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South 12 Road Street Daowai Harbin Heilongjiang China

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  • 5 Best Muslim-Friendly Cities to Travel in February

    As January comes to a close it's time to welcome the month of February. For those of you who are fond winter travelling, all is not lost. In some places the end of January does not mean the end of winter so, keep your hopes high! You still might get a chance to see the winter beauty of different cities if you plan to go out in February. Here are the names of the cities that look their best in February. via GIPHY Follow our city guides Harbin, China: Happening in the capital city of China's northern Heilongjiang province, Harbin International Ice and Snow sculpture festival attracts thousands of foreign visitors each year. The festival begins in December and goes on till 25th February, so if you haven't visited it by March, pack your bags for December. Remember, The Harbin Ice and Snow festival is the largest winter, ice and snow festival in the world. Also, since Harbin is located at the northern tip of China it faces the brunt of Siberian winds, hence, temperatures can go well under -20°C. The Harbin Taiping Airport is one of the busiest airports in China, and is connected by various Chinese and international airlines, so getting there isn't a problem. Finding Halal food restaurants in Harbin could be challenging if you're a first timer but there's ways to make it easier to find Halal food restaurants near you, you can use mobile apps such as the Halaltrip app to locate Halal food eateries near you. Chicago, USA: Although, Chicago faces the full brunt of winter, in February things start to calm down. Chicago, IL is also one of the most diverse cities in the US that has a sizeable part of its population being foreign born. It is also one of the major go-to destinations for foreigners and other Americans living in different parts of the US. There are a variety of hotels in and around the city, ranging from extremely expensive ones downtown, to cheap ones in the suburbs, or you can rent a hostel room / student dormitory if you're a solo traveler. Finding Halal food in Chicago is easy since it's home to a large population of Muslims, therefore you'll find many restaurants and diners offering Halal food. Chicago has a number of attractions including the famous Willis Tower, and the metallic bean (Cloud Gate) located in the Millennium Park. Also, the Chicago River runs through the city, and has magnificent high-rise buildings on both sides.  These are a few things that you can see in Chicago, but remember, Chicago is much bigger than this. The Chicago O'Hare Airport is one of the busiest airports in the world, and connects almost every corner of the Earth to Chicago, so getting there won't be troublesome. Vancouver, Canada: Photo Credit - www.tourismvancouver.com/ Vancouver is located in the British Columbia, Canada, and is a must-visit destination for anyone travelling to Canada. It has been voted one of the most liveable cities in the world by a number of organizations, and has an incredibly high standard of living. Canada is also famous for its intense winters, so I think I don't have to say much about it, except to remember that Vancouver remains cloudy and wet throughout February. There's plenty to see and do in Vancouver, you can take a stroll in Stanley Park or watch a colorful show at the Vancouver Aquarium. There's also the Science World inside a huge dome for those who are attracted to Science. Halal food can be found if you look for it, as there's a large Muslim community residing in the city of Vancouver, and since Vancouver is a very friendly city, you can ask citizens for guidance if you can't find a Halal food restaurant or eatery nearby. Getting around the city is quite easy, the city is connected through a skytrain system and several bus lines with road signs available in English, French and sometimes Chinese since Vancouver holds a large expat population from China. The Vancouver Airport is among the busiest in Canada, and is mostly used by those coming from East Asia, however, it connects all major cites in the world. Tokyo, Japan: Tokyo is the capital city of Japan, and one of the oldest, yet most modern cities of the world. Tokyo is often visited in the summer season when the cherry blossoms bloom, however, during the fall season, the cherry trees adorn a new, mesmerizing look, and you might see snow if you're lucky. Japanese people are well mannered and care a lot about their culture and traditions, so, if you're in Tokyo, remember to abide by the local laws, and do not disrespect their customs. Tokyo is full of places that are worthy of visiting, and I believe you won't be able to explore most of them if you're on a short trip. There's The Tokyo Disneyland, The Tokyo Disneysea, Tokyo Skytree etc. Tokyo has a well-developed transportation system with rails and buses binding all of the city together but remember it does get a bit crowded, so move in an orderly fashion while using public transport. Finding Halal food may be difficult since Tokyo does not host a very large Muslim population, but there are a bunch of Halal food restaurants that you can find with the assistance of apps and maps. Furthermore, remember, they could be a bit expensive too. The Tokyo Narita Airport is the major airport of Tokyo, which connects most of the world to the city. International Airlines such as Emirates, Air China and Qatar Airways have Tokyo in their prime destinations list. Istanbul, Turkey: Istanbul is one of the oldest cities in the world, and since it is strategically located between Asia and Europe, it was often the center point for rivalry between empires. Today, Istanbul is located in the Republic of Turkey, and is an established tourist destination. During the last few years Istanbul has seen an increase in the number of foreign visitors. Istanbul is a great destination for those interested in its history - the city is filled with spectacular buildings belonging to the Ottoman and Byzantium era. There are also structures dedicated to the foundation of modern Turkey, such as the Taksim Republic Monument. If you want to explore the religious side of the city, you can go to the Blue Mosque or the Hagia Sophia. Istanbul is usually cold in February. Halal food can be found everywhere since Istanbul is a predominantly Muslim city. In fact, Turkish cuisine is one of the best Muslim cuisines in the world, and you'll get to know what I'm saying when you try their Baklavas and Kebabs. Getting around Istanbul is easy, there's a large network of streetcars and tramways linking the whole city, and there's also the cruise service that is used as a tourboat-cum-ferry, since the ride offers a spectacular view of the city. The Istanbul Airport is a hub for one of the world's best airlines, Turkish Airlines, a major airline that connects several European and Asian cities with Istanbul. via GIPHY Find a Halal Restaurant near you...

  • 5 Best Destinations For A Winter Experience

    For the next few months, we are going to experience a lovely cold weather. Yes, you feel tempted to retreat to your into your home with a cozy blanket and hot drink, but whether you like or dislike winter, you cannot deny the beauty it brings out around the world, during December. And since the cold weather is something everyone is going to experience, why not do it in style and more excitement? The winter holiday experience in some countries are so beautiful, it takes your breath away. These are seasonal holiday destinations. So make sure that you don't miss out on the chance to explore your horizons. There are many places around the world you can visit for the best winter holidays and guarantees a good time with many activities and for sightseeing. These are the top 5 destinations you can have a wonderful winter experience in.   Credit - giphy.com   Plitvice National Park, Croatia Picture credit - youtube.com The Plitvice National Park is Croatia's single most popular attraction, with justification. Let your imagination run wild and conjure up an image of 16 beautiful turquoise lakes, with water cascading down in a series of waterfalls, hemmed in by densely forested hills. And now, imagine it all beautifully frozen and snowcapped. Paints a pretty picture, doesn't it? You could experience this crystallised beauty only once a year and other people seems to have the same idea. Its one of the best European destinations visited by tourists. Nowadays these lakes are bursting at the seems with fish and water snakes, while herons frequent the shores of the quieter, northern part of the system, and deer, bears, wolves and wild boar throng the forests above. The visit to the park is highly organized with well-laid out paths, regular shuttle buses and ferry rides to main points of interest. When travelling through the mountainous parts of Croatia, the deeper you go in, the more you encounter snow, making it your perfect winter wonderland! The main route during winter is to take the path along the canyon and to hike. You can make snow angels and even have snowball fights! You are never too old for them ;) One of the best restaurants in Plitvice is the "Licka Kuca" restaurant. It has many wonderful reviews about its food and services. Although, before you dine, check if it ticks all your boxes. You can never be too careful about meals far away from home. If you are visiting- If the weather conditions are “normal” you have the boats running on the upper lakes and the tour guides are also available. The admission fees are reduced. Opening hours are shorter Bring warm clothes and proper footwear, especially if there is snow. Skiing at Plitvice is a possibility in the village 'Mukinje'. There is one slope with a T-lift and a few smaller hills, which are mainly used for kids on slides. Ski equipment and slides can be rented at the skiing centre where you can also find a restaurant called "Skijaliste Bistro Vucnica". During winter season most of the hotels run by National park Plitvice are closed, the only one, which is open whole year around, is hotel Jezero. But there are of course other options one of which is cottages. There is one cottage recommended in Smoljanac, which is about 5 km from entrance 1. If you visit without a car, your first priority for accommodation should be Rastovaca. Other options are Grabovac and Rakovica where you have quite a few lovely bungalows.   Banff National Park, Canada Picture credit - banffnationalpark.com The Banff National Park is most famous Canadian Rockies Park and Canada's leading tourist attraction. The main attraction of Banff National Park is undoubtedly Lake Moraine, located 15 km from Lake Louise. The lake's crystal clear water reflects the snowcapped valley of the Ten Peaks. It also has a 1500 km trail, which you can use to hike and go camping as well. Since the actual town of Banff which, transforms into a Christmas village with colourful lights, decorations and horse-drawn carriages for visitors is close by, you can spend a couple of days browsing the stores along Banff Avenue and throughout downtown Banff to find gifts for your loved ones and also stock up on supplies. It is December after all! Two popular roads within the park offer magnificent panoramas: from Banff to Lake Louise is a far preferable route to the parallel Trans-Canada Highway, and the much longer Icefields Parkway leads from Lake Louise to Jasper. Both are lined with trails long and short, waterfalls, lakes, canyons, viewpoints, pull-offs and a seemingly unending procession of majestic mountain, river, glacier and forest scenery. The towering mountains, snow-covered trees, frozen lakes and outdoor skating rinks make spending the winter holidays in the rocky mountains quite special. Lake Louise gives such a magical feel during winter, with a blanket of glistening snow and complete solitude. "The Banff Springs" and "The Rimrock" are known for their fabulous buffets and Christmas dinners. Also be sure to check out "The Maple Leaf Grill", "The Juniper Hotel & Bistro" and "Chinook Restaurant" at the Banff Park Lodge if you find yourself in need of a good, filling meal. To look out for - There’s world-class skiing with choices of three mountains. All three resorts, Lake Louise Ski Resort, Sunshine Village and Mount Norquay are open. Lake Louise is a cross-country skiing paradise. Ski rentals are available through Chateau Mountain Sports within the hotel; lessons or guided skiing tours can be arranged through the concierge. If you’re not into skiing, but want to experience some fun and thrill in the snow you can try tubing at the Lake Louise Ski Resort or the Mount Norquay Ski Resort in Banff. Snowshoeing is also available at Lake Louise. If you haven't done it before, don't fret. It’s very easy to learn. One of the easiest trails to try is the Lake Louise Lakeshore with virtually no elevation gain. Another popular trail is to the Fairview Lookout. There’s a hill perfect for tobogganing right next to the Chateau Lake Louise on to the left. Toboggans can be rented from Chateau Mountain Sports within the hotel. Ice-skating on Lake Louise is one of the most beautiful outdoor rinks in the world. The skating rink is usually cleared in early December and an ice castle is built. Skates are available through Chateau Mountain Sports in the Fairmont Chateau Hotel. There are traditional horse-drawn sleigh rides along the lakeside trail to the back of Lake Louise. You can make reservations at the Brewster desk inside the Fairmont Chateau lobby. It is available from early December to mid-April depending on conditions. A leisurely stroll along the snow-covered trail to the back of Lake Louise would be an enchanting experience. It’s a peaceful way to experience the winter surroundings and majestic mountains. Or you can simply read a book in front of a crackling fire at your hotel or soak your stress away in the Banff hot springs. If you're looking for accommodations during your winter ski vacations and Christmas holidays, the condo-style properties are very popular. Some popular are the Banff Rocky Mountain Resort, Hidden Ridge Resort, Douglas Fir Resort and Tunnel Mountain Resort. Due to their high demand, these properties may need to be booked several months in advance, especially if you want to reserve specifically for Christmas or New Years. Ultimate Holiday Experiences can be had at the high-end resort properties such as the Banff Springs, Chateau Lake Louise and Rimrock Hotel.   Richmond Park, UK Picture credit - timeout.com Richmond Park is the biggest park in London is more breathtaking during winter. It's three times the size of New York's Central Park and is teeming with deer’s galloping around; giving it an English countryside feel to it. On the few days the snow falls in London, this is THE place to be. Richmond Park is accessible by public transport and car parking facilities are also available should you rent a car to visit. The park is a top UK site for ancient trees and supports a range of rare species including fungi, birds, beetles, bats, grasses and wildflowers. It is a protected status as a National Nature Reserve. Richmond Park is a site of both national and international importance for wildlife conservation. The best places to visit for meals and snacks are the "Pembroke Lodge", located at the highest point of Richmond Park and "The Roehampton Cafe", which is located at Roehampton gate car park. If you find yourselves in need of quick refreshments, there are refreshment points located near Broomfield Hill and Pen Pond car parks. They serve a wide a range of hot and cold snacks and beverages. The Friends of Richmond Park provides frequent guided walks, which are free of charge. These do not need to be booked ahead unless mentioned otherwise. Imagine the mystical and otherworldly feel you will experience while walking through snow covered trees and paths and with deer’s running wild. I'm sure just listening about it makes you feel heart content. The current itinerary for the walks of 2017 is as follows: 02nd of Sep - Roehampton Gate Car Park 07th of Oct - Sheen Gate Car Park (Deer + Walk the Wall) 04th of Nov - Pembroke Lodge Car Park (Fungi) 02nd of Dec - Pen Ponds Car Park 26th of Dec - Pembroke Lodge Car Park To look out for - The Isabella Plantation is a 40-acre woodland garden set within a Victorian woodland plantation. Located in the gardens are the National Collection of Wilson 50 Kurume Azaleas (introduced to the west from Japan), large collections of Rhododendrons and Camellias, plus many other rare and unusual trees and shrubs. Native plants commonly grow alongside exotics throughout the Plantation. Park cycling is available with bikes for hire. Although, riding in the cold weather would prove to be a tad bit difficult, but it is also good to challenge yourself once in awhile. While cycling you can come across many wildlife at close range. It also has a number of stables where you can get horses to go horse riding. That would truly be an enchanting experience. Who needs a prince charming when you can ride all by yourself in a beautiful environment? There are two playgrounds that are created specifically for children under five and the other for children of all ages. It’s called the Kingston Gate Playground and Petersham Gate Playground, respectively. Nothing can cool your jets like the sport of winter rugby. A section of the grassland to the north of the Roehampton Gate is maintained and laid out with 3 adult pitches. This is available only during winter season. Power kiting is also available. It is a sport where you are pulled along by a kite while sitting in a kite buggy or standing on a land board. Qualified instructors teach this fast growing sport all year round, in the grassy spaces of Richmond Park. Enjoy a Christmas experience to remember in Richmond Park during December, with a classic winter carriage ride, drawn by elegant grey horses. You can enjoy warm refreshments while travelling along with a unique behind-the-scenes visit to the stables.   Atlas Mountains, Morocco Picture credit - reddit.com The majestic Atlas Mountains of Northern Africa see a total of above 3000m-snow covers from November to April. The 'Mount Toubkal' a.k.a the 'Toubkal Massif' is the most stunning during the winter, when fearless mountaineers don grappling hooks and climb the 4167m summits. This highest Atlas peak is where everyone sets their trekking destination towards. It is also possible to camp out on your trek, as the Atlas Mountains are a series of mountains and plateaus. You can reach trailhead villages in just two hours from Marrakesh, which is the best way to find out the real natural landscapes in Morocco, and the main walking routes are easily followed. Walking just a short distance from the most common starting point – Imlil – you are transported to a very different world. Mountain villages offer a stark contrast to the previous roadside towns with Berber houses stacked one on top of another, appearing to sprout from the rocks, situated on the green scenic deep valleys of the high atlas. The Atlas Mountains makes a wonderful place for trekking holidays where you particularly find a lot of mountains to climb like Mount Toubkal, M’goun Mountains, Jbel Ayachi and Lalla Khedidja. Accommodations if you're staying - Ever since the legendary Kasbah Du Toubkal was introduced, the Atlas Mountains have built a reputation for indulgent and stylish hotels. Whilst it is more expensive, the excellent terraces, lounges and views pull together to create a superb stay. Kasbah Bab Ourika stands out for pure indulgence and majestic situation. Douar Samra wins the charm award hands down with a wonderfully earthy rambling village property. There are hotels are clustered around three broad areas, the Ourika Valley, Ouirgane and Imlil. Ourika Valley is an incredibly picturesque valley but is much more densely populated and heavily frequented by tourist coaches with less good walking options. If you are keen on walking then the Imlil area is recommended by most. The scenery has a dramatic effect, along with cooler temperatures and the village is at the heart of a wonderful network of walking trails.   Harbin, China Harbin is world famous for its largest ice and snow sculpture festival during January. There are participants from every nook and cranny of the world to exhibit their enormous sculptures of snow and ice. Songhua River and nearly all the parks in Harbin are the venues of the festival. This part of China is known for its temperatures dropping below -20 °C, which makes the ideal weather for this festival. As the coldest city in the most northern China, Harbin’s winter is dry, cold and coupled with a longer period of snow covering. You can also spend some nights in beautiful China's Snow Town, skiing in Yabuli, fishing or ice sailing on Songhua River, ice lantern watching, ice and snow sculptures-seeing or experiencing an adventure among the Siberian tigers and more. In its dining field, there is the mixture of Russian style and Chinese style. In Harbin, the "Zhongyang Street" and the "Huanghe Road" are the two centralized dining places. To look out for - Skating is a characteristic sport in Harbin. One important difference of skating from other cities of China is - the playing field is moved to the ice surface. Snow falls early in Harbin and around many ski resorts in Harbin. Yabuli Ski Resort (the best and most convenient place to try downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, snowboarding and other winter activities), Yabuli Sunshine Holiday Village Ski Resort, Longzhu Erlongshang Ski Resort, Harbin Institute Of Physical Education Skifield, Jihua Changshou Mountain Ski Resort, Pingshan Shenlu Ski Resort are some of Harbin's most popular ski areas. There are many snow bikes and ice-sailings available for rent in the park or on the Songhua River. Winter in Harbin provides you with many opportunities to experience and witness new things such as winter swimming by the local elderly. It is a sport that requires precaution, specialized training and adequate warm-up Even though many might profoundly deny it and no matter how old you are, building a snowman is what everyone absolutely loves to do. With the extremely low temperature and the blanket of snow, you can enjoy building a snowman with your friends or family. Along with making snow angels and snowball fighting. These are activities that never get old! The best place to enjoy hiking is China's Snow Town, where you can hike through the beautiful forests, villages and valleys. Fishing is quite famous around Harbin. You can catch Catfish, Pseudorasbora parva, Lumpfish, Dace almost everywhere the Songhua River. A must have experience when visiting Harbin, is the Siberian Tiger Park. It is a one-time experience where you can get up close and personal with Tigers! During the visit, you will be caged in a specially protected bus or jeep to linger through the fierce tigers to appreciate the exhilarating and breathtaking panorama. Snowmobiling in Harbin is as famous as any other winter sport. There are marked trails for independent trips on snowmobiles around the city. You can contact travel agents or your hotel manager to arrange such trip. The people of Harbin don't hibernate over winter. They create reasons to get out and enjoy the outdoors. One way is with Spring Festival and Lantern Festival, which occur across the country. The two festivals are celebrated in the first month of the traditional Chinese calendar (usually in Feb.). During the festivals, you can see the locals perform Yangko dance or dragon dance in the streets or villages.   Just because its winter and you don't like the cold weather, it doesn't mean you have to miss out on such an adventure! Explore all these destinations and create a mystical and enchanting time for yourself. It will be a memory to last a lifetime. Get out in the cold, drink hot cocoa, and enjoy the snow as if it’s the last thing you would do and I can guarantee that you will have a great time! Live your life and feel alive. Experience everything it has to offer. So pack a bag, don your scarves and gloves and prepare for the best experience, 'cause winter is coming ;)  ...



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