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STA Travel Blog

A Christmas away from home

I’m Jemma, one of STA Travel’s Digital Execs, email machine and serious Bali beach bum…
It’s quickly approaching the two-year mark now since I spent my first Christmas away from home. Away from the humming of Christmas songs, wrapping of trees in tinsel, yummy nut roasts and endless amounts of chocolate (I really mean drinking). But fear not all the Christmas fans out there, t’was a happy story, this Christmas away from home. And here is what made it oh so very special… 

Turning back time to December 21st 2015, I was stepping off a rickety wooden boat on the sublime island of Gili Meno. Accompanied by four of my best friends, an oversized backpack and an arm full of cotton plaited wristbands. Although our spirits were high (I mean whose wouldn’t be, with a secluded beach to ourselves, the view of Mt Rinjani in the background and £1 beers all day) but still something felt weird. We were four days from Christmas and I was dying to smell some cinnamon gingerbread men, hear the carols chime through the streets or just wear a knitted jumper. Instead, I was slapping on factor 50, taking an outdoor shower and searching for turtles on the reef. (I know you’re thinking. What. Are. You. Complaining. About).

Bali

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Travel Crush: 10 reasons the Philippines is the place to be in 2018

Allow me to introduce myself… I’m Georgie, a digital marketing executive at STA Travel, happiest in the ocean, sun worshipper and summertime fruitarian. So, you can imagine my excitement when I was told I’d be heading on an educational trip to the Mimaropa region of the Philippines this November! We’ve all seen the pictures. The Philippines is the epitome of an island paradise with its turquoise water, white sandy beaches, paraw boats and coconuts on tap. Well kids, it’s even better in the flesh … Here’s 10 reasons why we’ve fallen head over heels for the Philippines.

1. The Underground River

Glide by canoe into the mesmerising caves of stalagmites and stalactites of this UNESCO World Heritage site in Puerto Princesa. Spot bats and swifts as they fly among the ancient rock formations as well as monkeys and crab-eating macaques in the surrounding forests. Be sure to book in advance, this place is popular!

underground river

2. Camping under the stars

Pull up to remote Kalipayan Island and prepare for a night under the stars with nothing but the waves and rustle of the trees to disturb the silence. Go for a late-night swim, and if you’re lucky, catch sight of the plankton glowing and lighting up the way.

camping on the beach

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How to spend 8 days in mainland Thailand

I’m Rachael, certified Netflix binger, beer pong fan, and one of the website guru’s at STA Travel. I recently got back from an Asia trip – and by recently I mean 6 months ago, but I’m in denial. Of the places I visited, I spent 6 weeks in Thailand. As well as eating my body weight in curry and 7-Eleven toasties (if you know, you know) I’d like to think I got to know the place pretty well, so this is what I’d tell travellers to do on a 8 day/7 night trip.

Day one

Fly in to Bangkok, because that’s probably the easiest and cheapest to get to. I spent three weeks in Bangkok (not because I’m crazy, I did a volunteering job) so I’ve done a lot there. You could either spend the day visiting amazing buildings like the Wat Pho/Wat Arun temple and the Grand Palace – all beautiful and worth a look, or if you’re more about the markets, head to one of the many floating markets around the city. We decided to get in a taxi and drive to Talin Chan and Khlong Lat Mayom, which were both really close to each other – we preferred the second one as it had much more of an authentic feel to it (the first one was very touristy).

Floating by without a care in the world #floatingmarket #bangkok #canalboat #thailand #authentic #thaiculture

A post shared by Rachael Porter (@rporter90) on

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48 hours in Bangkok

The city of Bangkok… a chaotic mismatch of old-world and modern metropolis serving up enticing markets, impressive temples and a wild night life to go with it.

With a round the world trip ahead of them, our Blueticket competition winners Sabrina, Dan, Kyle and Charlotte chose here to #StarttheAdventure. Like a lot of backpackers, they had to get real. With 48 hours they were never going to have the pleasure of exploring every single corner. Here’s the cultural juice they managed to squeeze out of their whistle stop tour of charismatic Bangkok.

1. Just touched down in Bangkok town (or Suvarnabhumi airport to be more accurate). Hop on the swanky sky train (for about 30p, whattt?) and make your way to Siam Square in downtown Bangkok.

2. For most backpackers there’s only one place to stay, Khao San Road or nearby at least. Go get yourself some traveller uniform whilst you’re there. Jazzy elephant trousers and a chang vest?

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Beyond the beach: Northern Thailand lust-list

Sawasdee friends! I’m Sasha, an STA Travel intern and self-confessed southeast Asia obsessive, so naturally I just had to share a few of my fave spots in Thailand…

We’ve all heard of the famous Thai beaches – from full moon parties on Koh Phagnan to surreal dive spots on Koh Tao. But what is actually beyond the beautiful beaches? ‘Who cares?! I just want to enjoy my SangSom bucket next to the shimmering sea!’ I hear you shout from behind your device. I feel you…but travelling with a tour group like Contiki ensures you see those beautiful cultural sights without skimping on fun! Let me share some of the best non-beachy destinations.

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