2016’s Chinese zodiac animal is the monkey, and this cheeky animal is the ninth one to celebrate Chinese New Year.Copy supplied by the Travel Corporation.
Celebrated around the world the Chinese New Year and the corresponding zodiac features twelve animals and each animal also has its own element. The five elements are gold, water, wood, fire or earth so a Monkey, depending on the element it was born under, has an extra set of characteristics that define them. Those born in the Year of the Monkey are said to be smart and powerful, and those who have the element of fire in their orbit can add ambitious and adventurous into the mix. This is perfect for any Fire Monkeys who want to visit Asia this year and take on Contiki’s incredible to-do list.
Eat bugs of all varieties in Cambodia
Whilst not everyone’s ‘cup of tea’ it must be said if it doesn’t kill you then… eat away. In Cambodia and many Far East countries eating bugs of all sorts is the ‘done thing’. From deep fried tarantulas on a stick to meal worms, crickets, caterpillars and silkworms, if it is creepy and crawly you can be sure it will be eaten. A deep-fried insect snack is a very famous dish in Cambodia and it is favored thanks to the unique taste as well as the high-protein nutrition.
Watch the Sunrise at Angkor Wat
Located about 5 kilometers out of Siem Riep in Cambodia, Angkor Wat is one of the most sacred sites in the Far East. The temples were crafted as long ago as 802 AD by the Khmer civilization and have been home to the Hindu and Buddhist faiths over time. One of the most spectacular things you can do is watch the sunrise over this complex set of temples. Take in the peace and serenity as dawn breaks over the temples, shrines and the bas reliefs that depict the stories of long ago.
Take a cooking class in Thailand
Taking a step away from things you’d not normally want to include in your daily meal to the chance to come home with a set of skills that will wow your friends. Take a cooking class in Thailand and know your Pad Thai from your Tom Yum Goong soup by the time you’re done. Most cooking classes include a visit to the markets to buy the freshest ingredients, spices and veggies. Then it’s back to the kitchen to learn the secrets of Thai cooking under the watchful eye of an expert. Best part of it all? You get to eat all your home-cooked delicious food with new found friends.
Swim in the Kuang Si waterfalls in Luang Prabang, Laos
The weather in Laos can be hot and sticky so what better way to keep your cool than to take a dip in a gorgeous waterfall? A short drive outside Luang Prabang in Laos travellers will find a set of terraced falls known to the locals as Kuang Si. With places to change into your swimming togs you won’t want to wait too long before taking the plunge into one of the tempting pools. And if you want to get the best view climb to the top of the left hand side of the falls to find one of the best kept secrets – a huge pool that is the source of the waterfall. And the best view!
Eat Peking Duck in Beijing
While you won’t find Heston Blumenthal cooking your Peking Duck, you can definitely enjoy one of China’s most known dishes in Beijing. Served with all the trimmings this dish is one to enjoy with a group of friends over a long dinner. With some Tsing Tsao beers in hand enjoy passing (and eating) the wafer-thin crispy duck slices and all the condiments around. Enjoy your duck in a pancake complete with plum sauce, scallions, cucumbers and sweet bean sauce. Yum doesn’t even begin to describe it.
Take in the Cherry Blossom Festival in Japan
The first things that may come to mind when you think Japan could be sushi, geishas and sumo wrestlers, and you wouldn’t be wrong. But for the Japanese people there is one icon that is revered– the Cherry Blossom or sakura. Cherry Blossom season can reach fever pitch when locals enjoy ‘hanami’, which literally means flower viewing. There are special sites where the best viewings are to be had while parties and picnics are held under the trees. The sakura represents the end of winter and only blooms for a short period. Thereafter the blossoms fall all at once and have been compared to the manliness of a samurai who follows the samurai code (Bushido), which is integral to Japanese culture.
Participate in a Full Moon Party in Thailand
From the observance of culture and society to something completely different – the legendary Thai Full Moon parties. Set on the Haad Rin beach on Kho Pha Ngan island, Full Moon parties have been rocking the music since 1985. This all-night beach party offers buckets of booze, fire dancing and some of the coolest musical vibes on the island. As much as 30 000 party goers attend a Full Moon get together and dance the night away.
Sail a junk boat in Halong Bay
The Gulf of Tonkin is home to Halong Bay, one of Vietnam’s most scenic settings and of course where you can hop onboard a junk boat and play out your best pirate fantasies. The name Halong means ‘where the dragon descends into the sea’ and according to Lonely Planet the ‘legend tells that this mystical seascape was created when a great mountain dragon charged towards the coast, its flailing tail gouging out valleys and crevasses’. Dragons aside, it is a truly gorgeous area and should be enjoyed while basking on the deck of a traditional junk boat.
Hike the Great Wall of China
From Vietnamese dragons to the most endearing symbol of the Far East – the Great Wall of China. The Wall looks like a giant dragon snaking its way across the Chinese countryside and is a must-see must-do on any serious travellers bucket list. The Wall itself was built to keep hordes of raiding Mongols out of Imperial China and it was built on the blood and bones of thousands of workers over a 2000 year period. That aside, it is one of the most incredible things to behold. Running from East to West it measures just about 21 200 km’s in length but not in totality. Many sections have broken down over time but there are some that can, and should, be hiked.
Visit the Ta Prohm Temple, as seen in the movie Tomb Raider
Channel your inner Lara Croft and get set for the beauty of the Ta Prohm Temple as made famous by the movie, Tomb Raider. Built as part of the iconic Angkor Wat temple complex Ta Prohm is largely unspoiled and one of the most photogenic temples to be found. Set in a dense jungle with silk cotton trees and wild fig trees having taken back most of their space, Ta Prohm is undeniably beautiful.
Start packing your bags and book your Contiki to Asia to get a real sense of its rich culture, history and traditions,” says Kelly Jackson, General Manager for Contiki. “And to celebrate the Year of the Monkey we are offering savings of up to R2640 per person until 26 March 2016.” For more information on Contiki’s trips throughout Europe, USA, Canada, Asia, New Zealand, Australia and Latin America check out contiki.com or call them on (011) 280 8400.
Life’s an adventure – make it count with absolutely #NOREGRETS.