Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Why you should add Japan to your bucket list NOW!

If a mention of Japan just churns up images of tiny-eyed people, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, kimonos and a thriving metropolis with a booming economy, we’re afraid you need a 21st century reality check. 

There is so much more to Japan, and as travel junkies, we’re duty bound to bring you fascinating insights and experiences from around the world. So don’t you worry! We’ve experienced Japan’s wonderfully special and downright weird culture and traditions, and we bring you our list of favourite quirks which will make you want to add Japan to your bucket list NOW:

1. Beer vending machines: No, you don’t have to double up and re-read that. And no, we’re not kidding. Japan has one vending machine for every 23 people. Don’t want to do the math? That’s more than 1 million machines in the greater Tokyo area alone! These machines stock chocolates, chips, biscuits and beer! How cool is that? Top marks from us, this country sure knows how to welcome people.

2. Valentines Day, twice over: The great thing about Japan is that they can take something foreign and make it uniquely Japanese. In Japan, Valentines Day is split into two days.
On February 14th, only women buy gifts. A month later on March 14th men reciprocate. This is called White Day. Now there’s a win-win situation we’d love to replicate, ain’t it? More power to even gift distribution!

3. Hello Kitty, what’s up? Earlier this year, Japan sent its official ambassador of cute to Space, on a government-funded mission. Ummm, yeah. Capitalizing on its large fan base, the white cat was sent up on a mission to get more private companies to work with satellites and fuel economic growth. Use this unusual tidbit in conversation, we promise you’ll get entertaining reactions!

4. Gambling Haven: Japan has the largest gambling industry in the world, and it’s all legal! Revenue from Japanese pachinko parlours is around 4 times the revenue of all the legal casinos in the world combined. So bring out the stakes, there’s a ton of legal money waiting to be won!

5. The Shogatsu extravaganza: Shogatsu, as the New Year is called, is the most important holiday in Japan. You absolutely have to visit Japan and celebrate the end of the year in their special way! From unbelievable Black Friday-esque shopping discounts, men and women in kimonos (no, it’s not an everyday affair!), counting down to the New Year with a crowd fixing its eyes on an electric bulletin board at Tokyo tower and crowds thronging to shrines in prayer for a healthy year to delectable dishes specially tailored for the season and a stunning display of fireworks and decorations, a New Years trip to Japan will go down in your books as a uniquely enriching experience.

Join The Backpacker Co to Japan from the 26th of December to the 2nd of January, click here for further details!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Top 5 Christmas markets in Europe!

With 2 months to December, we’re certain everyone is already experiencing that sweet tingle of merriment and love as they think of the most joyful time of the year.

Productivity is at an all-time low, celebrations are at an all-time high and somewhere in between, everyone just wants to make memories and bookmark the year gone by.

The magic of Christmas lies in the tiny details: the lilting sound of Christmas carols, the delicious smell of freshly baked cakes, fairy lights in the cold winter nights and thoughtful presents and wishes that warm the cockles of your heart.

We’ve all experienced these telltale signs of Christmas in India, year after year. But have you ever spent a Christmas in Europe? Have you ever shopped at idyllic markets, walked down quaint streets lit up with love and light, stood under giant Christmas trees in historic city squares, eaten scrumptious feasts with a cup of mulled wine and danced to carols with a bunch of strangers? If you have, you’ll agree it’s the most magical experience you’ve had in your life. If you haven’t, here’s the inspiration you’re waiting for!

Christmas in Europe is an experience straight out of a fairy tale. The magnificent Christmas markets across the continent bring alive the romance of the holiday- the fragrance of roasted sausages and gingerbread waft their way through the cold air, intricate handmade ornaments adorn fir trees, artisans showcase their crafts in wooden stalls and bright eyed shoppers bustle about, sipping on glühwein – spiced wine which is symbolic of any authentic Christmas market.

Now that we've given you a vision of what Christmas is like in Europe, without further ado, here’s our pick of the top 5 Christmas markets in Europe!

1. Berlin could easily be called the capital of Christmas Markets, with over 50 of them across the city every year. Kaiser Wilhelm is the most popular one with over 2 million visitors! Visit the city and market hop for experiences vividly unique from each other.

2. Christkindlmarkt in Salzburg is the oldest Christmas market, and as the birthplace of Mozart, offers a cherished holiday experience with cozy enclosures and stunning musical performances in the city square.

3. Vienna makes it to our top 5 for its Schönbrunn Palace Market. With a backdrop of imperial splendour, the widest variety of gifts and handmade craftsmanship and live jazz concerts, this market is a magnum opus you cannot miss!

4. Prague’s Christmas markets are more about the unusual local food and drink than they are about the gifts and decorations. Visitors seek honey liquor (traditional Czech beverage) with carp (a special Christmas dish made with freshwater fish)

5. Copenhagen is famous for its authentic and non-commercial markets. Replete with snow, an ice rink, rollercoasters, theme park rides and pixies, the Tivoli market is for those who have more than shopping on their agenda.

So gift yourself a Yuletide season in Europe to soak in the magic of snow-filled markets and lit up city squares for an experience of a lifetime.

The Backpacker Co takes you to Berlin, Prague and Vienna this Christmas, 
from 19th-26th December! Click here for further details

We’ll be back next week with another exciting travel escapade. Until then, happy planning!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

5 reasons why Oktoberfest is our favorite backpacking trip of the year!

At The Backpacker Co, we make it our personal agenda to inspire people to get off their duffs and chase travel experiences that will change their lives forever.

Our favorite festival of the year is underway, and having ‘Been there and done that’ we’re very excited to share our stories!

If you’re a beer enthusiast and haven’t been to the bustling streets of Munich this time of the year, think again. Sit back and let us give you an experiential glimpse of what makes Oktoberfest the most memorable traveling experience for backpackers around the world!

1. Beer Binging:
Think all night beer rages, gastronomical delights, fun fairs, new friendships and an unbridled celebration of life and independence. It’s basically one long MAD party, German style. This will be that pilgrimage you make to pay your respects to the wild and carefree side of you, which otherwise remains buried beneath the motions of everyday life.

2. Spontaneity at its best:
You watch it at the movies, but have you ever actually broken into song and dance in the middle of a crowded street? You’ll do it at the Oktoberfest, and instead of attracting curious glances; you’ll have people joining you in delight! 

3. Costumes and Fun Fairs:
Two words. Fancy Dress!  Almost everyone who attends the Oktoberfest adorns the traditional Bavarian outfit (women in dirndl dresses with an apron tied around, and the men in their lederhosen) Dressing up elevates the local experience to a whole other level, and takes you to an ancient era of frolicking and merrymaking. And guess what, you get to play dress up and yell your guts out at the fun fair rides! From roller coasters to spooky ghost trains, the good old Ferris wheel and the breath-taking Top Spin, there is something for everyone.

4. A Tent-acular Affair:
The Oktoberfest is held inside tents. With as many as 14 different beer tents to choose from, first timers are easily overwhelmed. But trust us, these massive decorated tents make the Oktoberfest a unique party experience. With long tables loaded with mouth watering delicacies to suit every palette, all day live bands and souvenir shops; these tents are bustling with activity and keep your adrenaline pumping throughout the day!

5. Raging After Parties:
While the tents shut down by 10:30 pm,
do not despair if you still feel like refilling your stein after guzzling beer all day. You survivor, you! The after parties are an ode to your stunning capacity, and they continue into the wee hours of the morning!

So go ahead and join us as we live Oktoberfest 2014 with our jolly group of revelers. Watch out for our live updates and posts, and when that travel bug bites you, as it surely will, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us to plan your sojourn next year. Planning the trip requires the dedication you unfailingly show to your beer. So take a pledge to give yourself a rollicking time in Munich in 2015. You know you owe it to yourself!