On September 19, 2012Jeff Fleisher answered the question:Australia has a unique culinary culture influenced by indigenous people, and waves of immigrants from Great Britain, India, China and the local ingredients. Beyond seasonings like vegemite, dukkah and lemon myrtle, here are Forbes Travel Guide’s editors’ picks for the five best food experiences in Sydney:
1. Lamingtons. A favorite sweet, lamingtons are sponge cake rolled in coconut and topped with whipped cream. They’re usually enjoyed with afternoon tea, but are delicious anytime.
2. Meat pie. A holdover from the British immigrants, meat pies are turnovers with flaky crust filled with a variety of different meats. Some have just steak or kidney while others add mashed potatoes and onion too. A pie floater is a meat pie on mushy pea soup. Find them at any conveniences store.
3. Beer. Don't believe the Foster's commercials; Australia actually has some of the best beers in the world. Toohey's has a brewery in the near western suburbs if you want a tour, or just sample Aussie favorites like James Squire, Cascade, Carlton and XXX in any pub.
4. Local seafood. Moreton Bay Bugs are a local name for shellfish in the lobster family. Other local delicacies include crawfish called yabbies locally, fish & chips and mud crabs. Try them all at upscale Manta, tourist favorite Nick’s or the humble Fishface in Darlinghurst.
5. Wine. The Hunter and Barossa valley wine regions are considered among some of the best in the world, so why not take a day to do some exploring and tasting? Wineries in both regions make acclaimed shirazes — the local name for syrah, as well as chardonnays, cabernet sauvignons and even sparkling wines.
On September 19, 2012Jeff Fleisher answered the question:Virtually every neighborhood in Sydney has a vibrant late-night scene that reflects the neighborhood's personality. Forbes Travel Guide editors say The Rocks offers older pubs that attract a more laidback clientele, including the city's first pub, Fortune of War. Darling Harbour and Cockle Bay have both upscale and casual bars known for their waterfront views and relaxed atmosphere. Gay and lesbian visitors should check out the clubs in Paddington, near Oxford Street, while Darlinghurst also offers trendy clubs with DJs playing well past midnight. Many Sydney bars include gambling facilities, from poker machines to sports books, and popular strips like Oxford Street, William Street and George Street have a variety of venues for bar-hopping throughout the night.
On September 19, 2012Jeff Fleisher answered the question:If you have just one day to take in Sydney, Forbes Travel Guide editors suggest you watch the morning hubbub around the Opera House and Harbour Bridge at Circular Quay, while enjoying an English-style breakfast or coffee. Take a ferry across the harbor to Mosman, and spend a few hours at Taronga Zoo. Upon your return to downtown, spend some time walking through the Royal Botanic Gardens, then continue down Macquarie Street to see the state Parliament, original Hyde Park Barracks, St. Mary's Cathedral and other historic buildings on your way to the Australian Museum. Explore Hyde Park near the Archibald Fountain, then go west into the business district to do some shopping. Go up Sydney Tower to get a view of the city. At night, return to Circular Quay to watch the sun set. See a show at the Opera House if there's something of interest in town, or else grab dinner in The Rocks before finishing the evening at a bar or club in one of the trendier neighborhoods.
On September 19, 2012Jeff Fleisher answered the question:Sydney has several huge shopping complexes that are worth a visit. Forbes Travel Guide’s editors suggest you start with the block-wide Queen Victoria Building in the city center, a gorgeous 1890s structure now filled with jewelers, fashion stores and other specialty shops. The Strand Arcade is a vintage mall housing the stores of some of Australian's top fashion designers. The city center is chock-full of art galleries and designer-label stores. If you're looking for souvenirs or handmade merchandise, check out The Rocks market or Paddy's in the Haymarket, while Original & Authentic Aboriginal Art near Circular Quay sells legitimate artwork from each region of the country. Just east of downtown, as Oxford Street enters the Paddington neighborhood, you’ll find an area nicknamed the “Style Mile,” which has boutiques by Sydney's fashion elite.
On September 19, 2012Jeff Fleisher answered the question:You’ll find your children — called nippers in local slang — will be just as enchanted by Sydney as you are. Your trip will be even more thrilling for the kids if you visit these five activities recommended by Forbes Travel Guide’s editors.
1. Visit Taronga Zoo. Taronga is generally ranked as one of the world's best zoos, and for good reason. Opened in 1916 and recently renovated, it houses more than 2,000 animals. The zoo has a great variety of species, and visitors can see Australian natives like the koala, platypus or kangaroo.
2. Scale the Sydney Tower. Australia's tallest building, the second tallest in Oceania, offers a spectacular 360-degree view of the city, and the tour includes a 3D movie ride that kids will love.
3. Tour Sydney Aquarium. Located right on Darling Harbour, the aquarium is one of Australia's most-visited attractions. Visitors can take a walkway underneath the tanks, and the Great Barrier Reef exhibit is a beautiful recreation of the colorful diversity the reef hosts.
4. Explore Fort Denison. An easy ferry ride will take you to this tiny island in the middle of Sydney Harbour, where adults and older children will enjoy a quirky historical tour of the former prison site and World War II defense facility.
5. See Olympic Park. A short train ride away, the site of the 2000 Summer Olympics is still in regular use, and was designed as a largely self-contained Olympic Park. You can swim in the same pool or run the same track that the Olympians used, and the huge stadium regularly hosts concerts, rugby, and seasonal events.
On September 19, 2012Jeff Fleisher answered the question:There’s no shortage of excitement waiting for you in Sydney. It’s cosmopolitan and features great architecture as well as gorgeous beaches, culture and history. Here are Forbes Travel Guide’s editors’ picks for the best things to do in Sydney:
1. Visit the Opera House. Since it opened in 1973, the Sydney Opera House has become an Aussie icon. But it's more impressive close up, thanks to its sheer size and detail, and the interior is almost as beautiful as the gleaming exterior. The complex actually houses several theaters, showing not just opera but theater, ballet, studio plays, and live music.
2. Tour the Australian Museum. This outstanding natural history museum is well worth a visit. The Aboriginal history section is excellent and deeply affecting, and the biodiversity exhibits are a great introduction to the continent's unique plant and animal life.
3. Stroll the Royal Botanic Gardens. Located downtown on the site of Australia's first farm, these gardens are the oldest scientific site in the country. Nearly 75 acres, the gardens have large ponds, and the trees are home to interesting-to-watch species like the migrating flying fox bats and black-and-white ibis.
4. Relax on Bondi Beach. The quintessential Australian beach, Bondi is packed when the weather is nice as it’s a popular spot for swimming, surfing, and sunbathing. The lifeguards are some of the world's best, and position flags show swimmers where the current is safe for swimming each day.
5. Watch live sports. Australians love sports, and Sydney boasts several outstanding teams. Both league and union style rugby are popular, as are cricket, soccer, Australian rules football, and professional basketball. Sydney sports crowds are a lot of fun, and the quality of play is excellent.
On September 19, 2012Jeff Fleisher answered the question:Prices in Fiji are often unlisted, and travelers should take reasonable precautions to avoid being overcharged. Always negotiate taxi fare before getting in the cab, and ask someone at your hotel or resort about how much a specific trip should cost. In Nadi and Suva, a number of small souvenir shops will sell items available at the larger chains at a significant markup, so be leery of any store that doesn't put prices on its merchandise. A favorite tactic of aggressive vendors is to ask your name and carve it into an item for you, but don't feel obligated to buy from them. Most hotels will have listings of reputable tour and experience companies, and it's best to book with one of those. Also, while physical violence is not common, muggings of international visitors have increased dramatically in recent years. Don't go too far from the cities or your hotels without a driver, guide or tour group.
On September 19, 2012Jeff Fleisher answered the question:Fijian wooden handicrafts can make great gifts or display items for your home and is one of the best things to bring home from a trip to Fiji. Kava bowls (handcarved out of a local hardwood) come in many sizes and styles, and you can find them in nearly any village or any souvenir shop in the cities. Carved turtles, masks, and the “cannibal set” of tools used in that long-abandoned tradition are also popular handicrafts. Depending which countries you're visiting on your route home, make sure you check customs rules on wood, so that you can bring them back safely. Note, the United States does allow Fijian woodcrafts through customs.
On September 19, 2012Jeff Fleisher answered the question:Fiji has a more casual food vibe with ingredients such as spicy curries, coconut milk and fresh fish. Here are the Forbes Travel Guide picks for the five food experiences not to miss in Fiji:
1. Spicy Curry. About 40 percent of Fijians are of Indian descent, so it's easy to find curries that are authentic. Be prepared—many of these curries are a lot spicier than most American restaurants serve.
2. Fresh Fruit. The best thing you can eat in Fiji comes right off the trees, with a variety of fruit made perfect by the volcanic soil. You're likely to find the best green coconut, bananas or pandanus (which resemble the fruit of a pineapple) you've ever had.
3. Breadfruit Chips. Breadfruit is a starchy local delicacy, and it makes great chips when combined with the right amount of olive oil and salt. Most resorts will sell packaged chips, but go for the fresh, local ones.
4. Cassava Cake. One of the best Fijian deserts, try this moist cake made with cassava (the root used in tapioca) and coconut milk. This treat is available in many restaurants, and is perfect for desert or a snack.
5. Ota Miti. Try this surprisingly tasty Fiji staple, made from wood fern shoots cooked in coconut milk, at Nadina restaurant, or at any small village.
On September 19, 2012Jeff Fleisher answered the question:Nightlife in Fiji will depend heavily on where you're staying, as it's usually a good idea to stick close to your hotel at night. Most of the resorts will host evening activities, like fire dancers or live music, and offer the chance to have a few drinks on a moonlit beach. If you're staying in or near Nadi, the city's Martinar neighborhood has several popular late-night bars, including the After Dark Nightclub, Frequency Lounge and Ed's Bar. There are also a number of nightclubs in Suva that host live music, including Birdland, Golden Dragon, and the Down Under Club. If you're going to a city nightclub, stay on the safe side and book a cab in advance to take you home.
On September 19, 2012Jeff Fleisher answered the question:One day probably means staying in Nadi, as it's probably the best place to get a feel for all Fiji has to offer in a short time. Arrange all your activities beforehand, so you can pack as much in as you can.
Start with a visit to the Garden of the Sleeping Giant to get a taste of the country's forests, then head downtown. Stop at the Hindu temple, do some shopping in the city center and grab a quick curry and roti (a signature Fijian dish) for lunch. In the afternoon, take an arranged tour of a local village. Then make sure to take advantage of the bright blue ocean—spend some time snorkeling, dolphin watching or boating. At sundown, enjoy the sandy beaches, relax in a hammock and take a walk on the white sand. After dinner, see a fire dance (the traditional “meke”dance) at one of the local resorts.
On September 19, 2012Jeff Fleisher answered the question:Fiji isn't a big shopping destination, but there are several places to pick up handicrafts, jewelry and island clothing such as sulus and flower-print skirts. Jacks, which has large stores in Nadi and Suva, as well as in the Nadi airport, offers a wide variety and low prices, though its merchandise is mass produced. For more unique crafts, check out the Suva Curio and Handicraft Centre or the handicraft market in Nadi, though be careful not to overpay. The United Nations-sponsored Free Shop in Suva sells locally made jewelry, and the nearby spa Pure Fiji sells locally produced creams and scrubs on Saturday mornings.
On September 19, 2012Jeff Fleisher answered the question:1. See a Fire Dance. Make sure to see one of these traditional “meke” dances with elaborate uses of burning spears, poi and other implements. Most resorts host fire dancers regularly enough to accommodate any stay, and the traditional dance (that combines chanting, clapping, singing, dancing and drums) is a must-see for adults or kids.
2. Kula Eco Park. This protected reserve on the Coral Coast is an ideal place to see Fiji's wildlife in a gorgeous native habitat. The park is easy to navigate for all ages, head down the wooden walkway and into the forest—the little ones can keep their eyes peeled for everything from parrots to iguanas to falcons.
3. Coral Coast Railway. Anyone who loves trains will get a kick out of this railway, with its restored vintage trains, and it's also a perfect way to see some less-touristy areas of the country. The railway passes through villages, sugarcane farms and rainforests, and includes a stop at caves.
4. Garden of the Sleeping Giant. Near central Nadi, this garden was originally the estate of actor Raymond Burr. He had one of the world's largest orchid collections, and the garden still has more than 200 types of orchids. Burr's Fiji home is open to the public, and the garden is a great way to spend a warm day in the shade.
5. Dolphin Watching. Dolphins are common in Fiji's tropical waters, and you can take your kids on a dolphin-watching tour or you can book your own boat. Depending on the time of year and migration patterns, you might also see pilot whales, false killer whales (the third largest member of the dolphin family) and humpbacks.
On September 19, 2012Jeff Fleisher answered the question:Though one of the best things to do in Fiji is to simply sit back and relax, you’ll also want to experience some iconic Fiji experiences by checking out these Forbes Travel Guide picks for the five can’t-miss Fiji sites:
1. Enjoy the Beaches. Relaxing on scenic beaches, surrounded by palm trees, is the quintessential Pacific experience, and Fiji is known for it. Most top resorts have private beaches, and there are also public spots along the coast for sunbathing or going for a swim. If you love white sand beaches, spend some time on Qalito Island, one of Fiji’s most popular beach destinations.
2. Snorkeling. Fiji gives snorkelers (and certified divers) clear waters (visibility can go more than 100-feet-deep in spots) and multiple marine environments to explore. Sharks, eels, rays and over 400 species of coral make for an interesting snorkeling session.
3. Visit the Hindu Temple. One of the most colorful temples anywhere in the world, Sri Siva Subramaniya in downtown Nadi is a great place to explore Fiji's Indian culture. The temple is one of Fiji's most unique architectural attractions, and guides are available to show you around.
4. See the Rainforests. Its volcanic soil and warm temperatures give Fiji vast rainforests filled with colorful flowers and interesting birds. The mountains have hiking trails for every skill level, and most resorts will help you book a reputable guide. The Bouma National Heritage Park has beautiful hikes and waterfalls to explore.
5. Visit a Village. Outside of the major cities, most Fijians still live in small villages with a handful of basic homes. Some of those villages survive by offering tours to visitors, often including a home-cooked Fijian meal and an interesting history of the area. Most resorts will book tours to the nearest villages.
On September 19, 2012Jeff Fleisher answered the question:You won't find better jade anywhere than the jade sourced on New Zealand's South Island. Hokatika and other areas on the west coast provide large amounts of jade, known locally as pounamu or greenstone. In the Christchurch area, you’ll find artist-carved jade sculptures, pendants and toki (adze blades worn as jewelry). Prices vary depending on the intricacy of the carving, the size of the piece, and the clarity of the jade stone itself. As with most of Christchurch's city center, some of the previously popular jade jewelers are closed because of earthquake damage, but there are still plenty of shops throughout the city, in the Re:START complex, and surrounding towns that sell locally made jade pieces.