The landscape of Ha Long Bay, located just a few hours east of Hanoi, is among the most unique in the world. According to legend, several thousand years ago the burgeoning nation of Vietnam summoned the Mother Dragon to help them fight off an influx of invaders, which they did using divine fire and giant emeralds. The remnants of this fictitious battle can now be seen in the form of immense limestone pillars and tiny islets surrounded by emerald blue waters. This stunning series of earth and water formations combined with a multitude of classic junk boats, give the place a mystic, timeless feel. This UNESCO World Heritage site should be high on your adventure list--here are a few tips to make the most of your visit!
The view from a mountaintop is always worth it and it always inspires us. But the strange thing is, the view from the top always seems to obscure the actual, physical toil it took to get there. Inevitably, we find ourselves lacing up our hiking boots again or putting our cycling shoes back on to climb yet another peak, seemingly oblivious to the incredible challenges ahead. Of course, climb a mountain – including the world’s most iconic ranges – with Backroads and the joy multiplies: logistics, gear, route-planning, lunch stops and guides will all be taken care of so that you can focus simply on finding your stride or cadence and achieving your best day, whatever that means for you.
The mother of two children clinging to her long, woven skirt encourages her two-year-old son to wave to you by grabbing his wrist and saying “sabaidee,” which means “hello” in Lao. When you pass by on your bike, waving back, the woman's daughter calls out, “Bye-bye!,” a phrase she probably learned at an early age to use to address passing bike tourists. If you’ve ever wanted to feel like a celebrity, try biking in Laos. Laotians in remote villages don't see many Westerners rolling through their homeland.
If you've spent any time traveling internationally you've undoubtedly encountered some form of curry on menus and local tables in just about any region of the world, and especially in South Asia. So what exactly is curry, and why does it seem to be everywhere? With a little bit of knowledge about this delicious culinary tradition, your traveling adventures (and your palate!) will be enriched as you learn to appreciate all that curry has to offer. I'm here to help you out!
India is everything you've heard plus a million more sensations. The contrasts knock you to your knees, humble you and build you back up within a matter of moments. It takes "exotic" to the next level and stamps the reality that we're from vastly different cultures but we're similar in so many ways.
With National Bike to Work Day on May 19th, it's not really about the route, it's about the notion: Who needs a car anyway? Whether you do it every day or once a year, pedaling to work is worth celebrating. If your commute isn't scenic, then allow your mind to drift to one of our Top 10 friendliest bike regions in the world.
There's a place in Turkey where I descended into the bowels of the earth, terrified I'd never resurface, then flew to the highest reaches of the heavens, afraid I'd plummet to my doom. I laughed and made jokes, yet I was also silent, pondering the sacred. I felt corporeal and ethereal, often at the same time. Where was I? Cappadocia, of course...
In Vietnam, coffee culture is as deep and rich as just about anything else. On old brick sidewalks and in old colonial shops adorned with art deco tiles, old men sit on small stools in the morning and afternoon. They sip little cups of iced-coffee rocket fuel, or as they would say, cafe sua da (or ca phe sua da), while playing checkers and cards.
For nearly 25 years we've created biking routes that take you deeper into Thailand, winding through forests, farmland and small hamlets that are well off the beaten tourist path. A great day of riding in gorgeous surroundings becomes all the more special when you're greeted by farmers, shopkeepers and monks who know Backroads well and invite you to stop in for a visit. We're confident you won't find that kind of welcome with any other company.
When Backroads first started exploring Myanmar, properly trained local guides simply didn't exist - at least not people who could support active travelers. So we developed our own guides, and they're now seen as the crème de la crème. Similarly, when we couldn't find a vehicle to transport our bikes properly, we had one built from scratch. We've found creative ways to maintain our high standards so you can focus on experiencing Myanmar to the fullest.