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Cruise port excursions have come a long way since the olden days of basic motor coach tours to local sites. Today, they’re exciting and adventurous, and designed to immerse cruise guests into local culture.
The newest excursions focus on “wow factor,” and are aimed at luring first-time cruisers while also holding the interest of repeat travelers who’ve done it all. Moreover, all cruise lines are now courting younger travelers who seek more dynamic vacations than their parents and grandparents did. Also, the demand for cultural experiences has increased, and cruise lines are obliging.
When it comes to Americans making their way to Southeast Asia, there are often two costs that they consider carefully before making a single reservation. The first is the literal cost of the trip in dollars; and the second, and perhaps an even bigger barrier for some, is the “time cost” that it takes to get there. It’s one thing to pay close to $1,500, but when the total travel time approaches the 24-hour mark (as it does in the case of Malaysia), that can cause some travelers to skip Asia as a travel option altogether.
The good news is that Southeast Asia is trying – really trying – to make it easier on tourists who travel long distances by uniting its ten member countries into a single destination. (The tagline “Ten Countries, One Destination” has been officially coined.) From new rail lines to pedestrian bridges to the deregulation of the airline industry, these integrative measures are all part of the ASEAN Tourism Strategic Plan, which aims to significantly increase the number of international visitors to the continent by 2015.
Here are a few ways upcoming projects will save you time, money, or both, as you plot your excursion to Southeast Asia: Read more
As much as we love travel, no one loves the red-tape-filled process of getting a new visa. Here are a few helpful tips for securing your travel documents in a few specific places around the world — namely, in East Africa, Southeast Asia, and Europe. We chose these areas because you’re more likely to cross a border while you’re traveling there, and/or because there are some new developments around visa laws in these countries. Our tips below (including a new multi-country visa program in East Africa) ought to make the process a little less cumbersome next time you embark on a multi-leg trip… Read more
Welcome to wave season! At the very end and beginning of every year, cruise lines roll out promotions for sailings through the next year – sometimes even two – in hopes of booking passengers early. The deals can take the form of steep discounts over 50 percent, 2-for-1 fares, onboard credits, free airfare, and other special packages. For you, this means that there’s no better time to go big – or at least dream about it. Here, we offer eight unbelievable cruises for the ultimate nautical adventure… Read more
Adrenaline-loving travelers looking to push the boundaries in 2014 have plenty of enticing destinations to choose from next year. Whether it’s the time-warped villages of Burma, or the far-flung shores of Antarctica (which, as it happens, will be in the spotlight for the 100th anniversary of Sir Ernest Shackleton‘s epic adventure), 2014 is sure to be filled with inspiration, adventure, and plenty of good photo ops.
Myanmar has shot to the top of myriad travel hot lists of late, putting this emerging Southeast Asian destination top of mind for travelers in search of tourism’s next “it” spot. Since word is widely out on the country’s big-league attractions (from temple-speckled Bagan to the floating villages of Inle Lake), herewith an insider’s tip for travelers looking for more off-the-path, slice-of-life authenticity. Coordinate your 2013 visit with the auspicious full moon of Tazaungmone (or, November, according to Myanmar’s traditional calendar), when the country is set aglow during its heralded annual Tazaungdaing Festival (or, Festival of Lights).
Fresh from attendance at this year’s exceptional edition, I can firmly declare the event to rank amongst the world’s most wonderful, weird, and wow-factor festivals, exceeding my wildest expectations. Just be forewarned: One look at this balloon-, lantern-, and pyrotechnic-fueled spectacle and home-front Fourth of July celebrations to come will be condemned to comparative yawn-worthy status. Read more
Perhaps too often, travel takes place on roads laden with unavoidable tourist traps and cheesy souvenir shops. For a true sense of time travel and cultural immersion, get off the man-made roads and use a traditional method of transportation: waterways. Such an experience can be found along the Ayeyarwady River in Myanmar, where riverboats carry passengers to authentic Burmese villages and Buddhist living centers.
Channeling Rudyard Kipling’s infamous poem, the luxury tour provider, Orient-Express, calls this once-in-a-lifetime voyage “The Road to Mandalay Bay.” After suffering damage from Cyclone Nargis in May 2008, the Road to Mandalay river cruiser remained docked for more than 12 months, re-emerging in August 2009 with a fresh new look, and fewer, more spacious cabins. Anxious passengers have welcomed its return and are setting sail on 3- to 11-night itineraries, with the 7-night voyage remaining a guest favorite. On this journey, the ship will stop each day at fascinating sites along the river, including Bagan, where over 2,000 temples and pagodas await, and a full-day excursion to Mount Popa, a sacred national park that is home to numerous monasteries.
Cruise fares start at $2,900 a person for the 7-night itinerary embarking from Mandalay. Bookings made by October 31 will also include a free overnight stay in the five-star Governor’s Residence Hotel in Yangon before or after the cruise. Travel is valid through December 20. Use the code RST1.
For more information, visit www.orient-express.com.
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