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13 Of The Most Romantic Destinations In The World

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day coming up this week, today we’re sharing an unexpected list. Say goodbye to tips and tricks for dating and love, say hello to romantic destinations! So, whether you book your trip there with someone special, or just for yourself… get swept away with us today. From the lush countryside, the quiet of starry nights in the jungle or the hushed, full life of a bustling city… we narrowed down our list to include the destinations we believe are provide own unique kind of romance!

Paris, France

It’s a cliche that is just oh so true. Paris oozes a romance. With its rich literary history, dense and delicious culinary treats, opulent architecture and lush music… how could you not be swept off your feet?

Falling in love? Check out our guide to Paris’s most beautiful locations, our art lover’s guide to the City of Light or our literary guide to the city.

Siena, Italy

“La bella vita.” A beautiful life. It’s waiting for you in Siena. Enjoy slow living, savoring each and every moment, the nuances of every nook and cranny of this small Medieval town as you take in the evening sunsets of Tuscany.

Siena sound up your alley? Check out our round up of our favorite Tuscany towns and why we’re always dreaming of the Tuscan region of Italy.

Bruges, Belgium

There isn’t a more charming destination than Bruges. Get lost in the weaving canals, cobbled stoned streets and medieval, cookie cutter, leaning buildings. Bruges really lays it on with its quaintness.

Kauai, Hawaii

The “garden island” of Hawaii is essentially Jurassic Park come to life. Hike the tropical greens of the Na Pali Coast, learning how to surf with locals, sipping on fresh coconut water and watching the sun set over the cliffs of the island.

Tropical islands sound like your perfect romantic destination? Check out some of our other favorite islands in the world.

Kyoto, Japan

The historic, ancient city of Kyoto bedazzles the traveler with its classic Buddhist temples, gardens and imperial palaces. Spend hours taking in the city’s Shinto shrines, classic homes, bamboo forests, exploring the Gion district (once home to geishas) and taking in the city’s incredible cafe culture. Even if you only have a short stay in Kyoto, it’s sure to romance you!

Amalfi Coast, Italy

The coastline of Italy is flush with romance. The rugged shoreline swell with some of the bluest, clearest water to swim in. Imagine yourself sunning yourself on the shore and spending the next afternoons exploring the pastel hued shops and cafes, relaxing under the lemon trees and staying in terraced villas that dot the coast. See why it’s the perfect place for a solo trip or a the ultimate girls getaway!

Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona is the laid back city of your dreams. Nestled in the Catalonia region of Spain, it’s the perfect match for the traveler looking for the most delicious foods, wines and landmarks. Take in the modernist art and fantastical architecture of the city as you party into the wee hours of the night with locals.

New York, New York

NYC is often considered an acquired taste. But if it’s for you, there’s no place more romantic in the world. Enjoy the swirling, messy, bustling streets, the quiet historic boroughs, the smells and colors of the city that never sleeps.

Venice, Italy

Venice may possibly be gone in the next hundred years. But that means you absolutely must fall in love with this lagoon lying capital sooner rather than later. Imagine yourself dizzying lost in the canals of the islands, hearing the water lap beside you as you sip wine and nosh on delicious pasta outside of the Renaissance aged buildings.

Spend your time getting lost in this city, and you’ll find yourself utterly in love with Venice.

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Lush, tropical Buenos Aires awaits for the traveler looking to feel the hot heat of the sun kissing their shoulders. It’s the perfect mix of cosmopolitan, culturally rich, history and beach-y. Lie on the shore of the South Atlantic Ocean in between stops to the balconied palaces and colorful streets.

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Bundle up your scarf and gloves, sip on delicious coffees and fresh stroopwaffles while dodging the bicycles that whisk by. Take in some of the world’s best art in museums and window shop in some of the coolest boutiques. Amsterdam is truly a charmer.

Game Reserve, Botswana

The game reserves of Botswana is where travelers can find themselves incredibly close to the wild, untamed nature you could only dream of. Get in touch with the wonder of this world in beautiful Botswana. Safari exploration sound like your ultimate trip? Do your research! There are so many types of incredible safaris for any kind of explorer.

Porto, Portugal

The seaside city of Porto languidly sits awaiting visitors to find themselves lost there. Feel the seaside breeze while you explore the narrow, cobbled streets, Baroque buildings and impressive bridges, stopping whenever you fancy for delicious port wines and tapas. How could you not fall in love with this place?


Has the spirit of romance inspired your bucket list? What is the most romantic destination you’ve ever visited?

Asia

11 Unique Sights in Changzhou: China’s Hidden Gem City

Many people come to China to visit its more famous cities Shanghai and Beijing, but perhaps they are missing out on one of China’s most underrated cities. Located to the northwest of Shanghai is Changzhou, a hidden gem in China’s Jiangsu province.

Previously known as Yanling, Lanling, and Jinling, the city has now earned itself the nickname “Dragon Town” with its captivating reputation. What makes Changzhou so special is its 2500 years of history that offers its visitors traditional Chinese culture with a modern-twist.

Since Changzhou is only 55 minutes away from Shanghai by train, you can easily check both cities off your bucket list in one trip.

Aside from having the world’s tallest wooden pagoda and an amusement park that is nicknamed the “Eastern Jurassic Park,” here are 11 sights and activities you absolutely must experience while visiting Changzhou.

Hongmei Park: Also known as Red Plum Park, is a spacious, family-friendly park filled with gorgeous lakes and gardens. There is the option to pay for a small motorboat that will take you around the lake. If you’re hungry, you will find vendors in the park that sell delicious Chinese snacks such as candied hawthorn fruit on a stick.

Yancheng Garden: Filled with Chinese-style pagodas and houses along the glossy river, you will experience a part of China that has maintained its tradition over the years and has managed to dodge modernization. Nearby is also Yancheng Cultural Street where you can get a taste of traditional Chinese dishes. There are also cute little spas and a Seasons Boutique Hotel if you wish to stay in this gorgeous area.

Guanyin Pagoda: This pineapple-shaped pagoda is dedicated to Guanyin, a goddess of mercy. Guanyin is all over the pagoda with golden statues and exterior paintings depicting her showing mercy to people. What’s even more fascinating is the interior of the pagoda. There are both giant and small golden statues of Guanyin all around the inside.

Dinosaur Park: Also known as the “Eastern Jurassic Park,” is like taking a trip back in time. From entertainment for the kids to thrilling rides for adults, the park tailors for those of all ages. In the middle of the park is a dinosaur museum that features real dinosaur fossils and an entire section dedicated to dinosaur-themed arcade games.

Tianning Temple: This Buddhist temple is a must-see. Standing 13 stories high, it is the world’s tallest wooden pagoda. Atop the pagoda is an enormous bronze bell weighing over 66,000 pounds that can be heard from over three miles away. The beauty and size of this temple is a show-stopper.

Yancheng Amusement Land: This particular amusement park reproduces the political, military, economic and cultural situations in Changzhou’s Spring and Autumn Period. Besides this, it is a fun-packed amusement park filled with out-of-the-box roller coasters, a water park and a lengthy haunted house that will require you to wear rain boots (don’t worry these are provided). Making your way through the entire park can take up your whole day, so make sure to plan accordingly.

Eat Sesame Bing: This delicious gem is a Changzhou local specialty featuring a small round cake of flaky pastry studded with sesame seeds. The fillings between the pastry layers have two different flavors – sweet and salty. The sweet version is pleasantly filled with sugar syrup, while the salty version has a thin layer of preserved vegetables. Sesame Bings can be found at Xiao Chi Jie (Snack Street).

Drink a latte at Mahoo Cafe: Located in Wujin district is a dimly lit cafe with decorations that brightly and boldly juxtapose. If one were to try to decorate their living room the way Mahoo does, they would have a clashing disaster. The cafe features plaid pillows with bright pastel colored flowers in the background. There is also a running theme of teddy bears throughout the cafe. The spoon dish on the table consists of a teddy bear laying on its side, while the steamed milk art on top of your latte will be in the shape of a teddy bear’s face. Oh, and did I mention that there is a toy train that follows the train tracks around the entire top ceiling of the restaurant?

Stay at Salt Lake Resort: Located in Jintan, Changzhou is a resort that provides guests with both a comfortable and culturally immersive experience. The resort itself offers activities such as Chinese paper cutting and copying of Buddhist style text to introduce guests to Taoism. Surrounded by a relaxing lake and mountains, this resort is one of Changzhou’s most precious hidden gems.

Stroll the Ancient Canal + Create a Changzhou Comb: Running alongside the Grand Canal are little craft shops where you can make a Changzhou comb before or after walking the canal. The hand-painted combs have a history of 2000 years in Changzhou and were originally made for use by royalty. The Ancient Canal itself is a part of China’s famous Grand Canal and gives visitors the chance to walk alongside the river and view Changzhou ancient historical sights.

With a history of 2,500 years, it would be impossible to learn all of Changzhou’s history in one trip. However, these 11 Best Things To Do in Changzhou are an exceptional introduction. Whether it’s a visit to the Dinosaur Park or a sip from Mahoo Cafe’s finest latte, you will leave feeling a special connection to this often overlooked city.

Asia

9 Reasons Uzbekistan Should Be At The Top Of Your Bucket List

9 Reasons Uzbekistan Should Be At The Top Of Your Bucket List

Ever since I got back from Uzbekistan, the question I get asked the most is “what made you decide to go there?”

As a matter of fact, Uzbekistan is not the most popular travel destination. Prior to my trip there, I knew of absolutely no one who went there – and that is precisely why I wanted to go. Unknown places have always had an irresistible appeal to me. But after spending 10 days in this exotic country with my partner, the question that I now struggle to answer the most is, why aren’t people going there? Amongst all the hidden gems in the world, this Central Asian treasure is undoubtedly one of the most underrated ones. Here are nine reasons why:

9 Reasons Uzbekistan Should Be At The Top Of Your Bucket List

It’s The Jewel Of The Silk Road

Caravans crossing miles of unwelcoming deserts from China to the bazaars of Europe found their oasis in the ancient Uzbek cities of Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva. They not only transported ivory and gold, but also religion and philosophies. When Turkish rulers conquered Samarkand, they brought Islamic art and culture to the city. Today, you’ll find these three former Silk Road hubs bustling with ornate mosques, glittering minarets, majestic madrasas and hypnotic mosaics. Which brings us to the next point…

9 Reasons Uzbekistan Should Be At The Top Of Your Bucket List

This Country Is A Photographer’s Dream

Every corner I turned, my mouth dropped wide open. Again and again. The amount of times I was blown away by something I saw in Uzbekistan was utterly innumerable. The burst of colours, patterns, architecture and mosaics that surrounded me completely overwhelmed my senses and left me utterly speechless. It wasn’t just mosques and madrasas that killed my camera battery either. Even ordinary places like restaurants and hotels were craftily adorned with traditional embroidery, hand painted walls, and stylish courtyards.

9 Reasons Uzbekistan Should Be At The Top Of Your Bucket List9 Reasons Uzbekistan Should Be At The Top Of Your Bucket List 9 Reasons Uzbekistan Should Be At The Top Of Your Bucket List 9 Reasons Uzbekistan Should Be At The Top Of Your Bucket List

You Will Meet Some Of The Kindest Locals

Uzbek people really go out of their way to make you feel welcomed. On our journey there, we met a tourist who received a complimentary day tour from a local she had met the day before, simply because he wanted to show her the less touristy spots. This same woman also received a free taxi ride from another local who saw her struggling to find one at the airport.

Throughout our trip, we’ve had countless people come up to us and ask us (in basic English) where we’re from, where in Uzbekistan we’ve been and how we were liking it there. The locals there were genuinely curious to get to know us, and many of them also closed the conversation with a heart-warming “welcome to my country.”

On top of that, two encounters I had with Uzbek people particularly stood out to me. On two separate occasions, two different strangers with whom I barely spoke to due to language barriers randomly handed me flowers. One was handpicked from her own garden nearby, and the other one was handmade, from a napkin. They were very simple gestures, but to me, they spoke the world about the people of this country.

9 Reasons Uzbekistan Should Be At The Top Of Your Bucket List

The Language Barrier Isn’t As Challenging As You May Expect

A fact that will surprise you: Uzbekistan is actually quite touristy. Although Uzbek and Russian are the two main languages spoken there, very basic English is understood in many tourist attractions. With that said, it all depends on where you are and who you encounter.

From our experience, English is less spoken in the bigger cities of Samarkand and Tashkent, where you’ll find more local tourists than foreigners. The guards in Samarkand’s famous Registan square may be able to tell you the opening hours of the complex and the price of the tickets, but you probably wouldn’t be able to communicate much further than that. Having Uzbek or Russian on Google Translate can come in handy. We also had to rely on hand gestures a couple of times.

Meanwhile, in more compact cities like Khiva and Bukhara, tourism is much more concentrated in the city centers and the vendors there are so used to interacting with foreigners that some of them can even make sales pitches in French or Italian. Overall, while the language barrier in Uzbekistan can pose a fun challenge, from my experience, they weren’t big enough at all to create real obstacles.

9 Reasons Uzbekistan Should Be At The Top Of Your Bucket List

You’ll Feel Safer There Than In Many Western Countries

Contrary to what some may think, Uzbekistan is completely safe. Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva are all fairly small and the vibe in those cities is quiet and relaxing. Crime rate is generally low in this country, and never once did I feel threatened, even when walking around at night. Of course, everyone’s experience is unique, and caution and common sense should obviously be applied no matter where in the world you travel to. But just for the record, I was never worried about pickpockets while I was there, which is a lot more than I can say about many Western countries…

9 Reasons Uzbekistan Should Be At The Top Of Your Bucket List

You’ll Be On The Hunt For Uzbek Food When You Come Back

Uzbek cuisine is one of the tastiest I’ve tried, and it’s rich with variety and flavours. Some gems to look out for:

  • Plov – an Uzbek national dish made of rice, lamb, carrots and dried fruit
  • Manti – steamed dumplings stuffed with either meat or pumpkin (the latter is especially good)
  • Somsa – essentially the Uzbek version of samosa, uniquely made with local spices
  • Uzbek Naan bread – it comes with every meal in restaurants, whether you want it or not. It is best eaten warm, and made in an oven called “tandyr”, which involves slapping the dough directly onto the oven walls.
  • Shurpa – a traditional soup with lamb, potatoes, chickpeas and carrots; a great appetizer
  • Shashlik – delicious meat skewers which depending on the region, can come minced too
  • Shivit Oshi – dill infused noodles with toppings of fried meat, peppers and tomatoes; a specialty of Khiva. Fun fact: it looks like green spaghetti!

Note: As you may have gathered already, you might have a hard time in Uzbekistan if you’re vegan or vegetarian. This country is extremely big on meat, which is included or used in the making of most of their dishes. However, you can definitely find restaurants that offer vegetarian options, and most of them also have a wide range of salads to choose from.

Tip for Vegetarians: Say “bez myasa” (it means “without meat”) if you order salads, as occasionally the plate may contain sliced meat (just a sign of how much Uzbeks love their meat).

Pro Tip: If you’re in Tashkent and want to try some very authentic and well-made plov, be sure to stop by Plov Center – it’s where the locals go, and the plov there is absolutely phenomenal.

9 Reasons Uzbekistan Should Be At The Top Of Your Bucket List 9 Reasons Uzbekistan Should Be At The Top Of Your Bucket List9 Reasons Uzbekistan Should Be At The Top Of Your Bucket List

It’s Easy To Get Around On Your Own

You don’t need a tour group nor a car to get around in Uzbekistan. You’d in fact be saving a lot of money by navigating this country on your own, and the good news is that it’s easy to do so as well.

Fast-speed trains connect Samarkand, Bukhara and Tashkent, with several of them leaving per day. We took the Afrosiyob high-speed train and it was very comfortable, punctual and clean. The ancient town of Khiva is a bit more remote, and there are two common ways to reach it:

  1. A flight from Tashkent to Urgench, which is about a 30 minute drive from Khiva. The flight time is 1.5 hours, and it’s costs around $50 one way.
  2. A taxi from Bukhara, which will take around 7 hours. It costs $50 if you hire a private one, but only $20 if you don’t mind sharing the ride with others. You can arrange the taxi very easily through your hotel; the reception staff will help book it for you.

Like many, we took the latter route as it fit our itinerary better. 7 hours may seem long, but it was less tiring than expected as you can make frequent stops along the way.

Tip: If you’re taking a taxi, ask your driver to take a little detour along the way to bring you to the ancient fortress of Tuprakkala, not too far from Khiva. This fortress is in the middle of the desert, and walking amongst its ruins is an experience not to miss. The visit will cost $10 more and will prolong your trip for about 1-2 hours, but it’s very worth it.

9 Reasons Uzbekistan Should Be At The Top Of Your Bucket List

Your Trip Won’t Make Your Wallet Cry

Uzbekistan is very affordable. You can find good quality hotels & guesthouses for around $20 – $30 a night, and a typical full-course meal complete with 2 appetizers, 2-3 mains and drinks only totals up to around $6 on average. Transportation was budget-friendly as well, with most taxis within cities costing $1.25 for a 10-15 minute ride, and fast-speed trains connecting Samarkand, Bukhara and Tashkent are around $7 if you buy them at the station.

The only thing that may be pricey is the flight getting in. Round trip flights from Europe typically go through Moscow or Istanbul, and can cost up to $600. That number would also be a lot higher if you’re flying from somewhere like North America, in which case it may be a good idea to visit Uzbekistan as part of a bigger trip to Europe or Asia.

9 Reasons Uzbekistan Should Be At The Top Of Your Bucket List

You Will Be Questioning Reality The Whole Time You’re There

Though I’ve traveled to 50+ countries, I’ve never been somewhere that felt so surreal, to the extent that I can’t even properly put it into words. From watching concerts against the sparkly backdrop of madrasas to climbing 400 year-old minarets in the dark; from walking empty roads that date back to 400 BC to stargazing in a sand castle city, it’s hard to tell whether I really did spend 10 days in Uzbekistan, or if I simply stepped into the most magical chapter of One Thousand and One Nights.

9 Reasons Uzbekistan Should Be At The Top Of Your Bucket List 9 Reasons Uzbekistan Should Be At The Top Of Your Bucket List

I cannot emphasize enough how much of a hidden gem this country is. The fact that it’s not as “famous” as Petra or Machu Picchu is completely mind-blowing to me. If you open your heart and mind to Uzbekistan, you will experience things you’ll find hard to believe and make some truly unique memories here.

I’ll end with an extract from our last night in Samarkand, where we stood silently in Registan square, gazing at the lit-up madrasas standing majestically against the dim sky. Tears started rolling down my eyes as I tried to process what I was looking at. I was frozen in place, completely swept away by the breathtaking scene in front of me. I simply could not understand how something so ravishing and enchanting could even exist, and how much effort and work must have gone into building such a masterpiece.

That’s how much Uzbekistan has moved me. That’s what this country has meant to me.

And to this day, I’m still trying to figure out whether it was all just a dream.

9 Reasons Uzbekistan Should Be At The Top Of Your Bucket List 9 Reasons Uzbekistan Should Be At The Top Of Your Bucket List

Asia Photography Stories

Lost In Time In Suzhou, China

Lost In Time In Suzhou, China | Dame Traveler

The most quiet and still of places still echo their history. In the peace and tranquility of a sleepy morning, the remnants of a place’s ancient past are like passing shadows. You can imagine the people’s feet walking down the same path as your own. You can fathom the centuries of sweat and laughter and joy that filled the air. The unwritten bliss of travel is the ability to imagine how tiny and fleeting your imprint in a place’s history truly is. Suzhou’s quiet channels, ancient gardens and aged alleyways are just the place to remind yourself just that. Suzhou is a gem hidden and distilled in its ancientness. Suzhou is lost in time.

Lost In Time In Suzhou, China | Dame Traveler

Lovingly called “the Venice of the East,” Suzhou is known for its ancient pagodas, temples, stone bridges, still canals, flowing water, and architecture that could send anyone into a frenzy of imagination. Just a stone’s throw away from the hustle and bustle of Shanghai, the city is located on the banks of the Yangtze River Delta, which fills the Grand Canal with peaceful waters. It’s the perfect, easy trip away from the city. With Cathay Pacific’s seamless flights from the US to China, visiting Suzhou is so a no brainer. Every step of the journey to Suzhou, from Cathay Dragon‘s comfortable flights to bullet trains and everything in between, reaps the benefits of our modern society. Although, I, like anyone, found myself lost in nostalgic, romantic notions of what Suzhou might have looked like in its beginnings.


 

Lost In Time In Suzhou, China | Dame Traveler

Lost In Time In Suzhou, China | Dame Traveler

The modernization of many Asian cities have pushed the continent towards new heights. In many ways, China leads the front in progressive invention. The shiny, skyscraper-dotted, modern cities of the east are expected when visiting beautiful China. But to catch a glimpse of the old world in its modern age is a treat for the eyes and a feast for the imagination. Suzhou, although sparkling with modern amenities, flexes its deeply rooted history in its untouched beauty.

Suzhou shimmers in its frozen in time feeling. Lingering in the Shan Tang Old Street, you will see Qing and Ming dynasties’ architecture in between shopping stores and delicious foods. While boating through the canals and winding waterways, you will feel its ancient charm and sacred, historic tea houses and private houses. In between hearing the folklore of King of Wu seeing a mighty, white tiger atop a mountain, you will soak in the wear and age of a thousand year old pagoda. You will imagine the stories and whispers of the people who encompassed the city for centuries. You will get lost in the peace and tranquility of the Humble Administrator’s Garden’s koi ponds, twisting pathways and quiet pavilions. And in between all of these moments and sights you will be bombarded with the overwhelming realization that you are so young and so small in juxtaposition to Suzhou’s history.

Lost In Time In Suzhou, China | Dame Traveler Lost In Time In Suzhou, China | Dame Traveler

Suzhou Cultural Highlights

Boat Ride On Suzhou’s Canals – Prepare to be enchanted. Boating through the winding, peaceful waterways of Suzhou gives you the full experience of the “Venice Of The East.” The old, narrow passages recall an ancient time we can only experience with a vivid imagination and a beautifully preserved place as this.

Humble Administrator’s Garden – What might be the most perfect Chinese garden. The whimsy, the mystery, the restfulness that comes when slowly walking through the pristine gardens is a lot like a meditative moment to savor. Each unfolding scene reveals a moment preserved with great intention, giving you a moment to breathe, be still and enjoy the beauty of nature.

Lost In Time In Suzhou, China | Dame Traveler Lost In Time In Suzhou, China | Dame Traveler Lost In Time In Suzhou, China | Dame Traveler Lost In Time In Suzhou, China | Dame Traveler

Tiger Hill Garden – A legend best heard by a local who can truly bring it to life. According to the folk stories of ancient China, in 496 B.C., three days after the King of Wu buried his father atop the hill, a white tiger appeared and guarded the tomb. So moved by this moment, the thousand year old leaning Yunyan Pagoda stands as a relic to the story. Below the towering pagoda, sits the Sword Pool, believed to be the spot where the king’s sword rests. There’s a reason that the ancient poet Su Dongpo says “to visit Suzhou and not see Tiger Hill would lead to a lifetime of regret.”

Dongshan & Taihu Lake – Tea lovers, this is for you! For more than a thousand years, Biluochun Tea has been sipped and enjoyed. It’s one of the most famous and requested green teas in China! Seeing a harvesting of the tea leaves is a great way to feel more connected to your favorite drink.

Lost In Time In Suzhou, China | Dame Traveler Lost In Time In Suzhou, China | Dame Traveler Lost In Time In Suzhou, China | Dame Traveler

Shan Tang Old Street – A great spot to shop while traipsing through architecture from the Ming and Qing dynasties. Mixing the old world with the new world in a few city blocks.

Pingjiang Road – The perfect vantage point to enjoy passing boats, traditional Chinese music, tea houses and boutique shops.

Suzhou Museum – One of Suzhou’s most popular attractions, located right by the Humble Administrator’s Garden. The Suzhou Museum is free and open to the public to see some of the most ancient ceramics and woodcarvings. Don’t forget to take in the absolutely stunning lotus pool in the center.

Lost In Time In Suzhou, China | Dame Traveler Lost In Time In Suzhou, China | Dame Traveler

Boat Trip To Visit The Village Of Tongli – A preserved water town with more than a thousand years of history. (Have you noticed that Suzhou is rich in ancient history yet?!) For years the Ming and Qing dynasty pavilions, temples, gardens and towers were kept away from the public. Not until recently has “the Oriental Venice” become a wonder to see for ourselves. Find yourself here and prepare your imagination to flourish!

Suzhou Kunqu Opera Theater – The unique, theatrical art that originated from Suzhou features bright costumes, graceful movements and a unique timbre of sound.

No. 1 Silk Factory – Suzhou’s famous fine silk production once dominated the world with its luxurious texture. The secret process to create such soft and opulent silks was under lock and key. It was once so important that it was punishable by death to reveal the secret! Today, we’re able to sideline that punishment. Tour the silk factories and learn the process of silk making, hand weaving and silkworm raising.

Lost In Time In Suzhou, China | Dame Traveler

Lost In Time In Suzhou, China | Dame Traveler


Lost in time, Suzhou remains untouched, and yet, quietly knows of its age and wear. Rolling, winding canals and waterways and the looming, overhanging trees. Quiet alleys, slow boats floating through canals. Suzhou is not to be forgotten. Find yourself lost in time there.

 

Trip sponsored by Suzhou Tourism.

All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site. All opinions are my own.

 

 

Insider Tips

An Insider Guide to Tajikistan

Where Silk Road mystique meets high altitude peaks and glimmering turquoise lakes in the crossroads of Central Asia. Tajikistan is home to some of the world’s highest peaks, remote cultures, and the mother of all roadtrips- The Pamir Highway. After having spent well over 3 months in the country over the last two summers I can say without question the hospitality is legendary, the people warm, the culture alive and the scenery is as varied as it is beautiful. Welcome to Tajikistan!

Cities

Dushanbe– The bustling capital city has a Soviet feel yet remains uniquely Tajik. If flying into the country most will start their Tajikistan journey here. Make sure to visit Rudaki Park, the World’s Tallest Flagpole, the Green Bazaar, Victory Park, and don’t forget to drop by Taj Restaurant for some delicious Indian food if looking for a change from Central Asian dishes. If you’re a fan of beautiful mosques, definitely get over to the Mevlana Yakub Charki Mosque- open to non-Muslims (outside prayer times, of course), and expect one of the men working around the mosque to give you a great and informative tour of the mosque.

Khujand– Welcome to the Tajik Fergana Valley. Khujand is the second largest city in Tajikistan, sitting at the banks of the Syr Darya River and capital of the Sughd province. Home to the Panshanbe Bazaar- the busiest bazaar in Tajikistan and one of the busiest in Central Asia. Don’t miss the Khujand Fortress and Khujandi Park.

Istaravshan– Not as large as Uzbekistan’s stars Samakand & Bukhara, and the mosques & madrassas not as impressive or restored, but hey, there’s no crowds! Take a day and visit Chor Gumbez, Abdullatif Sultan Madrassa, Mug Teppe, Hazarat-i-Shah Mosque, Hauz-i-Sangin Mosque, and Sary Mazar.

Panjakent– Small and walkable and the jumping off point for adventure into the famed Haft Kul lakes in the Fann Mountains. Don’t miss Ancient Panjakent, ruins of an ancient 5th century Sogdian city.

Khorog– The largest city in the Gorno-Badakhshan, Tajikistan’s largest province. Sites to check out include the Botanical Garden, and the Khorog Central Park. Khorog is going to be the easiest place to organize an Afghan visa if you plan to cross into the Afghan Wakhan Corridor.

Murghab– Welcome to the wild-wild-East! There isn’t much to see, but it sits in a beautiful wide valley and is a great jumping off point in which to explore the Eastern Pamir Mountains.

Best Adventures

The Pamir Highway Roadtrip– Welcome to the Roof of the World! The Pamir Highway will take you between Dushanbe to Osh, Kyrgyzstan on an exhilarating road trip between snow covered peaks, with glimpses into northern Afghanistan, and eastern Tajikistan’s high altitude moon-scapes.

Trekking in the Fann Mountains– Tajikistan’s Fann Mountains are Central Asia’s premier trekking destination. Craggy peaks, Juniper forests and turquoise lakes are abundant. And don’t worry- there’s a trek for just about every fitness level out here. Some favorites include: the Haft Kul, the Lakes Loop and Dukdon Pass.

The Bartang Valley– If you’re looking veer off the beaten path when you’re already in an off the beaten path country the Bartang Valley is the answer. Home to several remote villages who inhabitants speak Bartangi- a language related to Tajik/Persian, yet still all its own. If you love hiking there are several treks to take from the villages that dot the Bartang River.

The Tajik Wakhan– Part of the Wakhan sits in Tajikistan, while the other is just across the border in Afghanistan and at times feels so close you could high-five the Afghan Wakhis on the other side. Come for the unique culture, learn about the predominant sect of Islam- Ismailism, and take in the beautiful mountain sceneries of the Pamirs and even the Hindu Kush range that separates Afghanistan & Pakistan is visible at times.

Life with Kyrgyz nomads in the Eastern Pamir– The Gorno-Badakhshan province of Tajikistan is ethnically diverse with Tajik, Bartangi, Wakhi, Kyrgyz and more ethnicities all living amongst each other. The Kyrgyz dominate the very sparsely populated eastern Pamir, and heading out here will give you a unique glimpse into their nomadic lives.

What to eat

Tajikistan isn’t exactly known to be a foodie destination. Dishes are simple and meat is a big component of meals. It’s a challenging destination for vegetarians and vegans but not impossible. Here are a few of the most popular dishes.

Qurutob– The national dish of Tajikistan and by far my personal favorite. Briny cheese balls are boiled in water and then dumped over a big flatbread. The bread and cheese concoction will then be topped with fried vegetables and onions.

Plov– Think greasy fried rice, with onions, carrots, beef or mutton and sometimes garbanzo beans.

Shurbo– Soup of mutton, potatoes, onions and carrots, but can have varying ingredients.

Samsa– Flakey dough packets pilled with mutton or beef with onions. Very similar to Indian samosa.

Manti– Noodle dumplings stuffed with meat and onions, sometimes you can find them filled with potato or pumpkin.

Laghman– Noodle, meat, and veggie soup popular throughout Central Asia.

Non– Large flatbread.

Shashlik– Skewers made with various meats.

Melon– In summer melons are plentiful in Tajikistan, always delicious and sweet.

Chai– Everywhere you go you’ll be offered a cup of chai.

When to go

Tajikistan’s seasons are roughly:

Spring: March-May

Summer: June-August

Fall: September-October

Winter: November-February

Most who visit choose to go from June to September as that is when the weather is the best throughout the country, and treks have the easiest accessibility, however the temperature will be boiling hot in the cities. Fall extends through September and October with temperatures steadily declining. Winters can be downright frigid, yet beautiful to see the snow capped peaks for those adventurous enough. The first day of spring (March 21) marks Navruz, or Persian New Year, but springtime does bring heavy shower and mudslides in the mountains, so best to stick to cities.

Tips

-Dress on the conservative side to avoid flirtatious men and guides, although covering your hair is not necessary unless visiting a mosque.

-Learn a few basic phrases in Russian or Persian. Russian is still widely spoken throughout the country. Tajik is essentially a dialect of the Farsi spoken in Iran and the Dari in Afghanistan. Being able to communicate will greatly improve your experience in Tajikistan.

-If you’re in an uncomfortable situation, look for other women. Tajik women are quick to take you under their wing.

-Dushanbe and Khujand have a handful of nightclubs. A solo woman out is typically viewed as a possible prostitute, so if you want to go hit the Tajik clubs you’ll be much more comfortable with others- so rally up some friends at your guesthouse.

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