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
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
After an inspiring few days among the fairy chimneys of Cappadocia, I was on to my last stop in Istanbul with an early morning flight from Nevsehir. I wasn’t especially excited to get to Istanbul, mostly because I knew it meant this amazing trip was finally coming to an end.
I’d visited Istanbul once before, on RTW #3, so I didn’t have a particularly ambitious itinerary for my last day of the trip. Of course, it had been in the middle of winter when I last visited and it was long before I was traveling with a good camera so I figured I should at least make the effort to update my photos from such a beautiful city.
I was on the ground at Istanbul’s Gokcen Airport by 9:30am and began the combined bus/metro journey necessary to get to the center of town. I had a 6:00am flight out of Istanbul’s other airport (Ataturk) the next morning so I had booked a hotel next to that airport for the night. Unfortunately, the two airports were hours apart so it didn’t make much sense to go all the way to my hotel, drop my bags and make the hour return ride back to the city. So, I decided to tough it out with my luggage for a few hours of sightseeing.Read More
Getting to Cappadocia is difficult over land, there are no trains into the area and from my last stop in Pamukkale the journey would have involved two buses and at least 8 hours. Luckily, there are a couple of low-cost Turkish airlines serving the nearby towns of Kayseri (an hour away) and Nevsehir (20 minutes away).
I managed to find a $45 flight on Sun Express from Izmir to Kayseri so it made sense to backtrack a little by taking the 4-hour train ride from Pamukkale back to Izmir in order to catch it. So, after spending the night at an airport hotel in Izmir, I was at the airport bright and early for my 6:00am flight to Kayseri, excited to get my Cappadocia adventure underway.Read More
The train ride from Selcuk/Ephesus was a relaxed 3 ½ hours to Denizli where I’d need to find the bus station to catch a “dolmas” (a shared mini-bus that is a staple of travel within Turkey) to Pamukkale, about 25 minutes away. I’d gotten my first glimpse of the white mountains of Pamukkale from the train as we pulled into the Denzili station and I was excited to get up there and explore.
The bus station was pretty easy to find using my time-proven solid strategy of just following the other tourist-looking people with luggage and since the dolmas leave every 15 minutes there was one waiting and we were off in just minutes.
For my brief stay in Pamukkale I chose the Venus Hotel based on its Trip Advisor reviews. There’s not much to the actual town of Pamukkale and it seemed to be the best choice in the area. Owned and operated by the Dormus family since 1991, this small bed and breakfast was centrally-located just a short walk away from both the bus stop and the exit to the travertines.Read More