Budget Travel for the Adventurous Cheap and Inspired Explorer. Beaches, Hidden Islands, Lost Cities, Off-the-beaten Path Lodges and Get-a-Ways. Finding the easy way into the most lavish and expensive destinations in one of my favorite hobbies.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

DUBAI....United Arab Emirates...its not as far as you think it is....

I know what you're thinking..."Dubai? on a budget?" ...Well, yes. This amazing place was as much a surprise to me as it was finding its small little secrets. Dubai is not as expensive as it might seem, with its fast growing tourism and architecturally advanced hotels and resorts, it invites the adventurous and fun traveler.


You can get to Dubai many different ways, from Los Angeles or New York City and other major US cities there are a few direct flights on Emirates Airlines they have some great rates for direct coach flights, which by the way is pretty ample and comfortable compared to a lot of other carriers. However; if you prefer, there are other alternate ways of getting there. Because Dubai has become such a chic metropolitan place to be it is easily accessible from any major European city, Easyjet, RyanAIR to name a few budget airlines that fly you there for cheap from almost any point in Europe. Once in Dubai customs is just as easy (and actually better organized) as any other place in Europe.


Everything you are assuming about being in a middle eastern country is probably less intense in Dubai, because of its growing youth population things are changing fast and the tolerance and conservative ways are bending everyday. To keep it safe lets just set some ground rules shall we? During the day is when most of these restrictions should be observed...

Keep your mid-drifts covered and try not to sport the short skirts or low cut blouses as you might attract some unwanted attention from the extreme conservatives whom unfortunately are the ones that shout the loudest. Aside from your attire there are no other obstacles you will face, the government is also actively stepping up their game to attract more of the western tourism so you can feel safe as long as you don't look like a pussycat doll during the day.

Not much here to worry about; however, to my gays and their friendly counterparts, don't be fooled by the men walking down the street hand in hand... it's perfectly acceptable for male friends and family to walk hand in hand especially to and from the Mosque.


Dubai is probably the fastest growing tourist spot in the whole world at the moment, with hotels and resorts sprouting up almost monthly you can be sure to swing some crazy deal. The best way to do Dubai, or any city in my opinion is not to blow your cash on a room you will spend no time in right? that being said, comfort for me is very important as well, but I don't need slippers at the end of my bed or a chocolate on my pillow (i'm allergic).... these are my pics for a great stay at a low price, METROPOLITAN CITY HOTEL, HATTA FORT HOTEL, METROPOLITAN DEIRA HOTEL. The Hatta came highly recommended and well worth it and beautiful, you will find that the hospitality in Dubai is overly welcoming and sincerely caring no matter what your budget is.

Where ever you drop your bags there are a few GEMS you absolutely must visit. As afore mentioned these places are extremely welcoming to visitors so don't worry if you don't have a room they will treat you like you're staying in the presidential suite....

This amazing place is like an adult theme park, with a Venice type twist, surrounded by small creeks that are navigated by gondolas you can board at any time (for free) it seems to go on forever. Every turned corner reveals interesting shops, restaurants and bars and amazing pools you can park yourself at .......you may want to never leave. They have an amazing beach front and yes the water in Dubai is amazing! TIDBIT: Don't miss the boardwalk bar, you can't miss it, it is right on the beach with a 100yd board pier with a fantastic scenic bar at the end. Fromt the bar you will see the next must see

This hotel is Dubai's architectural signature and must not be missed. Both places have amazing restaurants and beach fronts and pools, your challenge will be dividing your time between these two great places, but don't worry you will probably find your self back here at night, their bars and nightclubs are some of the best in Dubai. Other places to see Emirate Towers Burj Halifa, the tallest building in the world.


The nightlife in Dubai is like no other I have ever experienced, first off all rules go out the window, the women dress like pussy cat dolls and the vibe is very relaxed and very very charged. I found myself bar hoping with these group of local Australians that took us around to all the clubs Boudoir, Irish Village, Apartment Lounge, Kasbar and some others of which most are in all of the resorts I mentioned above, taxi cabs are very readily available so don't bother renting a car.


Dessert Tour probably the most amazing thing I did while in Dubai, they pick you up at your hotel (wherever you stay) at around 3PM and you are out for the rest of the day/night... they take you on an exhilarating dune riding experience through the most beautiful sunset drenched sands...

We got lucky it was a full moon so you can imagine...they finish it up with a camel ride to a BBQ Oasis complete with fire breathers, snake charmers and a belly dancer, all for 99$ (give or take) totally worth it!!

The Souks are located downtown a quick cab ride from anywhere.... there is the spice souk and the world famous GOLD souks...haggle a good price for a nice piece of gold.

The Creek in Dubai day or night is also a site to take in, the creek runs from the souks up the town through the hotel district and the business district, you can take a cab ride to the souks or a boat both cheap but the boat more fun.

There are great museums, Aquariums, and of course the famous PALM and WORLD island developments that are truly inspiring.....

and if you thought ice skating at your local mall was fun...how about a good slalom down ski at an indoor mall ski slope?
Anything that is possible is done in Dubai at a grand scale....I left this place with a truly genuine idea of what man is capable of...with a lot of money ..lol...I hope you get the chance to visit this place at least once in your life, and remember, its not as far out as you may think, I mean they have a Starbucks for f***s sake

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Playa del Carmen

So as my first post I had to stay true to myself and, of course; tell you all there is to know about Playa del Carmen located in the Riviera Maya...a small town about 45 minutes south of Cancun, and is not a tourist trap or over developed like Cancun is, so if you love huge resort hotels and big air conditioned shopping malls this is NOT the place for you..... No real need to divulge any real hidden budget secrets here, as it is all doable on any budget, Mexico is a great escape for those short on cash, but Playa de Carmen, with its jetsetting crowd and modern boutique hotels and hopping clubs, adds a couple zeros behind that ten dollar bill in your pocket.

There are some great hotels in Playa that won't upset your budget, my favorite is Hotel Kinbe, cheap and chic is the way I like to go, this boutique hotel offers everything you need and not much else for a great place to drop your bags and chill or go and explore, a great roof top deck for late night star gazing and a new pool they just added which was a huge plus last time I went.

The following Hotels are also very chic and not too expensive and don't worry about the location they are all around the same area, which surrounds the main drag in Playa del Carmen which has all the shopping, nightlife and yes FOOD that you will find. Hotel Deseo Hotel Blue Parrot Tidbit: Don't bother with a beach front room, or beach front hotel lures, you will find yourself hopping in your car and driving to secluded beaches or cenotes (lagoons) all around this beautiful area, the beach in the town of Playa is great, but very populated with locals and disco beach clubs which if you like sipping champagne and eating fries on the beach Mamitas is the place for you.


Playa is like no other place in Mexico, the nightlife here is a mixture of people from all over the world....It always amazed me that the clubs and restaurants at night did not reflect the quiet laid back atmosphere the town exudes from sunrise to sunset.... but once the Sun goes down the lights go up!!!

I always take into consideration the Night Life in my travels because it's a huge part of a cultural experience when I visit anywhere, and don't worry you won't find Yard Beer chugging college hommies here, they don't make it down this far....the town attracts the Jetset crowd that hits the beaches of Caan, Rio, St. Barts, St. Tropez and more....((all of which I will blog about later so stay tuned))

Playa basically is centered around 10th Avenue or Avenida 10...all the mom and pop shops and great hotels and restaurants are either on this street or just right off of it....the thumping music and disco crowds get going around 10pm so if you're an "early to bed" you'll miss all the fun. If you do miss the jetsetter nights ...don't fret you can catch them all at MAMITAS during the day, this hot beach club cranks the tunes and really put beach front Clubs on the map...with canopy beds and a sexy wait staff this is an alternative way to spend the day on the beach. I like it private and quiet but sometimes I need to be surrounded by gorgeous people who really can have a great time at whatever time of day.

Beaches and such......

Like I said the beaches to visit in Playa del Carmen are all throughout some you can hike to, some you have to drive to, also something to not miss are the amazing CENOTES ((fresh water lagoons)) all along the area, some are harder to find than others, but worth the adventure. TIDBIT: There are plenty shuttles to and from the Cancun airport and any spot in Playa del Carmen, so I would rent a car AS NEEDED in Playa.

North Playa del Carmen Beach located just north of Playa, about a 10 minute drive up the main highway, exit is marked and don't get spooked by the Jail that you will drive by....

Tulum Beach is a bit more of a trek but worth is, the best cenotes are around this area, the best thing to do in my opinion, is make your way to Ana y Jose's Charming Hotel they have a great beach front and cabanas you can sit at if you order a cheap beer or two, behind them are several roads that lead to random cenotes and hidden private beaches for the romantic or the reclusive.

There is much more to this wonderful area, and I love that it is also Family Freindly with parks like Xcaret a sea world type amusement park that is actually enjoyable and fun for everyone, even me! There are also several family resorts around the area most in PLAYACAR which is just south but still connected to Playa del Carmen, my favorite and most charming of these is the Mahekal formerly the Shangrila, worth looking into even if you don't have kids....

Well I hope you enjoyed my first stab at this, I will post more about this great place and of course the food I haven't even begun to talk about, and hit me up with any questions or comments, especially if you are planning on visiting!!

Map of beaches in and around Playa
Map of Cenotes to Visit