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Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium
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A night less ordinary: Panda Hotel
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Where to go in 2013: Singles
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Purple 10: The Sunniest Places in the World
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Purple Hearts: Free things to do in New York City
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A night less ordinary: The Morgue Hotel
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Purple Tips: Top 5 Albufeira hotels
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Purple 10: St Patricks Day 2014
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The definitive list of Stag dos and donts
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Purple Hearts: Florence Things To Do

Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium

Some people think aquariums are a bit weird – we don’t! We think it’s pretty cool to get up close with Nemos or the odd Jaws in there. The Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium in Japan has huge windows where you can practically reach out and touch the sharks, rays and tonnes of other species of fish that thrive in its waters.

temaki

image via @ temaki

Your visit starts from a beach and continues down into the deep sea world, as if you’re going diving yourself.

selahi tab2 dawa

image via @ tab2_dawa 

The aquarium’s exhibits are shown in many different ways and your experience will go far beyond simply viewing exhibits in tanks.

The Main Tank

image via @ SteFou!

When you arrive you’ll get the chance to see multiple whale sharks and one of the largest rays, as the aquarium’s experts are the first to breed multiple manta rays in captivity.

Hyougushi

image via @ Hyougushi

Find out more about amazing places around the world, in our Off the Beaten Track series.

A night less ordinary: Panda Hotel

We go around the world to find the most beautiful, weird and wonderful hotels for A Night Less Ordinary. From igloo-style hotels to converted prisons, expect the unexpected. This week, prepare for a cuteness overload with the Panda Hotel in Sichuan-China. 

Panda hotel 1

What’s the gimmick?  C’mon, admit it, who isn’t convinced that pandas are the cutest thing on earth? Here at Purple Travel we are big fans, so we wanted to share this amazing Panda Hotel with you. In Sichuan in China, it’s packed to the brim with all things cute, furry and panda related. Scheduled to open in May 2013 we can’t to go.

Panda Hotel 2

Why stay?  Located at the foot of Mount Emei, this first panda themed hotel in the world aims to help its guests return to nature and find the simple and true meaning of life; and also guarantees a memorable stay. One room has a panda version of the famous Titanic scene when Kate Winslet was standing in front Leonardo DiCaprio on the bow of the ship.

Panda Hotel 3

Images via @ designtaxi

The WOW Factor? Every room in the Panda Hotel is an absolute panda-monium as all of them include panda pictures, cuddly panda toys and furniture with patterns of the cute animal. What’s more, it’s reported that employees dress up like the eucalyptus eating bears so guests can have a real-live panda experience.

The hotel has room rates that range from US$48 to $80 per night.

Click here for more crazy hotels in our Night Less Ordinary feature.

Panda hotel from Purple Travel 2 Panda Hotel from Purple travel Tea at the Panda Hotel from Purple Travel

Where to go in 2013: Singles

Break free of the shackles of “oh, I can’t go on holidays on my own” and embrace the best in sunshine getaways especially for girls and guys who want to experience travelling alone. Here are some of our top choices on where to go for a singles holiday in 2013.

On the beach

 

Image via @ unlisted sightings

Las Vegas

Las Vegas is the ULTIMATE singles holiday destination, because it literally has something for everyone. Indulge in the endless neon nightlife, party all night with other like minded travellers, lose yourself (but not your money) at the slot machines, or get all James Bond at the card tables. Sounds heavenly to us!

Thailand

If you fancy something more chilled out and off the beaten track, then go to Thailand. The peaceful vibes of its tropical jungle, scuba diving into the beautiful turquoise waters, parasailing or shop till you drop as prices couldn’t be lower. Thailand is a relaxed option for singles holidays this year.

Ireland

Not just for nature lovers, Ireland’s countryside is made for a total time out. Away from the bustling capital Dublin, the Emerald Isle is a place where you can get your thoughts in order, before getting started on some new adventure. The backdrop of mountains and lush greenery is the ideal atmosphere to relax and dedicate time to yourself.

Vietnam

Vietnam might be for the more adventurous amongst us, but its friendly people and amazing scenery will leave you in no doubt that you’ve made the right choice. Head off on a tour to discover the sites and gorgeous local cuisine and spend your time hanging out with other solo travellers who want to discover the world.

Egypt

Make new friends and see some of the most historic sites in the world with a Nile Cruise in Egypt. A local host and your new friends will create the most of the amazing atmosphere, friendly people and thousands of years of history.

Get the best deal for cheap holidays all around the world from PurpleTravel.co.uk. Call today for our latest prices 0207 993 9228.

Purple 10: The Sunniest Places in the World

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  1. Andalusia, Spain With more than 300 sunny days per year, Andalusia in Spain is considered to be Europe’s sunniest location.
  2. Yuma, Arizona, USA The brightest spot in the US is Yuma in Arizona with a whopping 4,050 hours of sun each year.
  3. Southern Chile, South America The stunning country of Chile receives up to 17 hours of sunlight on some days in the year. That’s a lot of sunbathing time.
  4. Cyprus In the summer months Cyprus is bathed in sunshine for up to 13 hours each and ever day. Time to grab a space on the beach.
  5. Canary Islands, Spain Visit the Canary Islands in the summer and soak up the sun with 11 hours of golden rays per day.
  6. Namibia, Africa With 300 days of sunshine, Namibia is the world’s queen of sunshine!
  7. Lisbon, Portugal In mid spring and for the whole of summer, this scenic harbour city receives between 9 and 12 hours of sun per day. What are you waiting for?
  8. Algeria, Africa With a sunshine average of 11.3 hours per day in July, Algeria is the ideal place to soak up that all important sun!
  9. Marseilles, France Close to the Mediterranean Coast, Marseilles gets up to 12 hours of sunshine a day in the summertime.
  10. Rhodes Island, Greece One of the biggest islands in Greece, Rhodes is also one of Europe’s sunniest destinations with about 300 days of sunshine a year.

Get the best deal for cheap holidays in the sunniest places in the world now from Purple Travel. Call today on 0207 993 9228 for more.

Purple Hearts: Free things to do in New York City

There are a million and one things written about New York, but we wanted to focus on the budget side. Although NYC is the home of Carrie Bradshaw and her Manolos, it is possible to get a great city break or summer vacation on the cheap, as long as you’re a bit savvy about it. Read on and get the best in cheap and cheerful, budget and value on New York Holidays.

Times Square

Image via @ hom26

Free Things to do in New York City

Staten Island Ferry: One of the most popular free things in New York City, the ferry is renowned as a top tip. Escape the fare of the Statue of Liberty Ferry but keep the views on the commuter version. Find it at the east end of Battery Park in Lower Manhattan.

Take a walk in Central Park. It’s not just your average patch of grass is it? There are usually free events, statues to visit and sites like Strawberry Fields that are well worth an afternoon’s wandering.

The Trinity Church on Wall Street has regular lunchtime concerts to perk up any afternoon. Usually held on Thursdays around 1pm, it’s worth getting in early for string quartets, sopranos and more.

High line park

Look to the skies: High Line is a gorgeous park built on a former freight rail line. It’s a great place to go and get away from it all for an hour or two. You’ll find opening hours and access information here.

Kayak I love you. There is free kayaking from a couple of different places in Queens such as the Downtown Boathouse. See Manhattan from another angle, down in a kayak!

Sing along at a Broadway Show. Ok, don’t *actually* sing along, your fellow ticket holders might not actually like it, but a night at a show is practically obligatory in the Big Apple. Head for the ticket booth in Times Square for tickets up to 60% off. Cinderella, Matilda, Kinky Boots and Aladdin are just some of the upcoming shows in 2013.

Go to a baseball game. Not strictly free, but if you can wrangle some tickets, a trip to NYC isn’t complete without this all American experience, and where better than watching the New York Mets in Flushing or the Yankees in the Bronx. Just remember not to mix these two up, or feel the wrath of fans! Grab a hot dog, wrap up well and root, root, root for the home team like a true American.

Get in on the act. TV and film play a big part in the cultural identity of New York, so why not be a part of it at a studio taping. Shows like the Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, the Late Show with David Letterman and Saturday Night Live always have a studio to fill up, but these will definitely need to be booked in advance.

Free tour in a brewery Do we need to say more than that? The Brooklyn Brewery offers free tours at weekends between 1 and 4pm.

Walking is free! Big Apple Greeters are locals who offer free tours of their neighbourhoods, these friendly folks will show you the ins and outs of the city, in a way you might never discover otherwise. Other free tours include a 90 minute runaround of the Grand Central Terminal led by an architectural historian, someone who certainly knows their stuff! At Times Square, there’s an Expose Free Walking Tour every Friday from 12.

What to see for free (or cheap) in New York City

Check out Chelsea The galleries of Chelsea are famous (infamous?) and are mostly free. If you time you’re visit right you might even make it for the cheese and wine openings each Thursday. It’s where the beautiful people hang out, so you’ll fit right in.

Museums to savour There are so many museums with free entry in the city, we can’t name them all, but these are some favourites: (you can find more on free and sometimes free museums in NYC hereThe Museum of Fashion Institute of Technology, Socrates Sculpture Park, Tuesday only: Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Fridays between 4 and 8pm Moma, the Museum of Modern Art and for kids after 3pm, pay what you will at New York Aquarium or free Fridays between 2 and 5pm at the New York Hall of Science.

BUrgerImage via @ hom26

Eat… a lot for free (or cheap) in New York City

New York is hardly short of places to eat, but it’s the cheap street food and burger joints that really impress us. New York Street Food will help you find the best in food trucks from hot dogs to ramen to cupcakes and ice cream on the go.

For the best in burgers, well it’s hard to decide but mini burgers at Pop Burger, 58-60 9th Avenue or pop to an outdoor seat at Shake Shack on the corner of Madison Square Park, near Madison Avenue and East 23rd Street, for a tasty treat. The Burger Joint in the fancy Meridien Hotel is a bit pricier, but the queues around the corner really say it all.

For totally free deliciousness, head for Brooklyn where some smart marketing folks came up with free food for every beer purchased. The farmers markets that dot the city are a good choice too for healthy and tasty snacks and decent prices. You can find out where to catch one here.

Where to stay for free (or cheap) in New York City

Stay on budget, stay for cheap Although there are plenty of options for cheap hotels and hostels in the city, you do have to be careful that it’s not some dodgy place that’ll have you awake all night worrying.

A couple of good options include the Harlem Flophouse, an atmospheric choice, with shared bathrooms and themed rooms at 242 West 123rd Street, the 3* Milford NYC in Times Square. It’s in a great location close to everything and with nice touches like iPod docking in each room. Trendy and central, the 3*Yotel, also in Times Square is modern and funky, with flat screen TVs in every room and a moving bed. The 2* Gershwin Hotel is cheap and cheerful in midtown, in the Flatiron district and within 10 minutes walk of the Empire State. Simple rooms make it a good value choice. On the other end of the scale, you’ll get extreme luxury at the historic Waldorf Astoria, but it’ll cost you!

If we missed any top tips on cheap or free things to do in New York City, let us know in the comments below!

A night less ordinary: The Morgue Hotel

Are you completely dead tired? Feeling a bit lifeless? Then this is the hotel for you.

Morgue Hotel 2

An entrepreneurial Tasmanian businessman has announced plans to turn a morgue into a hotel, just in time for Halloween. Yes you read that right. But it’s not the kind of place where you’ll find four poster beds, covered in goose feather duvets, this is the real deal.

Here’s the plan for the morgue turned motel. The beds will be made of stone cold slabs, where autopsies once took place. The room will feature two huge fridges, where bodies were stored while the stainless steel bathtub that stands in the room was once used for washing cadavers. Out of use surgical implements will be scattered around the room, you know, to give it that ‘authentic’ look.

Morgue Hotel 3

He says, “It’s still got its terrazzo slabs, and it’s still got its pull-out fridge, it’s a beautiful thing… We’ll be looking at putting a double bed in one of the rooms and then we have three slabs and two pull-out fridges which could be used.”The owner, Haydn Pearce an antiques dealer, has already opened a hotel on a former asylum at the same site and hopes to open his morgue hotel early next year. Speaking to ABC News in Australia, he said he thinks the hotel will attract “the unusual”, and the dissection table will be the main suite (and main attraction.) The Morgue will be an extension of the existing 22 room Willow Court Hotel that operates from an old hospital ward.

Morgue Hotel 4

But will anyone actually want to stay in a hotel that used to be a morgue? Mr. Pearce answered that question with a simple: “we’re going to find out.”

Find out more about weird and wonderful hotels around the world in our series: a night less ordinary.

Images via @ Haydn Pearce

Purple Tips: Top 5 Albufeira hotels

We’re all about the Algarve, specifically the lovely seaside town of Albufeira. It’s got the Old Town that’s perfect for long lazy strolls in the sunshine. Over the hill you’ll find The Strip, packed with neon bars and all night parties. It really offers the best of both worlds.

Cheap hotels in Albufeira from PurpleTravel.co.uk

So if you’re stuck for a place to stay, here’s our top 5 hotels in Albufeira.

Family friendly: The Paraiso de Albufeira Hotel Apartments have practically every facility you could think of, from one bedroom apartments to duplexes. The MGE restaurant and pool side snack bar are great for keeping little ones topped up, while the multi use court for basketball or football, mini golf course and video game room will keep even the moodiest teenager busy. That’s before you even get to the pool, nearby beach or the selection of water parks you’ll find around.

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Purple 10: St Patricks Day 2014

Purple 10: Things to do on St Patricks Day 2014

It’s only a few weeks away, if you’re not heading to Ireland to celebrate the national day on 17th March, then at least you can pretend you’re a bit Irish with our Purple 10 things to do on St Patricks Day 2014.

St patricks pug

Image via @ dapuglet

  1. Eat something Irish. We’re not suggesting you turn Zombie on us, we mean get a taste of some yummy Irish cuisine. If you can’t get your hands on a Guinness (where are you? On the moon?) Then you can always break out a recipe book and throw together some coddle, boxty or champ.
  2. Go green. Hat, scarf, wig, anything really, just make sure you’re wearing something green on 17 March.
  3. Watch a parade. If you can’t make it to Dublin and the huge parade there, maybe there’s one happening in a bit city near you. There’s information here about parades throughout USA, Canada, the Caribbean and the Middle East.
  4. Learn about Ireland and its patron saint. There’s more to Ireland than simply shamrocks and Guinness, find out a little about the history of the country and the story of St Patrick. There’s a good podcast to start off with here.
  5. Whack a snake. We’re kidding; we just wanted to let you know that part of St Patrick’s celebrations include delighting in a complete lack of snakes in the Emerald Isle. The saint is said to have chased them into the sea and they’ve stayed away ever since.
  6. Have a flutter, the luck of the Irish. What better way to put that into practice than having a go at the bookies.
  7. Listen to some trad. Traditional irish music is a joy to listen to and even better to watch. The fiddle, whistle, pipes or concertina and plenty more are likely to be playing in harmony in pubs the world over to celebrate Ireland’s national day.
  8. Head to the pub and have a pint. If nothing else impresses, maybe a traditional pint of the black stuff will have you feeling green (in a good way!)
  9. Learn a jig, a reel or a polka. This isn’t some kind of scary incantation; it’s actually a type of traditional Irish dancing as made famous by Riverdance and Michael Flatley. 
  10. Have the craic. This isn’t a totally unique Irish concept, but the word is. Craic means having as much fun as you can!

The definitive list of Stag dos and donts

Ok, you’re a best man, or a brother-in-law to be or simply a friend who wants to give your mate a brilliant last hurrah to single life. That’s right, you’ve been charged with stag party duties! Feel free to go as wild as the groom, party as much as you like, and lose your passport on the way back home, but if you miss out on our dos and donts, you do it at your peril!

Stag parties from PurpleTravel.co.ukOh – and if we’re missing any, let us know in comments.

Do keep an eye on the stag. He’s the reason you’re all here after all, and bear in mind the bride might not be too happy to hear he’s been handcuffed to a street lamp in Benidorm.

Don’t get absolutely plastered on the first morning. You’ve got a couple of days, no need to be hungover for the whole thing.

Do get organised. It helps to book in advance to get the best deals on flights, hotels, transfer and activities. That’s where our dedicated stag party  experts can help out. Jack will sort it out in no time, and we promise he’s good! Give him a call on 01252418614.

Don’t forget to eat. Depending on your activities, paintballing, boozing, checking out some strippers, you’ll need some soakage and sustenance. Get a couple of good meals in, or talk to your hotel to book a decent restaurant.

Do organise some brilliant activities. How about driving a tank, or eating dinner off a stripper?

Don’t go too far. Getting arrested is not something to aspire too. Be aware of the rules and regulations in your chosen destination and don’t end up spending the night in jail.

Do actually ask the stag what he wants. You don’t necessarily have to let anyone else know about your heart to heart, but it’s his weekend too.

Find out more about the best in stag parties abroad from Purple Travel or call us now on 0125 241 8614.

Purple Hearts: Florence Things To Do

It might not be as famous as Italy’s other cities like historic Rome or Pisa with its leaning tower, but we think it’s fair to say Florence is a cultural, artistic and romantic capital all its own. Find out more in our guide to Florence things to do:

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The birthplace of the Italian Renaissance, Florence is a small city filled with architectural marvels, cultural delights, breathtaking masterpieces, stylish Florentines and an atmosphere you could dip a spoon into. The birthplace of the powerful Medici family, Florence became a haven for aristocrats, architects and artists. A who’s who reads something like Botticelli, Michelangelo, Andrea del Sarto and possibly the greatest of them all Leonardo Da Vinci. That’s quite a lot of name dropping and we’ve barely hit the tip of the iceberg.

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