Southeast Asia is “the best bang for your buck,” a travel agent told me at a recent PATA event. It is so true. The nations of Southeast Asia: Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam are each distinctive in their own right, but collectively they offer a tremendous variety of experiences at exceptional value for the dollar carrying traveler. Spas, cuisine, history, adventure, nature, traditional crafts, luxury shopping, river cruising, religion and festivals, traditions and customs, people-to-people interactions, and so much more await curious travelers for far less than in other destinations. In Bali, Indonesia, for example, the cost of a car-and-English-speaking driver for a full day is about 500,000 Rupiah or just $37. That’s about the cost of a one-way, coach-class Heathrow Express train to Central London! No wonder PATA, in its 2014-2018 Visitor Forecast (http://bit.ly/1HgrOXx), projects that the top five fastest growing destinations (in terms of average annual growth rate) in the Asia Pacific region for this period will be: Thailand at 27.5%, Myanmar at 17.7%, Cambodia at 13.2%; Bhutan at 12.9%, and Lao PDR at 11.6%.
DreamWorks movie characters like Mr. Peobody and Sherman, Belt the Sloth and Shrek mingle with the crowd at the Sheraton Cotai Central’s Shrekfast. Breakfast entrees include bean paste cakes that look like Kung Fu Panda’s head. This event has the all showiness of Las Vegas. But this is in Macau (English spelling Macao), a special administrative region of China.
Getting to stadium seats for Ulaanbaatar’s opening Nadaam ceremonies is utter chaos. The long, dirt road is mobbed with people. Whole families come dressed alike. Others wear vibrant tribal costumes and leather boots. Hats can be pointed with a tassel hanging off the back or have fur or flaps.
To most people, Outer Mongolia is only the land of Genghis Khan (called Chinggis Khaan in Asia) and the Gobi Desert’s lunar landscape. But, every mid-July, Ulaanbaatar hosts the multi-day, colorful Naadam Festival. Still unaffected by tourism, the country is much the same as it has been.
“Wherever you dig in Israel, you find history-often layer upon layer of civilizations,” said Michal Neumann, who was guiding our small group of travel trade journalists on a whirlwind seven-day history-focused journey through Israel. Licensed guides in Israel undergo rigorous training and testing and meet ongoing requirements and can greatly enhance a visit. We were standing at the Israel Museum’s giant model of ancient Jerusalem as Michal unfurled five feet of cards listing the names and dates of the major waves of peoples who have left their marks here. The cards would come out throughout our trip, adding perspective to sites like Acre, where an Ottoman walled town sits atop remains of a medieval Crusader capital.
While on camera Mutirl wa Bashara offered his opinion of Indaba, Africa’s largest annual travel and tourism conference. He did it in French. Others said the same, whether in English, Zulu or any other language used in or out of Africa. The confluence of tongues was heard from dignitaries, those representing African countries and companies, and the international journalists reporting on the event, held at the International Convention Center in Durban (ICC), in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa.
For some, a round of golf is vacation nirvana, yet for others - not so much. Traveling with a partner who likes to practice their putting can also be great fun for the non-golfer, as long as there is plenty to do away from the driving range. Ditch the golf guilt and discover that selling a golf vacation to players and those who travel with them is a breeze.
With air tickets that won’t cost a (tanned) arm and a leg, no shortage of beach chairs, reservations at the best restaurants easy to get, and hotels dishing up a myriad of booking incentives for travel agents, selling the Caribbean in low season is as rosy as a crimson sunset. A great way to audition an island before spending the big bucks for a Thanksgiving or Christmas vacation, Caribbean in the summer is a world away from buggy backyard barbecues and humid city nights at home.
Approximately nine months ago JetBlue, the leading airline connection between Latin America and the United States for the past 14 years, launched a new route between Fort Lauderdale and Cartagena, the picturesque colonial city on Colombia’s Caribbean coast. Giselle Cortés, director of Blue Cities for JetBlue stated, “JetBlue is pleased to offer our U.S. customers even more travel options by adding the Fort Lauderdale-Cartagena route. Cartagena is less than three hours away from Florida, making it a convenient option for vacationers or travelers who do business in Latin America.” Cortés continued to state, “JetBlue will continue to promote Colombia as a viable destination from the U.S. and strives to offer the best U.S. air service to the country.” This new route, offered daily, will serve as an addition to the pre-existing flight connection between Rafael Nunez Airport in Colombia and John F. Kennedy airport in New York (this flight became active in 2012).
Imagine a vast colorful land that is riddled with fairy chimneys, hoodoo formations, and rock pinnacles in the colors of pink, peach, and coral. Lying within these natural wonders of Cappadocia, Turkey, is one of the most striking and largest cave dwelling complexes in the world.