Only on Malta

Malta is like a lavish buffet. You can choose what you like from what’s on offer, and enjoy a holiday there at any time of year. Malta and its little sister Gozo are small enough to allow you to get to know the island republic within a single week. You can go diving and windsurfing, you can swim and play golf, take a culinary journey round the world or make it a ‘wellness’ holiday in a spa. And Malta’s nightlife has made the island a happening place on the club circuit.

Let Marco Polo show you some unique experiences to be had on Malta and Gozo:

Malta Marco Polo Guide

Discover Malta’s painters

Painters once had the role that photographers have today. They not only portrayed the
Grand Masters of the Knights of St John, they also captured on their canvases Maltese landscapes of the 18th and 19th centuries, on show in the Museum of Fine Arts in Valletta.

Dine like a lord

The Tá Frenc luxury restaurant on the island of Gozo has all the atmosphere of an old Gozitan nobleman’s estate. Almost all ingredients used here come from the island, and even the herbs come from a little garden in front of the restaurant.

A one-horse-power ride

When you take a horse-drawn carriage at the Grand Master’s palace in Valletta, you can feel like the nobles of old as it goes clip-clop through the old knights’ city – an experience that’s best at dusk as the lights come on.

Delicate silver jewellery

Silver items are among the few craft products that have a tradition on Malta. The place to find them in Valletta is the Silversmith’s Shop.

Politicking behind closed doors?

Not on Malta. Part of each kazin of the local party offices is a bar, where you’ll soon be able to strike up a conversation with locals, e.g. in Rabat in the bar opposite St Paul’s Church. But before you start sounding off about politics, find out which party’s bar you have come to.

Firing a salute

The Maltese are fond of old military habits and keep them alive by means of re-enactments. Every day at noontime a cannonade goes off from the Saluting Battery in Valletta.

 

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Malta Marco Polo Guide

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Only in Bangkok

Bangkok is not just another large city; Bangkok is a universe in itself. Typically Thai
on the one hand yet very cosmopolitan on the other. A city that unifies a traditional
past with a modern life, one that captures the past and anticipates the future.

Here is our list of unique experiences to be had in Bangkok!

Bangkok

Life on a canal

‘Venice of the East’ is no cliché: canals or khlongs spread throughout the Thonburi district like a giant spider web. Take a long-tail boat tour and see the old shingle-covered teak stilt houses.

Exquisite travesty

You will see transvestites everywhere in Bangkok – the ladyboys
are out and proud in this tolerant metropolis – and the most beautiful of them can be found at the Calypso Cabaret. Dressed in opulent outfits they give their audience an action packed show.

The budget traveller

The Khao San Road is loud, colourful and unique not only in Bangkok, but worldwide – and all the international backpackers meet here. Explore this iconic mile where a party takes place every night at the hippest bars.

Midnight snack

Fast food on the pavement: Bangkok’s street cooks prepare delicious snacks and even full meals right on the road. For the haute cuisine of street food go to Soi 38 in Sukhumvit Road, where they serve delicious gourmet food at midnight.

Palace of palaces

Many royals had palaces built in Bangkok but none is grander than the Grand Palace. This fairy tale building with its Wat Phra Kaeo temple is an absolute must. It is an architectural testimony to the close bond between the Thai monarchy and Buddhism.

Tailor-made

At first glance every second shop in Bangkok appears to be a tailor. But be warned: not everyone is a master of his trade. The ones offering tempting bargains and those with touts at the door are best avoided. A better bet would be to go to a reputable professional like Pinky Tailor.

 

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Bangkok Marco Polo Guide

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Only in Berlin

Berlin attracts creative people from all over the world as if by magic. No other city in
Europe has as much art and culture to offer! It is also famous worldwide for its feverish nightlife with more than 200 clubs, innumerable bars, cafés and pubs. There are no set closing times and most places stay open until the early hours of the morning – if they close at all!

Whatever your personal tastes and preferences, Berlin has something for everyone! Let Marco Polo show you some unique experiences to be had in Germany’s capital…

Berlin Marco Polo Guide

Quadriga with twelve legs

The Brandenburg Gate (photo) is an absolute must. Not only the street artists let their hair down here, there are also many hobby photographers. Who can take the most beautiful picture of this city landmark?

‘TV-asparagus’

This is the name the people of Berlin have affectionately given the Fernsehturm on Alexanderplatz. You will really miss out on something if you don’t visit the viewing platform 203 m (666 ft) above street level – it’s the best view in Berlin.

Wall taxi

A taxi will take you to all remnants of the Berlin Wall in the city. The driver will point out the most important places and garnish his stories with his personal experiences in the former divided city.

Curry 36

Cheap but tasty – that’s all a Berlin currywurst needs to be, with some chips or a bread roll to go along with it. The Berliners queue up at Curry 36 in Kreuzberg for a grilled sausage with curry powder.

Sophisticated shopping

Time and time again, the Ku’damm has been pronounced dead, but the many customers in the fashionable boutiques on the elegant boulevard cannot all be wrong. This is where Berlin is at its most glamorous in a setting of magnificent old buildings: typical of Berlin – but sometimes beautiful can be expensive.

Don’t forget your swimsuit…

You will feel like you are at the seaside: deck chairs and sand as far as the eye can see. The wide expanse of water at Wannsee is an inviting place to sunbathe or take a swim, and a snack bar is never far away.

Jazz in a beer garden

Real Kreuzbergers don’t give a hoot about the yuppies in Mitte or Friedrichshain when they sit back with a pint in their hands in one of ‘their’ beer gardens – listening to live jazz in Yorckschlösschen, for example.

 

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Berlin Marco Polo Guide

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Only in Dublin

The Irish capital is rich with museums and galleries, churches and sport facilities, with sightseeing attractions, shopping opportunities and concert halls, with cinemas and theatres, but most of all – with pubs! Almost everything is within easy walking distance, as the city centre is small.

Small but perfectly formed, we might add! Let Marco Polo show you some unique experiences to be had in Ireland’s capital:

Dublin Marco Polo Guide

Dublin’s poets and the thirst

If you would like to follow in the footsteps of poets, you need not worry about getting thirsty
on the way. On the Literary Pub Crawl actors lead you from pub to pub and as they go
along they recite verses, sing ballads, act out melodramas and talk about the
authors’ works.

The Georgian style Merrion Square

The brightly coloured doors of the Merrion Square, built in the Georgian style,
will make quite an impression on you. In the middle of the beautiful park there is a
collection of historic street lamps and a few sculptures, one of Oscar Wilde, who lived at no. 1 between 1855 and 1876.

The rich and famous

If you want to keep an eye out for celebrities, the best place to go is the Horseshoe Bar at the Shelbourne Hotel. This is the place to see and be seen and the hotel and its bar are a Dublin institution, quite a few scandals have played out here.

Cultural market

Dive into the multiculturalism of Moore Street: no other street better symbolises the old and the new Dublin. The garrulous women at this market are an Irish institution but they now have new neighbours: immigrants from Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe have opened grocery stores, hair salons, music shops and a pub.

Favourite number game

Nowhere is Ireland more Irish than at bingo. The lottery game was first introduced by the Catholic Church as a fundraiser. Bingo evenings take place in the community halls and at the National Stadium. Try your luck!

Train trip along the coast

Get to know Ireland starting from Dublin: the Dart (Dublin Area Rapid Transport) will take you once around Dublin Bay. The commuter train goes from Howth and Malahide in the north of Dublin along the coast up to Greystones in county Wicklow.

 

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Dublin Marco Polo Guide

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Only in Singapore

Asia for beginners? A city of sterile buildings with no character, without any soul? Few other places in South-East Asia are laden down with as many clichés as the five-million metropolis of Singapore. Everybody thinks they know the small tropical island – 42km (26 miles) long and a maximum of 23km (14 miles ) wide – at the south-eastern tip of the Asian continent. Most visitors immediately think of marathon shopping sprees on Orchard Road, or maybe about the famous Singapore Sling cocktail, a relic from times long past when the city was a British crown colony. Of course, there is a certain element of truth to these clichés. The city actually is ‘Asia light’ because it does all it can to make Europeans feel at home in no time.

Singapore Marco Polo Guide

Singapore has metamorphosed again over the past few years. The scruffy harbour town that transformed itself with iron discipline into a colonial metropolis and then rose to become the centre of South-East Asia, has now blossomed into a global, cosmopolitan city. It is easy to explore Singapore on your own, you will be able to eat and drink wherever the urge hits you and feel safe everywhere in the city. What’s more, you will always meet friendly passers-by who will be happy to help and to proudly tell you about how life really is in their homeland.

Unique experiences, only in Singapore, with Marco Polo’s insider tips:

Eat like the locals

Forget all about the gourmet restaurants and eat seated on a plastic stool in one of the countless food courts or ‘hawker centres’. Do not worry about the quality: taxes and rent are very low so that makes it possible for the stall owners to serve high-class traditional food for a couple of dollars. One of the best hawker centres in the city is Makansutra Gluttons Bay directly next to the Esplanade.

Chinese casinos

If you love to gamble, Singapore is the place to be. Spend an evening with the locals and join in the fun. The best place is in the Marina Bay Sands complex which has the charm of Las Vegas without visiting the US.

Black delights

It is true; they do look like they were dipped into axle grease. Put on an old, dark shirt (to hide the spots) mingle with the Singaporeans and sink your teeth into the black pepper crabs at the East Coast Seafood Centre.

Speed along the coast

If you want to find out what Singapore is really like, pedal along the surfaced promenade of the East Coast. Just take a taxi as far as Marine Cove where you can rent bikes and inline skates every few hundred yards; all the rental facilities are equally good.

Shop until you drop

The Singaporeans love shopping – the real spending variety, as well as just window shopping. Do not only stroll through the main malls, visit the small merchants on Pagoda Street in Chinatown or in the side streets of Serangoon Road in Little India.

Floral glory

Singapore’s national flower is the orchid. Prominent visitors to the city state are often honoured with a new variety named after them; for example Dendrobium Jackie Chan and Papilionanda Andrea Bocelli.

 

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Singapore Marco Polo Guide

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Only in Cape Town

From the sea to the top of the Table Mountain, Cape Town is a vibrant city that will capture your heart. With its gorgeous beaches and lush winelands, Cape Town is full of contrasts. Its troubled past has given way to a more harmonious co-existence of religions, cultures and nationalities. A true melting-pot – you can feel this unique multicultural vibe in every corner of the city.

Let Marco Polo show you what unique experiences Cape Town has to offer!

Marco Polo Cape Town Guide

Go up Table Mountain

Postcard perfect and towering majestically above Cape Town is the much-photographed Table Mountain which draws its visitors like a magnet. The fit can hike up but the more obvious choice is to take the cable car. Either way the view from the top, over the city and the sea, is quite breathtaking.

Wine estates

The Constantia Wine Route includes a number of famous wine estates. The oldest, Groot Constantia, goes back to the 17th century. The owners are doing an excellent job in retaining its historic feel while introducing a modern atmosphere with wine tastings, good restaurants and concerts.

Nelson Mandela’s prison

Former president Nelson Mandela spent 18 of the 27 years of his incarceration on the former prison island of Robben Island. Today the ‘Sikhululekile’ ferry takes visitors across from the Waterfront – and the tours are conducted by ex-convicts.

Harbour entertainment hub

You will be spoilt for choice at the Victoria Alfred Waterfront shopping and entertainment precinct. Give yourself plenty of time to take in the harbour life with its variety of buskers, dance groups, restaurants, cinemas and so much more.

Sundowners by the sea

Cape Town is known for having some of the world’s most captivating sunsets. Capetonians celebrate this time of day with sundowners. Join in with a classic cocktail, a well chilled local beer or a Savanna cider. A good spot is at Café Caprice right by the beach in trendy Camps
Bay.

Street party

During the World Cup Soccer in 2010 tens of thousands of fans regularly came out to celebrate on the fan mile. No other street in Cape Town boasts as many restaurants, shops, street vendors and clubs as Long Street. The place rocks on a hot summer’s night.

 

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Cape Town Marco Polo Guide

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Only in Stockholm

Stockholm, the Venice of the North. A mix of historical buildings and modern architecture, the city is nestled on 14 islands and surrounded by blue water and green forests. It is the most populous city in the Nordic countries, known for its trendsetting attitude and coffee culture.

Let Marco Polo show you the unique experiences that make Stockholm the crown jewel of Sweden!

Stockholm Marco Polo Guide

Village idyll in the metropolis

Old farmhouses, cottages and grand houses from all over Sweden have been brought together to the Skansen open-air museum in the heart of Stockholm – with a village pond, mature trees and any number of animals. Since 1891 Swedish culture and traditions have been cultivated here, and festivals and concerts organised.

Skerry feeling in 25 minutes

Cliffs, pine trees, bilberry bushes: there are 30,000 islands beyond Stockholm’s city walls.
You can reach the small island of Fjäderholmen, where you will be able to feast on smoked shrimps and a glass of white wine and watch the spectacular sunset, in a mere 25 minutes.

The best city-salmon

The good water quality makes it possible for as many as 30 species of fish to feel at home in the rivers between Stadshuset and Djurgården. Every year, anglers reel in more than 1000 salmon – only with a license, of course!

The Royals

If you want to get a glimpse of the royal family you only have to take up position on one of the streets in Stockholm on 6th of June, the Swedish national holiday. This is the day when members of the royal family travel through the town to Skansen to celebrate with their subjects.

The signs of a former major power

With its 64 canons and 300 soldiers, the impressive battleship Vasa was intended to put the enemy to flight in the Thirty Years’ War. However, it didn’t get very far and sank on its maiden voyage while it was still in Stockholm harbour. It was salvaged in the 1960s, restored and is now on display.

Noble (or Nobel) location

You can spot Stockholm’s town hall and its tower with three golden crowns from far away: the Stadshuset is the symbol of the Swedish capital city. This is where weddings take place, the city is administered and celebrations are held. One of them, on 10th of December, is the gala dinner given in honour of the Nobel Prize winners.

 

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Stockholm Marco Polo Guide

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Only in Barcelona

There’s no doubt about it: Barcelona (1.5 million inhabitants) is a place of fascinating contrasts. This major design metropolis with its award-winning post-modern buildings boasts the largest historic city centre in Europe after Naples, where you can lose yourself for hours.

Barcelona Marco Polo Guide

Let Marco Polo show you some unique experiences to be had in Barcelona:

Gaudí’s divine temple

Sagrada Família is the world-famous symbol of Barcelona. Let the gigantic columns and spectacular interior of the huge nave consecrated by the Pope work their magic on you.

Fairy-tale gardens above the city

Enchanting park with panoramic views: when creating the Parc Güell, Antoni Gaudí let his imagination run riot and revealed his universal genius as architect, landscape designer – and a pioneer of recycling.

Mediterranean spirit

Enjoy the flair of the Mediterranean metropolis on one of its many squares with a coffee or a cool beer. Plaça de la Vila and Plaça de la Virreina in Gràcia are particularly atmospheric.

Catalan-Caribbean sounds

The rumba catalana, an explosive mix of flamenco, Caribbean rhythms and rock, is the music of the Catalan gitanos and super-trendy in Barcelona right now. Meet the best bands every Wednesday at the Sala Apolo club’s ‘Rumba night.’

Popular mayhem

Throw yourself into the crowd on the famous Rambla – tourists and theatre-goers, culture vultures and purveyors of kitsch souvenirs, dolled-up opera-goers and agile waiters.

Lavish Art Nouveau splendour

Blossoms, tendrils, dragon heads: if you want to experience Catalan Art Nouveau in all its glory, head for the Palau de la Música Catalana, the most ornate monument to modernism.

Towering humans

At traditional castells, a popular sport in Catalonia, you are not only allowed to watch balance artists training – the courageous may even join in.

» Read more about Barcelona

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Barcelona Marco Polo Guide

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Only in Cambodia

Cambodia is where the sugar palms grow. That is what the Khmer have said since time immemorial. The distinctive, tousled round tops of the palm trees and rice fields cover the surface of the country as far as the eye can see. Water buffalo wallow in the mud, chewing their cud and staring just as they did one thousand years ago. Cambodia is still that way today in spite of the modern appearance of Phnom Penh.

Cambodia Marco Polo

There is idyllic rural life wherever you look: men and women threshing rice on the fields, the checked krama cloth wrapped around their heads like a turban, their teeth and lips blood red from the juice of betel nuts. Most of the 14 million Cambodians are farmers who live from hand to mouth – an extremely frugal existence between ox carts and stilt houses, their roofs covered with palm thatch, burdened by debt, and rice fields where countless landmines are a constant threat to life and limb. Many of the 2.85 million visitors to this once abused country never forget their experience. A country with so many faces – from terrifying grimaces and smiling asparas to Buddha’s wise countenance radiating hope.

Here is Marco Polo’s list of unique experiences to be had in Cambodia!

A versatile accessory

You will come across the versatile, checked krama shawl wherever you go in the country. One of
the best places to buy one is at the bustling Phsar Thmay market in Phnom Penh.

Characteristic silhouette

On bank notes, the country’s flag and even on a beer bottle – no symbol is
more characteristic of the country than the largest building in the ruined city of Angkor: the world-famous, majestic Angkor Wat monastery is an absolute must!

Murderous legacy of the Khmer Rouge

Remember the approximately 1.5 million Cambodians murdered during the terror regime of the Khmer Rouge on the infamous Killing Fields near Phnom Penh.

Delicious: a tarantula snack

If you ever felt a real need to sink your teeth into a crispy fried, fist sized tarantula, you can sample this little delicacy in the village of Skun.

Crash course in the Cambodian lifestyle

Discover the Cambodian traditions in the Cambodian Cultural Village in Siem Reap: from a model of a traditional house you can walk through to a wedding ceremony with all the frills including gifts for the monks and hair-cutting ritual.

Boat tour of the Ramsar Wetlands

After the end of the rainy season, you can chug through an endless labyrinth of river channels, islands and flooded forests on the Mekong north of Stung Treng – a lonely, vast amphibian world.

 

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Cambodia Marco Polo Guide

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Only in Dubai

Dubai – you have to see it for yourself. Spectacular luxury hotels, mega-malls for shoppers and utopian construction projects have turned an Arabian trading port on the Creek into a global village measured in superlatives. The world’s tallest building and largest man-made waterway, artificial islands that are visible from space, the biggest airport – unparalleled construction projects are announced all the time and carried out in no time at all. Whole new city districts surrounded by lakes and marinas have been built on the sand, with a transport infrastructure of multi-lane highways flanked by skyscrapers with mirror façades.

Let Marco Polo show you some unique experiences to be had in the most populous city of the United Arab Emirates:

United Arab Emirates

Weekend in the desert

In the desert resort of Bab al-Shams, the ‘gateway to the sun’, guests live amongst the sand dunes. For a few days you can become a modern Bedouin – with the luxury typical of Dubai and old Arab architectural traditions.

Dinner on a dhow

Old Arabian trading ships as floating restaurants: the romantic sunset dhow trip lasts about two hours. As the last rays of the sun fall on the city, help yourself from the buffet and see Dubai from the water.

Dubai Shopping Festival

A four-week shopping spree: discounts, prize draws with millions to be won, fashion shows, charity galas and other events are the highlights of this glamorous festival.

Jumeirah Beach

Wealthy locals flock to these miles of long sandy beach with Dubai’s emblem, the Burj Al Arab, the offshore man-made island Palm Jumeirah and the Rooftop Bar of the Royal Mirage Hotel, a trendy rendezvous in the evening.

Bastakiya

Dubai’s most authentic quarter gets its character from narrow alleys, some of them shaded by palm-frond roofs, and merchants’ houses that are now occupied by galleries, restaurants and cafés.

Marina with skyscrapers

Dubai Marina, a district of the city that is really buzzing, can easily be explored on foot: spectacular skyscrapers, chic cafés, the best-known night clubs and the huge artificially made marina with its yachts and sailing boats.

Get to the top
Burj Khalifa is the world’s tallest building. For a special thrill pay a visit to ‘At the Top’, the viewing platform with an outdoor terrace on the 124th floor. This organised one-hour tour places Dubai at your feet from a height of 1450 ft.

 

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Dubai Marco Polo Guide

Do you have any other tips for visiting Dubai that you’d like to share? Leave a comment below, tweet us @MarcoPoloGuides or tell us on Facebook.