New Tour Of China And Vietnam Uses The Local Rails

The Thailand-based tourism group Backyard Travel just released a new tour package tailored to help foreigners experience the best of China and Vietnam like locals. To help guests get a more authentic experience of these Asian nations, everyone who books this tour will ride exclusively on public trains.

In total, this tour package lasts 12 days and 11 nights and costs a little less than $3,000 per person. The tour starts in China’s capital Beijing where guests get to visit historic sites the Forbidden City and, of course, the Great Wall.

The second stop on this tour is the central city of Luoyang in China’s Henan Province. A former capital in ancient times, Luoyang is full of impressive temples and is well known for the Buddhist statues in the Longmen Grottoes.

Once tourists have had their fill of Ancient Chinese history they’ll get to experience some of the Middle Kingdom’s natural wonders in the popular tourist city Guilin. This southern city is one of the most visited destinations in all of Asia due to its impressive limestone mountains and beautiful views of the Lijiang River.

After two days basking in Guilin’s wonders, it’s finally time to cross China’s southern border. The first stop on the Vietnam leg of the tour is at Ban Gioc – Detian Falls. Guests will then board a ship and take a voyage through the UNESCO World Heritage Site Hạ Long Bay. Lastly, travelers will get to learn more about Vietnam’s fascinating culture and history in the capital city of Hanoi.

Executives at Backyard Travel say the unique feature about this new planned trip is that travelers will get to ride the same trains as Chinese and Vietnamese citizens. While everything on the tour is carefully planned out, visitors will still experience the thrill of traveling with locals and snapping pictures of the remarkable Asian countryside from their windows.

Smooth Sailing for Norwegian Cruise Lines

It looks to be smooth sailing for Norwegian Cruise Lines heading into 2018. On the heels of the promising release of its 2017 fourth quarter financial earnings, Norwegian is looking to expand its markets and ports of call. Norwegian Cruise Lines Holdings Limited encompasses three brands — the primary Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises, and Regent Seven Seas. Norwegian is already citing a positive booking trend going into 2018, signaling strong loads for the year.

As Norwegian looks to the future, the company has announced seven new cruise liners. The first new ship to launch will be the Norwegian Bliss in May 2018, followed by the Norwegian Encore the next year. The Bliss is the first Norwegian ship to debut in Seattle and will begin its first sailings with trips to Alaska before moving on to the Caribbean later in the year. Four Project Leonardo ships will round out the next seven years of production, as well as a new ship for Regent Seven Seas, debuting in the year 2020.

Norwegian has been encouraged by the popularity and guest feedback about the new port of call in Cuba and plans to expand travel to the island as a result. The Norwegian Sun will add Havana as a port of call starting in May 2018 in order to satiate customer demand. The company has also stated a desire to expand its list of sailing ports, potentially adding the popular Fort Lauderdale and Texas points of origins to its offerings.

South Korea And Singapore Win 2018’s Award For Most Powerful Passports

South Korea is now tied with Singapore for the title of the world’s strongest passport. That’s according to a new annual ranking of the world’s passports put out by the group Passport Index.


This marks the first time two Asian nations are at the top of the list. For many decades, the most powerful passports in the world always went to European nations.


One of the major reasons why these two Asian nations were awarded the top prize this year has to do with a change in Uzbekistan’s visa policy. As of this year, passport holders in both South Korea and Singapore have been granted visa-free status by Uzbekistani authorities.


Passport Index added that Somalia has made changes in their visa procedures in recent years. This is yet another reason why South Korea was able to tie for first this year. Singapore and South Korea have visa-free scores of 162 in this year’s survey.


There was also a tie for the second most powerful passport on Passport Index’s list. Both Germany and Japan were given visa-free scores of 161.


Many significant European nations were able to clinch the bronze prize this year with scores of 160. A few of these nations include Italy, France, and Sweden.


Executives at Passport Index believe this year’s survey proves how powerful and trustworthy Asian nations are becoming in the globalized era.


Analysts at Passport Index worked with the financial firm Arton Capital when compiling this year’s list. Anyone can check the status of their home country’s passport on Passport Index’s official website.

Myanmar Welcomed 3.44 Million Tourists In 2017

Despite political instability, Myanmar had one of its best tourism seasons last year.

A new report shows 3.44 million people traveled to this Asian nation in 2017, an increase of 18 percent from 2016. While this number is slightly lower than the recent high of 4.68 million in 2015, it’s a strong sign for the country’s growing tourism industry.

Myanmar’s rise in the tourism industry has been nothing short of spectacular. In 1990, the country was only able to attract about 21,000 foreigners. Then, just five years later, about 120,000 foreign tourists took a trip to Myanmar.

The tourism numbers didn’t really take off until Aung San Suu Kyi was released from prison in 2010. In 2010, about 790,000 foreigners visited Myanmar. That number skyrocketed to 3.08 million in 2014 and has never gone below 2 million since. The only country that has had as impressive a rise in tourist traffic recently is Cambodia.

For those who don’t know, Aung San Suu Kyi is a major activist in Myanmar who has served in many important governmental roles. Kyi was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991.

Some of the most popular sites in Myanmar include the ancient Buddhist temples of Bagan and the central Inle Lake. Many visitors also like to tour the Irrawaddy region and the capital of Naypyidaw.

Myanmar, which is also known as Burma, is located in Southeast Asia and shares borders with Thailand, China, India, Bangladesh, and Laos. There are 55.1 million people living in Myanmar, over 80 percent of which identify as Buddhists.

Foods to Try When Traveling Through South Korea

When visiting South Korea, there are many traditional dishes you will want to try. Classic South Korean dishes are meat, vegetable, and rice based. The most common spices used for cooking are ginger, soy sauce, dried red peppers, fermented bean paste, and sesame oil.

A favorite street food is hotteok. A hotteok is bread filled with sugar or something sweet. Street vendors, seen here, grill the stuffed bread and serve them to you hot. The ingredients are simple: yeast, sugar, milk, flour, and water. It is the various mixtures inside that make them unique. Some hotteok filling options are sugar and peanuts, or honey and cinnamon. There is a lot of sugar in this Korean dish. The estimated calories in a Hotteok is around 230 to 250, depending on the filling.

Korean barbecue is famous around the world, but tasting the original dish in its mother country is a must. The barbecue meat is chicken, beef, or pork. It is marinated then grilled. Bulgogi is a well known marinated. It is made of sugar, soy sauce, garlic, and sesame oil. Galbi marinade is similar to bulgogi but infused with sliced onions. Jumulleok is the simplest of sauces. It merely is salt, pepper, and pure sesame seed oil.

Spicy fermented cabbage has been a staple in Korea for hundreds of years. Kimchi begins with cabbage and hot spices. Chili powder, garlic, and ginger kick up the heat factor. Vegetables and spices are married, and traditionally stored in the cool earth until fermented.

South Korea offers a culinary adventure from spicey to sweet. Any visitor to South Korea will find a new favorite dish.

New Survey Reveals The Best Airports For Food In The World

RewardExpert just released its list of the top 15 airports in terms of food. Researchers used thousands of customer reviews to rank each of these airports on a scale of one to five, with five being a perfect score. They also revealed the best-reviewed restaurants in each airport.

The three major categories researchers analyzed when looking at these airports include food quality, price, and the diversity of cuisines offered. Each of these was also ranked on a scale of one to five.

Asian nations dominated this year’s list of the best airport food in the world. All four of the top ten spots on RewardExpert’s survey went to airports in Asia.

With a score of 4.77, the number one spot went to Tokyo’s Narita International Airport (IATA: NRT). Reviewers gave NRT a perfect score for its food quality and price, but only a 3.46 in terms of diversity.

What really impressed RewardExpert about NRT was the amount of high-quality Japanese restaurants for extremely reasonable prices. The number one restaurant in NRT went to Sushiden on the fourth floor of Terminal 2.

Second place went to Taoyuan International Airport (IATA: TYE) in Taipei, Taiwan. Like NRT, TYE had a strong showing in terms of quality and price, but it struggled with diversity.

TYE’s overall score was 4.10, but it only garnered 2.69 in the diversity category. The number one restaurant in TYE was Chun Shui Tang, which offers a plethora of Chinese and Taiwanese dishes at reasonable prices.

Interestingly, the third spot on this survey goes to the third most trafficked airport in the world: Hong Kong International (IATA: HKG). Thanks to its high international clientele, HKG was a stronger diversity of cuisines than TYE or NRT. However, HKG’s restaurants struggled a bit in the cost department with a score of 3.35. Despite it’s plethora of options, however, HKG’s best-reviewed restaurants focus on Asian cuisine.

Here are the rest of the top ten airports starting from number four and ending with number ten: Singapore’s Changi Airport, Amsterdam Airport Schipol, London’s Gatwick Airport, Sydney’s Kingsford-Smith Airport, the Adolfo Suarez Madrid-Barajas Airport, Munich Airport, and London’s Heathrow Airport.

Five Great Countries To Visit In 2018

You can travel for years and still miss some of the incredible sights that the planet continues to change in one way or another. It’s hard to pick a city that has everything in terms of good weather, interesting attractions, quick travel time. So picking countries to visit is a process that involves research, conversations, and enough leisure time to enjoy what those countries offer.

That being said, here are five countries that won’t disappoint you in 2018.

1. Chile. Chile is in South America but the Andes Mountains keep it hidden from the rest of the continent. The Pacific Ocean is the country’s western border. And the city of Santiago lives up to its reputation as the “land of the poets.” The works of Gabriela Mistral and Pablo Neruda are still alive and well in Chile.

2. South Korea. A visit to Seoul is a visit to modern-day Asia. The new Seoul-lo 7017 is a high-line park that has libraries, bars, cafes, and some of the finest Kimchi in the country.

3. Portugal. Portugal used to be the stepchild of Spain, but that’s ancient history. Lisbon is a cultural center as well as the launching point for the country’s beach destination, Algarve.

4. New Zealand. Australia is not the only place down under. New Zealand is the perfect country for adventure seekers.

5. Malta Malta’s lifestyle is almost too good to be true. It is the European capital of culture. The various international film festivals give the country a touch of modern culture that’s hard to ignore.

After Two Devastating Hurricanes, Puerto Rico Is Open For Tourists

Puerto Rico has always been a tourist destination. But after Hurricane Irma hit the country with category 4 winds, and then Hurricane Maria leveled the country’s infrastructure with 155 mph winds, no one was sure if Puerto Rico would ever be the same again. The United States did send help. But the help was slow, and that made the rebuilding process harder.

But Puerto Rico is a resilient country. People living in Puerto Rico are used to challenges. The country is showing the world what courage and the will to fight back really are. The tourists who come to Puerto Rico now are experiencing a new sense of confidence in the people of PR. They see a rich culture that doesn’t quit even though the battle to be the country it was before is just a memory now. The rebuilding process will change some of the established sites that tourist like to visit. But over 75 percent of the hotels are open for business, and Cruise ships are docking in San Juan’s port just like the old days.

There are 107 tourist attractions open across the island. Some of the favorites like the Castillo San Felipe del Morro, Old San Juan, and Cueva Ventana as well as other favorites are still giving tourists the full Puerto Rico experience. Ground transportation is operating as it did before, and there are 70 commercial flights a day in and out of San Juan’s airport.

The tourist who take a chance and visit Puerto Rico now see an island that still has natural beauty, intensity, and the unique character it always had.

3 Spots to Find Immense Natural Beauty

Many travelers love to look at stunning landscapes when they travel. There are some very unusual places to see on earth. Here are a few ideas for world travelers that they might want to consider in 2018.

Danakil Desert

National Geographic has named the Danakil Desert in Ethiopia one of the cruelest places on earth because it is one of the hottest, lowest and driest places on earth. It is also home to an amazing volcano with numerous bubbling lava lakes that light up the night sky. Visitors often see long lines of camels being led across the great salt pans as they carry salt to market. The vivid colors of the hydrothermal field make visitors feel like they have left earth and traveled to another planet.

Vatnajökull National Park

While many travelers to Iceland focus on visiting Pingvellir, Gullfoss and the Blue Lagoon, the ice field in Vatnajokull National Park is a stunning natural landscape to see. The best time to go is from mid-July to the end of August when all areas of the park are normally open. Therefore, glacier hiking and camping may make a great break from the heat.

Waitomo Glowworm Caves

New Zealand offers a great variety of scenery including beaches, mountains, lakes and glaciers, but one of the most unusual landscapes is their Waitomo Glowworm Caves. The rachnocampa luminosa give off a luminescent light providing an eerie glow as you take a boat ride through their home. Blackwater rafting through the caves is an experience visitors are likely to never forget.

While there are many different beautiful spots on earth, these three offer something truly unique.

4 Travel Destinations for 2018

Forbes has recently talked to many travel experts about what locations would be on their dream travel list for 2018. They came up with many hidden travel gems that you may want to add to your own list this year.


Owner Bill Bensley promises to have Shinta Mani Wild open before the end of 2018. This luxury camping experience is located next to three of Cambodia’s most important wildlife parks. Visitors can expect to explore South East Asia’s last wild estuarine ecosystem by boat, visit wild forests with local rangers and dine on locally foraged cuisine.


While Mexico’s coastal region has been a favorite with visitors for many years, the interior of the Yucatan is going to be a hotspot for travelers in 2018. Take a helicopter ride to view the annual Monarch migration from the air. Alternatively, a hot air balloon provides unique transportation when viewing the Teotihuacan ruins. Consider staying at the ultra-modern Chablé resort.


Many travelers may have Bolivia on their travel itinerary for 2018. La Paz, Bolivia, has become a foodies dream vacation spot with many new restaurants opening regularly. Mercado Rodríguez offers a great place to sample different locally-prepared delicacies. Lake Titicaca is the highest navigable lake in the world, and it offers breathtaking scenery. History lovers will adore visiting Tiwanaku, which is one of the oldest and highest cities ever built.


If you are looking to go on a safari in 2018, then do not overlook Tanzania as an option as it has Serengeti National Park, Tarangire National Park and Ngorongoro Crater. This country also boasts the highest mountains on the African continent. Ernest Hemingway described the Rift Valley as the prettiest scenery he saw in Africa, and most of it remains unspoiled.

You had better get your bags packed with so many unique travel destinations waiting for you in 2018.