Puerto Rico is a vacation destination for many people in the US. It’s actually an archipelago with several islands you can explore. It is a territory of the United States so they use the dollar as currency and English and Spanish are the national languages.
The history is interesting, Puerto Rico was inhabited by the Taino people but then was claimed by Christopher Columbus for Spain. The French, Dutch, and British tried to invade but the Spanish was able to hold onto it. Unfortunately, the Spanish used African captives, and Canarian and Andalusian settlers to colonize and keep the island prosperous. But through that, there is a distinct creole Hispanic culture and a unique dialect that combines the Native language, African languages, and Iberian languages as well as Spanish. The IS appropriated Puerto Rico as a territory in 1898 after the Spanish-American War.
There are many resorts and all-inclusives to choose from, but there are also different options as well if you want to save money or avoid the crowds.
Here are several things you can do and should try when you’re in Puerto Rico:
Go Spelunking in the Rio Camuy Caves. You can take the tram and the paths, or you can explore the river and the caves with Aventuras Tierra Adentro and have more of a thrilling adventure.
Go kayaking in the mangroves in La Parguera and if you’re lucky, you’ll see manatees, dolphins, and turtles. The bay has some of the brightest bioluminescence so make sure you go out at night to watch the see light up. There are several places you can book tours to go out into the bay at night for scuba diving, snorkeling, or swimming.
You can also go for a bioluminescent tour in Mosquito Bay. During the day, relax on Vieques beach and have dinner in the town of Esperanza.
Go ziplining and free falling through the Carite National Forest with Acampa and afterward experience some traditional food and music.
Learn to surf at Rincón where the 1968 World Surfing Championships were held. If you go in the winter months, peak surfing time, then you can also see the whales come through on their migration path.
Go hiking in El Yunque, the only tropical rainforest in the US Forest System and seek out the beautiful waterfalls.
Go birdwatching in Guanica State Forest and see if you can find some rare species as well as some beautiful more common birds.
Go to Desecheo and dive in Las Cuevas to visit the many canyons and caves. You can’t go to the interior of the island due to the potential of unexploded ordinance from the World War 2. The military used this island for a bombing range and for survival training until 1976 when it was given to the US Fish and Wildlife Service. You’ll also probably run into some rhesus monkeys descended from the group that was dropped on the island as part of a study on adaptation in 1967.
Visit Mona Island, an untouched ecological reserve. With enough hiking you can find ancient carvings left but the Taino Indians who once inhabited the island.
Visit El Morro (Fuerte San Felipe del Morro), a fortress built between 1539 and 1589 to deter sea attacks. Also visit San Cristóbal, one of the largest Spanish Forts in the Caribbean.
Go shopping in Old San Juan and Calle del Cristo. Explore the many art galleries, boutiques, restaurants, and outlets.
While you’re in Old San Juan, take a food tour and learn about the culture and history of Puerto Rico.
Go horseback riding on the beach in Isabela.
Try Flyboarding and fly 20 feet above the water!
If you’ve been to Puerto Rico, what did you do? What did I miss? Let me know in the comments!
Vietnam is a beautiful country with a lot more area that you would think. It was part of China until 939AD when an independent Vietnamese state was formed. Several royal dynasties were in power until the French colonized in the mid 19th century. They expelled the French in 1954 after the First Indochina War. Vietnam split into North and South Vietnam and conflict between the two started the Vietnam War. Vietnam then unified as communist and stayed that way until 1985 when the government began reforming economically and politically. Since 2000, Vietnam has been diplomatic with all nations and their economic growth rate is among the highest in the world.
It’s a beautiful place to visit with so many places to see. The temple complexes are gorgeous. The It can be a long trip to get from one end to another, but I highlighted places to go around the major cities.
Spend time in the Old Quarter of Hanoi which is full of tiny bars and amazing street food stalls.
Go to the Temple of Literature, dedicated to Confucius and built in 1070
See the Ngoc Soc Temple and Hoan Kiem Lake.
Visit the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum Complex with the Stilt House and the One Pillar Pagoda.
See a Water Puppet Show the explains the pillars of Vietnamese cultural beliefs.
Go to the Perfume Pagoda, a complex of Buddhist temples built into the Huong Tich Mountains.
Explore the Gulf of Tonkin, an UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Hike the Fansipan Mountain and meet the indigenous Hmong people and learn about their traditional way of life.
Visit Hoi An, an UNESCO World Heritage Site, the small city is full of historic buildings and temples.
Get some clothes made by Be Be, the best tailor in Hoi An.
Tour the rice fields and visit Cam Kim, a peaceful island.
Go to An Bang beach.
In Ho Chi Minh, go to Bixteco Financial Tower and the Saigon Skydeck on a clear day.
Go to the Dong Khoi Area and see the Notre Dame Cathedral, the Central Post Office and the National Theatre.
Visit the War Remnants Museum.
Experience the floating markets of Cai Rang.
Something to consider, if you’re going to take a guided tour, pay for it there, do not buy ahead of time because you’ll end up paying much more.
And you have to check out the street food, but if you get the pho, make sure you go to a busy place so you know the food is fresh and yummy.
Have you been to Vietnam? Please let me know what your favorite places were and what I’ve missed in the comments!
Phuket is a province with the old town in as the capital. The old town was built in a “Sino-Portuguese” architecture style which is Chinese mixed with European, reflecting the cultures who had influence there. Throughout Phuket you can see Buddhist, Hindu, and Taoist shrines and temples. There is so much history and natural beauty, but it is balanced with the bright lights and neon of a lively city.
Here are just a few of the things to do:
Tour the Chalong Bay Rum distillery and then make your own cocktails at the end!
See the Buddha at the top of the Nakkerd Hills, one of Phuket’s most famous landmarks.
Visit Wat Chalong and the Grand Pagoda, which houses a splinter of bone from the Lord Buddha.
Go to the Naka Market. Beat the crowds by going in the afternoon instead of at night when it gets really crowded.
Visit the tigers at Phuket Tiger Kingdom. If you’re brave (or crazy), you can get into the cage with one.
Take a Thai cooking class and learn some techniques to take home.
If you want to be immersed in the infamous Thai nightlife, go to Bangla Road. Drinks are cheap and there is entertainment everywhere.
Also check out Patong Beach. It can be very crowded, but during the day it’s the usual tourist activities and at night at Soi Bangla, the drinks start flowing.
Photo courtesy of Phuket.org
Hobnob with the rich and famous at Surin Beach and eat out at one of the many high-end restaurants overlooking the beach.
Ride an elephant through the jungle with Kok Chang Safari Elephant Trekking.
Visit the Gibbon Rehabilitation Project and volunteer with the gibbons.
Photo courtesy of Phuket.com
Help out with stray dogs at the Soi Dog Foundation, which spays and neuters around 12,000 stray animals a year. They rehabilitate horribly abused and neglected animals and work on creating awareness about the dog meat trade as well. Honestly, it’s hard to find a picture to represent this foundation because the before pictures of dogs they have rehabilitated are so heart-wrenching.
Visit Toh Sae Hill, known as Monkey Hill, which has around 40 macaques living on it. At the foot is a shrine known to be lucky. If you visit the monkeys, keep your belongings close.
Spend the day at Phang Nga Bay, full of small islands, mangroves, caves, and lagoons. It’s just beautiful! Make sure you visit Ko Tapu, also known as James Bond Island.
Go to the Simon Cabaret show and see the Ladyboy show. This is the most famous cabaret in Phuket.
Go to the Phuket Fantasea Show, a 140 acre park with a huge restaurant, Las Vegas style theatre show, carnival, and shops.
Visit the Phuket Trickeye Museum, an interactive museum intended for you to see and become part of the art.
Visit the Jui Tui Shrine house and see Tean Hu Huan Soy, the god of performing arts and dancing.
Walk around Phuket Old Town and see the Chinese and Buddhist temples, shophouses, and the old, disused red light district.
Visit the Shrine of the Serene Light, covered with Taoist etchings, and recently repainted on the outside.
For a romantic dinner, go to Mom Tri’s Kitchen, overlooking the Andaman Sea and Kata Noi Beach. It’s a bit expensive but it’s highly recommended.
Visit the Two Heroines Monument memorializing the heroines Thao Thep Kasattri and Thao Sri Sunthon who rallied the islanders to repel Burmese invaders in 1785.
If I missed anything, please let me know in the comments below.