Top Spring Vacation Destinations for 2015

Paris in the Spring

Late winter and early spring are great times to get away, warm up and have some fun. Airlines and hotels often offer great offseason rates this time of year, so leaving winter behind doesn’t have to break the bank. Whether you want to stay close to home or travel afar, there is a spring vacation waiting for you.

Paris in the Spring

More than words in a song, Paris in the spring is a truly magical place. Food markets, book seller displays and café patios once again line the River Seine after a long winter’s nap. Visitors are treated to a different kind of Paris in the spring, a Paris with smaller crowds and cool, sometimes rainy weather. There are, of course, the museums, ancient architecture, cobblestone walkways and famous tourist attractions, but spring is the perfect time to sit on the banks of the Seine with a cup of coffee in hand and truly experience what makes Paris so unforgettable.

Spring events include the opening in March of the Foire du Trone theme park, April’s International Marathon of Paris and the French Open Tennis Championship in May.

Carnivals and Beaches in the U.S. Virgin Islands

What better way to shake off the winter blues than lying on the beach or going to a party? You can do both in the Virgin Islands. April is a particularly festive month in St. Thomas. Parades, costumes and food highlight the world-famous Carnival. High end stores line Main Street, delighting shoppers. Nature lovers gravitate to St. John, with its 7,000 acres of parkland and scenic beaches. Offseason rates apply during the late spring.

America’s Natural Wonder

One of America’s must-see natural wonders, the Grand Canyon is a destination for tourists around the world. Spring is a wonderful time to visit, however, with easy access to both the South and North Rims and smaller crowds. The North Rim typically reopens in March, but check with the park office before you go.

Winter Fun in Orlando and Disney World

Smaller crowds, perfect weather and reduced rates combine to make Disney World a prime winter or spring vacation destination. The immense 30,000 acre theme park is famous the world over for its water parks, attractions, shows and exhibits. In the summer, crowds are huge and hotel rates are high. Offseason rates from January to April are more affordable and crowds are smaller. Orlando has its own share of attractions, including Universal’s Islands of Adventure, featuring the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

San Antonio and the Alamo

San Antonio is a one of the most affordable spring vacations you’ll find. It’s also one of the most fun. Smaller crowds and perfect weather greets springtime visitors. If you go in April you can enjoy the sights and sounds of San Antonio’s Fiesta. The scenic River Walk and the iconic Alamo are also major attractions.

The Best Hotel in the Scenic Black Canyon of the Gunnison

Hotels near Black Canyon of GunnisonThere are a number of Hotels near Black Canyon of Gunnison that are available for you to reserve. Pick the right hotel and you can have the most enjoyable moment in that recreation area. How do you pick the right hotel in that area? First, you have to know first why this recreational area is worthy of visit. What attractions it can offer to you and why you have to stay in a hotel in order to enjoy those attractions. Second, if one-day visit is not enough and you have to stay in a hotel in order to enjoy the rest of the attractions on the next day, you should know how to pick the right hotel based on the amenities that it can provide to you.

A clear reason why you should stay longer in this recreational area is because there are many attractions that it can offer to you. Being one of America’s breathtaking scenic treasures, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is the best natural retreat for people living in Colorado as well as neighboring states. One-day stay is not enough to enjoy many attractions that this area can offer to you, which include Telluride Ski Resort, the Horsefly Brewing Company, the Ute Museum, and the Mountain View Winery. You have to stay two or three days in the resort if you want to feel total enjoyment and entertainment in that area. Finding a good hotel that provides you with the best accommodation and amenities is thus necessary.

How to find the best hotel near the national park? Two features that you mostly want to check are reservation cost and amenities. Days Inn Montrose is a hotel that offers the warmth and hospitality of the area. You can visit its website to learn more about its reservation cost and amenities.

Finding a Good Hotel in Durango

lodging near Durango ColoradoYou may want to spend your holiday in Lodging near Durango Colorado since Durango Colorado is center of tourism, educational and agricultural activities. Therefore, there must be a lot of interesting activities that you can do in that city. If you are a vacationer, there are many tourism venues that you can visit in Durango, including the San Juan Mountains, San Juan National Forest, Purgatory Ski Area, Mesa Verde National Park, and a Native American reserve in the Southern Ute Reservation. As an agricultural city, Durango offers many scenic places in its countryside that you can visit if you want to escape from the hustles and bustles of city life. There are many interesting activities that you can do and there are many interesting places to visit in that city, so what are you waiting for? Book your flight now and enjoy your vacation in Durango.

When you visit Durango, you are certainly aware that you have to find a perfect place to stay. It can be a hotel or anything that makes you feel comfortable and suffices your needs as a guest. Because the reason why you visit Durango is because you want to refresh your body and mind by enjoying the beauty of the nature, scenic and serene lodging near Durango Colorado should be the best option for your accommodation. Finding lodging with such features is quite easy. You can use internet to search for comfortable accommodation and to book it.

What is important when you want to book a hotel in Durango is that you have to specify your needs so that you can make a list of all amenities that you expect the hotel to provide to you. If you wish to stay connected with your family, friends and workplace, for instance, you should expect the hotel to provide you with high-speed Wi-Fi connection. Be specific in defining your needs and you can eventually find a hotel that makes you feel comfortable and suffices your needs.

bed and breakfasts in Vermont

Everything You Need in Vermont

bed and breakfasts in VermontAre you looking for complete information about bed and breakfasts in VT? Well, it seems like you come to the right place. You are about to learn the best way to plan a travel to the great state of Vermont and more specifically how to find the best accommodation while you are staying there. Keep on reading and you will find best solution for your need.

There are so many reasons why you travel to any place in Vermont. Whether it is for business or for pleasure, Vermont has so much to offer. It has beautiful cities, impressive landmarks, extravagant national and state parks, and many more. When it comes to business, this state offers you lots of new opportunities to reach. Before you even leaving your home heading to this great state you know that you will need a nice place to stay and yes, you need a nice accommodation. There’s only one thing you need to plan a perfect travel to Vermont and that is Central Reservations Vermont. This portal is where you can find everything to meet your need in this state. There’s no more portal can offer you comprehensive solution than this one.

When it comes to accommodation, this portal is what you need. It has information on various types of accommodations including lodging and BNB hotels all across the state. You will get proper information about them to help you decide which one fits your need and your budget. There’s a search engine there to help you narrow down your quest without any hassle. It is guaranteed that the information provided there is updated and unbiased and will be the best guideline you can get. Besides accommodation, there are many other things you may need and off course, you can always count on Central Reservations Vermont.

Ha Long Bay Vietnam Photo 1004

Ha Long Bay Vietnam Photo Ha Long Bay Vietnam Rates Deals Cheap Flights Tickets

Railay Beach Thailand Photo 10010

Railay Beach Thailand Photo Railay Beach Thailand Rates Deals Cheap Flights Tickets

Railay Beach Thailand Photo 1004

Railay Beach Thailand Photo Railay Beach Thailand Rates Deals Cheap Flights Tickets

Lingchuan Guilin China Photo 1003

Lingchuan Guilin China Photo Lingchuan Guilin China Rates Deals Cheap Flights Tickets

Zion National Park Utah United States Travel

Zion National Park Utah United States

Zion National Park Utah United States Rates Deals Cheap Flights Tickets

Pu’u Wa’awa’a Ahupua’a Kailua Kona Hawaii Travel

Pu'u Wa'awa'a Ahupua'a Kailua Kona Hawaii

Pu’u Wa’awa’a Ahupua’a Kailua Kona Hawaii Rates Deals Cheap Flights Tickets

Pounders Beach, Laie, Hawaii

Pounders Beach, Laie, Hawaii

Pounders Beach, Laie, HawaiiPounders Beach is a beautiful and breathtaking half moon of sandy white beach, and is one of the more popular bodyboard and bodysurfing beaches. It is also home to the Brigham Young University-Hawaii Campus. It was renamed in 1974. Before that it was know as the Church College of Hawaii. All year round you will find a high surf at Pounders Beach. The Laie Maloo bay is not blocked, and has wide reefs all along its side.

Glass Beach, mendocino, CA

Glass Beach, mendocino, CA

Glass Beach, mendocino, CAGlass Beach is one of the most popular tourist spots on the Mendocino Coast, especially among “treasure” hunters searching for bits of colored glass and pottery worn smooth by the tides. Many come to collect a few, a handful or a bucketful of the glass. Don’t. It’s now State Parks property and against the law. Marilyn Murphy, district supervisor for the Mendocino Area State Parks, wrote this when I queried her about collecting glass from glass beach:

Ayutthaya Temple Famous Buddhas

Explore Thailand’s Ancient Capital of Ayutthaya

Ayutthaya is an ancient capital city of Thailand and it was founded by King Ramathibodi I in 1350. The old city is where the ruins of the ancient buildings are now made into a historical park. Ayutthaya is also called the “sacred city” of Thailand. Only a mere 45 minutes away from Bangkok, Ayutthaya is easily accessible via bus or train.

Ayutthaya Temple Famous Buddhas

Ayutthaya is one great place to go for an escape from the busy cities of Bangkok. It offers serene and tranquil atmosphere where in everyone will have a peaceful and quiet leisure time. When visiting Ayutthaya, in order to get a taste of the city, a good idea is to travel by boat again, taking a circumnavigatory tour of the island. Boats leave from the pier by the market and the trip lasts about an hour.

The most important place to visit is the Buddha Head at Wat Mahatat. Here you can see the four spectacular temples of the early Ayutthaya period set against a dense canopy of ancient trees. Besides, you can also visit other attractions in the area including the Ayodha Floating Market, Ayutthaya Boat Museum, and the Bang Sai Royal Folk Art and Crafts Centre. You also can visit Wat Mahathat, a place famous for the Buddha head that could be found among the roots of one of the trees in the complex.

ayutthaya thailand temple ruins

Thailand’s city Ayutthaya is the best city to represent the country for it has kept its country’s culture. Though there are many other beautiful citoes in Thailand, a trip to Ayutthaya will definitely complete a whole Thai trip. Now, if you ever think of visiting Thailand, just remember that apart from the beaches, the night live, the entertaintment scence, there is a best kept secret, and that is the notable ruins of the Ayutthaya Kingdom.

Chiangmai Thailand Wat Chedi Luang

Chiang Mai Tours Beyond The City

Chiangmai Thailand Wat Chedi LuangInto the Arms of Buddha

It was 5 p.m. and I was stalking an angel on temple grounds. As the rain started, I wondered if she would show herself at all. Chiang Mai’s rain patterns are directly correlated with the contents of my purse. The resulting meteorological phenomena means the rain could stop in a matter of seconds or pour down for days, depending on whether or not I’d brought my umbrella. I had not.

Squinting into the droplets, I glared up at the massive Chedi, a Lanna-style stupa which draws in visitors from across Northern Thailand. Sure it’s impressive, but what I want to know is: How can you have such a large building sitting there for 700 years and not install any doors? Surely it has rained here before.

Where to hide? No way would I take shelter in the two beautiful little buildings in front of me. Stunningly designed, absolutely! But each houses a wax replica of an elderly monk sitting in a clear box. File them under “way too real looking” to pass time with. What can I say? Lack of blinking disturbs me. Beside, if wax can achieve the lotus position, why can’t I?

To escape the deluge, my shelter took the form of a gazebo housing three large Buddhas. I would not be alone. One by one, temple residents trickled in. The first went straight to a mat he obviously kept laid out for these moments. Two more just sat down and licked themselves. By the time the skies opened up completely, three more temple dogs had meandered into the shelter.

Carrying dog cookies is just something I do. I could explain myself, but people either get it or never will. I tossed five treats out and turned to the sixth dog, Lek (Thai for little). She had vanished. Not possible. Would she go back out in the rain? Is there a dog door in the side of the Chedi?

I surrendered Lek’s cookie to an antique looking Weimaraner. Predictably, that’s when I spotted her. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed her sitting in the right hand of a Buddha. She yawned, nestled perfectly into Buddha’s arms and fell fast asleep. After six years of visiting Wat Chedi Luang, the temple still brings a grin to my face. Must be why I keep coming back.

Angels of Chedi Luang

Actually, as the donation box says, “It all started about ten years ago.” Ajarn Rosocon, a teacher at Chiang Mai’s Rajabaht University, decided to make the dogs of Wat Chedi Luang and the adjoining Wat Phan Tau her mission. Ajarn is Thai for teacher. Her best lessons were taught at this temple complex. Out of a potential hell these unique Buddhist sites have been transformed into a sort of canine Nirvana.

Initially, students and friends helped Ajarn Rosocon care for the dogs. They fed, sterilized, treated mange, vaccinated… whatever they could manage from the pennies (baht) they scraped together. The group was determined that the dogs of Chedi Luang and Phan Tau not suffer the life faced by so many abandoned and sick temple dogs across SE Asia.

In 2005 Ajarn Rosocon unexpectedly died. A friend, Ann Pierce, and another devoted friend/student Khun Soonthree stepped in. Adopting Rosocon’s dream as their own, they went forward, honoring a friend’s memory by helping the helpless. Ultimately, Khun Soonthree became in many eyes the “Angel of Chedi Luang.”

Touring the Temples

Wat Chedi Luang has become a refuge not just for dogs, but for all animal lovers. If travelers become overwhelmed by the sight and plight of street dogs or simply need a quiet escape they visit this ‘feel good’ temple. Try it yourself. Play tourist, take photos, pat a willing pup, or bring a picnic – it’s all good. Then at 6 p.m. watch for the angel. Over a year after Ajarn Rosocon death, Khun Soonthree still feeds and cares for the temple dogs.

Word has it she never misses a day. She was there in the rainy season when her own home flooded several times. She was there in the storm when Lek and I sought shelter. Her bright yellow rain slicker and massive pot of rice mix carried her through the tempest. If it is 6 o’clock in Chiang Mai, she’s there right now.

Most people visit Wat Chedi Luang’s temple complex for the impressive ancient Chedi. In addition, its beautiful grounds are perfect for strolling, quietly removed from the city’s frenzy. Vendors offer food and cool drink. Trees and benches offer hospitable shade. The adjoining Wat Phan Tau casts a luminous teak glow over the Buddha images it houses.

Better still, the aptly named “Monk Chat” area offer travelers a welcoming invitation to pull up a chair and, quite obviously, chat with monks. A casual atmosphere where international visitors just hang out with Buddhist monks is a fabulous forum for asking questions and learning about one another’s lives. In the background the voices of novice monks echo outward from classroom windows.

Who’s Who?

Of course, for a few of us the temples house one more special treasure – the dogs. Not all are social. Not all are loyal. Some are downright ornery. But to know the “who’s who” of Chedi Luang canines adds to the fun of any visit. True most tourists barely notice them – except to do a quick sidestep away. Like many regulars, however, I’ve given most nicknames.

Take Ren and Stumpy for example. Ren, a diminutive twig of a dog, is the duo’s personality. Stumpy, who has a front leg contorted up underneath, provides a bit of size (a valuable asset in the world of temple dog politics) to the team. Side by side the pair can be found on a building patio overlooking the Chedi’s north face.

Ren works her magic, charming the visitors with enthusiastic greetings. Then Stumpy shows his handicap, Abracadabra! Any traveler with half a heart makes a beeline for the ubiquitous ‘5 baht meat-on-a-stick’ vendor. “No need to heat it sir.”

Next, is Lady. She works with a local artist by delicately charming customers to his postcard rack. From there they get a close-up look at his lovely hand sketched works. I suspect Lady pulls in a commission.

Friendly Little Lek hovers at ordinary in the looks department. But every dog is beautiful when they sleep in Buddha’s arms.

Not all is perfect. When I first saw Hiccup, I thought he had just been poisoned. Now I know the perpetual hack must be a medical problem. A bone lodged somewhere or… I can not say. While not overly social, Hiccup is stunningly photogenic.

At the front entrance of Chedi Luang are the three Golden Boys. At least I think they are boys. They rarely stand. This is the first place Khun Soonthree feeds each evening. Looking at the girth of the Golden Boys, it’s a tad surprising there is any food left for any other temple dogs.

Across from them lives Lucy – the Teddy Bear dog. Had you seen her before her haircut, you would have expected to find seams and a price tag.

No one knows exactly how many dogs live at Chedi Luang, 60+ perhaps. Other notable characters include Cookie Monster, whose cantankerous attitude and dull looks are well compensated for by the fact that he is the only one who actually likes the dull old dry dog cookies I bring. Apparently others prefer Khun Soonthree’s cooking to mine.

Living on the north face of the Chedi is Scar and her three puppies. Some dogs turn up at the temple pregnant. Still, her puppies Goldie, Blackie, and Coco Puff are well cared for.

The latest I have notice is named, “Oh Crap, Where Are My Ears?” Oh Crap…, or Ears for short, must be an abandoned pet. He is way too forlorn looking. It’s as though he desperately wants a master. However, he’s willing to settle for jerky treats – or bigger ears.

Chubby, a pseudo red Chow, and Pigeon Chaser top off the list of charmers over at Wat Phan Tau. Pigeon Chaser will pass any domestic chicken, but heaven help the wild birds if he ever sprouts wings. The young monks at Phan Tau are especially loving toward their smaller population of temple dogs. It is truly a joy to watch them interact. Saffron robes and happy tails flourish side by side.

The influence Chedi Luang has on animal lovers is best summed up by Ann Pierce. A former volunteer with the dogs, Ann has returned to California, but wrote this in an email interview:

“I cannot begin to articulate the impact the dogs, Ajarn Rosocon, Khun Soonthree, Wat Chedi Luang and all the other people I met through my time in Chiang Mai has had on me. I’m a very different person because of my experiences. My dream is to one day move back to Chiang Mai and continue helping the animals, no matter how frustrating it is at times.”

Getting There

You can take a Tuk Tuk to visit Wat Chedi Luang. Most drivers know of this popular temple. On foot enter the old city from the famous Tha Phae Gate (east moat gate) and continue straight up Ratchadamnoen Road about four blocks to the first street light – Phra Pokklao Rd. Turn left. You’ll immediately see the spectacular Teak Wood Temple of Wat Phan Tau on your right. Take a look inside. Wat Chedi Luang’s larger complex is located next door.

Please remember Wats are Buddhist Temples first and foremost. Dress conservatively and behave respectfully. They don’t have to let the visitors or the dogs stay. Honor yourself by the example you set.

How Can You Help?

Visit Chedi Luang, have a great time, then spread the word.

Feeding starts at the main entrance between 5:30 and 6:00 each night. Stop by and show Khun Soonthree your appreciation of her work.

Please make a donation in one of the temples three Dog Donation Boxes, set up around the Chedi. Your money goes to food, vaccinations, mange treatment, sterilization of females (and males when it can be afforded), and general care.

The main Wat is currently undergoing a massive restoration. Making a donation to support the construction work, the temple and the temple’s school is good for all the residents – two and four legged (or 3.5 – sorry Stumpy).

Getting the Most from Your Visit!

Never approach any dog that seems reluctant. Get acquainted slowly with the friendly animals. Their continued socialization, or at least apathy to people, keeps them from wearing out their welcome at the temple.

Do not bring too many good tasting cookies: bacon, pork rings, a side of beef… The bigger dogs will follow and fights can ensue with defenseless smaller ones. Dry old dog cookies rate low on the taste scale. In other words, they are a perfect cheap way to give snacks to those that will eat them eventually. If in doubt, donate the money instead. It goes to the right place.

Helping Dogs in Chiang Mai

If you live in Thailand, consider helping change the world one temple at a time. Get advice form angels and/or adopt your own temple – with permission of the monks. Make it a family, business, class or club project. Work with a reputable vet. Dr. Nook in Chiang Mai is aces!

Other organizations that help pets in the Chiangmai area temples include Lanna Dog Rescue and Care for Dogs. Both have web sites and are always looking for volunteers or donations of funds, foods and materials.

In addition, Care for Dogs also has a wonderful shelter offering adoptions of healthy rescued dogs and puppies to good homes. Remember, for each new pet that finds a family, space is made for a suffering dog to be brought into their facility. What a beautiful way to help one – dog at a time.

Beijing Travel Bird's Nest at Night

Beijing Travel Guide Introduction

Beijing Travel Bird's Nest at NightThe best way to kick off your Asian travels is in China’s progressive and even tragically hip capital city of Beijing. Traditional relics like the Tiananmen gate stand juxtaposed against the imposing modernist architecture of recent history, most notable in the Dashanzi Art District. The People’s Republic of China has its financial industries mainly in Shanghai and Hong Kong, but Beijing remains the nation’s true cultural and political center.

Orange County Meets Ming Dynasty in Beijing

When many travelers think of Beijing, they imagine the dictatorial atmosphere of Mao Zedong or television images of protesting citizens; however, Beijing has a tremendous history beginning as early as the 1st century BCE and has persevered through Kublai Kahn’s Mongols, Japanese invasion, and the Communist Civil War victory in 1949.

The Forbidden City is a fascinating journey through 500 years of Imperial secrecy. The head of state no longer resides here and the beautiful buildings and breathtaking gardens are open to the public year-round. The entrance to the Forbidden City is the infamous Tiananmen Square and gate, protected by four formidable marble lions. Nearby, the Temple of Heaven is another sublime representation of an era of dynasties and royal architecture. With airfare to Beijing, you also have the extra opportunity to see the Great Wall of China, which is only one and a half hours away by bus.

Although there are hundreds of historical sites in Beijing, the rapidly sprawling metropolis is also overflowing with contemporary wonders and luxuries. The National Zoo houses the largest inland aquarium in the world as well as China’s famous pandas. Next to the Imperial Palace, the Wan Fung Art Gallery provides insight into the artistic transition from regal and traditional to cutting edge contemporary. Most interestingly, the suburban sprawl has witnessed the creation of a $60 million American-inspired community called Orange County, complete with town homes and tract housing.

Chinese Cultural Centrifuge in Beijing

Experience two cultural traditions in one at the Laoshe Tea House where you will be both charmed by Chinese opera and soothed by a variety of traditional teas. For world-class shopping in Beijing, visit Wangfujing, or you can find your way into the many enchanting smaller districts for traditional Chinese shops and boutiques. Beijing is also home to several notable temples like the Miaoying, and even a mosque that was built in 996.

With such dynamic experiences to offer and the immaculate preservation of its past, Beijing is truly an international city and there’s no wonder the cosmopolis has been chosen for the Olympics. Get your airfare to Beijing now or wait for the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.

panglao beach Philippines

Philippines Travel Destinations Tips

panglao beach PhilippinesWhen traveling to any other country, may it be the Philippines or Holland or Zimbabwe, you’re sure to come across all kinds of hassles and obstacles that could give you a pressing headache and make you wish that you’re back at home sweet home. But it’s really not necessary to go all through that with the right amount of preparation and research. When traveling to another country, you should always expect the unexpected and make sure you have a contingency plan for each situation you might find yourself in. And in your trip to the Philippines, here are a few suggestions you could take to make your trip to the Philippines hassle free.

Philippine Travel Tip #1 – Weather This, Weather That
When you’re in Dubai, you’re sure to expect extreme heat during the day and extreme cold during the night. In the Philippines, however, there are no extremities in temperature to watch out for. If you’re going to travel to the Philippines between the months of March till May, be sure to bring lots of light clothes because it’s the hot and dry season. During the months of June till October, it’s the rainy season that would greet you on your Philippine travel. Lastly, the months of November till February are possibly the best times of the year to travel in the Philippines because it’s cool but dry. But to be more specific, if you want your trip to the Philippines unmarred by the occasional typhoon, set your travel date between the middle of December till mid-May.

Philippine Travel Tip #2 – Everything’s Within A Call Away?
Manila, the capital city of the Philippines, is also dubbed as the texting capital of the world because everyone, and I do mean everyone, has got a cellphone – or two! – in their name. That’s why if you’re lost, you need not worry about looking for the nearest public phone because cellphones are able to work in almost all places in the Philippines. Quite a convenient thing for anyone traveling, isn’t it?

Philippine Travel Tip #3 – Party Time!
One of the most unique and enjoyable experiences you could have when you travel to the Philippines is being part of the fiesta season. The whole town or city usually participates in a fiesta and each and every house is open to all, natives and foreigners alike. Filipino delicacies are prepared in each household and colorful banners are hung everywhere so that you’d know when there’s a fiesta going on. You could also try participating in one of the native games that’s usually played like climbing a tree slick with oil or being blindfolded and try hitting the “palayok” or pot filled with candies and coins for children.

More Pictures of Philippines Travel Destinations

Dumaguete Philippines beach travel Dumaguete Philippines puca beach boracay island philippines
pattaya koh larn holiday

Visit the Koh Larn Island Thailand

pattaya koh larn holidayWas talking to a girl in a bar and the conversation came around to what other places in Thailand had I visited other than Pattaya. I rattled off a short list – Bangkok, Phitsanulok, Nakhon Si Thammaratt, Phuket, Koh Samui, Had Yai, Korat, and a few others. She asked me if I had ever been to Koh Larn. I told her “No” and she told me she had never been either.

Well that did it. I immediately invited her to go the next day. She was beside herself and, at first, did not believe me. I promised her that I was telling her the truth. She came home with me and spent the night and the next morning we grabbed some breakfast and booked our day trip.

We only had to wait about 15 minutes and were escorted to a meeting place near Beach Road. It was within walking distance and we were there in about as long as it takes to smoke a cigarette. A few more folks joined us and about 10 minutes later, we were heading for the beach to meet our boat.

We were taken down to the water and a long boat was waiting for us. It was very narrow – just enough room to sit 2 across. There were about 15 of us in the boat and it could have held twice as many.

We chugged out to a square pier about 15 minutes from shore. This was the para-sailing station was. I wanted no part of this and neither did the young lady with me. We just sat and watched the others on their 30-second trip that cost about 10 dollars.

From there we embarked on a two-story boat. This one had a covered area and a place to sit topside along with some room in the back of the boat. About 30 of us were on this leg of the trip. The ship chugged along at a nice, slow pace and after about 45 minutes we were nearing Koh Larn.

Another small boat came out to meet us and this one had a covered, glass bottom. After we got closer to the island, we removed the wooden covers on the glass and made an attempt to see the coral bottom. But, the water was a bit murky and we could barely make out the bottom of the water. So, we headed for shore.

Since this little trip was impromptu, my girl didn’t have any proper beach attire – so I got her a bathing suit, shower cap and a pair of flip-flops – all for about 10 dollars. We found a nice spot on the beach and picked out a couple of beach chairs (50 cents for the whole day’s use) and staked out our turf. There were a few vendors but they didn’t pester us much.

We were offered some of the paid activities – walking underwater, snorkeling, banana boat riding and a few others – not expensive – but really had nothing that I wanted other than to lounge on the beach. So, we just played in the water a bit and relaxed on the beach chairs for about an hour.

Then it was time for lunch. We were served soup, fried rice, fish and a few other Thai dishes and for some strange reason – french fries. The food was bland but edible. There was an Indian family in our group and they had a special meal because of their religion that looked a lot better than ours.

After lunch we walked around a bit, checked out the souvenir shops and went back to our beach chairs. Lounged a bit, played in the water and then it was time for a quick shower and back on the glass bottom boat for the return to Pattaya beach.

The glass bottom boat took us back out the bigger boat and we headed back to Pattaya. The girl I was with took out her cell phone and surprised me by dialing in some music on her FM radio. She had earphones and we each used one and listened to some soft rock while making our way back to the beach at Pattaya.

We slowly made our way back with a nice breeze and spectacular view. A few hundred yards from shore we were once again met by the long, skinny boat and made our way to shore.

All in all, a very pleasant day and the total cost for the two of us was 20 dollars. Amazing Thailand.

More Pictures of Koh Larn Island Thailand

koh larn thailand beach Thailand Bangkok koh larn Coral Island in Pattaya
Taktsang monastery Bhutan vacation

Bhutan Vacation In The Himalayas

Taktsang monastery Bhutan vacationThe Kingdom of Bhutan is a landlocked haven between India and China , and it is often described as the last place you will find traditional Himalayan Buddhist culture. It is virtually surrounded by the Himalayas, and for centuries has been a difficult place to visit.

Bhutan opened its doors to tourism on a limited scale over thirty years ago, so now it is possible to think in terms of a Bhutan vacation.

The Kingdom of Bhutan is known locally as The Land of The Thunder Dragon, and it is one of the most isolated and least well developed nations in the world.

It is difficult to comprehend a place like Bhutan which is a kingdom whose main issue is with happiness. Everybody seems happy, cultural values and traditions remain unchanged since Buddhism began to be the dominant religion in the 7th Century. In other words the world that we live in today has left Bhutan largely untouched.

You will fall in love with the beauty of Bhutan, the lack of pollution, be it 21st century rubbish, or the noise of pop music machines. The scenery and architecture will hold you spellbound, and you will find the people quite the most charming, and very hospitable.

A Bhutan vacation will normally begin by entering the country by air using the national carrier Druk Air. The airline flies into Paro from Bangkok, Delhi, Kolkata, and Kathmandu every week, and it is the only airline that flies in and out of Bhutan. If you fly from Kathmandu ensure you get a seat on the left hand side of the airline, because the views of the Himalayas are exceptional. Departure tax is included in the ticket price, and you must ensure you have a visa organised before you set out from home.

You can enter by road through Phuentsholing on the southern border with India, and you could have a fantastic trip from Kathmandu to Darjeeling then to Sikkim prior to entering Bhutan.

To get around in Bhutan you need to hire a motor vehicle or walk!! There are no railways, no helicoptors, and public transport is packed and uncomfortable.

The entire country of Bhutan is mountainous apart from a small sub tropical plain area in the south. The mountains rise to as high as 7000 metres, so the climate has enormous variation. The rainy season lasts from May to September, and visits to altitude are at their best in October and November.

Apart from the sheer beauty of the Himalayas there is much to see and enjoy on your Bhutan Vacation, and space precludes large descriptions, but you ought to visit.

Bumthang which is the spiritual epicentre of Bhutan and home to its most ancient and precious Buddhist sites.

Thimpu is the only world capital without traffic lights, has a real medieval feel to it. Dechenphu Lhakhang at over 8000 feet this imposing chapel is accessed by a stone staircase Taktshang Goemba is the most famous monastery in Bhutan on the side of a cliff 2925 feet above the Paro Trongsa Dzong is the most impressive fort monastery in Bhutan and can be seen from far away.

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Fiji Levu Coral Coast beach resort

All-inclusive Fiji Vacation Package To Navini Island

Fiji Levu Coral Coast beach resortWhy not take a Fiji Vacation Package to Navini Island, it would be an excellent choice for a Fiji honeymoon, and you would have little difficulty putting together a Fiji honeymoon package with any well known travel agent. Many people take a Fiji vacation every year, but the trick is to get the right degree of exclusivity and relaxation, and Navini has all of that.

Navini is one of the smallest island resorts close to Nadi, on that side of Viti Levu, and it is a private resort, where you can expect a casual and thoroughly relaxed time. The closeness to the international airport makes it an obvious choice for the first few days of relaxation after stepping off a long haul flight from say Europe, before beginning a sweep of the South Pacific.

You will be met by Navini Island Resort staff at the airport and within an hour you will be at Navini, and even swimming off the beach. There are no crowds because there are no trippers on this Fiji Vacation Package.

The island is small, you can wander round it in 10 minutes, because Navini is a coral cay and is only ever a few feet above the sea. It isn’t just coral, although of course the beautiful coral sand and the turquoise ocean are an outstanding feature. There are coconut palms, and lots of shade, and masses of tropical flowers.

Navini has only 12 bures including a honeymoon bure, all on the beach and overlooking the coral reef, which makes it the perfect start to your Fiji honeymoon. There are 36 island staff which outnumbers the guests so you will get to know the smiling Fijian staff and appreciate their infectious enthusiasm and laughter, and also appreciate their culture and generous hospitality which is unequalled anywhere.

At Navini Island your time is your own. It may be you decide to go snorkelling on the bright multicoloured reef, visit a local village on a complimentary morning outing, kayak around the island, visit Nadi town on a shopping trip, or perhaps just lie in the shade enjoying the amazing views.

There are other activities but if this is your Fiji Honeymoon, or a Fiji vacation Package to escape the stresses of 21st Century life you may want to do nothing at all. You could of course sail a hobycat, a sailboard, a spyboard or a sea cycle. All these activities cost you nothing. If you feel energetic there is the afternoon volleyball game, or you could read a book from the resort library or perhaps even a massage.

You can of course go scuba diving, para sailing or sports fishing, for which there is a fee albeit a modest one.

As you will realise Navini Island gives you a very laid back exclusive Fiji vacation package and could be a most delightful choice for your Fiji honeymoon.

Apart from accommodation, which is very comfortable if slightly Spartan, food and drink feature highly on any vacation package, and you will not be disappointed.

Navini’s dining room is open air beautifully situated between the tropical gardens and the turquoise sea. The food is a mix between traditional Fijian and innovative cuisine. There are choices at all times, and always beautiful fresh fish and local fruit, everything cooked in the kitchen.

Once a week there is a traditional Fijian night with a ‘lovo’ which is food cooked underground, and then a kava ceremony with Fijian singing by the staff.

You will go to Navini island for your Fijian Vacation Package or that once in a lifetime Fijian Honeymoon, and arrive as a guest and leave feeling you have made many friends.

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panama city beach

Panama City The Mainland Paradise

panama city beachPanama is an adventure wonderland just waiting to be discovered. The country’s expansive rainforests are among the richest and most complex on the planet. It’s the only country where jaguars and pumas prowl just a short drive from the capital. Its vast, roadless jungles are home to over 940 recorded bird species and 105 endangered species, including the spectacled bear, the Central American tapir, the American crocodile, the scarlet macaw, as well as several eagle species.

This small, untapped country offers some of the finest diving, birdwatching, and deep-sea fishing in all of the Americas—yet only the most avid adventurers are aware of it. Panama boasts scores of deserted palm-lined beaches, miles of lush rainforests, great national parks, mysterious mangroves (where you’ll feel like you’ve been transported back to a time when dinosaurs walked the earth), steamy cloud forests, mountains, waterfalls, raging rivers, abandoned forts, as well as desert.

In Panama you can spend the morning diving in the Caribbean and the afternoon swimming in the Pacific. You can explore historic ruins of the colonial era…dive for Sir Francis Drake’s lead coffin (supposedly buried at sea near Portobello Bay)…see the rainforest in an aerial tram…ride a dug-out canoe to a native Indian village…discover the remote and mysterious forests of the Darién region right on the border of Colombia (where the roads end a few miles before the border, leaving you with the feeling you’ve reached the end of civilization)…come nose-to-nose with a red-napped tamarind monkey or a trio of colorful toucans…

Conde Nast Traveler, in an article from its February 2005 issue said “Panama has temperate rain forests, great surf and beaches, and more birdlife than any other country in Central America. Now…it also has a newly elected administration that wants travelers to enjoy every bit of it.”

Fortunately, Panama is a small country. In a short one- or two-week trip, you can see much of what this diverse country has to offer.

In this special report, the IL team proposes a plan to get the most out of 24 hours in Panama. From a traditional Panamanian breakfast to a trip to the Miraflores Locks to evening drinks in a little boutique hotel overlooking the Bay of Panama…we have it all thought out.

Breakfast in El Trapiche

Exploring the best Panama has to offer is hungry work. Start your day on a full stomach and head for breakfast in El Trapiche, a busy diner in El Cangrejo (Vía Argentina, tel. (507)269-4353). Here you can enjoy breakfast Panama style and indulge in a hearty feed of carimañol—a yummy roll made of mashed yucca and stuffed with ground beef and boiled eggs—and a side of corn tortillas, that more resemble silverdollar pancakes than taco shells. The bill should be less than $8, even with that second café con leche.

Trip to the Miraflores Locks

No trip to Panama is complete without seeing the “Eighth Wonder of the World,” the Panama Canal. According to the Panama Canal Authority “The history of the construction of the Panama Canal is the saga of human ingenuity and courage: years of sacrifice, crushing defeat, and final victory.” This statement, while true, doesn’t go far enough to describe the mighty toll taken by the building of the Panama Canal. Construction began in 1904 and took 10 years to complete. It remains one of the greatest engineering achievements of all time, completed despite landslides, disease, setbacks, and the loss of 75,000 lives in total. Engineers directed most of the actual construction, which cost $375 million, and involved the excavation of 240 million cubic yards of earth.

The Canal, 51 miles long, opened to shipping in August 1914 and was formally dedicated on July 12, 1920. In 1921, the U.S. paid Colombia $25 million as redress for the loss of Panama; in exchange, Colombia formally recognized Panama’s independence.

On average it takes a vessel eight hours to travel from one ocean to the other, passing through three sets of locks. The best place to see the Canal is from the Miraflores Locks (open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., admission free). Make sure to get to the Miraflores Locks for 9 a.m. as this is when you are most likely to see large ships passing through.

Tamales in Casco Viejo

By now you’re probably feeling a tad peckish… Time to hop on a bus or hail a taxi and make your way toward Casco Viejo for tamales. If you’re in luck, you’ll bump into Luis Antonio Visuette on the streets of Casco Viejo, where he has been selling delicious homemade tamales, wrapped in plaintain leaves, for more than 10 years. With his Yankee cap and five-gallon bucket of hot and spicy tameles calientitos, Luis is hard to miss. These lunchtime treats are available in both large (50 cents), and small (25 cents), and are a real hit when washed down with an ice-cold drink. International Living’s local office is located in the Casco Viejo area, in the Cathedral Plaza, next to the Panama Canal Museum and just in front of the stunning Metropolitan Cathedral, so if you want to enjoy your tamales in our office (Luis will be making the rounds) call in for a Panamanian style “power lunch.”

Explore Casco Viejo

Located at the mouth of the Panama Canal, Casco Viejo is the oldest city on the Pacific Coast of the Americas…although it was there long before the Canal was built.

In fairness to history, the original Panama City (now known as Old Panama or Panama La Vieja) was founded in 1519, about two miles from the center of Panama City as we know it today. From here, expeditions were mounted to conquer the Inca Empire of South America and all of the wealth pillaged from Peru, Chile, and California flowed to Spain through Old Panama. It is no surprise that this booty attracted pirates like Henry Morgan, who looted the city in 1671.

During Morgan’s attack, this original Panama City was burned to the ground. Two years later, in 1673, the capital was moved two miles to the west, and present-day Panama City was founded. This is the area now known as Casco Viejo.

As the city was being rebuilt by the Spanish settlers, they decided to build a massive surrounding wall and a stronger fortress for its protection and to ensure that the enormous wealth in gold and silver that passed through it would never again be susceptible to the likes of Henry Morgan.

The new city boasted a cross-sectioned design of 38 blocks, with three main streets running from east to west and seven streets running from north to south. Unfortunately, this urban development was interrupted by various fires that devastated its streets. In 1737, the “big fire” destroyed two thirds of the city, and the “small fire” of 1756 destroyed more than 90 houses. These and other catastrophic fires help explain why so few true examples of Spanish colonial architecture exist today.

The fortress still survives, though, and today houses several important, cultural, and historic buildings and monuments. But it is the architecture of Casco Viejo that makes it so special. The old Spanish colonial style is overlaid with French balconies and architecture, remnants of the French inhabitants who made the initial attempt to build the Panama Canal in 1881. Over the years, a Caribbean influence also took hold and, today, Casco Viejo is a melting pot of architectural inspiration and style, with some buildings dating as far back as 300 years.

Museums, shopping, and fortune telling

Up until the early parts of this century, Casco Viejo remained a thriving cultural center. But as Panama City modernized, and as the automotive age made transportation easier, it spread outward, leaving Casco Viejo behind. The old city’s narrow labyrinth streets were difficult for cars to maneuver and its buildings were obsolete in comparison to modern skyscrapers being built. By the mid 1900s, Casco Viejo had gone the way of most city centers of that century. No longer the center of Panama City, it was too oppressed for the upper class and quickly became a poor area of tenement-style housing.

The area is currently undergoing a complete transformation, however. Restaurants and bars are opening with gusto, tourists are coming in growing numbers, and people from all over now want to make their homes in Casco Viejo.

In 1997, UNESCO declared Casco Viejo a Patrimony of Humanity. Today, it is revered as the historic center of Panama City. Two- and three-story houses with flower-adorned balconies overlook narrow streets. At its tip is French Park, where you will find the French Embassy and a monument to the hardy French builders who began the Panama Canal. On one side is an historical Spanish building called Las Bovedas, now housing an art gallery and French restaurant. Panama’s Supreme Court was once housed here. A walkway around the monument offers a nice view of the Amador Causeway, Bridge of the Americas, and Panama City’s skyscraper skyline to the east. A plaque commemorates the firing of canon shots to ward off a Colombian warship and solidify Panama’s independence from Colombia in 1903.

There are excellent museums in the Casco Viejo area, including the Museo de Canal. Here, you can learn about Panama’s history as the connector between the Atlantic and the Pacific from pre-Hispanic to modern times. Next door is the Museum of National History and across the way is the National Cathedral. Nearby is a small museum dedicated to religious art, found in the old Santo Domingo monastery. This is where you will find the famous Flat Arch, which reportedly helped convince engineers that Panama was earthquake-proof and a geologically stable area for building the Canal. A few blocks away is the old San Jose Cathedral, with gleaming spires inlaid with mother-of-pearl and its beautiful gold altar, intricately carved of wood and gilded with gold. This is a must-see when you visit Casco Viejo.

Casco Viejo is home to the Presidential House. If you want to see this, be sure to come on a Sunday as it is closed to the public for the rest of the week. Famous sons and daughters of Panama also make their homes here, including actor/singer (and now Panama’s minister of tourism) Ruben Blades, and boxer Roberto Duran.

Bargain hunters can take a break from the historical sights at Salsipuedes, which roughly translates to “get out if you can.” Located just before the entrance to Casco Viejo, it is Panama’s bizarre bazaar, a street so narrow and filled with vendors that it is dark at noon. A few steps away is Santa Ana’s Plaza, where you can have your fortune told for just $5.

Dine at The Bristol

To finish off your day in style, make your way to The Bristol Hotel, just a short taxi journey from Casco Viejo. Dining at the Barandas Restaurant at The Bristol Hotel is an event to savor. The Panamanian-inspired gourmet cuisine, restful ambiance, stunning presentation, elegant settings, and attentive service combine to create an unforgettable dining experience.

A Trip To Panama Caught Your Fancy?

Hopefully, this special report has given you a few ideas on how to spend your time in Panama, but don’t forget that this amazing country has much more to offer. Pacific Coast beaches near the city; Coiba Island National Marine Park; and the Darién Province to name just a few.

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