When planning a trip to India, what usually comes to mind is a journey filled with Maharaja’s palaces, wondrous temples and a riot of sensory delights. In this exotic and fascinating land, you’ll also find remarkable destination spas and wellness retreats that take you on a different kind of journey - one that rejuvenates and stimulates the body, mind and soul. With a growing international wellness movement, more people are including health related activities, massages, body treatments, meditation and yoga as part of their travel plans.
If you have never thought about heading to Japan to hike, relax and enjoy a good drink, then think again. Healthy hikes are high on the to-do list in this country, as are stays at very traditional and relaxing Japanese Ryokans, and finally, sampling the many varieties of sake.
Sometimes forgetting something leads to a good find. When I forgot to secure a Vietnamese visa, my Hong Kong plane connection quickly became a two-day layover. But, that isn’t a bad thing. I got to visit a place I haven’t seen in 30 years. My 48-hour stay whirls by as quickly as the city’s traffic.
Our guide, Teriianutapuatea (aka Teri) plays his ukulele and sings as he steers the boat across Bora Bora’s crystal-clear lagoon. The turquoise waters and white sand beaches that border this verdant island are picture postcard perfect.
Southeast Asia is “the best bang for your buck,” a travel agent told me at a recent PATA event. It is so true. The nations of Southeast Asia: Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam are each distinctive in their own right, but collectively they offer a tremendous variety of experiences at exceptional value for the dollar carrying traveler. Spas, cuisine, history, adventure, nature, traditional crafts, luxury shopping, river cruising, religion and festivals, traditions and customs, people-to-people interactions, and so much more await curious travelers for far less than in other destinations. In Bali, Indonesia, for example, the cost of a car-and-English-speaking driver for a full day is about 500,000 Rupiah or just $37. That’s about the cost of a one-way, coach-class Heathrow Express train to Central London! No wonder PATA, in its 2014-2018 Visitor Forecast (http://bit.ly/1HgrOXx), projects that the top five fastest growing destinations (in terms of average annual growth rate) in the Asia Pacific region for this period will be: Thailand at 27.5%, Myanmar at 17.7%, Cambodia at 13.2%; Bhutan at 12.9%, and Lao PDR at 11.6%.
DreamWorks movie characters like Mr. Peobody and Sherman, Belt the Sloth and Shrek mingle with the crowd at the Sheraton Cotai Central’s Shrekfast. Breakfast entrees include bean paste cakes that look like Kung Fu Panda’s head. This event has the all showiness of Las Vegas. But this is in Macau (English spelling Macao), a special administrative region of China.
Getting to stadium seats for Ulaanbaatar’s opening Nadaam ceremonies is utter chaos. The long, dirt road is mobbed with people. Whole families come dressed alike. Others wear vibrant tribal costumes and leather boots. Hats can be pointed with a tassel hanging off the back or have fur or flaps.
To most people, Outer Mongolia is only the land of Genghis Khan (called Chinggis Khaan in Asia) and the Gobi Desert’s lunar landscape. But, every mid-July, Ulaanbaatar hosts the multi-day, colorful Naadam Festival. Still unaffected by tourism, the country is much the same as it has been.
It would be difficult to choose what is most impressive about New Zealand. Scenery, cultural history, wineries and outdoor adventures are top of mind, and they don’t disappoint.
An overhang protects me from the pouring rain. I sip wine while I watch and listen to the rain fall into my private infinity pool and make tiny puddles. The Andaman Sea, about 600 feet below, is the backdrop. The view, the dripping water and the tranquility are so relaxing, my cares slip away.