’re booking, make sure you choose a TRADITIONAL houseboat fashioned out of reed, cork, and bamboo. Treat yourself to a canoe ride, a traditional Ayurvedic massage, or go-birdwatching Expect to spend your time sailing past duck farms, busy villages, and floating shops. Watch the sun set over the backwaters from the comfort of your houseboat and savour local delicacies such as Meen Pollichathu (grilled fish) or Karimeen curry (spicy fish curry), and Sadya (traditional vegetarian feast) as the day metamorphoses into night in front of your eyes. Spend evenings lounging on the boat while staring at the stars. Make the most of it as it will soon be time to drive out of Kumarakom

You can combine your visit to the backwaters with a visit to the beaches of Varkala or Kovalam, the tea estates of Munnar, or the spice plantations of Thekkady depending on your preferences and the time you have at hand. Brightly coloured houses, reticent but smiling locals, and low-lying clouds. undulating Tea Estates spread out as far as the eye can see, mystic spice plantations and coffee farms spread over acres – a trip in Kerala is a delightful assault to the senses – the colours, the smiles, and the landscapes are bound to leave the traveller in you reeling with JOY. We have a detailed itinerary of Kerala on our website if you want details about budgeting, planning, or driving in Kerala

A houseboat stay in Kerala is dreamy
  • 10) A therapeutic glamping getaway

Let’s wrap up this list with an experience that offers a combination of everything we love in a holiday – remote panoramas, adventure, luxury, incredible scenery, and good food! We’ve visited dozens of glamping hotels and retreats all over the world. You know we love glamping, so we’ve had some crazy experiences involving teepees, tree-houses, tents, and refurbished motorhomes in so many different countries. But India has some of the MOST stunning and comfortable glamping sites in the world. You could choose one that tickles your fancy and suits your budget.

Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh offer a variety of affordable glamping sites. For instance V Resorts Sariska is close to the Sariska Tiger Reserve and boasts of comfortable canvas tents, well equipped with all kinds of amenities- running hot water, showers, comfortable beds, power sockets etc. There is a small infinity pool and a great restaurant that serves piping hot food on site. If you want a glamping experience that is truly once-in-a-lifetime, check out The Ultimate Travelling Camp (TUTC) in Ladakh. Glamping here is truly as INDULGENT as it gets – Persian rugs, heated tents, hot and cold showers, plug sockets, luxuriously-scented toiletries, ornate chandeliers, and a personal butler! Soul lifting scenery with blue lakes and white sands, beautiful mountains along with the most luxurious and lavish glamping tents made our stay here one of our most memorable ones yet. Where else in the world would you get a chance to relish pan-seared scallops on a bed of sundried tomatoes in the shadow of a gorgeous monastery and star-spangled sky? INCREDIBLE INDIA is the answer!

Glamping in India is magic


That’s it – 10 iconic and unique getaways in India that you must put on your bucket list. Enjoyed reading this? Do leave us a comment below and tell us if you’d like to see a Part 2 for this series 🙂

The post Top 10 Getaways In India to put on your list right now! appeared first on Bruised Passports.

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