Planning your first big trip? Advice and humor to get you through the process.
How to Pick Great Destinations
Finding great vacation spots is not as easy as it sounds. You've got big world to chose from and a limited amount of time and resources. We provide tips and tools to get you going.
To narrow your focus, consider what you like to do when you travel. Here's a list of common options and recommendations.
1) Sight-seeing: Start with a list of World Heritage Sites. These are forests, mountains, lakes, deserts, monuments, buildings, etc. of exceptional cultural or natural importance, according to UNESCO. There are 878 such sites in the world. A word of caution, some of these spots are now overrun with tourists, so pick some alternatives or at least brace yourself for the crush. We've visited several sites on this list and question their exceptional-ness.
For example: - Angkor Wat, Cambodia: The temples are fascinating, but we were templed-out after one day. Passes are available for one day or three days and will cost more than a decent guest house. (We paid $40 for our three-day pass). Also, due to the crowds, we couldn't get a guide. - Ha Long bay, Vietnam: Mob scene, worse than a Red Sox game during penant season. Still, worth a day or two, if you're with a good group.
2) Participatory Sports: - For wind and water sports in the Caribbean and South America, check out Vela Windsurf Resorts. As a beginner, we had good luck at the Margarita resort in Venezuela. For more exotic options, consider Club Mistral with some caveats. The company is based in Germany, and the saleman who responded to our e-mails had a marginal grasp of English. In addition, when we started asking too many questions, he simply stopped responding. - For extreme sports, like bungee jumping, white-water rafting, river boarding (white-water rafting with just a boogy board), you can't go wrong with New Zealand. But New Zealand isn't cheap. If you happen to be in South Africa, we recommend a jump off the Bloukrans bridge, which costs less and is almost twice as high as the highest jump in New Zealand. Bungee jumping is available in other countries, including France, Bali, and Kuala Lumpur
3) Partying and Festivals: Rough Guides has an interactive list of major parties and festivals around the world. You can sort the list a number of ways. - If you're looking for drugged-out raves, check out a Full Moon party in Ko Pha Ngan, Thailand, or the Amsterdan Cannabis Cup. - If food festivals are more your style, the Adelaide, Australia, Festival of Arts might be a good bet. - Just want to some basic nudity? You probably can't miss out with Berlin's Love Parade.
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