Here’s a quick pop quiz for all the vagabonds and world wanderers out there among you — especially those who might be thinking about visiting Japan at some point in the near future:
- Are you a traveler … or a tourist? (If you’re not sure, try answering question No. 2.)
- When you venture abroad, do you tend to stray off the beaten path? Or do you stick to a checklist of tried-and-true guidebook recommendations and tourist sites?
Here’s the thing: Once you finally get around to buying a plane ticket and experiencing our big wide world, you’ll probably encounter some version of those two queries over and over (and over) again. But as almost anyone with a heavily stamped passport can surely tell you, not only are both of those questions annoyingly pretentious — they’re also pretty much impossible to answer with any sort of accuracy.
Continue Reading 7 Can’t Miss Tokyo Experiences that Might Surprise You
While most American travelers are used to taking a shower before or after they get into a pool, the saunas and other amenities at spas are a way to not just get cleaned up, but experience the local culture when you visit South Korea. There are a number of options in and around Seoul, as well as Busan. Here are some tips on what to consider before you go, as well as some top sites to consider whether you are coming in from the beach, need to clean up after a hike, or simply want to experience the communal atmosphere.
Continue Reading Spa Destinations in South Korea
Sakura festivals whip into Japan for mere days in some cases, unloading swaths of cherry blossoms across the country. Briefly, it seems as if the entire population is en thrall to the fuchsia and lavender shades of the delicate flowers. If one can time his or her travel to visit Japan, locals agree that it is one of the most beautiful periods and offers a look into the beliefs of the Japanese and a celebration of both culture and horticulture alike.
Since the timing of the sakuras vary depending on the weather conditions, there is less pageantry than one might normally find in other Japanese festivals, especially those that ring in the new year in January. In spite of that, as soon as the first flowers are visible, food and drink vendors line the pathways into the grassy areas where cherry blossoms can be found.
Continue Reading Sakura: Japanese Cherry Blossom Festivals This Spring
The mountains in and around South Korea’s second largest city have had a spiritual pull on residents for centuries, if not thousands of years. In order to pay homage as Buddhists, temples and pagodas have become as much a part of the landscape as the peaks piercing the sky. Travelers who visit South Korea and are either looking for a peaceful place to relax and meditate or take in ancient Korean architecture should take time out to visit these temples, well worth the time it takes to reach them.
Continue Reading Visit South Korea: Temples of Busan
Ask Americans to imagine a beach vacation, and most will describe a lifeguard-staffed seaside, a boardwalk lined with souvenir shops and snack bars, and an amusement park or a water park, in addition to strolling for seashells, and building sand castles.
While this may be typical of beach vacations along the shores of the Atlantic or Pacific Oceans, there are many other types of beach getaways to be enjoyed around the world. Thailand, for example, has an abundance of fine beaches and resorts among the hundreds of beautiful tropical islands, combining the exotic with the tranquil.
- Railay Beach - situated in southern Thailand and cut-off from the rest of the mainland by a string of dramatic limestone cliffs, Railay Beach is among the most spectacular beach destinations in Thailand. Accessible by long tail boat only, no cars are allowed! Although the powdery white sand beaches attract vacationers, Railay Beach is perhaps best known as one of the world’s greatest rock-climbing destinations. Continue Reading Five Distinctive Beaches of Thailand
What is a Hot Spring?
Hot springs are pools of water produced by the emergence of geo-thermally heated groundwater from the Earth’s mantle. Because Japan is located in a volcanic region, there are many hot springs concentrated in the region.
Since heated water can hold more dissolved solids, hot springs often have a very high mineral content, containing everything from simple calcium and lithium, to radium. Because of both the folklore and the claimed medical value some of these springs have, hot springs are often popular tourist destinations −considered highly restorative for health, mind, and mentality.
Continue Reading The Famous Hot Springs of Japan
So … you know you’re ready to book your flights to Japan.
But do you know how to get the lowest airfare? And once when you arrive, do you know how to track down the can’t-miss destinations? How to try the most authentic food? How to navigate your way around town?
Don’t worry! We’ve got you covered.
Continue Reading Japanese Travel Planning 101
Flights to Korea have come down in price and afforded the opportunity to travel there to many more vacationers. However, when people try to come up with an itinerary to take in the sights around Seoul and Busan, they often focus on marketplaces and museums. Nature lovers and those that enjoy historical structures should try to get in at least a few of the following parks. There are ones to fit the needs of families, lovebirds and more.
Dream Forest is a giant park in Northern Seoul that offers lovers of flowers and sculptures the chance to view a wide variety of structures. To take in the mountains that tower over the capital, there are smaller hills including Opaesan and Byeogasan that provide stunning vistas without a long hike. Then make your way over to the botanical garden to take in the lush foliage. Finally, the story of the park is also an interesting one, but vacationers should know that the gallery that shows the development is completely in Korean so tourists may need to make do with viewing the photographs.
Continue Reading Notable Parks to Visit in South Korea
Siem Reap is a charming provincial town defined by a cluster of villages and is the most prosperous region of contemporary Cambodia. It has become an irresistible destination for approximately one million tourists per year, welcoming visitors from across the United States, Europe, China, Korea, Japan, Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia.
While visiting the temples will certainly be the centerpiece to your visit to Cambodia, there are still plenty of other things to do in and around Siem Reap. As a gateway to these ancient temple ruins, Siem Reap has experienced exponential growth in recent years, turning this once sleepy village into a tourism mecca.
This influx of visitors to Siem Reap has lead to a proliferation of many languages, including English (the official language until recently was French), and has led to the growth of a vibrant shopping, nightlife and entertainment scene as well.
Continue Reading Visit Cambodia, a Premier Tourist Destination
For vacationers traveling to Vietnam, one of the most stunning sights is in the northeast of the country as hundreds of islands capped with jungle vegetation rise up from Ha Long Bay. One of the most popular sites in the country, there are a number of locations worth checking out in and around the area. However, people able to get cheap international flights from Asiana Airlines or other carriers may also have money left over to travel to Cat Ba Island at the fringes of the Bay and nearby museums in Hanoi.
Ha Long Bay Attractions
The limestone crests that create the thousands of islands contain unique flora and fauna due to the unique climate and water temperature caused by the geological changes over time. Many people explore the bay via a number of cruises that cater to tourists. While less common, a peaceful way to enjoy the area is to rent a boat and spend an evening in the area while exploring the inlets and geological diversity at their own pace.
The sheer number of islets, about 1,600, also afford travelers the opportunity to take in caves and natural grottoes like Dau Go Cave with stalactites and stalagmites, as well as Dong Thien Cung. Those who take their own boats or find tour operators willing to go a bit out of their way will be able to find caverns that see fewer visitors over the course of the year.
In addition to the caves and tourist spots, many Vietnamese make their living in the bay through fishing, meaning that the local seafood cuisine is a must-try at many of the floating eateries that dot the 600-square-mile bay. No matter where travelers stop, the vistas during a meal stand out.
Cat Ba Island
Continue Reading Traveling to Vietnam and Ha Long Bay