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Derek is a perpetual wanderer, cultural enthusiast, and lifelong traveler. He loves going places where he does not speak a word of the local language and must communicate with hand gestures, as well as places where he is forced to squat awkwardly to poo (supposedly its healthier and more efficient). Say Hello On Twitter!
Raging motorbikes, breathtaking natural wonders, a thriving art and culture community, the northern region of Vietnam is truly as stunning as it sounds. Covering the larger area of land and has all the world heritage sites, northern Vietnam is something not to be missed in your lifetime. Below are the top 8 reasons why you should see it for yourself.
Everything about Hanoi, Vietnam’s capital city can be summarized into two words; organized chaos. Countless motorbikes of all shapes and sizes, bicycles old and new, a diverse mix of pedestrians from street vendors to your retired tourists from Europe or the Americas, kids crossing the buzzing streets without any care in the world, and the ever-growing number of cars, both luxurious and mid-range, are just a few of the things you could expect roaming the streets of the old quarter. Crazy and ludicrous at it seems the city is ironically thriving and is showing nothing but continuous growth over the years; which obviously is more than enough reasons for you to make a stopover.
And since you’re already here, make sure you do some essential sightseeing such as going around the 36 old streets of Hanoi or take a stroll around HoanKiem Lake, where everyone hangs out, especially during the weekends.
Probably the most popular business idea in the country, and most probably one of the most profitable as well, the coffee culture in Vietnam is not just a morning or afternoon drink. Coffee has been super essential in the people’s lives that it is now a lifestyle. And if you don’t drink coffee at all, your friend will think you’re too uncool to hang out with.
Giang Coffe in Hanoi with their famous signature drink, the Egg Coffee
Because it's superbly popular amongst the youngsters and even their older counterparts, cafés are found in every corner of each street in the country. You’ll be surprised if you end up in an alley with zero cafés on sight. Aside from the countless number of cafés popping up every day all over the region, there is also an increasing number of creative mixes of coffees and such in the region; which somehow turned into tourism products like the Egg Coffee. Check out Giang Coffee House here.
For thousands of years, Vietnam had to struggle and survive under the rule of different colonizers, from the early Chinese empires to the end of the American War in mid-1970s. Although they are all long gone for some decades now, there’s no doubt that all of them have left marks everywhere, especially in the northern region, where a lot of these iconic events happened.
As a first-time visitor of Vietnam, it’s no doubt that visiting the north is a good introduction to the country. There are many things to learn about and a lot of stories to tell, specifically in the northern region as it’s been around longer than the southern counterpart. With the mix of cultures, languages, traditions, and even ways of living, there will always be something to learn every day when traveling across the cities.
The French has left so much influence in the northern part of Vietnam. From its architecture, urban planning, bridges, gastronomy, fashion, and even the lifestyle, there is no way a European would not be so surprised with the similarities between the two nations.
Northerners are typically viewed as the more sophisticated and more eloquent Vietnamese because of their daily habits, the way they live, and the things they spend on, especially when it comes to fashion trends and dining activities. But I guess you’d have come over yourself for you to experience it. There’s definitely nothing else like it in Southeast Asia.
One of the main reasons why we love the northern region is because of this, the classical art scene. Sometimes loud, but most of the time it’s underground. Growing up in a socialist regime surrounded by the brightest and the most cultured individuals in the country, northern Vietnam is the place to visit for classical arts and culture. And if you’re the type of person who likes the finest things in life, someone who appreciates arts, paintings, musicals, operas, ballets, and Sunday brunches, then you’re making the right decision to come over here.
Thanks again to the European influence and its preservation throughout generation after generation, these things have been kept alive long enough for everybody to enjoy, both for locals and foreigners.
You might have noticed, or probably you’ll notice once you get to Vietnam that the word "Nguyen" is displayed everywhere in the country. Even more so when you visit the northern area most probably because it originated in the imperial capital of Hue. As many might wonder, the word Nguyen is the most popular family name in the country and the last empire to rule Imperial Vietnam.
Whether you’re a history buff or not, knowing just a bit of information about how the Vietnamese emperors ruled the country, even when it was divided into two, can be an insightful lesson when visiting the northern region. The best places to visit to find more information about the imperial period can be found in two cities, Hanoi capital and Hue.
Being one of the top exporters of rice all over the globe, the whole of Vietnam obviously survives on rice and noodles all-year-long. From the simplest Com Binh Dan to an upscale Vietnamese gourmet restaurant, you will never go hungry in this part of the world. And with the northern region having the most diverse options for gastronomy and dining, the opportunities for you to be able to taste the most genuine Vietnamese dishes are endless.
Whether you fancy the not-so-adventurous dishes such as Pho or Bun Cha to the extremes like deep-fried snake meat or barbecued dog meat, the possibilities and options are insanely vast. Expect moments where you’ll start questioning your own taste buds and probably even your mom’s cooking. All in all, Vietnam is bursting with the best culinary to offer not only in Asia, but also on a global scale.
Halong Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site (photo gallery)
Possibly the best reason why you need to spend most of your travel time in the northern region of Vietnam, to discover the unworldly landscapes and sceneries as seen in some notable Hollywood films such as the recent Kong: Skull Island. Witness the towering limestone karst rocks of Halong Bay on a luxury cruise, do a short boat trip while immersing yourself in the serene landscapes of Ninh Binh province, and walk through staggering terrains of Phong Nha-Ke Bang cave systems, there is never a shortage of adventures to enlist yourself into.
Accesses to these world wonders have never been easier. Thus, there’s no reason for you not to be able to do it at least once in your lifetime.
Kolkata is a colorful megacity rich in culture, architecture and of course food, but the best part of traveling the “City of Joy” is the sheer unpredictability! You never know what you’ll stumble upon around on the next street corner of what used to be India''s capital.
Although this variety keeps locals and expats entertained, for travelers with only a short time in Kolkata it is important to make the most of it. Make your trip a little more offbeat and memorable by mixing a few of these unique Kolkata attractions into your itinerary:
Combine every single museum, planetarium, aquarium, garden, scientific exhibition and technological showcase that you’ve ever experienced into one grand event. This is Science City, one of the world’s largest establishments of its kind. Think of it like those old famous Worlds Fairs of the 1800s only never-ending.
Science City has a continually changing line-up of exhibits, events, activities, seminars and interesting attractions that both inspire and educate. Perfect for the entire family but be warned: you may end up getting sucked in and spending longer here than planned.
Famous for its overwhelming assortment of bookstores specializing in everything from new to old to rare, College Street is often referred to as the most intellectual neighborhood in the entire megacity of Kolkata. Avid readers will easily be able to occupy an entire day here, but even if books are not your thing, College Street is still an enjoyable experience.
Given this, it should be no surprise that one of the most popular literature gatherings in the entire world is the annual Kolkata Book Fair. Although it only began 40 years ago, now more than 2.5 million people attend every January.
Modern life can be a bit busy. Sometimes you just need to find a relaxing place to escape and be surrounded by nature. Thankfully right across the river just west of Fort William is Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose Indian Botanic Garden, home to one of the world’s largest trees (in terms of area, not height).
From a distance The Great Banyan looks more like a small forest than a single tree. Up close it is possible to get lost within the Banyan's vertical hanging roots. Before they put up the fence people used to wander into the tree and never return -- think of it like a hedge maze in the Bermuda Triangle.
Covering nearly 19,000m² and around 250 years old, The Great Banyan is only 200m² smaller than the world’s largest tree, Thimmamma Marrimanu -- coincidentally also located in India -- but believed to be less than half of its age. Years ago a road was built around the circumference of the tree, allowing visitors an easily accessible 360° view, but The Great Banyan continues to grow and expand beyond it.
As a long-term traveler, you get used to visiting a Chinatown in not just every country but every big city. Same same, but different -- like always. Except in India. Kolkata is home to the one and only Chinatown in this entire country, Tiretta Bazaar.
The unquestionable home of the most delicious and authentic Chinese food in not just Kolkata but all of India, every Tiretta Bazaar trip is primarily a culinary experience served with side dishes of sightseeing, shopping and Mahjong. This is no task to be taken lightly, though. If you wish to survive Tiretta Bazaar and be able to walk away i>n your own two legs, it is best to bring a few friends to help eat your way through everything that smells and/or looks delicious. (Warning: there will be a lot!)
Nowadays Tiretta Bazaar is only a fraction of its former size, but if anything that should only be a further encouragement to visit. Help support a minority population struggling to preserve their heritage.
No one ever said that navigating the streets of Kolkata was easy, not even a hundred years ago. The best solution is to stay at a proper hotel with both a convenient location and helpful transportation options, such as Park Hotel Kolkata.
Eden Gardens, Fort William, and St. Paul’s Cathedral are all part of Maidan, the largest urban park in West Bengal, and just a few hundred metres west of Park Hotel Kolkata.
Hidden in the trees of a small hilltop along the coastline in between Koh Samet and Laem Mae Phim Beach is Chao Pho Tho Kong Shrine. It's one of the more than 40,000 temples scattered across Thailand and easy to drive past without even noticing. However Chao Pho Tho Kong Shrine is definitely worth visiting if you are in Rayong province, even if only for the amazing view.
The entrance to the temple and several small, colorful, elaborately decorated shrines are located at the base of the hill. Grab a handful of incense sticks, light them using the flame and then proceed to place three incense sticks at each of the three small shrines (in clockwork order starting from the shrine located furthest from the hill). The remaining incense are for the giant Buddha.
After finishing proceed up the stairs to the rest of the shrine. Even before this specific shrine was built, local fisherman have long since used this spot to pay homage before going out to sea.
As beautiful as the shrine is, don't forget to spin around 180 degrees and soak up the amazing view of Koh Samet island.
Phoenix is a beautiful city and every year more and more color street art murals can be found all over town. From Roosevelt Row Arts District (affectionately known as "RoRo") to Calle 16 and Grand Avenue, Phoenix has become such a hotbed of artwork that it is impossible to see everything in one trip.
Let’s take you to the trip to Lucknow, the city of Nawabs. This multi-cultural city is widely known for its people’s courteous behaviour and language that is a sweet blend of Hindi and Urdu. It has also been one of the most tourist-attracting cities of North India. This is the reason that Chaudhary Charan Singh International Airport at Lucknow is the second-busiest airport after Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi.
Take out your calendar, pick out your next vacation dates and book your flight tickets from the busiest airport in North India to the second-busiest airport in North India. You can find cheap and affordable flight tickets from Delhi to Lucknow on Yatra portal.
Now let’s have a quick look on the list of tourist attractions that make Lucknow a must-visit place for all.
The bara imambara also known as the Asfi Imambara after the Nawab who built it, attracts Muslims all over India during festivals, most importantly the muharram. Moreover, it attracts tourists for its spectacular maze that is popularly known as Bhool-Bhulaiya. This is said to be the world’s biggest unsupported structure that is built without the use of wood or any metal. Its central hall holds the position of the largest arched hall in the world.
Modelled after Queen’s Street London, the Hazratganj Market is called the heartthrob for the shoppers. You can find the best quality and variety of chikan embroidery at Hazratganj Market. Apart from the chikan embroidery, Hazratganj can provide you with all types of things you can expect in a world class market. Don’t forget to treat yourself with Lucknowi cuisines when you visit Hazratganj Market (or anywhere else in Lucknow).
If you love nature and wildlife, you would love to visit the Nawab Wazid Ali Shah Prani Udyan (Lucknow Zoo) which is a house for 463 mammals, 298 birds and 72 reptiles representing 97 species. If you are on a tight schedule, you can take the toy train ride to have a quick glimpse of the major portions of the zoo.
Chota imambara, also known as Imambara Hussainabad Mubarak, is also one of the favourite monuments for the tourists who come for sightseeing. It is a congregation hall for Shia Muslims and a mausoleum for the Nawab of Awadh and his mother.
Adjacent to the Asafi Imambara stands the mighty and glorious Rumi Darwaza which was once built as the entrance gate for Lucknow. Now it is Lucknow’s icon and is a mark for the entrance of old Lucknow.
India’s tallest clock tower, Hussainabad Clock Tower, resides in Lucknow. Built as a replica of BIGBEN clock tower of London, this tower attracts many tourists whole year long.
Unlike the others in the list, Ambedkar Memorial Park is not a historical structure; it was established and opened in 2008. Despite being new, it attracts tourists with its unbeatable beauty. Apart from tourists, it has also attracted Bollywood film-makers for shooting.
Lucknow develops itself to cater the needs of every coming generation, and the Marine Drive is the perfect example of this city of nawabs and palaces. This impressively built location attracts a younger lot of tourists to Lucknow.
This water park too is attracting fun-loving tourists nowadays. This place also provides family-party facilities. Fun games and activities enjoyed by children and adults alike are the major attraction for Anandi Water Park of Lucknow.You see Lucknow has old as well as modern tourist-attracting locations. This means you can have fun with your whole family. So, get your bags packed and visit the Yatra Portal. Without any hassle get your flight tickets from Delhi to Lucknow booked on Yatra.
Breathtaking natural beauty and enchanting sunsets. Iconic landscapes and rich Native American history. Welcome to New Mexico, also known as The Land of Enchantment. No state better captures the true essence of the American Southwest than New Mexico -- and the best way to experience this is to go off the beaten path in Ruidoso, New Mexico.
Certain Ruidoso spots are obligatory visitor destinations, such as Ruidoso Downs and the Lincoln National Forest. However make sure not to miss out on these unique and offbeat things to do in Ruidoso:
Ziplining gets exponentially more fun as the elevation increases, it's a scientific fact*
* may not be "scientific" or a "fact" but it is the truth
Like any good ski company, Ski Apache offers plenty of adrenaline-pumping outdoor summer activities as well. These include mountain biking, hiking, a 9-hole disc golf course, and of course the star of it all, their impressive ziplines.
Ziplining at Ski Apache is an unforgettable experience. Located over 11,000 feet above sea level (3,500 metres), this three-part zipline tours covers nearly two miles in distance (over 2.7 kilometres), offers "the most spectacular view in Southern New Mexico" and hits speeds of up to 65 MPH! (105km/hr!) Now tell you me that you don't want to experience this ;)
I have an unhealthy fixation with strange, unique and one-of-a-kind museums. No museum is too small or too quirky. Few museums are worth a second visit but every museum is worth one.
The Museum Of The Horse in Ruidoso changed its name to Hubbard's Museum of the American West but the museum is no less interesting, especially to anyone fascinated by horses or the history of the American West.
"Free Spirits at Noisy Waters" by Dave McGary is a collection of eight giant horse scupltures located on the grounds of the Museum of the American West. Photo via pamwood707
The Hubbards were a racing family, which explains why the museum is located next to the race track, Ruidoso Downs. It focuses on a wide variety of regional history, from wild horses and horse racing to Native Americans, pioneers and frontier life.
Although small, a lot is packed into the museum. Scultpures, horse carriages, weapons, art and a plethora of antiques, all of which have detailed descriptions. There are also seasonal exhibits as well.
Entrance to the grounds is free, but the museum costs $7.
During summer there is horseback riding, disc golf, hiking, mountain biking, cycling tours (on the road), fishing, ziplining, horse racing, camping and more. Pick one (or more) of these that you have never done before and give it a go. What better way to create some unforgettable memories in Ruidoso?
Cold weather means skiing, snowboarding, winter ziplining, tubing, sledding, and all sorts of other snow-filled activities. Decide on one that you've never done and make sure put it on your Ruidoso to-do list.
Ruidoso has nearly a dozen lakes, parks and recreation areas -- one for every 700 residents -- so outdoor activities abound. However the hiking trails around Grindstone Lake are some of the most relaxing, beautiful and enjoyable of all these activities.
There are 18-miles of multiple use trails around Grindstone Lake and on into the neighboring Lincoln National Forest designed by the International Mountain Biking Association. In other words, sure they are suitable for hiking, but they were designed for mountain biking. ;)
screenshot from discoverruidoso.com
Grindstone Lake also offers fishing and has a 27-hole disc golf course.
Go karts, bumper boats and miniature golf, oh my! Pillow's Funtrackers is a unique theme park that is fun for kids of all ages -- including our inner kid. (When was the last time you released that guy?) ;)
Open all year round, Pillow's Funtrackers attracts thrill-seeking guests from all of New Mexico, not just visitors to Ruidoso.
All three go kart tracks, the bumper cars, miniature golf course and mountain maze are open year-round, however the bumper boats and gemstone panning are seasonal activities.
Prices are suprisingly affordable as well. For $100 you can get 20 tickets, each good for one admission on any of the 20 rides.
This article was sponsored in part by Discover Ruidoso, however it should go without saying that all experiences are my own opinion and were not influenced in any way.
Jackson is a unique and famous city. The area, collectively referred to as Jackson Hole, is like a bubble of flat land surrounded 360° by forests, mountains and national parks. The high elevation keeps the entire region cold at night year round and thanks to the rugged yet scenic terrain, the area is also famous for skiing. However there is much more to do in and around Jackson than just that!
Jackson is entirely surrounded by the Grand Teton National Park and National Elk Refuge. Outdoor adventures abound! There are many great land- and water-based activities to be had nearby. Hiking. Wildlife. River-rafting. Fishing. Hot springs. There are countless day-trip adventures to be had -- or better yet check out Jackson Hole cabin rentals to spend an authentic night under the stars but without the work that comes with camping ;)
Whatever you end up doing in and around Jackson, don't miss these unique and offbeat activities:
Old Faithful isn't Wyoming's only time-based water attraction, just its most famous. That reliable hot water geyser has been Wyoming's claim to fame since the late 1800's. However the state also has a cold water feature that operates intermittently, hence the name -- Intermittent Spring. Also known as Periodic Spring, this natural occurance is the largest in rythmic spring in the world.
At Intermittent Spring, the water flows in 18 minute cycles. 18 minutes on, 18 minutes off.
Why the river flows like this is not as much of a mystery as one might first thing. There is a widly accepted as true scientific theory behind Intermittent Spring. Basically, cold spring water collects in underground cave and begins slowly filling up a narrow shaft that leads to the surface. Eventually water pressure builds up too great, forms a funnel and all the water gets sucked out. Incoming air then closes the waterway until water pressure builds up again.
Think of it like flushing a toilet. The funnel sucks the entire basin down a narrow tube in a flash. Only at Intermittent Spring, you get to watch the toilet water coming out, instead of filling back up.
Growing up in Texas, I'm used to shooting and comfortable around firearms. But if you are not, consider checking out the Jackson Hole Shooting Experience. Here you can not only learn to shoot but also take a firearm education class and understand why so many people support gun ownership. Maybe even begin to grow a little more appreciative of them yourself.
Beginners can learn the basics about gun safety and go for their first shoot. Rather than just pick any random gun, an expert will pair a first-time shooting with the most appropriate gun. Already know how to shoot? Browse the massive arsenal and pick something new.
Those already familiar with handling various firearms at close range can improve their long range skills or learn a new one, such as mastering the shotgun or taking a tactical defense class. JH Shooting Experience even offers ladies-only classes and other specific courses, such as improving your hunting skills.
Still in doubt? Leave all of your precoceived notations and judgements at the door and come try for yourself. As a wise man once said, "Don't knock it until you try it."
Everyone always talks about how great Yellowstone National Park is -- don't get me wrong, it is beyond great. It's stunning. Absolutely breathtaking. No trip to Wyoming is complete without a visit to the world-famous Yellowstone National Park. This obligatory stop sometimes referred to as "the first and still the best" is on every traveler's bucket list. There's a reason why America's first national park -- and the first in the entire world -- attracts over four million visitors per year. However what most people fail to mention is the unique, offbeat and out of place Smith Mansion, otherwise known as the Abandon Mansion of Yellowstone.
This handmade wooden structure tells the story of a man who loved a lady, but seemily loved carpentry more. In 1970 Lee Smith began making a house for his wife. After the first floor was complete, Lee kept building, kept adding on new floors, new balconies, and eventually even giant elaborate exterior staircases. He never stopped. After the divorce he kept building. It was not until his death in 1992 that construction ceased. Lee was only 48 when a strong gust of wind blew him off the roof while he was (you guessed it!) working on his house. He fell twelve feet and passed away from his injuries.
The Smith Mansion is truly one-of-a-kind. There are no blueprints. Everything came from Lee's mind. Unfortunately after he died the house became neglated and began rotting. Efforts are currently underway to preserve and repair the mansion by Lee's daughter, Sunny, and her husband. Although public tours are not regularly scheduled due to the disrepair the house has fallen into, the family is trying to raise funds to help pay for the preservation. Give them a shout and perhaps you can score a private tour.
It is impossible to miss the Smith Mansion if you are entering Yellowstone from the the eastern entrance. It is less than hour drive from Yellowstone Lake, and regardless of which entrance you used, definitely worth the drive just for the photos. Read more about the history of Smith Mansion.
Traveling is an amazing adventure. There is nothing worse than your adventure getting put on hold or diminished due to a lost bag. That is why minimalist traveling is the only way to travel. With one carry-on bag, you can hit the ground running. This may seem daunting to the overly prepared traveler, but it actually takes some of the stress out of traveling. The key is versatile clothing. You need a few quality pieces that will go a long way.
You simply need to change your mindset and then take a leap of faith. Most of the time people only use a fraction of what they pack. What if you planned ahead and had outfits for multiple purposes? Once you realize you can work with what you have, the stress melts away. You throw on an outfit and you are ready for the beach, the trails, the market or dinner.
Decent pants can be one of the more bulky items to pack in your luggage so you want to keep their numbers to the bare minimum. One pair of casual pants should be enough, or two if the weather deems it necessary. When it comes to cooler temperatures and inclement weather such as rain and snow, pants that are durable, lightweight and weather resistant are priceless. Exponentially more so when it comes to outdoor activities such as trekking and hiking, where proper laundry facilities are not available. Gearweare recently reviewed the best pants for just such an environment -- read more here!
For the ladies out there, travel dresses are one of the most versatile pieces in your minimalist arsenal. They dress up and down with the greatest of ease. If you add in a pair of slide shorts, you are prepared for almost any occasion. Almost every culture utilizes some kind of dress or skirt, so they are easy to adapt to different locals. You can wear one dress many ways, which makes it perfect for travel.
In the winter and fall, throw a scarf, some leggings and a warm coat in your bag and you are ready to go. If it gets warm out, ditch the warm accessories and don a pair of sandals. Accessories tend to pack down smaller than wardrobe pieces. You can pack a couple of dresses and not have to worry about making sure all your tops match all your bottoms. You simply throw on your dress for the day, and you are ready to go. Visit sites like tobi.com to find the perfect dress for your next adventure.
When choosing clothing, look for synthetic fabrics or natural moisture wicking fabrics. You want your clothes to wash and dry easily. This makes doing laundry while traveling as easy as finding a small sink. Merino wool is a great natural fiber. It is soft, unlike the wool of your grandparents’ days. It wicks moisture, is antimicrobial and dries quickly. Bamboo is another material that is great for travel. It is typically lighter feeling than merino wool with the same fantastic attributes. When possible, stay away from cotton. It takes a long time to dry and doesn’t maintain its thermal abilities once wet. There are many nice synthetics out there as well.
Keep your shoes to a minimum. They take up a lot of room in your bag. Wear a pair and pack a pair a most. Have a pair of sneakers of light hikers and a pair of sandals. This should cover most of your needs no matter what the adventure. Sandals are great for warmer climates and can double as dinner shoes with your dress if you’re a lady. Your sneakers or light hikers fill in the gaps. They can be used for outdoor adventures and workout sessions. These shoes should have more support than your sandals and be comfortable in case you are on your feet all day. Typically, these will also be your travel day shoes as well since sandals usually pack down smaller.
There are many companies that sell travel underwear these days. If you invest in a couple of good pairs, you can lighten your load and still feel fresh. Good travel underwear resists odors and washes easily. With two pairs, you can always have a clean pair while you wash the other. Also, invest in a good pair of socks or two. A good pair of socks helps keep your feet happy and last a long time. Two pairs of merino wool socks are all most travelers need.
Traveling light has many advantages. With less stuff to keep up with, you are less likely to lose something important. Staying mobile is a lot easier when you can sling one bag on your back and head out the door. Choose quality products that are easy to wash and resist odor. When you travel with less, you can afford to spend more on quality items. Always go for versatility.
The popularity of offbeat travel is on the rise. Whilst most people will share some of their must-visit countries with thousands of others, there will be plenty of places that offer an authentic experience that appeals to them, but not always the masses. That’s great news for you.
If you want to get off the beaten track and get involved with local life, you’ll be rewarded with an experience unlike a typical tourist. That’s how some of the best travel memories are made, when we throw ourselves into the unknown rather than sticking to the same places. To get such an opportunity, try visiting these four countries:
If you like adventurous travel, then Mongolia is for you. It’s a huge country, full of pristine landscapes, and home to nomadic people whose lives have barely changed in the modern day. Their survival depends on the wide-open spaces, untouched wilderness and fresh water supplies – all of the things that make Mongolia such an amazing place.
Nadaam in Mongolia // bernd_thaller
Head to Mongolia’s best-known national park, Terelj. Here, The Secret Traveller says, you’ll be able to spend a night in a traditional yurt, watch demonstrations of archery and horse riding, and hike through some of the most spectacular scenery the world has to offer. What better way to experience local life? It’s no beach holiday, but that’s exactly why it’s great. You can get actively involved.
Europe has a lot to offer keen travellers, but we love Poland because of its friendly population of hospitable people that are welcoming and genuine. The country boasts UNESCO World Heritage sites, including the popular Krakow’s Old Town, amazing food, an abundance of castles, and a musical heritage they’re proud of to this day.
You can easily find concerts for jazz to medieval to opera music – particularly impressive in the warmer months when they’re held outdoors in parks and squares.
According to Go East Europe, one of the best things about Poland is how each city in Poland has a distinct feel and social culture. From Warsaw’s urban pulse to Krakow’s historic pride, to Wroclaw’s whimsy, to Gdansk’s stately maritime heritage, each city has its own appeal. You’ll probably want to head to more than one.
Unless you live under a rock, you’ll know Brazil throws the best party in the world – the Rio de Janeiro Carnival. Full of colour and energy, it’s best described as an explosion of culture – but you’ve got to experience it for yourself. Whether you’re looking for a party experience or some relaxation, Brazilis a great place to visit. In this list of 100 reasons to visit Brazil (yes – 100), they point out it’s in the culture to greet everyone as if they were great friends.
Rio De Janeiro // photographingtravis
So find a spot on one of the over 2,000 beaches along Brazil’s shoreline, and relax with great company, as well as a cocktail and some amazing fresh seafood. You could even watch the sea turtle hatching season in the village of Praia do Forte between October and March each year – such an experience is a once-in-a-lifetime sight, so don’t miss out.
The UK’s capital city, London, might be the most popular spot for tourists – but it’s not the best place to go for an authentic experience. We promise you not everyone in the UK is as grumpy as those in London, who are constantly in a rush to get somewhere else. Nor is everywhere in the UK full of the same tacky souvenirs you’ll find on Oxford Street.
Brighton // ben124
Stay out of the busy commuters’ way by heading into the countryside. Here, the UK really excels and people tend to be much friendlier. Amongst the suggestions for an authentic English experience is a trip to the Pantomime at Christmas time, a hike along the South Downs way, a visit to Brighton for some fish and chips or just heading to a traditional pub for a pint.
What countries have you recently visited? Share your suggestions for an authentic, offbeat travel experience.
Orlando may be the theme park capital of the world, but there is much more to do in the heart of Florida than just wander around a sprawling amusement park. There's art, food, nightlife, and culture. After all that, if you still have the time and energy to visit an amusement park, then I'll tip you off to the strangest offerings in Orlando that you've probably never heard of. So come with me, let's drop those bags at a hotel -- I recommend an IHG Hotel near Universal -- and then take a whirlwind weekend tour around town!
With over two dozen museums, there's something for everyone here in Orlando. Fan of sports cars? Visit the Exotic Car Gallery. Fascinated by the history of the Titanic? Visit Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition. Artwork more your thing? The Orlando Museum of Art is one of the top-rated in the city. Traveling with kids? Orlando Science Center is the place to go. Want to please the kids and the kid inside of you at the same time? Ripley's Believe It Or Not! Orlando is your answer.
Alternative: Don't like any of those? Then you'll absolutely love the Tupperware Confidence Center! Not only is it one of the most unusual museums in the entire United States, but it also wins my award for the most creative museum name ever. 100% refund if you don't leave here with more confidence in your Tupperware skills.
Ever visited an ice bar? They can be found in over 30 cities around the world and are absolutely amazing. After donning a jacket and gloves, guests are led into a frozen bar where everything is hand-carved from ice: walls, chairs, tables, glasses, decorations, and even the bar itself!
Of course, if you're visiting Florida to escape the winter back home, this might not sound like an appealing idea. However, Icebar Orlando is the largest ice bar in the world and features over 70 tons of carved ice, making it the top dog in an already exclusive club. And for that reason alone, Icebar Orlando deserves a visit on a humid evening.
Alternative: Orlando Brewing has been creating "darn good beer" for over a decade now and offers free daily tours every day of the week (except Sunday). The bar features two dozen taps, so no matter what your poison, you can go straight to the source for the freshest brew.
Given its reputation as an international family vacation destination, cuisines from around the world can be found in downtown Orlando and the theme park district of the southwest. There is no one dish or cuisine that is distinctly Orlando. However, there are some restaurants that are distinctly Orlandian.
The Cowfish is proudly the first and only burger and sushi bar in the world. Step on in and try one of the signature creations: the Burgushi. Café Tu Tu Tango fuses global recipes with a Florida twist, using only local ingredients and serving meals in an art gallery showcasing local artists.
Alternative: Can't decide? Spend a few hours on an Orlando Food Tour to eat your way around town and have a couple drinks while doing it.
Screw Walt Disney World. Go somewhere unique this trip, like Gatorland–home to all your alligator amusement needs–or better yet, the Holyland Experience–where the Bible comes to life. Hint: it's even more entertaining and over the top than the good book itself. ;)
Alternative: If neither of those sounds right for you, check out these other one-of-a-kind Orlando amusement parks.