How to Overcome the Language Barrier When Traveling

It can be a challenge and frustrating to come to a place and not be able to communicate your basic needs. Even if you have taken the time to learn a language, the embarrassment of speaking incorrectly and being misunderstood can tie up your tongue so badly that you might as well not even try.

I remember on an exchange trip to Paris as a teenager sitting around the breakfast table and in my best French, asked someone to “pass le preservative” which I assumed would be the word for jam. The shocked look on their faces followed by a small chuckle from the older kids at the table made me quickly realize that I had said something wrong. I pointed to the jam and repeated the phrase for another round of laughter. Instead of saying “jam” what I was asking instead was to pass me the condoms.

I have made many more errors since then while trying to master the language, and undoubtedly will make many more, but isn’t that how we learn?

It’s amazing how few students come out of our school systems ever acquiring any language skills, yet children in other parts of the world begin learning multiple languages (including English) at a very young age. How lucky we are to have been born or brought up learning a language that is pretty much spoken everywhere. It gives us more flexibility when traveling as even in more rural areas you can usually find younger people that you will be able to communicate with.

Only 7% of communication is made up of the words we use. Fifty-five percent is non verbal, indicating that even if we don’t speak the language, we have over a 50% chance of being understood.

If you do make the choice to try learning a language, there are many ways to do this without having to spend a lot of money on expensive courses. Consider doing a language exchange, meeting someone who would like to improve their English in exchange for a language that you would like to learn.

There are also many free resources online. My favorite is, which is a language site designed to allow you to interact and communicate with native speakers. The beginning courses are free and allow you to learn and listen to basic phrases. More advanced courses and tutoring are available for a nominal fee, and you are tied to a community of people from all over the world.

The website can also be a great way to meet and interact with people speaking many different languages. Sometimes people will even meet up with you and show you around their city giving you have a free guide and interpreter as well.

To practice a language, I often watch DVD’s with subtitles or in the dubbed version to keep from getting rusty. This is especially fun with Disney movies as the language and story line is more simple and easy to understand. If you have young children, why not have them watch and learn along with you? Most movies come at least in the romance languages, but with a little research you can find them in other languages as well.

Video clips can also be found on “YouTube” in many different languages.

Another helpful thing to have is a picture dictionary which even if it is not in the language you are trying to speak, it gives you something visual to point to and can be helpful anywhere.

Since the other 43% of communication is the way you speak, your tone and your body language also have a lot to do with the way you get a message across. Have you ever spoken to a baby in a soothing and loving voice and had them smile back at you? Is it because they understand the actual words you are saying? Or are they just matching the energy you are sending to them? You would be surprised by how much can be said just with a smile and a friendly tone.

Although English is spoken widely around the world, I believe it is arrogant to assume that everyone knows how to speak it. Making an effort to learn a few words of another language can show respect to other cultures. What were some of the first words you learned as a toddler? After ‘mamma’ and ‘dadda,’ your next words were probably ‘please’ and ‘thank-you,’ and polite manners were to always use them. Why should it be different when traveling to another country?

How much effort does it really take to learn and remember a few words and phrases? You may be completely slaughtering the words, but people will be more inclined to want to help you because you are making the attempt. Stereotypes of other cultures can be quickly melted away when you make a little more effort on your part.

Above all, remember that learning a language, just as with any new skill, will take practice and a little patience. You will make mistakes. You will be misunderstood. You may even get frustrated from time to time, but the friendships, experiences, and relationships you can build as a result of at least trying will be far worth it.

Travel the World… Alone

If you really want to go on an adventure of a lifetime, travel the world… alone. The only thing that is more exciting than travelling to other countries is to do this on your own. A real adventure is one where you face the world alone… literally.

The real adventure is not just seeing other countries, but being forced to meet new people, especially those from another culture. The most interesting thing in life is not landscapes or architecture. The most interesting thing is people’s personalities and their culture.

There is nothing more exciting than meeting new friends half way around the globe. There are so many things that you can learn about their traditions and culture when you’re traveling alone. The best way to do this is if you force yourself to do it and you can do so all on your own.

Make a plan

If you’re thinking about traveling around the world on your own, you had better have a plan. Carefully plan every single detail of your trip, especially who to call and where to go if you have an emergency. Decide on the most interesting places to go and how long you intend to stay.

Travelling on a budget

The best way to travel around the world is to stretch your budget as far you can. This could mean staying at hostels or budget inns, taking cheap flights, and eating local food. This could also mean not going to the best night spots or eating at the best restaurants.

However, stretching your budget will force you to meet the locals and really get to know and experience their way of life. You never know, you could even be invited to stay at home for free. There are countries where the locals are very accommodating and very hospitable if they see you as a friend.

Respect other cultures

If you’ve never been outside your country then you might not be familiar with the term “culture shock”. Culture shock is real especially if you’re going to a country with a totally different culture and when you travel alone. Nowadays, the western influence has spread to many countries and some are quite “westernized”. However, make no mistake. No matter how “westernized” a country seems to be, their culture will always be deeply embedded.

It is important that you respect other cultures. Always keep a watchful eye on how they do things and try to do it the same way. The trick is to keep an open mind. Become interested in discovering another country’s culture and you will surely be able to respect it.

Make an effort to become friends with the locals

This can be a little difficult especially if you’re travelling to a country where English is a distant language for them. English is an international language but there are countries where not many people speak English. If you go to the cities you’ll surely find a local who speaks English. But if you go to the provinces you may have a bit of a problem trying to communicate. Don’t let this hamper your attempt to find friends. You can always use sign language if you’re having trouble communicating.

Ten Tips for Vegan Travel in South America / Vegan Restaurants

For many vegans, travel can be something of a challenge. If you’re worried about vegan travel in South America, you’ll be surprised at how easy it can be if you are prepared and go to the right spots. Basically, it’s about doing your homework and learning how to keep up your vegan lifestyle while travelling. It may seem difficult at first, especially when in a foreign country, but you can master travelling as vegan in the same way you mastered being a vegan at home. Here are a few tips to point you in the right direction before your pack your bags and hit the road. Use these tips and you’ll find it’s not hard to maintain a vegan diet while travelling in South America. The more exciting things may be harder to come by but the healthy, whole food options are always available. If after reading these tips you have any doubts about vegan travel in South America, let us assure you it’s possible. It does take a little extra planning and preparation but it’s worth it, not just for you but for the animals.

1. Do Your Research

Get online and search for vegan restaurants and health food stores. One of the best places to start is Happy Cow (; an online directory of restaurants and health food stores that have vegan and vegetarian options. You can search for any city or address (like your hostel or hotel) and it will return a list of vegan/vegan-friendly restaurants nearby. Happy cow (like other vegan restaurant lookup sites) also returns a list of health food stores that carry vegan foods or vegan products. Whenever you would like a vegan meal or snack for your hotel room, lengthy bus trip, or souvenirs to take home with you, a visit to one of these international health food stores is a nice convenience. You should also look online for local vegetarian or vegan associations, where restaurant and health food shop listings tend to be up to date. To find local associations, do a quick Google search for the city name and ‘vegan society’ or ‘vegan association.’ Don’t be scared away if the content isn’t in English, that’s what Google Translator is for. Between these online resources, you should be able to compile a list of places to find vegan food.

2. Connect with Other Vegans

To find possible places to eat you could ask local vegans for recommendations. They’ll know which bakeries have vegan treats and which cafes serve the best weekend brunch. Online resources can only get you so far. The best knowledge is local knowledge. To find local vegans, or get recommendations from vegans who have recently visited the city, start with a Google search. You can usually find them by Googling the city name and ‘vegan.’ With this approach, you’re likely to find a blog by a local vegan or reviews by vegan visitors. You can also connect with vegans on Twitter and Facebook, by searching for the city name and ‘vegan.’ There are also online and offline communities, like the Vegan Around the World Network and Vegan Meet up Groups, that help connect vegans in faraway places.

A really good place to search for vegans is Couch Surfing (, a website where people offer up their sofas, air mattresses, floors and spare rooms to travellers. It’s a free service, where no money is exchanged. You can filter your results by including ‘vegan’ in the keyword search. There is also a Couch Surfing group for vegan and vegetarian members. Some large and vegan-friendly cities have their own vegan and vegetarian groups. If you don’t like the idea of sleeping in a strangers house, you can always ask people from Couch Surfing to meet for a drink or meal. At the very least, ask a local vegan you met through Couch Surfing for recommendations on restaurants, supermarkets, and health food stores.

3. Carry Snacks

It’s very important to pack food when travelling as a vegan. At the very least, don’t leave home without some snacks for the airplane, bus, train or car ride. You never know when unexpected delays will leave you in a place where vegan options are scarce. Pack easy snacks like apples, bananas, nuts, seeds, homemade sandwiches, granola bars, carrot sticks, bread, pitas, nuts, crackers, peanut butter or hummus. If you’re travelling for more than a week or two, don’t try to pack your entire food supply, just plan to make the local supermarket your first stop. Carrying a small stash of food with you isn’t a recommendation, it’s a requirement for vegan travellers. Unless, of course, you don’t mind skipping a meal or eating something that you’re unsure about. At some point during your travels, you’re bound to find yourself in transit, lost or far away from any vegan restaurants.

4. Find a Kitchen

If you’re travelling to a destination that doesn’t have a lot of vegan restaurants, plan to stay in a hostel or hotel where you’ll have access to a kitchen. This way you can prepare your own meals and have full control over what you eat. Without access to a kitchen, it can be difficult to maintain a healthy vegan diet when travelling to some destinations. If you’re not worried about the weight of your luggage, you can also bring along some kitchen essentials like a good knife, cutting board, travel blender, bowls and utensils. A small Tupperware container and a fork/spoon go a long way, making it easy to take homemade food or leftovers on the road. If you plan to make a lot of your own food on the road while staying in hostels or couch surfing, and you like spices, it is a good idea to premix some dried herbs and spices and take them with you.

5. Pack a Vegan Passport

If your travels take you to a place where you don’t know how to speak the local language, the best thing you can do is learn a few key words before leaving home. If this isn’t possible, and you’re not staying long enough to take lessons once you arrive, the next best thing is to pack a copy of the Vegan Passport. In 73 different languages, this little booklet explains what it means to be a vegan, lists items you can eat, and recommends some simple dishes that can be made vegan. You can show this to people at restaurants to give them an idea of what you’re looking for.

6. Learn the Lingo

Your life will be easier if you can speak some Spanish or Portuguese to explain your eating requirements and check if a meal contains meat or dairy products. Without knowing the local words for things like chicken, milk, eggs, cheese or butter, it will be hard to determine whether or not a food item is suitable for vegans. You can look keywords up online, write down some vegan phrases or carry the Vegan Passport, a handy book that can be used to help communicate your dietary needs at restaurants and stores around the world. Don’t worry too much about the language barrier when you first start travelling as things seem to just fall into place. It won’t be too long before you can say you don’t eat meat or milk or cheese or butter in Spanish or Portuguese. If you have time you should take some language classes on arrival in South America.

7. Go Raw

Whenever you think you can’t find vegan options, go raw. Just get yourself to a grocery, local market, health food store, salad bar, or even a convenience store and find the raw items. You can easily survive on salad, fruit, and nuts for a few days. (And maybe you’ll even decide to go raw more often). As other travellers can testify, there is an abundance of vegetables, fruits, grains, nuts and seeds in South America.

8. Tell People You’re Vegan

Make sure you book a vegan meal on your flight. Remind the flight attendants when you board. Tell your hosts that you’re vegan and remind them what that means. They may have suggestions for you. Mention that you’re vegan to the hotel concierge or check-in clerk. They can often recommend a restaurant or know someone else who can.

9. Make it Easy for Others

Don’t walk into a regular restaurant, cafe, bakery or supermarket and ask a staff member to point you in the direction of their vegan options. Don’t expect people to even know what vegan food is. Vegans will have a more difficult time than vegetarians and though some South Americans understand the concept of not eating meat and consider it to be a healthful lifestyle, those who don’t consume any animal products at all may meet with incomprehension. Make things easy for them by asking if they can customize a menu item that’s almost vegan. For example, ask for cheese to be removed from pizza, pasta or a sandwich. If you’re in a bakery, don’t ask if a loaf of bread is vegan, ask if it contains or has been glazed with milk, butter, eggs, lard or any other animal product. If you’re cooking with people who don’t have experience making vegan food, give them specific ideas, share recipes, or offer to prepare a dish for them. Often, people get confused about what is okay, and what’s not. They don’t want to offend you by accidentally adding something you can’t eat. Don’t be afraid to help and answer questions. In the end, hopefully everyone will forget about the missing animal ingredients and enjoy the dish as part of a healthy and tasty meal.

10. Make a List of Vegan Restaurants

Though the prospect of finding vegan food in South America can be daunting, the experience is definitely worth it. Make a list of all the vegan restaurants you found on Happy Cow, TripAdvisor (, or elsewhere, and pack it in your luggage. Below you’ll find some great South American vegan restaurants to start your list. If you find yourself in an omnivore restaurant, it’s important to be careful when ordering and vegan travellers should make every effort to be prepared. Making a set of vegan translation cards is a good idea if you have a low level of Spanish and/or Portuguese, or don’t have a vegan passport. Though finding food can be a struggle outside of vegan, vegan friendly-only restaurants, it isn’t impossibl

How TO create a succesful BLOG

Choose whether to create a personal blog or a blog theme

Before creating our blog is better to think quickly how to set it as a mixed blog, those dealing with different topics (eg blog that talks about travel, engines and sports) are just confusing and not go well at all, better to just create a blog yet properly done! If you want to treat several topics created several blogs: mrgreen:

Create a personal blog means that you will speak in only one of you, your interests of your passions, you will tell your adventures, trips that you will be making your blog as a personal diary sharing and exchanging opinions with your users.

Create a themed blog: it means that you will speak to one argument in depth, you may wonder, as I choose the topic ?? simple, you have a passion, you’re very prepared or you do a lot of research on a topic? This is a starting point, then you must also consider that the argument that he will treat the market, or that you frequently search on Google. we do not want to create a blog that receives few real visits? : Mrgreen:
Treat the whole subject in general, or we focus on the niche for our blog?

Here the choice is yours, but we make some reflections: the more the subject is vast and there will be competition, there will be many who will talk about making Blogger competition, while if you treat a niche topic you will have less competition.

Let’s take an example: if your blog will talk about computers in general you will have a tough competition because the word “computer” is searched for 20,000 a month to month as “graphic” is searched 5,000 times a month, so if you create a niche blog that will speak only of graphics, video cards, you will have less competition, you will become authoritative on that topic and it will be easier to reach the top positions on Google.

How did I ever tell you how often it looks for a word ??

How to create a blogSemplice I used an online tool called Google: Keyword planning tool.

To use this convenient tool you need to create an account in Google Adwords, which generally serves to advertise online by Web Marketer

Registration is very simple, just fill out the required fields and skip the integration of payment methods and invoicing, much to us we just need to find the words most sought keys. After registration you can access the Keyword Planner tool by clicking on “Tools” and “looking for new keywords using a phrase, a website or a category” sets the Targeting in Italy. This way you will easily find the topic of your personal blog (starting from a general word).

Why a free tool requires payment information?

To advertise online with Adwords (eg. Banner) you have to add money to the account, but simply consulting the planning tool is free, so you can join without fear, and search for your personal blog.

This Google tool can be of great help to expand your ideas and also to understand what the search volume of your topic.

Well, now that we have in mind the topic of our blog, what’s the next step?

come creare un blog con WordPress

What is WordPress? It is a C.M.S which it is used by many bloggers to create their own blogs.

The CMS is an application that is used by webmasters to create and manage a Web site of any kind (blogs, e commerce, etc.) and prevents the programming of the server-side software that runs the site. It has an interface where you can manage every aspect of the website, no without having technical knowledge in programming.

There are specialized CMS, that is created specifically for a particular type of content (encyclopedia online, a blog, a forum, a magazine etc.) And generic CMS, which tend to be more flexible to allow the publication of different types of content. In your case, since you want to create a successful blog, C.M.S for you is WordPress.

I chose this C.M.S because they use it all the bloggers, because it is very simple to use, there are an infinite number of plugins that allow him to do anything, there’s a great community behind it, in case of need, providing you with all the necessary support and finally, it’s free. Yes you read right, WordPress does not cost anything and is the best application to create a blog.

Publish a post with WordPress is very simple, just click add again and you’ll see a text editor where you can start to write, easy does not it?

how to write a post with wordpressPer each item you can decide whether to publish it immediately or save it as a draft if you want to make changes to the post. And ‘possible to create different categories and sub categories so you better categorize your articles.

With WordPress you can put different widgets in different sidebars as, for example, the last post or the last comments.

Where can I find the elegant themes for my blog? it starts from here :

You find the theme that’s right for you? well download it, then click on appearance / themes and add new, load the new theme and activate it. real easy?

Travel Chat with Cindy Fan, a Nomad in Laos

Every month, we delve into the travel experiences of people in the extended WHL Group network. Cindy Fan is a Canadian travel writer and photographer addicted to exploring the planet. Since 2005, she’s had adventures (and misadventures) in 29 countries – hiking, biking and paddling her way through the world’s great landscapes.
Cindy Fan and elephant in Luang Prabang, Laos

Cindy Fan hangs out with a local friend at The Elephant Village in Luang Prabang, Laos. Photo courtesy of Cindy Fan

Based in Laos since November 2011, Cindy is blogging, tweeting and photographing her journeys through Southeast Asia for local partner Teamworkz on their blog The Slow Boat. We discuss life on the road with this modern nomad.

WHL Group: Which is your favourite WHL Group destination and which would you most like to visit?
Cindy: I dream of overlanding the Silk Road, starting somewhere in Asia, travelling through the ‘stans revisiting Iran and eventually ending up in… oh, let’s say Malta.

My favourite destination is always where my feet are, so right now that’s Laos.

WHLG: Why Laos?
Cindy: Laos is one quirky country. While the rest of Southeast Asia has barrelled forward, here is this small, stunningly beautiful country moving at its own slow pace. I love that about it. People usually assume Laos will be like Thailand or Vietnam but it’s wholly unique. It’s such a joy to discover the idiosyncrasies of life here. It’s a down-to-earth, quiet place, where I can recover after a long stretch on the road. People are easygoing, good-natured, fun-loving. We should all learn to be a little Lao.

Laos can also be utterly ridiculous. It makes me laugh and smile every day – and sometimes makes me bang my head against a wall in frustration. I pop into Thailand when I’m craving a beach, curry or civilisation.
Cindy Fan at the dune field of Chinguetti, Mauritania

A sea of sand surrounds Cindy Fan at the dune field of Chinguetti, Mauritania. Photo courtesy of Cindy Fan

WHLG: What’s the most adventurous trip you’ve ever taken?
Cindy: An overland trip in West Africa, travelling by truck from Senegal, crossing Mauritania and the Sahara into Morocco. Most nights were wild camp. Once, while driving through the desert, the truck got stuck in a pit of clay and we spent two days digging it out with our bare hands. Overlanding is definitely not a beach holiday! You’re part of a crew and it’s a lot of work. When it was my turn to cook, I had to go to markets in shrivelled up towns and haggle for weevily rice and tough beef. We lived on a diet of sandy Laughing Cow sandwiches, one-pot meals and illegal beer. To this day, the sight of Laughing Cow makes me both warmly nostalgic and ill.

It took us three days to cross Western Sahara, a disputed territory. The landscape was surreal: barren, moon-like, littered with the skeletons of bombed-out cars. We camped in minefields.

It was one of my most rewarding trips. Nights sleeping under starry skies, mysterious ancient caravan towns, sand seas that stretched out as far as the eye could see, real desert oases and days driving on the beach up virgin coast, where the Sahara’s dunes collided with the Atlantic ocean. It felt like I was at the edge of the earth.

WHLG: What is your funniest travel experience?
Cindy: Oy! There’s a whole vault full of stories.
Cindy Fan at Everest Base Camp in Nepal

A small sign is be a big reward for Cindy Fan after a long, hard trek to Everest Base Camp in Nepal. Photo courtesy of Cindy Fan

I was taking a stroll along the cliffs of Lima, Peru, when I came across paragliders. Overtaken by impulse, within three minutes I was harnessed and running at full speed off a cliff in tandem with a man named Fernando, who was wearing skintight jeans . The entire time we were flying, tight-pants-Fernando moaned, gyrated his hips and shrieked Oh yes, yes, yes! It was a bit of an awkward situation. I was stuck in the air, soaring above skyscrapers because of a piece of cloth, some string and a pilot who was having a little too much fun on the job. It was not the kind of uplifting experience I had been looking for.

On the final day of a four-day rim-to-rim trek through the Grand Canyon, the guide gave us a head start on the long ascent out, letting the five of us leave first while he finished clearing camp. Later on, as we waited at Three Mile Resthouse, I spotted the guide coming up the switchbacks. I got the whole group – which included a university student, a stay-at-home mom and an ER doctor – lined up in a neat row. I called out his name and waved. He smiled and waved back. Then we all turned around and dropped our pants for a full moon. The expression on his face was priceless.

I was standing on the tarmac at Kathmandu airport waiting to board a tiny prop plane when a priest and some assistants led a white goat to the front of the plane. They seemed to be performing a pleasant kind of ritual. They sprinkled water on the goat; it happily flicked its tail. It wasn’t until I saw the priest draw out a machete that it dawned on me what was going to happen. Before I could avert my eyes – whack! – off came the head. I stood there bug-eyed, mouth agape while the priest dragged the bloody headless body in a circle around the plane. I guess I can check ‘goat sacrifice’ off the bucket list? Obviously, goats wouldn’t find this story very funny.
Cindy Fan at Kharanaq, Iran

Cindy Fan photographs the ancient abandoned town of Kharanaq, Iran. Photo courtesy of Cindy Fan

WHLG: What is your scariest travel experience?
Cindy: We had left Western Sahara and were driving in the middle of nowhere southern Morocco when the truck hit slippery road and began fishtailing. The driver tried to correct but each time the back slid wildly – this lasted for what felt like forever. He finally lost all control and the truck went off road, crashing hard and rolling two, maybe three times. I was flung around the truck’s big interior like a rag doll in a dryer. Needless to say, it was a terrifying experience.

The Chittagong ship-breaking yards in Bangladesh were a different kind of scary. I’ll never forget the sight: beached supertanker carcasses, hundreds of people crawling all over them like ants taking the rusted metal apart by hand. The toxic destruction, the demoralization, the pollution; I could feel how hardened and broken the people were.

Then there was the time I was waiting in Lukla‘s tiny one-room airport when rioting Maoists tried to storm the building. I had been in the mountains for 15 days and had no idea what was going on. They pelted the airport with rocks, breaking all the windows. I took cover under a desk. A violent skirmish broke out when the police arrived.

WHLG: What would you never travel without?
Cindy: My camera. Pen. Paper.

WHLG: What do you miss most about home when travelling?
Cindy: Family and friends, of course. Cooking in my own kitchen. Cooking for friends. Soft beds – beds in Southeast Asia are ridiculously hard! And I miss all things Canadian: I miss kayaking on Lake Ontario, camping, poutine, hanging out on patios with friends and fresh apples. As much as I like escaping the long winters, I miss not being hot and sweaty all the time. And I miss anonymity. I can’t walk down the street in Laos without attracting attention. Sometimes I feel like an ogre.
Ban Sabai Bungalows in Vang Vieng, Laos

The view from a travel writer’s “office,” at the Ban Sabai Bungalows in Vang Vieng, Laos. Photo courtesy of Cindy Fan

WHLG: Describe the best and worst accommodation you’ve ever stayed in.
Cindy: Best: Ban Sabai Bungalows in Vang Vieng, Laos.

Worst: An awful place in Ngwe Saung, Myanmar. I was nearly out of cash and there are no ATMs in Myanmar so it was the only thing I could get. It was so bad, I almost slept on the beach.

WHLG: You have a dream job! Any advice for those wanting to become a travel writer?
Cindy: When people ask me, “How do I get your job?!” my question to them is always, “Do you write?” Travel writing is writing, and writing is a craft. You have to love the written word, learn and practice the craft like you would for fiction, journalism or poetry.

Don’t read too much travel writing. Be discerning – there’s a lot of rubbish out there. Just because it’s published or on a prominent site doesn’t mean it’s good. Be original and creative.

WHLG: Do you find it difficult travelling solo as a woman?
Cindy: It certainly has its challenges. You have to grow thick skin, listen to your instincts, and be charming and tough at the same time.

But travelling solo as a woman can be incredibly rewarding. In certain countries and cultures, I have access to a world not seen or experienced by men. I can get in there and discover a different perspective. I listen to voices that are unheard. And those are the worlds I’m drawn to. Those are the stories I want to tell.

Langkawi Island, Malaysia

Introducing Langkawi Island

Langkawi Island belongs to a group of islands located about 19 miles (30 kilometers) from the northwestern shores of Peninsular Malaysia. The island has a population of 45,000 and the capital is Kuah with a population of only 12,000. For an island of its size and a population of only 45,000, Langkawi is not a very populated island.

Langkawi was once a sleepy island and its main activity was fishing and farming but today receives nearly 2 million tourists each year, attracted by the island’s sandy beaches and sunny skies. However, the island never seems crowded with tourists since many of the accommodations are spread out around the island.

Langkawi Island
Getting to Langkawi Island
By Plane

Langkawi International Airport is about 20 minutes by car from Kuah and not more than 40 minutes from the furthest beach. Most flights to Langkawi are domestic flights served by low cost airlines Air Asia and Firefly flying from Malaysian airports near Kuala Lumpur (40 minutes to Langkawi) and Penang (20 minutes to Langkawi).

International flights to Langkawi are mainly from Singapore served by Tiger Airways and Silk Air and the flying time from Singapore to Langkawi is about an hour. There are also the occasional chartered or seasonal flights to Langkawi from Europe and Japan but there are no direct flights from cities in the United States or Canada.
By Ferry

There are also ferry services from the mainland departing from Kuala Perlis and Kuala Kedah to the ferry terminal in Langkawi and the travel time is about 45 and 90 minutes respectively. There are also ferry services from the island of Penang (3 hours) and the Thai border town of Satun.

The journey by road from Kuala Lumpur to the ferry terminals is more than 250 miles (400 kilometers). Therefore it’s best to fly rather than take the road and then ferry to Langkawi if traveling from Kuala Lumpur unless traveling to the northwestern corner of Peninsular Malaysia is your plan.
Kuah – The Capital of Langkawi

Kuah is the capital and commercial center of Langkawi Island with a population of only 12,000. Kuah is a small town and rather laidback considering that the island receives nearly 2 million visitors every year.

There is not much to see or do in Kuah except shopping namely for duty-free items. There are also not many choices of eateries in Kuah other than a few fast food outlets. The best place to eat out is at Pantai Cenang about 2 miles (5 kilometers) from Kuah where there are greater choices.

Kuah Town
The Beaches

The beaches in Langkawi Island are for most part sandy and surrounded by the crystal blue waters of the Adaman Sea. Thus, visitors are spoilt with choices for a preferred beach destination in Langkawi. There are the popular beaches with the usual tourist trappings and the quieter beaches that are away from the tourist crowd.

The beaches of Pantai Cenang and Pantai Tengah are among the popular beaches in Langkawi but are rather touristy with their hotels, restaurants, shops, and entertainment spots. Burau Bay, Pantai Rhu, and Datai Bay are quieter beaches with one or two resorts occupying each beach and perfect places for a quiet getaway.

Burau Bay
Hotels & Resorts

There are a couple of 2 to 3-star hotels in Kuah and being away from the beach are usually cheaper than those near the beaches. Visitors staying in Kuah Town generally have duty-free shopping in mind rather than the beaches.

Those preferring accommodations beside the beach, there are plenty of options along Pantai Cenang followed by Pantai Tengah. Accommodations are mainly 3 to 5-star hotels or resorts and most have facilities such as swimming pools, restaurants, and bars. There are not many accommodations along the beaches of Burau Bay, Pantai Rhu and Datai Bay and occupied mainly by 4 to 5-star holiday resorts and expect to pay for the privilege of a quiet beach.

Berjaya Beach Resort, Langkawi
Mt Machinchang

Visiting Langkawi’s mountains should not be missed. It is possible to reach the top of Mt Machinchang situated more than 2,300 feet (700 meters) above sea level. Cable cars take passengers between the base station at the Oriental Village and the top of Mt Machinchang.

At the mountain top, there is a curved suspension bridge called the Skybridge spanning a length of 410 feet (125 meters) supported by steel cables. From the bridge, visitors can view the rainforest below and the sea beyond, which is simply breathtaking.

Mt Machinchang

Langkawi is a duty-free island for both Malaysian and foreign visitors to the island. Popular duty-free items here include the usual alcohol and cigarettes as well as consumer electronics, leather goods, clothes, chinaware, and confectionary. There are several duty-free outlets situated in the shopping centers in Kuah including the popular Jetty Point Mall just beside the ferry terminal.
Other Attractions & Interests

Underwater World is an aquarium located about 15 minutes drive from Kuah’s town center. There are collections of freshwater and marine creatures at the aquarium from around the island and other parts of the world. Collections include sharks, stingrays, crustaceans, huge Arapaima fish from the Amazon, and Rockhopper penguins from South Africa.

There are boat cruises taking visitors around Langkawi and the neighboring islands. Visitors can make bookings from outlets located near the ferry terminal. Visitors can also book these boat cruises from some of the hotels but expect to pay more. The Langkawi Crocodile Farm is about 16 miles (32 kilometers) from Kuah and crocodiles here are bred for their skins. The Snake Sanctuary has a collection of venomous and non-venomous snakes from around the world. Another attraction is the Langkawi Bird Paradise, which is home to more than 150 species of birds.

Public transport on the island is limited or minimal. Taxis are available but few and mostly found waiting at the airport and ferry terminal. A good option for traveling in a group is to hire a van with a driver for half a day or the whole day.

There are plenty of car, scooter, and motorbike rentals in Langkawi and companies offering these services can be found at the airport, hotels, ferry terminal, and along the beaches. A valid driving license is required and many foreign licenses including those from Europe and North America are accepted.

More on my travel blog about Langkawi Island.

Travel Insight: Online Travel Industry is growing

Travel Insight: Online Travel Industry is growing

The online travel industry is likely to grow in rapidly in 2016. The mobile user number to touch around 5 billion and around 2.6 billion would be using internet enables smartphones by 2019. This is going to have a positive impact on the online travel industry.

Online travel agencies have been following these latest trends to boost their revenue. The expansion of internet and growth in social media usage have been boosting online travel industry. Now, travellers have information regarding the trends on their fingertips. They would like to access the information prior to planning for any vacations.

More and more people use social media to know about travel destinations. According to one survey, a post on travel destination by a friend is enough to influence the travel plannings and schedule. The impact of the social media on travel industry is loud and clear.

The online travel industry has been gaining the momentum due to the growth in internet users. According to Statistic Brain, over 148.3 million internet users visit online travel portals, blogs, online travel agencies to for travel booking activities. The travel reservations increased by 57 percent in 2015.

When it comes to Asian leisure travellers, 59 percent of them book their travel product “whenever they can” and “wherever they can”, claims Tnooz.

2016 will be the perfect time for the online travel industries to accelerate their online activities for the higher growth rate and ROI. They need to capitalize- the growth in internet users and usage of social media globally.

The growth in mobile applications has been also another advantage for the travel operations to attract customers online platforms.

Social media has huge impact on travel and tourism industry. It has a huge impact on every industry across the world. Today, social media plays a vital role in the consumer travel experience. Travel experts believe that social media has been influencing travellers over their vacation plans. Some social media users take cue from the vacation pictures posted by their friends on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus.

Some users read reviews and ratings on these social networking sites prior to planning for the vacations. The travel and tourism industry has been depending on these social media sites to attract more customers and to push their sales online.

Social networking is one the most powerful forces driving travel industry today, failure to adopt could be fatal for travel agencies. The Days are gone, when people used to search on Google for “Hotels in [city]”, rather they try to get the information from leading travel portals and their social media profiles.

92 percent of people prefer word-of-mouth and recommendations from friends and family, above all other forms of advertising. Paid advertisement on television, magazine and newspapers have huge impact, as 47 percent of people trust such advertisements about travel and tourist packages.
Online reviews do play major role in defining the success of travel companies. As 70 percent of travellers do follow online reviews about travel packages and other travel related products. It is the second most trusted form of advertising.

Facebook has been a major social media site, where users can get plenty of information about travel, tours, destinations, vacations and packages provided by travel companies. Most of the travel companies have their business page on this giant social networking site in order to reach their customers and to provide information on their products. Users on this site are being influenced by the pictures shared by their friends.

Social media engagement is must for the travel companies in order get leads online and to increase the customer base. These social networking sites do have a higher conversion rate in travel bookings. According to reports, of those who used social media to research travel plans, only 48 percent stuck with their original plans and 46 percent travellers post hotel reviews on social media

About Italy Newsblog: the Italian Blog… About Italy

About Italy NewBlog collects several stories, news, suggestions, events related to Italy, and furthermore.
Actually, apart from this blog, About Italy is a non-profit sites’ network which is constantly growing. Among them you can find: About Florence, About MIlan, About Mugello, About Rome, About Siena, About Turin, and many others are coming.

The main purpose of this “NewsBlog” is the creation of a place where to collect all the news about Italy by taking them from the net, from real life and from this same sites’ network. You will find here photo and videos, events news, historic tips, and much more about Italy. The authors of this new experiment make us know that NewsBlog is still growing: “Be prepared for graphic and structural changes. We were so impatient to start this new project…during the time we are going to adjust things that don’t work”.

The authors, volunteers bloggers dislocated all around Italy, also invite users to send personal comments and suggestions, and assure that “they will be well appreciated and taken into consideration”.

You just have to follow the development of this project, to read, as they promised, always new and interesting posts!

The Connection Between Persian Newspapers And Blogs

What is a exactly blog? This short, four letter word “Blog” is basically an online journal that allows the writers express their views into words and publish them on the internet, inviting readers to comment. Blogging means a lot for writers, particularly for those who are willing to write for newspapers. – Like Iranian Persian Newspaper.

People, even if not good writers, use blogs to talk about their travel experiences, to share their hobbies or any other opinions. Business owners use blogs to promote their services or products by uploading clips or posting articles with a link. Nowadays, blogs also lead to publications not only in newspapers but also other media. A few of the news providers have now started to use local bloggers to share local activities their writers are not able to get.

The superiority of a blog can only be judged by the number of viewers have read and commented on the post. Therefore, bloggers choose a niche and stick on it, and it won’t be advantageous to change topics again and again. But of course, you can always start different blogs for different topics.

Finding how newspapers are connected to blogs.

Most of the major and even smaller newspapers are publishing blogs. The reason is to develop web pages and putting stories or any information online. Mainly to offer instant information. Blogging is the source that allows them to publish those topics unfit into the newspapers and for the writers blogging gives the space to convey the stories behind their articles.

A few of the Persian daily news providers offer you their websites if you need any guidelines. Whereas a newspaper’s blog opens up a window and let you participate in the discussions that can help you to give them exactly the article or story they are expecting for. You can not only eavesdrop, but can also comment and provide your own blog link on that similar subject.

Last but not the least, blogs are interactive. A lot of companies provide free templates for blogging. What you need to do, just fill in a few blanks, and start blogging within almost an hour. Isn’t is easy to start? You can also search for other free blog hosting services. Your internet service provider or your website hosts might also offer you a blogging option. Feel free to check. Or if you are not willing to start your own blog, at least start reading them. Don’t miss to participate in an enormous worldwide conversation.

What is a exactly blog? This short, four letter word “Blog” is basically an online journal that allows the writers express their views into words and publish them on the internet, inviting readers to comment. Blogging means a lot for writers, particularly for those who are willing to write for newspapers. – Like Iranian Persian Newspaper.