It’s that time of year again! For a decade, I rang in each New Year with a trip around the world. But since Delta discontinued its award Round-the-World ticket in 2015, I’ve had to get a little more creative. For the past few years that’s meant a lengthy visit to Southeast Asia instead, one of my favorite parts of the world and a terrific place to escape the US winter.
Last year, my husband Dave and I enjoyed tranquil visits to the Thai islands of Koh Lanta and Koh Lipe and the awe-inspiring island of Palawan, Philippines. This year, we decided to mix things up a bit. We wanted to visit Vietnam and return to Thailand but I wasn’t keen on a repeat of my last visit to Vietnam (which involved a rather unpleasant 36 hour train ride).
So, I went in search of a more convenient and relaxed way to see the country and discovered that, lo and behold, cruise ships visit Vietnam these days. Yes, an Asia cruise, now that just might be the way to go!Read More
Made up of more than 400 islands and rocky outcrops, the San Juan Islands straddle the border between the US and Canada. Just 80 miles north of Seattle, the islands are part of the US state of Washington. Best known for their resident pods of orca whales, the San Juan Islands are also home to the greatest concentration of Bald Eagles in the continental United States.
The islands are a terrific spot for a family vacation or a romantic getaway. Full disclosure, San Juan Island was the site of my first vacation with my now husband and we consider it the place where we fell in love…so expect what follows to be a thorough San Juan Islands Travel Guide with perhaps a slight love-struck bias!Read More
I’m not usually one to geek-out over TV shows, after all, I spend a lot of my time out of the country without access to most US TV shows. But in the past year, during the process of selling my long-time “starter home” and buying a new house with my husband, I somehow developed a bit of an HGTV addiction. Of the many wonderful shows on HGTV, my favorite (and my husband’s too!) is Fixer Upper.
Set in Waco, Texas, the show stars talented married couple Chip and Joanna Gaines who help house-hunters find and renovate the home of their dreams. The show not only features Chip and Jo but also their adorable 4 children and many of the local artists and businesses they work with in the Waco area.
But the breakout star of the show has been Waco itself. Remarkably, during the past two seasons, this popular HGTV show has managed to put this sleepy central-Texas town on the map as a travel destination…and not just for Baylor football games. Of course, until recently, there wasn’t much of the show for Waco visitors to see, aside from Joanna’s small retail store.Read More
Located in the southwestern Philippines, the jungle island of Palawan has often been described as the country’s “last ecological frontier.” With artifacts dating back 50,000 years, prehistoric cave formations, secret lagoons and incredible flora and fauna, Palawan is the most biodiverse island in the Philippines.
The northern part of Palawan is considered the most scenic with the Bacuit Bay Nature Reserve surrounding the small fishing village of El Nido (my choice for our stay). Just offshore from El Nido, you’ll find spectacular islands and limestone rock formations dating back 250 million years.
Ranked as the best island in the world by Conde Nast Traveler in 2015, Palawan has been on my wish list for years. It’s just one of 7,107 islands in the Philippines but many would say it’s definitely the one not to be missed.
Since it’s not like me to miss out on any island much less one ranked as the “world’s best” I knew my husband Dave and I had to get there while we were in Asia last month. So after relaxing stops in Koh Lanta and Koh Lipe there was really only one question remaining…how do we get to El Nido?Read More
Our two-week trip to Thailand and the Philippines was off to an excellent start after a relaxing stay on the island of Koh Lanta. But by Day #4, we were excited to head south to our next Thai island, Koh Lipe!
Located in Satun province, Koh Lipe is Thailand’s southernmost island and often referred to as “the Maldives of Thailand.” I’ve been fortunate enough to see a dozen or so Thai islands and for my money, Koh Lipe just might be the most beautiful. Like Koh Lanta, Lipe was originally settled by Sea Gypsies who traveled the islands searching for the best fishing spots. Some remain to this day on the island’s eastern shores.
As Thailand’s tourism industry booms at record levels, Koh Lipe (like Koh Lanta) still feels relatively undiscovered. Perhaps because it’s a little harder to get to than Thailand’s mega-resort areas like Phuket, Krabi and Hua Hin.Read More
Last winter, Dave and I had such an incredible time on our trip to Thailand and the Philippines that we decided to continue the tradition again this year. On our last trip, we visited the island of Boracay in the Philippines and Thailand’s Krabi province.
This time we wanted to venture farther out in the Philippines to the tiny fishing village of El Nido on the remote island of Palawan. While in Thailand, our love for the Krabi province led us to explore more nearby islands in the hopes of finding a new island paradise. We chose two islands to visit – Koh Lanta and Koh Lipe – and two weeks ago we began our 16-day journey in Koh Lanta.Read More
With more than 130 islands grouped into four archipelagos, the southern Thailand beach town of Krabi is a terrific base for exploring all this spectacular province has to offer. From the main pier in Krabi, countless day trips are available out to idyllic islands via ferry or longtail boat. Often the ride is as incredible as the destination, passing lush jungle regions and 200 million-year-old limestone cliffs soaring up to 400 feet high. Two of my favorite day trip islands are the Phi Phi Islands and Hong Island. Made famous in the movie, “The Beach” a visit to Phi Phi Ley’s spectacular Maya Bay is a highlight of any trip to Thailand. And superbly-scenic Hong Island, just a 30 minute longtail boat ride away, is the largest of 4 islands making up the National Marine Park. This uninhabited island features soaring limestone cliffs and a vast interior lagoon (the “chamber” from whence its Thai name, “Hong” originates). You could spend weeks in Krabi visiting a new paradise every day.Read More