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Just immerse yourself in local cultures and cuisine

Surrounded by forests, paddy fields and hills, Thailand’s Udon Thani province offers an unadulterated atmosphere for outdoor activities like camping, glamping, rafting, trekking, and safari…reports Asian Lite News

As Indian metros gasp for clean air, it’s time to take a much-needed break. We have handpicked quaint beach towns, islands, and vineyards where your lungs can breathe easily even as you immerse yourself in local cultures and cuisine.

Sopron, Hungary

Tucked in northwestern Hungary, Sopron is a quaint wine-producing region with its bucolic terrain creating a tranquil atmosphere. Dotted with heritage sites and ancient Roman empire ruins, you can enjoy the bird’s eye view from a 13th Century Fire Tower and relive the past at the Fabricius house, just a short walk from the tower. Visit Esterházy, Classicist Széchenyi Castle, and the Old Synagogue. Nature lovers can hike in the Fertő-Hanság National Park, home to the 20,000-year-old Lake Fertő, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. To cap off the day, go wine-tasting at the wineries, especially Taschner Wine and Champagne House for Blue Frankish and Green Veltliner. Try local delicacies, Fertő Lake fish soup, bean soup with plums, and Winzer cabbage.

Estimated AQI: Less than 10 (

South Shetland Islands, Antarctica

Far from the effects of industrialisation, Antarctica makes for a perfect clear-air destination. The South Shetland Islands, a 540 km-long chain of islands lined with ice-filled fjords and massive icebergs, are populated by seabirds, penguins, seals, and whales. The best way to explore it is with Antarctica 21 fly-cruise expedition. After a luxurious ride to the peninsula, you can reach the islands on inflatable Zodiacs accompanied by polar guides. The unique aspect is that the routes are altered as per the climate, rendering a different experience every time. Apart from the South Shetland Islands, the voyage includes visits to the Antarctic Sound, the Gerlache Strait, and the Penola Strait.

Estimated AQI: Less than 15 (

Izu Peninsula, Japan

Located in the picturesque Shizuoka province, the Izu Peninsula stands out for its captivating natural beauty, pristine beaches, upscale highland resorts, and hot springs. An idyllic seaside getaway, this region is surrounded by mountains, striking rock formations, and the expansive sea, ensuring fresh air. The allure of Izu is enhanced by its proximity to some of Japan’s best beaches and historically rich Atami and Shimoda. The distinct charms of Higashi Izu, Nishi Izu, and Ito City contribute to its appeal. It is accessible via a swift bullet train journey from Central Tokyo, taking just under an hour.

Estimated AQI: Less than 30 (

Amboseli, Kenya

What better way to seek repose in nature than venturing into the great African plains? Kenya’s Amboseli National Park has rich biodiversity and hosts hundreds of bird species, from pelicans to kingfishers and raptor species. For an unobstructed view of the free-ranging elephants in their natural habitat, a stay at OlTukai Lodge Amboseli is recommended. Overlooking Mount Kilimanjaro offers an intimate connection with nature, complemented by eco-conscious amenities. The resort also facilitates encounters with the local Maasai tribe for an immersive cultural experience.

Estimated AQI: Less than 15 (

Udon Thani, Thailand

Surrounded by forests, paddy fields and hills, Thailand’s Udon Thani province offers an unadulterated atmosphere for outdoor activities like camping, glamping, rafting, trekking, and safari. From the natural wonders of Phu Foi Lom Eco-Park and Red Lotus Lake to the historical charms of Phu Phra Bat Historical Park and Ban Chiang Museum, this Thai countryside comprises a multitude of attractions. You can see its thriving local textile and silk markets, buy handmade artefacts at the night markets, and relish Thai food. Don’t miss trying Isaan food at the highly acclaimed restaurant Samuay& Sons. To ease travel formalities, Thailand is offering Indians a visa-exempted entry until May 10, 2024.

Estimated AQI: Less than 25 (

Zanzibar, Tanzania

Zanzibar, one of the main islands in the Tanzanian archipelago, is gifted with tranquillity. Endless stretches of white sand meet crystal-clear blue waters flanked by palm leaves gently sifting warm sunlight. Tucked away in Kizimkazi village is The Residence Zanzibar, a private pool villa-only retreat. Guided by the resort’s herbalist, you can relish the island’s clean, refreshing air as they journey through villages and spice plantations. The uninhabited Pungwe and Kwale islands within the Menai Bay Conservation Area provide an opportunity to enjoy a seafood barbecue amidst the invigorating, untainted air.

Estimated AQI: Less than 20 (

Cam Ranh, Vietnam

Cam Ranh finds itself on top of a Vietnam travel itinerary due to its unspoilt natural vistas and proximity to Nha Trang coastal town. With white sand beaches, vibrant coral reefs, and forests, this southwestern region serves as an excellent clean-air getaway. One of the best ways to indulge in barefoot luxury and exceptional Vietnamese hospitality is by staying at The Anam Cam Ranh. Deeply rooted in the cultural aesthetics of Vietnam, it offers epicurean journeys, including authentic traditional and global gourmet meals made using locally sourced ingredients and produce. Visit the Ponagar Cham Towers, Long Son Pagoda, the Institute of Oceanography, and Vinh Hy Bay.

Estimated AQI: Less than 40 (

La Digue, Seychelles

Known for its awe-inspiring landscape and beach idylls, La Digue is one of the most hankered islands in Seychelles. The allure is heightened by granite formations, golden sands, and gently swaying palm trees. The clear water of its bays is perfect for kayaking and snorkelling. Relax at the the jaw-dropping beachside of Anse Source D’ Argent, dip in the natural pools of Anse Cocos, or hike to Anse Marroncoves and jungles.

Estimated AQI: Less than 15 (

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Himachal Pradesh’s ‘Kangra’ Focused Development Boost

Kangra is set to witness the development of a Rs 5 crore park and a selfie point worth Rs 30 lakh. Additionally, the Tandon Club will undergo expansion with a grant of Rs 1.5 crore…reports Asian Lite News

The Cabinet Minister in Himachal Pradesh and Chairman of the Himachal Tourism Board, RS Bali on Saturday announced a series of transformative initiatives in Kangra aimed at enhancing cultural and recreational facilities in the region.

The highlight of the event was the inauguration of the Mata Brajeshwari Public Library in the Joint Office Building in Kangra.
Bali emphasised the importance of cultivating a reading culture, announcing plans to establish library rooms in every senior secondary school across the state.

Expressing his appreciation for the initiative, Bali commended SDM Kangra Somil Gautam for the construction of the Mata Brajeshwari Public Library.He also highlighted the critical role of a conducive environment in shaping the aspirations of the youth, expressing gratitude for the efforts of Chief Minister Sukhwinder Singh in improving educational facilities in the state.

Bali also revealed plans to introduce digital libraries at various locations in the state, providing readers with access to a diverse collection of digital documents over the internet. In a bid to enhance the recreational landscape, RS Bali announced a generous allocation of funds. Kangra is set to witness the development of a Rs 5 crore park and a selfie point worth Rs 30 lakh. Additionally, the Tandon Club will undergo expansion with a grant of Rs 1.5 crore.

Recognising the aftermath of the Kangra flood, a sum of Rs 3 lakh was pledged for the channelization of drains, and directives were issued to provide designated spaces for street vendors. Bali further shared plans for future collaborations with the Chief Minister, including discussions about building a complex on vacant land in Tehsil Chowk.

Welcoming the chief guest, Kangra Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) Somil Gautam highlighted the pivotal role of public libraries in providing the youth with opportunities to shape their future.
The event witnessed the presence of several distinguished guests, including President of Youth Congress Kangra Ishant Chaudhary, former MLAs Surendra Kaku and Amit Verma, and Block Congress President Nageshwar Mankotiya, who addressed the gathering.
The event was attended by SDM Nagrota Wagwa Munish Sharma, Block Congress President Nageshwar Mankotiya, State General Secretary Ajay Verma, DSP Ankit Sharma, Municipal Council Vice President Suman Verma, Congress State Spokesperson Ashok Himachali, and BDC President Babita Sandhu. Councillor Sanjeev Gupta, Temple Officer Neelam Kumari, Child Development Project Officer Vandana Katoch, Country Congress Committee Member Rajesh Raja, Youth Congress President Ishant Chaudhary, Video Tavinder Chanauriya, State Congress Committee Member Nishu Mogra, Executive of Nagrota Bagwan Officer Kanchan Bala, Rita Mankotia, BDC member Kanta Saroch, along with officers, employees, and workers from various departments, were also present. (ANI)

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Thailand Gears Up for Dazzling Loy Krathong Festival of Lights

You can’t leave Chiang Mai without trying the local delicacies, and there are many to choose from. Some must-tries are sai oua (a northern Thai sausage), nam ngiao (sour and spicy noodles with tomato soup), and the always popular khao soi (creamy coconut curry with crispy noodles)…reports Asian Lite News

Thailand is set to sparkle this November as the country celebrates one of its most colourful and picturesque cultural festivals – Loy Krathong, also known as the Festival of Lights.

To celebrate the water goddess Phrae Mae Khongkha, millions of Thais float (loy) a little raft (krathong) commonly made from banana trunk and topped with flowers and candles. The krathongs carry the hopes, wishes, and gratitude of individuals, and represent the act of letting go of the old and ushering in the new.

Loy Krathong is celebrated nationwide every year, on the night of the full moon of the twelfth month of the Thai lunar calendar. The festival takes place on 27 November this year, and is a special occasion for both Thais and travellers who flock to the country for this dazzling festival.

Thailand was the #1 most visited country on Airbnb in Southeast Asia last year, with Bangkok the most visited city in the country. This Loy Krathong, Airbnb has already seen a 17 percent surge in international guests searching for a stay in Thailand. The most popular destinations during this festive period are Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Pattaya, Phuket, Koh Samui, Hua Hin, Koh Pha Ngan and Krabi. Many are flocking to The Land of Smiles for the end of year holidays – Airbnb has seen approximately an 88 percent spike in searches by China travellers for November-December travel to Thailand, and an over 15 percent increase in searches by Australian guests in the same period

If you’re thinking about visiting Thailand this holiday season, make it one to remember and join the festivities! Read on for Airbnb’s recommendations of the best destinations and places to stay to experience Loy Krathong.

Chiang Mai

Renowned for its mountains and lush forests, Chiang Mai in Thailand’s north is home to the traditional Lanna culture. Loy Krathong celebrations are marked by large ceremonies and illuminated temples and are held at the same time as the Yee Peng festival, where Thais release thousands of paper lanterns (khom loi) into the night sky – making for a truly incredible sight.

Flowing through the heart of Chiang Mai province is the Ping River, a popular place amongst locals and visitors alike to float krathongs. Tha Phae Gate is another; located on the east side of the old city wall. The surrounding moat is a local favourite and popular gathering place, while Three Kings Monument in front of the old town hall has a lively atmosphere and attracts many to join in the activities.

You can’t leave Chiang Mai without trying the local delicacies, and there are many to choose from. Some must-tries are sai oua (a northern Thai sausage), nam ngiao (sour and spicy noodles with tomato soup), and the always popular khao soi (creamy coconut curry with crispy noodles).


Thailand’s vibrant capital transforms every Loy Krathong, as the city embraces its cultural roots and traditions in a spectacle not to be missed. The main water artery of Bangkok, the Chao Phraya River, is a popular destination for visitors and locals to float krathongs and where you can join in the festivities against the backdrop of iconic landmarks such as Wat Arun. Alternatively, make your way to Wat Saket where you can enjoy a memorable Loy Krathong by one of Bangkok’s oldest canals, Khlong Maha Nak, and explore the iconic Golden Mount nearby.

A short stroll from the Chao Phraya is the hip neighbourhood of Song Wat – recently voted one of the world’s 40 coolest neighbourhoods in 2023 by TimeOut – with an eclectic mix of art galleries and historical buildings to explore. While exploring Bangkok, don’t forget to try the city’s food offerings, from street food vendors offering Thai staples such as pad thai and pad krapow, to markets such as Jodd Fair and Michelin-starred eateries.


There’s much more to Phuket than meets the eye. Famous for its beaches and islands, Phuket is steeped in history, and dotted with temples and shrines making for a unique Loy Krathong experience with an island-style vibe. There are more than 30 beaches where locals often float their krathongs. Alternatively, explore some of the less touristy and equally popular spots, such as Sapan Hin Lake and Suan Luang Park in Phuket Town, or Nai Harn Lake in the south or Bang-Ma-Ruan Lake in the north.

When in Phuket, don’t miss the opportunity to enjoy some of the freshest seafood caught daily from the Andaman Sea. Delicious Southern dishes to try include kaeng som (sour and spicy soup), massaman (a flavourful, slightly sweet Thai curry) and kaeng tai pla (an intensely spicy curry with fermented fish). And while enjoying island life, don’t forget to explore the history and Sino-Portuguese architecture in Phuket Town.

ALSO READ-Thailand Waives Visas for Indians to Boost Tourism

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Agoda’s Top Solo Travel Spots Unveiled for Indians

Renowned as one of the world’s most accessible destinations for solo travellers, it’s no surprise that Bangkok made the list.Thailand’s capital is welcoming to solo travellers on any budget, but being the home of hostel-packed Kao San Road, Bangkok is sure to be on the travel itinerary for backpackers…reports Asian Lite News

Travel comes in many forms. With Singles’ Day around the corner, digital travel platform Agoda looked at the most popular destinations for solo travellers. For India, Bangkok is in first place, followed by Dubai and Kuala Lumpur.

Singles’ Day, or 11-11, takes place annually on the eleventh day of November. The unofficial holiday originated in China as an answer to Valentine’s Day, celebrating those who aren’t in a romantic relationship. Over the years, Singles’ Day has gained popularity globally. The day is now recognized as one of the most impactful online shopping days with many online platforms, including Agoda, offering special discounts.

“As Agoda, we have talked a lot about family travel this year but with travel numbers up compared to recent years, we’ve also seen an increase in solo travel” said Krishna Rathi, Country Director India, Sri Lanka, and Maldives at Agoda. “Going on a solo trip is arguably one of the best gifts one can give oneself. Whether it is to explore new cultures, to make new friends, or to reconnect with those across the globe, going on a trip alone often requires stepping out of one’s comfort zone. But those who set out on an adventure of their own are usually rewarded with the creation of the most special memories.”

To determine the solo travel favourites, Agoda looked at the most popular destinations for solo travellers checking in on weekends and across a wide range of hotel stays. Around Asia Pacific, the top three consist of Tokyo, Japan in first, Bangkok, Thailand in second, and Seoul, South Korea in third. For India, the most popular destinations are:

Bangkok, Thailand

Renowned as one of the world’s most accessible destinations for solo travellers, it’s no surprise that Bangkok made the list.Thailand’s capital is welcoming to solo travellers on any budget, but being the home of hostel-packed Kao San Road, Bangkok is sure to be on the travel itinerary for backpackers.

Making new friends has never been so easy, thanks to the friendly locals and the abundance of fellow solo travellersanywhere across the city. During the daytime, there’s lot to explore, like the Grand Palace, the famous Chatuchak weekend market, or the arty and chaotic alleys of Chinatown.

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Ranked at number 2, the glittering skyline of Dubai is sure to attract any kind of traveller. Solo adventurers are in for a great time with a seemingly never-ending list of things to do: Shop-till-you-drop in one of the malls or a bazaar, go dunebashing in the desert, visit the world’s tallest building the Burj Khalifa, or meet locals and fellow travellers during frequently hosted quiz nights in one of the pubs. And after all that, there’s always the beach for some well-deserved relaxation.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Known for its warm hospitality, Kuala Lumpur is a haven for solo adventurers. With its mix of modern skyscrapers and historical treasures, there’s something for everyone. The city’s bustling street food stalls, vibrant markets, and iconic Petronas Twin Towers provide ample opportunities to go out and explore during the day. And you can even go on a hike within the city’s KL Forest Eco Park. At night, it will be a breeze to make new friends in the popular Changkat Bukit Bintang nightlife scene.

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Ever Best Spots to Celebrate Your Last Days of Singledom

Not to be cliche, but in this town, the party never ends. Check out the infamous nightlife of goa, do some beach-hopping, and definitely don’t miss out on the endless beachfront parties…reports Asian Lite News

There’s no greater joy than sipping a refreshing drink, lounging by the beach, and talking about everything under the sun with your girls by your side! As you get ready with your lehengas and mehendi, there is one thing left for you to do before you switch from Ms. to Mrs.

It’s time to celebrate your last few days of singledom. And what’s the ultimate way to do that? A bachelorette party, of course.

A proper bachelorette needs three things: exquisite drinks, a touch of glam, and the perfect spot to let loose with your girl gang, without a care in the world. To ensure you not only have a blast but make life-long memories (or at least blurry ones you’ll laugh about later), CRED shares with IANSlife a list of four places in India that will give you the ideal break you need, right before the wedding chaos ensues.


Not to be cliche, but in this town, the party never ends. Check out the infamous nightlife of goa, do some beach-hopping, and definitely don’t miss out on the endless beachfront parties.

Book a luxurious villa (We suggest Elivaas Bauhinia Luxurious Villa with Private Pool) for you and your ladies and make sure you use the spa. After you’ve had your fill, head on to South Goa to get away from the crowd, walk along the quieter beaches like the Betalbatim beach, and let yourself soak it all in. Let go of your fears, and stress, and spend the last days with your girls.


A quaint little French town full of small bakeries, bohemian clothes, and beautiful, pristine beaches, Pondicherry cannot be missed when it comes to planning a bachelorette. The artistic cafes will make the perfect backdrop for all your Instagram pictures and the pleasant weather will ruffle your hair in the right ways. You can end the day by setting up a beach bonfire for a cozy and memorable gathering by the sea. Check out properties like Le Pondy, Accord Puducherry, Maison Perumal CGH Earth, or Palais de Mahe CGH Earth for a comfortable stay.


Nestled in the breathtaking landscapes of Himachal Pradesh, Manali is yet another perfect destination for a girls’ getaway. Surrounded by snow-capped mountains, this charming town offers a mix of adventure and relaxation. Dive into thrilling activities like river rafting and paragliding, explore the vibrant markets, and make sure to unwind in natural hot springs. With cozy cafes, stunning views, and a laid-back vibe, Manali creates the ideal backdrop for unforgettable moments with your girl gang. Whether you’re seeking adventure, relaxation, or a bit of both, Manali has it all. Check out Larisa Resort, Club Mahindra Snow Peaks Resort or The Orchid Hotel.


If you’re looking to have some downtime with your girls, the Wine capital of India should surely be on your list. Nashik, not too far from Mumbai, makes for an ideal short bachelorette trip where you can enjoy leisurely strolls along vineyards, scenic sunsets and wine tasting sessions with your gang. If you’re feeling a bit adventurous, then try the white-water river rafting Nashik is famous for or challenge your friends to a grape stomping competition at the Soma Vine village. Check out the Grape County Eco Resort for a comfortable, luxurious stay.

Now, pack your favorite dresses, grab your suitcase and head out on a trip unlike any other. Happy Bachelorette!

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Soneva Unveils Paradise in the Maldives

Fully bespoke rare experiences are curated for every guest, reconnecting them with the abundant nature that surrounds the island…reports Asian Lite News

Soneva, the world-leading sustainable resorts operator, has revealed the launch of the new, ultra-bespoke Soneva Secret. Located in HaaDhaalu, the Maldives’ most remote atoll, the debut Soneva Secret 2024 will welcome its first guests on January 10, 2024. Thirty years in the making, the resort concept builds upon Soneva’s experience at the forefront of exceptional hospitality, and will set a new, unmatched standard in intuitive, personalised service, exquisite private villas and unspoiled settings, surrounded by nature.

Soneva Secret 2024 features just 14 beach and overwater villas, including lagoon Crusoe Villas, accessible only by boat, and the Castaway, the Maldives’ first floating villa. Each is designed in perfect harmony with the untouched natural setting, with direct access to the white sand beach or sparkling lagoon. As well as vast master suites, including a roof that slides to reveal star-strewn skies, every villa also features adjoining bedrooms, offering ample space for families or additional guests.

Soneva’s superlative service reaches new heights at Soneva Secret 2024, with a dedicated Barefoot Guardian and Barefoot Assistant for every villa, curating an utterly personalised stay and one-of-a-kind, rare experiences for every guest. The resort’s 14 private chefs, one for each villa, craft bespoke menus and unique culinary journeys, whether savoured in the privacy and comfort of the villa or enjoyed in nature at the island’s most picturesque spots.

Other dining experiences will include Out of This World, a castaway dining tower, observatory and wine cellar in the lagoon, reachable by zipline; a toes-in-the-sand firepit dining experience at So Primitive; and The Living Room, the island hub and casual dining and lounge venue, which is also home to a library, boutique and Soneva’s renowned ice cream, chocolate and cheese and charcuterie rooms.

Fully bespoke rare experiences are curated for every guest, reconnecting them with the abundant nature that surrounds the island. An underwater haven, the crystal-clear waters are home to colonies of majestic manta rays, pods of curious dolphins and gentle whale sharks, alongside shoals of colourful tropical fish. Family experiences go far beyond The Den, whether picnics on castaway shores, sunset dolphin cruises, guided snorkelling with the experienced Marine Biologist, or navigating the night skies with exceptionally clear views of the Milky Way with the resident Astronomer.

It can be reached via a scenic 75-minute seaplane flight direct from Velana International Airport in Malé, a 40-minute seaplane flight from Soneva Fushi in the Baa Atoll, a 30-minute seaplane flight from Soneva Jani in the Noonu Atoll, or a leisurely full-day cruise from Soneva Fushi onboard Soneva in Aqua. Guests can also fly directly into Kulhudhuffushi Airport in the HaaDhaalu Atoll and take a one-hour speedboat ride to the resort.

ALSO READ-New gen travel vibes

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New gen travel vibes

Indians are inherent foodies research confirms the same, with 59 percent of Indian travellers having booked a destination purely based on a restaurant they want to visit…reports Asian Lite News

Among the four key travel vibes, set-jetting took the lead in India, as travellers sought to immerse themselves into the iconic location of their favourite shows, embodying Main Character Energy. Seizing the spotlight as the top destination that Indians are inspired to visit in 2024 is Manali, India, with travellers influenced by Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, followed by Ladakh, again in India, which inspires 47 percent of the travellers to visit the mesmerising city as seen in 3 Idiots. Claiming the next spot is London in the United Kingdom, with 43 percent of Indian travellers seeking to add a royal flair to their life as seen in The Crown, and the enchanting city of Paris in France, with 42 percent of Indian travellers wanting to experience the city like Emily Cooper, as seen in Emily in Paris revealed SkyscannerWhether it’s gig tripping or visiting the realm of sleep, global travel site Skyscanner shares the latest trends shaping industry and traveller behaviour in its “Travel Trends: Redefining value through experience in 2024” report.  Blending proprietary flights and hotel data based on millions of searches with an annual consumer behaviour study[1] and expert commentary, the report reveals 2024’s hottest travel vibes and types, as well as the top 10 trending destinations and best-value destinations.Data from the report reveals that film and entertainment have a significant influence on Indian travellers, with 94 percent of them inclined to take a trip to a destination they’ve seen on the big or small screen. Moreover, close to half (43 percent) of the respondents rate the overall ‘vibe’ of a destination as important, when choosing where to go in 2024.

Just like Main Character Energy, data shows how the value of experiences is fuelling a range of other travel trends and vibes for 2024, with price no longer solely ruling decision-making:Gig tripping – One-third of Indian (37 percent) travellers would fly short haul to see their favourite artist live with a huge 79 percent considering attending a concert overseas instead in 2024 if it would help them save money.Budget bougie foodies – Indians are inherent foodies research confirms the same, with 59 percent of Indian travellers having booked a destination purely based on a restaurant they want to visit. Osaka, renowned as ‘the kitchen of Japan’ with the fourth rank in the world for cities with the most Michelin stars, claims the top spot on Skyscanner’s global list for foodies on a budget in 2024 and is also one of the top trending destinations amongst Indian travellers.Destination Zzzz – Citing it as one of the top activities for their next holiday, Indian travellers really just want to visit the realm of sleep in 2024. Sleep health generally is a hot topic and 85 percent of Indian travellers are more mindful of their sleep health today compared to a few years ago. Moreover, 66 percent of Indian travellers have reported experiencing improved sleep quality during their holidays.What’s more, with the thirst for experiences that drive greater lifestyle value, it saw the following traveller types emerging in 2024: Analogue adventurers – In an age of always-on and constant hype, Gen Z are craving old-school analogue adventures that ditch the digital device in favour of how it used to be done. In fact, one in four (24 percent) Indian travellers aged 18 to 24 years old now bring a Polaroid camera with them on holiday.Celebration vacationers – Indian travellers increasingly want to celebrate big milestones in style. 81% of Indian travellers have taken a group trip to celebrate a birthday or anniversary. That being said, it can be tricky to arrange group travel – from deciding on where and when to go, to agreeing on costs. 52 percent of Indian travellers said that finalising a destination is their primary hurdle when planning group trips, followed by deciding on the travel dates (48 percent), and agreeing on the expected costs of the trip (45 percent).Luxe-for-less seekers – While the price may always be a factor when it comes to travel planning, it seems Indian travellers are still willing to splurge on comforts. 37 percent of Indian travellers plan to upgrade their flight to business or first class in 2024, while 44 percent plan to purchase airport lounge access to get their trip off to a great start.

India’s Top Trending and Best Value Destinations

The 2024 report reveals that 86 percent of Indian travellers plan to take the same number, if not more, trips abroad in 2024 compared to 2023. The most buzzing destinations for Indian travellers in 2024 are Da Nang in Vietnam, loved for its pristine beaches, Almaty in Kazakhstan, a captivating destination in Central Asia celebrated for its stunning natural scenes, and Baku in Azerbaijan, known for its exquisite blend of historical and modern architecture[2]. On the other hand, Nice in France came out top overall, securing the highest spot for the Best Value Destinations category, followed by Geneva in Switzerland, Tokyo in Japan, and Manama in Bahrain[3] (full overview in appendix).

Commenting on the findings, Mohit Joshi, Skyscanner Travel Trends and Destination Expert said, “The desire to explore and to make the best out of holidays with richer, more fulfilling experiences is evident among Indian travellers, as they (63 percent) are budgeting to spend more on travel in 2024. The strong demand for travel in India, coupled with the focus on cultural exploration next year, are reasons why a travel metasearch like Skyscanner can bring value to Indian travellers. Try the ‘Explore Everywhere’ search feature, for example, to discover destinations ranked by prices. With our tools, travellers will realise that there are many ways to bag a bargain so that allowances can be made to spend on the comfort they are after.”

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Chasing Sunshine Around the Globe

Napier-Hastings welcomes sun enthusiasts to a wonderful fusion of culture and seaside appeal in New Zealand’s beautiful Hawke’s Bay. This region, which is known for its sunny weather, has a wide variety of vineyards and wineries where visitors may enjoy the sunshine while sipping top-notch wines…reports Asian Lite News

The tourism industry is enjoying an unprecedented popularity surge, propelled by a unique blend of factors. The lingering uncertainty of the pandemic, the widespread adoption of remote work, and the magnetic influence of travel-savvy influencers on platforms like Instagram and TikTok have all played pivotal roles in this extraordinary trend. Additionally, the increasing disposable income among the upcoming generation and their fervent desire to explore the world to its fullest continue to stoke this remarkable growth. 

In the expansive world of tourism, which has historically included well-established categories like medical, business, and religious tourism, a newcomer has made its mark – Sun Tourism, often called Solar Tourism.

What is Sun Tourism?

Sun tourism appeals to those who relish bright, sun-drenched days and seek destinations that offer an abundance of sunshine. Whether nestled amidst mountain ranges or along pristine beaches, these sun-soaked locales beckon travelers with their promise of endless golden hours. If you are one of these sun-seekers, we have compiled a curated list of destinations across the world that will allow you to bask in the glorious sun, especially with the approach of winter. This list of destinations curated by Thomas Cook and SOTC Travel offers warmth, sunshine, and a tapestry of experiences that will make your journey memorable.

Napier-Hastings, New Zealand: Napier-Hastings welcomes sun enthusiasts to a wonderful fusion of culture and seaside appeal in New Zealand’s beautiful Hawke’s Bay. This region, which is known for its sunny weather, has a wide variety of vineyards and wineries where visitors may enjoy the sunshine while sipping top-notch wines. The distinctive Art Deco architecture of Napier lends a special touch, while the unspoiled beaches offer a tranquil haven. Napier-Hastings provides a lovely vacation with a sun-kissed atmosphere that combines superb wines, golden shores, and the warm embrace of New Zealand’s copious sunshine.

Sentosa Island, Singapore: The epitome of sun travel is Singapore’s Sentosa Island, a tropical oasis. Visitors may relax and enjoy water sports on scenic beaches like Siloso and Palawan while soaking up the sun. Under the warm tropical sun, the island is home to opulent beach clubs, thrilling theme parks, and a thriving nightlife. Sentosa offers a sun-drenched retreat with the ideal fusion of leisure, entertainment, and natural beauty, from stunning sunsets at Tanjong Beach to family-friendly experiences.

Kutch, India: With its vast Great Rann of Kutch, Kutch in Gujarat, India, opens as a captivating canvas for sun tourism. The enormous white salt flats in this salt desert create an unreal sight when illuminated by the blazing Indian sun. The Rann Utsav, a cultural celebration celebrated amidst immaculate whiteness, offers visitors a singular experience. The bleak expanse is transformed into a kaleidoscope of colors as the sun sets, creating an amazing sight. Kutch provides gorgeous villages, historic temples, and a rich cultural legacy, all bathed in the comforting light of the Indian sun, beyond the salt desert.

Jorhat, India: Jorhat, which is located in Assam, presents itself as a secluded vacation spot. The serene atmosphere of the city, which is covered with beautiful tea gardens, invites visitors to take advantage of the pleasant weather. Discover storied tea estates like the Tocklai Tea Research Institute, where the calming backdrop of sun-dappled farms may be found. Explore energetic markets while soaking up the warmth and learning about Assam’s rich cultural tapestry. Jorhat encourages sun-seekers to relax in the mellow brightness of the sun amidst green landscapes and tea-scented breezes with its distinctive blend of heritage and environment.

Punakha, Bhutan: Punakha, Bhutan, cradled in a lush valley, unfolds as a serene haven for sun tourism. Punakha is endowed with terraced farms, the magnificent Punakha Dzong, and the confluence of the Mo Chhu and Pho Chhu rivers. It also benefits from a mild climate. Explore the medieval stronghold, take part in customary events, and stroll through the sunny surroundings. Punakha is a brilliant hideaway amidst the cultural and natural magnificence of Bhutan. The Punakha Suspension Bridge and the Chimi Lhakhang temple contribute to the sun-drenched charm.

Glamp your way to a perfectly luxurious getaway in New Zealand(IANSLIFE)

Thulusdhoo, Maldives: A hidden gem in the Maldives, Thulusdhoo provides a special fusion of sun tourism and surf culture. Travelers are invited to soak in the warmth while immersing themselves in the vibrant Maldivian culture on this nearby island that is well-known for its surf breaks. The sun becomes a companion to the rhythmic tides and the laid-back appeal of this scenic island on Thulusdhoo, which offers a really surreal experience.

Da Nang, Vietnam: Vietnam’s Da Nang, with its stunning beaches and numerous cultural attractions, emerges as a sun-drenched jewel. The popular My Khe Beach, known for its golden sands, welcomes both sunbathers and water sports lovers. The pagodas and caverns of the Marble Mountains provide for an interesting daytime exploration. For those looking for a mix of coastal relaxation and cultural enrichment, Da Nang’s Dragon Bridge and historic charm make for the ideal fusion of modernity and tradition under the Vietnamese sun.

Byron Bay, Australia: The sun-drenched sanctuary of Byron Bay, Australia, charms with its laid-back vibe and immaculate beaches. Surfers cut through the waves, and the golden dunes go on forever. Under the Australian heat, the community’s bohemian appeal flourishes. For those seeking the ideal balance of relaxation and outdoor allure, Byron Bay is the go-to location. Immerse yourself in the coastal ambiance, take in the breathtaking sunsets, and allow the warmth of the sun to create an unforgettable backdrop to your seaside adventures.

Bali, Indonesia: Bali, Indonesia, is the pinnacle of sun tourism due to its stunning beaches and diverse culture. Bali provides a wide range of coastal experiences, from the golden sands of Kuta to the opulent sanctuaries of Seminyak. Sunlit getaway is offered by the cultural appeal and verdant scenery of Ubud. Bali is a tropical paradise where every moment is bathed in the bright glory of the Indonesian sun, with water temples, rice terraces, and coral reefs.

5 kid-friendly international vacation spots to visit this summer.(photo:IANSLIFE)

Phuket, Thailand: Phuket, Thailand, presents itself as a sweltering paradise, luring visitors to its renowned beaches. Phuket provides a variety of coastline experiences, from the lively Patong to the serene beaches of Karon and Kata. The warm sands, water sports, and seaside relaxation are enjoyed by sunbathers. Beyond the beaches, lively markets, cultural sites, and a dynamic nightlife add to the sun-kissed appeal. For those looking for the ideal fusion of relaxation and action, Phuket’s tropical beauty, decorated with azure oceans and golden coasts, provides an alluring tapestry.

In summary, these locations, offer diverse geographical landscapes, tropical climates, and a plethora of sun tourism opportunities. You can travel to these sun-drenched locales for a revitalizing and wonderful sun tourism experience. Every moment is bathed in the golden glory of the sun at these places.

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Singapore Sees Spike in Indian Tourist Arrivals

Shaw emphasised that an industry survey indicates Indian travelers rank among the highest spenders globally….reports Asian Lite News

Mark Shaw, the Chairman of Orchard Road Business Association, highlights India as a burgeoning market for tourist visits in Singapore following the pandemic. He noted a significant increase in Indian tourist numbers this year, attributing it to their interest in both Singapore’s new attractions and the resonance they find in the country’s Indian culture and heritage, which fosters a sense of belonging, media reported.

Official government data reveals a notable 15.5 percent surge in Indian visitor arrivals, totaling 792,935 in the first nine months of this year compared to the same period in the previous year, according to PTI report.

Shaw emphasised that an industry survey indicates Indian travelers rank among the highest spenders globally. He expressed confidence that the Orchard Road Business Association members can captivate them with a diverse array of compelling and innovative products and services. Shaw highlighted the upcoming festive season in Singapore, starting with Deepavali on November 12, followed by the Orchard Road Christmas light-up from November 16 through the New Year.

Recently, ORBA unveiled a program for its yearly ‘A Great Street Light Up’ for Christmas along Singapore’s renowned tourist and hotel hub, Orchard Road.

The 40-year-old tradition of the Orchard Road light-up embodies the city’s vibrant celebration of festivals through colorful decorations and light displays across various precincts in Singapore.

Meanwhile, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar recently concluded his three-day visit to Singapore, saying that it presented an opportunity to further deepen the strategic partnership between India and the Southeast Asian country.

During his Singapore visit on October 18, the EAM had several bilateral engagements with the leaders of the island-nation and senior ministers of the Cabinet.

He was accompanied by the Secretary (East) and other senior officials from the Ministry.

“EAM called on H.E. Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, President of Singapore, and congratulated him on his recent election victory,” the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement.

Jaishankar also paid a call to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Lawrence Wong, holding discussions on deepening bilateral engagement in key areas.

“Both exchanged views on deepening engagement in the identified pillars of our cooperation, viz., fintech, digitalization, the green economy, skills development, and food security,” the MEA added in its statement.

The EAM also met the Minister and Coordinating Minister for national security, Teo Chee Hean.

“EAM had a comprehensive discussion with H.E. Mr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister of Foreign Affairs, on bilateral and global issues of mutual interest. He also met H.E. Dr Ng Eng Hen, Minister for Defence,” the MEA added.

Both the ministers acknowledged the close bilateral defence engagement and reaffirmed the commitment to take it forward.

Later, he had a productive meeting with the Minister of Trade and Industry, Gan Kim Yong, with the discussions centred on new domains of cooperation.

He also met the Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Law, K Shanmugam and exchanged views on strengthening the bilateral partnership between the two nations.

“Happy to catch up with Minister of Home Affairs and Law K Shanmugam today. Exchanged views on further strengthening our bilateral relations. Also on regional and global developments,” Jaishankar posted on X.

India and Singapore enjoy a historic relationship that was elevated to a strategic partnership in 2015.

In 2023, both sides had several ministerial interactions on the sidelines of the G20 held under India’s presidency, for which Singapore was invited as a guest country. 

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AIMA to Tackle Pending Immigration Cases in Portugal

With a budget of 81 million euros ($85.86 million), the new agency has 740 employees and plans for 190 new hires…reports Asian Lite News

Portugal dissolved the Foreigners and Borders Service (SEF), transferring all matters concerning foreign documents to the newly created Agency for Integration, Migration and Asylum (AIMA).

According to an official statement on Sunday, AIMA “plans to set up a mega-operation to resolve pending cases,” with “enhanced security associated with document issuance” and “establishment of a permanent audit team for internal procedures and combating and preventing fraud”.

The new model also aims to combat racism and integrate ethnic groups, the statement said.

Portuguese Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, Ana Catarina Mendes, said that the AIMA will demonstrate a “new paradigm” in the reception and handling of immigrants seeking Portugal, Xinhua news agency reported.

With a budget of 81 million euros ($85.86 million), the new agency has 740 employees and plans for 190 new hires.

According to the government, nearly 347,000 pending immigration cases and about 340,000 visa renewals are to be decided by the end of the year. Statistics show that over a million immigrants live in Portugal, accounting for around 10 percent of the Portuguese population.

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