Friday, 27 July 2012

TripAdvisor hits 75 million reviews and opinions milestone

World’s Largest Travel Site’s Content Increases 50 Percent in the Past Year
Community Also Grows with 32 Million Marketable Members Worldwide

TripAdvisor®, the world's largest travel site*, announced that it now features more than 75 million travel reviews and opinions, up from 50 million one year ago. A testament to the site’s enduring usefulness and freshness of content, the company also reports remarkable growth in other key areas:

  • More members: The TripAdvisor community has skyrocketed to 32 million marketable members worldwide, up from 20 million one year ago.
  • More contributions: Fifty contributions are posted to the site per minute, up from 25 one year ago.
  • More photos: The site now carries over 11 million user-submitted images, an increase of four million in one year.
  • More visitors: 56 million people* now use TripAdvisor each month, making it the largest travel site in the world.
  • More businesses: Over 610,000 hotels, 880,000 restaurants and 200,000 attractions are represented, 50 percent more total properties than were listed one year ago

Additional Fun Content Facts:

  • It would take 1,671 years to spend a night in each of the 610,000 hotels on TripAdvisor.
  • 5.7 billion is the total word count of all TripAdvisor reviews and opinions, with the longest totalling 9,166 words.
  • The community has bestowed 30 million helpful votes to their peers for outstanding reviews.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

TripAdvisor announces 2012 Travellers’ Choice Destinations

London and New York City Named World’s Best Travel Spots
Based on Opinions from the TripAdvisor Community of Millions

TripAdvisor®, the world’s largest travel site*, today announced the winners of its 2012 Travellers’ Choice® Destinations awards.  In the fourth year of its awards, TripAdvisor has honoured 440 outstanding destinations in 37 markets across the globe, including lists for Africa, Asia, Australia, the Caribbean, Central America, China, Europe, India, Mexico, the Middle East, South America, the South Pacific, and the United States. 
The Travellers’ Choice Destinations awards honour top travel spots worldwide based on millions of valuable reviews and opinions from TripAdvisor travellers.  Award winners were determined based on the popularity of destinations, taking into account travellers’ favourites and most highly rated places.  
Top 25 Travellers’ Choice World Destinations
1.     London, England
2.     New York City, New York
3.     Rome, Italy
4.     Paris, France
5.     San Francisco, California
6.     Marrakech, Morocco
7.     Istanbul, Turkey
8.     Barcelona, Spain
9.     Siem Reap, Cambodia
10.  Berlin, Germany
11.  Chicago, Illinois
12.  Florence, Italy
13.  Buenos Aires, Argentina
14.  Sydney, Australia
15.  Beijing, China
16.  Prague, Czech Republic
17.  Las Vegas, Nevada
18.  Bora Bora, French Polynesia
19.  Shanghai, China
20.  Honolulu, Hawaii
21.  Los Angeles, California
22.  New Orleans, Louisiana
23.  Cape Town, South Africa
24.  Chiang Mai, Thailand
25.  Dublin, Ireland
Top 25 Travellers’ Choice U.S. Destinations:
1.     New York City, New York
2.     San Francisco, California
3.     Chicago, Illinois
4.     Las Vegas, Nevada
5.     Honolulu, Hawaii
6.     Los Angeles, California
7.     New Orleans, Louisiana
8.     Seattle, Washington
9.     San Diego, California
10.  Orlando, Florida
12.  Portland, Oregon
13.  San Antonio, Texas
14.  Savannah, Georgia
15.  Boston, Massachusetts
16.  Branson, Missouri
17.  Atlanta, Georgia
18.  Houston, Texas
19.  Sedona, Arizona
20.  Napa, California
21.  Lahaina, Hawaii
22.  Austin, Texas
23.  Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
24.  Charleston, South Carolina
25. Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Family Travel Tips

1. Minimize time on the plane with kids. If there are two parents, send one on the plane with the bags, while  the other parent waits with the kids and boards as late as possible. Similarly, minimize waiting whenever possible. Kids of all ages despise it. For example, if you need to pick up checked bags at the carousel and get a rental car, one of you can wait for the bags while the other gets the rental car.

 2. If possible, stay at a hotel with a pool.  Kids love them, and they’re a good way to burn off excess energy. (Consider packing swimsuits in your carry-on so that upon arrival at hotel you can get prepped for a dip while the other parent checks in.)

 3. You have to think about what kids like—and more important, what they don’t like. Kids don’t care about pretty views, for instance, or listening to tour guides. They like doing stuff. Plan time for activities that might not be key to why you’re in the destination (biking, running around, swimming, etc.), but will make the rest of the trip go down more smoothly. Wherever you go, there’s probably a park or a school with a playground—not only are they fun for kids, they’re places where kids might meet other kids. It’s nothing personal, but being around adults all the time can be a drag.

4. Have the kids wear slip-on shoes on flying days—they’ll make getting through security easier (and be easier to slip on and off on the plane).

5. Get older kids involved in the trip-planning—maybe let them have an afternoon or day to determine what everyone does. Having them be invested in the trip goes a long way to avoiding moods. Plus, they’ll learn about travel-planning. (How else are they going to learn about it?)

6. Teenagers need space. Parents have to remember that teens can’t stand the sight of them sometimes. If possible, give them independence, too.

7. Everyone doesn’t have to do everything as a group—especially when you have younger and older kids in the same family (13 year olds and 5 year olds tend not to have the same interests). Besides, sometimes it’s nice to have different adventures, and then at dinner everyone has stories to tell.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

The Lesser Explored Kumaon in Uttarakhand

If you are looking to drive along a path taken by a few, here is route for you: Delhi - Champawat - Abbott Mount - Patal Buvaneshwar - Vijaypur - Bageshwar - Munsiyari

This is one of the lesser touched circuits in India - the eastern end of Uttarakhand, hugging the Nepal border. Nature is at its beautiful best in the form of snow-capped peaks, valleys, waterfalls and rivers as well as religious and historical sites.

Champawat’s hidden wonders are the 10th century Baleshwar group of temples. Known to have been constructed by the Chandra dynasty, the carvings on the walls and roofs have stood the test of time except for disfiguring of idols by Muslim invaders. The main temple is devoted to Lord Shiva while others include those of Bhairav, Champa Devi and Kali.
Travel Tip: Spend a couple of hours here and move on to Abbott Mount, 22 kms away. 

Abbott Mount
It was discovered by Britisher John Abbott in the pre-independence era who decided to name the hill after himself. He built 13 cottages here and some of these still survive. Panorama takes a new meaning as you treat yourself to views of peaks like Trishul, Nanda Kot, Nanda Ghunti and the Nanda Devi. A church built in 1942 stands locked now, but opens once or twice a year for prayers. You can even play a game of cricket on what is claimed to be the second highest pitch in the world after Chail in Himachal Pradesh at just under 7,000 feet.
Travel Tip: Stay and eat at the Abbott Mount Cottage run by Asian Adventures (; no other options. 

Advaita Ashram Mayavati
A half day trip to Advaita Ashram Mayavati brings you as close to serenity and beauty as you can imagine. Built by the followers of Swami Vivekananda in 1899, who visited this place in 1901, the secluded Ashram has tried to maintain the sanctity of the spirit with which it was created.

Patal Bhuvaneshwar
Patal Bhuvaneshwar is ample evidence of the power of faith in this country. A maze of caves that one reaches after negotiating a steep, claustrophobia inducing tunnel, the natural formations inside are interpreted as various Hindu Gods and worshipped accordingly. These caves are believed to be as old as the Earth itself, and find a mention in Chapter 103 of the Mahaskhand of the Skanda Purana. The Chand dynasty of Champawat created the infrastructure to manage the caves in 1191, and got the Bhandaris from Kashi to be the priests. Their descendants still perform these duties.
Travel Tip: You can stay at hotels like Parwati Resorts but they suffer from poor housekeeping and worse food. It is recommended one starts from Abbott Mount early, spends a few hours here and heads to Vijaypur.

Initally called Ora, and set up as a tea estate by the British, it was renamed Vijaypur after a Gujarati merchant Vijay Lal Shah bought this area in 1947. The tea business may be modest by all standards, but the views of the peaks are impressive by all counts. You can stand still for hours admiring the Panchachuli range as well as some of highest peaks in the Himalayas including Nanda Devi (7816m), Nanda Devi East (7434m), Trishul (7120m) and Mrigthuni (6855m). Travel Tip: Stay and eat at the Chestnut Grove Himalayan Lodge ( with cottages on the edge of the forest in the company of birds like the red billed magpie and beautiful flowers. Very well managed.

An hour’s drive from Vijaypur, Bageshwar is located at the confluence of the Gomti and Saryu rivers. Built in 1602 by King Lakshmi Chand, it houses Hindu idols from the seventh to the 16th centuries. The temples are full of bells hung by devotees on strings, who also throng here in big numbers during Shivaratri. The town is flanked on the east and west by the Bhileshwar and Nileshwar mountains, with a Shiva Temple and a Chandika Temple atop each respectively.

Munsiyari was the gateway to trade between India and Tibet before the 1962 war with China put an end to it. Its geo-economic significance may have diminished since then, but nothing can take away from its natural beauty and view of the Panchachuli and other over-19000 feet high peaks. Munsiyari also serves as a starting point for some popular treks. While here, a picnic to the banks of the Goriganga river and walks in the neighbouring villages of Dar Kot and others are a must. As is a visit to Masterji’s museum where Professor Pangti has carefully curated a collection of traditional items used by traders to remind one of the history of the place.
Travel Tip: Stay options are average, Wayfarer Resort being somewhat decent. Make do with it till new places come up.

Best time to go: March to November. Post-monsoons, the skies and the landscape would be gorgeous.

Distances Guide
Delhi – Champawat: 432 km, 10 Hours
Champawat – Abbott Mount: 22 km, 1 Hour
Abbott Mount – Advaita Ashram Mayavati: 20 km, 1 Hour
Abbott Mount – Patal Bhuvaneshwar: 90 km, 3.5 Hours
Patal Bhuvaneshwar – Vijaypur: 53 km, 2 Hours
Vijaypur – Bageshwar: 31 km, 1 Hour One Way
Vijaypur – Munsiyari: 120 km, 4.5 Hours
Munsiyari - Delhi: 600 kms, 18 Hours 

–  Ajay Jain is a travel writer and photographer, and publishes the Kunzum Travel Mag. Subscribe to the mag for FREE at He can be reached at

Friday, 6 July 2012

The Indian Traveller Wines & Dines His Way through Vacation

-          One-third of respondents say they have attended a wine/whiskey tour while on holiday
-          40 percent respondents have attended a food & beverage festival on holiday

The Indian traveller seems to be willing to indulge his taste buds while on a holiday. According to a Food and Travel survey conducted by TripAdvisor® – the world’s largest travel planning site, 97 percent respondents said they are comfortable with trying diverse Indian food while travelling domestically. The real surprise, however, is to see a whopping 91 percent willing to experiment with local cuisine when holidaying internationally. The survey was taken by 1000 respondents across India.
Nikhil Ganju, Country Manager of TripAdvisor India elucidates, “33 percent of the total respondents from our survey said they have attended a wine/whiskey tour while on a holiday. Among those who hadn’t, almost half expressed their interest in attending one if given a chance indicating a latent opportunity for wine and dine tourism within India as well as promoting such international fests & tours for the outbound traveller. The trend was similar, in fact more pronounced, for food & beverage festivals. Another encouraging trend is that 25 percent respondents say they have chosen a holiday destination specifically to experiment with the local food.”
More Palate on your plate

The trends mentioned above represent that Indians are becoming adventurous gourmands while on a holiday. Other survey findings supporting this are:

·      A majority of 64 percent respondents are more likely to explore quaint local eateries as against the popular restaurants frequented by tourists. A low 14 percent hunt for Indian dining options for most meals & only 15 percent prefer to stick to familiar international food while abroad.
·      While 41 percent said they start craving for home food on holiday after more than 5 days, 40 percent said they don't particularly miss home food even when holidaying internationally.

Interestingly, 38 percent admitted to carrying Indian food when travelling internationally on holiday (like snacks, namkeen, pickles or Maggi) which they miss eating or which may not be available at their destination.

Check, please
·      Only 17 percent respondents said they always convert meal/dish prices into Indian Rupees to decide if a dish is too expensive to order with an equal percent saying they never do that. 66 percent still admitted to doing the math at least sometimes when travelling internationally.
·      42 percent respondents said they would be fine spending between Rs. 500-1000 per meal per person when travelling internationally. However, only 20percent respondents think it’s justified to spend that much money on a domestic holiday.

More women compared to men…
·      …said they have attended a wine/whisky tour.
·      …have attended a food and beverage festival.
·      …are likely to go to quaint and small eateries known mostly to locals instead of popular tourist  options
·      …like to try local food for almost all their meals compared to men
·      …said they will explore local cuisine and find new places to dine when travelling international

·      8 percent more men carry Indian snacks and food internationally compared to women
·      Among vegetarians, 21percent more men find travelling internationally daunting cause of lack of veg options
·      40 percent men said they carry Indian food when travelling international while only 32 percent women opted for the same.

The Veg Veto
Finding great meal options does seem like a challenge for the herbivore compared to the meat eaters
·      65 percent vegetarians carry non perishable food items when travelling internationally compared to only 25 percent of non vegetarian respondents.
·      Owing to the lack of dining options, vegetarians miss homemade food more than their counterparts.
·      55 percent said they would definitely or sometimes be deterred from going on holiday to an international destination which predominantly has non-vegetarian cuisine, because of lack of enough vegetarian dining options. This might prove to be ‘food for thought’ for countries wooing Indian tourists.
·      82 percent vegetarian respondents are comfortable with trying local cuisine internationally as compared to 96 percent when in India.
·      50 percent vegetarian respondents would look for Indian dining options for most meals or prefer to find familiar international food compared to only 17 percent non vegetarians.

Collective appetite of the cities!

Food and Travel trends from Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Chennai
·     With the highest percentage of respondents comfortable with trying different cuisines, Delhiites are the most
Experimental when it comes to food.
·     Delhiites also seem to be the biggest foodies as majority respondents from the city said they would be interested to attend a food & beverage festival on a vacation.
·     Bangaloreans and Delhiites are the biggest spendthrifts when it comes to food. Both cities have the highest percent of respondents who are willing to spend more than Rs 1000 per person per meal.
·    Both Delhi & Mumbai have equal and highest respondents who had attended a wine/whiskey tour while on holiday.
·    Chennai-ites are the most price-sensitive with highest percentage of respondents who said they always convert meal/dish prices into Indian Rupees to decide if a dish is too expensive to order.
·    Bangaloreans & Chennai-ites are the most experimental when it comes to finding quaint eateries.