When I think of Japan, Tokyo is generally the first image that comes to mind. A fascinating place, modern yet traditional, always changing, always on the move.
However, it is the world's largest metropolis, with over 37 million residents (9 million in the city alone). It goes without saying this means lots of crowds. And just imagine trying to cross the street at major intersections!
It's been over 40 years since I lived in Hong Kong, and 28 since I last visited. I know a lot has changed over the years, but I also know the traditions and essence remain the same. It was in Hong Kong that I experienced my first Lunar New Year, and where my intrigue of Chinese culture began.
I have very fond memories of my time there, and look forward to making my way back to this vibrant city.
IMAGINE yourself on the teak deck of a timelessly elegant clipper ship, a warm breeze blowing in your face as the crew unfurl 54,000 square feet of sails above you.
You begin to tingle head to toe.
As you sail into the sunset, you sigh when you realize this is one of the most incredible experiences you have ever had.
An island nation with a population over 5 million people, this Southeast Asian capital has grown into a hot destination, with its melting pot of cultures, great food, modern and iconic architecture, museums, gardens and more.
Singapore has a rich history, dating as far back as the third century, but modern Singapore was born in the early 1800's when Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles negotiated a treaty to establish Singapore as a British trading station. Today, Singapore is a city of sharp contrasts - old and modern, green and concrete, colonial and skyscrapers. Read on to check out the top things to see and experience in Singapore, a vibrant and young city state that became independent in 1965.
Photo courtesy of New Zealand Tourism (100% NZ)
I've always been active, and enjoy some form of activity when I travel. Not "uber" active, extreme sport active, mind you. It is vacation after all. I'm more of the soft adventure active. I love exploring areas I visit, whether its a walk through town, a short hike, eating at local cafes, getting away from the crowds, seeing wildlife, just experiencing the more authentic side of things. Of course starting and ending my day at nice accommodations makes the experience that much better. Based on recent travel trends, I'm not alone.
60 is the new 50 these days, right?
Trips that include hiking, biking, kayaking, paddle boarding, snorkeling or getting out on a skiff matched with cultural immersions and learning opportunities are growing in popularity, especially with the boomer population. But not just this group - families and multi-generational groups are onboard as well. Nothing like fun activities to bring family groups together!
Some companies have been in the active travel space for quite some time; other companies are getting ahead of the trend (or jumping on board) by adding active options to their existing itineraries. I for one am excited to see this. While I enjoy creating my own adventures, when I look at these trips, I would be hard pressed to create the same experiences.
Read on to explore some of my favorite active vacation options.
Dreaming about a trip to China? Seriously think about including a Yangtze River cruise to the itinerary, especially if this is a once in a lifetime adventure to the region. A Yangtze cruise takes you away from the bustling cities of Beijing and Shanghai and rewards you with amazing scenery, centuries old relics and old world charm on the third longest river in the world.
Most cruises are 3-5 days and sail between Chongqing and Yichang. Some go as far as Wuhan or may start/end in Shanghai. Top river cruise lines including Avalon, Uniworld and Viking offer combined cruise and land packages that include Tibet and China's iconic sites, providing a great way to experience the cities and rural countryside.
The best time to travel is between April and October, with April/May and September/October being the least warm. Quite different from their European counterparts, the Yangtze has no bridge restrictions or issues with water levels being too high/too low. This allows for larger ships and more onboard amenities.
Intrigued? Read on and check out the fascinating port stops.
"Welcome to the Year of the Red Fire Monkey!
In Chinese astrology, each year is symbolized by one of twelve animals (rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog and pig) and one of five elements (metal, water, fire, wood or earth). The animal - element combination occurs every 60 years, and this year is the "Year of the Red Fire Monkey" (red for the color of fire).
Chinese New Year, which is also known as the Spring Festival or Lunar New Year, is a celebration that lasts over a period of 16 days. The first day of the Chinese calendar in 2016 is Monday, February 8, and in 2017, New Year's will be celebrated on January 28, 2017. It's never too soon to start planning a trip to take in the Spring Festival experience next year!