I'm going to Vietnam next month and it's a pretty major trip for me. I'm big into tattoos and I was thinking of getting inked while I'm over there to mark the occasion. Do you think it's a good idea and will the shops there be hygienic?
Thailand has more of a tattoo culture than Vietnam, but there are definitely some interesting looking shops - particularly in Ho Chi Minh City. One there that seems to be recommended a lot is Saigon. Danis Nguyen, who tattoos there and looks like an extremely cool dude, works in a Buddhist-inspired style, but there's also a revolving roster of guest artists.
Obviously, hygiene is a big concern when you're in an unfamiliar country. Read reviews and when you find a place, make sure everything is sterilised and new, sealed needles are used. Then there's the aftercare - and that's all on you. It can be hard to keep things clean when you're travelling and sometimes you just can't be bothered.
And it's wise to remember you won't be able to go swimming or sit in any hot springs for about two weeks after getting inked. That could end up being quite frustrating on a trip.
It's also never a good idea to get a tattoo just for the sake of getting one - the predictable "cultural symbols" that travellers tend to get often make me cringe. And it's often considered disrespectful to get another culture's sacred motifs as a tattoo - plus it could make for some awkward moments while travelling.
A good rule is not to get anything written on your body that you don't understand - we've all heard the horror stories.
One last thing - don't get tattooed while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. All that considered, have a good think about it and you could come home with an amazing and unique souvenir.
My husband and I are travelling to Spain in July. We have a 16-hour stopover in Hong Kong on the way, from 7am-11pm, and are planning to spend it looking around. Could you give us some advice on an itinerary for the day? We love food and markets but would also like to get a feel of the older parts of the city.
We've had a bit of a discussion about this within the Travel team, as we're always stopping over. Here are a few suggestions. Remember that public transport is easy to use and affordable.
Head up Victoria Peak, the highest point on Hong Kong Island, for stunning panoramic views of the city and harbour. You can get to the top on the Peak Tram, which is an great visual experience in its own right. At the Lower Terminus, you can learn more about the history of the tram - which dates back 120 years.
The Big Buddha at Ngong Ping on Lantau Island also comes highly recommended - you can catch a bus or gondola or walk up 268 steps to see the colossal statue up close.
As far as food goes, check out Jumbo Kingdom - it's a floating dim sum restaurant in Aberdeen Harbour that's shaped like an ancient Chines imperial palace. Novelties aside, the food is excellent as well.
Travel editor Winston Aldworth recommends Tim Ho Wan, a dim sum eatery that's also the cheapest Michelin-starred restaurant in the world.
If you're into antiques, Upper Lascar Row - known as Cat St - has also sorts of interesting curios and treasures to peruse. Ladies Market is also well worth a visit, it's great for cheap clothes and accessories. While it's open all day, it's best to visit at night.
And if you do have some time in the evening, be sure to check out the Symphony of Lights at Victoria Harbour. They have daily light shows at 8pm.
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