Forget your A-list celebrities and Hollywood hotties, for us it’s the real-world locations that star in our favourite films and TV programmes that really steal the show! But could you tell the difference between your Australian Outback and your Arabian desert scene, differentiate your Mad Max from your Martian?
Take our quiz to exercise those television and movie muscles and see if you can guess which shows these awe-inspiring locations starred in.
And if you’re looking to add some extra star power to your future travel plans, check out our brand new book A Spotter’s guide to Film and TV Locations.
Tell us more… I spent five days exploring an island nation I’d always dreamed of visiting, in as many different ways as possible – by land, sea and sky. I stayed at Shangri-La Villingili Resort & Spa which is tucked away on a private island in the southernmost atoll of the archipelago. If you want a far-flung, middle-of-nowhere island escape, this is it.
In a nutshell… I can confirm: the Maldives looks just like it does in the brochures. The water is that blue. The sand is that white. The over-water villas are as epic as you imagine. But there’s more to these tropical isles than meets the eye. Drag yourself off the sunlounger and dig a little deeper to find abundant wildlife, rich culture and fascinating history.
Good grub? Fishing is the second largest industry in the Maldives, after tourism. Fishermen still catch tuna using traditional pole and line methods – and I found plenty to eat in the form of the ubiquitous tuna curry, as well as mas huni (chopped tuna, coconut, chilli and onion) and flatbread, which makes for a tasty breakfast. A visit to the fish and produce markets of Malé, the capital, was an eye-opening experience – a true taste of local life. Fish-flavoured crisps, anyone?
Defining moment? Two incredible wildlife experiences stand out in my mind. First, coming face-to-face with a sea turtle for the first time – a traveller’s rite of passage. And secondly, being entertained by hundreds of playful spinner dolphins which surrounded our boat during a sunset cruise. Unbelievable.
If you do one thing… Get a glimpse of local life by visiting the inhabited islands – I toured Addu City by bike, exploring an old British military base and stopping for ‘short eats’ (local spicy snacks) at a local cafe. Malé’s also worth a day or two, with its impressive Islamic Centre and ancient coral stone mosque.
Fav activity? I like to climb up mountains when I visit a new place – but the Maldives is the world’s lowest country… So while summiting the nation’s highest point, Mount Villingili (5m), was a novelty, I decided to find a different way to get a bird’s eye view of paradise: parasailing. Soaring above the deep blue lagoon was remarkably peaceful – as if I wasn’t relaxed enough!
Quintessential experience? It’s undeniable: the Maldives is a wonderful place to chill out. How you relax is up to you. Sunrise yoga overlooking the beach; snorkelling along the reef spotting colourful fish; or indulging at the spa – whatever it is, it’s time to unwind!
Want more behind-the-scenes adventures? Find out where our picture editor, Claire Richardson, just got back from.
Emma Sparks travelled to the Maldives with support from Shangri-La Villingili Resort & Spa. Lonely Planet contributors do not accept freebies in exchange for positive coverage.
Our UK magazine hit its 100th issue this month – so to celebrate, our quiz has taken on a numerical theme. Take the quiz of the century (possibly an exaggeration…) and see if you can get 100% correct!
Tell us more… My boyfriend and I were in Singapore for a family birthday celebration and amid the festivities we had a week to explore the island city-state.
In a nutshell… Singapore is a magical jumble of different cultures, food and architecture, where modern skyscrapers tower over old colonial shophouses and where you’ll find one of the world’s best street food scenes.
Good grub? It’s impossible not to enjoy good food in Singapore. We were based near the East Coast Road in Joo Chiat, which has a lively street-side dining culture and every cuisine imaginable from Thai and Malaysian to gourmet burgers and Korean Barbeque. I loved the simplicity at 328 Katong Laksa, which serves just one dish – their signature spicy laksa. This warming bowl is arguably the best laksa in Singapore – make sure you wash it down with their fresh lime juice, which helps cut through the spice.
Quintessential experience? I’ve always been told that a visit to Raffles Hotel for one of their world-famous Singapore slings is the quintessential Singapore experience. The hotel’s colonial architecture, dating back to 1887, is beautiful and still has oodles of charm, but be warned: the Long Bar – where the famous sling was invented – is very touristy and the sweet cocktail will set you back an eye-watering $32! I was amused to see that the tradition of casually throwing your peanut shells on the floor was still in full swing – the only place in Singapore where littering is warmly encouraged.
Fave activity? I was quite blown away by the beautifully designed Gardens by the Bay in the south of the island, near the marina. Two enormous glass houses loom over the botanical gardens, one of which – the Cloud Forest – houses the world’s highest indoor waterfall. My highlight was the Supertree Grove, where high tech ‘trees’ dominate the skyline. Reaching up to heights of 50m – as tall as a 16-storey building – these giant vertical gardens house hundreds of plant and flower species. I felt like a cast member on the set of Avatar as I walked between two of the tallest trees on the OCBC Skyway elevated walkway.
You’d be a muppet to miss… the Garden Rhapsody show, a spectacular light and sound show at the Supertree Grove. I’d recommend a sunset walk along the skyway, before heading down to the grass beneath the trees to watch the 7:45pm show. Local families bring picnics and couples recline as the trees start to shimmer and glow, changing colour in time to the music. We may have joined in with one or two of the uplifting show tunes.
Thrill-seekers should… head over to Sentosa Island; connected to the main island, this offshore resort is a one-stop adventure land. We had a brilliant day riding rollercoasters and dodging transformers and dinosaurs at Universal Studios. There’s also the SEA Aquarium, zip lines, a water park, surfing and beaches to enjoy.
If you do one thing… explore the different neighbourhoods from Little India and Kampong Glam to Chinatown. We were able to travel the world without leaving Singapore, starting with the best Indian meal I’ve ever had at the Banana Leaf Apolo; to Arab Street in Kampong Glam, where the golden-domed Sultan Mosque overlooks old-school shophouses piled high with colourful silks and carpets; and onto the lantern-draped lanes in Chinatown.
This month’s round-up of photographs from our camera-toting Pathfinders community features colours that pop, surprising textures and one adorable peek-a-boo (that’s not the Latin term) monkey.
‘These stunning pink lakes in the Ria Lagartos Biosphere Reserve on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula might look man-made, but the colour is all natural! The water turns pink because of an abundance of the same organisms that give flamingos their pink feathers. The lakes, which are part of a local salt works, start out brown or orange. As the water evaporates leaving a higher concentration of salt, the lakes turn pink, creating a magical effect!’ – Emily Luxton, @em_luxton.
Why we like it: This is the perfect landscape with a surprise punch: clouds dotting the clear blue sky, endless horizon and then… pink water? And it’s all natural? This is an amazing find and the image is strengthened by the smart use of cropping and framing. We often hear, ‘rule-of-thirds, rule-of-thirds’ but in this case splitting the horizon right across the middle just draws us in further in.
‘The Zanzibar red colobus monkeys are an endangered species endemic to Unguja Island. They can be found all over Jozani Forest and we saw plenty. This one was just as curious about us as we were of him!’ – Natasha & Cameron, @theworldpursuit.
Why we like it: The natural framing that the green foliage gives to the monkey’s face is spot on. Using a long lens on the camera has made the depth-of-field very shallow and adds even more emphasis to the little creature. Our simian relatives can be really expressive and with this gaze there is no doubt he’s on to us and our human camera ways.
‘This Jain temple sits at the heart of Jamnagar, a small town in India’s Gujarat state often passed over by tourists. Though the temple complex is staggering in size, the outside is strictly white, and seemingly plain. But when we passed through the temple’s doors, we were blown away by the explosion of colour!’ – Alex and Sebastiaan, @lostwithpurpose.
Why we like it: All the colour and repetition makes us want to traverse this corridor and get lost in the patterns. The composition is framing the arches so that our eye is directed down the hall to the painting at the end. That keeps us visually engaged with the image and intrigued by the building’s structure.
‘I love the unique perspective drones give; birds really do have the best views. The rocky beach and strong waves in Costa Rica were mesmerizing to watch from above.’ – Tessa Juliette, @travel_wheretonext.
Why we like it: The spatial play means patterns, colours, sizes and textures all get a turn in this cool shot. It is bordering on the abstract but after a moment of study we realize it is a super high aerial and we are gazing at rocky shoreline. Our eyes can zoom in or zoom out and make this photograph take on a myriad of meanings.
‘Very rarely does a man-made feature resemble nature. But these mountains of salt piled up on the shoreline of Bonaire have a very organic quality. Seeing the play of light and shadow in the late afternoon light had me thinking more of the snow-capped mountains of Nepal than of the tropical snorkel paradise in the Caribbean.’ – Carol Guttery, @wayfaringviews.
Why we like it: The white pyramids and texture against the dusty blue sky stand out and keep our eye moving back and forth across the geometric forms. The rule-of-thirds is at play in this image and strengthens it by creating a very sturdy foundation of water, shore and earthen-like mounds to support the large open sky.
For your chance to be featured in our next round-up, sign up to Lonely Planet Pathfinders – our programme for travel-loving bloggers and social content creators. In the meantime, you can get more Instagram inspiration by following @lonelyplanet.