How to stay safe in Cancun, Mexico

For many would-be tourists, the very idea of visiting Mexico sets alarm bells ringing. The country has well-documented incidents of drug and gang-related crime, particularly along the US border.

In truth and providing the visitor takes sensible precautions and avoids areas or activities that are known to have crime problems, the country in no more dangerous than any other. Cancun is one of Mexico’s most popular tourist destinations and is still one of the safest areas to visit.

What applies to many other parts of the world also applies to Cancun when it comes to tourist safety. There are certain scams that are rife, certain areas it’s wise to avoid and some things it’s just nice to know ahead of time.

If you’re travelling around Cancun by taxi, it’s advisable to agree the price with the taxi driver before setting off. It’s not unknown for drivers to hike the price once the destination is reached and there’s little you can do about it after the event.

In bars or clubs always check your receipt to make sure you’ve only been charged for the drinks you think you’ve bought. Dishonest bar tenders may add one or two – or more – drinks to the bill and unless you’re vigilant it’s easy to be charged for extras you didn’t actually order.

Other bar scams include clearing away half-finished drinks while your attention is elsewhere.

In restaurants, make sure a tip is not included in the charge before you add a tip of your own and also be careful that you are only paying for items you ordered. It’s not uncommon for extra items to be added and they’re easily missed if you’re not paying attention.
Just as you should when buying anything from a shop anywhere, check your change before you leave and make sure what has been wrapped up for you is what you wanted to buy.

For instance, unscrupulous shopkeepers, particularly in smaller market shops, might attempt to wrap a cheap version of your item rather than the expensive original one you wanted.

When you’re out and about, stick to the tourist areas of Cancun. The Hotel Zone, the beaches and up-market malls such as La Isla are generally considered safe for tourists.

Day trips around Cancun are a good way of getting to know the area. Xei-Ha and Xcaret, multi-activity parks where you can swim or snorkel, have day trips and for those interested in history, Chichen Itza and Tulum are areas where you’ll find fascinating Mayan ruins.

Staying away from areas deemed unsafe in Cancun is an important part of avoiding unnecessary upset or danger. It’s necessary to understand that most serious crime is not directed at tourists and doesn’t take place in the areas most likely to be populated by tourists.

Downtown Cancun, which is close to the Hotel Zone, is one such area that should be avoided if possible. Staying within the Hotel Zone completely is the safest option, but if you wish to venture further afield then be aware that the further you stray from the safer tourist areas, the more likely you are to get caught up in, or become a victim of, criminal activities.

Cancun mercados, or open-air shopping markets, are like mazes. It’s easy to get lost or become disoriented and tourists are often seen as easy targets for high prices. Bartering is expected and as far as possible you should know the value of something before you enter into negotiations. It’s advisable to avoid using credit cards in the small shops in a mercado as there have been reports of subsequent unauthorised use of credit-card numbers.

At night, or when driving, stick to the Hotel Zone, avoiding the outskirts of Cancun. Visiting bars or restaurants outside the tourist areas puts you into unknown territory and possibly in the way of harm. Your holiday is one of the most important events of your year, so taking precautions and staying safe makes sense.

Cancun is one of the safest areas of Mexico, but is not without its problems. Just as you’d research and learn about any other holiday destination, doing so about Cancun ensures that you will stay safe during your holiday.

5 Festivals and Events to Attend in Noosa, Australia

Noosa is a holiday hotspot on Australia’s Sunshine Coast that has managed to preserve its laid-back beach vibe despite its popularity. Visitors can find accommodation in Noosa for every taste and budget, and booking in advance is especially recommended when special events are scheduled.

Noosa Festival of Surfing
The peeling waves and perfect barrels at Noosa helped put surfing on the map in the 1950s and ‘60s, so it’s no surprise that one of surfdom’s leading international competitions is held here each year. Founded in 1992 as an amateur invitational, a professional division of competition was added four years later. Since then, the Festival has gotten bigger and more exciting, introducing divisions for variations like tandem surfing and stand-up paddle surfing and adding music and entertainment events. Usually held in mid-March

International Food & Wine Festival
Australia’s most important culinary gathering draws more than 200 chefs from all over the world, as well as vintners, restaurateurs, food writers and critics and well-known personalities from the media. It’s a multi-day extravaganza of dining, tasting, sipping, and learning. The only problem for those who attend is trying to take in all that’s on offer. In addition to the food, there are panel discussions about cooking and cuisine, new food items on display and evening concerts and dances. Usually held in May.

Longweekend Festival
Founded in 2002, the Longweekend Festival is a 10 day celebration of the arts, including music, dance, literature, theater, film, visual arts and cuisine. In addition to performances, well-known writers, artists, musicians, and actors are on hand for fascinating forums and Q & A. There are also workshops, including some for younger children and young teens, to help enthusiasts discover and hone their own talents, from acting to writing to working with a professional choreographer.  Usually held in June,

Noosa Jazz Festival
One of Noosa’s most popular events, the Festival embraces all forms of jazz, from Dixieland to progressive to blues to pop. There are free as well as ticketed performances and venues include concert halls, restaurants, parks, parades, street corners and river cruises. After more than 20 years of gatherings, the Festival’s reputation has grown to attract serious jazz musicians from all over the world, and one of the highlights is seeing contemporary greats seize this rare opportunity to play together and explore each others’ styles. Usually held in late August.

Australian PGA Championship
Since 2002 the Australian PGA Championship has been held near Noosa at the Palmer Resort Coolum, formerly the Hyatt Regency Coolum. The setting is breath-taking, with mountains visible in the distance and a top-rated resort course designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr.  By no means a regional affair, the Championship draws elite pros from all over the world, including the U.S., Europe and Asia. Usually held in December.

Note that one of Noosa’s most exciting events doesn’t involve people at all. It’s the annual whale migration, and the best viewing times are from August to November. No need to take to the seas, as pods can be sighted from Main Beach as well as the cliffs of Noosa National Park.

Top 5 Party Countries for Low-Budget Student Travelers

After working hard through four years of college, many young adults want to take some time to travel the world and experience new places before they head off into the real world. Unfortunately, traveling these days can be expensive and many post-grads find themselves without a lot of cash to spend on their adventures. But not having a full bank account doesn’t mean you need to stay at home after graduation. There are several countries that are inexpensive to travel and party in. Here are the top five low-cost countries to party in after graduating college.

1. Portugal. Although Portugal is sometimes overshadowed by its larger neighbor, Spain, it is a beautiful and culturally rich country to travel in and much less expensive than Spain. Beautiful, antique hotels in Porto can cost as little as $35 (€25) a night. And ferry rides to white-sand beaches can be as low as $1 for a round-trip. Portugal boasts delicious seafood, fine wine, and tons of nightclubs and pubs, all at extremely reasonable prices.

2. Macedonia. Many people associate Greece with opulent hotels, fine restaurants, and wealthy travelers. Though this may be true, its neighbor to the north, Macedonia, is much less expensive and generally less crowded with tourists.  Macedonia offers something for everyone: hiking trails in picturesque mountains, crystal clear lakes, and beautiful vineyards. Private rooms in hostels or small hotels can be found for less than €10 a night. Best of all, Macedonia has numerous pubs, waterfront bars, and clubs, all of which cost much less than many other European countries.

3. Vietnam. Much of Southeast Asia is known as a Mecca for budget –minded travelers, and Vietnam is no different. With guesthouses for as low as $10 a night and delicious, fresh meals for under $2, a traveler on a budget can usually spend much more time in Vietnam than other countries which cost more. There are numerous open-air bars and expat nightclubs that offer great party atmospheres for young foreign travelers.

4. Tajikistan. Though sometimes thought of as dangerous because of its name—which recalls some countries in turmoil such as Pakistan—Tajikistan is a stable, safe country in Central Asia. It is also becoming popular for travelers because it is easy to travel in on a budget.  Homestays and guest houses usually run under $10 a night and the food is dirt-cheap and delicious.  There are also a number of small, intimate bars and pubs, many of which are frequented by low-budget travelers.

5. Argentina. Argentina can be expensive to get to because of airline costs, but this can be countered by buying low-cost student flights. Once you get there, however, it is one of the most inexpensive countries to travel within once you get there. With world-famous clothing, wine, dancing, and music, Argentina is a wonderful place for young travelers on a budget. In Buenos Aires, hostels can be booked for less than $10 a night. The food and clothing is about a 1/3 of the cost of what it would be in the states and Argentina is world-famous for its nightlife. Locals don’t go out until as late as 2 am and stay up drinking and dancing until well after the sun has come up.

Top 5 Pubs in Bali for Expats

Bali is one of the most beautiful islands in the world. With a rich cultural history, delicious food, and pristine beaches, this Indonesian island is a haven for expats to live and work in. Even if you just want to travel there short term, there are several budget packages available including Bali holiday packages, which can significantly reduce the cost of getting to and staying in this beautiful part of Indonesia. Bali is known for many things, including its beautiful temples, friendly people, and humid climate. But, one of the best things Balis is known for is its nightlife, including beachside pubs, bars and nightclubs. There are a number of great pubs for expats in Bali. Here are the top 5:

1. Hu’u. Hu’u is a beautiful open-air pub and bar located in Raya Petitenget, Seminyak, Bali. On side is a restaurant, called Nutmeg, which is illuminated by lit pools. The food is fantastic and the menu always serves the freshest seafood. On the other side of Hu’u is the pub-like bar, which is popular with expats and locals alike. The bar offers a variety of liquors, beers, wines, and specialty-made cocktails, all of which can be enjoyed under a star-filled sky. With great music and imported beers, expats love this slice of heaven in Bali.

2. The Potato Head Beach Club. This Oceanside pub is one of the more unique spots in Bali, as its name suggests. Located in Jalan Petitenget, Denpasar, Bali, Potato Head was started up by a team of expats and international art collectors. Though parts of this beach club are elegant, such as the restaurant, LiLi, other sections are much more laid-back and have a pub-like feel. They serve up a variety of imported beers and freshly mixed cocktails. The Potato Head Beach Club is one of the most popular expat hangouts on the island.

3. Koki Pub. As its name suggests, the Koki Pub is the closest thing to a genuine pub you’ll find in Bali. Many expats come here for the delicious home style food, especially on holidays, when they are feeling homesick. Situated on Jalan Street by Ngurah Rai Sanur, Koki Pub offers cable TV and pool tables. Because it’s open late, expats love to meet here after a long night out on the town and have a few night caps.

4. Trophy Bar. The Trophy Bar, located next to the famous Sanur Beach Hotel in Sanur, is a laid-back spot where expats love to gather before heading out for a night of partying. Its great beer selection and tons of liquor to choose can make for a pretty rowdy scene at night, but expats love to come back to this spot again and again.

5. Poco Loco, located in Nusa Dua, is a popular spot for expats because of the great music, which is often live, and good drink specials offered nightly. Imported beers and margaritas keep the expats of Bali coming back time and time again. Though not exactly like home, Poco Loco is one of the best spots for the homesick expat.