Features // Helen Ochyra

The rebirth of Perth: how the city got cool
The rebirth of Perth: how the city got cool

Sun-soaked and healthy? Perhaps. A decent gateway to Western Australia? Definitely. But a cool place to spend a few days? Until recently Perth just couldn’t muster enough hipster hangouts to keep visitors interested, and even the locals would leave the city centre come nightfall. The city earned the moniker “Dullsville” and a reputation for being tucked…

6 amazing journeys in Southeast Asia
6 amazing journeys in Southeast Asia

Travelling in South East Asia isn’t just about getting from A to B, on almost every trip the journey is part of the experience. Here’s our pick of the best journeys across Southeast Asia. 1. Thailand–Burma Death Railway, Thailand Treat the Bridge Over the River Kwai as a destination in itself and you could find its…

Croatia’s top foodie experiences
Croatia’s top foodie experiences

Why go to Croatia? The unspoiled coastline, with its hundreds of islands and crystal clear waters. The gorgeous ancient walled cities, their beauty so unreal they find themselves starring in the Game of Thrones series and Star Wars movies. The food… wait, the food? Perhaps that last reason is an afterthought, or maybe you’re concerned that…

A coastal trail with a difference: sea kayaking in Northern Ireland
A coastal trail with a difference: sea kayaking in Northern Ireland

The Northern Irish coast is justifiably famous for its beauty, all craggy inlets and brooding cliffs topped by crumbling castles. Most people explore this coastline from the land, walking along the clifftops and driving the winding road that snakes along from the Scotland-facing east coast to the large inlet of Derry in the west. But…

Split or Dubrovnik: where should you go first?
Split or Dubrovnik: where should you go first?

Split and Dubrovnik are the stars of Croatian tourism. Both have an ancient core historic enough to be listed by UNESCO yet vibrant enough to remain home to a sizeable local population. Both have beaches backed by clear waters, fresh local seafood and plentiful bars with Adriatic views. And both have appeared in Game of…

Madrid or Barcelona: which should you visit first?
Madrid or Barcelona: which should you visit first?

Spain’s two biggest cities have long had a friendly rivalry – and it goes far beyond football. Madrid is, of course, Spain’s capital city and as well as being more or less geographically at the centre of the country, it is also the centre politically, economically and culturally – as well as the home of…

9 ways to beat the travel bug
9 ways to beat the travel bug

Feet itching to get out on the road again? Been back home for a while since your last adventure and desperate to start the next one? If your travel piggy bank isn’t quite up to the task of flying you off on the next big trip just yet, don’t let the travel bug get its…

9 essential tips for backpacking Thailand
9 essential tips for backpacking Thailand

Backpacking Thailand can mean staying in fun-packed hostels and idyllic beach bungalows, eating noodles so tasty and so cheap you’ll swear off all other food groups and climbing aboard everything from an overnight train to a lolloping elephant. But it also means following a well-worn route – one that has sprouted an entire industry to…

Trekking in Thailand: the best routes
Trekking in Thailand: the best routes

Thailand is ripe for trekking. From its dripping, pristine rainforests to its towering, mist-enveloped mountains, there is a landscape that just begs you to get out on two feet and explore. But the real joy of trekking in Thailand here is nothing to do with the scenery, it’s the people that make every step count, from…

How to carry cash abroad
How to carry cash abroad

In this article sponsored by Compare Forex Brokers, Helen Ochyra runs down the best ways to carry cash while travelling.  You may have become accustomed to depending on those little pieces of plastic when at home, but on the road paying for that bowl of noodles, train ticket or local beer is unlikely to mean…

Go it alone: solo travel in Thailand
Go it alone: solo travel in Thailand

Thailand is the quintessential backpacker destination. Here you can make the first footprints on secluded sands, dance shoeless under a full moon and swim beneath cascading waterfalls. Running through Thailand’s rainforests and temples and looping around its islands and beaches is the so-called “banana pancake trail”, a well-worn, tried and tested backpacker route that has…

On location: follow in the footsteps of Macbeth in Skye, Scotland
On location: follow in the footsteps of Macbeth in Skye, Scotland

See a picture of Skye, suspect computer enhancement. That’s just how it works until you get there. Then you cross the bridge, and slowly it dawns on you – Skye really does look like another world. The grass really is that emerald green (that’ll be the rain), the mountains really are that sheer, the water…

Undiscovered Southeast Asia: 9 places to get off the tourist trail
Undiscovered Southeast Asia: 9 places to get off the tourist trail

Southeast Asia is the quintessential backpacker destination – all noodle stands, grungy hostels and full moon parties, right? Not necessarily. There are still plenty of authentic Southeast Asian escapes. You just need to know where to find them. Start here. 1. Trek the path less followed in Umphang, Thailand Want to trek Thailand in peace?…

12 hiking tips you need before setting off
12 hiking tips you need before setting off

Walking: just putting one foot in front of the other, right? How hard can that be? Yes, a walking trip is something that anyone can do, but it is also something that is widely misunderstood. Hiking boots that don’t fit, a water bottle that isn’t big enough, a phone battery that never lasts – these…

8 unknown islands you need to discover in the British Isles
8 unknown islands you need to discover in the British Isles

Everybody knows the Isle of Man, Guernsey, Skye. But what about the other 6000-odd British Isles? Yes, we did say 6000. From the chunky Shetland Islands in Scotland’s far north to the sunny Isles of Scilly slung out from the coast of Cornwall, the British Isles are made up of islands of all shapes and…

The Orange Blossom Coast: the Spanish costa you’ve never heard of
The Orange Blossom Coast: the Spanish costa you’ve never heard of

Spain is known for its costas, the sandy strands that attract thousands of visitors seeking sun and sangria every year. But most people tend to head to the big hitters: the Costa del Sol, the Costa Brava and the Costa Blanca. But of course these are just the bright and brazen names that have made…

How to see Angkor Wat without the crowds
How to see Angkor Wat without the crowds

The sky is lightening. Squint and you can just about make out a change in the colour of it, a shift from inky-black to blue-black. As the sun rises further it changes more, until it pales enough behind the stonework that you can begin to make out a hulk on the horizon. You breathe in…

14 travel tips everyone should know
14 travel tips everyone should know

Dozens of countries, hundreds of flights, half a life on the road. That’s the life of a travel writer. And it teaches you a fair few things. Rough Guides author Helen Ochyra shares some of her travel tips and tricks. 1. Be annoying It’s time to talk to strangers. The concierge. The waiter. The bar…

The best fish tacos in San Diego
The best fish tacos in San Diego

It is surprising that the city of San Diego hasn’t erected a statue to Ralph Rubio. Because Rubio brought the fish taco to town and nothing – seriously, nothing – is treated with more reverence here than the fish taco. Does a corn tortilla covered in fried fish, cabbage, crema and pico de gallo sound…

Dublin: what to see in the Year of Irish Design
Dublin: what to see in the Year of Irish Design

This is the year to discover the Irish capital’s burgeoning creative scene. The country’s designers are stepping into the limelight to celebrate the Year of Irish Design, and Dublin is taking centre stage as 2015’s World Design Hub. Visitors already arrive in their droves for the city’s the literary connections, the Guinness and that intangible…

9 new tourist attractions to visit in 2015
9 new tourist attractions to visit in 2015

With a whole host of new attractions opening this year, from world-record-beating skyscrapers to whacky amusement parks, there’s plenty to get your teeth into. To help you decide where to visit, we’ve picked the top 9 new tourist attractions around the world.  Shanghai Tower, China A better symbol of China’s continuing march forward would be harder to…

Thailand: 10 tips for first-time travellers
Thailand: 10 tips for first-time travellers

Thailand remains one of the first ports of call for first-time backpackers. But don’t be fooled – though travelling here means following a well-beaten tourist trail, there’s no denying that this beguiling country can take a while to get to grips with. To make sure you hit the ground running on your first visit, follow…

A guide to Glasgow’s Commonwealth Games venues
A guide to Glasgow’s Commonwealth Games venues

For too many years Glasgow has laboured under a negative – and unfair – reputation. Scotland’s second city suffered greatly in the twentieth century from industrial decline, but in the twenty-first it has gained a new lease of life. The Clyde has been cleaned up, the inner city regenerated and the hotel and restaurant scene…

A guide to the best Scottish islands
A guide to the best Scottish islands

If asked to guess, how many islands would you say there are in Scotland? A few dozen perhaps, or a couple of hundred? Would you raise an eyebrow if we told you it’s actually more than 700? And that Scotland has more than 10% of Europe’s entire coastline? That’s a lot of islands to explore –…

Going underground at the wieliczka salt mine, Poland
Going underground at the wieliczka salt mine, Poland

In the depths of southern Poland Helen Ochyra goes underground to try out the claustrophobic work of miners in the Wieliczka salt mine. “Room for one more” I am told as I am gently nudged into an already packed out lift. The doors are pulled across behind me with much scraping of metal and we…

Scaling the Swiss Alps the easy way
Scaling the Swiss Alps the easy way

Among the imposing Swiss alps near Verbier, Helen Ochyra finds the easy and hard ways to scale these incredible mountains. I am cycling up a mountain and it feels like the easiest thing in the world. I am making my way up to La Chaux, high above Verbier in Switzerland, a place most people reach…

Beyond the beaches: hiking in Gran Canaria
Beyond the beaches: hiking in Gran Canaria

In search of more than just sun, sea and sand, Rough Guides writer Helen Ochyra takes a hike in Gran Canaria. You know a place sees a lot of sun when the slightest whiff of rain brings the locals out in joyous dance. On this first morning in Gran Canaria we woke to a cloudy…

Getting beyond the casinos in Macau, China
Getting beyond the casinos in Macau, China

Away from the casinos of Macau – the only place in China where they have been legalised – there lies an old Portuguese city steeped in colonial history and packed with impressive sights and restaurants. Rough Guides writer Helen Ochyra set out to find the best things to do in Macau beyond the betting tables. “Where…

The best Parisian patisseries
The best Parisian patisseries

How long is a piece of string? Asking a Parisian to name their favourite patisserie has about as many answers, from the simple shop churning our baguettes next door to the designer cake emporium they’ll cross the city to visit. On every corner in every arondissement you will find someone selling freshly baked bread, decadent…

Face to face with whale sharks in Australia
Face to face with whale sharks in Australia

Exploring the less popular west coast of Australia, which houses the stunning 260km Ningaloo Reef, Rough Guides writer Helen Ochyra has a close encounter with the ocean’s biggest fish. I am being pulled through the water by the hand, bubbles rushing past me on both sides, the only noise my own breathing. With every kick of my…

Exploring the Bungle Bungle Range, Australia
Exploring the Bungle Bungle Range, Australia

After seeing the Bungle Bungles Range in Purnululu National Park, Rough Guides writer Helen Ochyra had to return to explore this awe-inspiring rock formation on foot. Nothing is as good when seen through a window. A city view from the top of a sealed building, a passing landscape from a moving car, even a World…

A guide to the best pubs in Edinburgh
A guide to the best pubs in Edinburgh

From historic bars pouring the finest whiskies to gastropubs serving up gourmet burgers, Edinburgh has a drinking den to satisfy every craving. There are some world-class establishments here but also plenty of duds. Follow our guide (and steer clear of the Grassmarket) for the best night out the Scottish capital has to offer. Best for…

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