In 2019, Buffalo Tours and Olympus Tours joined the Flight Centre Travel Group (FCTG) family and formed Discova. With the backing of one of the world’s largest travel companies and the local knowledge and experience from both Buffalo and Olympus, Discova evolved existing service portfolios to offer best-in-class tailored solutions to partners across the globe.
Today, we operate in 14 countries and supply some of the world’s largest travel companies. Yet, as we expand around the world, we still approach every tour, trip or experience with a home-grown perspective. 95% of our people are locals – blending destination know-how with an intuitive understanding of the travel experience our partners expect for their customers.
28 Feb 22Expert Hub
Only in the Dominican Republic.Travel is all about making the most of your time in a destination. At Discova, ...Read moreOnly in the Dominican Republic. - News & announcementsTravel is all about making the most of your time in a destination. At Discova, we think this should include building a meaningful connection with the place you are visiting – with its culture, its history, and its people. We also believe in celebrating the differences, the little idiosyncrasies to be found where we live. Whether it be witnessing a maiko in Japan, appreciating batik in Indonesia, or learning about Mayans in Mexico, travellers should enjoy experiences that are unique to the destination they are visiting. This week, we take a look at all things Dominican with a little help from our colleagues in the Caribbean. Altos de Chavon, Dominican Republic.
Music and DanceDancing is possibly the most quintessential Dominican pastime, and any visit to the nation would be incomplete without gaining some kind of appreciation for the rhythms of merengue and bachata. But, travellers need not worry about missing out– it’s virtually inescapable as music plays a large part in Dominican daily life, with seemingly spontaneous dancing parties in public spaces and radios blasting the rhythms from taxis and shopping stalls. Like many cultural aspects of the Dominican Republic, the sounds and instruments used stem from the delightful medley of African, Taino, and Spanish influences.
1.MerengueMerengue is the national music and dance of the Dominican Republic. The dance is usually of a fast tempo, with sensual movements and a lot of undulating hip action set to lyrics that share everyday life stories. The songs feature the local Spanish guitar, the bandurria, African drums, the Taino cylindrical giura, and the saxophone. In 2016, UNESCO proclaimed merengue as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. It’s so important to Dominicans that, in 2005, the president of the Dominican Republic issued a decree designating a National Merengue Day on November 26th each year. Have a listen here.
2.BachataAlthough the original meaning of the word ‘bachata’ etymologically stems from ‘party’, it’s a much more melancholic vibe than merengue. The lyrics of bachata songs often deal with nostalgia, loves lost, and unrequited passions, and the music is correspondingly slower than merengue but still retains that sensual element. Have a listen here. "People can experience merengue and bachata everywhere. I recommend heading to colmados of an evening. These are small convenience stores offering basic necessities, food, and drinks, but, especially in Santo Domingo, they become centres of community in the evening. People gather to play dominoes, drink rum, and, with the music blasting, you’ll often see impromptu dancing!" Tanya Guerrero Discova Product Developer in DR
Food and DrinkOn the surface, Dominican cuisine shares many features with its Caribbean neighbours as rice and bean-based dishes make up the staple meal. However, there are elements for travellers to explore that are distinctly Dominican. Tostones, photo credit: sidechef.com
3.Fried PlantainFor a Dominican breakfast, try the delicious ‘los tres golpes’, or ‘the three hits’. This breakfast consists of mangu, a side dish of mashed green plantains, topped with fried ren onions flavoured in a vinegar sauce. The other two hits to make up the meal are salami and fried cheese. A substantial dish to start the day. For lunch, we see the traditional rice, bean, and meat combination affectionately called the bandera Dominicana, or the Dominican flag. Meal sizes are large, heaped on the plate for another hearty meal. For something a little more distinctly Dominican, many plates will be served with tostones – crispy, fried, flattened local plantains. These twice-fried green plantains are simply sprinkled with a little salt, possibly garnished with garlic and served with a variety of delicious dips. Across the different regions, there are distinctive dishes for travellers to try. In the northwest, goat meat is a staple, whereas the central mountainous region features roadside grills called parrilladas. Naturally, having a long coastline, seafood plays an important role in the Dominican diet. In Samana, for fish with an African influence, travellers should try pascada con coco, or coconut fish. Check out some of the fantastic recipes here.
4.MamajuanaDominican rum is gaining international recognition, with numerous brands making waves within the rum industry. Rum, however, is not a uniquely Dominican product with many islands and nations across the Caribbean with long histories associated with the spirit. However, mamajuana, a rum-based herbal drink, is not to be missed. It’s made from a mix of tree bark, herbs, red wine, and rum, and it can be a potent combination. Enjoy a shot or two of an evening, but travellers should be wary of the high alcoholic content and should be even more careful of its supposed aphrodisiac qualities. There are craft beers brewed natively for beer aficionados that like to taste the local offerings. The national beer brand is Presidente, with Presidente Light, and Presidente Black, a thicker bodied version with a high 6% alcohol level.
5.CigarsAn honourable mention within the field of Dominican cuisine should go to Dominican cigars. Perhaps in the popular consciousness, Dominican cigars are overshadowed by their Cuban counterparts. However, the Dominican Republic is the number one exporter of premium cigars in the world. Popular brands include Arturo Fuente, Davidoff, and Romeo y Julieta. With Discova, we offer tours that visit local rum and cigar factories to help travellers understand the whole process, from agriculture to production to presentation for selling.
Flora and FaunaAny visit to the Dominican Republic should include experiences that celebrate the fascinating array of wildlife and plants that call this Caribbean nation home. The tropical rainforests and surrounding seas are home to many endemic plants and animals that nature-lovers should take the opportunity to glimpse.
6.Whale-watchingEvery year, between January and March, over 3,000 humpback whales converge on the bay of Samana. This is a regular return to their mating grounds – the warm waters of the bay providing excellent conditions for this natural event. This is truly a natural phenomenon unlike anywhere else in the Caribbean. With Discova, we offer whale-watching experiences at this time and can help travellers view an event that is subject to conservation efforts and is heavily protected.
Manatees and TurtlesAround the shores, there are numerous animal sanctuaries to explore. While the whale-watching phenomenon is something special about the Dominican Republic, we think that nature-lovers would not want to miss the chance to see the endangered, herbivore West Indian Manatee that lives in the estuaries and lagoons of the north coast. The island of Saona is also home to the nesting grounds of no less than four turtle species. Again, while cooperating with local conservation efforts, Discova offers tours to Saona that include snorkelling and the chance to witness these wonderfully majestic creatures of the sea. Photo credit: godominicanrepublic.com7.Rosa de Bayahibe For the more horticulturally-inclined, the Dominican Republic is home to an astounding 6,000 species of plants. Over 2,000 of these can only be found here. The tropical rainforests are home to many native tree species, but the highlights are often the spellbinding variety of orchids. The national flower, the rosa de Bayahibe, is native to the south coast. It’s an unusual cactus that grows leaves, with flowers that are of a delicate pink hue.
8.Emblematic arts and craftsDominican arts and crafts reflect the country’s rich cultural tapestry, again with influences from Spanish, African and Taino roots. Specifically, travellers will experience lots of colour due to the Afro-Caribbean traditions, matched with the expert handicraft traditions of the Taino people, with figurines made from natural materials like clay, bamboo, and wood. Perhaps the most emblematic souvenir for travellers to pick up would be the faceless ceramic dolls, often elaborately dressed in merengue outfits. For jewellery enthusiasts, pick up intricate trinkets that feature larimar – a rare blue gemstone found only in the Dominican Republic.
9.CarnivalThe concept of Carnival is, of course, not native to the Dominican Republic. Yet this month of celebration in February is a fantastic time to see the population celebrate everything that is definitively Dominican. Every Sunday, colourful parades take place in cities across the country, designed to celebrate everything Dominican, telling national folklore stories through various characters and recognisable features. To the outsider, it’s a valuable event that showcases national pride. With the aid of a local guide to help decipher the meanings and symbolism of the parades, Carnival can hold invaluable cultural insights for the visitor. At Discova, we are always expanding our product offerings to help travellers capture and experience the unique nature of our destinations. To hear more about our itineraries that explore Dominican culture, get in touch with our teams today.
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Discova Destination UpdatesThis page is regularly updated with the latest information on border status, entry requirements, ...Read moreDiscova Destination Updates - News & announcementsThis page is regularly updated with the latest information on border status, entry requirements, and COVID restrictions across our destinations. For further information, or if you have any destination-specific questions, please reach out to our helpful, knowledgeable teams.
- From November 1, fully vaccinated travellers from a list of 63 countries can enter Thailand.
- While this is advertised as ‘quarantine-free’, the reality is that travellers have to stay at least one night at a pre-booked hotel while they await receipt of a negative Covid test.
- A ban on the consumption of alcohol in bars and restaurants remains in place.
- The government expects nationwide vaccine rollout to be complete by January 2022.
- In-destination, the government asks people to follow guidelines regarding social distancing and mask-wearing. Mask-wearing is mandatory in certain public spaces, such as malls and 7/11 convenience stores.
- Before arrival in Thailand, travellers must apply for a Thailand Pass. Travellers can apply through the Thai embassy website.
- A successful application will generate a QR code to be shown during immigration on entering Thailand.
- To obtain the pass, travellers will need to upload: passport, vaccination certificate, COVID-19 Health insurance certificate, confirmed reservation at an SHA+ approved hotel, their fight booking, and a copy of visa (if required)
- Travellers will need to present a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of departure.
- Travellers will take a PCR test on arrival and will await the results at their SHA+ approved hotel.
- On receiving a negative test, they are free to explore Thailand.
- On arrival, travellers are assisted in downloading MorChana – Thailand’s tracing app.
- More info on the arrival process for travellers can be found here.
- The TAT has reported that in the first 10 days of reopening, Thailand saw 30,538 arrivals and 147,503 applications for the Thailand pass.
- Thailand is open to countries outside the list of 63, too. For these visitors, they have to book their quarantine hotels for a period of at least 7 days.
- Children under 12 are exempt from the vaccination requirement
- Follow all the latest developments on the Tourism Authority Thailand (TAT) news page, a great source for developments.
- Vietnam has banned the entry of foreigners since March 22 2020. Only diplomats, officials, and certain skilled workers are exempt.
- The quarantine period for these visitors was reduced from 21 days to 7 days on June 21.
- Domestic flights are operating as normal
- Face masks should be worn in public places
- In-person dining has resumed in HCMC and Hanoi.
- There has been a lot of rumour surrounding a Vietnam has confirmed it will be opening its borders in late November under a 3-phase plan.
- However, this would be a heavily regimented package tour with a designated agency.
- The opening constitutes a select number of charter flights arriving into Phu Quoc, Danang, Hoi An, and Ha Long Bay. Some of these tourists have already arrived.
- Providing there are no issues related to these limited inbound tourists, Vietnam looks set for a more meaningful opening in January.
- As soon as we know more, including all the steps that inbound travellers will need to take, we’ll update here.
- Bali and Riau Islands reopened borders for fully-vaccinated international tourists from 19 countries on October 14. The UK, the US, and Australia were not on this list.
- These travellers still have to undergo mandatory 3-day quarantine in state-approved hotels and a PCR test upon arrival.
- The Indonesian government set a target of 77% of the population fully vaccinated by April 2022, and this target is said to achieve herd immunity.
- Prevention measures graded by PPKM Levels 1-4 are in place across the country until November 1.
- Jakarta and Bali are under Level 2, with limitations on dine-in and capacity at selected tourist attractions.
- RT-PCR test, being fully vaccinated, required for domestic flights in Java-Bali.
- The US has lowered Indonesia’s risk level to 1. Australia also removed its ‘do not travel’ advisory for Indonesia and is in talks to set up a travel lane.
- While Bali is currently ‘open’ for incoming tourists on direct flights from 19 countries, there aren’t currently any flights scheduled. We are expecting announcements of flights before the end of November.
- We are expecting details of entry steps for travellers soon.
- Japan’s borders remain closed for widespread international travel.
- Foreign arrivals with special permission to enter have to submit a certificate of negative test result conducted within 72 hours prior to departing for Japan. They are subject to a COVID-19 test upon arrival followed by a 10-day quarantine.
- Japan’s state of emergency ended on October 1. However, each district has encouraged people to ‘remain careful’. Essentially, mask-wearing and social distancing are advised, and many business places are working at limited capacity.
- Domestic flights are operating as normal.
- It is expected that Japan will announce details of an initial phased reopening soon, especially since Japan has achieved a high vaccination rate. We will update as soon as we know.
- The government is considering reducing the quarantine time for vaccinated foreign nationals that arrive in Japan for short business trips, study abroad and technical training to three days from the current 10.
- The following countries can travel to Singapore via the Vaccinated Travel Lanes (VTL): Brunei; Germany; Canada; Denmark; France; Italy; Netherlands; Spain; the United Kingdom; the United States. Australia and Switzerland can enter from November 8, and South Korea can enter from November 15.
- On November 15th, Singapore announced the addition of further countries to the VTL agreement. From November 29th, visitors from Sweden, Finland, Indonesia, India, and Malaysia will be allowed entry. Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and he UAE will be added to the list from December 6th.
- Fully vaccinated travellers from these countries can enter Singapore.
- Pre-arrival requirements: fully vaccinated, At least 14 days in VTL country prior to departure to Singapore, negative PCR test result within 48 hours of departure, flight to Singapore must be on a designated VTL flight.
- On-arrival requirements: PCR test upon arrival, stay in hotel until test results received within 12 hours, download TraceTogether app.
- In-destination requirements: follow strict local laws – mask-wearing is mandatory.
- Singapore is in its self-titled ‘stabilisation’ phase of lockdown. Dine-in is capped at two people, as are social gatherings more generally. Working from home is the default, and many attractions are open at 50% capacity.
- The recent VTL announcements are the start of a broader process for Singapore reopening. We expect the process to be streamlined as long as there aren’t any significant outbreaks.
- Specifically, we expect an announcement of a reciprocal opening between Malaysia and Singapore to be the next step.
- Langkawi recently opened to domestic travellers, and this is seen as the first step toward a broader opening to international travellers.
- Malaysia is expected to complete its immunisation programme targets by February 2022, covering 80% of its population.
- The National Recovery Plan (a 4-phase exit strategy) was implemented in June and is scheduled to be ‘completed’ in December.
- Essentially, provinces across the nation are in different phases, and there are consequences relating to covid restrictions.
- Since October 11, inter-provincial travel has been allowed for fully vaccinated individuals.
- The Malaysian government has announced plans for a sandbox-style opening of Langkawi from November 15. However, as of November 15th, nothing has been announced or confirmed.
- Malaysia and Indonesia have agreed to open up a Vaccinated Travel Lane(VTL) between the two countries, Kuala Lumpur-Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur-Bali. The details have yet to be released
- Tourism Minister states Malaysia could reopen fully to international tourists by early December, and no later than January 1st.
- There are rumours about what the entry requirements will be. However, we prefer to wait until confirmation from the relevant authorities. As soon as we know, you’ll know, check back here for regualr updates.
- Cambodia’s Prime Minister has announced that the country’s borders will open for fully-vaccinated tourists from November 15th with no need for quarantine
- Unvaccinated travellers will still have to quarantine for 14 days.
- This announcement overrides previous plans for a phased reopening.
- According to the Financial Times, Cambodia is the third most vaccinated country, behind China and Singapore, having vaccinated almost 90% of its population.
- Note: This announcement is still very fresh and developments are ongoing. We will update regularly as we know more.
- These are the conditions for entry from November 15th: proof of vaccination at least 14 days before entry, negative test results from a PCR test within 72 hours of departure, a negative rapid test upon arrival (travellers must wait around 20 minutes for results)
- Provided these conditions are met, visitors from any country will be allowed entry
- Visitors will be allowed to explore the different regions of Cambodia restriction-free
- On arrival, visitors will need to download ‘tracerapp’
- In-destination, mask-wearing is obligatory, gatherings are banned, and restrictions vary across regions depending on case numbers
- Many places are reporting that a proof of insurance cover is necessary for entry. We can confirm that this is not a mandatory requirement.
- Visa issuances remain suspended
- For those entering under special circumstances, there is a 10-day quarantine, and flights must be purchased at least 6 days before departure
- State of emergency declared until 2023
- Martial law has been declared in some townships
- There is a nightly curfew from 10pm-4am
- Since the military takeover, vaccination drives and travel arrangements have been significantly disrupted. We will update on the situation in Myanmar whenever we know more
- People entering Laos must undergo 14 days at a state-level quarantine centre, then 14 days at a district level quarantine centre.
- There are no plans to allow for widespread foreign tourists into Laos.
- Different areas in Laos are under varying levels of restrictions depending on the amount of covid cases
- With the announcement of the opening in Thailand and rumoured openings in Vietnam and Cambodia, we expect signs of movement in Laos very soon, following the lead of its neighbours.
- Laos is nearly finished building a railway that will link Vientiane with Vang Vieng and Luang Prabang and up to the Chinese border. When travellers return, this will be a significant upgrade to getting around the country.
- There has been no specific date given with regard to opening up the country for foreign tourists.
- News agencies are reporting that the target of 80% vaccination of the population needs to be reached before any relaxation occurs.
- Those allowed to enter under exceptional circumstances will be quarantined in designated facilities for 14 days for medical observation. After 14 days quarantine, 7 days of home isolation is requested.
- China continues its ‘zero covid’ policy with strict restrictions and local lockdowns going into effect at the first sight of cases. There were lockdowns in Xiamen and Putian in September after cases only in the single digits.
- Life is largely back to normal in China. Citizens still need to use their tracing apps to show they have ‘green’ status to use pubic transport, but most things are open. Things can change quickly.
Hong KongKey Points
- We expect the tracing app with the traffic light system to be a feature foreign tourists will have to use once they arrive.
- Hong Kong has faced growing criticism for its ‘zero-covid’ policy, whereby it refuses to allow openings for foreign travellers.
- In the first significant easing of border restrictions, some visitors from mainland China have been allowed entry without quarantine from September 15.
- However, no date is proposed for when widespread travel to Hong Kong may resume.
- Gathering restrictions will remain at four people in public until further notice.
- The government requires mask-wearing when using public transport, including in terminals. Travellers need to wear masks in indoor and outdoor public places.
- Restaurants, along with gyms, hotels, cinemas, and other scheduled venues, are required to display QR codes for the LeaveHomeSafe mobile app. People scan on entering these places to trace movement in case of covid outbreaks.
- Mexico is open to travellers. There is no need to provide a negative PCR test or quarantine on arrival. All resorts will ask guests to fill out health questionnaires.
- The land border between the US and Mexico has been closed. This is set to open on November 8.
- Mexico was recently removed from the UK’s red list for travel.
Costa RicaKey Points
- Travellers to the country must complete a health declaration form and scan the QR code it generates on arrival
- Travellers returning to the US will need to take a covid test. This can be a PCR test or the cheaper antigen test. These tests are available everywhere locally, almost all hotels offer this service on-site.
- Mexico uses a four-tier traffic light system for covid restrictions across different states. Quintana Roo, where popular tourist destinations Cancun and Playa del Carmen are located, was listed as green, meaning there are no restrictions.
- There has been no change in entry requirements: borders are open to tourists from all countries. However, some visitors may need to apply for a visa.
- Visitors must fill out a health form before entering and show proof of insurance cover of at least $50,000.
- As of August 1, fully vaccinated tourists will not need to provide this travel insurance policy. They will need to present proof of vaccination.
- There is no need for quarantine or to provide test results on arrival.
- Beaches are open from 5 am to 6 pm. National parks are allowing 50% capacity. Bars are operating at 25% capacity, and hotels at 75%. Concerts, nightclubs, fairs and other large gatherings are banned. There is a nightly curfew from 11 pm to 5 am.
Dominican RepublicKey Points
- From January 8 2022, bars, shops, restaurants, museums and other public establishments will ask for proof of vaccination for entry. This involves showing a QR code or vaccination certificate. Children under 12 are exempt from this.
- After filling out their health form before entering, tourists entering the country will receive a specific QR code. They will be able to use their designated QR code to enter commercial establishments.
- Unvaccinated tourists will still be able to enter the country. However, as of January 8th, they will not be able to enter these selected commercial establishments.
- There will be no option to take a test to gain entry into these establishments.
- The Dominican Republic is open for tourism without any need for quarantine.
- Some travellers do not even need to show a negative covid test depending on the country of origin.
- For example, those from the US do not need to present a negative test, but those from the UK do.
- At the airport, some passengers are chosen at random to take a covid test.
- All foreign and Dominican passengers entering or leaving the Dominican Republic on commercial flights must complete the free electronic entry and exit form.
- The use of face masks is mandatory in public places. Social distancing is also mandatory where possible.
- As of October 11, the nighttime curfew is no longer in effect.
- Vaccination cards will not be needed to gain access to hotels or resorts. However, travellers will need to show vaccine passes to gain access to some shops, malls, restaurants, gyms, museums, and other public places.
16 Nov 21Partner News
Announcing our new B2B portal – Discova ConnectDiscova has launched an online booking portal to help partners book day tours, transfers, ...Read moreAnnouncing our new B2B portal – Discova Connect - News & announcementsDiscova has launched an online booking portal to help partners book day tours, transfers, and hotels. Discova Connect constitutes an enhancement to our service for our existing partners, allowing consultants to save time in generating quotes, make simple bookings, and view existing bookings. It marks another step for Discova in investing towards a tech-oriented future, providing an additional convenient tool to simplify the booking experience for partners. Yet, with a chat function installed within the portal and live support available, this technology does not come at the cost of our personal touch. Our fantastic, knowledgeable teams are still just a click away, ready to assist in any way they can.
Tell Me More – What Can I Book?Discova Connect will allow partners to generate quotes for day tours, transfers, and hotels across our destinations. Linked to world-leading booking platform Tourplan, this service provides live bookability for agents, with Discova-recommended products and hotels highlighted as standard. There is also an easy-to-use search function to quickly search the destination or experience that you need. It is important to note that this tool is designed to enable partners to make simple bookings. For customised, multi-day itineraries, we encourage partners to contact our experts within the tailor-made travel team for a conversation as usual, utilising their specialist knowledge for a bespoke tour. Scroll through the images below for a few snapshots.
How Can I Access Discova Connect?All our partners will be given login details by their Account Managers. This will allow partners to access our Agent Hub, easily navigable from our website homepage. Once within the Agent Hub, partners will have the option to explore the booking possibilities, compare prices, and view any of their existing bookings. Ever helpful, our teams have put together a handy user guide for partners using Discova Connect for the first time. The training module goes through the basics of using the portal, including how to search for our product, confirming, amending, and cancelling bookings, and how payment and invoicing will work. This user guide will be sent to partners along with their login details.
What are the Plans for the Future?As always, we are all ears and ready to listen to our partners. As with any new tool, we want to ensure that the service provided is streamlined and effective. That’s why, over the coming weeks and months, we invite feedback on how Discova Connect can be optimised and improved, as well as wish-list functions that could make the service even better. Already, a timeline is in place to make all our destinations bookable through Discova Connect. We also envisage developing Discova Connect into a wider-ranging booking engine where complete itineraries can be booked, along with the integration of other booking platforms. As we look into the future, we have a great foundation to build upon. We will continue investing in our services to provide better solutions for our partners so that we can grow together. In this vision, Discova Connect is the first iteration of a broader, more-comprehensive service.“We have listened to partner feedback over the years, and a tool that allows simple bookings at your fingertips has often been mentioned as a desired feature. Our partners, and by extension their travellers, are our priotrity. We therefore want to make booking with us as streamlined and efficient as possible. This productive yet straightforward tool will allow quoting of our competitive rates and services in real-time.”Andrew Turner Discova Global Director of Sales and Marketing For more information on how you can utilise this time-saving resource for yourself and your business, please reach out to your personal Discova connection for more information, or contact [email protected].
09 Nov 21Partner News
Beyond Chichen Itza: 5 Best Ruins in Mexico to ExploreThere are a million reasons to visit Mexico – the world-famous cuisine, fantastic beach resorts, and the ...Read moreBeyond Chichen Itza: 5 Best Ruins in Mexico to Explore - News & announcementsThere are a million reasons to visit Mexico – the world-famous cuisine, fantastic beach resorts, and the warm, fun-loving hospitality so embedded within the fiesta spirit. For historical enthusiasts, there are also plenty of iconic archaeological sites to visit that help to shape the narrative of Mexico’s pre-hispanic past. Visiting the best ruins in Mexico provides insights into the ancient Mayan and Aztec civilisations. Gaining an understanding of these cultures will see travellers develop a meaningful connection with modern Mexico. Many travellers will perhaps be able to name Chichen Itza or will at least have a vague recollection of having heard of the iconic world wonder. Chichen Itza is the best-known Mayan city, filled with architectural marvels and ancient secrets.Of course, we recommend visiting Chichen Itza to admire its intimidating pyramids, particularly for the atmospheric evening light show. However, we also want to inform you and your customers of the other sites available to explore with Discova. There’s a whole ancient world of possibilities!
Best Ruins in Mexico
Tulum + CobaWe offer a fantastic opportunity to see two intriguing Mayan sites in one day. Tulum, a majestic walled city perched on the cliff’s edge, with panoramic views of the Caribbean Sea, is the first stop on this trip. At Tulum, our knowledgeable guide will explain all about this ancient Mayan port and its significance within the Mayan kingdom. As the waves gently lap the beach below, you get a real sense of what it must have been like in its heyday in the 13th and 14th centuries. After Tulum, head to explore the ruins of the temple complex at Coba. There are several pyramids to explore here, including Nohuch Mul, which roughly translates to the ‘big mound’. It’s a lot more impressive than its name suggests, and visitors can actually climb the pyramid for 360 views of the whole complex.The temples arise from a thick, tropical jungle bed, giving the site a mystical Indiana Jones feel. Visitors feel like intrepid explorers as they navigate the ceremonial limestone sacbes, or avenues. Besides Nohuch Mul, there are pyramids home to ancient Mayan frescoes and a number of Juego de pelota, or ball courts. Not finished for the day, we head to a local Mayan village to learn about honey and cocoa production in the village. Here, we endeavour to understand the Mayan legacy for these people. Take a refreshing dip in the village’s sacred cenote – a freshwater-filled sinkhole. Finally, experience a Mayan ritual as the local shaman gives travellers an authentic blessing.
TeotihuacanTeotihuacan, a short drive from Mexico City, was the sprawling capital of the Aztec kingdom. One of the best ruins in Mexico to explore, the complex is vast and spreads out within the glorious valley northwest of Mexico City. Cutting down the middle is the Avenue of the Dead, linking the Temple of Quetzalcoatl, the Pyramid of the Moon and the Pyramid of the Sun. Here, learn from the guide about the Aztecs’ culture, traditions, and legacy, and visit the on-site museum to see artefacts excavated from the ruins. It’s an extraordinary place to explore the rich world of the Ancient Aztecs. Teotihuacan features on several of our trips from Mexico City and can be included in customised multi-day itineraries exploring the region. However, we want to spotlight an out-of-this-world opportunity to catch a glimpse of the site from above.With Discova, we can organise hot-air balloon rides over the archaeological ruins of Teotihuacan. Float gently in a dreamlike manner over the complex and admire the spectacular views. First-time flyers will be thrilled by the sensation. Those who have experienced a hot-air balloon ride before can remind nervous flyers that the journey is peaceful and serene. Even those who are afraid of heights tend to find the ride relaxing. This is packaged as a whole experience with a range of choices. Choose to include welcome drinks, an exciting look into the history of balloon transport, a champagne toast, or a signed certificate from your pilot. Travellers also have the choice of including their tickets into the Teotihuacan complex. So, they can decide if they want a closer exploration or if they simply want to glide past. What better way to discover one of the best ruins in Mexico.
Ek BalamAnother fascinating site, Ek Balam predates Chichen Itza and is believed to have been founded around 1500 years ago. Recent restoration work at Ek Balam make it relatively new to the list of Mayan attractions and is proving increasingly popular.The site is set within a gloriously picturesque national park, lush and verdantly green with tropical forest. The highlight of the ruins is a stone acropolis, a cornerstone of Mayan architecture, featuring iconic Mayan design in its carvings and glyphs. The guide here will explain that Ek Balam was a city of religious significance to the Mayans. As well as the archaeological ruins, visitors to the park enjoy a sense of adventure with various thrilling experiences. Rappel down a cliff into a crystal, clear cenote, whizz down several ziplines through the canopy, or play like Tarzan with the intertwining swinging vines.Travellers also have the chance to stand before an altar and take part in a shaman’s ritual. This ritual has been passed down throughout the centuries from family to family and is a significant aspect of Mayan heritage. Standing before the altar, capture smoke burning from a cup of copal, a kind of unique tree sap. This symbolises a request for permission from the Maya gods to pass onto the underworld, “Xibalba.” A meaningful process for some, many travellers describe the experience as transformative.
PalenqueFurther afield, we offer a trip to Palenque, not provided as a day trip but able to be included as part of multi-day itineraries. This is due to Palenque’s distance from Cancun in the state of Chiapas. Palenque’s site is smaller than that of Chichen Itza and some of the other sites on this list, yet it presents some of the finest examples of Mayan bas-relief carvings to be found. This, along with the exquisite sculptures on display, makes it a real gem for those interested in Mayan architecture. The Temple of Inscriptions is especially pleasing to the eye, with its sheer, imposing incline of steps. The funerary monument is actually home to the second-longest glyphic text known from the Maya world. Historians have used these inscriptions to work out the intricacies of the ruling dynasties of Palenque.Other notable structures include other monuments to the dead and the ruins of a palace complex. The palace, built in the 4th century AD, was used by the aristocracy for bureaucracy, entertainment, and ritual ceremony. Many features have been conserved to this day. Particularly impressive is the aqueduct system, still visible, that was used to bring fresh water to the palace. Explore the site with a local guide who can capably answer curious questions. Also, admire the surrounding National Park, abundant with mahogany and cedar. The National park encompasses the ancient site and hills to the south, and there is a camping site for families.
Always ExpandingAt Discova, we’re continually expanding our offering for your customers. It’s in our DNA to offer choice and encourage travellers to go beyond. We want to inspire travellers to discover sites less-visited and explore more places to gain a deeper understanding of our destinations. That’s why, for travellers wanting to explore Mayan and Aztec ruins, we want to highlight there’s more than Chichen Itza. Depending on traveller interests and tendency, it may be better to explore Teotihuacan, visit Ek Balam, or go further afield and visit the magnificent Palenque. To learn more about our experiences, and to hear about our multi-day itineraries in Mexico, reach out to our helpful, friendly, and knowledgeable teams.
31 Aug 21Expert Hub
What is experiential travel and why are travellers going to demand more of it in 2022 and beyond?Regional Product Manager in the Americas, Simon Lindsay, shares his insight on the shifting demand ...Read moreWhat is experiential travel and why are travellers going to demand more of it in 2022 and beyond? - News & announcementsRegional Product Manager in the Americas, Simon Lindsay, shares his insight on the shifting demand from the traditional flop and drop to immersive, multi-day experiential travel within the North American market. The world has changed. We hear this phrase more often due to several factors impacting our planet: the COVID pandemic, climate change, political instability and uprisings, the demand for a better world… However, one thing has remained constant: our desire to connect with people and our planet. People want to reconnect with friends and family, want to escape the stresses of daily life, learn new things, and have new experiences. 2020 gave us time to reflect on what is important; we became more aware of our personal wellbeing. These factors will be important considerations when travel returns. The media reports on a substantial pent-up demand for travel as borders reopen and flights resume. Holidays, of course, are synonymous with good feelings, great memories, and the escape from the daily grind. But what type of vacation do people want to take, as they make up for ‘lost’ time? Visiting a craft shop in the Dominican Republic Whilst flop-and-drop continues to be one of the main reasons for travel to the Caribbean/Americas, we are seeing an increasing demand for more experiential travel inclusions – a notable change from previous years. The big focus on requests from our partners is centred around personal wellbeing and immersive culturally rich inclusions. Yoga, wellness, spa inclusions – these experiences giving people time for mindfulness and healing are proving popular in Tulum, Isla Holbox and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, as well as in the Dominican Republic and Costa Rica. Activities that ignite the senses and broaden cultural understanding are also proving popular inclusion requests for multi-day itineraries. These are hands-on experiences such as food and drinks tours, cooking classes, market visits, homestays, and other introductions to the local way of life. The focus here is on immersion as opposed to mere observation. While there are still huge volumes of travellers booking traditional flop and drop all-inclusive resorts, we are seeing increasing demand for small, boutique-style properties. These individual accommodation options offer a completely different type of holiday away from mass-market tourism with a more local and less commercial feel. This could be a direct knock-on effect from the events of the last 18 months, where people feel more secure in less crowded places, or they could simply want their own space away from the hustle and bustle to relax and unwind. Interest in Experiential Travel There is interesting data on millennials who, according to Bloomberg, now make up the largest generation (31.5% of the world population). The data shows that 86% of millennials want to travel for experience and culture, immersing themselves into their destination, staying clear of tourist traps – 60% rank authentic culture as the essential part of their trip, 78% want their visit to be educational. Our Discova multi-day itineraries encompassing these experiential and sensory activities have proven extremely popular, with bookings confirmed through 2021, 2022, and 2023 highlighting a growing demand in this area (significatively above pre-Covid numbers). Our In-Destination sales are also changing. Typical flop-and-drop type excursions such as catamarans, parks, ziplines, shopping, and sightseeing are still proving extremely popular. However, we are seeing a growing demand from customers for something different, something new, something unique – often emphasising wellness or experiential activities. Wellness activities, like hot spring visits, are increasingly popular in Costa Rica There is also a renewed focus on responsible travel activities, felt industry wide. The events of recent months have highlighted just how fragile our world is, which has ignited awareness of our impact on the planet. Therefore, hotels that stand out for their sustainability are becoming increasingly popular. Similarly, interest in activities that directly help give back to the local community and increase ecological knowledge is also rising. For example, we have recently successfullylaunched two educational programmes in Costa Rica. These are designed for high school students to increase their awareness of environmental issues and offer local village interaction.Personally, I think this is a thrilling time to be in travel. Having worked in the industry for the last 17 years, it always astounds me that so many people travel, sometimes thousands of miles, to another country, without really experiencing the destination. Instead, people tend to choose to spend time on the beach or within the confines of the hotel, except for the odd sightseeing tour or boat trip. Now I feel, more than ever, that this is changing. It is a change happening within the industry overall, and the events of recent years have driven that change. As the world opens up again, we too, as travel leaders and businesses, need to open up to the new generation of travellers and focus on immersive travel opportunities. For Discova, this style of travel has always been part of what we do; marrying originality with quality and value is second nature to us. So, in order to meet the oncoming demand, we’ve put immersive and experiential travel experiences at the core of our product development strategy. Our local in-destinations teams are hard at work creating itineraries that showcase not just a destination’s major sights but its people, its culture, and its life.
13 Dec 20Expert Hub
Transformative travel in CambodiaBy Julia Offenberger, Discova Transformative travel is diversifying the visitor experience in Cambodia, as ...Read moreTransformative travel in Cambodia - News & announcementsBy Julia Offenberger, Discova Transformative travel is diversifying the visitor experience in Cambodia, as Asia DMC Buffalo Tours explain. For many travellers, a trip to Cambodia is defined by a visit to Angkor Wat. More than 2.5 million travelled to the UNESCO World Heritage Site last year, to explore the remnants of the once glorious Khmer Empire. Despite the overwhelmingly large number of tourists, most travellers are still impressed by the sheer size of the complex, the detailed carvings of the Bayon Temple faces, and the sight of Ta Phrom Temple, half devoured by jungle. While photo stops at these famous temples are considered unmissable by many, travellers also appreciate taking respite at the lesser-known temples. Most visitors are surprised at how easy it can be to explore away from the crowds. A Cambodian basket weaver near Angkor Cambodia now offers a lot more than Angkor Wat, including floating villages on Tonle Sap Lake and learning the country's brutal past at former Khmer Rouge sites, notably the Killing Fields and Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum. First-time visitors find that these experiences provide a unique insight into a culture and history that was not on their cultural radar. Some floating villages provide homestay accommodation in Cambodia Community-based projects gain traction Community-based tourism projects are also receiving increased intention. More and more travellers are searching for ways to get off-the-beaten track, and to experience authentic Cambodian life. "While a tour of Angkor Wat is still our top selling product, many of our customers want to complement their temple trip with a personal experience that takes them off the main tourist trail," says Panya Thin, Buffalo Tours' Regional General Manager for Cambodia, Japan, Laos and Myanmar. This desire to delve deeper into local culture is one of the main motivators for travellers joining community-based projects. Travellers are increasingly opting for full-day tours that introduce them to local people and allow them to take part in traditional activities, such as oxcart riding, rice milling and making brooms. These are typically booked as an add-on to balance their trip in Cambodia. A traveller learning how to make a broom in a small Cambodian community "Instead of just seeing the highlights, travellers are looking for opportunities to appreciate what it means to be Khmer for one day," explains Panya Thin. He adds that authenticity is key, as "experiences must not feel staged and these travellers don't want to be surrounded by other travellers." More seasoned or adventurous travellers also like multi-day homestays, as they find that they offer deeper insight into local culture. Besides experiencing local traditions, travellers are also attracted by the responsible aspect of community-based projects. Many Western travellers, especially millennials, are increasingly aware of the negative effects that tourism can have on environment and local communities. Travellers who are looking for a more sustainable approach to travel are searching for community-based projects that genuinely benefit individual communities. Rice milling during community-based travel Transformative travel and positive change This growing interest in cultural immersion reflects the rise of transformative travel in Cambodia. By connecting with people from a different culture and embracing traditions different from their own, many travellers hope to experience their own personal transformation. For many, travelling to Cambodia's rural countryside provides a temporary escape from their own day-to-day rituals. Travellers who have spent several days in community-based projects have reported an increase in self-confidence as they pushed the boundaries of their own comfort zones. Others reflect on their own position in the world and say they return with a new sense of gratitude and empathy. Most Cambodian community projects are backdropped by rice fields While all travel experiences can have transformative qualities, "immersive experiences, such as engaging with local communities, provide access for greater understanding and meaning throughout our travels," explains Richard Ludwig, Director of Product and Marketing at Buffalo Tours. "Transformative experiences should, however, be mutually beneficial for the traveller and the locals." The exchange of ideas is a key component and has a huge impact on how travellers perceive these experiences. Written by Julia Offenberger, junior copywriter at Discova, one of Asia's leading destination management companies, who have been creating tailor-made travel experiences in the region since 1994.
13 Dec 20Expert Hub
Industry Insights from our Local Travel Expert: Hai in HanoiHai (front) with a happy group in Ha Long Bay We continue to delve deep ...Read moreIndustry Insights from our Local Travel Expert: Hai in Hanoi - News & announcementsHai (front) with a happy group in Ha Long BayWe continue to delve deep into the lives of our local travel experts to see what we can uncover about our destinations. This time, we hear the story of Hai in Hanoi, of his early infatuation with all things travel, and why he thinks Vietnam is an incredible destination to visit. Interviewed by George Robinson A Passion is Born Let me paint a picture for you. It’s 1994, and we’re in Hanoi, Vietnam. A little boy is invited to go to work with his uncle for the day. His uncle’s profession is a bus driver. The boy heaves himself up onto the old chugger, engine vibrating rhythmically. The route? A long-winded windy journey that meanders through the hillside villages to the north of Hanoi. The boy stares transfixed out the window, past the rolling rice fields. He spots the water buffalo, admires the lush green surroundings, and gazes longingly to the distant majestic mountains on the horizon. When the bus crosses a bridge, he is astounded that the people who get on speak in an unfamiliar language, wear different clothes, and seem to behave in an unusual manner – unusual for no other reason than that they are foreign to him. From such journeys, lifelong passions are born. Such is the case for Hai, who so romantically reflects on the origins of his lifelong love affair with travel. Hai punctures his reverie with a joke: “My dad was a mechanical engineer, and my mum worked in a clinic. They blame my uncle for my wayward path.” “There is a real tradition of respecting your elders in Vietnam. There is a saying: ‘Wherever parents place you, lay there’. It’s fair to say my parents had grand plans for me that didn’t involve guide work, but I had my heart set on working in travel from before I could remember. I had to forge my own path without much encouragement.” I am struck by my interviewee’s affinity for a narrative as he considers his inner conflict between filial piety and the pursuit of his passion. Like all the guides I have spoken to, Hai is a master at managing a conversation. He treads the fine line between entertaining and informative, when to drill down on a point and when to pursue a tangent, all with an easy charm.
Local Travel Expert? Not At First…In his own words, Hai was a failure as a guide at first. At least, that’s how he felt. “My first tour was with a large American-born Vietnamese family. Often, it turns out that those Vietnamese born elsewhere have done a lot of research into their heritage. They knew a lot of information, and I felt that I was inadequate in providing them with a learning experience.” “Really, they were actually teaching me. So, I knew I had to go away and study a bit more so that I was more knowledgeable.” Hai dwells on the idea that he was passionate about travel; he is thankful for that, suggesting that he may have actually quit if it had not been for a steely resolve to make a career in tourism. He studied and progressed, gaining confidence over time. He also came to terms with the dynamic of being a student as well as a teacher. “A few months after the big Vietnamese family, I took a well-travelled couple on tour. I mean, these were real seasoned travellers; they had been all over the world – and had met many tour guides over the years.” “I learned from them – I saw it as an opportunity to learn about other parts of the world and about their previous experiences with guides. In return, I taught them many things about Vietnam and Vietnamese culture. I had the realisation that this was the best way to see my tour groups – as equal partners in a learning exchange. This way, with every job, I could gain a little more information and experience.” As Hai speaks of the dynamic between guide and traveller, of the trip as a mutual learning experience, I feel a sense of familiarity with this mindset. A variation of this sentiment has been expressed by all of the guides I have spoken to. First, it speaks volumes about the type of experience we offer at Discova, where a deep, meaningful connection with the destination through learning is a priority. Second, it reflects well on the personality types of these guides who, without exception, seem to have an insatiable curiosity to absorb more information about the world around them. This curiosity, combined with an easygoing character, leaves me with no doubt that travelling with Hai as a tour guide would be an absolute joy.
And so, to VietnamHai works for one of our partners specialising in multi-country trips across south-east Asia. Therefore, he works as part of the broader guide team that share their expertise across these destinations, taking turns to ‘take the lead’, so to speak, and relying on our in-destination teams for assistance. He grins, “We follow the path of the dragon.” He is referring to a typical route through the countries of south-east Asia that resembles the curve of a dragon. The path goes up through Thailand into Myanmar or Laos, down across the border into Cambodia and then east into Vietnam to travel up its spine to Hanoi and the north. It’s a truly spellbinding trip – one which we could dwell on for hours, though I’m not sure I could take the travel envy. Not what you think of for Vietnam? A stunning beach in Phu Quoc Instead, I ask Hai for his favourite place on these journeys. “Vietnam, for sure, and not just because I am Vietnamese! “For me, it’s because Vietnam is just the most incredibly diverse place to explore. Even for me, there is always something new to discover. As we mentioned, the diversity of people, where you can cross a bridge into a new village and everybody is speaking a different language. The diversity of landscapes we have, from the Mekong delta to rice terraces to waterfalls to beautiful beaches. The fascinating culture and idiosyncrasies of our different cities. Perhaps it’s because we’re long and thin – there just seems to be variety here like nowhere else I know! We offer unrivalled diversity.” The long and thin reference is, of course, related to the shape of the country as opposed to any comment on Vietnamese body shapes. Though, interestingly, that links perfectly to Hai’s next advertisement for Vietnam. “Besides witnessing the diversity of scenery and peoples, there is another clear asset that travellers always love about Vietnam – the food! People find it so delicious they don’t even mind putting a little bit of weight on!” Hai becomes dewy-eyed as he waxes lyrical about the endearing qualities of Vietnamese cuisine. “Everything is just so fresh and light, with healthy locally sourced ingredients. It can be sweet, or a little spicy, occasionally sour. Deliciously decadent fried things are available too!” Wonderful summer rolls (goi cuon) We recently put a spotlight on some of the especially healthy vegan and vegetarian options within Vietnamese cuisine, from Vietnam’s answer to the French baguette to pho dishes that pack a punch, from light summer rolls to powerful papaya salads. Reflecting on some of these dishes, Hai and I get sidetracked down this culinary tangent, something that appears to be an occupational hazard.
Conflict Can be ColourfulHai ruminates on the shadow of relatively recent history – never far away in Vietnam. “Many people are drawn to Vietnam for its intriguing history – of the Vietnam War for sure but also of the War of Independence with France and that complex colonial relationship.” Many people who visit Vietnam enjoy learning about Ho Chi Minh – the father of modern Vietnam – in Hanoi. They go to the War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City. They go on historical excursions like Cu Chi – a network of underground tunnels from which Vietnamese fighters carried out their guerrilla resistance. A statue of Ho Chi Minh “Occasionally, people can have strong opinions about these events and these places. As a guide, I just encourage everybody to look at things from different perspectives and maintain the tone of a neutral third party. Having said that, conflict can be colourful; it can lead to a learning experience. But, there is a fine line here.” “Most often, everybody is reasonable and eager to learn. We get American war veterans coming on tours, and I encourage them to share their experiences and perspectives, and I share my own, too. These can make for fascinating encounters.”
A Long Time ComingYou get the impression speaking to Hai that he is a little impatient with the pandemic! He is chomping at the bit to get back out travelling and leading people on tours. “I take my family on holiday! We sit and watch Youtube travel documentaries. I like to ask my family, ‘where shall we go on holiday today, then?’” He jokes about feeling threatened. “When people are finally able to travel again, they will have been waiting so long. Travellers to Vietnam may have done so much research – they could know so much! I’ll have to be ready with more insights!” “But, you know, I’m just excited to get back to guiding. I have really enjoyed staying in touch with my fellow Discova guides. We have been doing these Cultural Exchange workshops together online, where we meet up and share stories about our destinations. It’s great to learn and keep developing our skills, too, but there’s nothing better than the real thing.” “I see a new travelling group as a new story, so I’m looking forward to experiencing new stories again soon.” To hear more about the multi-country itineraries that Hai leads, or to explore further our Vietnam itineraries that focus on learning experiences and showcase the diversity of this fascinating country, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our teams.
13 Sep 20Expert Hub
Solo travel for over 50s females in IndonesiaPura Lempuyang Temple is a popular solo female destination. By Julia Offenberger, Buffalo Tours ...Read moreSolo travel for over 50s females in Indonesia - News & announcementsPura Lempuyang Temple is a popular solo female destination. By Julia Offenberger, Buffalo Tours When it comes to solo travel - one of the industry's dominant trends over the past few years - the data is quite clear: women in their 50s and beyond make up the fastest growing segment. Whether it is to take time out or to meet new people, women of the baby boomer generation are now more empowered and financially independent, enabling them to venture out on their own. Among the top Asian destinations for this market is Indonesia. Whilst the island of Bali has become synonymous with wellness and spiritual travel, the archipelago's diversity in landscape, culture and accommodation options, also makes the country an attractive destination. What are solo over 50s females looking for in a holiday Most senior females travelling alone enjoy meeting new people and prefer a schedule that keeps them engaged. Deborah Youl, Buffalo Tours' commercial director, explains: "When travelling in organised groups, solo travellers are looking for more content; they actually don't want too much free time and prefer the company of other travellers." She adds that welcome dinners, team bonding and evening socialising are essential to a trip's success. However, it is important that the group consists of only solo travellers as they usually 'do not want to be joined by couples'. A walking tour in Ubud, Bali. Also keep in mind that independent travellers who don't want to join a group are often wary of booking private tours. One of the reasons is pricing. Put off by single supplements, many solo travellers are not prepared to pay a premium for a private tour, making the waiver of such supplements an obvious attraction to this demographic. The other reason, as Deborah Youl points out, is connected to intimacy. "Solo travellers who really want to travel solo are sometimes put off when they hear that a guide has been arranged personally for them. They perceive that as too intense." A means of resolving this tension for solo female travellers is to employ more female guides and drivers. One such example in Indonesia is a surf lesson in Bali taught by a female instructor. Part of Buffalo Tours' Women in Travel series, this line was created to deliver experiences specifically focused on female travellers as well as the women working in the travel industry. Two of Buffalo Tours' female guides. Favourite travel styles of solo females in Indonesia One of the biggest motivators for women to venture out on their own is to take time out and relax. Indonesia caters well to this thanks to its 17,000 tropical islands. There are the obvious attractions of basking in the shade of a palm tree and listening to the rush of the waves. Wellness breaks and journeys of self-discovery, à la 'Eat Pray Love', are also popular travel styles among female solo travellers to Indonesia. Besides beach breaks, solo women in their 50s and above are looking for experiences that offer insight into Indonesian culture. "'Street Eats' and 'Local Life' tours are our most popular tours among solo travellers," Richard Ludwig, Buffalo Tours' regional product & marketing director, points out, adding that 'travellers on their own tend to be more interested in interacting with the locals'. What many senior females enjoy about exploring alone is the chance to connect with local women, whilst experiencing a different way of life and learning to see the world from a different perspective. There has been a rise in adventure tours, with visitors seeking more than Indonesia's tropical island promise. Another trend that sticks out among women over 50 exploring Indonesia alone is a rise in adventure and active trips. From climbing an active volcano and spotting orangutans in the Sumatran rainforest, to exploring the world's largest volcanic lake, solo travellers are not only more adventurous, but keen to focus more on unique experiences and accomplishing their bucket list. While younger solo travellers can be put off more expensive adventure activities, older females are not. For many women of this generation, travelling solo is about empowerment and the freedom to do what they want. They are aware of their priorities, know what they want and are ready to (finally) focus on their needs. Written by Julia Offenberger, junior copywriter at Buffalo Tours, one of Asia's leading destination management companies, creating tailor-made travel experiences in the region since 1994.