VIP Backpackers travel picks for 2012

Okay so it’s that time of year when you need to start planning out your travel for the new year.

There’s no excuse really to get out your diary and start thinking about where you should go. So with that in mind here’s five locations we think would be worth a stop over in 2012.

Here are three destinations featured from the top picks in the January 2012 newsletter.

KYOTO, JAPAN

Okay so Tokyo might be off limits still at present but that doesn’t mean you can’t go to Kyoto. It’s almost 400 kilometres away and one of the most interesting cities in Japan, thanks to a rich history in which it was once the imperial capital. It is of course replete with Geisha, renowned for its beauty in Autumn when the trees turn to gold and crimson and filled with various UNESCO World Heritage listed treasures. So get on over to Japan, enjoy Kyoto and help the people and economy get on their feet in 2012.

Accommodation | Tours

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Five warm places to spend winter downunder

In the southern hemisphere the nights and mornings are getting cooler and, if you’re like me, it’s a little tougher getting out of bed! I don’t know about you, but I’m always in search of something warm to do when winter comes around.

So with that in mind here are five really warm places you could spend winter in Australia this year (and in our next blog we’ll do the same for New Zealand):

Wildlife in Kakadu. Pic: Joanne Lane, http://www.visitedplanet.com

1. Go troppo – Darwin, Northern Territory
Darwin is one of the most laid back capitals in Australia. And given it’s usually pretty humid most of the year, the winter really is the best time to go. Take a few days to see the city and experience the history of the town in the WWII and Cyclone Tracey damage, then head out to national parks such as Litchfield and Kakadu. Kakadu needs little introduction – aboriginal rock art, amazing landscapes, plenty of wildlife (including the croc variety) and terrific waterfalls. Litchfield may be less well known but is equally fantastic. It’s still warm enough to swim at the park’s many waterholes and waterfalls and those that have a healthy respect for crocs will be pleased to note it’s safe for swimming. Continue reading

Responsible Tourism

I’m still on the road and now in Myanmar. Unfortunately VIP Backpackers does not cover this amazing country in its tours and hotels, probably for some quite obvious reasons. However being here has challenged me on a number of levels and I thought these insights might be of interest to others.

To boycott or not to boycott?

The first was obviously making the decision to come. In 1995 the Nobel Laureate for Peace, Aung San Suu Kyi, still under house arrest in Yangon, asked travellers to boycott Myanmar. She felt it was too early for tourists or even investment as money coming in would give the military junta Slorc less incentive to change. She has now changed her stance on this and is encouraging independent travellers (rather than package tourists) to come as 80% of what they spend tends to go to private sources. I fit into the independent category – as do most that travel using VIP Backpackers – but it still was a decision I had to make. I don’t regret it. I’ve learned far more in the last two weeks than I would have reading about it at home. Whether or not my presence has helped or harmed I’m not sure but at least I can take home what I have learned in Myanmar. And that’s really what Suu Kyi wants. She said “tourists can open up the world to the people of Burma just as the people of Burma can open the eyes of tourists to the situation in their own country if they’re interested in looking.”
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