Halong Bay | Classic Journeys Blog
  • Water view of boats and mountains in Vietnam

    The Most BEAUTIFUL Places on Earth

    <h2>From natural wonders and jaw-dropping vistas to man-made masterpieces, our planet abounds with beautiful travel destinations. Here are a few of our favorites.</h2>   <p><i><b>HALONG BAY, VIETNAM</b></i></p> <p>For the ultimate in serenity, you can’t beat a morning on Halong Bay. Distant sounds of fishing boats gently pull you awake in the well-appointed cabin of a tradi¬tional junk. On deck, you watch the lazy choreography of fishing boats parting the emerald green water against a backdrop of dramatic limestone spires. The sun climbs. The junk creaks gently. Your mug of coffee steams. And it is absolute¬ly amazing to witness this world coming to life. <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/vietnam/" target="_blank" title="Vietnam vacation packages">classicjourneys.com/vietnam</a></p> <p><img alt="Halong Bay" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z7mo&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002pQf" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br> </p> <p><i><b>THE KINGDOM OF BHUTAN</b></i></p> <p>This tiny South Asian nation is the only country in the world to officially measure its development in Gross National Happiness. It’s easy to see why Bhutan’s citizens are among the happiest on Earth, living in the Himalayan highlands in a land carved by clear, swift-flowing mountain streams and dotted with Buddhist temples. Visit the Tiger’s Nest monastery, perched on a cliff high above a verdant valley, and you’ll be smiling in awe, too. <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/bhutan/" target="_blank" title="Bhutan travel packages">classicjourneys.com/bhutan</a></p> <p><img alt="Tigers Nest monastery" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z7mo&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002pQk" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br> </p> <p><i><b>COSTA RICA’S MANUEL ANTONIO PARK</b></i></p> <p>Every single reason you love about Costa Rica is distilled into a single view in Manuel Antonio Park, arguably the most diverse park on the planet. Your resort is more like a fantastic tree house than an earthbound hotel. Monkeys and a symphony of birds serenade breakfast. Down below, you can see the endless ranks of Pacific waves curving up the crescent beach. And if you think it’s paradise by day, just wait until the flair of a tropical sunset. <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/costarica/" target="_blank" title="Costa Rica vacations">classicjourneys.com/costarica</a><br><br><img alt="Costa Rica beach" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z7mo&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002pQu" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br> </p> <p><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/" target="_blank" title="ClassicJourneys.com">FEELING INSPIRED? CLASSIC JOURNEYS VISITS THESE AND MANY MORE OF THE WORLD’S MOST UNIQUE AND BEAUTIFUL  TRAVEL DESTINATIONS DURING OUR 5- TO 12-DAY CULTURAL WALKING ADVENTURES AND FAMILY JOURNEYS.</a></p> <p><i><b>THE SCULPTED SANDSTONE OF ZION NATIONAL PARK</b></i></p> <p>If wind and water are nature’s most inventive sculptors, then Zion Na¬tional Park is a gallery of their wild¬est works. Look up from the bottom of a narrow slot canyon no wider than your arm span. Scratch your head over how the soaring hoodoos and delicate arches are even possible. Oh, and just watch how the color of the sandstone morphs through a thousand tints of red and orange. <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/grandcanyon/" target="_blank" title="Bryce, Zion and Grand Canyon walking tour">classicjourneys.com/grandcanyon</a></p> <p><img alt="Zion National Park" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z7mo&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002pQz" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br> </p> <p><i><b>CRETE AND SANTORINI, GREECE</b></i></p> <p>Sapphire. Turquoise. Lapis lazuli. Ultramarine. Azure. You quickly use up your whole list of adjectives for blue in the Greek isles. And there simply isn’t an ade-quate word for how a whiter-than-snow village looks, teetering on the edge of a volcanic caldera against an endless, cloudless sky. You have to wonder how the local olive pickers and bakers can stop gaping long enough to go about everyday life. Prepare to learn what it means to be dazzled to your very core. <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/greece/" target="_blank" title="Greece adventure tours">classicjourneys.com/greece</a></p> <p><img alt="Santorini Greece" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z7mo&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002pR4" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br> </p> <p><i><b>EXIT GLACIER ON ALASKA’S KENAI PENINSULA</b></i></p> <p>Just a few miles outside of Seward, landlocked Exit Glacier both overwhelms and inspires visitors with its awesome size and beauty. An easy trail leads to the face of this slow moving sea of ice, where you can walk along the 3-mile-long and observe its fractured face as torrents of melted ice crackle and stream 2,500 feet down out of the Harding Ice field. Continue up glacier-scoured rock from the moraine to a beautiful vista of the glacier, waterfall and ice fields. It’s a quintessential Alaskan view. <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/alaska/" target="_blank" title="Alaska&#39;s Kenai Peninsula adventure">classicjourneys.com/alaska</a></p> <p><img alt="Exit Glacier" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z7mo&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002pRE" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br> </p> <p><i><b>MOROCCO’S MIDDLE ATLAS MOUNTAINS</b></i></p> <p>Many people think of the Saharan Desert when they think of Morocco, but this diverse landscape is much more than sand and sky. Drive an hour or two outside of Fès, for instance, and suddenly you’re immersed in fragrant cedar forests that line the foothills of the Atlas Mountain. Venture future into the High Atlas and the scenery shifts to tall peaks, deep gorges, and pre-Saharan hills and sand dunes scattered with medieval Kasbahs and clay villages. <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/morocco/" target="_blank" title="Morocco travel">classicjourneys.com/morocco</a></p> <p><img alt="Moroccan mountains" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z7mo&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002pRJ" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br> </p> <p><i><b>TUSCANY’S CINQUE TERRE</b></i></p> <p>This string of five picturesque villages, perched on rocky cliffs along the Ligurian Sea, was once only reachable by an ancient footpath that connects the village. Perhaps that’s why they are so perfectly preserved. A coastal train and a ferry run the route now, but walking the path is still the best way to appreciate this timeless experience. Begin in Rio Maggiore, the southernmost of the five coastal villages, and follow the Via dell’Amore walking trail through olive groves along cliffs overlooking the sea to the five sister villages of Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso. <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/tuscany/" target="_blank" title="Tuscany &amp; Cinque Terre walking tour">classicjourneys.com/tuscany</a></p> <p><img alt="Cinque Terre" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z7mo&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002pRO" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br> </p> <p><i><b>ICELAND’S SNAEFELLSNES PENINSULA</b></i></p> <p>The Snaefellsnes Peninsula is sometimes called “Iceland in miniature” because it contains so many of the country’s finest sights. Lording over it all is the glacier-capped volcano that Jules Verne used as the setting for “Journey to the Center of the Earth.” Take in views of the mammoth glacier with its deep crevasses and startlingly blue estuary and you’ll see why Verne was so inspired. <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/iceland/" target="_blank" title="Iceland tours">classicjourneys.com/iceland</a></p> <p><img alt="Snaefellsnes Peninsula" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z7mo&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002pRT" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br> </p> <p><i><b>INDIA’S TAJ MAHAL AT SUNSET</b></i></p> <p>Of all the man-made wonders of the world, none inspire as much admiration as the iconic Taj Mahal in Agra, India. Built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan as a tribute and tomb for his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal, construction began in 1632 and lasted decades uses fine materials imported from all corners of the country. The site is impressive anytime, but visit during sunset, when the sun’s rays paint the brilliant white marble façade in soft tones of ochre and pink, and savor a fleeting moment you won’t soon forget. <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/india/" target="_blank" title="Tour India">classicjourneys.com/india</a><br><br><img alt="Taj Mahal" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z7mo&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002pRY" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br><br><br>Visit <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/" target="_blank" title="ClassicJourneys.com">ClassicJourneys.com</a> or call 800-200-3887 for more information.</p> <p> </p> <br> 

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  • Locals carrying flowers, Vietnam

    Visit Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia now, before it's too late

    <p>I’m spending a couple of weeks with Classic Journeys’ local guides traveling through Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, looking for ways to make our already popular <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/vietnam/" target="_blank">Vietnam vacation</a> even better. An interesting sidebar to my daily explorations is the juxtaposition I see between the past and the present. I want to say it’s jarring, but in reality it’s happening so seamlessly that it makes me think that travelers interested in this part of the world really need to see it now, before it changes completely.</p> <p>I’ll explain with a few quick examples:</p> <p>One morning in Luang Prabang, Laos, my traveling companions and I were the only westerners participating in an age old procession of alms giving to the local monks and novice monks at sunrise as they made their way from temple after their morning prayers. The rice we offered them was the first of only two meals they’ll eat that day. Later in the day, we saw a monk walking down the street with a cell phone. Seeing it in the hands of a saffron robed novice made me wonder how long before their lifestyle gives way to the modern world.<br><br><a href="http://www.classicjourneys.com/vietnam/" target="_blank"><img alt="Alms ritual" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z7ob&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002sEX" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br> </p> <p>The next day I was in the rural countryside outside Hanoi. Our walk took us through rice fields to a Buddhist temple. Along the way, we passed a little village school, where perhaps 100 children from the surrounding countryside attend morning or afternoon school sessions led by dedicated teachers. As we played soccer with the kids and handed out school supplies, our guide shared with us details about the kids’ lives. Among our questions: what do their parents do? Our guide, Mai, answered that many of the parents work in the rice fields just like generations of their parents did before them. Others are artisans. And still others now work in high tech manufacturing in the Samsung, Intel or other electronics plants not too far away.</p> <p>One of the greatest moments of my life was waking early and watching the light and then sun come up on Halong Bay on our Classic Journeys’ Vietnam vacation. Birdsong…the islands taking shape…the beauty of the boat. It was all very memorable!<br><br><a href="http://www.classicjourneys.com/vietnam/" target="_blank"><img alt="Halong Bay" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z7ob&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002sEm" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br> </p> My final observation came on Halong Bay after we had spent a memorable and exceptional two days and night cruising the bay on a boutique luxury junk. With just a few fellow guests on board, we were able to really have all the quiet time we wanted to relax anywhere on the luxury Halong Bay cruise. We took kayaks from the boat to explore the islands and caves. When I woke before dawn, I sat on the top deck on a teakwood deckchair and watched the sun light the sky while birds chirped from the nearby islands, and coffee brewed in the galley. After the cruise, our guide and I went to visit some other boats and boat owners we know. One of them proudly told us that in addition to the junks that he charters to us, he is also building a 48 cabin boat that will begin cruising in the next several months. He smiled with pride and we recoiled with dismay. Those tourists will never see Halong Bay the way Classic Journeys guests do; in small groups with expert local guides. <p><br>I know that a global economy changes everything and that it is unrealistic to assume or even want things to never change. That said, I’d encourage you to travel to <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/vietnam/" target="_blank">Vietnam, Laos </a><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/vietnam/" target="_blank">and</a><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/vietnam/" target="_blank"> Cambodia</a> now, before these magnificent places become homogenized.</p> <p>If you’re considering a <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/vietnam/" target="_blank">vacation in Vietnam</a>, Laos or Cambodia, drop us a line. We’d be happy to share with you the local contacts we’ve made in this remarkable corner of the world. Just email us at <a href="mailto:blog@classicjourneys.com" target="_blank">blog@classicjourneys.com</a> or phone one of our exceptional Guest Services Coordinators at 800-200-3887.</p>

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