DESTINATION GUIDES

WORLD MAP 

 

 JAPAN 

The people of Japan value tradition.  Regardless of whether the tradition is rooted in history or religion, many Japanese customs and traditions are still widely practiced today. To immerse yourself in Japanese traditions, try a visit to a temple or shrine, participate in a tea ceremony or spend an evening in a “machiya” (historic style of Japanese townhouse).
 

Festivals are a large part of Japanese culture.  The viewing of the cherry blossoms (also known as sakura) was thought to have begun in the late 8th century. During this festival one can travel by train throughout Japan to view thousands of cherry blossom trees. To make the festival even more special, you can find plenty of novelty items like sakura ice cream and sakura flavored Coca-Cola.

Do you have an interest in modern architecture? Many Japanese buildings and structures are designed to mimic and blend with nature. One can easily focus a trip to Japan purely to view the amazing architecture.  

 

Japanese fashion and entertainment have worldwide influence.  In Tokyo, don’t miss a visit to the Harajuku district for its cutting-edge fashions. Familiar with anime? Japanese anime artists are famous for their art and the creation of animated cartoons that have inspired clothing, food, and music. 

Regardless of your interest, the country of Japan will undoubtedly satisfy every whim.

Capital and Population:

Tokyo is the capital city of Japan. The country currently has a population of 127 million people.

 

Language Spoken:

Japanese is the national language of Japan.  common language spoken by the people of Japan is Japanese. For Maldivians employed by resorts, you will also find a mixture of English, French, German, Urdu, Italian and Japanese.

Currency:

The official currency of Japan is the yen.  The currency code is JPY.

Plan to carry cash with you while traveling within the country.  It's easy to exchange your own currency into yen once you arrive in Japan. All major airports have exchange points throughout the facility. Even though it is possible to buy train tickets, take taxis, and pay for most other services at the airport with credit cards, carrying some cash is recommended.  Japan is very much a cash-based society, so keeping cash in your pocket is smart.

 

It's worth noting that ATMs often charge for withdrawals and this charge can vary depending on the time you're making a withdrawal. Not all ATMs are operated 24 hours a day and, in high traffic areas, the machines may run out of cash.  Be prepared by having enough cash on hand.

Best Time to Visit and Weather:

In general, the best times to visit are in October and April, when the leaves are changing color and the temperatures are mild during the day and cool at night.  Overall, the temperatures vary widely around the country ranging from 45-75℉ depending on location.  May, June and July are the rainiest months. Trying to avoid the heat and high humidity? June, July and August are the hottest.  Since Japan and Siberia are on the same latitude, the winter months can become quite cold. When traveling in the mountainous regions, plan for cooler temperatures and pack accordingly. 

Interesting Tidbits:
  • The Japanese love comic books! The comic books are found at every newsstand and people of all ages read them.  

  • Worried you may not be able to communicate while traveling in Japan?  If you have difficulties being understood while speaking English, try writing out your message. Many Japanese understand written English better than the spoken version.

  • While visiting Hiroshima, you may see the “eternal flame.”  This flame is not intended to be lit eternally. It will be extinguished when the last nuclear weapon is destroyed.

 

 MALDIVES 

Located in the warm waters of the Indian Ocean, Maldives boasts some of the best beaches in the world.  Visitors will see beautiful clear water, abundant marine life as well as gorgeous coral reefs.  Interested in diving? The island waters of Maldives offer the best diving spots in Asia, with most resorts having top-rated diving instructors.  

 

The country of Maldives is comprised of approximately 1,200 islands comprised of atolls and low-lying coral islands and reefs. With only 200 islands inhabited, there are over 75 islands developed that include tourist resorts. These resorts are considered among the most luxurious in the Indian Ocean area.

Capital:

Malé, the capital of the Maldives sits on a one square mile island. You can easily visit the area on foot in about an hour.

 

Language Spoken:

The common language spoken by the people of Maldives is known as "Dhivehi." For Maldivians employed by resorts, you will also find a mixture of English, French, German, Urdu, Italian, and Japanese.

Currency:

Maldivian Rufiyaa.

The currency code is MVR.

 

Best Time to Visit and Weather:

The temperatures are fairly constant in the Maldives, averaging 85-90℉ year-round. Looking for the best time to visit?  The high season is December – April. This time of year offers calm waters and the bluest water you’ve ever seen.  

Interesting Tidbits:
  • There are no dogs or pigs allowed in the Maldives.

  • It is said the waters surrounding the Maldives contain two-thirds of the world's species of reef fish.

  • Since Maldives is a predominantly Muslim country, topless and nude sunbathing is prohibited.

  • When considering a visit to the Maldives, you may wish to pair it with a fantastic trip to India or Sri Lanka.

 

 PERU 

A country steeped in history, Peru offers an amazing number of interesting cities to explore and historical sites to visit.  Travelers have access to cultural activities, museums, wineries and breweries and open markets with textile shops galore.   

 

With the Andean mountains, unspoiled beaches, coastal desert with deep canyons and dense Amazon jungle, Peru’s variety of natural wonders is incredible.  One can find a themselves on the beach in the morning and in the mountains hiking that afternoon. Perhaps a hike to Machu Picchu would be perfect for you!

Consider yourself more of a city dweller?  Wander around the ancient Inca capital city of Cusco and learn about the Spanish Conquistadors. Museums in Cusco have important collections of Pre-Columbian artwork.  Lima has wonderful museums that provide artifacts from innumerable archaeological sites that include weavings, mummies, pottery, and much more.  

 

While the main attractions of Peru are Cusco and Machu Picchu, there are plenty of other reasons to visit this country - the Peruvian Andes, the Nazca Lines, Lake Titicaca, the Amazon Basin, coastal archaeological sites, world-class cuisine, ecofriendly jungle adventures, and the list goes on.

Capital and Population:

Lima is the capital of Peru with a population of 32.9 million.

Language Spoken:

Spanish is the official and most widely spoken language in Peru, while Quechua is the most popular indigenous language in the country.

Currency:

The currency of Peru is the Nuevo Sol. The currency code is PEN.

Note:  When exchanging US dollars, make sure you have crisp, new, untorn bills.  Money changers and banks will often refuse to exchange even slightly damaged notes. Counterfeiting is a problem in Peru.  In addition, try to acquire small bills whenever changing money.

Best Time to Visit and Weather:

Since Peru has multiple kinds of terrain (mountains, deserts, jungles), it goes to say that the country also has several climate systems.

 

Visiting a mountainous area? Rainy season is October-April with the heaviest rains occurring January - April.   Many visitors love to go to the Andes between May and September, which are generally the driest months. 

 

On the desert coast, it almost never rains. During the months of April – December most days it will be cloudy, especially on the central and south coasts.

 

Planning an excursion down the Amazon River? Plan for high heat and humidity after all, it is a jungle.

Interesting Tidbits:
  • San Marcos University, located in Lima, is one of the oldest in the world. The university was founded in 1551, which was 70 years before the Mayflower landed at Plymouth Rock.

  • There are over 4,000 varieties of potato grown in Peru!

  • The deepest canyon in the world (Cotahuasi Canyon) is found in Peru.  At 11,004 feet deep, the canyon is almost twice as deep as the Grand Canyon.

  • Peru is the third largest country in South America.

  • Lake Titicaca, which straddles Peru's border with Bolivia, is the highest navigable lake in the world.

 

 CROATIA 

Nestled along the Adriatic coast, picturesque Croatia offers plenty to tourists – beautiful beaches, rugged mountains, historic cities with stunning architecture and castles with vineyards.  Meanwhile offshore, the small country has more than a thousand islands where people can easily swim or explore.  Yachting around the area is very popular.

The old town of Dubrovnik is one of the major attractions in Croatia. “Old Town” Dubrovnik is surrounded by huge stone walls and is considered one of the world’s most perfectly preserved medieval towns. There is plenty to see and do within the walls. Take a walking tour, visit monasteries and churches, attend the summer festival or visit the palaces.

Croatia borders Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slovenia, and Hungary and is conveniently located near Italy and Austria.  A visit to Croatia is a wonderful addition to any European itinerary and will appeal to those who are ready to get off the beaten path and explore a new part of Europe.

Capital and Population:

Zagreb is the capital of Croatia. The population is approximately 4.1 million. 

Language Spoken:

The official language of Croatia is Croatian (hrvatski). 

Currency:

The currency of Croatia is the kuna. The currency code is HRK.

ATMs are readily available in Croatia and typically have a fairly good exchange rate.  The machines can easily be spotted in banks, airports, grocery stores and resorts. 

Note:  The euro is not the official currency in Croatia.  While euros are accepted for some items like hotels, taxis and restaurants, this is entirely on an unofficial basis.  NO business or individual is required to accept them as payment.

Best Time to Visit and Weather:

The warmest and driest time of the year falls May through October.  This makes it perfect for visiting the beaches!  If you choose to visit early spring, plan to pack sweaters or jackets. The temperatures can still be chilly and breezy.  Winter season tends to be cold and drizzly with snow, especially in the interior of the country.

Interesting Tidbits:
  • Many of the Croatian cities were once ruled by Venetians.  As you tour, watch for a lion carved or attached to a building with a book resting under its paw.  If the book is closed, it means the work was commissioned during a time of war.  If the book is open, the city was at peace. 

  • Love Shakespeare?  Dubrovnik is believed to be the location for his play Twelfth Night.

  • The Croatian Natural History Museum located in Zagreb holds amazing items discovered from caves located near Krapina and Vindija. The museum was founded in 1846 and boasts the largest collection of Neanderthal artifacts in Europe.

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