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Travel

A Peek Into the Past: What Does Bali’s History Look Like?

Bali, the beautiful island in Indonesia, has a rich history that is laden with stories of natural beauty, volcanoes, invasions, art and hospitality. This island is a vivid tapestry of adopting and adapting. 

This island has modernised and matched pace with the rest of the world while preserving its natural beauty and rich culture. Bali has been inhabited since the palaeolithic era and witnessed several stages of human evolution. 

Relationship With India

India and Bali’s relationship dates to 2000 BC. Around this time, Bali began to attract a large number of settlers from Java, Assam, Yunnan and Tibet. Evidence also suggests that by 700 AD, many Indonesian islands, including Bali, were practising Indian governance systems. 

Hinduism arrived in Bali from Java. It is believed that Hinduism was adopted in Bali from the 7th century onwards. There is also evidence to suggest that Buddhism arrived a century later in the 8th century. 

Today, 83% of Balinese people practice Hinduism, combined with animism (belief in spirits). Balinese art, music, craft, food and architecture, all showcase its strong ties with Hinduism and India. The island is dotted with several majestic and spectacular temples and the country celebrates most of the Indian festivals in their own way. 

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Invasions – Ancient and Modern

Bali was invaded several times by the rulers of Java. It has also been under Javan rule for several centuries. The most notable regime has been the rule of Gajah Mada who established the Hindu Majapahit control over the island. In the 15th century, the Majapahit dynasty fell to the Demak Sultanate, and Bali became independent. 

In the 16th Century, Bali was discovered by European traders. The first to arrive on the island was a Portuguese expedition. Over the next two centuries, Balinese kings collaborated with Europeans to strengthen their economy and defences against neighbouring islands. In 1846, Bali was attacked by the Dutch military. The locals refused to surrender and fought them bravely.

This battle was followed by a century-long Dutch rule on the island. During this period, the island became popular as an exotic tourist destination, and to this day, it is flocked by tourists from all over the world. 

During World War II, the Japanese invaded and occupied it until the war got over. After the Japanese surrender, Indonesia was declared as an independent nation. Today, Bali is one of the 34 provinces of the Republic of Indonesia. 

 

Modern Day Bali

Today, Bali is a favourite destination for family holidays. This island, with its rich culture and pristine white beaches, attracts tourists from far and wide. It is where people come to hike up the volcanic mountains, dive in the deep sea, enjoy water sports, visit the spectacular temples and learn yoga in one of its many meditation retreats. Have you visited Bali yet? Make it your next holiday destination! Come alone or come with your family, you are sure to fall in love with Bali. 

Check out these range of Indonesia & Bali holiday packages from SOTC as you plan your next trip! 

To explore holidays & experiences in Indonesia with SOTC visit: https://www.sotc.in/international-tour-packages/indonesia-tour-packages?utm_source=Blogger&utm_medium=Blog&utm_campaign=IndonesiaNTO

South India Travel

Best hotels to stay at in Goa

Goa, the forever party capital of India has retained its charm even after years and years of tourism. The golden sands opening up to the Arabian Sea with multitude shacks offering Goan delicacies, Goa remains a forever favourite beach destination with many.

While Coronavirus may have stopped our Goa plans this year, we can always dream about it! In that spirit, let us talks about some of the best hotels to stay at in Goa.

1) Taj Exotica Resort & Spa, Goa

Located on the south coast of Goa on the Benaulim beach, this 140 room resort is spacious to say the least. There are various room types to choose from like the ocean view, suites, family rooms etc. They have 3 speciality restaurants, a beachfront seasonal shack and a 24-hour all-day diner to cater to your needs. They also have 2 spas so that you can just relax here all day long after a morning of fun at the beach.

The rooms also boast of walk-in showers, blackout curtains and soundproof rooms. During these COVID times, Taj Exotica has also taken special care and you can expect well-sanitised linens, floors marked for social distancing, thermal screening for all guests, digital technology for seamless check-ins and doctor available on-call 24×7.

You can see more about hotels in Goa here.

2) ITC Grand, Goa

Also nestled in South Goa amidst lush 45 acres of landscaped gardens, ITC Grand Goa is another wonderful property to stay at. The hotel has direct access to the pristine Arossim beach which will definitely make your holiday a better experience. The style of this resort is beach-style and the architecture draws inspiration from the Indo-Portuguese vintage.

There are many different types of room types like an ocean view, pool view, suites and family rooms. During COVID, you can expect enhanced security and sanitisation of the entire resort. All lines are sanitized in the high-temperature wash, Regularly sanitized high-traffic areas, Regular temperature checks for staff. They have also introduced the WeAssure programme which is their commitment to hygiene and safety.

3) Fairfield by Marriott, Goa Anjuna

Located in North Goa’s iconic Anjuna beach, Fairfield by Marriott offers well-appointed guest rooms, which all feature private balconies. In-room dining is also available from the Kava restaurant from where you can have a wide array of local and international dining options.

There is a 24-hour fitness centre as well which helps you maintain a healthy body. They even have flexible meeting spaces and business centres as well if you want to hold a business meeting. Since the location is so iconic, there are many beaches around the property and even options for a lively night out.

Marriott is providing a safe environment that aligns with expert protocols for working to defeat COVID-19.

4) Caravela Beach Resort, Goa

This 5-star Deluxe Beach Resort comprises of 201 rooms, many which have direct sea views. Located on the lovely hite sands of Varca Beach, South-Goa, this can provide a lovely getaway for those who are craving some quiet time. A 45-minute car ride from Goa’s Dabolim Airport, it is built on a 23-acre estate, with a large golf course and a 275-meter long beach-front. 

When you enter the resort, it welcomes you with an 83-foot high Atrium lobby, making it Goa’s tallest and largest lobby.  Each guest-room has an attached outdoor balcony. For entertainment, the Resort has 4 Restaurants and multiple bars. The ‘Swim-Up Pool Bar’ and the ‘Beach Shack’ (Seasonal) are especially popular with guests. There are suites, ocean-view rooms and non-smoking rooms available.

They have come up with the Caravela Cares Program which is a well-being, hygiene and safety initiative.

5) Alila Diwa, Goa

Located 20 minutes away from the Goa Dabolim International Airport and only 500 meters from the serene white sand Gonsua Beach in Majorda, All Diwa Goa is one of the best 5-star hotels in Goa. All the rooms are spacious and elegantly designed. All the rooms have the Goa Dabolim International Airport and only 500 meters from the serene white sand Gonsua Beach in Majorda. They also have an all-day diner, a poolside bar and lounge. You can look forward to relaxing at Spa Alila which serves as your wellness retreat that provides a range of relaxing and rejuvenating western, ancient and ayurvedic spa treatments.

They even have a Play Alila Kid’s Club and Teen Zone which offers many activities for children.

They offer suites, non-smoking rooms, family rooms and much more. You can look for more hotels in Goa at tripadvisor.com

Conclusion

No matter which season, Goa always remains a favourite with many. You can always have a different experience in Goa by staying at some of the best hotels in Goa. 

Travel Tips

Coming in Prepared: 6 Essentials to Bring With You on a Hiking Trip

Hiking is the simplest, most elemental way to experience the greatness and beauty of the outdoors. Whether for a quick lunchtime trip or a daylong march, hikers always do well to come prepared. Fortunately, suppliers like the one online at questoutdoors.com make it easy to acquire everything required for any hike. Bring the following six essentials with you when you hike, and you will be prepared for just about anything.

 

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Lifestyle

Travelling to Australia? Here’s a Travel Guide for Indian Travellers to Help You Out!

Australia Visa Process for Indians

Australia is a land of beauty, comprising of busy metropolises and rural farmlands. The lovely people and scenic landscapes, coupled with the country’s weather and food may inspire you to travel to this destination. And it would be a lovely choice! If the variety and choice of cuisine you witnessed in MasterChef or other popular food shows from Australia encouraged you for a visit, you would not be disappointed. However, before proceeding further with your plans, take a look at the Australia Visa Process for Indians 

Australia Visa Process for Indians 

Indian passport holders need to possess a traveller visa to enter Australia. You can apply for the same online and acquire an Electronic Travel Authorisation or ETA for the nation. 

Once you reach the immigration at the airport, acquire the visa and proceed with your vacation. The short-stay tourist visa remains valid for up to 3 months from its issue date.

A traveller visa to Australia costs AUD 145 (approx. Rs. 7,000) per person. You can go through this guide to get detailed information about Australia tourist visa from India.

Disclaimer: The above conversion is on the basis of current forex rates. Please check the current rates before applying.

Currency Conversion Rates in Australia

Foreign currency conversion rates are constantly changing. Therefore, the forex rate may differ between what it is today and when it is time for you to travel. As of February 12, 2020, the conversion rate for AUD-INR is Rs. 47.94. This means that 1 Australian Dollar is worth Rs. 47.94.

Budget

The budget for your Australia trip depends on a number of factors, including the length of stay, places of visit and the overall quality of experience you intend to enjoy. Let’s break down the various expenses for the trip to make things easier.

  • Two-way Flight Expense Two-way flight tickets from New Delhi start from just around Rs. 30,000 per person. 
  • Hotel Expense – Hotels start from around Rs. 5,000 per night.
  • Food and Drinks – Food and drinks should cost around AUD 50 per day (approx. Rs. 2,400). However, meals at fine-dining restaurants can drive that cost up.
  • Travel Expenses – Approx. 100 AUD (or around Rs. 4800) per day if you plan to travel to various places by car. 
  • Travel Insurance – Digit offers Australia travel insurance starting from just Rs. 177 per night of stay for an adult. The sum insured for the policy is up to $50,000.

Things You must Carry for Your Australia Visit

  • Passport and Visa – It goes without saying that your passport and visa documents are essential for such an international trip. Without these, you cannot seek entry into Australia. 
  • Travel Insurance Although not mandated by the Australian authorities, travel insurance policy is vital to enjoying the trip. You can seek financial assistance from your insurer for any emergency that you face during the tour. 
  • International Driving License Carrying an international driving license is necessary if you intend to drive to the various destinations within Australia. Renting a bike or car is one of the most favourite ways for tourists to explore the country. Read through this guide to know more about how to get international driving license in India.
  • CashWhile various traveller cards can facilitate cashless transactions, you must keep some cash funds (AUD) with you as well. Not every shop, restaurant or gas station may accept your card. In these places, you can use cash to pay for related services or products.
  • Details of Indian Embassy in Sydney, Australia – AddressLevel 1, 265 Castlerea, Sydney, New South Wales 2000, Australia. Telephone+61-2-9223-2702

Top Places to Visit 

On your visit to Australia, make sure you don’t miss out on exploring these places – 

  • Sydney
  • Melbourne
  • Perth
  • Great Barrier Reef
  • Cairns
  • Blue Mountains
  • Uluru
  • Rottnest Island
  • Kangaroo Island

Things to Do in Australia 

  • Taste the Amazing Food in Tasmania – Whether it is the amazing seafood or the impressive range of cheese on offer, Tasmania is a foodie’s paradise. Be sure to wash down all you eat with some of its exotic wines.
  • Enjoy Romantic Dining in Uluru Rather than limiting yourself to restaurants and pubs, why not enjoy an amazing meal with your loved one under the open sky? Uluru offers the perfect setting for such a date.
  • Scuba Dive to See the Great Barrier Reef Dive underwater to check out the true splendour of the colourful Great Barrier Reef corals. Apart from the impressive coral structure, you can also witness the diverse wildlife under the sea. 

While enjoyment is important, make sure you take proper measures to limit unforeseen financial liabilities. Your travel insurance policy can help out in this regard! 

Food & Drinks Wine

About to Embark on a Wine-Tasting Tour? Here Are 6 Key Things to Remember

People have been making and drinking wine for thousands of years, and there are more great wines to enjoy today than at any time in history. Signing up for a guided tour is the single best way to sample the wines that make a given region special and distinctive. Naturally enough, tour participants who prepare appropriately and keep a few ideas in mind will always have the best, most enjoyable experiences.

Wine Tours are more popular than ever before, with some especially prolific wine-making regions now featuring many. It should be possible for any fan of wine to enjoy a day jam-packed with vineyards to visit and varietals and vintages to sample.

Experienced wine tasters know, though, that technique and preparation make a difference. Six tips that help make wine tasting even more satisfying and rewarding are:

1.Grab your glass by the stem

 

There are a number of different types of glasses that are traditionally used to serve wine, and almost all of them have elongated stems. The reason for this is that a lengthy stem allows someone to hold the glass without warming up the bowl and the wine within it. While simply touching the bowl will not hurt, keeping it in contact with warm flesh for any length of time is always best avoided. Simply pinch your glass’s stem between your fingers and your wine will remain fresh and at its best.

2· Swirl before you sip

· Most bottles of wine will be allowed to “breathe” after they get uncorked and before they are served. Some wines even benefit from vigorous decanting that adds oxygen, in addition to the primary purpose of removing sediment. You can do your part by swirling your wine around a bit before drinking any of it. That will help the wine’s flavors and aromas open up and become more recognisable and approachable.

3· Bouquet is for the nose

· Much of the flavor of wine comes from the aromas produced by the many volatile compounds within it. While their combined effect can be appreciated when wine is in the mouth, it will be clearer and better defined before that moment arrives. Before even letting a single drop of wine touch your tongue, put your nose to the glass’s opening and inhale. Let that bouquet set the stage for the sips to follow and you will appreciate your wine even more.

4  You’re tasting, not drinking

· It is quite common to have the option to sample a dozen or more wines in the course of a single tour. While there is nothing wrong with imbibing wine when circumstances permit, be sure to pace yourself. In most cases, it will be best to arrange for the majority of the wine that enters your mouth to exit by some means other than ingestion.

5 Your palate can get tired

Even when you start the day sharp, your palate will eventually become numb to the flavors and textures of wine. Bits of food enjoyed at intervals can help keep your tongue from tiring out, but it will eventually give in. As such, it can be best to pass on certain wines in order to remain ready to appreciate others.

6  You’re an authority

Wine critics can be intimidating with their jargon and apparent sophistication. Your experiences with and opinions about wine, though, are just as valid as anyone else’s. Listen to what others have to say and take their thoughts into consideration, but remember that your feelings about the wines you taste ultimately matter the most.

Keeping tips like these in mind can help make a tour of wine country even more rewarding. It will always be best to strive to enjoy the experience however suits you best, too, because that is really what makes wine so precious.

Lifestyle

A 7 days Thailand Travel Guide for Couples Travelling from India!

When it comes to unwinding at the exotic locales of Southeast Asia, there can be few compared to the country of Thailand. Southeast Asia has always been an attraction for backpackers around the world, with Thailand being its most visited region. With its pristine beaches, dense jungles, rich culture and food, it has a lot to offer to travellers. And, the best part about a 7-day trip to Thailand – it does not burn a hole in your pocket!

Through this travel guide, we will tell you about what to see (or avoid), the cost of commodities, what to eat and where to stay, we will attempt at putting down everything to the last detail.

So, without any further hum and haw, let us get down to business!

First things first – did you get your visa?

Since Thailand is one of the most travelled-to destinations from India, acquiring a visa for your travels will be a cakewalk. There are two types of visa that you can avail if you are travelling to Thailand – visa before you travel or a visa on arrival.

Thousands of sky lanterns were released into the night sky during the festival of light celebration in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

The visa on arrival facility is beneficial if you plan to stay in the country for not more than 15 days. It can be availed from various international airports in Thailand like the Phuket International Airport, Samui Airport, Don Muang Airport, etc. and will cost you 2,000 baht (Rs. 4,700 approximately). If you need more information about Thailand Visa, check this Visa guide about Thailand Visa for Indians.

Further, make sure you keep the following documents handy –

  • Passport.
  • Airline boarding pass.
  • Visa application form.
  • Photograph.
  • Arrival-departure card.
  • 20,000 baht (THB) or $500.

The visa before you travel is applicable only if you plan on staying for more than 30 days in the country, thus making it redundant in this case.

Know the currency exchange rate and set your budget!

Currently, the currency rate for 1 Thai baht = Rs. 2.35.

When we break down the estimated expenses for a trip to Thailand, you will find that travelling to the country is quite reasonable when it comes to expenses.

For instance, the airfare to Thailand can range from somewhere around Rs. 10,000 to Rs. 17,000, depending on where you are travelling from.

Suitable accommodations in cities like Bangkok, Chiang Mai, good guesthouses can be found at a range between Rs. 700 to Rs. 1,200 per night. But if you are looking for hotels, it will cost you around Rs. 2,000 – Rs. 3,000 for each night.

Next, when it comes to food, street food in Thailand costs as less as 20 THB. You can easily have a filling meal if you spend about 30-50 THB. This will amount to Rs. 200 – Rs. 400.

So going by the current exchange rate, your daily expense in Thailand can be pegged at Rs. 15,000 to Rs. 20,000.

Places you must absolutely visit in the country

  1. Visit the Grand Palace at Wat Pho – the 18th-century royal palace surrounded by numerous temples.
  2. Spend a day nestled with nature at the Khao Sok National Park.
  3. History buff? Do not forego a trip to the three ancient capitals of Thailand – Lopburi, Sukhothai and Ayutthaya.
  4. Unwind on the numerous tropical islands like Ko Samet, Ko Chang, Ko Jum, Ko Tao, etc. around the country.
  5. Go scuba diving at the Similan Islands.
  6. Take the boat to the Golden Triangle, marked by the confluence of the Rivers Mekong and Ruak.
  7. Shop at the floating markets of Damnoen Saduak or the Taling Chan Weekend Floating market.

Can’t finish a travel guide without talking about food, can we?

Following are a few cheap and delicious meals you must absolutely not miss –

  1. Pad thai.
  2. Pad krapow moo saap – a dish prepared with pork and fried basil.
  3. Larb – a delicacy prepared from minced meat.
  4. The famous Thai red curry or Gaeng Daeng.
  5. Khao Soi – a curry-based noodle soup.
  6. Mango sticky rice – one of the more popular snacks and dessert in the country.

Don’t forget to get your travel insurance!

While we understand your excitement about your trip to Thailand, you must not forget about one of the essentials of the trip – travel insurance.

From medical emergencies to lost baggage, ticket cancellations to a thousand other liabilities, these incidents can hamper even the most carefully chalked out travel plans. A travel insurance policy acts as a safeguard to reduce your financial liabilities under such circumstances.

It helps you to safeguard yourself financially against –

  1. Loss or theft of baggage.
  2. Emergency medical expenses including hospitalisation.
  3. Accidental treatment and evacuation.
  4. Travel scams.
  5. Loss of important belongings like phone, licenses, passport, bank cards, etc.

Further, they also help you avail emergency cash in case the need arises. You can choose to avail a basic travel insurance policy, which usually covers common mishaps during trips, or opt for the more comprehensive option according to your needs.

So, with this travel guide at your disposal, all that you need to do is make the bookings, pack your bags and take off!

Happy journey!

Lifestyle

Visiting Carlsbad? 4 Things to Have in Mind Before Booking Your Accommodation

Carlsbad

Travelling is often the most fun a family can have away from home, yet it can also be a stressful experience if the right accommodations are not obtained. Families don’t have to spend a lot of money to get a lot of value when booking a hotel for a getaway.

When searching for places to stay in Carlsbad, CA, there are a number of items you want to include in your hotel criteria. Here are 4 things to keep in mind when booking your accommodations. 

 

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Lifestyle

Asian Korean Steamboat & BBQ BUFFET at Seoul Garden in Malaysia

You might have found yourself in situations where you pay huge amounts of money for a nice and wholesome dinner for your family but you end up disappointed. It happens so often that the quality of food is not up to the mark or falls way below our expectation levels. Perhaps this has something to do with the popularity of Seoul Garden. They are always committed to ensuring the highest quality of food and maintain the standards when it comes to taste. The ingredients used are all high quality and the taste is always the same. No matter which day of the week you visit, you will find food at Seoul Garden just as lip-smacking as it’s on any other day.

Seoul Garden Buffet

Seoul Garden is a well established and hugely popular brand of restaurants. It primarily serves the Asian Korean style buffet and steamboat BBQ. The food at Seoul Garden is so amazing that your stomach will always compel you to keep coming back for more. This is a brand that is also high on innovation. Seoul Garden uses smokeless grills which are really appreciated by its customers. Before we discuss their menu items let us inform you that you can even order their food right at your home by FoodPanda Malaysia delivery service. Seoul Garden delivery is always on time and the food is hot and freshly prepared.

   

Another point that goes in the favour of Seoul Garden is the fact that it is simply affordable. Anyone can afford to eat at Seoul Garden. It’s not just for the elites but for everyone who wants to have good and high-quality food. You will be surprised that they even give away a cake worth RM30 for free if you visit on your birthday. But you need to make a reservation for these seven days in advance. All you have to do is call them up and make a reservation and tell them that it’s your birthday and they will offer you a delicious cake for free.

People just love their marinated meats. They offer a lot of variety when it comes to marinated meat. You can have beef, chicken, lamb, pork, fish and a few more options. The meat is well marinated and the flavors are really dominant. They also offer the same kind of meat in different marinated flavors. You can have your beef in Teriyaki, coffee, curry, Satay sauce, and Bulgogi flavors.

   

Since it serves the Korean style of buffet and steamboat BBQ, you can be sure that there will be a lot of seafood and you won’t be disappointed by the variety of seafood on offer. Whether it’s prawns, bamboo clams, cockles or mussels, you will find almost ever-popular seafood item on the menu. Again the taste is simply awesome. There is simply no match for Seoul Garden when it comes to the variety and taste.

   

Meat and seafood cannot be properly discussed without the mention of sauce. We have dined at various restaurants and found that not everyone is paying due attention to their sauces. This is not the case with the Seoul Garden. You will find an assortment of different sauces to try. Our personal favorite is the SG Korean Sauce. We found its thickness and taste just perfect for dipping the meat and seafood. It wraps around the seafood nicely and enhances the flavors. You can also try their Thai Garlic Chilli Sauce and Seafood Soya Sauce. Another popular sauce is the Chicken Rice Sauce. It tastes perfect when consumed with chicken-based dishes.

So what are you waiting for, pick up your phone and order your buffet from Seoul Garden today!!!

Food & Drinks

3 Food favourites from across the globe

They say there is no love more sincere than a love of food. Being creatures whose mouths instinctively water at the smell of nice food, this statement is not easy to argue with. This is why as a traveller, you can take advantage of the wide range of foods available in different destinations across the world.

As much as people love vacations, the most interesting part of a holiday is that trip to somewhere new. This is why 30% of workers, for example, are reportedly willing to accept a lower wage if business trips are among the work benefits offered. A change of environment is as good as a rest and, as we know, not many people will pass up the opportunity for a bit of relaxation.

Food tourism offers not just a change of scenery but allows you to get a sense of the place you are visiting by tasting their foods and learning about their culinary customs and cultures. If you do not know where to start organising your travels, here are some insights to get you started.

With millions of different cultures from which to choose, there is no limit to the types of foods available for you around the globe. Below is a list of just three of our 3 favourite foods from around the world:

1. Hainanese chicken rice

This is a dish of seasoned rice and poached chicken, usually served with chilli sauce and presented with cucumber garnishes. It is said to be an adaptation of the Hainanese dish Wenchang chicken, originally made by immigrants from Hainan, Southern China.

This dish is currently considered to be one of Singapore’s national dishes, although it is also present in other areas throughout Southeast Asia, specifically in Malaysia where it is a staple food.

The sight of Hainanese chicken rice in Singapore stores is common, and for good reason. Although deceptively simple, the taste of chicken has been stretched to the extent that it hits the sweet tooth every time.

2. Sushi

Sushi is a Japanese dish that is already pretty famous in the western world, and justifiably so. It is prepared using vinegared rice with some salt and sugar, and a variety of other ingredients. These may include vegetables, seafood, and even tropical fruits.

Although the styles of preparation and presentation could vary widely, one constant ingredient is ‘sushi rice’, also known as sumeshi or shari. Shari is traditionally made from medium-grained white rice but can also be prepared using short-grained or brown rice. The accompanying ingredients are often seafood such as tuna, salmon, yellowtail, eel, and squid. These are, however, not key ingredients – as many sushi dishes are vegetarian.

This Japanese cuisine is well worth its fame. Although it can be found in every country these days, if you know where to look, what better place is there to experience it than its home?

3. Neapolitan pizza

If a list was to be made of the foods people love worldwide, you would be sure to see pizza making numerous appearances. Originating in Italy, Neapolitan pizza or the Naples style pizza is made using tomatoes and mozzarella cheese. Not just any tomatoes are used, however. It is made using either Pomodorino del Piennolo del Vesuvio or Marzano tomatoes.

If you happen to make a trip to Italy, you will have the opportunity to witness the art of pizza making in person, which has been included in the country’s cultural heritage by UNESCO.

With this short guide, you have a sneak peek of what to expect when you visit the three countries whose foods have been discussed. Taste is, however, always subjective. To determine which countries in the world have the best foods, you will have to make your own trip!