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Bangkok Grand Palaces & Wat Phra Kaeo

Grand Palace Bangkok

The Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaeo was built by King Rama I, the first monarch of the Chakri Dynasty, as the royal compound in 1782, when Bangkok was founded. The 60 acre area surrounded by 1,900 meters (2,110 yards) white walls, consists of more than 100 uniquely beautiful buildings and throne halls with highly decorated architectural details

The Grand Palace was the King’s official residence in 1782 to 1946, King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) was the last monarch to live here. Today, the royal family (King Rama IX) resides at Chitlada Palace. 

Also located in the grounds of the Grand Palace is the Royal Thai Decorations and coins Pavillion displaying examples of Thai currency through the ages and collections of commemorative coins.

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Bangkok Phra Sumen Fort

Located on the corner where Phra Athit Road and Phra Sumeru Road meet, This Fortress was constructed in the reign of King Rama I in 1783 along with 14 other fortresses and battlements surrounding the capital. Vientiane people were recruited to build this fortress. Its shape is octagonal one with three levels. Inside the walls, there are steps leading up to the fortress. Altogether, there are 38 rooms for ammunition and weapon storage.

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Bangkok Vimanmek Mansion & Abhisek Dusit Throne Hall

Vimanmek Mansion Museum

Vimanmek Mansion, a three-storey world’s largest golden teak building with 81 rooms, originally built in 1868 as a summer house on the Si Chang Island, it was moved to Dusit Hall in 1901 and, quite understandably, soon become King Rama V’s favorite place. The celebration for the completion of Vimanmek Mansion was held on March 27,1901. King Rama V then moved his residence from the Grand Palace to stay permanently at Vimanmek Mansion for five years, until the completion of Amporn Satarn Residence where he lived until his death in 1910. Vimanmek Mansion was closed down in 1935 and remained in this state until Queen Sirikit reopened in 1982 as a museum to mark Bangkok’s bicentennial celebration. 

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Things You’ve Never Done in Las Vegas: Neon Museum

Ever wonder where all those exorbitant neon signs of old Las Vegas wound up?  Through the hard work and dedication of an assortment of individuals, along with corporate and government entities, these lost pieces of unique architectural works are on display at the appropriately named “Neon Museum.” The 150+ signs, some dating back to the 1930’s, tell a unique story in the development of the Las Vegas glitz and the incredible engineering prowess of those who made it possible.   Established as a non-profit organization in 1996, the Neon Museum has dedicated itself to the preservation of this unique Las Vegas art form continually taking in retired signage to add to their already impressive collection.  Though visitation has been cut down, the Neon Museum is currently  restoring the historic “La Concha” Motel Lobby to use as its visitor center to better suit the public and support tourism. 

www.neonmuseum.org

Australia – Food & Wine

Australia’s chefs and winemakers have learnt from the best, and then bent the rules for a food and wine style all of their own. They’ve turned Australia’s sun-kissed produce into a melting pot of cuisine and award-winning wines. Whether you want a fresh seafood platter, a racy Riesling, a modern Asian-fused meal or a crocodile sausage, Australia is the place to be.

Northern Territories: Street Food & Vendors

Welcome to Darwin’s Mindil Beach Sunset Market where you can sample the flavors of the Asia-Pacific in a balmy, tropical setting. The coconut palms are swaying in the sunset, and the smell of sizzling satay and spicy noodles is in the air. Held every Thursday night between May and October, these popular markets offer over 60 food stalls to sate your appetite while the sun goes down.

Melbourne: Yarra Valley Family Owned Vineyards

Just behind Melbourne’s fringes is the Yarra Valley – a place of pristine beauty, crisp clean water and friendly ambience. Clustered behind its rolling hills are 55 wineries, ranging from small family-owned vineyards to the famous Chateau Yering and Domain Chandon. Dine in gourmet restaurants and taste pinot noir, chardonnay and sparkling in a world reminiscent of French and Italian wine growing regions.

Adelaide: Barossa Valley Australia’s Famous Wine Region

Sip wines from more than 60 cellar doors, including Yalumba, Wolf Blass and Peter Lehmann in Australia’s wine capital. In the Barossa you’ll get to meet the people behind the labels and talk to them about their craft. You can also match your favorite wine with locally made cheese on a food and wine trail, tour historic wineries, take a tutored tasting or learn cellar secrets in a wine master class. Of course, nothing beats a long lunch under the gum trees with a bottle of one of the region’s flagship wines, Barossa Shiraz or Eden Valley Riesling.

Tazmania:  Coal River Valley

Enjoy pinot noirs, cabernets and medal-winning chardonnays in the scenic Coal River Valley, just a 10 minute drive from Hobart. Sample superb cool-climate wines at the cellar doors and taste fresh Tasmanian produce in vineyard restaurants. Soak up the water views and stop off at the historic village of Richmond before completing your idyllic day trip.

Sydney: Bondi Beach

Savor spectacular ocean views with your food in Bondi’s many beachside eateries. Enjoy a gelato at the 1920s Bondi Pavilion or watch the sun go down with a cocktail at one of the acclaimed restaurants. At the cafes on Campbell Parade, Hall Street and clustered around Bondi’s back streets, you’ll find everything from tapas to the world’s best brunch to classic fish and chips.

Perth: Food, Wine, Microbrewerie & Leisure

Indulge in divine local produce and award-winning wines in Western Australia’s oldest wine region, just a boat ride from Perth. Take in the vines, waterfalls and lush bush land on a cruise up the Swan River. Then hop off for cellar door tastings, a visit to one of the microbreweries and a vineyard or picnic lunch. The Swan Valley is also great for horse riding, cycling, golf, wildlife watching and heritage walks. Check out the antique shops, pubs and galleries in the historic village of Guildford before you head home.

Queensland: Cairns Fresh Produce and Rainforests

Feast on locally-grown bananas, paw-paws, mangos, pineapples and lychees in the ‘exotic fruit bowl of the world’ near Cairns. But more than fruit flourishes in the region’s rich volcanic soils, green rainforest belt and clean tropical waters. Try seafood, game meats, freshly-made pasta and organic bush foods. Visit an organic permaculture orchard in the rainforest, dine on freshly-caught barramundi in Cairns or sample macadamias and coffee on plantations in the tablelands.

Canberra: Australia’s Capitol

Visit cool climate wineries, country cafes, art galleries and craft studios on this self-drive through the Canberra countryside. This is a region where you can enjoy the fruits of country labour – a table laden with delicious food and a bottle of last year’s vintage. Stay in a bed and breakfast where you sleep in crisp linen sheets and wake to bird song on the verandah. Buy handmade glassware and pottery from the galleries and taste wood smoked meats and homemade wine on a farm.

Free Chicken at KFC & El Pollo Loco!

Ok fellow travelers.  If today you find yourself wandering around a new city with a grumbling stomach and light wallet;  ask around and point yourself to the nearest KFC.   KFC has officially declared today, Monday, April 27 as “Unfry Day” and is offering you some free Kentucky Grilled chicken.  Personally Im a fan of the extra crispy but its hard to complain with gratis poultry.

Fall Foliage: Top Ten Destinations

Now is that time where summer is quickly fading into the horizon and the cool crisp air of fall begins to slowly overcome us and nothing says autumn like the dramatic colors that blaze through the fall trees. So courtesy of ShermansTravel here are the top 10 foliage destination of fall.

Aspen, CO
While Colorado’s aspens don’t offer the vibrant fall color spectacle of say, the Northeast, the yellows, golds, and bold oranges that cover the mountainsides here, against a backdrop of intermittent evergreens, are still reason enough for a visit. Mid- to late-September is the ideal time to catch the show.

Hotels in Aspen

The Catskills, NY
Dubbed “America’s First Wilderness,” this beautiful region harbors a variety of trees – maple, oak, birch, and beech among them – that come into their prime during the last two weeks of September or early to mid-October. Historic towns boast charming B&B’s that make great bases for discovering the family-friendly harvest festivals, farmers’ markets, pick-your-own orchards, crafts fairs, and antique shops that define the region at this time of year.

Hotels in Catskill

Columbia River Gorge, OR
A geological wonder, the gorge itself weaves its way through the Cascade Mountains, forming the border between northern Oregon and southern Washington, and is loaded with lush fir forests and twisted pines, big-leaf maple, cottonwood, Oregon ash, and vine maple trees that show their colors from mid-September to mid-October. The area is also known for its dazzling waterfalls, the remarkable 620-foot Multnomah Falls chief among them.

Hotels in the Columbia River Gorge

Eastern Townships, QC
This section of Quebec stretches as far east as Maine, perhaps explaining why some consider the region to resemble neighboring New England, but with the French influences you’d expect of the province. It is probably no surprise that the maple leaf is the star of the show here, and visitors can enjoy a fiery display on horseback or on foot, particularly from mid- to late-September when the foliage season reaches its peak.

Hotels in Eastern Townships

Great Smoky Mountains, TN & NC
Nestled between North Carolina and Tennessee, the most-visited National Park in the United States is home to 100 species of trees with an awesome display of turning leaves. Peak fall colors are predicted for mid-October through early November; the most memorable foliage coming courtesy of sugar maples, scarlet oaks, sweetgums, red maples, and hickories.

Hotels Near the Great Smokey Mountains Nat’l Park

Litchfield Hills, CT
The Litchfield Hills is a spectacular sight each autumn when the maple, oak, aspen, beech, and birch trees are ablaze with color. You can take in the splendor on one of the many driving itineraries available or see it from the sky on a hot-air-balloon ride. Whatever your pleasure, try to visit in mid-October, when the colors are at their most vivid.

Hotels Near Litchfield

Lost Maples Natural Area, TX
While many think cacti is the main source of green in Texas, the Lone Star State is in fact home to the Lost Maples State Natural Area, which welcomes a beautiful flush come autumn, thanks in no small part to the relatively uncommon uvalde bigtooth maples, whose reddish blush is most spectacular from mid-October through mid-November.

Hotels Near the Lost Maples Natural Area (San Antonio)

Pennsylvania
Move over Madison County, Pennsylvania rules when it comes to covered bridges – the state boasts more then any place in the world. If you’re an admirer, you’re in luck – covered bridges figure heavily on several different driving itineraries worth doing through the Lehigh Valley and Philadelphia countryside. Pine, hemlock, and maple trees dominate, and the colors (think gold and flaming red) reach their peak in early October.

Washington County, ME
For hard-core foliage enthusiasts looking to escape the crowds that plague much of New England each fall, Washington County, in Maine, is paradise for a leaf-peeper seeking solitude. The fall colors range from burnt orange to blazing red to golden yellow on the region’s birch, maple, oak, aspen, and ash trees, and are most vibrant from early to mid-October.

Cancun – Best Cancun Hotels

Cancun is in the state of Quintana Roo, at the north-eastern tip of the Yucatan peninsula. During the ’70s, after the construction of the first hotels, it became an exclusive tourist destination. Cancun is divided into two very distinct areas: the hotel area, an island separated from the mainland, connected by two bridges in the North and the South. In the interior is the lagoon called Nichupte. The second area is the centre of the modern city of Cancun, full of shops, restaurants and shows.

Cancun has a large range of 3 to 5 star hotels in the “hotel zone” and some more economical hotels in the city center.

Budget Cancun Hotels

International Club Hostel, Calle Orquideas num 7 Sm 22 mza 14,  +52 988 8 98 26 73 ([email protected]). Great place to stay with many style rooms. All with great rates. It has a swimming pool, free internet, laundry service, kitchen service, room service, lockers, international phone calls, discounts on tours and local shopping, xbox360, play station, movies, and more. It is located one block from famous Yaxchillan where all the local bars are stationed. It is also one block from the famous Palapas Park, two blocks from Avenida Tulum and just 5 blocks from the ADO bus station.

Temptation Resort and Spa, Blvd Kukulkan Km 3, Cancun, ROO 77500,  +52 998 848 7900. Check in: 4PM; checkout: 11AM. 2-3 Star place, Temptation Resort and spa has 3 fancy restaurants with reservations to be made from 10AM to 11AM the previous day. Internet access is $15 dollars for 24hrs. Beach front is calm mainly for boat use.

Las Palmas Hostel, Calle Palmeras #43 (off Calle Uxmal),  +52 8842513. Checkout: 12:00. Just three blocks west of ADO bus terminal. Air-conditioned dormitories with clean bathrooms and showers en suite and secure lockers. Ample double rooms with kitchen and internet access. Quiet location off the main road. Dorms from 100 Pesos, doubles from 250 Pesos (fan) 300 Pesos (A/C).

Villa Playa Blanca, Carretera Puerto Juarez-PuntaSam Km 3.8 SM86M4L11 fracciones 1 y 2 (A lado del restaurante Flamingos),  +52 19981098275 ([email protected]). Checkout: 13:00. 10 minutes by bus from downtown (buses leaving every 5 minutes for 4, 5 pesos). Very quiet and with a nice ambiance. The place could be (and according to the owner will be soon) more expensive. Now it’s a bargain. You get excellent rooms and free breakfast in your bed every morning, all for a good price. Free Wi-Fi, swimming pool and incredible views. Ask for the room “La Palma”, it’s 400 pesos, but you have more than 50 square meters of space for you. Doubles from 350 Pesos (A/C).

Mid-Range Cancun Hotels and Accommodations

Maria’s Kankin, Km. 4.5 Carretera al Parque El Garrafon, Fraccionamiento Mar Turquesa, Isla Mujeres, Quintana Roo, Mexico,  (52) 998-8770015. Marias Kankin is on Isla Mujeres, Quintana Roo, Mexico. The hotel is about 50 minutes from the Cancun airport. Ferry boats also shuttle back and forth from the mainland. As the sunset looms, take it easy and rest in any of Marias Kankin’s nine suites. Decked in minimalist, Caribbean-inspired decor, each air-conditioned suite is furnished with a mini-bar, Internet access, sofa bed, and writing desk + chair.

Crown Paradise Club – All Inclusive Resort – Cancun, Blvd. Kukulkan Km 18.5 | Zona Hotelera, Cancun 77500. Crown Paradise Club Resort offers an inclusive package with amenities such as a water park for the kids with a pirate ship and 8 water slides, excellent a la carte and buffet dining, adult only areas, mini golf, disco, nightly entertainment.

RIU Cancun, Blvd Kukulcan Km 8.5, Manzana 50, Lot 5 | Zona Hotelera, Quintana Roo, Cancun 77500. An all inclusive resort with views of the Caribbean Sea. Several fine restaurants and bars. Choice of activities and entertainment options, including a popular sports bar, night club and theatre with theme shows.

Oasis Cancun, Blvd Kukulkan, 52 998 881 70 00. A pretty good resort for the college-aged crowd. The rooms are clean and surprisingly spacious for the price. Although, the best part about the hotel is clearly the beaches and pools. The pool is generally crowded during peak times but is large and features several swim-up bars. The bad part is that since the Oasis is all-inclusive you basically get what you pay for, the food and drinks are not the best quality. The buffet-style restaurants are bland and the food can get quite repetitive. An exception is the sushi restaurant. All bars also stop serving alcohol at midnight, which is unfortunate, but there is a twenty-four hour liquor store right across from the resort with reasonable prices, somewhat expensive for Mexico but slightly less expensive than alcohol in the United States. They also sell absinthe.

RIU Caribe, Blvd. Kukulcan, Km 5.5, Lote 6-C, Cancun 77500. All inclusive resort with Mayan-style architecture overlooking the Caribbean. Features 506 luxurious ocean view rooms with amenities such as a mini-bar and liquor dispenser. There is a wide array of restaurants, bars and facilities to enjoy, including 24-hour All Inclusive snacks and beverages. Fun and relaxing atmosphere created by the large swimming pool and spectacular beach.

The Royal Resorts; The Royal Resorts have been around since 1974 and include a string of four hotels all in close vicinity of each other. The Royal Mayan, The Royal Caribbean and The Royal Islander are side by side where as the newest hotel, The Royal Sands is no more than a five minute ride in bus. The Royal Resorts offer beautiful villas that overlook the Gulf of Mexico. Each villa is equipped with a kitchen, two bathrooms two bedrooms, one with two double beds, one with a queen sized bed, a living room with two murphy beds, three televisions, one in each room and a terrace that overlooks the other two hotels as well as the Gulf of Mexico. These hotels include free activities such as snorkeling and sailing in the ocean, tennis, and free beach towels. Also on the premises are a number of different restaurants and bars at which the vacationers may dine.

Soberanis Hotel; Soberanis Hotel is in downtown Cancun, Mexico. It is 3 km to the beach and 15 km to Isla Mujeres. The airport is 20 km away. The rooms at Hotel Soberanis are all air-conditioned. They have cable television, a private toilet and bath, and safe. The rooms are further equipped with an IDD telephone, Internet access, and writing desk and chair. Rates include daily breakfast. Non-smoking rooms are available.

Sotavento Hotel and Yacht Club, Blvd. Kukulcan Km 4 Zona Hotelera, Calle del Pescador, Lote D-8-4, Cancun, Quintana Roo, Mexico,  52 998 8494707. Sotavento Hotel in Cancun, Quintana Roo, Mexico is in Cancun’s hotel zone. It sits in front of Nichupte Laguna and is within walking distance to Cancun’s sandy beaches and downtown area. The airport is also nearby. Your affordable accommodation in Cancun features entertaining amenities, such as Internet access and cable television. Non-smoking rooms can be requested. Rates start at USD $40.

High End Five Star Cancun Hotels

ClubMed, Punta Nizuc 77500, Estado de Quinatana Roo Cancun, telephone: (52) 998 881 82 00. An all inclusive resort. A short distance outside the town, at the tip of the bay, on one of the most beautiful sites of Cancun, this Club Med resort is flanked on one side by the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea and on the other by a delightful lagoon. Almost thirty years ago, Club Med was the first to establish itself here on a beach of white sand with gardens of colored coral no distance from Tuba and the superb Mayan, Aztec and Toltec sites, all within reach of a short excursion. Traditional central square, bungalow-haciendas and specialty restaurants.

Gran Melia Cancun, Kukulcan Boulevard, km 16.5, Zona Hotelera, Cancun, Mexico 77500 Tel: (52) 998 1930090. Gran Melia Cancun offers the elegance and comfort exclusive of the most prestigious hotels of the world. It has been awarded by the AAA with their 4 diamonds for 2007, and is well known for its white sandy beach overlooking the Caribbean Sea. The resort also features 4 spectacular pools, specialized “a la carte” restaurants, and activities program for children and adults, a nine hole and par three golf course, a tennis court, two paddle tennis courts and recently awarded by The Leading Hotels of the World as a Leading Spa of the World.

Dreams Cancun Resort and Spa, Punta Cancun Zona Hotelera, +52 (998) 848 7000. Situated at the shore point known as Punta Cancun and surrounded on three sides by the brilliant turquoise Caribbean. All rooms offer private balcony views of the ocean, beaches, lagoon or gardens. Each are luxuriously appointed with marble floors, elegant furnishings, dining area, mini-bar, satellite TV and 24-hour room service. Several provide private whirlpools and other enhanced luxury amenities and services. A pod of 6 dolphins make the resort lagoon their home. Swim with the dolphin programs are available for guests and the general public.

Hyatt Cancun Caribe Resort, Blvd Kukulkan, km 10.5, Zona Hotelera, Quintana Roo (in the hotel zone),  +52 998 848 7800 ([email protected]), 5 star hotel with 296 rooms and views of the Mexican Caribbean. The hotel is within walking distance of the main entertainment areas and shopping malls.

Hyatt Regency Cancun, Blvd Kukulcan, km 8.5, Quintana Roo (in the hotel zone),  +52 998 891 5555 ([email protected]), 5 star hotel with a seafront location. 295 rooms. The hotel is just steps away from world-class shopping, restaurants and the best nightlife in Cancun.

CasaMagna Marriott Cancun Resort, Blvd Kukulcan, 52 998 881 2000, (Fax: 52 998 881 2085), The CasaMagna Cancun has been completely renovated in the wake of the devastation brought to Cancun by Hurricane Wilma. The resort features 418 rooms and 34 suites. Each room has a private balcony with a table and chairs. The hotel has 3 restaurants on-site, including a steakhouse, a Japanese restaurant and a sports bar. The beach in front of the resort has been restored, as has the pool area. The hotel itself tends to be priced on the higher side for Cancun, but that also tends to weed out the younger crowd. This resort is adjacent to the JW Marriott Cancun and is directly connected to it through a pathway.

JW Marriott Cancun Resort, Blvd Kukulcan, Km 14.5, Lote, 52 998 8489600, (Fax: 52 998 8489601), While traveling on a Mexico Vacation and staying in Cancun, The JW Marriott Resort offers luxury accommodations. The resort is adjacent to the CasaMagna Marriott Cancun Resort and has a connected pathway.

Hilton Golf and Spa Resort, Blvd Kukulcan, Km 17, Lote, 52 998 8818000, (Fax: 52 998 8818093), The Hilton Cancun, is the only Golf & Spa Resort on the island. The pyramid-like hotel features 426 ocean-view rooms, including 82 secluded Villas offering a private lounge and executive services; five delightful restaurants, including a gourmet-dining beachside grill; seven splendid infinity pools and the largest beach in Cancun. The Hilton Resort has effortlessly embraced the natural timeless wonders of the region with the contemporary features of its cosmopolitan destination. The Hilton Cancun Golf + Spa Resort has been recognized with the AAA Four Diamond Award for over 10 years in a row and the Connie Award for best overall performing hotel within Hilton Hotels Corporation.

Paradisus Riveiera Cancun Resort, SM. 11 MZ., 9 Lote 10 Puerot Morelos, (52) 998 8728383.  Enthusiasts can enjoy the gorgeous weather and beautiful beaches of Mexico. Paradisus Riviera Cancun luxury, all inclusive resort stretches along a lush tropical mangrove preserve on a 5,000 foot long Caribbean coastline and whose beach is protected by the second largest coral reef formation in the world.

You could also try out the growing vacation rental market as well. It’s a chance to experience Cancun without having to share close spaces with thousands of tourists. They are an alternative if you are willing to go without the frills of room service or resort commodities.

Most resorts in the hotel zone have a travel agent on site during the daytime to assist you with making reservations around Cancun, including the Mayan ruins. It is often better to book activities through these travel agents as they are employed by the hotel and cannot easily cheat you. Activities are also sold at booths found in the busier areas. Prices for the same activities are cheaper in Cancun town than in the hotel zone.