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.
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.
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!
It's a few days into 2016 and it's time to start planning your next adventures (if you haven't already started). So many ideas, so many places to explore and experience - the list is long!
By no means an inclusive list, check out these 52 inspirations to get your inner explorer "jump started".
Laurie Marschall - Owner and Founder