Way back in 1990, Lisa Rossbacher, then-editor for GeoTimes magazine (now Earth) published a list of the top places every geologist should visit in their lifetime. It has been revised and modified several times over the years. A copy of it can be found here, or presented a little differently here. And a nice variation on the list is here. There are many more around.

We visited a beautiful and extensive garden at the edge of Chiang Mai, just down the road from the Night Safari, called the Royal Park Rajapruek. It boasts almost 200 acres of gorgeous scenery and 2800 different plant species. Because of the large scale, bike rentals are available and, for less active travelers, an electric bus is available to take you around.

Most people visiting Thailand have “riding elephants” on their to-do lists. We were no exception. There’s been much debate about whether it’s cruel or right to visit elephant camps in Thailand and we certainly weren’t oblivious or indifferent to the concerns. In fact, we did a fair amount of independent research before deciding to move forward with our plans and selecting a destination that focused on providing a sanctuary for rescued elephants. You can read more about some of our thoughts on the broader topic here.

When in Chiang Mai, one can’t help but notice numerous advertisements for zipline jungle adventures. At last count, we noticed posters for at least 4 different zipline companies – all vying for the tourist dollar. Wanting a little adventure and a good activity to entertain our 8 year old and a visiting friend, we decided to go with Flying Squirrels Zipline Adventure.

When we were planning our trip to Thailand, spending time with elephants was at the top of our list of things to do. And, here in Northern Thailand, there are abundant opportunities to engage with elephants. After lots of investigation, and educating ourselves about the long history between Thailand’s Elephants and Mahouts, we settled on Baan Chang Elephant Park and had an amazing experience there.

We arrived in Chiang Mai, Thailand two weeks before the Songkran festival began. As traveling Farang (foreigners), we had heard about the soaking we were soon to receive. Songkran has become known in the contemporary world, especially to travelers and tourists, as a giant water fight or celebration where everyone is drenching everyone else with water guns, water cannons, hoses and buckets. We were certainly excited and curious to see what it would be in reality.

Being the curious travelers that we are, we wanted to learn more about what the tradition was behind Songkran. We wanted to know things like why it was celebrated? Where did it originally come from? Was it still celebrated in a traditional way? How did the traditional fit in with the contemporary images of a giant water-pocalypse?

Slightly more than 2 months ago, our little family decided to sell our home in Portland, Oregon and begin a year-long adventure in Southeast Asia. We arrived in Chiang Mai, Thailand almost a month ago and have settled in nicely. After researching and viewing several condos in various parts of town, we rented a very comfortable and conveniently located condo in the Nimmanhaemin neighborhood, northwest of Chiang Mai’s central Old Town.

If you are planning a trip to Thailand and you aren’t sure which city to use as a homebase, then we recommend heading north and renting an apartment in Chiang Mai.

When we first arrived in Chiang Mai, we started off renting a room at a guest house in the heart of the old city, near the Thapae Gate. It was a perfect place to explore the city and to begin our searched for an apartment rental.

Rancho Xotolar (show-toe-lar) is an authentic, family-owned, working ranch just 18 kilometers from the center of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. This 1250-acre ranch is set amid pristine rolling pastures and dramatic canyons – all adjacent to the newly opened pre-Columbian archaeological site of Cañada de la Virgen. The Morín family has lived and farmed Rancho Xotolar for six generations and now welcomes guests to experience ranch life that is untouched by modernization.

Taking a cooking class in San Miguel de Allende is not only a great way to learn a little about Mexican culture and cuisine, it’s also a lot of fun. You’re often introduced to new flavors and ingredients that you aren’t familiar with and shown new methods or techniques that you can’t wait to put into practice in your own kitchen. You can look forward to meeting some locals and other travelers, sharing a meal, and perhaps making some new friends. Best of all, you get to take the recipes and your new found knowledge back home with you. What could be a more perfect souvenir?

Founded in 1542, the colonial city of San Miguel de Allende is a UNESCO World Heritage site within Mexico’s hilly central highlands, about 170 miles northwest of Mexico City. Known for the beauty of its well-preserved colonial architecture, vibrant art scene, cobblestoned streets, and eternal spring-like weather, it’s hard not to fall in love with this charming and picturesque city. Many do. In their November 2013 issue, Condé Nast Traveler named San Miguel #1 in their Reader’s Choice Awards for Top 25 Cities in the World.

If you ever find yourself in Playa del Carmen, Mexico looking for a good place to eat, then look no further than the list below. We promise you won’t be disappointed with any one of these choices. So, without further ado, here are our Top 5 Favorite Restaurants in Playa del Carmen, Mexico.

La Fragata 

  • Address: 26th Street between 5th & 1st Ave
  • Hours: Daily 7:00am – 10:00pm
  • Cuisine: Mexican, French, Seafood
  • Recommended Dishes: Everything
  • Comments: Jacques Pépin named this as his pick for best restaurant, period. It’s truly delicious.

Situated 14 km outside of San Miguel de Allende in central Mexico, you’ll find the sleepy hamlet of Atotonilco (ah-toe-toe-NEAL-co). As you enter the town, you’ll be greeted by a statue of Miguel Hidalgo and an unremarkable whitewashed church. The simple exterior of the church, known as El Santuario de Atotonilco (Sanctuary of Atotonilco), belies the unexpected Baroque gem found within.