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A colorful architectural jumble of old clapboard houses and crumbling mansions, the captivating port town of Valparaíso comprises Chile’s cultural core. A UNESCO-protected gem of a city, the hodgepodge of hills and rickety cable cars here make for fascinating ambles, but “Valpo” may very well be South America’s most underrated locale. In the midst of a tourism renaissance, a bevy of happening little eateries, hotels, and boutiques have been cropping up about town. Recently back from a five-night stay there, I’m fresh off the ground with some of the best value recommendations for sleeping, eating, and taking it all in. Read more
This largely unknown UNESCO World Heritage Site on the Xieng Khouang plateau in Laos is dotted with thousands of stone jars. The first study of the archaeological site came to the initial conclusion that the jars were most likely associated with burial practices of protohistoric communities in the area. Those theories were later supported when excavations revealed human remains. Read more
Unassuming from afar, yet quite strikingly incredible close-up, Mount Roraima on the Venezuela-Brazil-Guyana border is a destination that deserves it’s own travel itinerary. The tepuy, or tabletop mountain, is nearly 9,000 feet high and sits inside Canaima National Park (a UNESCO World Heritage Site). Read more
The Taj Mahal may get all of the glory, but it’s India’s ancient Ellora and Ajanta caves – designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites, dating back some two millennia – that are the country’s true star attractions. These underrated archaeological wonders are brilliant examples of cave temple architecture, showcasing an artistic and architectural legacy brimming with exquisitely carved sculptures, magnificently detailed wall paintings, and ornately fashioned chambers, pillars, and facades, all painstakingly carved into cliff faces by devout ancient Indian craftsmen.
The caves have remained relatively undiscovered and under-promoted to foreign travelers (though the word is widely out to local Indian tourists, who swarm the place on weekends and holidays), but those willing to make the effort to access the far-flung site, set outside of the city of Aurangabad (a one-hour flight from Mumbai), can tap into their inner Indiana Jones at India’s best-kept secret.
Rubbing elbows with Spain, Western Sahara, and Algeria, Morocco marries these cultures with its own diverse history into an exotic, Afro-European folktale. This Bedouin journey begins in romantic Casablanca, and continues on to Fez, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Then, visit Meknes, an imperial city built one thousand years ago, and finally wind down in Marrakech, a walled-in haven of mosques, palaces, and tombs – all the while returning to your five-star hotel room to cap off each fascinating day.
• Round-trip flight from New York City (worth up to $1,200)
• All domestic, ground transportation in Morocco
• Five-star hotel accommodations
• Daily breakfast and dinner
• Comprehensive tours with an English-speaking guide
As part of its 2010 Voyages of the Great Explorers series, Cruise West is offering guests a $2,500 VISA gift card, or, to help cut costs, passengers can choose to apply the $2,500 promotion to the total cruise fare. This offer is valid on 17 lengthy voyages (ranging from 10 to 19 nights) aboard the 60-suite Spirit of Oceanus – the cruise line’s premier ocean-going vessel.
As a leader in small-ship cruising, Cruise West is known for its close-knit cruising style that features onboard naturalists and educators, unique itineraries, and personalized shore excursions at every port (which are included in the cruise fare). On each voyage, passengers can experience less-commercialized ports, small towns, fishing villages, and numerous UNESCO World Heritage sites. This sale is valid on cruises embarking May 4 through December 31 – including peak-season summer sailings in the Mediterranean and Northern Europe! Fares start at $4,995 per person. In order to receive the VISA gift card, cruises must be paid in full by May 28. Note: Voyages 18 and 20 (Ecuador to Easter Island and Tahiti to Fiji) are not included in this promotion.
Stay: Room Mate Migueletes, another fantastic low-cost, high-design property from Spain’s Room Mate hotel chain, is ideally located in Albayzin, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and housed in a 17th-century mansion-cum-chic boutique with Moorish charms and views of the Alhambra. Deal Details: Receive a 20 percent discount on any room, two passes to the 14th-century Alhambra palace, plus breakfast and Wi-Fi. Rates start from just $143/night in June. Book It: 34-958-210-700 (code Sherman’s Travel); www.room-matehotels.com.
From the April/May 2009 issue of Sherman’s Travel magazine
Explore the Land of the Rising Sun with this ten-night guided excursion currently on offer from SmarTours. This itinerary begins in Tokyo, where you’ll enjoy a guided tour of the Imperial Palace district, dating back to the 15th century. Next up, you’ll visit the surrounding countryside around Mt. Fuji and Hakone National Park, a pristine natural area revered by poets for thousands of years. Other package highlights include the historic thatched-roof village of Shirakawago, a UNESCO world heritage site, and more than 2,000 ancient temples and shrines in Kyoto. This comprehensive tour includes round-trip airfare from LA and all local transportation and transfers, plus daily breakfast and guided sightseeing. Book by May 28 (for various departures dates through November 2009) to save up to $800 per couple. Package rates start from $2899.
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