World’s top beaches named by Flight Network

Qixingtan Beach, Taiwan

Happy New Year! 

The start of another year is a good time for must-see and must-do this that and the other lists, including places and experiences from around the world.

If you’re already planning a 2019 getaway somewhere special, online travel agency Flight Network has helpfully identified the top beaches across all continents with the support of 1,000 travel professionals. Judges included journalists, editors, bloggers and agencies. I was kindly asked for my own nominations. Being the well-seasoned traveller that I am, I was happy to oblige.

The index of 411 beaches is topped by perennial postcard favourite Shipwreck Beach in Zakynthos, whose eye-searingly blue image has adorned office screensavers for decades (probably).

Shipwreck Beach is followed by Whitehaven Beach in Queensland, Hidden Beach in El Nido, Praia do Sancho in Pernambuco, and Tulum Beach in Quintana Roo – all suggesting that we all love a beach in the tropics more than anywhere.

Maya Bay in Phi Phi, Thailand, is curiously ranked 9th – while stunning, it’s currently closed to tourists, a victim of its own success.

A great beach needn’t be palm-fringed perfection, however. A suggestion of mine, Qixingtan Beach in Taiwan, was ranked 23rd among Asian beaches. It’s spectacular location, where 3,000 metre mountains drop sharply to meet crystal-clear waters of the Pacific, make it a winner in my eyes. 

In addition to listing beaches by continent, Flight Network has compiled untouched beaches and city beaches – the latter is useful if you’re planning to relocate as a digital nomad or professional this year. 

 You can see the full World’s Best Beaches for 2018 here.

Where to use bitcoin in Asia

Bitcoin in pocket

Inspired by Alexandra Talty’s excellent The Top 10 Bitcoin Cities in the World piece in Forbes, which looked at cities with the most bitcoin shops and businesses, I looked at doing the same in Asia.

Alexandra’s research showed that the leading 10 locations globally for bitcoin businesses were in Europe and the United States, followed by South America. There was no room in the top 10 for Asia, home to some of the world’s leading financial centres and fastest growing economies.

I used the same tool mentioned in the article, Coinmap, created by SatoshiLabs in the Czech Republic, to display ATMs, cafe, restaurants and other vendors in the form of a heatmap. The results were a little surprising.

The map clearly shows a concentration of services in East Asia, led by Korea, Japan and Taiwan, but bitcoin businesses are also clustered around digital nomad hotspots. Lit up heavily in red are Phuket and Krabi in Thailand, and Bali. Drilling deeper reveals hotels, bars, shops and transport companies, all taking bitcoin.

So yes, the big cities are there, but so are Asia’s holiday hotspots, or those locations traditionally associated with tourism.

It suggests that if you’re a digital nomad, or travelling widely within Asia, you could do worse than carry a few bitcoins in your pocket (virtually of course), which can of course be used irrespective of location.

Bitcoin venues in Asia, generated by Coinmap

However, we might not be seeing the full picture. As Alexandra also pointed out in her article, Coinmap relies on crowdsourcing – so there will almost certainly be gaps in places. There are also regulatory pressures – for example the currency in China.

Wavemaker encourages employees to work abroad

A beach in Bermuda

In a popular LinkedIn post, UK Marketing Director Loren Penney-Thomas described working abroad as the best career decision you’ll make. I believe she’s right.

She explains that her company Wavemaker, a London-based media agency, gives its staff opportunities to work overseas under its Globaltrotters programme:

which gives staff the opportunity to be immersed into another global market for a 2-3 week cultural and learning experience. With destinations such as Lisbon and Singapore, Sydney and Dubai, the beauty is that you don’t know where you’re going to go; it’s the ultimate work roulette for nomadic souls.

Wavemaker announced last month on its Facebook page that eight ‘Wavemakers’ were selected to experience a destination that included Dubai, Sydney, Dusseldorf, Hong Kong, Warsaw, Singapore, Istanbul or London.

It’s a great initiative that more companies should be offering, while 2-3 weeks of course is a mere teaser (it takes years to get to know a culture properly). Also, people should experience an overseas culture and work environment first before fully committing to a long-term overseas assignment, which is fraught with risk.

Working abroad is not only a great career decision – in many cases it’s a great life decision. There is a gargantuan difference between travel to a foreign location on holiday and fully immersing yourself in it (the good, the bad, and the ugly).

I remember visiting places like Malaysia for the first time as a tourist, and while fun and ‘exotic’, unravelling them like an onion took years. But with that came things like deep and meaningful friendships, the acquisition of new skills and knowledge, empathy, experiencing cultural celebrations, and travel to destinations recommended by locals rather than foreigners.