Travel Itineraries

Travel Itineraries


USA and Canada Travel itinerary

Born from the European Renaissance, the USA and Canada have grown to take on their own unique personalities. Spanning a vast area from the snowy hills of Alaska to the sun-soaked beaches of Miami, these two expansive countries offer visitors a variety of travel options found nowhere else on the planet. The pulse of these great lands beats through vibrant metropolises, jaw-dropping natural beauty, and man-made wonders. Simply figuring out where to start can be the most difficult part of the journey.

Miami Beach

flickr image by Noel Portugal

Iconic cities that require no introduction provide a vibe and atmosphere to suit everyone’s taste. Explore Chicago’s skyscrapers and blues music scene, rub shoulders with the stars along the boulevards of Los Angeles, shop till you drop in the boutiques of New York City, peer through the gates at the White House in Washington D.C., enjoy world-class cuisine in Vancouver, and dive into the cultural delights in the cosmopolitan Toronto. Even beyond these most visited cities, there are countless city options, each with its own personality and friendly welcome. Whether you want to spend a few days in one location before exploring other destinations or just fancy a great city experience, these diverse metropolises are only the icing on the North American cake.

New York Travel

Move outside the cities and the sheer beauty of the landscape makes even the most hard-core urbanities stop and stare in wonder. The coastline of the USA boasts some of the world’s most stunning beaches from the almost white sands of the Baja California to the picture-perfect bays along the Pacific Coast. In Canada, the rugged coastline has been shaped and moulded for thousands of years by the Pacific and Atlantic, creating sheer cliffs and spectacular bays. Inland, the wide-open and unpopulated spaces of the USA and Canada offer remarkable natural beauty. From the Grand Canyon to Yellowstone National Park and the prairies of Canada, the great outdoors of the USA and Canada are truly breath-taking.

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However, these countries aren’t just all about cities and natural landmarks. For those who crave adventure, there is no better destination. From exploring a Canadian wilderness trek and meeting herds of moose and elk to embarking on a road trip along the legendary Route 66 in the USA, there is the possibility of adventure around every corner. It is only in North America that you can be hiking through a desert one day and skiing down a mountain the next. Even travelling through these lands can be an adventure, with train journeys through the Rockies and cruises through the icy coast of Alaska once in a lifetime experiences.

Whatever form your travel dreams take, the USA and Canada will duly provide. A cacophony of cultures, landscapes, cuisines, history, and adventures makes it easy to create an itinerary for a trip that will never be forgotten, whether you’re visiting for two days or two months. A plethora of accommodation and travel options also ensures a trip to North America can be enjoyed on a budget or in luxury.

Australia and New Zealand Travel itinerary

Sydney Harbour Bridge

Sydney Harbour Bridge

From roads to reefs, deserts to lush countryside, and busy metropolises to feeling like you’re the only person in the world, Australia and New Zealand are countries of stark contrasts. These two destinations have become a backpackers haven thanks in part to the thriving economy, but also due to the high quality of life. High average temperatures, stunning beaches, breath-taking attractions, and a host of adventure activities have all contributed to Australia and New Zealand becoming two of the most popular travel destinations in the world.

Sydney Opera House

When planning a trip to this area of the South Pacific, the chances are your first port of call will be one of the major cities. In Australia, the cities are dotted along the coast with the majority running along the east coast. Sydney, perhaps the most famous city, boasts a glamorous collection of beaches, bars, and boutiques alongside the magnificent Opera House. Melbourne is all about arts, chic boutiques in alleyways, and the national sport – Australian Rules. Tropical Brisbane and Darwin couldn’t be more different from the chilly southern capital of Tasmania, Hobart, and Perth’s optimism is admirable as it hold the title of ‘most isolated city the world’.  New Zealand’s cities offer more intrigue than glamour and Auckland, Christchurch, Queenstown, and Wellington all have a unique character of their own.

Visit Auckland New Zealand

However, a trip to Australia and New Zealand should never be confined to the borders of a city as there is so much more on offer. Australia is brimming with natural wonders including the extraordinary Great Barrier Reef, the incredible Uluru, the delightful Kakadu and Daintree National Parks, and the unique wildlife. New Zealand’s scattered population allows magnificent lakes, forests, beaches, fiords, and mountains to fill the landscape making it a natural wonder in itself. Wandering the lush hills of New Zealand may even seem familiar as it was here that the Lord of the Rings trilogy was filmed. The vast landscapes of both countries also provide the ideal location for adventure sports such as bungee jumping, paragliding, kayaking, scuba diving, and base jumping.

Travel New Zealand

Beyond the sights and landmarks of Australia and New Zealand are two incredible cultures – the Aboriginals and the Maoris. The Aboriginals have lived in Australia for thousands of years and although adaptation has been difficult for them, traditional arts and dance displays are certainly worth the time. In New Zealand, the Maoris have impressed themselves on contemporary life from the famous ‘All Blacks’ rugby team to main-stream television shows. Living side by side with these traditional cultures is an extensive contemporary culture which is growing by the year and becoming world-renowned.

However you choose to experience Australia and New Zealand, there are a host of transport options which range from budget level to luxury. It is hard to imagine how vast Australia is before actually experiencing the country with a flight from Perth to Sydney taking almost four hours. Many people choose to rent a car when exploring the country to savour the incredible outback and maybe spot a kangaroo or crocodile. New Zealand is much smaller, but separated into two islands which can be accessed via a ferry link.

South East Asia Travel itinerary

Beijing China

A collection of culturally rich countries squeezed between the Pacific and Indian Oceans, South East Asia has long been a favoured destination for globe-trotting backpackers and those in search of fabulous beaches, tasty cuisine, and low prices. Planning a trip to this part of the world can be difficult as there is so much to see that even the lengthiest itinerary can still seem to miss out on major attractions. Only the luckiest travellers manage to visit all ten countries in South East Asia, so here is a breakdown of them all to help you decide which countries should feature on your list.

The tiny, but oil-rich country of Brunei is surrounded by Malaysia and the South China Sea. Although perhaps not as rich in culture as its neighbours, this tiny state offers visitors a first class shopping experience in the Gadong, Serusop, Kiulap, and Kampong Ayer. The state is also famous for its world class beaches – Pantai Gadong, Pantai Muara, and Pantai Serasa. Similar to Brunei is Singapore, the most economically developed country in the region. The standard of living here is very high and slick restaurants, museums, galleries, and skyscrapers line the streets.

Malaysia

Indonesia, the Philippines and East Timor consist of over 25,000 island combined – far too much to see in a lifetime! Indonesia has dramatically improved economically as a nation over the last couple of decades and boasts large cities on islands such as Jakarta as well as party islands geared towards tourists such as Bali. However, almost half of the country’s 18,000 islands remain uninhabited or covered in thick tropical forests. The Philippines is known as the sleeping tiger of Asia as it is yet to achieve its full potential. Hundreds of tropical beaches, historical sites, and rare animals can be found dotted around the islands. The country also boasts a unique culture, with a mix of Asian traditions and Spanish idealism. East Timor is among the world’s newest countries and a rare destination for tourists. For those who plan on visiting, the Nino Konis National Park is one of the last surviving tropical lowland rainforests in the world and certainly worth a visit.

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The remaining countries – Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam – are easily the most popular destinations in the region. Although each country proudly boasts of its unique culture and history, there are many aspects of these countries that are similar. Cambodia’s main attraction is the ancient city of Angkor, although the Killing Fields and the beaches of Sihanoukville are other worthy items for anyone’s list. Laos is home to numerous majestic mountains and the World Heritage Site of Laung Prabang.  Malaysia offers city delights in the skyscrapers of Kuala Lumpur and exotic retreats in the jungles of Borneo. Thailand has become famous the world over for its party atmosphere, however there are a host of quiet and stunning islands to be found in the Gulf of Thailand as well as peaceful countryside towns in the north of the country. Finally, Vietnam is among the world’s fastest growing economies and couples hectic cities with rolling countryside and peaceful beaches.

India and Nepal Travel itinerary

From the soaring snow-capped mountains of the Himalayas to the sweltering sun-washed beaches of the south, India and Nepal’s dramatic terrain is truly stunning. Both countries provide an eclectic mix of cultures, landscapes, traditions, and mantras that will stir the senses and remain imprinted on your memory long after you’ve departed from their shores. The bustling and hectic cities of India are a far cry from the lofty and sparsely populated villages of Nepal, yet the welcome remains the same – friendly, smiling, and deeply traditional. An itinerary for a trip to this region can involve trekking the most famous mountain range in the world, cruising along the most holy river in the world, visiting the most holy sites in the world, and much, much more.

India Travel

The diversity in India is extraordinary with a host of local and international cultures and just about every climate and landscape known to man found within the borders of the country. This makes it difficult to know where to start when planning a trip and splitting the country into general territories can help make decisions easier. Beginning in the south of the country, Southern India encompasses the vibrant cities of Bangalore, Chennai, and Hyderabad. This part of the country is famous for its tropical forests, historical temples, wonderful beaches, and warm climate. The Dravidian architecture here differs from the rest of the country and can be seen on many of the temples.

Nepal

Moving north-west, Western India is home to the expansive Thar Desert and stretches to the border with Pakistan. The states within Western Indian differ quite drastically with each of the three states in this area practising its own traditions, culture, and language. The fascinating cities of Mumbai and Pune can be found here as well as Goa which is home to the best beaches in the country. To the east lies Eastern India, stretching from the mountains to the coast. Cities here include Kolkata, formally the capital of British India, Puri, and Ranchi. Although this part of India is less developed than the rest of the country, it is culturally rich with the work of Mother Theresa still visible in Kolkata and the remains of the British Raj well-maintained.

Further north-east is the North-Eastern India region which is more insular and tribal than the rest of the country. Cities here are smaller and less populated with the landscape featuring mountains, rainforests, hills, jungles, rivers, and dangerous wildlife it has been explored less than any other area of India. The main attraction in the region is the Kaziranga National Park which is home to the one horned rhino, found nowhere else in the world. The region in the centre of India is simply known as the Plains and is home to the country’s capital city, Delhi. It is in this region that numerous significant events took place throughout India’s history and it is also where the world famous Taj Mahal is located.

The most northern region of India is known as the Himalayan North and is home to some of the country’s most spiritual sites. It is from this region that people can cross the border into Nepal and experience the might of the Himalayas. The regions of Nepal that border India are the most populated places in the country and feature the cities of Kathmandu and Biratnagar. Nepal offers a range of temples and national parks to explore, with adventure activities and trekking the most famous mountain range in the world a must for adrenaline junkies.

South America Travel itinerary

Home to colonial towns, remote islands, colourful culture, Amazonian rainforest, Andean peaks, Patagonian glaciers, and wide deserts, South America is a continent of superlatives that has the stage set for incredible adventures and a lifetime of memories. Whether your itinerary is based around historical treasures, natural wonders, or cultural exploration, this wonderful continent will duly deliver and exceed any expectations. The continent can be split into four broad regions – Brazil, the southern countries, the western countries, and the northern countries.

Brazil travel

When talking about South America, Brazil is unavoidable as it borders every other country on the continent. The fifth largest country in the world, Brazil is home to an astonishing variety of landscapes and cultural diversity. The north of Brazil is occupied by the remarkable Amazon rainforest, home to an unimaginable range of wildlife and tribal people. The northeast of the country boasts a strong black and indigenous culture with the most spectacular coastline on the continent. The southeast is the cosmopolitan heart of Brazil and the location of renowned cities such as Rio and Sao Paulo, while in the south European influences can be felt and experienced more than any other region of the country.

The southern countries of Uruguay, Argentina, Paraguay, and Chile offer a mix of distinctive traditional culture with modern influences. Uruguay boasts superb beach resorts and a strong Gaucho culture in the northern part of the country as well as sites of colonial magnificence such as Rio de la Plata. Argentina is famous with visitors for its cheap steak and delicious wine. However, the country also offers some of the best ski resorts on the continent and a variety of fascinating cultural heritage sites. Paraguay is a country of stark contrasts with the large, wild Gran Chaco plains to the northwest, the forested highlands of Parana Plateau to the east, and the populous Southern Paranena, home to the capital city of Asuncion to the south. The long narrow borders of Chile are defined by the Andes and the Pacific Ocean. Here the landscape quickly changes from desert to ski-capped mountains to lush forests.

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The western countries of Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, and Columbia are home to the remains of great ancient civilisations and lofty cities. Bolivia is wonderfully diverse, both geographically and culturally, and is often referred to as the Tibet of South America due to it being so remote. The capital city, La Paz, is the highest capital in world ranging from an altitude of 3,100 metres to 4,058 metres. Peru is home to extraordinary archaeological wonders of pre-Columbian cultures and the world famous Inca Empire and contains an astonishing number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Ecuador is home to numerous National parks such as the Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve which allows visitors to see the Amazon Rainforest up close. Columbia features a diverse range of landscapes and cultures with inland jungles, lush valleys, alpine lakes, deserted beaches, snow-capped volcanos, and coffee plantations making this one of the most underrated tourist destinations in the world.

Peru travel

The northern countries of Venezuela, Guyana, French Guiana, and Suriname feel more like Caribbean countries than South American and offer visitors a different flavour to the continent. Venezuela is a mix of mountains, rainforests, stunning beaches, and Caribbean Islands. It is here that Angel Falls, the world’s highest waterfall, crashes into the Guiana Highlands. Guyana has a hot and tropical climate with a range of wonderful beaches, nature reserves, and waterfalls. French Guiana is officially a part of France and is world renowned for its superb cuisine. The beach at Remire-Montjoly is also famous for being a spot where sea turtles lay their eggs. Suriname’s population mostly live along the coast, leaving the wild interior of the country largely unexplored. Here, wonderful colonial architecture and astonishing nature reserves are the highlight of a trip.

Central America Travel itinerary

Caribbean Islands

flickr image by StGrundy

A long and thin stretch of land that links North America and South America, Central America is made up of seven tropical countries that are culturally and traditionally more comparable to South America and Mexico than the more affluent north. Featuring a diverse landscape of rainforests, lakes, beaches, colonial towns, and ancient ruins, Central America is an ideal location to explore nature and culture at its very best. Itineraries for Central America can involve relaxing on a white sand beach with cocktail in hand, trekking the rainforests and mountains in search of unique wildlife, and exploring the ruins of ancient civilisations. Whatever way you choose to experience Central America, it can be as thrilling or relaxing as you desire.

Starting from the south, Panama is famous for the extraordinary Panama Canal which links the North Atlantic Ocean with the North Pacific Ocean via the Caribbean Sea. This stunning country is home to numerous National Parks, tranquil islands, charming villages, and stunning beaches. The capital, Panama City, is one of the most fascinating in the region with remains of the old colonial city still standing. Moving further north is Costa Rica, a popular country for nature enthusiasts. The regions of the South Pacific and Northern Plains offer some of the most beautiful and bio-diverse environments in the world. The Central Pacific and Caribbean regions of the country are popular for the array of beaches and national parks, while the Central Valley is home to the capital city of San Jose.

Nicaragua is the largest country in Central America and also contains the largest freshwater body of water in the region. A rich mix of culture is evident in the populous area of Managua and the Caribbean coast, while in the Northern Highlands traditional trade such as coffee growing and cigar rolling is still practised. The Northern Pacific Coast and Rio San Juan Region are the two areas of stunning natural beauty with volcanos, nature reserves, and hidden islands waiting to be discovered. Honduras is home to a wealth of culture with colonial villages and ancient Maya ruins dotted around the country. The Pacific and Caribbean coastlines of Honduras are among the most spectacular in the region and the tiny Bay Islands offer a tranquil retreat.

To the west of Honduras lies the tiny and densely populated country of El Salvador. The capital city of San Salvador is rich with history dating back to the Spanish conquest of local tribes, while the two major national parks – Parque Nacional Cerro Verde and Parque Nacional El Impossible – offer magnificent views of local wildlife. Guatemala boasts a distinctive cultural mix of the native Maya people and elements of Spanish culture. Numerous Maya villages and monuments dot the interior landscape of Guatemala while the coast features wonderful beaches and resorts. The only country in the region with English as its official language, Belize’s coastline lies solely on the Caribbean Sea. The country is renowned for its adventure activities in the Cayo area as well as a host of Mayan ruins and a spectacular coastline.

Europe Travel itinerary

Europe

A patchwork of over 40 countries, Europe may be the world’s smallest continent but it boasts the most diverse range of cultures, languages, and ways of life. Open borders in the European Union make exploring several countries in one trip a breeze and you will rarely have to travel more than a few hours to find yourself immersed in a totally new culture complete with a different language and history. Many of the most popular countries such as Spain, Germany, France, and the United Kingdom will feature high on the list for any itinerary, but don’t let these giants of Europe distract you from visiting the intriguing Scandinavian countries, Baltic States, or microstates of this diverse continent. To make the vast differences in Europe slightly more digestible, the continent can be split into 11 very broad regions – the United Kingdom and Ireland, the Iberian Peninsula, France and Monaco, Benelux, Central Europe, Italy, Scandinavia, the Eastern Mediterranean, the Balkans, the Baltic States, and the ex-Soviet States.

The United Kingdom and Ireland is a diverse patchwork of culture and history in itself. The United Kingdom includes England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland, with each town and city boasting individual customs, accents, and traditions. Of course, London is a global city with countless attractions, but cities such as Manchester, Liverpool, Cardiff, and Edinburgh each have their own charm and landmarks. The Republic of Ireland is famous for its rolling landscapes and ancient historical sites dating back well over 10,000 years.

The Iberian Peninsula consists of Spain, Portugal, Gibraltar, and Andorra. This part of Europe is a favoured holiday destination for many residents of other European countries thanks to the mild year-round climate and sandy beaches. However, for those who are looking for more than a cocktail in the sun, the Iberian Peninsula is also teeming with historical interest and stunning countryside. Many attractions in these countries were born from the wealth gathered during the Age of Exploration.

France and Monaco are the world’s most popular holiday destinations and geographically one of the most diverse countries on the continent. From the fashion capital of the world, Paris, to the sun-soaked French Riviera, France and Monaco have something to please any desire. The Alps provide some of the best skiing resorts in the world, while the castles of Brittany and Normandy offer an intriguing insight into the bloody past of these countries.

Benelux refers to the flat states of Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands. These countries have much to offer visitors with the Netherlands famous for its tulips, windmills, clogs, and liberal attitude towards drugs and sex. Belgium is the home of the European Union and features idyllic cities such as Bruges. Luxembourg may be tiny but the rolling hills of the countryside and high quality of life make it a prime destination.

Central Europe encompasses a host of countries including Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Liechtenstein, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Switzerland. It is here that Slavic and Germanic culture meets in the surroundings of fairy-tale castles, lush forests, unspoilt farmlands, and lofty mountain ranges. The cities in this region are welcoming and brimming with historical attractions with Berlin, Munich, Prague, Poznan, Budapest, Bern, and Bratislava among a host of must-see urban centres.

The Italian region encompasses Italy, San Marino, the Vatican City, and Malta. Milan, Rome, Florence, Pisa, and Venice are just a drop in the ocean of incredible destinations contained within the Italian borders. The birthplace of the Renaissance, Italy has more history and culture packed into it than almost any other country in the world. The Vatican City is a must-see destination for people of all religions with an incredible complex of museums contained within the walls. San Marino and Malta both sit to the south of Italy in the Mediterranean and are the perfect destinations for gorgeous beaches and year-round sunshine.

Scandinavia is the region of choice for nature enthusiasts with incredible scenery of lakes, glaciers, mountains, waterfalls, volcanoes, and geysers. The countries of Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Faroe Islands, and Iceland are also known for their high quality of life with all Scandinavian countries ranking high on the world’s index. There is always something different to experience in these Nordic countries, such as the world famous Ice Hotel in Sweden or the 24 hours of sunlight experienced in the north of Norway during the summer.

The Eastern Mediterranean countries of Greece, Turkey, and Cyprus hold significant historical interest. Ancient civilisations flourished in Greece and Turkey, with many remnants of these famous people still standing throughout the countries. Greece has thousands of islands to explore, each with its own history and story. Turkey may be geographically located in Asia but is considered part of Europe and is famous for its bustling marketplaces and intriguing historical sites.  Both of these countries claim a stake in Cyprus which is a popular holiday and party destination.

The Balkans are a collection of countries to the east of Europe which have endured a turbulent history, even in recent times. Making up this region is Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Bulgaria, Moldova, Macedonia, Serbia, Kosovo, Romania, and Montenegro. Although the recent troubles in these countries have led to many people crossing them off their itineraries, they are all making a concerted effort to grow their tourism industry. This makes it a lot safer to travel to this region and explore the incredible natural beauty, charming towns and villages, impressive monasteries, and mighty mountains on offer.

The Baltic States of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania are simply fascinating. An extensive coastline provides some of the best beaches in Europe while medieval towns and cities transport visitors back to another era. The capital cities of Tallinn, Riga, and Vilnius all feature spectacular Old Town areas where architecture dating back hundreds of years is perfectly preserved. Outside the cities, numerous National Parks and Reserves provide a chance to get up close and personal with nature.

The ex-Soviet states of Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus are incredibly diverse, beautiful, and intriguing. Russia is simply immense, stretching from the edge of Europe to the Pacific Ocean. However, the majority of the country’s population resides in cities near the European side and urban centres such as Moscow and St. Petersburg offer cultural delights beyond one’s imagination. Ukraine is also a vast and diverse country with beach resorts along the coast of the Black Sea to stunning cities such as Lviv, Kiev, and Odessa. Belarus is one of the most unique countries in the world and is one of the least visited countries in Europe. Incredible architecture, a wonderful landscape, and friendly locals are just some of the highlights in this extraordinary country.

Russia Travel itinerary

Russia

The world’s largest country, Russia has it all from idyllic countryside to historic cities and cultural riches. There was time when visiting Russia as a holiday destination was for only the most hard-core travellers, however, today the vast country has more a relaxed border control policy and attracts throngs of visitors eager to experience its rich heritage. The country is split into several regions; Central Russia, Chernozemye, North-western Russia, Southern Russia, the Volga Region, the Urals Region, Siberia, and Far East Russia.

Central Russia is geographically located in the extreme west of the country but is known as Central Russia due to its prominence. Pioneer cities such as Moscow, Tula, Kostroma, Vladimir, and Yaroslav were established here over 1,000 years ago and thrive economically today. The capital city of Moscow is intoxicating with world famous sights such as the Kremlin simply breath-taking when seen up close. A popular tourist route in this region is known as the Golden Ring of Moscow and encompasses a circle of historic towns and villages that form a circle around the capital. Another must-see in this region is Yasnaya Polyana, Lev Tolstoy’s estate located to the south of Tula.

To the south of Central Russia is the Chernozemye region which is famous for its vast oil reserves that have made the country so wealthy. Most of the cities here are known for being the principal battleground during the Second World War and unfortunately due to this much of the region’s architectural heritage was destroyed. However, there are still numerous places of interest in this part of the country including Divnogorye, a lowland with incredible scenery and Orlovskoye National Park.

North-western Russia is home to the country’s second largest city, St. Petersburg, and is the most popular region for visitors and tourists. St. Petersburg is known as Russia’s ‘window to the west’ due to western culture influencing the city like no other in the country. Novgorod, Arkhangelsk, Vologda, and Vyborg are other fascinating cities in this region, each with centuries of history and tradition. Also found in North-western Russia are the Virgin Komi Forests, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, they cover the largest unspoilt forested area in Europe.

Southern Russia is the warmest region in the country and is home to famous resort cities such as Sochi on the Black Sea. It is also the location of Russia’s most unique city, Elista, which is Europe’s only Buddhist city and home to several stunning Buddhist monasteries. The Volga and Urals Regions are the most industrialised in the country and feature numerous large cities such as Nizhny Novgorod, Kazan, Volgograd, Perm, Ufa, and Yekaterinburg. Each of these cities boasts a rich tradition and culture with numerous landmarks and attractions. The Urals Region is also home to the oldest mountain range on the planet by the same name.

The two regions of Siberia and Far East Russia are largely untouched by humans with a scattering of towns and villages across the landscape. It is in these vast regions that nature can be seen at its best with crystal lakes, winding rivers, immense national parks, rising mountains, and volcanoes all dotted throughout the wilderness. These regions also act as a gateway into much of Asia providing borders with North Korea, China, and Mongolia.

Japan Travel itinerary

Tokyo, Japan

Locked away from the outside world for centuries, Japan’s civilisation blossomed with rich traditions which today blend seamlessly in with modern skyscrapers and fast food restaurants. The series of islands that make up the country are an exciting blend of hectic cities, spectacular landscapes, and ancient landmarks. Travelling between the islands is made easy with a convenient ferry link and high speed bullet trains makes exploring this fascinating country a breeze. Japan is conveniently split into nine regions; Okinawa, Kyushu, Shikoku, Kansai, Chugoku, Chubu, Kanto, Tohoku, and Hokkaido.

The most southerly island chain, Okinawa enjoys a semi-tropical climate with significantly different architecture and customs to the rest of the country. The location of these islands makes them perfect for any water-based activity with diving, snorkelling, and sailing hugely popular among the tourists and locals. Numerous resorts and stunning beaches makes Okinawa the perfect place for a relaxing holiday.

The most southerly of the four main islands, Kyushu is a mountainous region with sweeping valleys and rising lush peaks. Major cities in this region include Fukuoka which is home to some unique architecture, Nagasaki which is steeped in history as the first Japanese port to open to the west, and Kumamoto, a castle town with the country’s most beautiful historical gardens. Just north of Kyushu is Shikoku, the smallest of the four main islands. Locally, the island is thought of as the most rural area of Japan, but there are a handful of must-see attractions and superb hiking routes here. The island’s largest city, Matsuyama, is home to the inspirational hot springs of Dogo Onsen and the Iya Valley is one of the most naturally beautiful valleys in the country.

Kansai is the most western region on the country’s main island of Honshu. This region is home to some of the country’s largest cities; Kobe, Kyoto, Nara, and Osaka. Both Kyoto and Nara were once the capital cities of Japan and traditional temples, castles, shrines, and parks are dotted throughout the region. The Horyuji temple complex houses the world’s oldest wooden buildings while Yoshino is home to numerous ancient shrines and temples. This region is certainly a must for those with any sort of cultural interest. Just beside Kansai is the small and rural region of Chugoku best known for the city of Hiroshima.

The regions of Chubu and Tohoku are largely mountainous and rural, providing the perfect areas for skiing, hiking, and exploring. Chubu is dominated by the Japanese Alps and famous peaks such as Mount Fuji. Spectacular views and adventure activities are the main focus of this region with resorts such as Yuzawa and Nagoya famous for their sporting activities. Tohoku also features some superb scenery with mountains such as the Dewa Sanzan and Mount Bandai alongside valleys and springs in Towada-Hachimantai National Park. Nestled to the east of these two regions is the metropolis region of Kanto, home to Tokyo and Yokohama, Japan’s two largest cities. The cities here represent a collision of traditional culture and modern architecture with high rising skyscrapers containing shops selling traditional goods.

The most northerly island of Japan is Hokkaido, an untamed wilderness with numerous national parks. It is on this island that one can really enjoy nature at its finest with mysterious lakes in Akan National Park, bears roaming free in Shiretoko National Park, extreme hiking activities in Daisetsuzan National Park, and bubbling volcanic hot springs in Shikotsu-Toya National Park. Beyond the range of nature activities the region is also home to the wonderful historic cities of Abashiri, Furano, and Hakodate.

Date posted: 30th April, 2015

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