As with most major tourist attractions, getting to the Taj Mahal as early as possible ensures that you beat the herds (and the heat). Taking in the stunning beauty and tranquility of the Taj (really, photographs do it no justice) and the misty stillness of the surrounding area at sunrise you'll forget you're still in Agra; not so come 8am when the floods begin to arrive.
There are organised trips to kayak down the river from Vang Vieng to Vientiene - well, a mini bus takes you for about an hour at each end but you kayak for most of the way. The river is beautiful and the guides are excellent, even cooking up a barbie on the rocks for lunch! You get to go through some white-water, which is exhillarating, and there's a huge rock jump for the brave en route. The whole day is brilliant fun and beats the pants off the 7 hour drive in a cramped minibus over mile upon mile of unmade road.
Although most of Pier 39 is pretty horrendous and full of tourists guzzling chowder that looks like chunder out of 'bowls' made from hollowed out giant bread rolls, the sea lions are definately worth a look if you're passing. You actually get really close and can easily pass a pleasant half hour watching them lazing out in the sun on their floating platforms and generally having a good time.
Pinecrest offers everything a good diner should: huge breakfasts, endless coffee refills, maple syrup jugs on the tables, gum chewing attentive-but-aloof waitresses, a choice of sitting at the counter or in booths, milkshakes to die for, nutty but extremely friendly clientele, and it's 24 hour - what more could you want?! A classic american experience!
401 Geary St (at the corner of Pine Street), San Francisco, 94102
Tel: 1 415 885 6407
The best £2.50 you can spend in Brighton. This is the ride at the end of the pier, and it's hilarious and scary all at once. You sit in a giant, lurid coloured mouse, and it feels like you're about to fly off into the sea at any moment. Then it whips and spins you around endlessly; hence the 'crazy' I suppose. Wicked fun.
This is only a journey for people with time on their hands - it was supposed to take three hours but took nine. But it is a real experience. The river takes you through countless villages literally built right on it - floating pig sties and huts, children picking up groceries on tiny canoes, people fishing - it is amazing. The boat drivers’ steering can be a bit haphazard at times to say the least, and it's not the most comfortable boat, but this is a journey you won't forget in a hurry. Take sunscreen and a camera.
Hanoi is a beautiful city and I had a fantastic - if soggy - time there. If it wasn't raining then the air was thick with damp mist, and my clothes never quite dried properly. However, I found the perfect start to these wet days: breakfast at the Kangaroo Cafe. They serve up the biggest and hottest breakfasts - the perfect way to set yourself up for a wet day exploring the city.
18 Pho Bao Khanh, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi
At the Petronas Towers you can do a free tour, which includes the brilliant bridge-walk across the walkway connecting the two buildings. Get there earlyish to make sure you get tickets as places are limited. The park around the towers and shopping centre at the base are well worth taking in too.
Go to eat in Chinatown, but instead of being persuaded into one of the main restaurants by a tout, get off the main street and find one of the places where you sit at outside tables on the street and the chef cooks everything in a huge wok right in front of you. The food is fantastic and so much cheaper than you'll pay in the other restaraunts.
I agree that it is best to see the incredible Iguazu Falls from both sides of the border if you possibly can. The Argentine side gives you the chance to get up close to the falls, and the national park is so beautiful. The Brazilian side gives a better overview of the falls, and you realise just how huge an area they cover. Get there early - whichever side you're on - to beat the crowds, and especially on the Brazilian side where there is a bizarre queuing and bus system that means it can take a couple of hours to get from the gates into the park. Well worth it though.
Jars of Clay is an amazing little cafe near to the Russian Market. They bake the best cakes ever, the kind of ones you always wanted your gran/mum to make, and it's air-con so you can really escape the craziness of Phnom Penh and chill out with your cake and coffee. It's perfect.
39B, Street 155
San Telmo is a great place to stay if you're on a budget in Buenos Aires. It has real character and there are some cheap hotels and loads of parillas to eat argentine steak in. Avoid the touristy cafes around the main square (with the exception of the wonderful old pub on the corner) as they are over-priced and the food is average.
Instead, head down any of the roads off the square and into any of the restaurants flooded with locals. The food and atmosphere are amazing and exceptional value for money. Also the San Telmo antiques market is a bit of a must (Sunday mornings I think), and you should get to see some tango there too.
Krabi's night market is wonderful - tonnes of different foods to try and all fantastic and so cheap. The atmosphere is relaxed but exciting too, and there's a real community feel as most of the town turn up at some point during the evening. A must!
This is a little cafe on the road down to the night market in Krabi. They make the best and most refreshing coconut and pineapple shakes ever, and also do fantastic burgers, biscuits, and other non-thai type food for if you're feeling noodled out. The owners are very friendly and can give great tips about where's good to go in Thailand to get off the tourist trail a bit.
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