Four Popular Tourist Attractions that Will Exceed your Expectations


Ankor-Wat Cambodia.

Ankor-Wat Cambodia.

We live in a world where everything is hyped up to entice us to spend our hard earned cash and like most things in life, there are tourist destinations around the world that are overly hyped about. While this is inevitable, it’s not necessarily a good thing as anyone who visits these sites runs the danger of feeling slightly underwhelmed when the reality of what they see and experience does not live up the hype. Nonetheless, there are some tourist destinations that are popular for good reason, and are well worth the time, effort and expense you will put in to visit them.

Without further ado, the following are four popular tourist destinations that not only live up to the hype that surrounds them, but they have been known to exceed a lot of expectations too!

The Temples of Angkor Wat, Cambodia

The Angkor complex of temples in Cambodia are built to impress and will leave you in complete awe, and that’s before you even take a tour inside the maze that makes up these wonderful and mysterious ancient ruins. The complex is a massive series of temples that are each unique and it’s said that no amount of pictures will do this attraction justice. In fact, some say that nothing beats visiting Angkor Wat in person and exploring the mesmerizing ruins and the spiritual lift one gets when seeing the sunrise over them each morning is an experience not to be missed. 

Niagara Falls, North America

Niagara Falls is one of the world’s best-known tourist destinations and one that will blow you away with its sheer magnificence and power. From the rush of water cascading down at thousands of liters a minute to the surrounding natural landscape that makes for a wonderful setting to get away from it all, it’s a place that offers something for all kinds of travellers. One feature not to miss is the nightly light show on the Falls, and this is the primary reason why a few nights stay at an affordable luxury hotel in Niagara Falls always comes highly recommended. 

The Great Wall of China

The Great Wall of China is just one of the many popular tourist attractions that has been sanitized and restored over the years to commercialize the millions of yearly visitors. The best way to experience this wonder of the world in all of its natural, crumbling glory is to explore the unrestored parts of the wall in a town that is off the well-beaten track that’s used by other tourists.

Taj Mahal

The Taj Mahal is one of the many UNESCO World Heritage Sites that are visited by millions of people every year. This does not diminish the white marble mausoleum’s stature however, as this remains to be one of the worlds most beautiful monuments. From the purity of the marble to the exquisite ornamentation, the Taj Mahal is an outstanding tourist destination that, despite the huge crowds scrambling for pictures, will most definitely exceed your expectations.

Travel is a gift and one that should be enjoyed. Having said this, there are always going to be sites and places that you’ll be disappointed by and from what other travelers report, the four tourist destinations that are listed above will not be one of them!

Top 10 Tips to Save Money while Traveling

Lee Abbamonte at the border of Abkhazia. Picking lesser known destinations is one way to save a lot of money while traveling.

Lee Abbamonte at the border of Abkhazia. Picking lesser known destinations is one way to save a lot of money while traveling.

Pick a place with added benefits Hotels are competing for your stay these days, pick a hotel that offers added amenities that you will USE, like complimentary morning coffee or a free fitness center. Sites like can be a great resource for pre-trip planning. And if you know you won’t take advantage of any of these add-ons, looking into sharing economy services like Airbnb.

Avoid hectic travel days If you don’t have to take a vacation over a school holiday, then don’t. Travel during off peak times, days and hours to get the best rates for your flight and lodging.

Sign up for travel newsletters  Need a vacation but not sure where to go? Sign up for travel newsletters from your favorite travel news sources and brands so you are in the know of “insider” sales and offers. Sign up here to get advice from one of our favorite travel bloggers, Lee Abbamonte.

Mid-Day Meals Make lunch your big meal, rather than dinner.  Restaurants usually offer cheaper menus for lunch compared to dinner while still letting guests some of their signature items. Always travel with snacks and water bottles so you’re not spending extra money on items you can take from home, as long as you plan ahead. Also check out these tips  from

See the city by foot  Taxi rides can add up, especially when traveling with a large group. See the city or town by foot and discover hidden gems….you’ll get some exercise while you’re at it! City Walking Guide provides walking tours of top U.S. cities.

Travel Local  Not only is it usually cheaper to eat local, but you should travel local too. Be a tourist in your own city and explore new neighborhoods in your own backyard without having to drive or fly!

Plastic Perks Do your research to find a travel focused credit card that you can take advantage of its benefits. Use that card for booking all expenses to obtain the most return for future trips. Travel blogger Johnny Jet is a great resource for expert tips, check out his recent credit card recommendations here:

Off the beaten path trips Don’t follow what’s “popular” or “in.” Instead of visiting major cities and popular countries, travel to less popular locations. For example, skip Brazil and head to Bolivia!

Discounts and Coupons Don’t be afraid to ask if there is an AAA or Senior discount when booking a hotel. Better in your pocket, right? Also, if you must rent a car, rental companies usually have coupon codes that can be used. Search the internet.

Life is unpredictable. Some trips need to be canceled. Life happens and often times travelers aren’t able to take their trips due to an illness or family emergency. With travel insurance from Allianz Global Assistance, travelers don’t necessarily have to pay for a trip they are unable to take. To see a full list of benefits provided through a policy, visit

Australia’s Beaches Have Something for Everyone

Byron Bay Australia.

Byron Bay Australia.

When many people think of Australia, they think of beaches.  And I think the best known of all of the beaches down under, Bondi’s in Sydney is the most famous. If you’re pale and in need of a tan, Holiday Supermarket can bring you to one of these lovely beaches.

But there are many, many other beaches, such as the one pictured at left–Byron Bay–which to some rivals Bondi’s as the best and most welcoming of all.

Here is what Kent St. John had to say about Byron Bay on

“Near the town is an area of hill towns called the hinterlands, pastoral hills covered with macadamia plantations and, it is said, numerous pot plots. In a country known for its laid-back friendly attitude, this New South Wales destination kicks it up a notch.

In many ways it reminds me of growing up near Woodstock, New York with all its counter culture idioms, a place unto itself. Sit at the Balcony Restaurant and I am willing to bet that you will have trouble picking out backpacker from billionaire; I love a town that is culturally democratic. I dressed down.

Like Woodstock, Byron’s draw besides nature was festivals starting with the Aquarius Festival in 1972, peace, pot and growth were all parts of the pie.”

The Twelve Apostles in Victoria, Australia.

The Twelve Apostles in Victoria, Australia.

In Australia’s underbelly,  in Victoria, is another famous beach, known more for the natural columns that stand like silent sentinels over the crashing surf.  The Twelve Apostles is their name.

You can view these rugged rock and earthen columns from a walkway up top, and you will marvel at the view of sparsely visited beach.

No top needed in rustic south Victoria near the Twelve Apostles.

No top needed in rustic south Victoria near the Twelve Apostles.these columns from a walkway above.

In Queensland, there are three wonderful islands that many swear provide the best beach experience on the continent. There is, just one little catch. The stinging jellyfish require use of a rubber suit that makes you look like a complete nerd.  But in case you’re up for warm water, lots of fish to view, and don’t mind looking like the guys in the photo, you might be a perfect candidate for Hamilton IslandLizard and Fitzroy Islands.

Goofy suits ward off jellyfish on Hamilton Island.

Goofy suits ward off jellyfish on Hamilton Island.

While all offer the natural beauty and fine weather of Queensland, Hamilton, Lizard and Fitzroy are all different and unique. Each has its own style and attractions. Plan according to your lifestyle and wishes. Queensland has something for everyone.

How Well Do You Know Your Mother? Find out by Traveling Abroad Together!

Peru is indeed a land of many treasures.   It’s a land of archaeological, cultural and natural treasures. From the soaring high peaks of the Andes to the tranquil Lake Titicaca, from the magnificent Inca heritage to the Spanish conquistadors’ colonial mansions, it fascinates with the allure of the ancient and the mysterious. Peru boasts the stunning legacy of the Incas and other sophisticated pre-Columbian civilizations, but it’s also a place of brilliant hand-woven textiles, exuberant celebrations, exotic animals, and intriguing people.

Sights and Soul offers a twist–a women-only trip that brings together bright and intelligent women travelers with experienced and knowlegable guides like Marlene who enjoy showing the splendor of Peru.

Heather and Joanne, mother and daughter from Maryland, shared some insights into their previous travels with Sights and Soul. “First-time mother/daughter travelers should realize that they are going to be spending a lot of time together,” Heather said.

Marlene Boyer and her mom on an overseas trip. Sights and Soul travel has many mother/daughter trips where you can seriously bond.

Marlene Boyer and her mom on an overseas trip. Sights and Soul travel has many mother/daughter trips where you can seriously bond.

“When you are in such close quarters with another person – regardless of relationship – you are bound to get on each other’s nerves at least a little bit. Don’t let a petty argument ruin your trip! Don’t sweat the small stuff, take some time to yourself each day, and appreciate the time and experiences you are able to share together.”

Learning New Things About Mom

Heather has traveled with Janet to Iceland before with Sights and Soul.  “This will not be our first trip together but I have definitely learned some new things about my mom.  In Iceland I learned she was more adventurous than I had given her credit for.

We went snowmobiling on a glacier– something I was really petrified of -– but she was all in and convinced me to do it, too.  We ended up crashing but instead of getting upset about it we both laughed.

Read more on Travel:  Peru: Seeing Andean Culture through the Eyes of Women

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Svaneti, in the northern part of the Republic of Georgia. Max Hartshorne photo.

Svaneti, in the northern part of the Republic of Georgia. Max Hartshorne photo.

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Ride a Bike from Norwalk CT to Burlington VT

The Burlington Vermont bike path, on Lake Champlain.

The Burlington Vermont bike path, on Lake Champlain.

The Upper Housatonic Valley National Heritage Area (Housatonic Heritage) in collaboration with the Champlain Valley National Heritage Partnership has announced ‘Heritage Ride 2015’, a coordinated end-to-end ride of the Western New England Greenway from July 26 to August 1. Beginning in Norwalk, CT, the group of cyclists will ride the most compatible cycling roadways throughout Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont, terminating in Burlington, VT.  Several informational stops will be made along the way, providing an opportunity for interested citizens to learn about the bikeway.

The Western New England Greenway is a multi-segment, multi-state bike route that links New York City and Montreal.  The corridor largely follows Route 7 through the very western portions of CT, MA and VT. It connects with the East Coast Greenway at the Merritt Parkway near Norwalk, CT. at the Southern terminus, and with the Quebec’s Route Verte at the Northern terminus (Canadian border). The Bikeway includes over 300 miles of mapped routes, and includes lodging, dining, cycling shops and heritage sites nearby.

Since 2010 a group of volunteers from the three New England states have been working to coordinate an annual conference, create a website / Facebook site, and to map and publish the most favorable on- and off-road route.

For more information about the Western New England Greenway program, or to inquire about joining the 2015 ride, download the flyer , visit, on

Find more stories about bike touring and bike trail riding on