Review of Places In Mahamaya, Gili Meno, Bali

Stylish eco-hotel Mahamaya is one of the newest properties on the relaxed, relatively unspoiled Indonesian island of Gilo Meno, a 90-minute boat ride from bustling Bali. Anna Smith checks in.

First impressions

Mahamaya may be an affordable eco resort, but arriving there by speedboat we feel like a million dollars. Staff line up on the pure white coral beach to meet us and carry our luggage while we marvel at the sight of this glistening white modern hotel with its silver sign reading, in Indonesian, ‘Ultimate Paradise’.

Maya is also the name of the owner’s niece: this boutique hotel was set up by Brit entrepreneur David, whose sister Ali married a talented Indonesian chef who heads up the kitchen. This family affair launched just a couple of years ago and has quickly become a favourite with honeymooners. Check-in is smiley and efficient, containing an important briefing on conserving the water and electricity in this very environmentally conscious hotel.

Ideal for…

Couples on a romantic break looking to get away from it all. Those with young children are also well served.

The room

Now Exploring Norway’s north

The Nordlandsbanen rail route is a storybook of varied landscapes. Skirting alongside the rugged islets of Norway’s jagged coastline, and gliding inland between undulating hills overlain with rich green pines, the dramatic scenery is punctuated only by the irresistible opportunities to hop off and explore. A journey on the Nordlandsbanen will allow you to experience fascinating tales of the past, to be stirred by the power of nature, and to taste the fresh flavours of the region.

The journey

Though perhaps less well-known than the Oslo-Bergen train ride, the Nordlandsbanen, which stretches northwards for 729km between regal Trondheim and spirited Bodø, could certainly lay claim to being the more unique route. As well as being Norway’s longest train line, it also crosses the Arctic Circle, the only railway in the world to do so.

An efficient service and spacious, comfortable trains make it a delightfully sedate way to make the ten-hour journey, but it’s the huge diversity of scenery that’s most appealing. Gently rolling, emerald-green fields rest under huge skies, and Norwegian flags whip proudly over the pillar-box red hytter (cabins) dotted haphazardly over the hillsides. Moments later, the train will track its

Highlight Destination In Kolkata

India’s second biggest city and the former capital of British India, Kolkata is perhaps unfairly associated with the extreme poverty and suffering that Mother Teresa sought to alleviate. Although today the city may boast crumbling Raj architecture, crazy traffic and sprawling slums, it is also considered India’s literary, cultural and spiritual centre and more sophisticated and modern than you’d expect.

That being said, on first impressions the city can appear overwhelming so make sure you consult our guide to Getting Around Kolkata before you even leave the airport. Don’t think about driving, and buses are also hopelessly overcrowded; instead, hop onto an auto-rickshaw, or one of the lumbering trams that circle the city. Taxis are also cheap and plentiful and work on a meter system.

Once you’re out and about, there are several not-to-be-missed sights. The Indian Museum, set in a building dating from 1875, offers an insight into the city during the colonial era as well as rare collections of historical importance that include art, archaeology, zoology and botany.

Another landmark you can’t help but notice is Victoria Memorial, a domed colonial-era marble building set on the edge

Here Best Stargazing Sites in the World

Our ancestors used to look at the stars every night, making a deep connection with nature that’s now lost to a generation of city-dwellers. Happily, though, there are still plenty of places where you can see nature’s most dazzling show, and not all of them are remote. Here are ten of the best.

1) Mauna Kea, Hawaii

A visit to Hawaii already offers sun, sand and surf; travel to Big Island and you can revel in what many people consider to be the best stargazing on the planet. You may be at risk of altitude sickness (the top of Mauna Kea, a dormant volcano, is 13,796ft above sea level) but the view is breathtaking in other ways too: a lack of light pollution ensures unparalleled visibility.

2) Atacama Desert, Chile

As one of the driest places in the world, Atacama Desert has few clouds, along with a high altitude and zero light pollution. What better way to experience it than by camping? Elqui Domos, in the Elqui Valley, is the only “astronomic hotel” in the Southern Hemisphere and offers domed tents with open ceilings and wooden cabins with

Strangest Museum In The World

Our selection ranges from the bizarre to the macabre to the silly – are you brave enough to set foot in any of them?

1. Museum of Icelandic Sorcery and Witchcraft, Hólmavík, Iceland

Set in a small town on the Westfjords peninsula, this tiny museum explores a chilling period in the 17th century when over 100 convicted witches – the vast majority men – were burned at the stake. The big draw is a pair of necropants – a replica of magic pants made of human skin – and artefacts include runes, spells and skulls. On a serious note, this museum has important things to say about the human inclination, as seen throughout history, to persecute those they see as ‘other’.

2. The Museum of Bad Art, Massachusetts, USA

Located in a ramshackle basement under a theatre, this glorious museum celebrates bad art – and the sincerity and enthusiasm of those who ‘persevered despite things going horribly wrong’. Starting with an artwork found in the trash, the museum has gained international renown to the point where there have been two thefts. The founders say that most applicants don’t get

Info Bangkok city guide and what to do plus the best hotels, restaurants and bars

Bangkok Skyline at dusk

Floods, protests, power struggles, a military takeover – Krungthep, known to the rest of the world as Bangkok, has endured more than its share of hardships recently. The loss of the country’s beloved King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who remained remarkably popular throughout his 70-year reign, hit particularly hard last year. Thailand’s populace is nothing if not resilient, though: after a dozen coups d’état in less than a century, they have to be – and, in spite of it all, the capital continues to flourish and, in the process, reshape its identity.

For decades, this was a city that imported everything, to which strings of glitzy megamalls attests. But somewhere along the way, Thailand began to foster its own considerable creative pool. Look closely and you’ll notice that generic luxury brands are ceding shelf space to funkier fashions by Thai designers; local chefs proudly flaunt family recipes on the hottest tables in town; and even north-eastern Thai folk music is in the midst of a revival.

Japan’s forgotten paradise at Okinawa

From whale sharks to coral reefs, Japan’s Okinawa prefecture is full of surprises. Joe Minihane discovers a new side to the country.

It appears out of the blue, swimming majestically beneath me as I duck my head into the South China Sea. A whale shark, the largest fish in the world. Escorted by a trail of smaller fish, it glides through the water, opening its colossal mouth to feasts on the offerings of awestruck scuba divers.

Snorkelling in tropical waters is not something you’d usually associate with Japan, but then Okinawa doesn’t feel very Japanese. Floating some 1,000km (621 miles) south of Tokyo, this archipelago of paradise islands wears its Pan Asian influences proudly.

Formerly the Ryukyu Kingdom, this prefecture was independent until it became part of Japan in 1879. Its people traded far and wide across the continent, and its food, architecture and culture are all imbued with aspects of China, Korea and South East Asia. Consequently, it’s unlike anywhere else in Japan, which had been cut off from the outside world until the 19th century.

Paradoxically, it’s Okinawa that finds itself cut off nowadays; the archipelago

Relaxation Destination

When relaxation is the name of the game, we’ve got just the thing for you – think beaches, wine, sun-kissed isles and a healthy dose of cool culture.

From Antigua to Australia, settle into your slice of paradise where whale watching, snorkelling, beach-bumming and vineyard-hopping will be the only things on your to-do list.

Enjoy a spring coastal break in San Diego, USA

‘America’s Finest City’ – or so the local claim boasts – is deceptively laid-back despite its size. And though summer is hotter and drier, March is still plenty warm, and also offers better value and shorter queues at its big attractions, of which there are many.

There are the beaches, of course: Mission has its wooden roller coaster, surfers head to Pacific Beach; Moonlight’s a family favourite; La Jolla’s the place for kayaking and snorkelling; hit Del Mar for peace and sweeping ocean views; and Coronado… well, it’s just beautiful. Balboa Park, with its museums and zoo, is uncrowded in March, while the bars and restaurants of the Gaslamp Quarter are as lively as ever. Go north towards Carlsbad to be dazzled by the ranunculus flowers at the Flower

This is It World’s best beaches

Dust off your shades and dig out your sandals – we’ve rounded up the best beaches around the world, from quintessential paradise to bare-it-all glam.

Paradise beaches

Hawaii is known for some of the most famous beaches in the world, but if you fancy a secluded slice of paradise, hop on a 4×4 to Kaiolohia Beach on the island of Lanai. As you sunbathe, gaze at the eerie 1940s oil tanker wreckage peeking out from an azure coral reef.

More than azure waters and white sands, El Nido in the Palawan archipelago of the Philippines has coved beaches full of natural wonders such as ancient caves and limestone cliffs. You’ll be equally spoilt for choice if you head to Pemba, neighbouring Zanzibar in the Indian Ocean, which is abundant in unspoilt beaches and untamed forests. Limited in accommodation and transport, Pemba is a guaranteed beach adventure.

Built into a rocky hillside on the Ionian coast, Maratea in Italy’s Basilicata region is a serene alternative to the well-trotted Amalfi Coast. Zip along mountain roads to the nearby black sands of Macarro.

Resort beaches

Luxury and silky sands

Reasons You Must Visit Kyiv

Due to the political turmoil in Ukraine, Kyiv has lost some of its tourist appeal in recent years. But the ancient Ukrainian capital – and the host of the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest – is completely safe to visit and awaits curious travellers to unveil its rich and colourful history. Among the most important cultural centres of eastern Europe, offering superb architecture and a cool foodie scene, Kyiv remains one of the most underrated cities on the continent.

Legends of Andriyivsky Uzviz

Nicknamed ‘the Montmartre of Kyiv’, this street is one of the cultural gems of the Ukrainian capital. Every house here can tell a story, every corner hides a legend. With numerous galleries and workshops,Andriyivsky Uzviz has always been the melting pot of Kyiv’s artists, luring them with its bohemian atmosphere and attractive hilly setting. Here you can admire the gracious architecture of St Andrew’s Church and buy handmade souvenirs from one of the local artisans.

Delicious Ukrainian cuisine

Ukrainian food is not only very tasty, but also quite affordable. When in Kyiv, you simply can’t refrain from trying traditional Ukrainian varenyky (filled dumplings) and the legendary borshch (red beetroot soup). For a genuine Kyiv urban snack, try the perepichka (sausage in a fried bun) at Kyivska Perepichka near Teatralna metro station, and taste a magnificent cinnamon roll atBulochnaya Yaroslavna bakery