The best travel information always comes directly from those who’ve been there before.  Following are some of the great recommendations we received for our trip.  Hopefully, they will be useful to you in planning your next trip.

44 Responses to “ Recommend Something ”

  1. Leah says:

    In Brazil, it’s necessary to visit the region of Bahia, particularly the capital of that region, Salvador. Bahia notably has the largest concentration of people of African descent outside of the continent of Africa in all of the world. The culture (food, music, religion, arts) and history of the region is long and rich. There also is a lovely island near Salvador de Bahia called Morro de Sao Paulo, just off of Salvador that is a slice of heaven on earth!

  2. Leah says:

    In Thailand, I think it’s a must to go north of Bangkok to the city of Chiang Mai. It’s must smaller and densely populated than Bangkok and has magnificent Buddhist temples, as well as opportunities to ride elephants and kayak!

  3. Leah says:

    In South Africa (where a slice of my heart still remains), I recommend seeing as much of the country as possible. South Africa has so many types of topography (desert, beach, mountains, plateaus) that each region of the country provides something unique.

    In Capetown, visit Table Mountain at sunset where it’s possible for a cloud to descend and kiss your cheek, as it did mine, while above passes a shooting star. Ride the kombis . . . appreciate the diversity of the population. With all the wealth in Capetown, please do not let the surrounding townships escape you.

    Do not leave Durban without sampling Bunny Chow!

    Jo’burg (or Josie as it is affectionately called) warrants a visit to Soweto, and the former homes of Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, etc.

    The entire country and its people are remarkable. There is so much to see and learn there. The struggles that people endure can be heart-wrenching, but a sense of hope and dignity pervades so many aspects of life there.

    Send pics

  4. Leah says:

    And, take a tuk-tuk to tour Bangkok, see the temples in Bangkok or shop!

  5. Leah says:

    And a town near Salvador, Cachoeira is also lovely. Sorry, your impending travels are so exciting! I’m living vicariously through you both.

  6. Chris Johnston says:

    ok – found this crumpled up business card and had to learn more. I got some France suggestions

    Nos Ancestes de Gaullouise in Paris on Ile de la Cite. Huge smorgesborg with all you can eat wine, cheese, sausage, salad etc. You sit at picnic tables with total strangers who are good or bad your friends by meal’s end

    Needless to say, cruisin the French Riviera through the likes of Nice, Monaco, Cannes is priceless. The bigger cities i just named are not even the real gems – Cannes is awesome but there are plenty of remote beachside towns that are fantastic. Try and be there outta high traveler season for the best rates.

    I’m soooooo jealous and look forward to seeing pictures

    asta and safe travels


  7. Elizabeth says:

    South Africa – I agree with everything that Leah said. South Africa is a land that will not let you leave without capturing your heart. As a fellow Nashvillian who serves on the board of an AIDS orphanage outside of Durban, I’d love to schedule a visit for you if you’re interested; just email me. We provide for 18 wonderful children that will change your lives for the better. The hope of the country can be seen in the eyes of these children who have witnessed their own parents succumb to a disease that is destroying sections of this wonderful country.

    In Durban, at least visit, if not stay at the Oyster Box Hotel at Umhlanga Rocks. It is undergoing massive renovation now, but it’s truly one of those places on earth you’ll never forget. The largest lighthouse on the continent of Africa is directly in front of the hotel and it’s the perfect setting for the most beautiful sunrises I’ve ever seen.

    On the Western Cape, visit La Petit Ferme. A fabulous French bed and breakfast, vinyard, and restaurant in Franschhoek. The wine on the Cape is delicious!

    Bangalore, India – Not sure if you’re going, but this relatively small southern Indian city (approx 6 million residents!) is fabulous. People are kind, restaurants are great and you can get a true feel for the intellect that India harbors.

    Mumbai, India – A trip is not complete without a visit to Elephanta Island. This Buddhist island contains some of the most facinating caves filled with ancient carvings.


    Thanks for the great recommendations!

  8. Phil Berg says:

    I’ve visited China several times. One suggestion is that if you’re trying to eat everything to be polite, but you have some doubts about the food, then take a pepto bismal BEFORE the meal. Apparently it coats your stomach and helps reduce the chances of a “reaction.” (This advice has not been verified by any medical experts as far as I know, but I heard it from someone else and it worked for me).


    Wise advice. We’ll pack a bunch in our backpacks.

  9. Tanya Touchstone says:

    VIETNAM: I read a wonderful book a few years ago called “The House on Dream Street” by Dana Sachs. Am attaching a link to an interview she gave that describes her favorite places in Vietnam. The book is really good, and you might want to give it a read before visiting Vietnam.



    Enviously, Tanya Touchstone, a former co-worker


    Thanks, Tanya. This will be very helpful.

  10. Tom Brabyn says:

    My wife Aimee and I went on a similar round-the-world backpacking adventure shortly after we got married (best thing we could have done). From your itinerary it looks as though you will be experiencing several of the same countries/regions. I’ll try to weigh in on occasion, in the order of your travels. As for the beginning:


    Having lived in France, I could possibly provide some insight. But I lived in Nice and am partial to the Cote d’Azur, and considering you will be there for a short period, I think you’re probably justified in just focusing on Paris.


    Ko Phangan – If you’re in the mood for an all night party, the Full Moon Party (each month during the full moon) is a huge and splendid time. If you want to avoid crowds, you may prefer visiting when the moon isn’t full. We really enjoyed island hopping in the Thai Andaman Sea (which was ravaged by the Tsunami the year after we traveled there). It’s easy to get around and very beautiful and (like all of Thailand) the people are wonderful, the food is fantastic and the price is right! Ko Lanta among several other islands would be worth visiting as you head toward Malaysia.

    I’ll forward the names of some of the hostels we stayed. If you’ll be spending any time in Bangkok, we really liked the oasis in the city that is Shanty Lodge (cool place, laid back, great food and good price).

    Cheers and happy travels!


    Thanks for the great recommendations, Tom!

  11. Laura Price says:

    I lived in Poland for 6 months and it is beautiful. When you go don’t miss Krakow and the hiking south near the Tatras! Also, if you guys are looking for some service project opportunities I have a contact through a friend who works for the Upper Room – The pastor in Poland that is active with the Volunteer in Mission Projects is ks. Janusz Daszuta, Kielce, Poland. Fell free to contact me if you have any questions. Have fun!!!


    Thanks for the recommendations. We hope to make it to Poland in Summer 2008.

  12. Jacqueline Shipchandler says:

    Derek and Shanna —

    I think I may have mentioned some of these places to Derek already, but here are a couple of standouts from our trip through India:

    In Mumbai — The best places we ate were Trishna (in Colaba, absolutely amazing butter/garlic crab and chili prawns); Khyber (very cool, almost Moorish decor inside… heavy food, so plan to take your time and take a walk and then a nap afterwards!); Salt Water Grill (this is a bar restaurant on the beach on Marine Drive; nice place to grab a few drinks at the beginning of the evening).

    Udaipur is one of the most romantic (maybe the most romantic, in fact) cities in the world. We stayed at the Lake Palace. If you go, definitely try to schedule a boat ride around the lake at dusk. It’s gorgeous. The City Palace is a museum now and is definitely worth a visit. Also, the Saheliyon-ki-Bara gardens were a pretty place to visit.

    Jaipur — the Amber Fort, Jantar Mantar observatory, and the market were our favorite things in Jaipur.

    Ranthambore — This is a tiger preserve — we loved it, although it’s incredibly sad that they continue to have terrible corruption/poaching problems with the government park rangers. We stayed at this really cool camp/resort called Sher Bagh ( They have these luxury tents (talk about camping in style…) and wake you pre-dawn with coffee and tea and then take you out riding through the preserves to try and spot the tigers. You come back for an amazing breakfast, relax or hike around a bit, eat lunch, go out for another jungle ride, followed by high tea, pre-dinner cocktails, dinner and then hanging out around a bonfire listening to live music. It was one of the highlights of our trip!

    Fatehpur Sikri — on the way to Agra, this is one of the abandoned royal cities of one of the moghul empires. The architecture is simply amazing. It’s all red sandstone and truly beautiful.

    Agra/Taj Mahal — If you’re thinking of doing a splurge hotel, Amarvilas, with all of its rooms overlooking the Taj, is the place to do it.

    Delhi — Our best meal was probably at Bukhara. My favorite sites in Delhi were the Gandhi museum/memorial, Qtar Minub (I’m sure I’m butchering the spelling…), and Humayan’s Tomb.

    Sorry for taking up so much space, but it was too hard to pick just a few things!


    Thanks, Jackie. We especially appreciate the detailed recommendations!

  13. Philipp says:

    Too bad, you can’t make it to Austria and visit the beautiful parts of Vienna. It is lovely there. ANYWAY, my traveling tip is definitely the Mediterranean coasts of Croatia See you — love your site by the way!

  14. Bobbie says:

    I noticed in your itinerary you are only going to the north which is where most visitors tend to go. India is so diverse. Also see the south, especially Kerala and the Nilgiris Mountains in Tamil Nadu. They are such beautiful regions of the country that travelers often miss. South Indian food is different than that of the north. Make sure you try a dosai. Also, try an Indian train – at least for a short trip.


    Thanks, Bobbie. We are hoping to spend a couple of weeks in South India. We’ve heard great things about it.

  15. Alice says:

    It’d really recommend spending some time in Ghana. On my holidays, I work at the Volta School for the Mentally Challenged in Gbi-Kledjo, which is right outside of Hohoe in the Volta Region. Ghana is awesome, the people at the school are awesome and they always need help. Pics of the students and Ghana are on my website, and if you decide that you’d like to go to Ghana, I’d be more than happy to get you in touch with friends in the area who can introduce you to Ghana.


    I have a friend who was in the Peace Corps in Ghana. Since she told me about her experiences, it’s been on my short list. We aren’t making it to West Africa on this trip, but will hopefully get there soon.


  16. Tom Vanek says:

    While in Lebenon, if you are looking for a nice place to stay & especially if you have ICH hotel points, check out Intercontinental Mzaar, Currently, you can use your hotel points to stay for 5,000 points/night instead of 35,000! This has been available for a while, but there’s no way to know how long it will be available. Also, currently there are HUNDREDS of ICH hotels available for 5,000 points/night, but ONLY through 9/3/07, for ’07 travel,

    Hope this helps!




    Thanks for the Lebanon recommendations, Tom!

  17. Susan Cobb says:


    I just finished the Tennessean article about you and decided to check out your website. Your trip looks amazing. I was especially impressed with the service component you have worked into it and look forward to hearing about your experiences.

    My husband and I traveled to France this summer and spent a couple of days in Paris. What a way to start a honeymoon! You will adore it. We loved hitting the city on foot with a map. The famous sights are worth seeing but be sure to leave yourself time to wander and soak in the culture.

    Have a safe trip. And congratulations on your wedding!

    Susan Cobb

  18. Shawn says:

    When in Croatia, go to Dubrovnik (SP?)to the old city to eat and hang out, up above the main strip (still in the old city) there are restaurants in the alleys that have the best seafood you will ever have, reasonably priced and with the competition you can tell them you will eat in their restaraunt if they give you free house wine. There’s a guy with a white captain’s hat that will try to entice you into his restaraunt, go, it’s great. Cheaper places to stay are in the newer part of the city, family run hostel/hotels are great as we spent much of our time listening to stories from our hosts families at night in the courtyard. Also, from Dubrovnik you can go by ferry to Millet (SP-sorry) where Odysseus and St. Paul both had layovers. If you catch it on a nice weather day, it is one of the most beautiful places in the world, if you catch it on a rainy day, its far from it. Outside of those two places you can do Split in a day. Good Luck. From-Lawyer in Nashville, former Peace Corps.


    Thanks, Shawn. We’ve had several friends go to Croatia in the past couple of years, and they all raved about their experience. We can’t wait!

  19. Eileen says:

    Hi Shanna & Derek,
    Congratulations! I wanted to share some Argentina recommendations–You should not miss Mendoza. It is absolutely gorgeous, sunny and piazza-filled, great parks, amazing mountain vistas, and, perhaps most importantly, opportunities for first-rate palate satisfaction on the cheap. We stayed at B&B Plaza Italia, which was great. It’s family owned, and the son, Javier, is happy to drive you around to different wineries and is really nice and interesting. You can also set up winery tours through Vines of Mendoza, which is ex-pat run. They have a really useful website: Our favorite lunch was had at Almacen Del Sur in Maipu. They grow everything on site. Our favorite winery was Achaval Ferrer. Small scale and traditional.


    Thanks, Eileen! We’ve heard similar recommendations regarding Mendoza. We definitely plan on spending some time there.

  20. Uncle PooBear says:

    DON’T forget the BALUT!!
    And Shanna… YOU must TRY it…

    LOVE YA…

    Uncle PooBear

  21. Kudrat Aunty says:

    In Simla the Oberoi’s Wild Flower is a welcome back to civilization and the SPA and Yoga is wonderful!

    Many principalities in Punjab have fortress for viewing including Patiala’s old palace.

    Amritsar – Golden Temple, Wagha Border between Pakistan & India
    Delhi – Red Fort, Jantar Mantar, Janpath, Lodhi Gardens, Delhi Gate, Rashtra Pati Bhavan [Presidents Palace], Satya Paul for silks, Imperial Hotel.


    Many thanks for the India recommendations. We plan on visiting Amritsar and spending significant time in Delhi.

  22. Ryan says:

    Hey guys! You absolutely must hit Italy, Ireland and the Netherlands. If you happen to, write some detailed blogs, at least for my sake. Food, cultural diffs and similarities, nightlife, everything! I’ve always wanted to go to those places, so I’ll live it vicariously through you! Take care and be safe.

    -Ryan (Betty’s son)


    Ryan, I don’t think we’re going to make it to Western Europe (other than Paris) on this trip. We definitely plan on visiting Ireland and re-visiting Italy and Netherlands in the future, though.

  23. Amanda says:

    Hey guys! I quickly wanted to post a few of the highlights from when I traveled from Kenya to Tanzania on safari. I think you are even going to be there the same time I was there during the wildebeest migration.

    Please, please, please go and stay in a hotel on the ridge of the Ngorongoro Crater. After watching the sunrise you can take a safari van down into the crater which contains some of the most diverse game in the area. I even saw 2 black rhinos!

    Shanna, the coffee farm I told you about is on the outskirts of Ngorongoro – Gibb’s Coffee Farm. They have a fancy pants website now if you google them. I’m not sure how much has changed in the past 8 years, but I remember thinking at the time that it would be the perfect place to get lost with someone I loved.

    Finally, Lake Nakuru is the place I was telling you about that glows pink b/c of all the Flamingos. Pretty cool.

    Well, I miss you guys! Hope all is well!




    Amanda, thanks for the Tanzania recommendations! We are super-excited about going on safari.

  24. Matt Potempa says:

    I’m an attorney in Nashville and heard about you through a friend. I spent two months in SE Asia this time last year. I came across your site kind of late, but if I would have been able to give you recommendations a month ago, it would have been exactly where you’ve just been: Ko Phangan and then straight to Malaysia via Penang, the Perinthian Islands, and Borneo.

    While in Borneo, Climb Mt. Kinabalu, see the orangutans at Sepilok, but more importantly DIVE AT SIPADAN if you have time. You can probably see the (non-aggressive) hammerheads this time of year. I stayed at Seaventures – it’s an old oil rig turned dive resort. Night diving under the rig is amazing.

    Back on mainland Malaysia, the Cameron Highlands provide a nice break from the heat. In KL, eating street vendor food in Chinatown until you can’t walk and then stopping in the Reggae Bar is a personal favorite.

    Later on in the trip, Chiang Mai is the perfect base to spend some time in N. Thailand. Go treking for a few days, kayak, whitewater raft, mountain bike, etc. Break up the adventure with a few days of cooking school. I went to a really good one, I’ll follow up with the name of it and some great restaurants in CM.

    Take a slow boat ride down the Mekong into Luangprobang, Laos (one of my favorites). Visit the local waterfalls and kayak. The scenery from a bus ride from there to Vang Vien will surely make you fall in love with Laos.

    I could go on and on, but it sounds like you’re doing great finding the gems of SE Asian travel.

    All the best and happy and safe travels,
    Matt Potempa


    Thanks for the great recommendations. We plan to spend time in Chiang Mai and take the slow boat down the Mekong into Laos. We’ve heard great things about the boat trip.

  25. Tanya Touchstone says:

    Hello! Following your travels with great interest! You are both excellent writers … the reader feels as if they are there!

    Early on I sent you some information about Vietnam which would require some research. Well, there is something new I just found that puts all the information you could ever want at your fingertips. Check out this new website:

    I hope this is helpful to you.

    Your former co-worker, Tanya


    Thanks for the great link. We will use it to help plan our stay in Vietnam in early 2008.

  26. Paige says:

    Hi Derek & Shanna:

    Learned of your trip when it popped up in our O’Melveny in the news from the article in the Tennesean. I’m the firm’s Director of Recruiting and look foward to meeting you, Shanna when you join us in DC post trip.

    If you go to Shanghai, I recommend a trip to the Shangri-La Hotel’s buffet which is on the Pudong side of the river. I’m a self proclaimed foodie too and doubted it, but after several recommendations, we went and it was well worth it. It is unlike anything you have experienced and very reasonable for all the food; it will mirror your travels as you can taste foods from around the globe. Ask for Geoff, the sous chef from Australia, and tell him the girl from US who got the Shrek toys (hand made in front of you from rice paste) sent you. Also try People 7 for a cocktail; the trick is in getting in with the right code (it’s a telephone pad and they give you two numbers when you call; put your arm in the corresponding holes) and try the Japanese place next door to the left if you’re looking at People 7. Can’t remember the name but you walk down the bamboo lined path once inside the cement opening of a “door” and then encounter a large black boulder almost 5 feet tall which prompts the door to slide open and entrance to a suberb and very reasonably priced meal awaits you not to mention great service and a super cool space. Order a beer.

    Enjoy and safe travels.

  27. Jennifer Barrett says:

    Definitely spend some time diving in Thailand. We spent four days aboard the Andaman diving the Similan Islands. It was a wonderful trip, with amazing sea life. We even saw a whale shark. Well actually we didn’t personally see it because our dive master was too busy searching for a sea horse. But everyone else saw it. And the home cooked Thai food on the boat was delicious!

    Most boats that dive the Similan Islands depart from Phuket, which is a long boat ride north.We did our research before hand and picked the Sea Dragon Dive Center out of Khao Lak. Very highly recommended.

    Here’s a blog about our trip:



    Thanks for the diving recommendations. We are both now certified divers and can’t wait to get back underwater!

  28. Brian says:

    Congrats on taking your plunge; my g/f and I took a 7 month trip that ended just a couple of months ago. Some advice for places you’re going:

    India – I did Mumbai, the golden triangle and Darjeeling all in 2 weeks. It was a mad rush so it’s good you have longer because there is a lot of awesome food to eat at dirt cheap prices. However, you need to prepare yourself to play good cop/bad cop. In the cities like Delhi or Mumbai, you will be approached incessantly by very innocent sounding/looking individuals who offer you all kinds of very sweet things like tea, dinner at their house, etc. Trust me, if they’re talking to you, they want something from you. And it’s 99.9% of the time money. That’s not to say be closed, because the Indian people are incredible and my time there was fabulous, but you need to be prepared. It will make any hassle/scam you experience in SE Asia seem like Disneyland’s kiddie rides.

    I would strongly encourage you to visit eastern India. I spent almost a week in Darjeeling and it’s 180 degrees from the cities of the west. The people are more asian, they are WAY more laid back and nobody bothers you. I had to actually ask for directions instead of being bombarded with offers. If you’re into trekking, you can get a permit in a few hours to go into Sikkim where relatively few people head. I also strongly recommend the Jaldapara wildlife sanctuary in Madarihat. You can hook up 4-person elephant rides through the bush to see rare 1-horned rhinos and lots of other wildlife. It was one of the best things I did there.

    I could go on and on forever; if you get a few minutes, you can search through our travelogue for places you’re heading. We did New Zealand, Australia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, India, Bali, Italy, Peru, Panama and Costa Rica.

    One last suggestion I have for you is about decision making. I’m sure you’re already fatiguing from making decisions every day; try alternating who is responsible for making decisions. It doesn’t mean you don’t consult each other but there will be 200x a week where you both say “I don’t care” and someone needs to make the call. Having each of us assigned a day helped eliminate any frustration between us.

    Best of luck; travel safe and keep an eye on your bags!


    Thanks for the great recommendations, especially the advice on making decisions.

  29. Lisa says:

    I found your site because i discovered you on a wedding site. How fun is this! I have noticed you are planning on visiting eastern Europe. I lived for about a year and half in Prague, Czech republic. You don’t have to go to Prague … but you should. However, the Czech republic is such a great place to visit. The castles, the country side, the hikes (every thing is linked together on easy to follow hiking trails)… simple simple. One town worth visiting is Czesky Krumlov. Check out the crazy bone chappel outside of Prague (about 60 minutes)


    Thanks for the recommendation! We hope we’re able to make it to the Czech republic next summer.

  30. Ali Phillips says:

    Hey there!

    SO COOL! I am loving watching you travel! Hey, when you go to South Africa, check out It is an amazing camp and amazing animal sighting. Sandra and Grant run the place and request George for your guide and Solly is his tracker! The best place in Sabi Sands (which opens to Kruger National Park).

    If you get there, tell them Ali and Jon Phillips from Chicago say hi!

    Can not wait to read more about your trip and be safe!


    Thanks, Ali and Jon! We are incredibly excited about visiting South Africa next Spring.

  31. Andrea says:

    After having lived in Nepal for 2 years, I was thrilled to see Nepal on your list for late November. This is literally THE best time to visit Nepal.

    -when you arrive at the airport in Kathmandu, there will be two different lines. One for nationals and one for tourist visas.(You’ll need one passport size picture and $30 USD) Go to the lines on the left and beat the crowd! Warning…the airport exchange rate is ridiculous. So only exchange a little bit if needed.

    -If you need a taxi, buying a prepaid taxi inside the airport is the way to go. It is a tad bit more expensive, but it saves a ton of price negotiation outside.

    -There are plenty of hotels to choose from, but my recommendation would be the Hyatt Regency Kathmandu. Get a room that faces the pool and you will get a gorgeous view of Kathmandu.

    -You must see the following in Kathmandu:

    1.Swayambunath- the “Monkey Temple” (hands down the best view of the city)

    2.Boudhanath Stupa (this is a huge Buddhist temple near the Hyatt hotel)

    3.Pashupatinath- another Hindu temple; the best time to go is in the morning, hire a guide)

    4.Kathmandu Durbar Square- you can see the Kumari here. She is a living goddess. There are more than a dozen temples and beautiful buildings in this area. Ask someone to take you to the local bead market. Great place for pictures and cheap jewelry!

    5. Thamel- this is THE touristy area. Lots of fun restaurants here.

    -Things to buy:
    1. Silver
    2. Clothing (lots of hippie options)
    3.Pashmina anything (the South Asian word for cashmere)

    – Eat Here:
    1.Fire & Ice (Thamel) delicious Italian food and the atmosphere is perfection

    2.Rum Doodle (Thamel) great steaks

    3.BK’s French Fries (Thamel)

    4.Roadhouse Cafe (Thamel) yummy pizza and hummus

    5. Ying Yang (Thamel) delicious Thai selections

    6. Himalayan Java (Thamel) great coffee and overall great food

    7. Chez Caroline (Babar Mahal near parliament)My absolute favorite restaurant in Nepal. Authentic and delicious French food. The atmosphere is gorgeous.

    8.Mike’s Breakfast (take a taxi..they’ll know where it is) Great for a late breakfast.

    -outside of Kathmandu, I would recommend visiting the following cities:
    1. Bhaktupur (about an hour outside of KTM)Great old city
    2. Nagarkot (about an hour outside of KTM)
    3. Pokhara (about an 8 hour bus ride or quick
    flight) lakeside city that is gorgeous

    Drink lots of water! Nepal is such a hidden jewel and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. You will definitely want to go back!


    Wow!! Thanks for all the great recommendations. They are wonderful and incredibly timely. We arrive in Kathmandu in a little over 2 weeks, so we’ll definitely use many of these recommendations. Again, many thanks!

  32. Mayank Dwivedi says:

    I am seriously out of my senses to see something like this !! simply outrageous!! – In India, make sure you visit east and nothing can beat north in winters, culture in Rajasthan is going to be enriching experience in all ways and let me see if I am back there would be more than happy to be your guide for a day or 2 🙂
    Keep in touch and enjoy every moment of this – take care

  33. Saundra Dudek says:

    My boyfriend, who has been to Kathmandu and has been reading along, wanted me to say you must go to Everest Steakhouse in Kathmandu. Sounds like you have lots of food recommendations. Enjoy.

  34. Scott Goetz says:

    Found your blog through Tim Leffel’s Cheapest Destinations site. As a fellow former corporate-suit-turned-traveler who just completed a year circling the globe, I’m enjoying following your travels thus far and look forward to your future adventures.

    You don’t seem to be lacking for recommendations, but I figured I’d add mine anyway since you’ll be visiting many places I just left a few months ago.


    – assume it’s your purpose in Kerala and it’s well worth it. Great peek into Indian provincial life, spectacular scenery, & relaxing

    – HIGHLY recommend a side trip to Munnar from Cochin/Kerala. Beautifully manicured mountain-top tea plantations…like Napa, but in the mountains and with tea…great @ sunset/sunrise.

    – the gem of Rajasthan. Fantastic landscape, intriguing city, great lake palace. Recommend visiting the City Palace then a sunset lake cruise and dinner at the Lake Palace.
    – dining recs: Jagat Niwas Palace Hotel (see below)
    – lodging recs: Jagat Niwas Palace Hotel (lakeside, great Lake Palace views, good service, clean, reasonable, ~$40/nt).

    – for all the reasons you already know


    – if you have even just ‘one night in Bangkok’, drinks or dinner at the bar/restaurant on the top (64th) floor of the State Tower bldg is a must do. It’s all outside! Spectacular experience.

    – very interesting museum made of the home of the former CIA spook turned Thai silk industry patriarch


    – fantastic, quaint, vibrant city.
    – dining recs: Au Lac Cafe (French Qtr)
    – lodging recs: Salute Hotel is a nice, clean, reasonable option (~$25/nt) OR Sofitel Metropole (still semi-reasonable) is Hanoi’s most luxurious…both are near the heart of everything

    – an 2-3 day excursion through the karst-laden bay is stunning and worthwhile

    >HOI AN
    – classic Vietnam. Small, picturesque, friendly village 30 mi south of Da Nang near the South China Sea. Good food, tailor-made clothing, and rice fields galore. Visit nearby Cu Cai beach as well.
    – dining recs: Cargo Club
    – lodging recs: Vinh Hung 2 Hotel (~$25/nt) OR Palm Garden Resort on Cu Cai beach (~$100/nt)

    – didn’t love the city, but if you go the War Remnant’s museum is a must-see…and sobering


    – Angkor Wat ruins: of course (and worth it)
    – Bayon ruins: small, but cool buddha faces carved into the stone walls and catacombs below
    – Ta Phrom ruins: a MUST SEE…an adult Disneyland with the forest growing in and around the old monastery/temples (think Tomb Raider)
    – dining recs: Blue Pumpkin (good breads/snacks), Soup Dragon

    Hope even a little bit of this helps. If you have any questions about any of these places, feel free to shoot me an email anytime. You both seem rather well traveled already, but happy to provide insight or assistance along the way.

    Enjoy the rest of your travels. I’ll enjoy reading about them.


    Scott – thanks for the great recommendations. In fact, we just got back from enjoying two of your recommended spots – the Kerala Backwaters and Munnar. They were both amazing. Thanks again, Derek and Shanna.

  35. Martha says:

    If you are going to be in Mendoza, Argentina, take the bus over the Andes to get to Chile. The pass closes in the winter (probably around mid-May) but it is an amazing experience with gorgeous views.
    Santiago is not the most exciting place, but Pablo Neruda’s house in Santiago is definitely worth a visit. His other houses in Isla Negra and Valparaiso are also cool. You can buy cheap but well-made lapis lazuli from the factories near his house.
    Valparaiso is really interesting and picturesque, a real mix of classical Spanish and modern design. Keep your senses about you if you arrive by bus. Take some time to wander the cerros and check out the elevators that go up them. Vina del Mar, Valpo’s sister city is just to the north and has some lovely cafes along the beach.
    In the north visit San Pedro de Atacama is not to be missed. It is one of the coolest places I went in the whole country. It is an oasis in the middle of the dryest desert in the world with great restaurants, access to outdoor sports, archaeology, geysers and other natural wonders, etc. It is a still relatively-undiscovered gem. It is hard to get into the desert without a tour, but they are pretty well-priced. Make sure you shop around and ask lots of questions, like how many languages the guide will use.
    Chiloe is an archepelago south of Santiago and I imagine looks somewhat like Ireland. It is lush and green with wonderful hiking, churches, and islands to explore. People live a lot more simply and traditionally there.
    La Serena is a great base for exploring other areas around there, including the Valley de Elqui, and the temperature is pretty moderate all year. Beachfront accomodations are quite cheap in the winter. You can get a guide to take you up to a national park that is islands accessible by boat– amazing wildlife: penguins, dolphins, birds, etc.
    Enjoy your stay!


    Thanks for the great recommendations! At this point, we know very little about Chile and Argentina, so these recommendations will be very helpful! Many thanks!

  36. Lowell White says:

    My wife, children and I lived in Buenos Aires Argentina several years ago. While there we visited Mendoza, Cordoba, and Rosario. In one of those cities, I can’t remember which but I think it was Mendoza, we visited a museum and saw some awesome dinosaur fossils. There were these large armadillo-looking things about five feet tall. I hope you can find the museum.

  37. Jesús says:

    Derek & Shanna:

    You guys have been blessed! You met me, Jesús, in your South American journey. Enjoy the rest of the trip and safe travels.

    Great meeting you both and don´t forget to visit el Barrio de la Boca and the Bombonera Stadium in Buenos Aires, home to the Maradonian Church!


  38. Erin says:

    Very fun site! We did a similar trip a few years ago, although now it seems like a lifetime ago. We would recommend Krakow Poland, along with the Tatra Mountains and Zakopane. Also, we really liked the Greek Isles and New Zealand, but I am not sure if you are going there this trip.

    Keep up the travel!

  39. Rico says:

    If you’re in Amsterdam, apart from the customary canal boat ride, I recommend the Van Gogh museum and the Rijks museum. Now, I’m no art freak, but some of the paintings simply blew me away. I could begin to see what all the fuss was about!

  40. Amy says:

    Hi Derek and Shanna, my friends and I have enjoyed your blog so much over the last year and we are sad to think that your trip will be coming to an end soon. I would like to suggest that you continue on with a “one year back to regular life” blog, so we can keep up with how you are doing.

  41. Donna says:

    I agree, you need to continue with the blog so we can keep track of how you adapt to “normal” life next year after leading such an exciting one for the last year..not that anything about it will be normal with Derek involved.

  42. Ana says:

    Days of Rain 11 ? Then I asume you were not too much time in The Netherlands, hehehehe…otherwise…
    By the way, if you are already in Europe again (I see you are in Budapest)..what about a trip to Spain??? you can not miss it…gastronomic paradise and joyfull people. Either North or South…you have to go.

    Enjoy !!!

  43. Todd Hunt says:

    Depending on where you are going in Italy, I have a few recommendations…

    If you make it to San Giamangno, make sure you pick up some wild boar sausage in one of the local butcher shops. It’s very tasty…

    If you make it to Milan, there’s a little street cafe near the Castello Sforzesco (great ravioli and the cheapest lunch I had in Italy)

    If you are in Rome, there’s a small cafe not far from the Fountain of the Four Rivers in the Piazza Navona that is very good.

    One last recommendation… If you haven’t visited the Villa Borghese ( I would highly recommend. It’s located in a park that was formally the villa grounds near Via Veneto, in the heart of “trendy” upscale Rome. There’s also a wonderful butcher shop just off the Via Veneto near by not far from the Hard Rock Cafe.

    In France, Mont St.Michael is a can’t miss… Sure you’ve seen photos of it surrounded by water when the tide comes in… Spent a day there and it was like visiting the 12th-13th century…

    Safe travels…! Todd

  44. PauTravels says:

    wow.. such a great list in your itinerary…

    I guess you’ve missed the Philippines when you were in the region. But well, if you do come back this side of the world, make sure you drop by the Unesco World Heritage sites here like our baroque churches and the Banaue Rice Terraces, plus our bets for the new 7 nature wonders of the world which is the Tubbataha Reef, the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River, Mayon Volcano, and the Chocolate Hills.. 😀

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