World's Top Travel Destinations

TripAdvisor's 2015 Top Destinations

First Published in 2015 TravelNowSimply.com

The world's largest travel site, TripAdvisor, just came up with their annual rankings for the world's best travel destinations for 2015, called the Traveller's Choice Award. There were 469 destinations chosen worldwide based on feedback received from TripAdvisor travellers.

These destinations are historically and culturally rich and offer excellent sightseeing opportunities with quality hotels and restaurants – based on TripAdvisor reviews that stretch over a period of 12 months.

Here are the top 10 destinations in the world:

1. Marrakech, Morocco

2. Siem Reap, Cambodia

3. Istanbul, Turkey

4. Hanoi, Vietnam

5. Prague, Czech Republic

6. London, England

7. Rome, Italy

8. Buenos Aires, Argentina

9. Paris, France

10. Cape Town, South Africa

Source: TripAdvisor

Here are the top 10 destination in Asia:

1. Siem Reap, Cambodia

2. Hanoi, Vietnam

3. Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

4. Bangkok, Thailand

5. Kathmandu, Nepal

6. Hong Kong, China

7. Hoi An, Vietnam

8. Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia

9. Seminyak, Bali, Indonesia

10. Beijing, China

Source: TripAdvisor

Among Asian destinations, Siem Reap in Cambodia takes the first spot, which is also ranked as the #2 top destination in the world. About half of the top Asian destinations are located in Southeast Asia. To view the complete list, visit TripAdvisor's 2015 Traveler's Choice Ranking.

Marrakech - The Pearl of The South

Traveling To Marrakech

Marrakech is probably one of the most famous in all of Africa. Marrakech is also known as the Red City or Al Hamra, the garden city, the lively city of Morocco, and the Pearl of the South. It is a very important city in North Africa, and was the former imperial city of Morocco, where it is located. Currently, Marrakech is the capital of the economic region of Marrakech-Tensift-Al-Haouz. Near Marrakech is located near the towering Atlas Mountains, which dominate much of Morocco.

Currently, the population of Marrakech is just over one million people, and the city has an international airport that you can use to fly directly to the city. You can also fly to Casablanca, and take the rail link to the city if you feel like seeing the countryside.

In Marrakech, as with many North African cities, there is an old fortified city called the Medina. This is now a huge open air bazaar and trading area where you can buy a wide sort of goods, and you can choose to just walk through the Medina and check out the various venders who call the city home.

The traditional market in Marrakech is the largest in Morocco and it also boasts one of the busiest squares, the Medina, not only in Africa, but the world as well. Walking through the Medina, you can watch acrobats, water sellers, dancers, musicians and more. When night falls, the entire Medina turns into one big open-air restaurant and it is truly a sight to see.

Some people worry about going to Marrakech because it is a foreign city and many assume that means that it is a violent and dangerous city because it is in Africa. This is not the case at all. In fact, Marrakech is a very safe city and it has a very good police presence. However, as with any place that you travel you want to make sure you stay safe. Violent crime is not a big problem within the city, but there are plenty of thefts and pickpockets so keep your money close to you and do not flash it around. Do not go down alleys or poorly lit streets at night.

When a guide offers to give you a tour of the city, make sure they have an official badge that has been provided by local tourist authorities. If you are a solo traveller, you should be aware of the possibility of being drugged. If you feel you are drugged, take action immediately to find help.

Marrakech is not only an amazing city, but it is a very safe one and you do not need to worry especially during the day. If you are being bothered, just stick up for yourself and tell the people bothering you to leave and they usually will. While in Marrakech, check out the beautiful homes, lovely streets and amazing countryside around the city. It is a very interesting place to see and when you are traveling to Morocco, no trip is complete until you stop in this city that has been immortalized in film and music.

To streamline and minimize blog maintenance, I will be discontinuing maintaining the Travelnowsimply.com website (however, I will still hold the domain). I will gradually move all articles from this site to Ahmed Dawn Dot Com site. This article originally published on the above website on June 19, 2010.

Australia Travel Blog: Melbourne Highlights & Impressions

Melbourne Travel Blog: Part 1

At the MEL Airport

I expected to meet live immigration officers at the Melbourne Airport Tullamarine Airport (MEL). But all the necessary immigration formalities were done by a SmartGates automated machine. I obtained my Australian Electronic Travel Authority or ETA online months before my trip, which is just an electronic visa for Canadians.

At one point when I was walking, a police dog came to my luggage and started sniffing. I stopped and let him sniff, but he lost interest right away and moved onto sniffing someone else.

The whole airport process went so fast and smooth that I thought I missed something. So I asked the standing immigration officer near the exit gate if there was something else. He pointed me to the exit gate and I was relieved.

First Hour in Melbourne

Once I found my relatives at the airport, we headed for the parking lot. The first thing I noticed was that it was not as warm as I was expecting. I was coming from Singapore, so expected hot and humid weather. But it was rather cool and even a light jacket would be appropriate.

If you are a world traveler, you know the feeling the first few hours in a new country. I was trying to notice everything surrounding me to my heart’s content.

Vehicles operate on the left side of the road and drivers sit on the right side, which is opposite than North America. Road and highway signs and markings look noticeably different than Canada as well.

Destination Wyndham Vale

We were heading towards Wyndham Vale, which is a suburb of Melbourne with 25,000 population. It took about 35 to 40 minutes to reach. Wyndham Vale reminded me of suburbs of Toronto like Ajax or Markham.

The first thing I noticed was that average houses are smaller than Canada and tress or plants are different too due to the hot weather. I noticed lots of birds and crows and their chirping was loud.

Melbourne Travel Blog: Part 2

Scoot Airlines Review: Instead of Buying Business Class, Do This.

Scoot Flight: Singapore to Melbourne Boeing 787-800

This leg of my four-country trip from Singapore to Melbourne, Australia, I decided to fly a low-cost flight instead of business class. Singapore Airlines’ subsidiary Scoot seemed to be a good option.

I was contemplating Scoot’s business class called Scoot Biz, but decided to go for Scoot in Silence. And I was glad I did.

My flight was 3 hours late. But the delay appeared on the screen at the last moment when people were already at the counter. There was no one from Scoot to be found anywhere to confirm the delay. I saw that some people started sleeping on floor at the waiting area near the gate counter because it was already midnight.

After a long wait, I boarded the plane and was happy that I chose Scoot in Silence. It costed me around $80 for the seat selection in the Scoot in Silence quiet zone. I had my seat right behind the business class section after the divider. There was no one in front of me and even the seats next to me were empty.

Scoot in Silence does not allow kids under 12 and the seats are better than economy with 34-inch peach rather than 31-inch regular economy. And being in the 1st front row bulkhead seat in Scoot in Silence, I had no one sitting in front of me and I literally had infinite leg stretch space.

The Scoot Biz cabin was right in front of me and I noticed the seats are not lie-flat business class; it’s more like premium economy. They just have a little more space in between and in front compared to my seat. Definitely it’s not worth paying extra for business class. You will get the best value for your money if you spend around $80 (Canadian) and pick a seat in the Scoot in Silence zone, especially where there are no seats are in front of you.

I ordered food online months ahead and its quality was not bad. The overall cleanliness of the aircraft exceeded my expectations, including the bathrooms, and I did not find anything to complain about.

 Except for the delay and the absence of anyone from Scoot to properly communicate with the customers, everything else was a pleasant experience, and I won’t mind flying again with Scoot.

How to Get from Singapore Changi Airport to Downtown or City Hotels

Singapore Airport to Downtown Hotels

There are many ways you can get to Singapore city or downtown hotels from the airport. Some of these options are expensive. Today, I will talk about the best and cheapest way to reach your hotel from Singapore airport.

Taking the City shuttle costs only $9 and it will take you to most of the downtown hotels or city centre. Once you pass immigration and customs, look for the City Shuttle concierge desk near the exit gates. If you can’t find it, ask someone or look for a huge red fan on the ceiling. The concierge desk is near the big, red fan.

You will have to purchase your ticket using the self-service kiosks. If you need help, just ask the concierge and they will show you how to buy a ticket.

Once purchased, wait near the concierge desk. The driver will come and pick you up. The city shuttle runs every 15-30 minutes. You can also book your return trip from the hotel to the airport with the driver or by calling their phone #. Check the Singapore Airport Website for updated information.

My trips on the city shuttle both times (airport to the hotel and back) were pleasant. I was the only one on the shuttle and the driver gave me a lot of information about Singapore. So it was like I paid only $9 each time but had better experience than taking a taxi.

I have a video on the whole process. Watch it here and you will see how easy, cheap, and efficient taking the city shuttle from Singapore’s airport to the city.