If you are headed to Los Cabos, you may already know that it is divided by a 20-mile stretch of road known as the Tourist Corridor, and at either end of the Corridor is Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo. They are very different destinations, even if they fall under the same Los Cabos heading. It is Cabo San Lucas, or as many call it “Cabo”, noted for its fun and excitement.

As one travel expert has so accurately said, “Cabo San Lucas is where the desert meets the ocean. It’s a place that no matter where you are, you’re only a block away from the water. This where you can experience numerous outdoor activities, shop ’til you drop, and drink, dance and party all night long!”

That says, quite plainly, that there are many things to do in Cabo San Lucas, and we’ll look at three of the most easily and readily enjoyable.

The Party Hearty Nightlife

Some of the world’s most famous celebrities make a point of visiting Cabo San Lucas to enjoy the amazing outdoor amenities, but also the party atmosphere. It all begins at sunset when one of the most popular activities is to head to a beachfront bar, “where the floor is made of sand and there’s no dress code,” and grab a drink before beginning that night on the town.

You can often find that your beachfront drink, evening meal, and night of dancing can be enjoyed in a single spot. For example, El Squid Roe is a noted restaurant, bar and live entertainment venue that is the perfect place to find fun in the very heart of Cabo San Lucas. Open every single evening, it is a popular choice for those eager to sample the Cabo nightlife.

Other options include:
·       The Rooftop Lounge at The Cape (A Thompson Hotel)
·       Rockstone Tavern
·       Nowhere Bar
·       Purple – VIP Rooftop Lounge at Breathless
·       Tanga Tanga
·       Coco Bongo
·       Cabo Blue
·       Cabo Wabo Cantina
·       Jungle Bar
·       Baja Brewing Company
·       Pink Kitty
·       Mandala
·       Omnia

Maybe you are less a fan of the bar scene and more a fan of the outdoors? If so, there is more than enough for you to enjoy in Cabo, but most particularly some of its natural wonders.

El Arco de Cabo San Lucas

The Arch of Cabo San Lucas, is as an article in Atlas Obscura noted, is a “graceful natural rock formation stands astride the point where the Gulf of California meets the Pacific Ocean.”

Almost anyone in the area will want to pay a visit to this amazing, natural wonder when descriptions like the following attempt to paint a portrait of the site: “Baja California is the second-longest peninsula in the world and helps form the Gulf of California, one of the most biologically diverse seas on the planet. And they both terminate in the picturesque Arch of Cabo San Lucas.

Hugged by the Playa del Amor on the gulf side and the Playa del Divorcio on the ocean side, the limestone arch — known locally, and appropriately, as El Arco — was carved over millennia by the same winds and potent tidal forces that make swimming on the latter a potentially lethal and thus decidedly ill-advised proposition.”

It is one of the most photographed spots in all of Cabo San Lucas and a popular gathering place for the native sea lions of the region. Traveler’s need only request a taxi ride or boat trip to “Land’s End,” and the local will know precisely where to go.

Travel experts say that a cruise around Land’s End or the El Arco de Cabo San Lucas is one of the best ways to spend an afternoon and that the formations of El Arco and Scooby Do Rock are must-see sights. There are scores of tour operators bringing travelers around the area, and rather than taking a quick spin through the region, it is a great idea to enjoy a guided day tour of the entire area.

Time on the Boardwalk Promenade at the Cabo San Lucas Marina

Remember that quote from the opening of this article? The one that pointed out that “you can experience numerous outdoor activities, shop ’til you drop, and drink, dance and party all night long.” Well, we’ve looked at one major outdoor activity and the party all night long options, and now it is time to turn our attention to the third thing – that shopping to you are dropping option!

That is possible at what Fodor’s calls the “pedestrian mecca,” the “long boardwalk promenade that parallels the Land’s End city’s marina, snaking from the cruise ship terminal on one end to the juncture with Playa El Médano on the other,” also known as the Boardwalk Promenade around the Cabo San Lucas Marina.

This is not just your average boardwalk, however, and runs along major shopping destinations like the premium Luxury Avenue shopping mall and the Puerto Paraiso Mall. There are major eateries and restaurants to enjoy, and lots of people love to come and watch the fishermen all along the way.

In fact, in addition to all of the shopping and dining, some of the preferred activities along the promenade and in the marina include:

Watching the “fisherman return to the marina from their day on the water.” The pelicans arrive shortly afterward and make for a very entertaining few hours as the fishermen prepare their catch for the market. There are also the “seals all over Marina Cabo San Lucas,” and they are a delight to watch as they swim among the boats and yachts, chase birds and also follow the fishermen into the marina at sunset in the hopes of an easy supper.

There is much to see and do in Cabo San Lucas, and we’ve looked at just three of the most exciting and enjoyable options. Travelers love to hit the romantic beaches, shop in the historic gallery district, visit the cactus gardens, and much more.

According to Travel + Leisure, “Los Cabos is a tale of two Mexican towns—Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo—set at the tip of Mexico’s Baja Peninsula,” and both areas are fun and worthy of a visit. The latter is deemed a cultural hot spot ideal for art and shopping while the former, Cabo San Lucas, is noted as the more fun-loving region.

The two points are separated by the Tourist Corridor (the official name of the 20 mile stretch of shops, restaurants, and activities running between the two), and from one end to the other are amazing restaurants to try. A destination popular with many celebrities, it is not just “A-list gloss,” as that same source notes. In fact, on the “outskirts of San José del Cabo, a farm-to-table food scene has emerged…There’s also a burgeoning industry of artisanal food purveyors and drink makers in the area.”

Travelers find “trailblazing restaurants,” along with delicious street food options that emphasize regional favorites. And we are going to look at three of the top dining options in Los Cabos at this time.

Sunset Monalisa

An authentic destination on its own, this award-winning restaurant has some of the most spectacular views in the entire region. Sitting as it does just above the sea and living up to its name by offering unimpeded sea views, it is a TripAdvisor, Tribune the Express, and CNN travel recognized establishment.

Popular as a wedding and special events venue, it is the most sought out eatery in Los Cabos. So, reservations are a must. It sits right at the end of the Baja Peninsula and gazes out at the famous Arch at Lands End. It is home to three venues and three unique menus, though all emphasize a unique spin on Mediterranean cuisine.

Chef Casiano Reyes has described it as “novel Mediterranean cuisine and fresh seafood,” and visitors and choose from:
·       Sunset MonaLisa – The fine-dining venue with open-air dining that takes in the amazing views.
·       Ocean Terrace by Veuve Clicquot – This is a more casual spot that also features al fresco dining and amazing views
·       Sunset Point – This is the most casual option with lunch and dinner menus, tapas, pizza, cocktails and 180-degree views of the bay

The Sunset MonaLisa menu features a popular “Spontaneous Tasting Menu,” which can include three or five courses and which uses only the freshest seasonal ingredients prepared to perfection by the chef. Alternately, there is the house specialty Duck Leg Confit, popular Trio of Oysters, and the different house-made pasta that are “must try” favorites.

Whether you go for a casual lunch at Ocean Terrace or the full experience at Sunset MonaLisa, you are sure to book a return as soon as possible.

Mama’s Royal Cafe

According to local experts, Mama’s Royal Café is “the oldest ‘gringo’ restaurant in downtown Cabo San Lucas,” and has been a local fixture for the past 30 years. It specializes in immense breakfasts, just like “mama used to make,” and offers a menu of over 40 different types of omelets.

Their menu also features their signature eggs benedict, huevos rancheros, and unique spin on French toast, which features “a rich mixture of ricotta and cream cheese, topped with fruit and pecans, flambeed in orange liqueur.”

Every patron is treated to their choice of freshly squeezed juice and flavors range from the classic orange to “grapefruit, mango, and papaya, or a Mimosa from the full bar.” Coffee is “bottomless” and there is seating for up to 40 inside and an additional 40 on the flower-covered patio. Open daily from 7:30 AM until 2 PM, and offering sandwiches and salads at the lunch hour, they are a must-try option as the restaurant is popular with locals and travelers alike.

Their most popular dishes include the King Kong omelet, their Texas Tornado, a chicken-filled crepe with poblano chiles and avocado, or their “Nopalitos con Huevos, scrambled eggs with fresh cactus and mild chiles , or any one of many more regional dishes.”

And while we are on the subject of “regional dishes”…

Quacamole and Tacos

What is more iconic in the world of Mexican food than the taco or a delicious bowl of tableside made guacamole or “quacamole”?

While in Los Cabos, it is fool-hardy to avoid an experience at some of the cheaper local favorites because it would mean missing out on some of the best tacos and quacamole you might ever find. According to an array of sources, the top local spots for authentic Mexican favorites, including top-rated tacos and guac are:

·       La Lupita Taco and Mezcal – A local favorite noted for its barbacoa, al pastor, and its “Taste of Lupita, with sides of blue chips, pumpkin seed and tomato dip, guacamole and fresh lime.”
·       Las Cazuelas del Don – Noted for its tortilla soup, it is also a popular spot for salsa and guacamole.
·       Los Claros – Famous for fish tacos.
·       Guacamaya’s – Noted for its pork tacos.
·       Taqueria Rossy – Famous for all of its different tacos.
·       Las Guacamayas – This is noted for offering the very best guacamole in Los Cabos.
·       The Office on the Beach – A famous and popular destination for Mexican classics, but especially its quacamole and tacos.

Fine dining options are in great abundance in Los Cabos, too, and you can always find plenty of unique, gourmet spins on tacos and guacamole. Some of the most highly rated establishments at this time include Pitahayas for its cellars and romantic meals, Los Tres Gallos for its casual atmosphere and its mole dishes, Nick San for its unique sushi made with Mexican ingredients, El Farallon for its amazing setting and its local seafood, and the modern Manta at the Thompson Hotel with its Pacific Rim cuisine and multi-course meals.

There is much to see, do, and eat in Los Cabos, and the options here are just a tiny assortment of the culinary delights that await.

A New York Times article about Chamonix, a “French town at the base of a lofty Alps peak,” describes the area as one ideal for “skiers, climbers, foodies and night-life lovers,” and it is plain that whether visiting during the winter or summer months, there is an immense list of things to see and do.

The emphasis, for many, is on the seeing.

Sightseeing is Essential in Chamonix

Naturally, as part of an immense ski area, it offers travelers great ease when seeking to take in the scenery from the highest heights, and the Chamonix Valley ski lifts mean that visitors (skier and non-skier alike) will be able to see Balme, Flegere, Lognan Plan Joran, Brevent, Montenvers, Plannards, Les Bossons, Prarion, Tramway Mont-Blanc, and Bellevue.

And as that New York Times article made particular note to mention, there is the “fire-engine-red Montenvers Train, which has been carting visitors 3,000 feet up into the Alpine wilds since the track was completed in 1909.” It allows you to enjoy the views over the nation’s largest and longest glacier, known appropriately as the Mer de Glace (sea of ice), that is actually a huge frozen river making its way through the mountains. There is also a cave open for visitors to experience.

Another must-see is the Balme Tour – Vallorcine area that, according to experts, is a “pastoral site [with] extensive alpine pastures, among the last that are still in use in the Valley…and ideal for mountain biking.” There is also the Tramway du Mont Blanc, the oldest of the ski lifts in the area. If a 360-degree view is the goal, the Bellevue cablecar is a good choice and allows travelers to take in Mont Blanc, Aiguilles de Chamonix, the Aravis, and the Les Fiz chain of mountains.

Not a skier? The Prarion Gondola is the perfect choice for bikers, walkers and hikers, and mountaineers., and the Panoramic Mont Blanc gondola is also a good choice, but has to be reached via the Aiguille du Midi Cable Car.

Alpine Museum in Chamonix

You might not expect a “palace” to exist in the mountains of a modern ski area, but the Alpine Museum in Chamonix is house within the old “Chamonix Palace,” which (as its official website points out), is “the first of 3 palaces to be built in Chamonix at the beginning of the 20th century.” And though the idea of a museum visit is not always at the top of the list of things to do when visiting a location that is all about food, fun, nightlife, skiing and sightseeing, this one is a must.

Why? It is one that is dedicated to the development of the area as a tourist favorite. It “retraces the development of Chamonix from the first tourists who came to admire the ‘Glaciers of Savoye” to the golden age of winter sports.” Home to a great assortment of prints and photos, it also documents the area’s ancient history with its collection of objects from the distant past. There are regular programs in addition to the permanent collection and the fun “Rallye Selfies” that challenges visitors to document their visits to seven different areas in the town of Chamonix to win a personalized souvenir.

If you want something a bit more active than a day at a museum or spent sightseeing from cable cars, gondolas or by walking or hiking, there is an abundance of “other” sport and leisure activities.

The Many Athletics of Chamonix

As one expert has said, the geography of Chamonix is “ideal for living in rhythm with your body.” That is true at any time of the year, including both summer and winter. As that same expert noted, there are a multitude of summer hikes that include strolling to area creameries, climbing Mont Blanc or taking a tour. There is also an abundance of mountaineering as it is the “capital” of this activity and a popular spot for ascending world-famous Mont Blanc.

Cyclists love the area for its challenging paths and routes, and there are even ski lift passes designed for the avid mountain bikers. Trails are also available for runners as the emerging sport of trail running is becoming one of the more popular activities in the region.

Swimming and water sports are quite popular, and while you’ll find an abundance of swimming pools (and even many chalets with private pools), there are also saunas, water parks, Turkish baths and more. The area has thermal spas at several resorts, too.

And for the very daring, there is paragliding. It is so popular that there are multiple paragliding schools, and opportunities for “taster” experiences, tandem flights, and official training courses that help you become a master at this heart-pounding experience. Rock climbing is also an option and whether it is winter climbing indoors our summer experiences on the rocks and boulders of the region, there are many options.

Tennis, ice skating, petanque bowls, fitness centers, ice climbing, guided mountaineering, sledding for all ages, and endless options for shopping are all part of the “leisure” and activities available.

There are theme parks suited to any interest, including tobogganing and outdoor adventures, like zip line fun, and kids may really appreciate some of the animal adventures in the region, including dogsledding and pony riding. The tamer traveler can find summertime golfing adventures, white water is a good option for the spring and early summer visitor, but everyone is well aware of the fact that the skiing is “the thing”.

Skiing includes Grands Montets, Les Houches, Brevent, Balme and Flegere. Most are active within the first week or two of December and feature a diversity of ski passes and packages.

There is one thing that can be said with great validity about the Chamonix area – there really is no limit to how much you can see and do. This is true whether you have opted to rent a ski chalet that has ski-in and ski-out conditions or one that is close to the many pistes, lifts and gondolas of the region. Everything is only a short distance away on ski, snowshoe, foot, by dog sled, and more!

The Culture Trip describes Chamonix as the ski “playground to the rich and famous,” and goes on to say that it has no shortage of fancy and fabulous restaurants. That is not an exaggeration and there are a surprising number of low-key and high-end eateries for skiers, and the many non-skiers who visit,  to enjoy.

Below are two amazing options that all visitors recommend, and a general suggestion for dining that will enhance any sort of ski experience, the experience known as “apres ski”.

Restaurant La Tablee

Specializing in Savoyard specialties, this remarkably popular eatery is a consistent award winner situated in a quiet pedestrian area close to the Aiguille de Midi cable car and just a short walk from the cogwheel train, it is a relatively new establishment. It emulates a classic mountain chalet and ensures that everything is prepared with only the freshest local products.

And though the restaurant is touted as a premium eatery, it is also noted as a good value and ideal for any budget. Non-stop service has them offering homemade dishes from noon to ten o’clock every evening, and their menu features lots of local specialties that include, “onion soup with Beaufort cheese, foie gras, tuna tartare, duck, fera fish, fondue, tartiflette and croute, as well as meat, fish and salads,” as well as “set menus” to enjoy.

La Cremerie du Glacier

Taking its name from the glacier that it faces, La Cremerie du Glacier is part of a boutique hotel that “has cosy rooms and chalets, a cosy, authentic and athletic atmosphere and a renowned restaurant,” that is open every evening.

It offers family-friendly dishes and Savoyard specialties, with outdoor and garden dining in the summer season and cozy interior spaces for the winter months.

As their website explains, guests of the hotel are welcome to enjoy evening meals in the restaurant and savor “delicious Savoyard gratins, hotpots, soups, salads, pot-au-feu, fondues, ‘raclettes’, ‘croutes’, ‘tartiflettes’ and other ‘braserades’… not to mention the ‘farçon’, a Chamonix specialty.”

Naturally, there are many other spots that offer Savoyard cuisine and even some Michelin-starred options. They include:

·       Albert 1ER – A two Michelin Starred eatery features some of the finest views and offers up the “Masion de Savoie” menu along with amazing choices from the cellars

·       Le CapHorn – With its innovative French and Asian cuisine, it is one spot where a reservation is essential

·       Le panier des 4 Saison – This is a low-key restaurant with French specialties, and like the Restaurant La Tablee, is part of a residential district. Open for only four hours daily, it is another spot where reservations are a “must”. This is also a spot where desserts are an essential part of the experience

·       La Bergerie de Plan-Praz – On the slopes, the award-winning restaurant emphasizes local ingredients and offers amazing terrace views of Mont Blanc. Its specialty, entrecote Simental is a must.

·       Chez Constant – This is an Alpine-inspired bistro with a family-friendly menu that includes popular fondue options (including one with mushrooms, one made with sparkling wine, and another with three types of cheese)

·       Le Vert Hotel – This casual eatery is a spot for flawless burgers and great mountain views

·       Le 3842 – Offering stunning views (it is one of the highest restaurants in all of Europe) it is also deemed one of the finest restaurants of the Chamonix areas thanks to its amazing array of menu options

There are many other fine dining, casual and local favorites from which to choose and part of any visit to the Chamonix area is at least one meal at the choices above.

Après Ski Bars

In the world skiing and luxury travel, there is always the “apres ski” event, bar or activity that many anticipate as a key component of their ski holiday. As an article in Travel + Leisure noted, “A happening bar scene is as crucial to a ski town’s success as stellar snow conditions…Skiing is a social sport by nature, but it’s the après-ski culture of relaxing with friends and recounting the day’s adventures that really makes a ski vacation awesome… it doesn’t matter whether you aced a black diamond mogul, skidded down the bunny hill, or spent the afternoon curled up by the fire. Any and all such daytime activities warrant an invite to lift a glass and kick up your heels as the sun begins to kiss the mountaintops.”

And in Chamonix, there are many spots that easy fit that bill. Some of the top include, what The Telegraph describes as “bars with food, beer, cocktails, outdoor tables and live music.” The best include:

·       L’Alibi – With its town center location, and interior design inspired by The Great Gatsby, this fun and funky wine and tapas bar remains hopping until 2 AM and features a DJ

·       The Office  – This is in the Argentiere area and is close to the Grand Montets challenges. It features pizza and pitchers and is a popular area for sports on TV

·       Elevation 1904 – This is noted as a mellow bar for its diversity of beer options, artisanal cocktails, burgers and small plates. It always has DJ sessions later in the evenings and there are theme nights to amp up the fun

·       Les Marmottons – This is a popular spot for music enthusiasts

·       Le Chamonix Social Club – Guest DJs, artisanal cocktails and the Rue des Moulins area make this a hot spot for the after 11 PM crowd

·       La Folie Douce – With dancers, DJs and live music, this is located in the city center and is active every evening from 4 to 8 PM

Naturally, there are jazz bars, nightclubs, and other apres ski options from which to choose, and asking a concierge for some advice is a great way to make the most of a luxury rental or premium accommodation, while making the most of a ski trip to Chamonix.

Talk to experts about the three top destinations in Thailand and you are likely to hear Bangkok, Phuket and Koh Samui, but there are many other regions to explore. For example, Chiang Mai, the Phi Phi Islands, Krabi, Ko Tao, and  Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya are among them. In each of these areas, there is an almost endless number of things to see and do. Why, you might wonder, are we limiting our list to just three “must-do” activities in Thailand? It is to ensure that anyone planning or considering a holiday to this beautiful country has at least a few opportunities for truly unforgettable experiences. It can be easy to become overwhelmed by the sheer volume of things to see and do, so we aim to narrow it down to a few very accessible, easily accomplished activities.

Let’s start with what is easily one of the most famous and familiar of them, visiting the gorgeous waters of Phang Nga Bay.

A Visit to Angthong National Marine Park, Phang Nga Bay

As one travel writer said, the Anghtong National Marine Park is “the best Koh Samui day trip you can’t afford to miss.” What makes it a must-see? First and foremost is that it consists of more than forty islands spread out in the Gulf of Thailand. It spreads over 100 square miles and is part of a national park. It is made of enormous limestone karsts and has an array of gorgeous snorkeling destinations beneath its crystal clear waters.

According to experts, the karsts should be familiar to many as they are some of the most famous and frequently photographed and filmed, hence the name of one being James Bond Island. Another of the more famous is Koh Panyee, and both are the focus of many day trips and private cruises through the region.

A day in the park is not usually enough to take in the majority of sites. After all, if you are touring the marine park alone, you may not get to see the mangrove forests (some of the last in Thailand) as well as the scenic overlooks. Visiting the Phang Nga Bay, however, does allow you to see one of the loveliest bays in the world. Taking a guided tour is the way to go and booking one that visits the most iconic sights may be right for you, but there are also tours that emphasize snorkeling and other interests.

For example, Ko Panyi is a village on stilts, while Khao Ping Gan is a leaning rock island. The authentic fishing village of Ko Ma Paay is also an option.

Perhaps you are not eager for a day or more on the water? If not, then another of the most exciting things to do in Thailand includes touring the temples and wats of the different regions.

Touring Temples and Wats in Koh Samui and Phuket

Phuket or Koh Samui? It is actually an iconic question posed by many people planning a trip or holiday to Thailand. Both of the islands are amazing and full of marvels for travelers to see and enjoy. The key difference between them is really the weather and time of year. Phuket’s best weather is November to January while Koh Samui has fine conditions from May through September; meaning February is great in both spots.

And because there are direct flights between the two areas on a regular (daily basis), and because the flights last less than an hour, it could be the right time to go and see the temples and wats in both areas!

Buddhist temples are also known as wats, and there are many sites where wats and temples are in great abundance (roughly 90% of the Thai population is Buddhist) throughout Thailand. As one expert noted, “Koh Samui is home to many old Buddhist temples and Chinese shrines, including two impressive religious landmarks: Samui Big Buddha – a massive 15-metre seated Buddha overlooking the sea on the northeastern coast and, in the same area, Wat Plai Laem, a superb temple featuring a striking white 18-arm statue of Guanyin, the Goddess of Mercy and Compassion.”

Phuket is not short on its own share of temples and wats, and as another expert noted “there are close to 40 Buddhist Temples (or ‘wat’ in Thai) located all over the island. Some wats are quite new but some have a long history going back more than 100 years or even longer. Such places include Wat Pra-nang Sang and Wat Srisoonthorn in Thalang, Wat Karon and the most famous wat in Phuket, Wat Chalong.”

And you might wish to do little more than enjoy the comfort of your luxury villa or rental while paying a visit to Thailand, but you would miss out on one of the best things to do while in the country – partake of the impressive Thai massage treatments and spa services available.

Spas and Massage

First and foremost, travelers do not need to be at a spa to get authentic Thai massage. The history of the treatments, and their benefits are so well known that they can be procured in every location by experienced providers. They are good for eliminating tension and joint pain, and they are often used to help with trigger point pain. Most treatments are done while the recipient wears the garments supplied by their provider, and then the body is “pulled, stretched, and rocked at the hands of your Thai massage therapist. They will use every part of their body in order to do this, including their thumbs, elbows, and knees. Some masseuses might even walk on you.”

You may find that some luxury rentals provide in-house massage options, which is a great opportunity for experiencing profound relaxation and relief. Spas in Thailand may also offer an array of classic treatments, and this can be one of the best things you can do for yourself during even a short visit to the “Land of Smiles”.

It was not that long ago when the idea of “Thai food” was still wildly exotic and not well-known. Fast forward to this era and you will rarely meet anyone unfamiliar with a few of the country’s most iconic dishes. Pad Thai, for example, is quite typical and familiar to most diners. If heading to Thailand, though, you can expect much more than the classic Thai restaurant fare. Below are several suggestions for locations to dine when on a holiday in Thailand.

As an article about Thai cuisine in Culture Trip explained, “Thailand is simply bursting with culinary delights, ranging from the traditional to the cutting edge, and Thai cuisine has become popular the world over. With every major international city providing its own version of Thailand’s cuisine, the best is still to be found on Thai soil.” The country is large, and so the three or four options below are barely a drop in the proverbial bucket, but they are each considered standout options in their part of the country. The dishes served at these establishments represent the very best of the traditional blend of hot, spice, sweet and sour that is the heart of Thai food, but many also offer fusion dishes to satisfy even the most finicky palates.

Red Moon

The Red Moon is on the island of Koh Samui and in the center of the fishing village of Bophut. It is noted for its remarkable hospitality and sense of warmth and welcome, and it is famous for its fusion cuisine that takes Thai food classics and merges them with traditional French gastronomic cuisine. The owner is French and his desire was to mirror European traditions into the rustic Thai style. The most popular items on the menu are also quite unique to a Thai restaurant and include “beef fillets with mashed potato and truffle oil, red tuna tartar, and fried ice cream.”

And while on Samui, it is a good idea to head to what many deem “Samui island’s most interesting yet laidback beachfront dining,” at the Sala Samui Resort. As the resort’s website explains, their team of food experts “believes that dining is not just a meal, but also a journey of flavours and culinary creations from both Thai cuisine and western dishes. With this in mind, the resort offers three Koh Samui dining outlets.” They include the SALA Samui Restaurant serving three meals daily and combining Thai favorites with international dishes; the Beach Bar that sits on the sands of Choengmon Beach; and Pangaea focused on Italian dishes.

Blue Elephant

Located in Phuket (the largest island in Thailand), it is, as one expert noted, “One of the restaurants that preserve the traditional, and Royal, and some family recipes as well… one of the most well-known names in Thai cuisine.” In fact, the Phuket restaurant is a branch of a chain of Blue Elephant eateries found in many areas of the world. The Phuket branch is important to visit for its location in the Governor’s Mansion.

This is a pure Thai food restaurant and when looking for the iconic presentation of a specific dish, this is the source. Popular dishes include seng wa goong pla duk foo, gaeng masaman kae, khao yam, yam makua doi kam (a specialty of the restaurant that stacks up vegetables with seafood), and the iconic gaeng boo bai chaplu kab sen mee that includes crab, coconut milk flavored with curry, and a magical blend of spices.

As one of the more “high end” Thai restaurants (and cooking schools) it is an experience from beginning to end thanks to its location in a gorgeous mansion.

If ambiance and gourmet meals appeal, another Phuket location to consider is Black Ginger, a Michelin listed restaurant.

Black Ginger

Part of the Phuket Pearl Resort and elegantly designed, the restaurant is (according to Michelin), set “a stunning traditional house from Thailand’s North,” where it “offers diners a unique and beguiling experience, with more than a nod to the Ayudhaya period.”

As an example, diners are carried across a lagoon, hazy and lit with unique blue lights, by raft where they disembark at the bar and are greeted with a cocktail. The dining room serves up dishes that are a blend of Phuket specialties and classic Thai favorites. The chefs emphasize fresh and local ingredients, and specialties include som tam, tom yum and phanaeng curry, and according to the restaurant’s website, “Those seeking a RARE southern delicacy should try the crispy prawns with battered cha-plu leaves, drizzled with sweet chilli sauce. It would be a mistake to pass up the roll-your-own fresh spring rolls, served with delicate crabmeat, succulent pork, chilli purée, honeyed tamarind and fresh herbs.”

Dessert includes the house signature dessert of rice flour dumplings in coconut milk, but there are also jack fruit and black sticky rice sweets, banana gelatin, and more.

Some other “must try” options include a long list of hotspots in Bangkok. For example, Eat Me is a Middle Eastern and Pacific fusion restaurant that blends Thai favorites with truly alternative ingredients. There is also Bo.Ian, which takes Thai food up to a more adventurous level and emphasizes only the season’s freshest ingredients. Traditionalists will want to head to Feuang Nara for its ambiance and classic dishes, while those eager for a bit of Indian street food in a gourmet and refined setting will appreciate Gaggan. Le Vendome is all about French food and a more traditional setting where chandeliers and uniformed waiters set the scene.

Restaurants in other parts of Thailand that often fall under the “highly rated” umbrella include Anchan Vegetarian in Chiang Mai, Suay in Phuket, Nuch’s Green Ta’Lay in the Suratthani area of Koh Samui, and the Green Garden in Nakhon.

Thai food is more than just Thai food, and when traveling in this beautiful land, you’ll want to try these highly recommended spots serving blends of many cuisines or refined and perfect versions of some of the country’s favorites.

New Zealand has always been a bit of a mystery to many, coupling it as they do with its much larger neighbor Australia. However, New Zealand has great geographic diversity (as evidenced by the immense appeal of the scenery in the Lord of the Rings films). It also has a lot of variety in terms of its culture, particularly its food. As one travel expert noted, “North to south, New Zealand is filled with culinary wonders. With so many incredible dishes ready to be plated, the country’s restaurant scene continues to impress local and international foodies. From vineyard bistros to the finest dining establishments,” it is entirely unique and worthy of exploration.

A Sharing Restaurant

Love it or not, the idea of “sharing restaurants” has taken hold in many parts of the world. If unfamiliar with the concept, it is a restaurant with menu options specifically designed for groups to order and share. As a New York Times article about the concept noted, “Small plates, large plates, starter or main — they’re all meant to be sampled table-wide… Sharing…is more communal, lets diners taste more dishes and is more in tune with the way large swaths of the world eat.”

That is why Kika, located in the Wanaka area of New Zealand has dedicated large portions of its menus to sharing options. The “sister restaurant to Francesca’s Italian Kitchen,” another Wanaka establishment, it “offers a variety of contemporary sharing options. As well as tapas inspired piccolos, grande dishes, an array of seasonal sides and creative desserts there is a Just Feed Me menu for those who just can’t decide.”

The head chef and owner, James Stapley says that it takes “take inspiration from global flavours to deliver innovative sharing style plates in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere.

A carefully curated wine list with a mix of local and international varietals complements our eclectic style. Our menu changes with the seasons and we’re always searching out new and interesting produce.”

Menu selections include such choices as a shareable salumi with pickled pumpkin, quince and Tuscan bread. There are Cloudy Bay clams with salsa macha, lime and grilled sourdough bread. Main course shareables include Roman gnocchi, market fish and a roasted pork belly dish served with puy lentils, celeriac, and maple bacon.

Desserts are unique and there is the Tom Selleck gelato stick with yerba mate, alfajores and dulce de leche, or the yoghurt creme, poached pear, white chocolate, saffron honey, liquorice.

Pacific and Asian Style

Blue Kanu is a popular Queenstown option that blends, as the website explains, “healthy, fresh and exotic, encompassing Pacific influence, along with ancient spices, helping to create the new cultural soul food not seen in this region before.” Interestingly enough, it also has sharing options and “Koru” tables designed for groups of six to eight.

Set in the heart of the city and along the shore of Lake Wakatipu, it features bright and unique décor that includes carved masks, graffiti, neon blue lighting, and unique music. Even the wait staff has been known to serenade diners. There are both cocktails and “mocktails” to choose from and an enormous range of snacks, sharing options, traditional stir fry, and lush deserts that include a Tahitian Vanilla Sponge, kumara jam, hokey pokey ice cream, and ginger syrup treat.

Laid back and casual and yet dedicated to premium dishes and tasty fare, a meal at Blue Kanu is an obvious must whenever in the Wanaka area.

The Word on the Street

Of course, many people who travel to New Zealand like to visit more than a single town or region, and that means that street foods and backpacker bars or pubs are where some great foods can and will be found. For example, here are ten foods that must be tried whenever in New Zealand and an area where street foods are available:

·       Hangi – This is a Maori specialty that sees meats and veggies cooked in an underground oven for a lengthy period and then served up with side dishes. Some of the top locations making it include Ko Tane in Christchurch, Kohutapu Lodge in Murupara, Te Puia in Rotorua, the Tamaki Maori Village in Rotorua, and the Waitangi Treaty Grounds in Paihia.

·       Kiwi burgers are just a basic burger but dressed up with a fried egg and beet root, and though it sounds odd, is noted for its tastiness.

·       Savoury pies are an iconic option for dining in New Zealand and they are a definite whenever available. They are usually filed with steak and cheese, fish, or mince and cheese. F

·       Fish and chips are a common street food meal and are available in almost every coastal town, but many say that Raglan is the top destination for this dish. You will also want to try the green lipped mussels of the Havelock area, the Whitebait (ideal as fritters) along the west coast.

·       Pavlova is considered a national dessert, and some of the best places to enjoy it include Floriditas in Wellington, Cibo in Auckland, and Yesteryears Café in Tuatapere

·       Hokey Pokey ice cream is also iconic street food and features honeycomb inside. The top spots to enjoy it include Pokeno Takeaways in Pokeno, Giapo in Aukland, Patagonia Ice Cream in Queenstown, Black Peak in Wanaka, and Copenhagen Cones in Tauranga.

And if you are eager to enjoy some of the other “must visit” dining spots in New Zealand, the most frequently recommended include The French Café in Auckland, Sidart in Auckland, Mudbrick Restaurant and Vineyard in Auckland, Elephant Hill Wine Estate & Restaurant in Hawkel’s Bay, Roots in Canterbury, Rata in Queenstown, Pegasus Bay Winery & Restaurant in North Canterbury, Riverstone Kitchen in Oamaru, Amisfield Winery and Bistro in Queenstown, and the Pacifica Kaimoana Restaurant in Hawke’s Bay.

Almost anyone familiar with the geographic diversity of New Zealand already knows it is a place with plenty of things to see and do. It is culturally diverse and home to the Maori people who have shared many kinds of stories and folk tales about the land. The scenery and landscape is the stuff of dreams and is why it was chosen for both The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings film trilogies. It is a place with glaciers and hot springs, caves and plains, coastal areas, and charming towns and cities. If you are planning a visit soon, it is a good idea to lock down on a few of the things you will do. Otherwise, it can be quite overwhelming upon arrival, when you discover there are so many options open to you!

To facilitate the decision-making, we’ve listed three unforgettable activities to do during a visit to New Zealand, with suggestions for places to visit or resources to put to use.


Hiking in New Zealand is nothing like hiking elsewhere because you will have options for beaches, mountains, and many other settings. Experts say that you will want to prepare by investing in good boots, rain protection, and considering a guide for the more complex or longer hikes. Some top trails and locations include:

– Tongariro Alpine Crossing, Tongariro National Park, North Island – Interested in heading to Mordor? This no-mans-land area in the Lord of the Rings films is actually quite beautiful in person and features volcanic rock and amazing views extending 12 miles or farther. It is a good day hike into the Summit Crater, taking an experienced trekker less than two hours. The Emerald Lakes are a must-see part of the experience.

– Abel Tasman Coast Track, Abel Tasman National Park, South Island – This is a beach hike option with around 30 miles of sand to enjoy. Flanked by granite cliffs and swaying palms, it is a spot where you may see seals frolicking in the waters nearby. A two-day trek is a good option and lets you stay overnight in the huts tucked into the landscape by the government’s conservation agency

– Buck Taylor Track Loop, Karekare, North Island – Not far from Auckland, this subtropical trail takes travelers to the Tasman Sea and through beautiful settings and scenery that includes manuka, fern trees, and black sand dunes

– Victoria Trails, Wellington, North Island – Stuck in the city? If so, this remarkable trail lets visitors get a birds-eye view of Wellington and see boats bobbing in and out of the harbor

– Milford Track, Fiordland National Park, South Island – This is a multi-day trek but takes visitors through some of the most recognizable and stunning landscapes, including Lake Te Anau.

There are scores of other options to consider, but these choices give single day and multi-day options that can suit almost any traveler’s goals.

The Water

Lake Wanaka is a spectacular lake with pristine waters and amazing mountain scenery. One of the smartest things to do is book a Sunset Cruise through one of the many boat charters available. There are daily cruises that allow travelers to see Ruby Island, Stevensons Island, enjoy nature walks or photo tours, pay a visit to Mou Waho Island, or savor a happy hour experience at sunset. This last option may be the wisest because it enables travelers to see the amazing changes that occur in the sky and scenery as the sun sets over the lake.

Kayaking on the lake is also another popular way to see it at a more appealing pace. Take one of the many guided tours that include a rental on all of the gear and an experienced guide who ensures you see the sights you intended to see and enjoyed the activities that you had hoped to experience. Typically, no experience is required and day trips begin with instruction and then everyone sets sail across the flawless waters of Lake Wanaka.

Stop and Smell the Flowers

If a day spent paddling the enormous expanse of Lake Wanaka is not appealing to you, an unforgettable experience can be found at the Wanaka Lavender Farm nearby. This is a ten-acre lavender farm in sight of the mountains. It is open for visitors to tour and experience and then all are welcome to take tea that includes lavender products and honey ice cream.

Why is this a must-see destination? As one travel expert wrote of her visit, “The view to the right was a riot of purple against a pale blue sky, with dark green trees and summer-dried mountains between. As we got closer to the lavender, the hum of bees began to fill the air… the lavender fields against the backdrop of the mountains surrounding Wanaka are simply stunning.”

It is a family-friendly option, too, as it has an array of farm animals that greet guests and also the shop and tea room to complete the day. The season for blooming is late October through the middle of December, and the surrounding gardens are also worthy of a visit.

So, seeing a lavender farm, hiking unforgettable trails along the sea and in the mountains, and hitting the waters of Lake Wanaka…these are but a few of the things a traveler can do in New Zealand. There is also the endless number of restaurants and cafes awaiting your exploration, and there are organized tours that can help you experience everything you’ve hoped. Lord of the Rings tours are popular, Auckland City tours are always appealing, diving with dolphins in the Bay of Islands is an option, a trip to Waiheke Island may be a good plan, seeing the glow worms in the limestone caves of Waitomo is quite amazing…there is so much to see and do that you’ll need to make plans well ahead of time.

If you are a savvy traveler who has booked a villa or other luxury rental, just ask your concierge about the best things to do in the general area and then enjoy many unforgettable experiences available only in New Zealand.

You hear the name Val d’Isere, and if you are a fan of downhill skiing or snowboarding, you might already know about it. As the Culture Trip explains, it is one of the “biggest and most exciting ski resorts in France…[and] has a lot going for it.” There are the amazing hotels and private chalets, the nightlife and apres ski fun, the gourmet dining, and so much more. Whether visiting in the winter or the summer, you will find a great deal to love about Val d’Isere, and a great deal to see and do.

Let’s, however, take some time to figure out the best things for visitors to do in Val d’Isere if booking their winter holiday or ski vacation at the resort.

The Skiing and Snowboarding

Naturally, you don’t head to what The Telegraph described as a site for those seeking “high quality, snow-sure slopes for everyone from complete beginner to veteran powderhound,” and skip a bit of time on the slopes. For those who want to enjoy the very best skiing that Val d’Isere makes available, it is to Bellevarde they must travel. This is one of the area’s most famous slopes, and it has a lot of variety on its 2,807 meters. It has been part of many events and competitions, including the 1992 Olympics.

If a bit of alternative skiing is desired, Le Fornet, just outside of Val d’Isere is the ideal choice. It has intermediate slopes and offers stunning scenery of both Pointe du Montet and Pissaillas glacier.

Snowboarders flock to the Val d’Isere Snowpark with its freestyle snowboarding facilities that include jumps and rails suited to any level of skill. It is in the valley of Mont Blanc and can be reached by using the Olympique cable car.

What if you are eager to do some cross country skiing? The Prariond Valley is east of Vanoise Massif and is a popular area for cross-country skiing during the winter months. It takes visitors up 2000 meters and is one of the few spots where hikers and skiers can encounter the Pyrenean ibex, an endangered animal in France.

Val d’Isere is linked to the neighboring mountain of Tignes and offers more than 300km of pistes equipped with 78 lifts. It is at the far end of the Tarentaise Valley and has slopes as high as 3400m along the Pointe du Montet, meaning whether you love cross country, downhill or snowboarding, there is something for everyone.

For the Non-Skiers in the Crowd

Of course, many people who pay a visit to Val d’Isere are not even that interested in skiing and come for everything from the scenery and the nightlife to the gourmet dining. And while it is entirely possible to spend days enjoying the luxuries of a private chalet with a pool, spa services, home theater, and more, the area is also home to lots of non-skiing activities.

Some of the most exciting and popular include:

·       Winter walking – One expert said that “Val d’Isere is a winter walker’s paradise, with lifts giving access to the higher ground and a network of groomed trails in the winter, it’s very easy to discover the resort on foot.” There is no equipment needed, just good clothing and boots. Walking poles can be handy on any ice, and an eye on the weather is a must.

·       Ice diving – Tignes 2100 is home to a frozen lake and the ice on the surface can be up to two meters thick. Visitors can work with qualified diving instructors to go beneath the ice and explore the unique world that exists in plain sight

·       Ice driving and biking – This is something not for the faint of heart, but it can be an exciting way to truly master wintertime driving for good. There are actual ice driving centers with courses and circuits on which visitors will be able to work with instructors who teach them to drive a car, a go-kart or a motorcycle on a sheet of ice! It can be a remarkable achievement and one might dedicate days to mastering the skills needed to keep a vehicle on track and under control in the worst conditions

You can also try such daring activities as micro flights in the area, days spent in the spas, paragliding, and even dog sledding. Ice skating is always an option at the outdoor ice rink in the heart of the village, and the Aquasportif center is home to an array of pools and spas. Ice climbing is also a possibility, and with the help of a guide, travelers can really grow their skills.

Ski or Don’t…There’s Always Apres-Ski

Apres ski is the time that comes at the end of a day spent on the slopes, and usually means a gathering of family or friends enjoying good food, music, and socializing. For it to be an ideal scenario, though, it should have a party atmosphere with music, locals participating in the fun, good cocktails or beer, an outdoor or fresh air setting, and a laid back atmosphere.

There are many popular choices, but among the most frequently recommended are Dick’s Tea Bar with its distinctly café culture, its amazing mulled wine and hot chocolate options, pub food, and its great music. There is also famous Cocorico located right at the foot of Solaise and the Face de Bellevarde, and offering amazing views of the ideal apres ski experience. It has a distinct party reputation, but can be a fun way to end the day.

Of course, many travelers book a chalet with apres ski services included, and if you have a chance to have a chef whip up some nibbles and drinks waiting for you upon arrival after a day on the slopes, there may be little that can compare. The key is to make the transition between the time skiing and the evening of fun, and apres ski has been designed just for that purpose.

You now know a handful of great things to do in Val d’Isere, and should be certain to include them in your planning for your upcoming holiday.

As an in-depth report on Val d’Isere, France in The Telegraph noted, “Val offers high quality, snow-sure slopes for everyone from complete beginner to veteran powderhound.” It is linked to the neighboring mountain of Tignes to offer more than 300km of pistes equipped with 78 lifts. Val d’Isere village is at the far end of the Tarentaise Valley and has slopes as high as 3400m along the Pointe du Montet.

And as the same report explained, unlike “some resorts that claim a giant ski area, the pistes of Val d’Isère and Tignes are naturally linked without the need for long and boring connecting trails or lifts.” So, it has good flow, great grooming, and even one of the finest gondolas in the region. It is why Val d’Isere is home to multiple events that focus on both downhill skiing and snowboarding.

It has a three-mile-long village running the ridge of the mountains and is considered one of the most sophisticated winter towns. Naturally, it is home to some great apres ski spots, restaurants, and cafes; in addition to shops and entertainment of all kinds.

The Food of Val d’Isere

It is important to note that dining out in Val d’Isere is typically quite costly because of the high standards of the many chefs and gourmands that flock to the area. In fact, there are Michelin starred restaurants already in place. While there are more and more budget and/or family-friendly options appearing as interest in Val d’Isere grows, the following restaurants are currently seen as the “must try” experiences while enjoying a day or entire ski holiday in this attractive destination.

Start at the Top

If you are thinking about a top tier dining experience in Val d’Isere, then it should be to the Michelin starred options available. L’Atelier d’Edmond is a two-Michelin starred establishment in Le Fornet village just outside of Val d’Isere. As one site explains, it is “full of delightful chic chalets that are built in the traditional Savoyard wood and stone style giving a classic old mountain feel to the village….it is extremely picturesque it still remains much less busy and dense then the Val d’Isere resort centre as it lies outside of the main town.”

This luxurious gourmet restaurant is led by master chef Benoit Vidal, and while a meal in the restaurant is a fantastic opportunity for true gourmet eating, it also has a brasserie attached next door and can afford a more budget-friendly experience.

If you opt for what Conde Nast calls “Val’s very finest dining venue,” you may be surprised to find it inside an antiquated wooden barn just a short walk from the cable car. The specialties of the house include the Savoie trout that is prepared on a barbecue, the crayfish in a preserved lemon preparation, and the local saddle of lamb.

There are options for a five-course meal and dessert including wines from the restaurant’s famous cellars. Desserts are incredibly unique and can include options like their milk ice cream infused with hay, maple caramel, and Timut pepper.

And if you are eager to head to the opposite end of the spectrum, leaving the highly refined world of exquisite French cuisine behind and delving into an experience unlike any other, then it is to La Folie Douce you’ll want to go!

A Concept in Val d’Isere

The bar La Folie Douce is an open-air bar with cabaret shows suitable to all ages. According to the website, it seeks to “mix the pleasures of a generous cuisine with the joys of clubbing,” and yet it also has multiple kitchens. There is the By Frank Mischler option, the Small Kitchen, the On the Run, and the most popular and highly-rated Fruitiere.

The latter is a table-service establishment that focuses on French classics like beef bourguignon, and their signature spaghetti Bolognese that arrives in a glass jar, and which is housed in an old dairy barn. Specializing in dairy foods and cheeses it is a warm and trendy restaurant where locally produced foods are emphasized and integrated into classic Savoyard fare.

With indoor and outdoor dining (and unique “onesies” given to underdressed outdoor diners on the coldest days) it is also a place where elaborate wine and cheese tastings regularly transpire.

A Hop from the Cable Car

If the least formal dining experience is what’s desired, then it is to Le Signal you should venture. Just off the cable car, it has a slogan of “Art Food Music” and features an art gallery, a self-service room where lunches and apres ski breakfasts are a DIY affair and offer an amazing array of foods. The food served upstairs in the restaurant, and before the appealing fireplace, emphasizes locally grown or produced foods. Comfort food is the best expression to apply to the many dishes served in the restaurant, but comfort food made from only the most exquisite ingredients.

Beyond the Big Three

Here, we have looked at three of the trendiest and most popular of the “must try” eateries in Val d’Isere. There are quite a few more dining options that a traveler must consider before leaving the area. They include the self-service “budget” option Les Marmottes (found at the bottom of the Borsat Express) is a favorite among foodies and ski enthusiasts. L’Edelweiss is another well-known option with its amazing terrace views, enormous fireplace, and its case-croute du berge (which is a charcuterie board served with a blend of cheeses and salads), and Le Peau de Vache which is a “rising star” noted for its food and its service. L’Etincelle is another option famous for its pizza and barbecue, while La Baraque is one of the hottest and trendiest with its amazing burgers and lively atmosphere. Sur La Montagne, Le Lodge, and La Casserole also rate highly, and La Table d L’ours is a five-star option along with La Grand Ourse (ideal for an upscale lunch).

As you can see, Val d’Isere is ideal for food enthusiasts of all kinds, and you don’t even have to ski to enjoy the many delicious adventures that await.