ELLE TEAM TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST

Need a break? Dust off your passport and explore some of the ELLE team’s favourite destinations:

Koh Samui, Thailand – ELLE senior copy editor, Jessica Baxter

Koh-samui,-Thailand

What to see?

The Big Buddha Temple known as Wat Phra Yai off the north-eastern corner of the island. This 12-metre seated Buddha is a landmark and the first thing you’ll see as you fly over the island.

Where to stay?

Chaweng Buri Resort. Boasting beautiful villas a stone’s throw from Chaweng Beach, a sparkling pool complete with poolside bar and restaurant, and a sumptuous breakfast buffet – this is a lesson in luxe holiday living.

What to shop?

Wander through the streets and browse the many stalls for beautiful clothes, jewellery and trinkets.

What to eat?

Fresh pineapple peeled and chopped up right in front of you on the beach – it’s cheap and so delicious!

Travel tip?

While Thailand is a fairly affordable option for South Africans, alcohol is pricey so stick to local beers instead of wine and spirits.

Rajasthan, India – ELLE art director, Jo Skelton.

Jaipur3

What to see?

This is a land of ancient fairytale palaces and forts of incredible beauty, painted elephants, jewel-coloured silks and colourful buildings. A feast for all the senses!

What to see?

Jodphur – the blue city where all the buildings are painted in a hue of powdery, sun-drenched blue.

Jaipur – the pink city and India’s shopping capital, host to the City Palace, Amber Fort, the Jantar Mantar – an astronomical observatory with giant Escher-like equipment. The Nawa Mahal with its honeycomb façade is particularly intriguing.

Udaipur – the lake city resplendent with cream-coloured marble is where James Bond Octopussy was famously filmed.

Where to stay?

Budget travellers, this is a haven filled with wonderfully cheap places to stay. Rajasthan is extremely tourist-friendly and has hotels and guesthouses to suit every style and pocket.

What to shop?

Embellished linen and dress fabrics, embroidered leather shoes and bags, silver and gemstones. Jaipur is a shopping mecca. It’s also easy to have suits and tailored clothing made up overnight. Ask your hotel to recommend a tailor.

What to eat?

Thalis, vegetarian curries and exotic sweets.

Travel tip?

Take a smart phone and buy a sim card there. India is a very connected country and having Internet access, Google maps plus a phone on tap is extremely useful. Always carry a scarf to cover up when entering temples and most public spaces.

Rio de Janeiro – ELLE editorial assistant Maybe Corpaci

Rio

What to see?

Pão de Acúçar (sugarloaf mountain) and Cristo Redentor (Christ the redeemer) on the Corcovado Mountain are a must. For a tan fix and some people watching lay on the famous Copacabana, Ipanema and Leblon beaches. The atmosphere is mind-blowing.

Where to stay?

Look on airbnb.com for a short-term apartment let – you can find some gems for cheap.

What to shop?

Flip flops and Brazilian bikinis, exquisite tropical tanning oils and bossa nova music – think ‘the girl from Ipanema’ style.

What to eat?

Açai fruit smoothies. Açai is considered a super-fruit and grows only in the Amazon forest in Brazil. It’s refreshing, tastes delicious and leaves you feeling full for long. A must try. If you want savoury dishes you can’t miss the Brazilian barbecue and the array of deep-fried delicacies such as rice balls filled with cheese and ham (Bolinhos de Arroz).

Travel tip?

Visit Rio during the Brazilian Carnival (February/March). Stock up on Guarana extract that will give you the energy to keep going and dance non-stop in the streets following the so-called blocos- Brazilian bands playing samba music on moving chariots.

Mahe, Seychelles – ELLE assistant editor Lynette Botha

Mahe

What to see?

The entire island is magnificent with little secluded beaches dotted along the entire coastline and lush, green forest as you move more inland. Touristy stopovers like the botanical gardens (to see the giant tortoises and the enormous seeds of the Coco de Mer tree, grown only in the Seychelles) and the fresh food and veggie market in Victoria are musts.

Where to stay?

If you have the budget – Constance Ephelia Hotel is literally a slice of heaven, with it’s own private beach, 5-star service and the most magnificent setting. If you’re on a tighter budget – Castaway Fishing Lodge self-catering apartments are great, equipped with all the basic amenities you need and even a camp cot if you’re travelling with a baby.

What to shop?

This is not a shopping destination. Rather spend your money on experiences like snorkelling, fishing or diving, chartering a yacht or hopping on a tiny plane to visit Praslin (a 20-minute flight away) or one of the many other island outcrops close by.

What to eat?

If you’re adventurous, fruit bat is a delicacy in the Seychelles. Otherwise fresh seafood is always a winner, especially when prepared Creole-style. Enjoy the island’s local beer, Seybrew, and Takamaka Rum (take a trip to the Takamaka Rum Distillery for an interesting outing).

Travel tip?

Practically everything in the Seychelles is imported – from nappies to Coke to body wash – meaning the prices are high, so keep this in mind if you opt for self-catering accommodation. Bring many memory cards, as you’ll want to snap pictures at every turn, lots of sun-cream and some good reading material.

Istanbul, Turkey – ELLE fashion assistant Nicole Newman

Blue-Mosque-Istanbul

What to see?

The Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque are not to be missed – the awe-inspiring buildings are filled with ceramic artwork and detailed sculptures. Spend time in the Grand Bazaar searching through all the stores and bartering for your favourite leather pieces and take a walk through the Spice Market where you will be overwhelmed with colour and mouth-watering Turkish delight. Don’t leave the city without a visit to The Turkish baths – an absolute must for relaxation and rejuvenation.

Where to stay?

The Empress Zoe is built on the border of the ruins of an ancient Turkish bath in the centre of an archaeological garden – the rooms represent Turkish style townhouses with ancient artwork on the walls. The hotel is walking distance from the sights and situated at the end of a buzzing street filled with Kurdish restaurants and shisha lounges.

What to shop?

It is impossible to leave Istanbul without a piece of genuine leather or beautiful silver jewellery – spend time bartering in the Grand Bazaar and searching through the many stalls to find the perfect piece, or two, for you. Turkish towels are the best summer, and even winter, accessory – they are made out of a special type of cotton and absorb water and dry twice as fast as any other towel.

What to eat?

The street food in Istanbul is easy to eat on the go and also nothing short of delicious. What we usually see as a pretzel is called a simit and can be found on any street corner. There’s a reason why flat bread is called Turkish flat bread – it’s the best you’re going to find. Flat bread, dips and olives are a standard meal to order at any and every restaurant.

Travel tip?

Try your best to wear knee-length skirts and dresses and stay away from shorts – this can be seen as offensive to the Islam religion. Also, wearing comfortable walking shoes is a must – you’ll find you wont want to stop walking the streets.

What’s on your travel bucket list? Tell us by leaving a comment below or tweet us @ELLEMagazineSA #ELLETravel

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