Some people think that the wedding planning process is really difficult and the honeymoon planning is a piece of cake. For my new husband and me it was the exact opposite! We decided that we wanted our honeymoon to be a new experience for both of us. This eliminated almost all of Central and South America, since I had spent my early 20's traveling and living for years in the area; we had vacationed together in the Caribbean, in London, Munich and Paris; and at least one of us had visited Egypt, Dubai, China and Mexico. We wanted to experience a new culture, and we had to be able to visit the location in the months of December and January.
We settled on a 3-1/2 week trip to Cambodia and Vietnam!
Working for WATG has instilled in both of us a passion for designing destinations that lift the spirit. This trip offered the chance to learn about – and be inspired by – the cultural heritage of these two countries and their amazing people. Some highlights from our itinerary:
We started in Siem Reap and spent five days immersed in the ancient history of the Khmer Empire. Visiting over a dozen different temple sites, we were overcome by the ingenuity of such an ancient culture and the breathtaking architecture and craft that was created so many years ago.
We celebrated the New Year in Hanoi, in Northern Vietnam, and spent a few days exploring the city before heading out for a boat cruise on Ha Long Bay. The natural beauty of the bay features more than 3,000 islands rising from the emerald water. We made our way south to Nha Trang where we took in some beach time, beautiful seafood cuisine and a traditional Vietnamese cooking class. Then it was on to Ho Chi Minh City and down through the Mekong Delta.
Life on the Mekong is beautifully complex with floating markets filled with flavorful fruits and fresh vegetables and hundreds of small villages intertwined through the channels, everything connecting directly to the river. Living on the river for centuries, the people of the Mekong have a simplistic elegance in the way they navigate the waters and create an inviting and friendly atmosphere for all visitors. Our last stop was the peaceful island of Phu Quoc on the Gulf of Thailand.
The history of both Cambodia and Vietnam is rooted in traditions and adversity, and we feel lucky to have learned more about each of them in the brief time we were there. We were inspired by the patterns of the landscape, the beauty of an ancient lifestyle, and the generous hospitality of wonderful people. The photos below offer a glimpse of what we experienced. Enjoy!
Based on booking data collected by Orbitz, these are the most popular U.S. destinations, in order:
1. Las Vegas
2. New York City
4. San Francisco
5. San Diego
8. New Orleans
9. Washington, DC
Honolulu and New Orleans are both new to the list. Falling off were Los Angeles (#5 in 2009) and Boston, which ranked #9 the previous year.
Looking ahead to the balance of 2011, there is strong interest and growing demand in Las Vegas and Hawaii.
Las Vegas, with its excess supply of hotel rooms, will be offering great deals.
Oahu is home to the highly anticipated WATG-designed Disney Aulani Resort at Ko Olina, scheduled to open in August, which will be a big draw for families. Increased air service to Honolulu also will bode well for expected lower airfares, making travel to Hawaii more affordable. Hoteliers at properties recently renovated by WATG – including Halekulani, St. Regis Princeville, Grand Hyatt Kauai, Grand Wailea Waldorf Astoria Resort, Kahala Hotel and Resort, Marriott Kauai Resort & Beach Club – are happy to handle more guests.
Where do you want to go?
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