China's popularity as a vacation destination is booming. Not only is China a new World Trade Organization member and host to the 2008 Summer Olympics, the country is also projected to soon be the number-one travel destination, according to the World Tourism Organization.City Tourist AttractionsThis fascinating country has much to offer travelers. China's capital of Beijing is home to the mysterious Forbidden City and some of the best-preserved sections of China's Great Wall. The city of Xian hosts one of the world's greatest archaeological treasures, the Terra Cotta Warriors; and Shanghai offers gleaming skyscrapers and designer boutiques side by side with the historic Old Town. Yangtze River WondersAlthough many tourists come to China to see these key sights and shop, travelers who limit themselves to the cities miss one of China's most amazing treasures-her life blood, the mighty Yangtze River. Flowing 3,964 miles, the Yangtze is the world's third-longest river, carving its way through the stunning "Three Gorges" on its way to the world's largest dam. By combining a land trip with a river cruise along the Yangtze, tourists can witness the misty mountains and sheer cliffs of these famed Three Gorges, the engineering marvel of the Three Gorges Dam and turquoise waters of the Lesser Three Gorges, as well as catch a glimpse of China's traditional culture, from farmers plowing with water buffalo to colorful pagodas clinging to the cliffs. Language Barriers And Food Many potential travelers to China are concerned about the language barrier and "fried rice syndrome"-day after day of the same, poor-quality food. With the combination of a Yangtze river cruise and key city tours in Beijing, Xian and Shanghai in one package, however, a cruise-tour solves these concerns while offering the best of China's attractions. The leader in the industry, Viking River Cruises, offers four different China cruise-tours for the traveler. Each is all-inclusive with intra-China air, English-speaking guides who escort travelers from airport arrival to departure and hotel stays in five-star/best-in-city properties. The company has operational offices in both Beijing and Chongqing that ensure the menus offered during the tours are of high quality and variety, and regularly reviews all aspects of the land tours, from hotels and restaurants to their own team of experienced guides.For the cruise portion of Viking River Cruises China itineraries, travelers sail on Viking Century Sky or Viking Century Sun, the newest, most luxurious ships on the river. Both ships feature all-outside cabins, each with a private balcony. The company is unique in China in offering onboard Swiss management to oversee operations, plus Western food alternating with Chinese menus by celebrity chef Martin Yan.
From Pyramids to the Valley of the Kings, the Arab Republic of Egypt oozes history. If you are considering traveling to Egypt, you should know the following about the country. Overview of Egypt for TravelersEgypt has plenty of land, but much of it is sparsely inhabited. This leads to a situation where the vast majority lives within relatively compact urban places. As the most populous Arab nation, nearly all of people live along the Nile River, particularly in Cairo and Alexandria. Cairo in particular is one of the worlds most densely populated cities with a whopping 3,800 people per square mile and roughly 18 million in the extended city. Traffic jams are legendary to say the least. Travelers to Egypt are almost always going to see the pyramids and various archeological remains of the Pharaohs. Just so you can sound like you know what you are talking about, here is a very brief history on the rule of the Pharaohs. Around 3,100 BC, Mena united Egypt and became the first Pharaoh. 30 dynasties would follow and are categorized as the Old Kingdom, Middle Kingdom and New Empire. In 525 BC, the last Pharaoh was overthrown by the invading Persians. The pyramids of Giza were built during the fourth dynasty. The Great Pyramid is the tomb of Pharaoh Khufu. The Valley of Kings you will visit is only partially an accurate representation. More than a few of the sites were actually moved to higher elevations to save them from flooding caused when the Nasser Dam went into operation. As for modern times, Egypt covers an area of roughly 386,000 square miles. The capital is Cairo with a population between 16 and 18 million people. The climate is universally dry and hot. Life is sustained almost totally by the Nile. The people of Egypt are known as Egyptians. The total population is over 77 million and growing at a rate of 1.78 percent per year. 94 percent claim to be Muslim. Arabic is the official language although English and French are also spoken. 57 percent of the people are literate and life expectancy is 71 years of age. As this overview shows, the country is unique in that it is almost totally reliant upon the Nile River. Without the Nile, Egypt would be bereft of its heritage and modern state. Fortunately, it has learned to ride herd on the longest river in the world.
The Mayan Riviera, a stretch of coastline on the Yucatan Peninsula running from just outside Cancun in the North to the ancient Mayan site of Tulum in the South is rapidly growing in popularity. Why has this previously quiet area of the Yucatan Peninsula become a magnate for tourists? Costs and Atmosphere on the "Mayan Riviera" For visitors from North America, the Mayan Riviera is a more laid back alternative to Florida. It can also be cheaper to visit than either Florida or the Caribbean islands such as Barbados or Jamaica.For visitors from continental Europe or the UK there is the added attraction of the current favorable exchange rate. This can make traveling to the Mayan Riviera a more cost-effective option than visiting Southern Europe over a two-week stay.Mayan Riviera Ancient SitesFew tropical destinations have the benefit of the fascinating ancient sites on the Mayan Riviera. At Tulum in the South the ruins are actually right on the coast, so you can admire them from your sun lounger! Other sites of note (all possible in a day) are Coba, Chichen Itza, and, Xel Ha.Beaches, Diving, Snorkeling and Water SportsWhere does one even start to describe the beaches on the Mayan Riviera: Beautiful white sand beaches with warm ocean water. Warm breezes and your favorite cocktail served at your sun bed - now that's what I call a holiday! The Mayan Riviera is blessed with the stunningly beautiful Caribbean Sea with all its opportunities for water sports and diving/snorkeling. The island of Cozumel is a real magnate for diving enthusiasts, offering deeper water closer to the shore than the mainland resorts.Activities and Theme ParksIf golf is your thing, you are well catered for here, with courses in or neat all of the major resorts. For the kids try Xel Ha or Xcaret - Eco-Theme parks that they will love. Shopping is fabulous with many bargains to be had including local crafts. Other possibilities include kayaking, sailing, and horse riding.ConclusionThe range of possibilities on a holiday/vacation to the Mayan Riviera is simply amazing. The climate and Caribbean Sea are beautiful, the people friendly, and the cost reasonable - what are you waiting for?
France and Paris, Paris and France. Youll have a great time exploring Paris, but youll miss places like Bordeaux and St. Tropez if you dont get out of the city.BordeauxBordeaux is both a city and the center of the wine region in France. As a city, Bordeaux is surprisingly bereft of things to see. One can find unique statutes, fountains and the like, but there isnt really a particular location to mark of on your, I saw that list. The city is, however, a good place to relax, drink and eat. For relaxation, you can put around this low key town and take in food at the outdoor cafes in the Place de la Comedie. The specialty food of the region are canellas, which are very good. If youre with the wine and cheese crowd, Bordeaux is going to seem much more exciting. The surrounding region produces wine by the mega cask loads and you can visit locations such as Chateau Mouton-Rothschild to smell and taste the grapes. Moderation is suggested as you want to avoid the grapes of wrath the next morning!St. TropezSt. Tropez has gone through roughly three stages in its history. Originally, the town was a little fishing village no different than others dotting the coast of France. At some point, however, it became the place to be for artist who had given up on Paris. No less than the painters Matisse, Signac and Seurat lived and worked in the town. Fortunately or unfortunately, those times have passed. While artist still populate the town, St. Tropez is now the hangout of celebrities and the wealthy. While still a beautiful location, the over the top glitz of St. Tropez is a bit much.Once you get out of Paris, your options are wide open when it comes to exploring France. Bordeaux is definitely worth a visit while St. Tropez tends to be a take it or leave it destination. I left it.
Block Island is a refuge for people and nature. Youll discover towering cliffs, stunning views and some of the best beaches on the New England coast... and without the crowds. You see Block Island takes a little bit of effort to get there, and this is good news for you, as most people wont take the trouble to take the one-hour ferry ride across.But its their loss... and your gain. Block Island is a seaside jewel lying 12 miles off the southern coast of Rhode Island. This is a place where nature clings to every pond, stone-walled trail, beach, and everything in between. Its a paradise for cyclists, and a haven for those ready to leave the trappings and demands of the mainland behind.Most people take the ferry from Port Judith, which takes one hour across The Sound, and plants you in the hub of Block Island at Old Harbor. A Seasonal ferry service also runs from Newport RI and Montauk NY.Coming to the Island is a shift in time, with its rugged undeveloped reserves... and open field farmlands... and narrow roads lined with stone walls and wild roses. Block Islands invites you to relax in dress and time. Its a chance for you to rediscover nature again, and appreciate this geological remains from the last Ice Age.Heres suggested destinations to help you enjoy Block Island to its fullest...THE VIEW FROM MOHEGAN BLUFFS...You dont want to miss the view from Mohegan Bluffs. Take the Mohegan Trail from the village of Old Harbor out to the Bluffs.Mohegan Bluffs overlook the southern coast of Block Island, and on a clear day you can see Montauk, NY on Long Island, about 18 miles away. The cliffs tower 200 feet above the shoreline and offer stunning views of the landscape and the Southeast Light. A steep set of wooden steeps leads down to the beach below.At this beach a marauding band of Mohegan Indians were repressed by the local tribe, and give name to the bluffs.THE BLOCK ISLAND LIGHTHOUSESBlock Island has two lighthouses: Southeast Light and North Light.Southeast Light sits atop Mohegan Bluffs and was moved back from a perilous position on the cliffs in 1993. This is an attractive redbrick lighthouse built in 1875, and contains a museum inside for you to explore.North Light is at Sandy Point on the northern tip pf Block Island. This is the fourth lighthouse in this location and was built in 1867. Two of the previous lights were washed away and the third was dismantled because its position did more harm than good. North Light is within the boundaries of the Block Island National Wildlife Refuge, and thats where we were heading anyway...BLOCK ISLAND NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGELocated on the North End of Block Island the refuge is now a 127-acre habitat for wildlife and for visitors to enjoy the wonder of this natural environment. If youre a bird-watcher then the fall season offers a spectacular opportunity to view migratory birds, especially songbirds. Bring your camera and binoculars for a very special trip to a very special refuge.The shoreline area runs from Settlers Rock to Sandy point and the North Light, and then from here to Great Salt Pond. This is an ideal area for walking, bird watching, and breathtaking views.BLOCK ISLAND BEACHES & PONDSBlock Island beaches are the first stop for many first time visitors. The choices are many and varied. It has 17 pristine miles of gorgeous beaches.The two-mile Crescent Beach area consists of four beaches: Frederick J. Benson Beach, Scotch Beach, Mansion Beach, and close to the ferry landing is Ballards. These tend to be the most popular, but dont forget just a few minutes bike ride away are deserted beaches, where you can enjoy your own spot of peace and harmony.For such a tiny area, Block Island boasts an amazing 365 ponds - thats right - one for every day of the year. So as you bike and hike around the island, it doesnt matter where youre at... youre only a few feet away from water.Permits are required to fish the freshwater ponds.Other things to do on Block Island include: visits to Manisses Animal Petting Zoo, Settlers Rock, located at the end of Corn Neck Road near a beach on Rhode Island Sound - the rock marks the landing point of European settlers of Block Island in 1661, and kayaking in New Harbor.Block Island is a well-kept secret. Very few people know about it as a superior vacation destination. And to be honest that suits me just fine. Ill continue to take my trips and enjoy the sanctuary it offers. But Ive shared it with you now, so you have to promise to visit... soon.While Block Island is a great place to visit for the day, youll get more time to enjoy the island if you stay overnight, or even longer, at any of the varied lodging available. But advanced booking is a must. Inns and bed and breakfasts abound on the island, with many located near the village of Old Harbor and nearby New Harbor. For more information on inns and bed and breakfast accommodation check out www.blockisland.com.