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Spring has finally sprung and with beautiful weather comes the welcome excuse to get outside, just in time for Mother’s Day! Before you get mom any ordinary plant, check out our top ten list of the most beautiful gardens around the world for some inspiration. Take mom along for the day or make a future getaway out of these. Happy Mother’s Day! Read more
Though most of the inspired travel ideas I’ve written about so far have been because of Mother Nature, the Kuha Karuhas Pavilion inside Phraya Nakhon cave of Thailand’s Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park is definitely man-made. But, that doesn’t make it any less striking. Established in 1966, Khao Sam Roi Yot was Thailand’s first coastal national park, the Pavilion is just one of the highlights in the vast park. Read more
Spring and summer seem to be festival seasons, and this time of the year, there’s plenty to celebrate. Warm weather, blossoming flowers, the ability to carry your wife long distances – wait, what? Across the globe, there are tons of strange and spectacular festivals commemorating everything from macaque monkeys to body painting. We’ve selected seven we find a little bit odd, but entirely awesome. Read more
Don’t let the Carnival Cruise Line’s recent newsworthy items deter you from hitting the high seas. There are millions of cruises that sail each year without making the news. They have great customer service, activities for families, couples, and seniors, onboard entertainment, and unique ports around the world. Today we’ve rounded up the best of the best, from exotic international cruises to the always-popular beach destinations. Read more
While we’d all love to travel more than we do, silly things like money, jobs, children, and crippling anxiety keep us trapped in one place (often our homes that are filled with old newspapers). Thankfully, modern technology allows us to experience the world more easily than ever before. We can Skype with our friends on other continents, tour museums on our phones, and experience just about anything online. But what if you want to explore other cultures and places more tangibly and can’t hop around the globe like Indiana Jones? Well, if you have space in your yard (and don’t mind your home resembling the SkyMall Tuesday headquarters), then SkyMall has everything you need to bring the world to you. Rather than break the bank and exhaust all of your vacation days on constant travel, why not surround create a menagerie of handsome lawn sculptures that allows you to live internationally without ever leaving your house? Read more
Over the past couple of decades, Phuket’s place among luxury destinations has teetered on the proverbial cliff. Walk through Patong and you’ll need more than two hands to count the number of tuk tuks, touts, and bar girls who proposition you. (You’d probably want your hands to fend off the more aggressive girls, too.) With the throngs of tourists today, it’s hard to imagine that Phuket was ever remote. Which is why it’s all the more impressive that the super-luxe Amanpuri, originally opened in 1987 and arguably one of the most splurge-worthy properties in town, continues to define luxury in Southeast Asia.
I recently stayed in one of Amanpuri’s three newly converted Pool Pavilions. It is the most opulent of any accommodations I have ever enjoyed, and that includes the overwater villa I stayed in during my honeymoon in Bora Bora. Like other accommodations at Amanpuri, the pavilions come with an outdoor sun deck and dining terrace. It is not an exaggeration to say that the outdoor space is larger than many Manhattan apartments. Each Pool Pavilion also comes with a private pool (8-10 meters long).
Giggles are muffled and eyebrows are raised when anyone mentions traveling to Amsterdam. After some perfunctory chit chat about the Van Gogh Museum and the Anne Frank House, a pregnant pause typically lingers until someone asks the question: “Did you smoke marijuana?” Since the 1970s, tourists have flocked to Amsterdam to legally get high. Now, however, the laws have changed and, come May 1, coffee shops in the southern half of the country will cater only to Dutch residents who are registered members and possess a “weed pass.”
Of course, lawyers for the coffee shops are fighting the ban on tourists and hope to prevent the law from going national come January 1, 2013. However, I think it’s high time that other cities followed the Dutch and made local customs available only to residents. Here are just a few treasured traditions that locals deserve to enjoy without having to share with tourists.
And the winners of Lonely Planet’s The World’s Best Street Food guide are…Sebastiano from Naples, Italy and Preeti from Amsterdam. It was a pleasure to give them the news yesterday and have them confirm that they love winning free books almost as much as discovering and eating the perfect street food. My congratulations to them as well as my thanks again to Lonely Planet for donating the guides. And, of course, thanks to those of you who were willing to share your favorite street food picks as a condition for entering the giveaway.
The biggest winner, however, is me, as you all did my work for me this week by reporting on the best street food you ever ate. Here now, some highlights. Read more
When traveling to exotic places, local handicrafts make great souvenirs. But Tamarind Village in Chiang Mai, Thailand will do you one better with near-daily afternoon sessions to learn how to make traditional Thai crafts yourself. The 45-room hotel gives instructions Monday through Saturday – with a particular focus each day – on such techniques as weaving flower garlands (pictured), which are used as welcome gifts and to decorate religious shrines, and paper umbrella painting, a tradition brought to Chiang Mai by a monk from Burma. All instructional sessions are free for guests. On Sundays, Tamarind Village leads a morning walk through the local area to visit temples and historic sites. www.tamarindvillage.com
For general trip-planning information, see our Chiang Mai Travel Guide.
Situated on the idyllic isle of Koh Samui, about one hour south of Bangkok by plane, beachfront Le Meriden Koh Samui Resort & Spa opened September 30 with just 77 suites and villas. Rooms offer pool or beach views, as well as 32-inch flat-screen TVs and iPod docking stations. On-site, you’ll find a luxury spa, saltwater and freshwater pools, and three restaurants and bars. Now through March 31, 2012, opening rates at the resort are just $145/night, a real bargain for a Le Meridien property, and during Koh Samui’s high season. Daily breakfast for two is included; be sure to book by December 31.
THE VALUE: Rates will run about 20 percent higher next May.
THE CATCH: A round-trip flight to Koh Samui from L.A. – with a stop in Bangkok – costs around $1,900.
THE DETAILS: To book, go to www.lemeridien.com/kohsamui.
WE’VE GOT MORE: Use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find the lowest rates on hotels, flights, vacation packages, cruises, and more travel deals.
For general trip-planning information, see our Thailand Travel Guide.
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