I spend a lot of time thinking of the perfect trip. I seldom meet someone without an extensive list of destinations they hope and plan to visit. While most of these bucket lists include great places that generally anyone would love to visit, I often find myself looking at destinations that don’t make most people’s lists. Most of these destinations are focused on a specific hotel or sight that that city or region has to offer.
Here are a few of my own perfect trips that I thought I’d share. They may seem unusual at first but all three itineraries consist of countries eager to welcome you with their distinct forms of hospitality.
These three trips all present sizable logistical challenges – more than most vacationers wish to have. However, in my opinion, that is what makes these three itineraries all the more enjoyable. All of these offer cultural immersion sprinkled with adventure. It sounds cliché, but best to take advantage of these opportunities while you still can.
The Trip: Micro European Country Tour – Proving that size doesn’t matter.
Countries Visited: Liechtenstein, San Marino, Andorra.
Highlights: Two Principalities (Liechtenstein and Andorra) and one Republic (San Marino) all with a combined population of no more than 150,000 proud citizens. In San Marino enjoy a stroll through the narrow streets of the ancient walled capital city (also called San Marino) and be sure to take some time out of your day to enjoy a fine Italian meal. More accustomed to a splurge? Liechtenstein is proud home to gothic castles, banks, and expensive boutiques. How about a unique winter getaway? Try the slopes of Andorra.
Challenges: None of these countries are served by airport and only Liechtenstein has a rail station. While more difficult to get to, that is also the same reason to pay a visit.
To overcome this obstacle fly into Barcelona then drive to Andorra. You can reach Liechtenstein via Zurich on Swiss International Air Lines from Barcelona. You can hop an Air Berlin flight to Rimini in Italy to get to San Marino.
The Trip: Borneo Orangutan Spotting
Countries Visited: Malaysia
Highlights: A chance to snap your own pictures of one of the world’s rarest, smartest and, in my opinion, handsomest animals. The world-renowned Sepilok Orang Utan Sanctuary is one of the last few such causes working to reintroduce this endangered species back to the wild. Rather than carry on about why this trip is worth it, watch this:
Challenges: For most, Malaysia is a bit of a jaunt that involves multiple connections. It may be easiest and most enjoyable to sandwich this excursion between flying in and out of Singapore. There are multiple flights from Singapore to Kota Kinabalu (your best gateway to the furry intellectuals).
The Trip: Grand Old Hotels of Southeast Asia
Countries Visited: Cambodia, Thailand, Burma (Myanmar)
Highlights: One of the perks of traveling to this region is that you can often experience a luxury that you would otherwise not be able to afford in many Western countries. Asia is one of my favorite regions to travel to but admittedly so; the sounds, tastes, sights, and temperature is often a shock to one’s system (at least for this Seattle-bred boy). One of the best ways to recoup your senses is treating yourself to a luxurious stay in one of the old grand hotels that dot the Southeast Asia region.
While this suggested itinerary doesn’t include all of the great hotels, these are a few of my favorites.
- In the often tourist-neglected capital of Phnom Penh a stay at the Raffles Hotel Le Royal is a nice reprieve from the somber sights (think Pol Pot and the recent Cambodian genocide) of the city. The Hotel Le Royal, filled mostly with diplomats, has a relatively central location and has a great spa and pool.
- After a few days in Cambodia hop over to Bangkok and enjoy the river views from your room at The Oriental. In a city filled with great hotels this is one of the best. Amazingly well-maintained grounds with a great cigar bar and restaurants and phenomenal service, a stay at The Oriental will surely be a highlight of your trip. While there, get a tailored suit made to your liking at World Group right next door.
- Just as the big city feel of Bangkok starts to wear on you, take a short flight to Yangon, Burma and stay in the heart of the old French Colonial city at The Strand. Huge rooms, impeccable service, and an old world feel that you’d be hard-pressed to find anywhere else – this place is like a scene out of a movie.
Challenges: As mentioned earlier, it is hard to fit all the great hotels of Asia into one trip but this itinerary will be a good start. Focus your travel logistics around going to Bangkok then from there, Phnom Penh and Yangon are short (and very affordable) flights out of the Thai capital.