Apr 6, 2017

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10 things to do in Cancun

10 things to do in Cancun

It’s Mexico’s favourite party town, packed with all-inclusive resorts that many visitors never feel the need to leave, writes Anthea Gerrie. But those who confine themselves to their compounds are missing out; Cancun is on the doorstep of spectacular Mayan ruins, a world-class diving reef and freestanding pleasure palaces worth shelling out the price of a drink for to enjoy the fabulous setting. Mexico has made it easy for tourists to get from Cancun to its neighbouring islands and archaeological sites, and there’s plenty to do in town too. Here we look at the 10 experiences most worth leaving your sun-lounger for. Discover Cancun’s own Mundo Maya Even without their fabulous pyramids, the Mayans would be worth celebrating just for discovering chocolate and bringing it to the world. The Maya Museum tells the story of this ancient people and includes an exhibition of 350 tribal artefacts. You don’t even need to leave the resort area to get a waft of Mayan culture; the El Rey site, an easy stroll from the Hilton Club, has been woven into the fabric of the Sheraton Cancun resort, and there’s even a temple buried in the greens of the Pok ta Pok golf course. Swim with the fishes Cancun’s interactive aquarium offers the chance to get up close and personal with all manner of fishy creatures instead of just staring at them through the glass. You can handle stingrays, turtles and sea cucumbers and admire trickier species like jellyfish, barracuda and tiger sharks from a safe distance, while the aquarium also offers tailored programmes for those with special needs. The aquarium is also one of several places in the resort where you can swim with dolphins; others include Delphinus World at Dreams Cancun, which offers a true one-to-one experience – one guest, one trainer and one dolphin partnered up for an hour – and Dolphinaris, where it’s possible for those with the stamina to shadow a dolphin trainer for a full eight-hour day. Both attractions offer a full range of dolphin encounter programmes. Boogie till dawn You haven’t done Cancun until you’ve slammed some shots at CoCoBongo, which has done more than any other venue to give the town its nickname of Vegas-on-Sea. Part theatre, part circus, this raucous club puts on dazzling shows incorporating acrobatics as well as choreography, but...

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Apr 3, 2017

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The ultimate guide to ethical wildlife encounters

The ultimate guide to ethical wildlife encounters

Wild animal encounters can be incredible and fulfilling experiences for travellers, but the welfare of animals at tourist attractions has come under the spotlight in recent times. Over the last few years, major travel operators such as STA Travel, TripAdvisor and Tui have increasingly distanced themselves from unethical wildlife attractions, raising questions about what is ethical and what is not. To help you choose an ethical experience, we’ve put together some general advice to follow before you book, including some expert advice from World Animal Protection. Look, but don’t touch If you can touch an animal as part of an experience, alarm bells should immediately start to ring, warns Alyx Elliott, Head of Campaigns at World Animal Protection. Alyx says: “As a general rule of thumb, any experience that involves hugging, touching, or physical interaction with wildlife should be avoided. For a wild animal to become this tame and subdued, something unnatural has happened to it. “The sad thing is that often the people who visit these types of unethical animal attractions are those that genuinely love wildlife. Unfortunately, they don’t see what goes on behind the scenes and the cruel methods that go into ‘training’ wild animals like elephants, tigers and so on.” TripAdvisor recently launched a “no touching of wild animals” policy, where ticket sales promoting such experiences were removed from its website, in order to distance itself from unethical practices. The website is also in the process of creating a learning portal to help educate people in this area, but this is not likely to go live until 2017 at the earliest. Think about it logically Would a wild tiger sit patiently next to you while you pose for a profile picture? If you’re brave enough to try, let us know! What you need to consider is “what has happened to this animal to make it so docile and tame?” The reality is, you probably won’t like the answer. At attractions such as Thailand’s recently-closed Tiger Temple, for example, cubs were separated from their mothers at an early age in order to make them used to human contact. The same goes for riding elephants – although these huge animals look like they could easily carry humans, an elephant’s back isn’t actually that strong and certainly isn’t designed to haul around the ‘howdahs’ (seats) upon which elephant riders sit. What’s more, the practices that...

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Mar 31, 2017

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La La Land uncovered: Two days in Los Angeles...

La La Land uncovered: Two days in Los Angeles

Thanks to countless supporting roles in a million movies, Los Angeles has become one of the world’s most familiar cities: you know it, even if you’ve never been. Blockbuster La La Land recently took us back to LA, its streets and iconic landmarks the setting for a story that typifies the City of Angels’ knack for drawing in the world’s dreamers. But there’s so much more to LA than the movie biz, even if it plays a big part...

Mar 31, 2017

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Summer city breaks for under £150pp

Summer city breaks for under £150pp

Ah, summer in the city – the parks begin to fill, al fresco dining becomes the norm, and merry punters spill out of cafes and bars seeking the last few rays of the day. We’ve had a dig around for deals and found some incredible prices to a few of Europe’s best cities during the summer months. Fancy a bargain? All prices were correct at the time of writing and are subject to change.   Berlin from London, June 26-28 – from...

Mar 31, 2017

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Secret Costa del Sol: How to escape the tourist trail...

Secret Costa del Sol: How to escape the tourist trail

If you’re looking to escape the tourist trail, the Costa del Sol might not seem an obvious choice. However, despite the fact that this has long been one of Britain’s favourite parts of Spain, inland from the clamouring Costa itself there’s a hidden hinterland heaving with hazy sierras, cork forests, orchards filled with almond blossom and spectacular gorges. You’ll also find Moorish towns, unspoilt villages with exceptional tapas, wonderful walking trails and lakes and beaches, with barely a Brit...

Mar 30, 2017

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10 things to do in Gran Canaria

10 things to do in Gran Canaria

Gran Canaria is a small island with big ambitions, writes Katie McGonagle. It’s often called a mini-continent thanks to its weather – with five micro-climates, it’s almost guaranteed that if it’s raining in one area, the rest of the island will be basking in blue skies – but it has more than just sun and sand going for it. This is the island that launched Christopher Columbus on his voyage to the Americas, and it’s also home to one...

Mar 28, 2017

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Snakes, nuts and wet Frenchmen: 7 extraordinary flight delays and diversions...

Snakes, nuts and wet Frenchmen: 7 extraordinary flight delays and diversions

It’s hard to see the funny side of a flight delay, and harder still if your plane has to land halfway through your flight due to something going wrong. But sometimes these things happen – and sometimes the reason is so utterly ridiculous, the only thing you can do is smile! Take, for example, the British Airways flight that was delayed at Gatwick airport recently. The reason? No, there was no suicidal pigeon or angry Icelandic volcano to...

Mar 27, 2017

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10 things to do in Crete

10 things to do in Crete

As the largest of all the Greek islands, it’s safe to say that Crete is a holiday destination that comfortably ticks all the boxes, mixing acres of mountainous countryside and a sandy 650-mile coastline with a rich history stretching way back to the myths and legends of ancient Greece. Fast-forward 9,000 years and Crete is a popular holiday destination for everyone from history buffs and active explorers to party-hard groups and fun-loving families. Roxanne Wells gives us a run-down...

Mar 23, 2017

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7 ways to save on your holiday

7 ways to save on your holiday

Getting away for less isn’t impossible, but it’s not an exact science, either. From choosing destinations where your money goes further to booking at the right time, we’ve rounded up some thrifty advice to help you get the best possible deal on your next holiday. Where is the pound strong? Sterling has taken a pounding in the wake of the Brexit referendum, so considering a destination outside of the Eurozone might see your money going further. For beach...

Mar 23, 2017

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How to beat jet lag: Top tips for long-haul flying...

How to beat jet lag: Top tips for long-haul flying

Jet lag – it’s the scourge of the long-distance flier, and can leave you feeling like the living dead and looking worse. But is there a way to defeat this long-haul lethargy once and for all? Well, not entirely. But while there’s no fool-proof way to avoid jet lag completely, there are a few steps you can take to help you adjust to a new time zone quicker and reduce its effect upon your body. What causes jet...