Who doesn’t like rags to riches stories? With 27 cents to their name after traveling through Europe and Asia, Tony and Maureen Wheeler landed in Australia in the 70s Through hard work and almost reckless perseverance and ingenuity, they brought Lonely Planet travel books to the masses and created a company once worth a quarter billion dollars.
Overbooked: The Exploding Business of Travel and Tourism by Elizabeth Becker takes a closer look at the multi-trillion dollar industry and peels back the curtain on the tourism industry around the world. What she finds isn’t always pretty.
Pai in Northern Thailand might be one of the best-known villages amongst tourists, but that doesn’t mean the reputation lives up to the hype.
Southeast Asia’s temples are world-class, but the big crowds and overgrown tourism is a downer. Here’s three of the quieter – yet still incredible – temples from the region.
The bodies of work for Ho Chi Minh, Mao Zedong and Vladimir Lenin can be compared to each other endlessly with no clear winner. What can be compared, however, are there actual bodies. Or at least what’s left of them. Morbid, right?
I went to all three of their mausoleums within the span of two months, so here’s how they rank from worst to best in terms of the overall visiting experience.
In just under a month, I explored caves, motorbiked some of the most scenic roads I’ve ever been on, ate incredible food and traveled almost the entire span of the country. It was all done cheaply, too.
The famous Son Doong Cave in Vietnam is too expensive for most people ($3,000!), but there are cheaper tours to see other caves within in Phong Nha National Park.
The Crazy House in Dalat, Vietnam looks like Disneyland on acid. There’s winding staircases, a giant fake tree housing several rooms and some mock molten lava on top of the gift shop. Full or narrow passageways and vertigo-inducing walkways, the Crazy House has all the kitsch of an ambitious tourist trap. Despite a steady stream of visitors and its over-the-top looks, this attraction was made for reasons other than making money from tourists.It’s actually the pet project of an ambitious local architect.
I don’t know how this was discovered, but apparently coffee beans shit out by a civet (a weasel-like animal) makes for a damn good cup of coffee. Civet coffee, or weasel coffee, is an expensive delicacy that started in Indonesia where it’s known as kopi luwak. In the past few years this delicacy has been rising in popularity in Vietnam. I tried the coffee for myself in the city of Dalat, where the Weasel Coffee farm produces and brews the coffee on site. Here’s how it went.
As I leaned back over the edge of a 60-foot waterfall, the last thing I wanted to do was let go of the rope that prevented me from falling down. “Let go,” is exactly what Dragon, the tour guide, told me to do. I shook my head no and held on in total fear. He eventually coaxed me into it and I held up my hands awkwardly for Dragon to take a photo. Of course, the backup rope held up and I didn’t fall.