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Sri Lanka National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries

in Destinations/Families/Recreation by
Birds at Kalametiya Park

Famed for the historic Galle Fort district, tea industry and pristine family-friendly beaches, Sri Lanka is also known for its several national parks, animal reserves and wildlife sanctuaries.

When holidaying on the south coast, don’t miss the chance to visit at least one of the protected wetlands or other animal habitats. Day trips are fun for the whole family and easy to arrange ahead. Road trips around the country require a bit more planning. Why not start now? Here are a few of the most popular animal attractions in Sri Lanka.

 Kalametiya Bird Sanctuary

Established in 1938, this is one of the oldest protected wildlife parks in Sri Lanka and is celebrated as one of the best eco-birdwatching destinations in the entire world.

Heron birdwatching at Kalametiya Bird Sanctuary

THINGS TO DO Birdwatching, photography, kid-friendly rock climbing, early morning or afternoon paddle boat cruise

WILDLIFE Over 150 bird species including Indian Reef Heron, Sri Lankan black-capped purple Kingfisher, Glossy Ibis, Jungle Fowl, Black Bittern, Slatybreasted Crake, Watercock, 20 mammal species, 40 types of fish, 40 exotic reptiles

BEST TIME TO VISIT Kalametiya is home to several local bird species, and more migrant birds come to roost and nest each year between November and March

LOCATION 20 km from Tangalle city, the sanctuary is near the village of Hungama on the south coast of Sri Lanka

GETTING THERE Via train or private transportation, the exit for the sanctuary is clearly marked on the A2 near the 214 and 218 km posts

WEBSITE kalametiyabirds.lk

Minneriya National Park

The site of The Gathering, a world-famous elephant spectacle, Minneriya is a protected 8,890-hectare reserve within Sri Lanka’s famed Cultural Triangle. Critical to the biodiversity in this habitat are its natural wetlands, water tanks and irrigation systems.

The Gathering at Minneriya National Park

THINGS TO DO Jeep tours; Wildlife photography

WILDLIFE Approximately 200 wild (Asian) elephants, various migratory and aquatic bird species, wetland mammals

BEST TIME TO VISIT The dry season, usually late August to October is when groups of elephants congregate here

LOCATION Less than 10 km from Habarana on the Colombo Polonnaruwa road

GETTING THERE Entrance requires a permit from the Ambagaswewa wild life conservation office, so guided tours are the way to go

Bundala National Park

Made up of brackish lagoons,

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Luxury Weekends in Phuket and Koh Samui

in Destinations/Families by
  • Phuket-beach.jpg
    beach with coconut palm and sea
  • Tawantok-Beach-Villas-In-villa-breakfast.jpg
  • Waimarie-Dedicated-staff.jpg
  • Villa-Nandana-Villa-view.jpg
  • 1.-Villa-Nandana-A-tranquil-location-to-relax-2.jpg

Picture this: you’re hidden away in a breathtaking haven away from the rest of the world, sitting atop a plush cushion beside a monumental door opening onto a lush garden. A flute of champagne in hand and a gastronomic spread before you, you hear only birds and your four-year old singing a soft rhythm. Your husband is floating in the pool in this hushed oasis, on his torso an outlined shade of a large leaf fluttering with the breeze.

Settle In

Welcome to Thailand’s quintessential experience of relaxation and rest, where you can stay holed up in an enormous villa replete with sumptuous lines of coconut wood and padauk, or nara wood, a hardwood that’s sturdy and pleasing to the eye. The furniture is simple and sleek amidst the high ceilings and glass walls. The master bath contains a stone bathtub, the perfect complement to your call to respite. You’re surrounded by space, space everywhere, and there’s nothing to keep you from running through the rooms in excitement.

You came to relax and enjoy a long weekend break, but also for discovery and local culture. Nestled in an idyllic retreat between ivory sands and jungled gardens, this villa feels like the home you’ve imagined in musings of grandeur. Yet, there’s a calm, tranquil atmosphere.

Phuket
What To Do
Get Splashed

Rest is abated when you venture outside on 13th April, the first day of the Songkran Festival. Songkran, one of Thailand’s most famous festivals, is an important event on the Buddhist calendar. It is the beginning of the traditional Thai new year – and what’s known as the day of the biggest water fight. Large water guns and hoses leave you drenched because every road you pass has a splash station.

But there are many things you can do besides get wet, including asking your private villa chef to indulge your taste buds. Savor the sweet, spicy and sour all at once. The villa managers and staff cater to your every whim and even take care of your children for the day. A private yoga teacher can help you unwind and a massage therapist will slowly knead city-stress away. Home spa services are just a call away.

Sun and Games

The sand stretches for miles and miles in Phuket.

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Romantic Seminyak: Rekindle Love in Bali

in Destinations/Dining/Wellness by
The Layar Romantic Seminyak Villas

The number one place for a romantic getaway? The dream honeymoon destination? The primo anniversary escape?

It’s got to be the Bali,Indonesia. Beach lovers can’t resist the lure of this spiritual island, where tropical luxury is at its best (and lovers can’t resist each other). 

More specifically, it’s got to be Seminyak, where wining and dining is effortless and hideaways like The Layar are kitted out for high-end leisure.

The Layar Private Pool Villa in Seminyak

Feel The Romance

First, get comfortable with cool spacious interiors, zillion thread count sheets and an open living area. Next, a private swimming pool and manicured tropical garden await nearby. A dramatic slanted ceiling overhead also makes your very private villa a personal theatre. Finally, display your affection. O Romeo! 

The Layar Seminyak One Bedroom Villa

If Shakespeare’s famed duo had dashed off to Bali, theirs would be a very different play with all the passion and none of the tragedy because this place is a romantic’s Heaven on Earth. Thus, thanks to the natural beauty and wealth of things to do, it’s the couple’s getaway of a lifetime. So forget R+J and take your cues for romance from this script instead.

The Layar Romantic Seminyak Villas

Act I. Scene I. Luxury one-bedroom villa. A warm welcome note and chilled champagne on the table.

To borrow a page from The Art of Seduction by Robert Greene, surprise is an easy road to romance. Being in a new place for the first time also serves up a bit of wonder, but a love of travel doesn’t necessarily bring people together. It’s the thoughtful surprises (and bold moves, says Greene) planned by one person for the other that bring back flutters of new love.

A simple request when booking is all it takes. Hence, set the scene for arrival however you’d like. Arrange special occasions and activities in advance. Also, leave the legwork to your hosts while you go barefoot. Enjoy your holiday worry free.

Seek Adventures in Sync

Act II. Scene II. The beach. Golden sand surrounds. Palm trees sway in the pleasant sea breeze.

Roses, chocolates and sweet surprises are strong symbols in the book of love. But the best romances have more to the plot. Love psychologist Barbara Frederickson agrees that feelings of awe and excitement make love blossom. 

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‘A Chef’s Tour’ A Phuket Must

in Dining/Recreation by
Produce Market Phuket

“One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating.” – Luciano Pavarotti

In 2017 Phuket was crowned a City of Gastronomy by UNESCO and anyone who has ever experienced real Thai food will agree that it’s arguably one of the best foods in the world. A balance between sweet, spicy, bitter, salty and sour is the main reason why Thai food is so special. But in internationally renowned Phuket, you find there’s actually much more than Thai cuisine to tantalize your taste buds.

chinese doors phuket

Having lived and worked in Phuket for the past 11 years I thought I had experienced most of southern Thai food, as well as some of the dishes from the North. In my culinary journey, (which does make me sound like a foodie millennial) have tried chicken feet and chicken heart, fried silk worms, raw prawns in fish sauce, chili and lime (this is one of my favourites to order) and a bitter-tasting green vegetable thing that to this day I have no idea what it was, although it was disgusting.

In May this year, it was announced that the legendary Michelin Guide will now include restaurants from Phuket and Phang Nga. With all the accolades that Thai food has received and now with the car tire manufacturer’s marshmallow man in the picture I thought it time to jump on the food cart wagon and see what is out there in terms of food tours and adventures.

Old Town Phuket

A CHEF’S TOUR

There are of course some fabulous cooking schools in Phuket that will teach you how to cook an authentic Pad Thai or a Green Curry, but isn’t it better to get out of the TV kitchen and hit the streets? I wanted to eat and drink with the locals. So, along with my friend we chose to go on A Chef’s Tour, which is a boutique tour that gives you a true flavor of food in Phuket and as you will find out, this tour gives you a whole lot more.

WHAT’S INCLUDED:

  • 4-hour guided walking tour of Phuket Old Town
  • Tastings at hidden “street eats” and local restaurants
  • History and culture lesson on southern Thai cuisine
  • Great photo opportunities
  • Drinking water and Thai refreshments
  • Private fully-licensed (foodie) guide

red Chinese lanterns Phuket

On the steps of one of Phuket Town’s largest indoor markets,

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Bento, Yakitori and Sushi in Bali

in Destinations/Dining by

You have to love a cuisine that managed to invent another flavor. Umami refers to that extra layer of deliciousness that defies description.

Japanese food has infiltrated the far corners of the world, satiating our interest as well as our appetites. Read on to discover Japanese restaurants and places to order sushi in Bali, Indonesia.

Sake no Hana

Sake no Hana may be new in Bali but they come with a serious reputation in other parts of the world, most notably in London’s fashionable Mayfair. Described as contemporary Japanese, Sake no Hana’s Executive Chef travelled from London to create this menu and it is filled with temptation and flavor. From their signature menus, which offer exotic imports like Kobe beef, Hamachi sashimi and Alaskan king crab, to bento boxes to a scale of signature menus, this is worth the splurge.

Overlooking the sparkling new daytime destination, Omnia, on the Uluwatu coast, Sake no Hana is filled with light by day. At night, as the club closes, it becomes a sophisticated destination restaurant. With a refreshingly different menu of bespoke cocktails alongside some wonderful wine and sake selections, Sake no Hana adds sophisticated new flavours to Uluwatu. 

Top tip: leave room for desserts, which are beautiful, creative and delicious.

Ryoshi

Ryoshi’s owner, Sagon Togasa, opened his first Ryoshi in Seminyak to house his two great loves; sushi and jazz. It still does that and more. With Ryoshi now in Sanur, Ubud and offering welcome respite to shoppers in Galleria, the menu has expanded alongside the empire.

At heart is the sushi window, with chefs slicing sushi and sashimi to order, fresh seafood is also part of the philosophy. There are grills, braises and rice bowls. A range of delicious kushiyaki, grilled food on sticks, and some delicious vegetarian options.

Agadashi tofu is a hit here as is the Japanese steak, the traditional fried chicken and steaming bowls of udon with your choice of toppings. Best of all it’s ultimately affordable.

Top tip: Monday night is the most popular night as the jazz is always world class, head upstairs and take a seat in the restaurant or hang out at the bar.

Sushimi

When Tokyo meets Bondi, you have Sushimi.

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