Siem Reap is a tourist hot spot because it’s the closest city to the famous temples and ruins of Angkor Wat (see photo blog here). It’s also a fun place to discover with its kind people, balmy temperatures, night markets, artisan shopping, $1 beers, top notch cafes and superb Vegan restaurants. Here is a list of the 5 best things to do in Siem Reap other than Angkor Wat.
Angkor Wat is the largest religious monument in the world. Originally built by Hindu’s at the beginning of the 12th century AD, the city of Angkor was the Hindu capital for the Khmer Empire until Buddhism permeated the area at the end of the 13th century. Angkor Wat is the largest temple and still functions as a place of worship today. This world famous temple is the pinnacle of Kymer architecture and an icon for Cambodia. Many tourists arrive before sunrise to photograph this legendary place as the early morning clouds show pink in the lotus pools.
Singapore is called The Garden City because amidst the modern high rises, super malls, and abundant food stalls, thousands of trees have been strategically planted. In 1963, Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew envisioned litter-free streets and lush greenery to highlight Singapore as a well-organized city that would attract tourists and foreign investment. His mission was accomplished.
The moment you land in Singapore, you notice how clean and green it is. Even the airport has gardens. Trees line the roads softening the concrete edges of this vertical city and manicured gardens lure residents to enjoy the natural space.
Costa Rica is a beautiful country in Central America that’s protected over 25% of its land for forests and reserves. It looks and feels like one giant rain forest with warm people, earthy beaches, crazy rain and cloud filled sunsets. If thrill seeking is what you’re after, Costa Rica has a ton of wild adventures but it’s also a great place to go if you want to slow down, relax and rejuvenate. Either way, it’s hard to resist the warm water, lush greenery and “Pura vida” vibe. Read More
Oaxaca is a vibrant colonial city recognized as a UNESCO world heritage site. It’s well known for it’s cuisine, fine restaurants, cultural arts, Pre-Colombian ruins and traditional crafts. I’ve wanted to go there for awhile but flying through Mexico City was an obstacle. So, when I found a new direct flight from Los Angeles, I snapped up tickets for a quick, two day trip.
The flight was smooth and uncrowded and we luxuriated in having a row all to ourselves (just like the old days).
I had two reactions when I first arrived at the Elephant Nature Park, a sanctuary in Thailand that rescues and rehabilitates overworked elephants. Part of me was giddy with excitement to see such amazing animals up close but I also felt a deep sadness in the pit of my stomach when I learned what they had suffered prior to their arrival.
Hiking is my bliss and one of my favorite “quick trips” is going to Boulder, Colorado to hike. Boulder has many great hikes (Mt. Sanitas or The Royal Arch) but a quick 90 minute drive takes you to Rocky Mountain National Park. National parks are great places to hike. The trails are gorgeous and well marked, the parking system is organized with timely shuttles and friendly rangers are available to answer your questions. But, crowds swell during the summer and Rocky Mountain National Park gets overrun with visitors. However, this year we went during the eclipse and lucked out! Not only did we find the perfect hike but the park was empty, we had it all to ourselves.
I spent 5 glorious days in Amsterdam this April exploring what this vibrant city has to offer. The Dutch have a “live and let live attitude” which makes Amsterdam a friendly and welcoming place with something for everyone. Beyond the happening restaurants and hip cafes, Holland has: extraordinary tulip fields, deeply moving museums, the BEST hummus bistro, quirky buildings, a mouth watering farmers market, and unique canals. All this plus a beautiful yoga school with drop-in classes. I walked everywhere stopping in cute cafes or browsing interesting boutiques when my feet cried out. Here are some highlights from our recent trip.
Hygge and Happiness
Copenhagen consistently ranks as one of the happiest cities in the world and after a quick 3 day visit, I can understand why. I believe their happiness lies in the culture of Hygge! Hygge (I’m convinced the correct pronunciation requires Danish linguistics) loosely translates to “cozy” or “hug” but its really about savoring life’s simple pleasures and finding delight in our ordinary habits. For example, sharing a special bottle of wine with friends, freshly baked bread, flickering candles, decorating with cozy fabrics, or lingering over coffee in a sun-filled cafe. According to The Year of Living Danishy, by Helen Russell, “Hygge is about being kind to yourself, having a nice time and not punishing or denying yourself anything”. (I think my cat is onto it)!
If you like adventure but also like the luxuries of indoor plumbing and hair dryers, then hiking the Salkantay trail with REI is the trip for you! This past August, my husband and I hiked the Salkantay lodge to lodge trail with REI. This stunning 43 mile (6 day) hike in the Peruvian Andes includes a 15, 200 ft. pass, dips down through the rain forest, and finishes at the legendary city of Machu Picchu. It’s one of REI’s highest rated trips and I can see why.
After completing the Tour De Mount Blanc with REI 2 years ago and loving it, we chose them again for this adventure. I wince at the rates, but in the end, you can’t put a price on an amazing experience. REI adventure travel is seamlessly organized and they hire the best local guides. Their active vacations are for anyone who wants an adventure with pampered accommodations.