A cheap and simple way to enjoy the outdoors and see the majesty of the country, leaf peeping is a time-honored tradition from coast to coast. Here are our six … Continue reading “Six Best Places to See Fall Colors”
A cheap and simple way to enjoy the outdoors and see the majesty of the country, leaf peeping is a time-honored tradition from coast to coast. Here are our six favorite places to do it.
Don’t mourn the end of summer. Swap out that bathing suit for a sweater, ice cream for apples, and make a date with mother nature to ponder the stunning colors of America’s fall foliage.
Given the overwhelming number of parks, mountains and forests to choose from, finding the right time and place to see these vibrant displays may seem overwhelming. To get you started, we’ve rounded up six of the best places to enjoy fall’s impressive hues. And though there is an estimated time for peak viewing, it’s all about the weather, so you may want to check the Farmer’s Almanac and The Weather Channel for a quick update before you head out.
New York is one of the most popular states to get a full glimpse of seasonal colors. And this mountain range in the state’s southeast corner is close enough to New York City to drive, train or bus to in just a few short hours.
The optimal viewing time in the Catskills is the end of September through October and though you can’t miss the breathtaking changes wherever you end up, we suggest a drive to the Kaaterskill Clove Experience, a hike to Mount Utsayantha or a trip aboard the Catskill Mountain Railroad. Weekend events, like the Hunter Mountain Oktoberfest and the Taste of the Catskills, are a great way to extend your foliage excursion and mix it up with both locals and tourists.
Combine your autumn viewing with some American history this season and head to Gettysburg around the third week of October until mid-November to enjoy peak foliage. The Gettysburg National Military Park and the top of the battlefield Little Round Top affords flamboyant views all the way to the Blue Ridge Mountains.
You can also choose to see the changing leaves on horseback from the National Riding Stables Horse Rescue or Hickory Hollow Farm, take a drive through Pennsylvania’s Apple Country or visit the Hauser Estate Winery for a taste of wine and hard cider, as well as a view from one of the region’s highest points. The National Apple Harvest Festival runs through the first two weekends of October and will give you a good reason to stay and enjoy the food, crafts, entertainment and, you know, all those apples.
Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway, NM
The mountains of northern New Mexico are a highlight for leaf gazing aficionados during the first few weeks of October, and this dreamily named route provides an 83-mile loop of what the southwest autumn has to offer. The drive is approximately three hours, though you’ll want to factor in time for stops along the way. The byway begins and ends in the artists’ colony Taos and makes its way through Questa, Red River, Eagle’s Nest and Angel Fire.
The sundry scenery includes Taos Pueblo, which houses the country’s first memorial to Vietnam vets, as well as Wheeler Peak, New Mexico’s tallest point, and Taos Ski Valley where you can enjoy the vivid views on a hike, bike or ski lift.
Lake of the Ozarks, MS
Mid- to late-October is the best tome to see the Ozarks hardwood forests and rolling hills burn with scarlet, ginger and gold on this vast shoreline – though it could easily stretch into November with an abundance of cool sunny days. Unfolding across four counties, this summer getaway comes alive in the fall, and there are plenty of ways to enjoy the brilliant scenery in the surrounding Ozark Hills.
Take a drive through the Sylamore District of the Ozark National Forest, stop at the Ameren Scenic Overlook, survey the surroundings with a round of golf at the Margaritaville Lake Resort or hop on a boat at Celebration Cruises to see the sites from the water.
Columbia River Gorge, OR
With over 80 miles of brightly tinted forests to gawk at, this scenic area located along Interstate 84 is at its peak for fall foliage from mid-September to mid-October. The drive is parallel to the Columbia River, but be sure to stop at the Crown Point Vista House for more expansive views of the Cascade Mountains or consider a hike on the popular Dog Mountain Loop.
Take a cheeky break for a beverage and panoramic vistas at one of the Gorge wineries or breweries or book a white water rafting trip down the Columbia River to liven things up.
Kancamagus Highway, NH
This 34-mile drive, nicknamed the Kanc by locals, provides an explosion of brilliant colored leaves come mid-September and lasting through early October. Because this highway cuts through the White Mountain National Forest, there are plenty of points to pull off and enjoy the breathtaking views.
The Sabbaday Falls includes a 45ft drop and perfect picnicking options and you can stop at the Lost River Gorge and Boulder Caves to wander off on a hike. Or hop on the 80-passenger cable car at the Cannon Mountain Aerial Tramway to see the spectacular foliage from the air – all the way to Maine, Vermont and Canada.
North Carolina is known for its destination-worthy beaches and dynastic college basketball teams, among other things, but its capital is often overshadowed by flashier locales around the state – which is a pity, because Sir Walter Raleigh’s namesake has plenty to recommend it. Home to North Carolina State University, not to mention world-class cuisine, standout arts organizations, and all the fun and games you’d hope to find in a college community, the easternmost point in the state’s famed Triangle deserves a deeper look. Here are a few highlights to hit when you’re in town.
1. Experience art
CAM Raleigh is North Carolina’s only non-collecting contemporary art museum. (Maya Stanton)
The arts scene in Raleigh doesn’t garner the same plaudits as, say, the one in Asheville, but when it comes to creative pursuits, North Carolina’s capital measures up. With an extensive permanent collection that includes Italian renaissance paintings, Egyptian funerary art, Jewish ceremonial objects – one of just two permanent Jewish art displays in a US art museum – and modern pieces from the likes of Ellsworth Kelly and Ursula von Rydingsvard, not to mention a Rodin sculpture garden with pieces from different phases of the artist’s stories career, the sprawling North Carolina Museum of Art is a great place to start.
There are natural-history and state-history museums too, but for something au courant, head to the Warehouse District, a former industrial area that now plays host to an array of galleries, shops, restaurants, and bars. It’s also home to CAM Raleigh, a contemporary art museum that features a rotating series of original exhibitions starring artists from around the world. The air conditioning was out the weekend we visited, but even that didn’t impede our enjoyment – the minimalist space (think: concrete floors, hangar-style ceilings, and white walls) was full of attention-grabbers, from mixed-media collages to card-stock sculptures to laser-cut plywood pieces to one particularly eye-catching octopus, rendered in wine corks and epoxy clay.
2. Eat your heart out
The macaroni and cheese at Ashley Christensen’s Poole’s Diner is highly craveable, served bubbling hot and browned on top. (visitRaleigh.com)
It wouldn’t be a proper Southern experience without sampling the local delicacies, and the highly decorated Ashley Christensen is perhaps the city’s best-known chef. Any restaurant in the James Beard winner’s mini-empire is worth a visit: Downtown, Poole’s Diner is justifiably famous for its comfort food (the rich, gooey mac ‘n’ cheese deserves an honorable mention), while Death & Taxes puts a contemporary, wood-fired spin on regional produce, and Beasley’s Chicken + Honey slings down-home favorites like chicken and waffles, biscuits, and raging-hot wings. (The newest member of the family, a Neapolitan pizza parlor called Poole’side Pies, just opened this month.)
Boulted Bakery is a must-stop for carb-lovers. (Maya Stanton)
For stellar seafood with Cajun flair, head downtown to St. Roch, a New Orleans-inspired oyster bar with a can’t-go-wrong menu. Try the bivalves, of course, raw or roasted, but don’t sleep on the crab claws, drenched in black garlic and chili; the hush puppies, studded with crawfish and plated with creole cane butter for dipping; and the peel-n-eat shrimp, smothered in a coconut, cilantro, and lime-inflected BBQ sauce. (Save room for the beignets, if you can manage it – hot out of the fryer and served with bourbon caramel on the side, they’re the perfect way to end the meal.)
Also downtown is Brewery Bhavana, a combination flower shop, bookstore, dim sum joint, and brewery that’s garnered national plaudits since it opened in 2017. Order a cocktail like the Chinese old-fashioned, spiked with oolong and five-spice, or a glass of cucumber sangria to have alongside turnip cakes festooned with thin-sliced scallions, seafood dumplings in a garlicky mushroom broth, chicken- and pork-stuffed bao, and Sichuan cucumber salad.
St. Roch serves up stellar seafood, from peel-n-eat shrimp and po’boys to oysters roasted and raw. (Maya Stanton)
Finally, a must for carb-lovers is Boulted Bread. Located southwest of downtown, on the outskirts of the Boylan Heights neighborhood, it’s an artisanal affair that takes baking extremely seriously, with an onsite stone mill that processes the heirloom grains used in loaves of emmer wheat and Nordic rye, and in the pastries too – if the potato-cheddar quiche, Benton’s ham–filled bialy, or the cinnamon-sugar-speckled morning bun are available, grab one of each. The same team recently opened Benchwarmers Bagels in Transfer Co. Food Hall, and though this New Yorker was highly skeptical, it hit the mark, especially the sesame-bagel sandwich with smoked fish, potato chips, pickled green tomatoes, and salmon roe.
3. Have some fun
Boxcar Bar + Arcade has more than 200 games, from pinball to air hockey. (Maya Stanton)
After all that grub, you’ll need to blow off some steam, and Raleigh offers plenty of ways to tap your inner child. For old-school action, look to Boxcar Bar + Arcade, a gaming den with more than 200 options for play, from classic arcade cabinets to pinball machines to consoles. When we stopped in on a Saturday afternoon, it was full of revelers, so be prepared to show ID at the door and jockey for both the bartender’s attention and time in front of the game of your choice. If sports are more your speed, the Carolina Hurricanes are in town from September to April, playing home hockey games at the same stadium as the North Carolina State University men’s basketball team. There are professional men’s and women’s soccer teams too, and just half an hour outside of town, you can catch the Carolina Mudcats, a minor-league baseball team with arguably the best logo in the game.
For minor league baseball, head to the ‘burbs. The Carolina Mudcats play at Five County Stadium in Zebulon, North Carolina. (Ted Richardson/visitRaleigh.com)
For a nightcap with high entertainment value, Plus Dueling Piano Bar is a hoot and a half. Under the flashing neon lights, two piano players and one drummer take to the rotating stage, belting out special requests to a packed house. Lean into the cheese factor and submit a request – Meatloaf’s “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” was a real crowd-pleaser on the Saturday night we visited – or sit on the sidelines and nurse a drink; either way, be sure to have cash on hand to tip the musicians and the waitstaff. (If you’re staying across the street at the Hampton Inn & Suites, this is an especially convenient outing.)
If that scene sounds like too much to handle, perhaps one of the city’s lower-key drinking dens would do. The Guinness World Record holder for most beer brands and most varieties of beer on draft, the Raleigh Beer Garden is a tri-level behemoth with rooftop tables, a spacious patio, and a dizzying 369 brews on tap. There’s no hard copy of the tap list, just a digital screen over the bar that cycles through the options, so do yourself a favor and pull up the menu online to make your decision.
4. Step into history
The Capitol building is a National Historic Landmark and a well-preserved example of Greek Revival-style architecture. (visitRaleigh)
Established as the seat of state government in 1792, Raleigh has seen its share of action. For an extensive overview in manageable form, pencil in a visit to the City of Raleigh Museum, a few rooms in the historic Briggs Hardware building that cram quite a bit of local lore into such a small space. The main exhibit details the city’s roots, from culture and heritage to education and business, and a timeline, striking in its simplicity, traces the civil rights struggle by contrasting what was happening in town with national goings-on. Current displays include an exhibit devoted to the late political cartoonist Dwane Powell, one that tells the story of Dix Hill, a plantation turned psychiatric institution turned city park, and another that delves into the history of barbecue in North Carolina.
The circa-1756 Yates Mill is the county’s only remaining gristmill. (Maya Stanton)
Yates Mill is water-powered, thanks to a creek-fed 24-acre pond. (Maya Stanton)
Originally home to the governor’s office and all state government, the Capitol building was completed in 1840 to the tune of $532,682.34—more than $13.5 million by current standards. Construction relied upon enslaved labor throughout the seven-year build, and even given all those workers who went unpaid, the bill came to more than three times the state’s yearly income at the time. Today, it’s a National Historic Landmark, and, the city says, “one of the best-preserved examples of a civic building in Greek Revival-style architecture.” The building is undergoing restoration as of September 2019, but it’s still open to the public, with tours available on a limited basis.
A less-expected option for the historically inclined is Yates Mill, the last gristmill standing in Raleigh and the surrounding county. Situated in a 174-acre wildlife park with hiking trails, a creek, and a 24-acre pond that powers the mill, this 18th-century marvel is still going strong. Peek inside at the original equipment, watch a costumed corn-grinding demonstration, or scope out the building from top to bottom—tours are available from March through November and cost as little as $5 for adults and $3 for kids. Plus, you can pick up a bag of cornmeal, stone-ground on the premises, to take home as a souvenir.
5. Get outside
Pullen Park is the fifth-oldest operating amusement park in the country, with an original 1911 carousel that’s still in working order. (visitRaleigh.com)
On average, temps here don’t dip below 50 degrees, and the mercury only rises during the summer, so get outside to take full advantage. The JC Raulston Arboretum comprises 18 gardens of varying sizes and specialties, including a serene Japanese garden, a rose garden overflowing with old and new cultivars, and a butterfly garden stocked with herbaceous and woody plants that act as bait for the winged insects. Behind the television station’s studios, WRAL’s Azalea Gardens are a hidden gem, even when the titular flowers aren’t in bloom, with wooded paths, vibrant blossoms – camellias, hydrangeas, and a huge array of perennials, shrubs, succulents, and vines – and lighthearted sculptures throughout.
JC Raulston Arboretum is made up of 18 individual gardens. (Chris Glenn/visitRaleigh.com)
Within the city limits are a handful of public greenspaces worth a visit. West of downtown is Pullen Park, the fifth-oldest operating amusement park in the country, established in 1887, where you can take a spin on the original 1911 carousel, rent a paddleboat and take to the lake, catch a concert, or hit the tennis courts for a workout. Further west, back at NCMA, there’s the Ann and Jim Goodnight Museum Park, the largest of its kind in the country, with 164-acre grounds juxtaposing more than a dozen large-scale installations with nature trails, sustainable landscapes, and contemporary gardens. Moore Square recently reopened after a $12 million renovation, and the four-acre park now boasts an outdoor café, a treehouse-style place space, a splash pad, and public art installations.
Outside of town, you’ll find the highly popular William B. Umstead State Park, a lush, green oasis with 22 miles of forested hiking trails, 13 miles of horseback and mountain-bike trails, and three man-made lakes with canoe and rowboat rentals. Seek out the chainsaw art, a 25-foot-long fallen red oak tree intricately carved by artists Jerry Redi and Randy Boni to reveal regal herons, fluffy owls, squirrels perched on leafy branches, and rabbits hiding in their dens. There’s also Falls Lake State Recreation Area, which boasts seven access points across an undeveloped 12,000-acre reservoir, with beaches for swimming, boating put-ins, and campsites galore.
Why choosing the right kind of travel insurance coverage before traveling internationally is one of the smartest investments a traveler can make.
It’s every traveler’s worst nightmare: A good vacation gone suddenly bad.
You may be hiking a beautiful trail in a national park, or practicing your rock-climbing skills, or learning to surf on a gorgeous beach. Then the unthinkable happens: A fall, a head injury, broken bones, or worse. You require a medical evacuation, hospital stay, and, after surviving the ordeal, you are presented with a medical bill for $100,000 – or maybe even a lot more. And the medical insurance you have in your home country? It’s not accepted in your current destination.
Sure, we said that accident was “unthinkable,” but the fact is, huge unexpected expenses can be avoided by travelers who do think ahead. The world of travel insurance can feel complex, expensive, and unnecessary, but not having the right kind of insurance, especially when traveling internationally, can be the most expensive travel mistake you can make. Here’s how to prepare in advance.
Why travel insurance is worth the investment
Why do we think of travel insurance as an “investment” rather than an “expense”? Because when you travel internationally, there is a strong likelihood that the medical insurance you have in your home country will not be accepted in the country you are visiting. In some respects, you are paying for peace of mind, of course: Knowing that, in the event that you are seriously injured or ill, you’ll be prepared with a health insurance policy that local medical practitioners and hospitals accept and are familiar with. In some cases, additional travel insurance can also deliver 24/7 emergency service, coverage against theft or loss of travel documents, and even language-translation services.
Travel medical insurance
For international travelers, “travel medical insurance” is the coverage that ensures that, in the event of a medical emergency in a foreign country, you are not liable for high out-of-pocket fees. It is a short-term, temporary policy covering health, injury, and emergencies. For example, if you are an international traveler planning to visit the US, it is recommended that you obtain a US-based travel medical insurance plan, which will be recognized by more doctors and hospitals in the United States, leading to an easier experience in the event that you seek medical care, customer service, or need to file a claim. (Note: Most of the better-known US-based insurance companies do not offer coverage to international visitors – coverage is offered by smaller US-based companies that specialize in international travelers.)
What is covered by travel medical insurance
In general, you can expect a travel medical insurance plan to cover any new illness, accident or injury, medical evacuation, and, in the regrettable event of a death abroad, the return home of the deceased’s remains. Generally not covered are pre-existing medical conditions, routine doctor check-ups, immunizations, pregnancy and childbirth, major dental work, or eye exams.
Other travel insurance options
In addition to medical insurance when traveling internationally, “trip insurance” can be appealing to some travelers. This kind of policy allows you to recoup some or all of your expenses in the event that you have to cancel or interrupt your trip, your trip is delayed, you miss a connection, lose baggage, car rental, and other specific instances itemized in your policy. A “cancel for any reason” policy, just as its name suggests, is more comprehensive and allows you to recoup some or all of your expenses if you decide for any reason at all that you need to cancel or postpone a trip. Cruise insurance works in a similar way, giving travelers a measure of security when they book a cruise that ends up being threatened by a significant weather event.
Come next June, New Yorkers and Parisians alike could be crossing the Atlantic in comfort and at a bargain rate if they play their cards right.
This week, low-cost long-haul airline French bee announced its latest route: beginning June 10, 2020, one flight will operate daily between Paris-Orly and Newark Liberty International. Prices won’t be announced until tickets go on sale on September 18, but fares for the carrier’s other routes start at US$189 (€212) for basic economy and US$239 (€268) for economy with extra amenities. (The airline only has a few destinations; it currently offers connections between Paris and Punta Cana, Réunion Island, Tahiti, and San Francisco, and between San Francisco and Paris and Tahiti.)
When the EWR – ORY route launches next year, it will be with a fleet of Airbus A350 XWBs, a fuel-efficient aircraft that reportedly reduces CO² emissions by 25%. French bee says the planes were specifically designed with the comfort of long-haul passengers in mind, with air exchange every three minutes, serious sound insulation for four times less noise than the Boeing 787, and all-around LED lighting that makes it easier to nod off and wake up.
That’s a good thing, too, because the only flight heading east to west is a red-eye, departing from Newark at 6:15 p.m. and arriving in Orly at 7:30 the next morning. On the return leg, it leaves Orly at 2:00 p.m. and lands at Newark at 4:15 p.m.
“With our A350s, passengers are only experiencing pressure equivalent to a stay at an altitude of 1800 metres, creating a much more comfortable atmosphere,” says sales director Sophie Hocquez, adding that the inclination of the walls creates more space. “Our customers…have said they experience less fatigue, and are ready to enjoy their stay as soon as they step on the ground.”
Yekophotostudio | Dreamstime.com
This is not a drill: A conveyor-belt restaurant is winding its way into London’s West End, and it comes bearing British cheese of all kinds.
Billed as the world’s first cheese conveyor-belt restaurant, Pick & Cheese comes courtesy of the Cheese Bar team and opens its doors on 7 September in Seven Dials Market, a new food hall in Covent Garden. “We’ve been looking for the perfect spot in the West End for a while now,” says founder Matthew Carver. “We think this style of cheese and wine bar will work so well here – it’s the perfect stop for a pre-theater snack or to refuel after a hard days’ shopping.”
Dairy-lovers can belly up to the bar, where spots are first-come, first-served, and spend an hour choosing from cheddar, Stilton, Gouda, and more as they whizz around the 40-metre belt. (“Cheese should always be served at room temperature,” says Carver.) Plates are color-coded by price, so you barely have to think before you grab, say, a £2.95 Mayfield cheese from East Sussex’s Alsop & Walker or a £6.10 bresaola made in Tottenham.
With more than 25 varieties sourced from all over the UK, you might be tempted to try one of each. Carver recommends the Kingham, a brand new cheese released this summer that’s served with walnut fudge for a classic salty-sweet combination; Londonshire, from Wildes Cheese just up the road in Tottenham, that’s being paired with honeyed garlic; and Beauvale, “a blue for people who ‘don’t like blue cheese,’” with house-made sticky pear jam.
“Over the years, we’ve built up a repertoire of our favorites, and have been waiting for the perfect chance to put them on our menu,” Carver says. “We’ve tried to cater to the more well-known flavor profiles, as well as trying to push people out of their comfort zone to try something new.”
As for the conveyor belt itself, it’s been a few years in the making, but it was always part of the plan. “In our Camden restaurant, our customers always want to pick different cheeses from our house list, and create their own bespoke cheeseboard,” Carver says. “We wanted to come up with a way to offer this, whilst showcasing the cheeses at their very best.”
Anyaberkut | Dreamstime.com
These eight common travel scams can dupe even the savviest of travelers. Read our tips on how to avoid them.
Even experienced travelers can become victims of crooks that prey on tourists – and we’re not just talking about pickpockets. Perpetrators use a number of ploys to dupe tourists.
The good news? There are steps you can take to avoid these eight common travel scams and swindles.
Fake booking websites
Fraud can occur before you even pack your bags. Fake travel reservation websites are common culprits. In fact, a whopping 15 million online hotel reservations are made on bogus third-party sites every year, the American Hotel & Lodging Association reports.
How to avoid it: The easiest way to protect yourself is by going to the official website of the hotel, airline, or rental car agency to book reservations. If you’re considering using a third-party booking website, though, look up the business on the Better Business Bureau to see if there have been any complaints lodged against the company for fraud. Also, make sure the booking site’s URL starts with https:// – this ensures it’s a secure website.
The broken taxi meter
Sadly, some taxi drivers take advantage of tourists by telling them that their meter is broken and then charge them significantly more money than the fare should have cost.
How to avoid it: If a taxi driver refuses to turn on the meter, get out and opt for another driver. Don’t have another taxi to choose from? Negotiate the rate ahead of time.
Phony Wi-Fi hotspots
Connecting your computer, smartphone, or other electric device to an unsecured Wi-Fi network can put your personal data at risk, since the perpetrator can gain access to what’s on your device, including sensitive information like credit card account numbers.
How to avoid it: Instead of using public Wi-Fi, create a mobile hotspot from your smartphone. This entails sharing your phone’s mobile data connection wirelessly with the other device you’re using. If you don’t have a large or unlimited data plan, though, creating a mobile hotspot may not be a financially feasible option. If you must use a public Wi-Fi connection, use a VPN, or Virtual Private Network, which is “a private network that only you can access, hiding your important data from potential hackers,” says Hailey Benton of Global Travel Academy.
Your hotel accommodation or attraction is “closed”
We’re not trying to give taxi drivers a bad rap – most cabdrivers are honest providers – but some drivers mislead travelers by telling them that their desired hotel or attraction is closed, even though it’s open. The driver will then try to pressure you to stay at a different hotel or visit a different attraction, which offers the driver a kickback for bringing the company business.
How to avoid it: This one is pretty simple: if a cabbie tells you that your hotel or attraction is closed, call directly to see whether it’s truly open or closed.
Renting a car? You need to have your guard up. A fraudster may tell you to pull over because there’s a problem with your vehicle, like a broken taillight or a flat tire. Instead of inspecting your car, the person robs you at gun- or knife-point.
How to avoid it: Don’t pull over. If there’s a genuine problem, you’ll likely hear a noise or see an emergency light pop on, at which point you should find a repair shop.
The bag slash
A purse may seem like a good place to store cash and other valuables. However, crooks target tourists by riding on a bicycle past the person while slicing the strap of a bag, then pedaling away with its contents.
How to avoid it: Though some people think they look silly, storing your valuables – money, passport, and credit cards – in a money belt that you tuck into your pants is the safest way to stroll the streets.
The shell game
It’s an age-old scam: a game operator on the street places a ball under one of three shells or cups, shuffles them around, and you place a bet on where you think the ball is. The trick? Associates acting as tourists guess correctly, leading you to think you can win. The perpetrator has removed the ball using sleight of hand, or you win and the person pays you with counterfeit money.
How to avoid it: Don’t play. Don’t even stop to watch – you could get pickpocketed by a conspirator while you’re distracted by the game.
The souvenir switcheroo
You stop at a stall to buy a keepsake. You find the item you want to purchase and pay the vendor, who then goes to wrap up your purchase. When you get home, though, you unwrap your souvenir to discover it’s not the item you purchased – it’s actually a cheaper trinket.
How to avoid it: Don’t buy souvenirs on the street. Instead, go to a brick-and-mortar store that can be held accountable.
Brizardh | Dreamstime.com
American Airlines has announced that it is adding more flights to Montana and Alaska, which will enable travelers to visit national parks there. This means that it will offer 17 routes to both states next summer.
The airline will add four new seasonal flights to Montana from Philadelphia,New York City and Los Angeles. Based on the success of its new service to Glacier National Park Airport in Kalispell, it is also switching to a larger aircraft on the Dallas–Fort Worth and Chicago flights.
“National parks are a huge attraction for many families,” said Vasu Raja, vice president of network and schedule planning. “As soon as school’s out next year, our customers will have more than 145 weekly flights to and from Montana to choose from. This summer, we launched three new flights to Glacier National Park in Kalispell, and next summer, we’re expanding with more services to discover the natural wonders.”
The airline will also introduce three new routes to Alaska. It is providing two new ways to get to Alaska’s second-largest city, Fairbanks, through Dallas Fort-Worth and Chicago. The new routes will serve travellers who are looking to explore Denali National Park, check out caribou or learn about the unique glaciers. With the daily service beginning in May 2020, the airline is offering one-stop connections from 56 new cities. It is also introducing a new service between Chicago and Anchorage.
You can check out the flights on American Airlines’ website here.
With the Transportation Security Administration’s restrictions around the boarding process constantly shifting (see: those Star Wars-themed Coca-Cola bottles that had Disney-goers in an uproar), even the most jaded frequent flier can be caught unaware. Here are some scenarios you should have on your radar before your next departure.
1. You went on a spice-buying spree and packed your finds in your carry-on
For the past year, the TSA has required additional screening for any powder-based substances greater than 350 ml (or about how much would fit in a soda can). They don’t have to be packed in your checked luggage, but you will need to allow time for additional screening—and depending on how savvy your airport staff is, that could take a while. A 16-ounce bag of sea salt, for example, proved problematic for one of our writers returning from Sicily, triggering the scanners and stumping the agents at every port of call. To alleviate the hassle, pull them out with your electronics at security or consider stashing them in your checked baggage.
2. You stopped at the dispensary to refill your prescription, and now you’re carrying too much medical marijuana
Speaking of stashes: Medical marijuana is legal in 33 states, plus D.C., Guam, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands, but that doesn’t mean it’s cleared to fly cross-country. Because the plant remains illegal under federal law, only FDA-approved goods or those that contain no more than 0.3% THC when weighed dry are allowed, either in carry-on or checked bags. (The rules apply to some CBD products as well, so tread carefully.) Though the TSA screens for security, not specifically for drugs, if an officer sees that you’re holding, they’ll call in the authorities. To avoid the issue altogether, some airports have installed cannabis disposal bins – look for them in locations like Las Vegas, Toronto, and Aspen, Colorado.
3. Your liquids are out of sight, out of mind
Sure, you remembered to take out your toiletries and empty your water bottle, but what about your roll-on deodorant, heating pad, or glow sticks? The former and the latter are fine in your carry-on as long as they’re less than 3.4 ounces or 100 milliliters, but gel-based items like heating pads and candles have to go in your checked bags. (As with any liquids, gel ice packs are fine as long as they’re completely frozen – if they’re at all melted or slushy, they have to meet the 3-1-1 requirement, unless they’re medically necessary.) On the off chance you’re transporting a Magic 8 ball, stick with your checked baggage there too. As the TSA’s reference page puts it, “For Carry-on bags: We asked the Magic 8 Ball and it told us…Outlook not so good! For Checked bags: We asked the Magic 8 Ball and it told us…It is certain!”
4. You snapped a picture of something you shouldn’t have
Shooting photo or video isn’t completely verboten at security checkpoints, but the regulations around it are pretty hazy. The TSA says that you’re fine as long as you don’t reveal sensitive information, shoot equipment monitors that aren’t in public view, or interfere with the screening process in any way—including but “not limited to holding a recording device up to the face of a TSA officer so that the officer is unable to see or move, refusing to assume the proper stance during screening, blocking the movement of others through the checkpoint or refusing to submit a recording device for screening.” It’s easy to see how an innocent action could be interpreted as interference, so you’re probably better off skipping the snapshots, just to be on the safe side.
5. You’ve lost a loved one, and you’re traveling with their ashes
Going “Code Grandma,” or simply taking a loved one to their final resting place? Some airlines might ban cremated remains from checked bags, but somewhat shockingly, the TSA as a whole has no issue with passengers bringing cremated remains on board, as long as they’re transported in a vessel that allows the scanners to see what’s inside. (Wood and plastic are fine, metals like tin or stainless steel, not so much.) If the officers can’t make out what’s in the container, it won’t be allowed. Per the site, “Out of respect for the deceased, TSA officers will not open a container, even if requested by the passenger.”
6. You’re heading for the big game, or Comic-Con, or a killer Halloween party– and you’ve dressed up to get in the mood
Though it’s not strictly prohibited, dressing in costume, painting your face, or altering your appearance in any significant fashion could result in additional screening. TSA agents need to be able to identify you to wave you through the checkpoints, so save the makeup or the mask for a quick restroom change after you’ve cleared security or once you’ve landed at your destination.
7. Your smart luggage was grabbed for the dreaded gate check, and you forgot to pop out the battery
Most rechargeable and non-rechargeable batteries – lithium, cell phone, laptop, and external batteries, plus power banks and portable rechargers – are fine in the cabin, but they become a problem when they’re stored under the plane. To avoid an unpleasant surprise, check the Federal Aviation Administration’s guidelines before you head for the airport.
8. You won a goldfish at the carnival, and you want to take him home
It should go without saying, but live fish should not be relegated to the cargo hold. As one of few exceptions to the notorious 3-1-1 rule, live fish in water – no matter the amount – can go in your carry-on, as long as they’re in a transparent container and pass muster with the TSA officer.
9. You let the holiday spirit take over
Air travel during the holiday season is bad enough – don’t make it any harder than it has to be. Your carefully wrapped gifts can trigger an alarm, so use bags and boxes instead of wrapping paper and tape whenever possible. Even the most minor trinkets can cause trouble: Snow globes bigger than a tennis ball likely violate the 3-1-1 liquids rule, and Christmas crackers aren’t allowed at all, either in the cabin or in the cargo hold. Foodwise, fruitcake is fine, but if you’re smuggling gravy across state lines, be sure to mix it with your mashed potatoes if you don’t want it confiscated by security – a lesson model, presenter and cookbook authorChrissy Teigen learned on the fly this summer.
10 days in Vietnam is the ideal trip to take for first-timers in Southeast Asia. It’s so easy to get about and there is so much to see and do that you are guaranteed to have the most amazing trip.
I’ve put together a 10 day Vietnam itinerary to take all the hassle out of planning your trip and to make sure that you can pack all Vietnam’s highlights into a short period of time.
Vietnam has become a really popular destination for travellers and with good reason. It has charming old towns, fascinating temples, mountains full of rice paddies and beautiful limestone karst islands. The food is delicious and the culture fascinating. There is an obvious well-trodden backpacker route making getting about, super easy and convenient.
If you’re short of time and only have 10 days in Vietnam, it can be a challenge to pack in all of the best bits. But I’ve been busy putting together a perfect 10 day Vietnam itinerary that does just that.
Now you should know, this is a fast-paced Vietnam itinerary and in an ideal world, you’d take longer to explore more leisurely. But if you are restricted by finances or annual leave and can only manage 10 days in Vietnam, then this itinerary is for you!
If you have more time in Vietnam, you can still follow this 10 days in Vietnam itinerary but you will be able to allow yourself the luxury to stay longer in each place and explore at a more leisurely pace.
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What you can expect from this article…
10 day Vietnam Itinerary Overview
Day 1: Hanoi – Experience bustling city life
Day 2-3: Sapa – Mountain trekking amongst the rice paddies.
Day 4-5: Halong Bay – Overnight sailing trip
Day 6-7: Hue – Royal city
Day 8-9: Hoi An- UNESCO heritage town
Day 10: Ho Chi Minh – Including a trip to the Mekong Delta
A Map of this 10 Day Vietnam Itinerary
Things to know before visiting Vietnam
Population 95 million
Capitol city Hanoi
Currency Vietnamese Dong. As of May 2019, 10,000 dong = $4 or £3
Cuisine Lots of tasty flavoursome noodles and soups. Less spicy than Thai cuisine. Ingredients often used include fish sauce, lemongrass, ginger, soy sauce and coriander.
Weather Vietnam has both a lot of sunny weather but also a lot of rain and it is often very humid. Most hotels are air-conditioned or more budget hotels have fans at a minimum.
Planning your trip to Vietnam
Getting to Vietnam
There are 5 international airports in Vietnam which are;
- Tan Son Nhat – Ho Chi Minh city (south)
- Noi Bai – Hanoi city (north)
- Danang – Danang city (central)
- Cam Ranh – Nha Trang city (south)
- Phu Quoc – Phu Quoc Island (island)
There are also land boarder crossings with China, Laos and Cambodia.
For the purposes of this 10 day Vietnam itinerary, you will need to fly into Hanoi and out from Ho Chi Minh airports. You could also choose to spend your 10 days in Vietnam in reverse order.
Getting around Vietnam
Given that there is a typical Vietnam backpacking route, travel between all of Vietnam’s highlights is super easy. You have the choice of flying, taking a bus or travelling by train. You could even hire a motorbike but be warned that the traffic in the cities is hectic and other road users are a little bit crazy!
I would recommend either flying between places which is quick and affordable, or taking overnight trains. I personally feel that every Vietnam itinerary should include at least one overnight train journey as it is an experience in itself.
Most overnight trains have cabins shared between 4 people on 2 bunk beds. It was surprisingly comfortable and always a fun experience. I would, however, always advise you to keep valuables in a locked small bag which you can tuck under your pillow. Then make sure you always lock the door when you are sleeping.
Booking your Vietnam Trip
There are a few resources that I use personally and recommend for booking any trips.
I book my flights with Skyscanner. They have the option to leave the dates blank so that you can find the cheapest dates to fly. You can even leave the location blank if you just want to find the best flight deals for a given time.
I book accommodation with Booking.com. It’s a simple process and you can narrow down your search based on hotel review scores, facilities, price and location. You can get a discount code here.
If you are looking for a group tour, then I always recommend G Adventures. We’ll talk more about group tours in Vietnam shortly…
As for public transport, a great option is 12GoAsia. You simply type in your dates of travel and start and end point and it’ll give you options for all modes of transport and links for you to book tickets. Simple!
Right, with the practical aspects under our belts, let’s crack on with the fun bit, what you’ll be doing on your 10 day Vietnam itinerary…
Your 10 day Vietnam Itinerary
Day 1 Hanoi
Hanoi is a love-it-or-hate-it city. Many find it chaotic, overwhelming even. However, many fall in love with its bustling streets teeming with market vendors, packed out with motorbikes sometimes carrying whole families! This ancient city, Vietnam’s capital city, has a rich history, beautiful architecture and a bustling old quarter filled with temples, pagodas, restaurants and cafes.
Hanoi is where you will begin your 10 day Vietnam adventure so arrive early and spend the day there exploring its culture, history and unique character. Just watch out for those reckless motorbikes…
Things to do and see in Hanoi
- Visit Hoan Kiem Lake including the serene temple Ngoc Son Pagoda. If you want a bit of peace and quiet in Hanoi, this is the place to go.
- Explore the Old Quarter, the bustling heart of this ancient city.
- Take a Vespa tour of the city. If you can’t beat the millions of motorbikes in the city, join ’em!
- Experience a Vietnamese puppet show performed in a pool of water in a modern-day theatre, depicting old traditional puppet shows in flooded rice paddies.
- Take a cooking lesson and learn how to make some delicious Vietnamese meals.
- Take a street food walking tour and sample some of the cities best food.
Where to stay
If you follow this exact Vietnam itinerary, you won’t need accommodation tonight as your overnight train trip will be included in your Sapa package. That said, if you get to Hanoi a day or two early, then there are some fantastic options for where to stay.
Accommodation in Hanoi is an absolute bargain so no matter what your budget is, you will no doubt find somewhere fantastic to stay. Here are a few options for any budget starting at just $3!
Day 2-3 Sapa Hill Tribe Trekking
I think this may have been my favourite part of my trip to Vietnam. The mountains near Sapa are at higher altitude providing welcome relief from the muggy heat in Hanoi. The rice paddies and mountains create the most spectacular scenery. But most of all, I loved learning about the local culture, sleeping on a mattress in a house in the village perched on the top of a mountain.
By day we trekked through rice paddies and tiny villages and in the evening we ate local food and drank rice wine whilst exchanging travel stories.
This 2-day 3-night tour of Sapa will include your train journey, guided hike and simple hotel and fits in perfectly int this action-packed itinerary! If you want the homestay experience, you will need to take a slightly longer 3-day tour but this one fits in perfectly with your overall itinerary.
How to get there
The sleeper train will be included in your Sapa trip if you book the tour above. Most trains depart in the evening around 9 or 10 pm and arrive in Sapa early morning after an 8-hour journey. Accommodation will be in shared sleeper carriages with 2 bunk beds. If you don’t fancy a sleeper train then you will need to factor in an extra day to take a bus trip instead.
Day 4-5 Halong Bay Cruise
I first became aware of Halong Bay when I watched the Top Gear Vietnam Special episode. As Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond goofed around building their own boats to explore Halong Bay, I became a little bit obsessed with the beautiful limestone karst islands. It was one of the major pulling factors which had me arranging a sabbatical in Southeast Asia.
I actually visited Halong Bay twice. The first time was just for a day trip but it was not enough time and within a week I was back again, this time for a 2 day sailing trip on a traditional Vietnamese junk boat.
Spending 2 days on a sailing trip here gave me a good feel for the area visiting different islands, caves and viewpoints. One of the main highlights of my trip was kayaking around these beautiful islands.
How to get there
Most cruises on Halong Bay, including this one, will include a bus transfer from Hanoi.
Where to stay
You have a couple of options here. Most Halong Bay tours include transfers to and from Hanoi. You could take the transfer then fly from Hanoi to Hue the next day. Alternatively, you could skip the transfer back and instead take an overnight train to Hue the same evening arriving early morning so that you have a full day to explore.
Day 6-7 Hue
Hue, previously the capital city, is steeped in a rich history and home to the ancient imperial city is a great place to spend a day or two. In an ideal world, you would spend at least 3 days here but since we’re restricted to only 10 days in Vietnam, 2 days there will be sufficient to see the highlights although it will be a packed few days!
Things to do in Hue
- Visiting Hue Imperial City is an absolute must-do in Hue. This place was previously home to the Vietnam emporers and is being slowly restored to its former glory. I’d recommend getting up early to spend a few hours here before the crowds arrive leaving you with plenty of time to visit other temples or take a motorbike tour.
- Explore the beautiful Perfume River by taking a boat trip or just strolling along the shores.
- Visit Thien Mu Pagoda. This was one of my favourite temples and has beautiful views overlooking the Perfume River.
- Take a motorbike tour of the countryside visiting villages and rice paddies. Or if photography is your thing then you could take a motorbike photography tour of Hue with a professional photographer.
- If you’d rather escape to the countryside, a day trip to Mooc Spring where you can hike, swim, kayak and admire the beautiful scenery..
Since you only have two days in Hue and a lot to see, it may be a good idea to take a city tour which encompasses multiple city highlights. This particular Hue tour will take you to the Imperial Citadel, on a river cruise along the Perfume River, into the markets and nearby countryside. You will also visit the Tomb of King Tu Duc and witness locals making traditional Vietnamese hats.
How to get there
The best way to get to Hue is to catch an overnight train from Haiphong near Halong Bay. This way, you will arrive early, ready to make the most of your time in Hue.
An alternative option would be to fly to Da Nang then hop on a bus to Hue. However, this will take the best part of 5 hours which would eat into your time in Hue.
Read Next: A 3 day Da Nang itinerary
Where to stay in Hue
Shoestring Shark Homestay
Affordable luxury Rosaleen Boutique hotel
All-out luxury Azerai La Residence
Day 8-9 Hoi An
Hoi An was my favourite town in Vietnam. The Old Town in Hoi An oozes charm with its colourful buildings packed with temples and pagodas and decorated with thousands of lanterns.
It has a really relaxing vibe and you could spend two days just sampling all the amazing food in all the lovely cafes and restaurants and browsing the quaint shops. But Hoi An really comes to life in the evening when the river is lit up with colourful lanterns.
Things to do in Hoi An
- Go Shopping. Hoi An is the best place to buy souvenirs. Known for its paper lanterns, silk and jewellery shops, shopping is one of the most popular things to do in Hoi An.
- Get custom-made clothes. It’s common to have clothes made for you by experienced Tailors in Hoi An. It is really reasonable and I had several pieces created especially for me by Yaly Couture.
- Enjoy the cafe culture. Hoi An has some of the best cafes, restaurants and bars. Make sure you take some time just to enjoy the cafe culture at a relaxed pace.
- Relax on the beaches. I’m so sad that I didn’t discover how beautiful the beaches in Hoi An are until after I had left! Whilst Hoi An’s old town is easy to get distracted by, take at least a few hours out of your day to relax on the beautiful beaches. You could even take a snorkel trip.
- Given that Hoi An has some of the best restaurants, it would make sense that it’s a great place to take a cooking class too. This particular class includes a tour of the market and a ride down the river in a traditional basket boat.
- Make sure you visit the Japanese bridge, an iconic spot in Hoi An. This well-preserved bridge was built to improve relations between the Japanese and Chinese inhabitants in the 1590s.
- If you are looking for a day trip from Hoi An to experience more rural Vietnam, then consider a cycling tour of the countryside or a trip to the ancient ruins at My Son.
How to get there
You could consider hiring a motorbike from Hue to drive yourself along the Hai Van pass to Hoi An. This is a particularly scenic mountain coastline view spectacular views. If you’re not comfortable diving it alone, then there are motorbike tours which start in Hue and end in Hoi An.
Alternatively, the bus will take about 3 hrs 30 minute or the train a little less at 3 hours. I suggest you take an early bus so that you can make the most of your 2 days in Hoi An.
Where to stay
Try to stay either near the beach (if you want relaxation) or near the old quarter (if you want to be pat of the action.) Here are a few great options for every budget…
Shoestring Hoi An Love.Ly Hostel
Budget Vinci Villa Hoi An
Affordable luxury Hoi An Central Boutique Hotel and Spa
All out luxury Anantara Resort
Day 10 Ho Chi Minh
Your final stop is Ho Chi Minh, otherwise known as Saigon. I found Ho Chi Minh to be a lot more modern and built up than ancient Hanoi city centre. I don’t think I have ever seen so many motorbikes in my life!
Whilst Ho Chi Minh is a convenient place to end and also a great location to take day trips to the Mekong Delta and to Chu Chi Tunnels, if you had to shorten this trip at all, I would recommend ditching Ho Chi Minh. That said, I’ve always preferred smaller towns and rural paces when I travel so you may still love Ho Chi Minh – I know many people do. This is the reason there is only 1 day in Ho Chi Minh but if you do have more time, you may want to tag an extra day or two here so you can arange some great day trips.
Things to do in and near Ho Chi Minh
- Since you’re short of time in Saigon, consider taking a city tour to see all the best bits in a short period of time. Visit Cha Tam Church, Ben Thanh market and the Museum of War Remnants to learn about the Vietnamese war.
- Visit the Mekong Delta and experience village life on the banks of the Mekong Delta including a floating market.
- Visit Chu Chi Tunnels. This one is not for the claustrophobic! You can climb through the extensive network of tunnels which people hid in during the Vietnamese war.
- Enjoy the nightlife. Saigon has a brilliant bar scene so celebrate a brilliant trip to Vietnam with a few drinks on the town before your trip comes to an end.
How to get from Hoi An to Ho Chi Minh
The best way to reach Ho Chi Minh from Hoi An is by flying from Danang which is a half hour drive from Hoi An.
Alternatively, you could get an overnight train but this will be a long one, 19 hours! So you would miss out on some precious time in your 10 day Vietnam itinerary!
Where to stay in Ho Chi Minh
Try to stay somewhere central since you only have one full day to explore Saigon. Here are some great accommodation options for every budget.
Shoestring B&P Just like home
Budget Full House Homestay
Affordable luxury Silverland Yen Hotel
All-out Luxury The Reverie Saigon Residential Suites
Packing for Vietnam
This Vietnam itinerary includes the opportunity to visit some temples so you will need to bring clothes which are appropriate temple attire. This usually involves covering your shoulders and knees.
Maxi skirts and dresses, t-shirts with short sleeves or kaftans to cover your shoulders make ideal outfits to keep you both cool in the warm weather and also respectable!
The skirt here comes in a zillion different designs and won’t need to be ironed so it makes an ideal travel skirt. Again, this kaftan has a variety of styles and patterns. I wear mine on the beach or to temples, and I also pair it with leggings in the evening to avoid being bitten by midgies!
Vietnam has its fair share of beautiful beaches and islands and this itinerary includes a 2 days boat trip in Halong Bay where you will be swimming a lot. So make sure you take swimwear and a quick dry towel. I personally, choose to wear more conservative swimsuits in Southeast Asia so as not to offend any locals. Whilst bikinis are fine to wear, try to get one which actually covers your butt!
The tap water in Vietnam is not safe to drink. Save money and help the environment by taking a Water-to-go Bottle. They contain a filter making any water safe to drink (except for seawater as it can’t filter salt.) I absolutely love mine and have it in 2 different sizes. You can get 15% off by quoting GLOBETROTTERGP at the checkout on their website.
Anti-theft luggage comes in really handy on the night trains and these days, they make some really nice bags, like this one…
Frequently asked questions about Vietnam
How much does 10 days in Vietnam cost?
Vietnam is very cheap to travel to. You can find a bed in a decent hostel for about $3! For $15 you’ll be able to get yourself a really nice double hotel room and you can even find a 5-star hotel for less than $100 a night in Hanoi!
Transport is also cheap. A Bus between Da Nang and Ho Chi Minh (an 860Km journey) will cost around $20, a sleeper train around $35 and a flight just $45.
Eating out is very affordable with many restaurants charging around $2-3 for a meal. You can eat even cheaper if you eat street food alone. Here is a good breakdown of costs in Vietnam.
You can easily survive on $25 per day (in fact this would be quite luxurious!) Your biggest splurges will be on your Halong Bay cruise and Sapa trek but even with these accounted for, you may only need to spend $400-500 + cost of flights to see Vietnam in 10 days.
Is Vietnam safe to travel alone?
I felt pretty safe in Vietnam though I was travelling with a group. As places in Southeast Asia go, Vietnam is considered fairly safe and has a low rate of violent crime against tourists.
There is a risk of theft and pickpocketing and as such, you should always stay aware of your surroundings and belongings, especially when travelling on night trains.
Vietnam is a fairly conservative country so it would be wise to dress appropriately to avoid any unwanted male attention. But in general, I didn’t get unwanted attention in Vietnam.
What injections do I need for Vietnam?
Most of the immunisations required are the ones you will have had anyway as long as you had your vaccinations as a child, for example, MMR, diphtheria, tetanus etc. They also recommend considering Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Typhoid and Rabies. You can check whether any of these are indicated for you and your style of travel on the Fit For Travel Website.
When it comes to Rabies, I usually only recommend having it if you will be staying somewhere very rural as it only gives you additional time to get to a hospital. You will still need to have the immunoglobulins if you have potentially been exposed to Rabies (eg through a dog bite.) As it is an expensive vaccination to get and on this Vietnam itinerary, you will always be able to reach a hospital quickly, I would not think it is necessary.
Yellow fever certification is not required for travel in Vietnam.
Is there malaria in Vietnam?
There is Malaria in Vietnam but the risk is low. For all places featured on this 10 day Vietnam itinerary, the risk is considered very low and no antimalarials are advised. If you are going anywhere not on this itinerary, then you should check this Malaria map to see if you need antimalarials.
Do I need a visa for 10 days in Vietnam?
There are several nationalities which do not require a visa for a short stay. Most people from surrounding Southeast Asian countries will not require a visa for up to 30 days. UK nationals can enter Vietnam visa-free for up to 15 days. US, Canadian and Australian residents are not eligible and will require a visa. You can check if you need a visa here.
What is the best time to visit Vietnam?
Whilst the climate varies throughout the country, in general the best time to visit Vietnam is either side of the rainy season which is between May and September. In the months of February-March and September-October, you are more likely to have dry weather. That said, I was there in early May and the weather was mostly beautiful with just the occasional cloudy day.
Are there any festivals in Vietnam worth going to?
‘Tet’ is the New Year celebrations usually celebrated in January or February. This is usually the biggest, most celebrated festival with religious rituals during the day and big parties at night often with fireworks.
Hoi An Lantern festival is one of the most popular with tourists. Hundreds of lanterns float down the river once every month.
The Hue Arts festival which takes place twice a year is fantastic for culture vultures. With dance, music and theatres performances as well as boat races and even human chess games!
The Best Group tours in Vietnam
Group tours can be a brilliant way to travel and I’ve been on many adventure group trips myself. In fact, my first trip to Vietnam was with G Adventures. The companies I have travelled with the most and always recommend as sustainable, ethical adventure companies, are G Adventures and Intrepid Travel. Here are a few of the best group tours in Vietnam that you may want to consider if you think group travel could be your thing too…
This is a classic (mid-range) G Adventures tour which roughly follows the same itinerary as above but without the trekking in Sapa. Instead, it spends a little more time in Hoi An and Saigon. It’s a way of seeing Vietnam in 10 days without the hassle of organising it yourself. You could always choose to do a Sapa add-on with Intrepid travel.
If you are travelling as a family unit then consider a G Adventures family trip in Vietnam. This trip for families with children over 6 years of age, travels from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh including a visit to the Mekong Delta.
Since most of the best bits of Vietnam are found not far from the coast, adventure cruising with Intrepid Travel can be a great way to see Vietnam. This trip is a ‘comfort’ trip meaning the accommodation is a little luxurious. There are up to 49 passengers and the boat stops at most of the places on this Vietnam itinerary but with the addition of a few places like the spectacular Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park.
This G Adventures tour follows almost the exact same route as in this 10 day Vietnam itinerary (including Sapa) only it takes 15 days and spends longer in Hoi An, Saigon and on the Mekong Delta.
If you like the idea of having the trip organised for you but you don’t want to travel as a group then a G Adventures tailormade adventure might be right for you. You can choose to pay extra for a tour guide to stay with you or just enjoy being transferred between your hotel, transport and accommodation with no need to travel with people you don’t know beforehand.
To check out more G Adventures trips, visit the G Adventures and Intrepid websites by clicking these links…
Vietnam Reading Material
If you’re the type of traveller who still loves to carry a guidebook, (I don’t blame you, I’m book obsessed,) then the two I recommend are The Lonely Planet and Rough Guide books.
Here are some pins for your Pinterest board so you can come back to this article later!
Fall marks harvest season in the wine industry, when vineyards across the US celebrate the year’s harvest with festivals, tastings and events. Here are a few of our favorites.
Come September and October, vineyards begin to harvest the grapes that they’ve ever so carefully grown and cared for all season. Vineyards around the world celebrate their bounty with end-of-harvest festivities. Marking the occasion with music and dancing in the vines to food, grape stomping contests and plenty of vino.
Willamette Valley Vineyards – Turner, Oregon
Every year Willamette Valley Vineyards, celebrates the end of harvest with a Grape Stomp Championship and Harvest Celebration. So kick off your shoes and get ready to stomp! This year marks the 29th year, and it will take place on September 21st and 22nd in Oregon wine country. The winners of the competition receive an all-expense paid trip to the World Championship Grape Stomp in Santa Rosa. In addition to stomping, guests can enjoy Willamette Valley Vineyards’ latest wine releases (a tasting flight is included with the $15 admission). Guests are also welcome to try the custom harvest-inspired menu created by Winery Chef, DJ MacIntyre, along with live music and lawn games.
Calaveras Winegrape Alliance – Murphys, California
You’ll feel like you’re going back in time in Murphys, California, a historic Gold Country town nestled in the Sierra foothills. But don’t let that fool you; they sure know how to celebrate the end of harvest. Every first Saturday in October, the town of Murphys transforms into a frenzy of activity with two popular events. Organized by the Calaveras Wine Alliance, the Annual Calaveras Grape Stomp includes energetic stomp competitions every half hour. You can also look forward to live and silent auctions, a team costumes contest and wine tastings of course. Just half a block away, there’s something for everyone at the Annual Gold Rush Street Faire. Main Street fills with over 100 booths of local food, handmade jewelry, unique fashion, art and crafts and more.
Château Elan Winery & Resort – Braselton, Georgia
The good thing about this winery is that it has a resort just in case you taste too much delicious wine. Château Elan celebrates the end of harvest season with a massive Vineyard Fest on November 17th in the north Georgia foothills. With 1500 guests annually, the festival is sure to be even bigger this year after a $25 million renovation that will be unveiled. This year’s theme is “Flavors of the South” with a spotlight on the local restaurants. Guests can look forward to tasting over 100 beers and wines and a myriad of food stations with everything from pralines to fried green tomatoes. Don’t worry – there will be plenty of grape-stomping to burn off those calories.
Niagara Falls Wine Region – Niagara Falls, New York
This is a celebration to remember! More than 20 vineyards throughout Niagara Falls USA’s wine region come together for the annual Harvest Festival on September 21st and 22nd. As part of the festival, each vineyard pairs its wine with a harvest-themed appetizer, salad, soup, side dish or dessert. So come hungry! Tickets are $22 and include a tasting of three wines with a food sample at each participating winery. Some dishes to look out for include a lavender and sage ratatouille paired with Liten Buffel’s 2017 Perfetto Vineyard Pinot Noir. Or Long Cliff Winery & Vineyards savory pumpkin macaroni and cheese paired with their 2013 Reserve Pinot Noir.
The Winery at Holy Cross Abbey – Cañon City, Colorado
Head to The Winery at Holy Cross Abbey for a free harvest event in the Pikes Peak region of Colorado. The Harvest Festival is an annual event where partygoers can indulge in local foods and enjoy blues and jazz bands. Want to make your own wine? Anyone attending ehe Harvest Festival is able to bring their own grapes to be added to that year’s unique “Canon Harvest” wine batch. This all goes down on September 28th and 29th, and the community batch will eventually be bottled and sold. Guests can also splurge on a special dining experience with the Winemakers Dinner Friday night for a cost of $125 per ticket. The chef will highlight Colorado produce, meats, fish, and cheeses in the creation of the menus. Think miso trout and brown butter sage gnocchi, all paired with divine wine.
Morgan Creek Vineyards – New Ulm, Minnesota
Thanks to its strong German heritage, New Ulm, Minnesota, does Oktoberfest like no other the first two weekends every October. Part of New Ulm’s Oktoberfest celebration, Morgan Creek Vineyards’ annual Grape Stomp kicks off the first Saturday in October. Visitors can enjoy German music and dance performances, food and wine pairings, tours and more. Now, back to the main event. October 5th is the grape stomp competition day, where teams of three to five stompers compete to produce the largest volume of juice stomped from fresh grapes. The prize: bragging rights and a free case of wine. A costume contest is also held in conjunction with the grape stomp. Good luck!