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5 Of the Most Awe-Inspiring Hindu Temples


The construction of the world’s first Hindu temples started approximately 2,000 years ago in India. Today, there are over 900 million followers of the Hindu religion, and these temples play an important role their culture and society. Most of the temples are open to tourists, and many have become popular vacation destinations because of their fascinating history and stunning architecture. In particular, the following five temples should be on any visitor’s must-see list.

1. Virupaksha Temple

The Indian temple of Virupaksha, located in the city of Hampi, was constructed in the 7th century. It is one of the oldest temples in existence that is still functioning. Within the temple’s inner sanctum is a carved pinhole that creates an inverted image of the temple structure on the wall when the sun passes a certain point in the sky. Living in the temple’s courtyard is a resident elephant that happily greets all visitors. If you pay a coin to the elephant’s handler, the elephant will give you a good luck kiss on the head.

2. Angkor Wat and Banteay Srei

Angkor Wat is a vast complex of ruins that dates back to the 9th century. While visiting, you can tour both the Angkor Wat temple and the Bayon temple. Approximately 15 miles northeast of the official site of Angkor Wat sits the red stone Banteay Srei temple, which boasts elaborate carvings and is well worth a visit.

A few of the best hotels in Cambodia are located close to Angkor Wat, such as the upscale resort hotel Angkor Resort & Spa. The hotel is in the heart of the city of Siem Reap, and is close to the airport as well as other nearby attractions. The hotel’s concierge can provide you with information on touring Angkor Wat and arrange transportation to and from the site.

3. Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple

Every year, millions of tourists and Hindu pilgrims from around the world flock to Srirangam, India, to visit the Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple. The temple dates back to the 10th century and is one of the largest Hindu complexes in the world.

After a day of touring the vast expanses of the Sri Ranganathaswamy temple complex, you might want to retreat to your hotel for a good night’s sleep. The nearby Sangam Hotel Trichy caters to temple tourists.

4. Prambanan

Indonesia’s Prambanan temple complex was constructed in 850 AD and is composed of three temples: Vishnu, Brahma and Shiva. The temples’ sheer expanse and unique 154-foot central structure, which houses the three individual temples, sets the complex apart from other Hindu temples.

5. Meenakshi Amman Temple

Meenakshi Amman Temple is located in the Indian city of Madurai, and is highly significant to the Tamil people. It is constructed with 14 distinct towers and an intricately carved golden deity. The current temple was built in the early 7th century, but the complex’s history can be traced back over two thousand years.

In the heart of Madurai, you can seek lodging at the Gateway Hotel Pasumalai. The hotel offers limo/town car services that you can utilize to tour the local sites.

Visiting a Hindu temple is an emotionally moving experience not only because of the structure’s religious significance, but also because each one is steeped in deep historical significance. When exploring any Hindu temple, remember to dress respectfully and remove your shoes when entering the temple building. You should also always ask if it’s okay to take photo because many temples forbid pictures of the inner sanctum.

This post was posted by thehipmunk on Hipmunk’s Tailwind blog on October 19, 2015

6 Selfie Stick Variations Every Traveler Needs Right Now


Selfie sticks: Love ‘em or hate ‘em (and boy do some people hate them), they’re becoming a legitimate trend for world travelers and homebodies alike. At no point has this been more apparent than with the recent creation of the selfie spoon, which allows anyone aspiring to Instagram fame to simultaneously showcase their meal and their own face as they consume it.

In the spirit of adding selfie capabilities to previously un-selfie-fied objects, we’ve come up with several proposals for selfie sticks that every world traveler shouldn’t have to live without.

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1. The Suitcase Selfie Stick

It’s a selfie stick, it’s a suitcase, it’s the selfie suitcase! This suitcase comes fully equipped with a selfie stick jutting out of its handle. Travelers will be thrilled to document that elusive, dramatic moment when they grasp the suitcase with their travel-ready hands before striding off into the unknown. The premium version includes a home manicure kit to keep users’ hands adequately photogenic come selfie time.

2. The Graffiti Selfie Stick

Given that some disrespectful tourists have decided it’s totally reasonable to carve their name into the Colosseum or tag graffiti in America’s national parks, it’s about time they had the option to record themselves in the act. The Graffiti Selfie Stick boasts a can of spray paint on the end so users can smile for the camera as they scrawl their names across every historical artifact or natural wonder they encounter on their travels. To facilitate running away from law enforcement, the stick easily collapses into the palm of a hand.

3. The Hotel Bed Selfie Stick

Those sleepy Instagram shots from beds in far-off places just got a whole lot easier to execute. The Hotel Bed Selfie Stick consists of a selfie stick sturdily mounted to the headboard of a queen-sized bed that’s ingeniously and generically designed to match most hotel rooms’ décor. Of course, you’ll need to pay extra to check this product, but it’ll be worth it once you arrive at your hotel, hit the sheets, and awake underneath a camera so perfectly positioned that when you smile, the world will see just how happy you are to be on vacation.

4. The Theme Park Selfie Stick

Whether at a waterpark in Orlando, a themed ride at Disneyland, or a roller coaster in Texas, no trip to an amusement park is complete without adequate photographic documentation. That’s where the Theme Park Selfie Stick comes into play. The stick comes securely mounted to a shoulder harness that can be worn at all times, so you can document your screaming face on a roller coaster just as easily as your satisfied smile after consuming a plateful of fries and cotton candy. Just be sure to follow all selfie stick length requirements on rides.

5. The Backpack Selfie Stick

Any solo traveler who’s set out to backpack around the world knows how tough it can be to document the journey without a helpful pal snapping photos. Despair no more, because the Backpack Selfie Stick is here to save the day. The stick comes fully integrated into the top of a backpack that’s just barely small enough to qualify as a carry-on. It’ll document your struggles as you attempt to hoist the overloaded pack into the overhead bin, maneuver it into crowded subway cars, and drag it up the three long flights to your shared room at a hostel (perhaps while quietly cursing your inability to pack light). Ahh, memories!

6. The Skyline Selfie Stick

The selfie-in-front-of-a-pretty-skyline is quite possibly the most essential photo in any traveler’s memory box. While obtaining these images is already facilitated by the original selfie stick, the problem is that standard options only showcase a small sliver of what is clearly a skyline worthy of more expansive ogling. Enter the Skyline Selfie Stick. Thirty feet wide and ten feet tall, the stick allows ambitious travelers to capture an image at least 40,000% larger than one taken from a standard selfie stick. Thirty-foot-wide phone sold separately.

It’s hard to imagine the travel industry has survived this long without these critical innovations. Here’s hoping someone develops a prototype for these models, stat. And if we left any essential selfie stick innovations out? Let us know on Facebookor Twitter!

This post was posted by thehipmunk on Hipmunk’s Tailwind blog on September 29, 2015

Better in September: Off-Season Gems of the Jersey Shore


New Jersey natives have a saying about the shore: It’s better in September. The summer crowds are long gone, leaving miles of white sand beaches to enjoy in peace. The waves of the Atlantic are at their warmest in autumn, drawing surfers and locals back to the beach for the best swimming of the year. There are also lots of special events to enjoy. Whether you choose to stay at a luxurious Atlantic City hotel or a cottage in Cape May, head “down the shore” in the fall for a better beach experience.

West Cape May Tomato Festival

Labor Day weekend marks the end of the high tourist season on the Jersey Shore, but many families are already back to school by then, making it a less crowded time to hit the beach. Quaint Cape May celebrates the holiday with their quirky Tomato Festival in Wilbraham Park. The Garden State grows some of the best tomatoes in the country, and they are on display and ready for sampling here. Grab some to go and picnic on the beach in the afternoon.

The Miss America Pageant

Atlantic City is host to the grandmother of all pageants, the Miss America Pageant. This classic spectacle is held on the second weekend of September at Boardwalk Hall, home of the world’s largest pipe organ and a historic landmark in its own right. Stay at hotels like The Chelsea or TRYP by Windham, and you’ll be within walking distance of the pageant and related activities.


In 2015, Chowderfest is the first weekend in October, but Long Beach Island keeps the “Better in September” vibe alive for visitors to this popular event. Located in Beach Haven on the bay side, this event provides all-you-can-eat chowder tasting, live music, special events for kids and the biggest sidewalk sale on the shore. If you’re looking for deep discounts on beach fashions or surfing gear, you won’t find better prices anywhere, as local merchants prepare to close up shop for the year.

Whether you’re looking for a quiet afternoon in the dunes, some delicious food or the glamour of America’s original beauty pageant, the Jersey Shore in the fall is a great place to be. Give it a try, and soon you too can say with a knowing smile that it’s better in September!

This post was posted by thehipmunk on Hipmunk’s Tailwind blog on October 6, 2015

Feeling Adventurous? Here are the 7 Best Destinations for Adrenaline-Junkies


If your idea of thrilling travel has more to do with pumping adrenaline than restaurants and shopping, here are some of the best places on the planet to get your fill of excitement.

1. Interlaken, Switzerland

Interlaken is famous for its adventure sports and ability to set the pulse racing, and it’s not hard to see why. However you want to set your pulse racing, this town delivers. Interlaken offers white river rafting or canyoning, mountain biking or lake swimming, skydiving, Nordic walking, or paragliding! River rafting, horse riding and climbing are also on offer – and if you prefer something a little more sedate, there’s always mini-golf.

2. New Zealand

Well-known globally as a superb place for those who love nothing more than an adrenaline rush, New Zealand is the go-to country for skydiving, white-water rafting, mountain biking and a lot more. This nation also boasts the site of the world’s first bungee jumping location, Kawaru Bridge. Or try the Nevis swing, the world’s highest. And if you thought New Zealand had to mean backpacking and hostels, think again. There are plenty of comfortable but cheap hotels in Wellington, for example.

3. Toronto, Canada

Thrill seeking in this Canadian city? Do the EdgeWalk on Toronto’s CN Tower, the highest hands-free, full circle walk on the planet. Hundreds of feet above the city’s streets, your life is totally dependent on a safety harness. For something a little less intense, eat dinner in the dark or try the thrills of the roller coasters at Canada’s Wonderland. Who said Canada was boring? And you can enjoy it all affordably if you stay in one of the many cost-conscious Toronto hotels that this outstanding city has to offer.

4. San Francisco, California

If you’re staying in one of the many San Francisco hotels that dot the city, you can get your adrenaline buzz here too. Zoom way out over the city on a 10-metre rope swing at Billy Goat Hill, which hangs from a single eucalyptus tree in Glen Park, and get a stunning panoramic view as the land falls away. Meanwhile, Fort Funston is a top hang-gliding destination, and the San Francisco Bay is always full of kite surfers. There’s more to San Francisco than Fisherman’s Wharf!

5. Dubai, UAE

While you may have associated the Emirates with beaches and high-rise hotels in Dubai, this destination actually has a lot more to offer. Go bungee jumping, drive a racing car, drop into a shark tank, or try your hand at fly boarding or kite surfing. Even the water slides in Dubai, like the one at Wild Wadi Water Park, are more thrilling than average!

This post was posted by thehipmunk on Hipmunk’s Tailwind blog on October 7, 2015

Can’t Miss Paris Museums


Paris, France is the most-visited city in the world, with the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame Cathedral, Louvre Museum, and many more famous tourist attractions. The amount of history-related objects housed in this city is absolutely astounding, and some of them should make it to your bucket list. There is  a plethora of museums in the city, and we have sifted through them all to pick out the ones we feel you can’t miss during your time in the city. Don’t blame us if you get lost in its romance and never want to go home.

Louvre Museum

One of the world’s most visited museums, you have to start your museum tour with Musée du Louvre. The building dates to the 12th century, while the museum itself was originally opened in the mid 1790s. There are almost 400,000 objects in the museum, with 35,000 works of art, which means you could spend days looking around and still not see everything. One of the most well-known artworks housed here is Mona Lisa (La Joconde), painted in the early 1500s by Leonardo da Vinci.

Louvre Museum is right on the River Seine and a great place from which to start your search for a hotel in Paris. The most famous attractions in the city surround you, and the scene can’t be beat.

Petit Palais

Petit Palais houses the City of Paris Museum of Fine Arts, constructed at the turn of the 20th century. The featured show here is the History of French Art from 1800 to 1900, which includes many stages of growth. The inner gallery houses ivory, tapestries, metal works, jewelry, and porcelain. These pieces of art are from collections around the country. Among the artists whose work appears in the museum are Delacroix, Monet, Sisley, Pissarro, and Rodin.

You will find museums all over the city, and a city tour would be a good way to get a lay of the land. There are many available, some even have stops at the Eiffel Tower, another must-see while in Paris.

Musée du quai Branly

If you want a whole world experience, head over to this museum, which features art and cultural objects from around the world. There are over 450,000 objects in the museum’s collection, with 3,500 on display at any one time. This means you can visit Musée de quai Branly over and over and never get bored. The exhibits feature works from the indigenous people of Africa, Asia, Oceania, and the Americas.

Musée d’Orsay

Paris is known to many internationally as a center for artwork, which is why so many art museums have made it on this list. Musée d’Orsay is no exception. Housed in a former railway station constructed in the late 1800s, this museum houses mostly French art which includes paintings, photography, sculptures, and furniture. Some highlighted artists include Monet, Degas, Renoir, and Van Gogh, all of whose creations are all part of the largest collection of impressionist and post-impressionist art paintings and sculpture in the world.

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