Travel

 

Travel Overseas

 
International Living’s editors and correspondents travel the world searching out the best retirement destinations. They clock up a lot of air miles and in their time on the road (and in the air) they have found the best ways to travel for less in interesting places overseas.

Maybe you’d shop in chic markets in Paris…golf on Ireland’s famous links…have a suit custom tailored in Bangkok (and delivered to your hotel)…

Well, good news: You could afford all of that…even on a modest budget.

It doesn’t take a fortune to enjoy a rich travel experience abroad. You simply need to know where and how to do it. And we can show you.

The travel postcards below will give you new ideas about places to visit…and live. Find out more about ways you can save money when you travel, where to find the best hotels in the world at affordable prices, get some insider knowledge to take you off the beaten track and read about travel ideas that won’t cost the earth, but will make you feel like a millionaire.
 

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Archives

Isla-Mujeres

Dreaming of Tropical Islands in the Sun…

My wife, Suzan Haskins, and I do a lot of traveling. So we often find ourselves on the way to places. We find ourselves in airports. In taxis and shuttles. In planes and buses. In snow-bound cities and towns for holidays and family functions.

Manzanillo-Costa-Rica

Seven of the Best Beaches in Costa Rica

With 912 miles of coastline on both the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea, Costa Rica has plenty of beaches. And you get a wide variety of looks, too. Some of these beaches are all natural, Robison Crusoe-style tropical escapes that you’ll have all to yourself. You can sit in the shade as you watch clear water lap against the shore on a lazy afternoon. Others are places to enjoy a cold drink in hand, toes in the sand, listening to music and people-watching. There are even large resorts and bustling beach towns with plenty of nightlife.

Mt.-Fuji-

10 of The Most Beautiful Places in Asia

Asia covers a lot of land area and encompasses hundreds of natural scenic wonders. Towering mountains, white-sand beaches, and virgin rainforest parks make up some of the most beautiful natural attractions in Asia. Below are 10 worth your consideration.

Beziers

Uncovering the Truth About This Charming, Medieval French Town

Was there some mistake? I had just arrived at the train station in Beziers, a large medieval town set upon a towering ridge in the Languedoc-Roussillon region of the South of France. And I was feeling a little confused.

I’d heard a lot of contrasting information about Beziers. Some people insisted that it was a dispirited, neglected town whose saving grace was its medieval core. Yet I knew that it was home to a number of expats who raved about its charms. So, which was it?

Paris

5 Places to Meet Expats in Paris

Planning an extended stay in Paris and worried about meeting other Anglophones? I have one word for you… Don’t. In Paris, we expats are practically tripping over each other, there are so many of us. By some estimates there are more than 200,000 American expats in Paris. Add to this tens of thousands of English, Irish and Australian expats—not to mention countless other expats who happen to speak English—and you’ve got yourself a very robust Anglophone community.

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Enjoy a Shot of Coco Loco

Lying on the equator, Manabí province, on Ecuador’s northern Pacific coast, enjoys a year-round growing season, and the locals are adept at using all of nature’s offerings. One clan that has deep roots in the San Vicente community is preserving an age-old family recipe that you have to be drinking age to enjoy. The clan specializes in turning locally sourced ingredients into an unusual—and unusually packaged—Manabían liqueur.

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Mexico’s Creepy Cave, Japan’s Doll Village and Much More…

Whipping and flickering across the night sky, the Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis, are on many travelers’ bucket lists. And northern Finland is one of the best places in the world to observe this stunning natural phenomenon.

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Pick up a Piece of History in Istanbul’s Vintage Market

Lying at the crossroads of East and West, Istanbul lives in the past as much as it races toward the future. And nothing represents Istanbul’s timelessness as vividly as its flea markets and vintage stores, which are scattered around the city. You’ll find it all: antique postcards, authentic Ottoman swords, carpets, and creepy porcelain dolls. Every vintage store here is a small universe in itself. And you never know what you may find.

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How to Travel the World on $40 a Day

Sitting at a beer hall at Munich’s Oktoberfest, a German couple told us they had just taken a trip around the world…for less than $100 a day, all in. My husband Mike and I nearly choked on our Hoffbrau. It sounded impossible…yet we couldn’t stop thinking about it. So when it came to planning our honeymoon, with the list of destinations we’d love to visit running off the page, that German couple’s trip kept crossing our mind.

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Bauhaus and Other Surprises: The Best of Tel Aviv

One part Europe, two parts Middle East, with a dash of Africa, the Israeli capital of Tel Aviv is jam-packed with art, design, ancient ruins, and delicious fare. Yet this popular city still holds some secrets. In a region where most cities were founded before Christ was born, Tel Aviv is very new. A tiny village until the 1930s, it was the exodus of Jews from Europe that saw the modern city grow. It’s a modern, vibrant and cosmopolitan city set on a sunbronzed strip of coastline, right on the Mediterranean Sea.

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An Expert’s Guide to Eating Out in Bogotá

If you’re after a new food adventure, my adopted home of Bogotá is the place to discover ancient traditions, exotic ingredients, passionate chefs, and exciting taste experiences—all at knock-down prices. Fresh ingredients from one of the most biodiverse countries in the world are the foundation for a terrific food culture. Here’s my pick of the places and foods you should try on a weekend in the Colombian capital.

Thailand

Thailand: The Land of Festivals

Thailand really is the land of festivals. There seems to be a different major holiday every month. And Chiang Mai is the place to celebrate most of them. For some reason, tourists gravitate to this part of the country by the thousands to partake in everything from Songkran to the Lantern Festival. Like the rest of the world, Thailand celebrates New Years Eve and New Years Day with parties, fireworks and everything else that goes along with this crazy part of the year on December 31 and January 1.

Puerto Lopez

5 Things to do in Puerto López, Ecuador

Although living in Cuenca, Ecuador, seems like a year-round vacation for me, it’s still nice to get away for a few days to explore other parts of this beautiful country. And one spot that’s well worth a visit is the small coastal village of Puerto López.

France

Enchanting Towns and Affordable Costs in Romantic France

Cycling a beautiful, well-loved path along the Loire River in France’s famous castle-dotted Loire Valley, it was just as stunning as everyone said…full of quiet stretches of river, beautiful stone towns, arched bridges, river birds, happy cycling families, and a surplus of castles. On this particular day, as I was cycling through a small, forested area, it started pouring down rain—and so I stopped to wait out the rain in the next town I reached: the beautiful waterfront city of Beaugency.

Manzanillo,-Costa-Rica

Pina Coladas, Tropical Sunshine, and Earning Adventures

Jim Sayers considers himself a very lucky man. “I have lived in three Central American countries—Panama, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica—and am in love with each one,” he says. “In each the people are so friendly. Add to that a wonderful year-round climate and most of the stressful issues associated with living in Canada or the U.S. are virtually non-existent.

Up-Helly-Aa

Torch-Wielding Vikings and a City of Ice

All around the world, people like to welcome the New Year in style. Take the city of Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas. Every January sees the return of the Junkanoo Parade—one of the oldest street festivals in the Caribbean. With drums and horns blasting through the air, the party atmosphere is palpable.

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Winged Terrors Keep the Bugs at Bay

Bats portend doom. So the folklore goes. In New Mexico a bat in the house means a death will occur within eight days. In the Midwest it’s within a few months. And if you live in Washington State, the good news is you have a whole year.

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Swimming Pigs and Evicted Mummies

Somoto Canyon is one of the oldest rock formations in Central America, and Northern Nicaragua’s most-impressive natural attraction. But it went undiscovered until 2004, when a team of Czech and Nicaraguan scientists stumbled upon this colossal natural wonder.

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Bikes, Beaches, and Oysters on France’s Secret Island

France has no shortage of elegant beach towns, but none transports you to a more graceful time and place than the island of Île de Ré. Floating in an ocean of clear blue-green water on France’s southwestern coast, this little-known island is a world of scrubby pine trees and golden shores.

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The Islands of the Riviera Maya: Caribbean Oases with Every Amenity

The islands of Mexico’s famed Riviera Maya offer stunning, sugar-sand beaches and warm, clear waters teeming with brightly colored fish. The climate remains fairly constant in the low- to mid-80s F. And while there is sometimes heavy rain from May through October, for the most part, you’ll enjoy weather that pilots call “severe clear,” with blue skies, gentle breezes, and over 225 hours of sunshine each month on average.

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France’s “Secret Venice” on the Mediterranean

Of the handful of canal towns that fancy themselves the “Venice of France,” the port town of Sète, in the Languedoc region on France’s Mediterranean coast, comes closest to deserving that title. Its blue-green canals are stunning, wide, and elegant. And, as in Venice, they are an integral part of daily life. But, swap Venice’s sleek gondolas for Sète’s workaday fishing boats. And instead of multi-million-dollar edifices lining the canals, expect to see rows of lovely, pastel-hued, 19th-century buildings with rusting, wrought-iron balconies and flaking façades.

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A Tour of Cuenca’s Culinary Pleasures

For years our hometown of Cuenca, Ecuador, has been crowned one of the world’s top retirement destinations. From my home, a short walk from the historic center of this colonial gem, it’s easy to see why. The low cost of living, the temperate climate, and the excellent medical facilities make for a comfortable life, and you’ll find plenty to do. I must admit, though, that when my wife Cynthia and I first arrived in Cuenca over five years ago, the culinary scene left a lot to be desired. But there has been an amazing transformation in Cuenca’s dining options.

Spain

A Mediterranean Adventure For Less Than $3,000 a Month (Per Couple)

A warm, clear blue-green sea lapping long, sandy beaches… Families eating and laughing together over slow, relaxed dinners with lashings of good food and even better wine… If you’ve ever watched a movie set in the Mediterranean, you might believe the region is solely a playground for the rich—the romping ground of Hollywood starlets like Brigitte Bardot. Scratch the surface and you’ll discover that is definitely not the case—an adventure in the Mediterranean could be yours for less than you might think.

Belize

Stalactites and Skeletons in Belize’s Mayan Underworld

If you’ve ever yearned for your own Indiana Jones-style adventure, be sure to add Belize’s most infamous cave to your bucket list. ATM—full name Actun Tunichil Muknal—is your ticket to the ancient Maya underworld, or Xibalba. Also known as the “cave of the stone sepulcher,” it’s near san Ignacio in the Cayo District, and it’s where the Mayas of old performed their sacred rituals long before Europeans came.

New-Zealand

New Zealand’s Highest Hotel and Most “Primordial” Hike

The North Island of New Zealand holds a treasure missed by hikers who limit themselves to the south Island. It’s the Tongariro Alpine crossing, a day hike among volcanoes—some dead, some smoldering, and all with an otherworldly feel that recalls the moon. The crossing sits atop Tongariro National Park, in the middle of the North Island. The night before my wife and I did the crossing, we stayed in the park at the Skotel,

Spain

Punta Paloma: Southern Spain’s Most Unspoiled Beach

Towering sand dunes, an expansive, golden-sand beach that goes on for miles, kite-surfers battling the strong, but warm, Atlantic wind…although Spain’s tourist hub of Marbella is just 63 miles to the east, here at Punta Paloma it feels a world away. It’s a sunny Saturday in early September as I stroll along this beautiful beach, looking for a spot to lay down my beach towel. But I’m not pushing my way through thronging crowds of sun worshippers to claim my little piece of sand.

Taiwan

Modernity and Tradition in Taipei, Taiwan’s Capital

Wacky and wonderful, polite and pristine, the beautiful island of Taiwan lies off mainland China’s southeastern coast. It’s home to a fascinating culture that celebrates modernism and tradition in equal measures. You can explore the best of this in just a few days in the capital, Taipei. Taipei’s frenetic night markets are a good place to start.

Bangkok

Explore Bangkok’s Vast Weekend Market

Thai handicrafts, jewelry, handmade paper, ceramics, a plethora of textiles and handbags galore…you can find it all and more at Bangkok’s Weekend Market, known as Chatuchak or “JJ” for short. No trip to the Thai capital is complete without a visit to this massive 35-acre market located north of the city, where you can get your shopping fix as well as a big dose of Thai culture. Just don’t forget to bargain!

Poland

Forests and Fairytale Towns on Poland’s Wild Frontier

Poland’s eastern border has long been wild and a little untamed. This is a region of magnificent primeval forests untrammelled by tourists and dotted with castles and medieval towns. A disputed land for centuries, today it is home to poles, Belorussians and Ukrainians, resulting in a rich mix of architectural styles and traditions. You’ll find Orthodox churches and colorful wooden houses throughout, and—in the town of Bialystok—palace Branicki, once known as the polish Versailles for its 18th-century, French-style design and landscaped gardens.

Lake-Garda

5 Great Towns in Rural Italy

I love Italy. It’s the country that brought us Michelangelo, pizza, and the concept of la dolce vita (literally translated as “the sweet life”). It’s where you’ll find history-steeped Rome with its special winter artichoke dishes and its well-kept ancient monuments…Venice with its air of mystery and its famous masquerade balls…and Florence with its art and culture and vineyard-covered surroundings.

Lyon-France

3 Affordable Regions and Cities in France

Living in Paris is wonderful, but it’s not the cheapest place on earth. This came home to me recently when, after having a simple cup of coffee in a café, I got socked with a €6 bill. Almost 7 dollars, for a not-so-big cup of coffee. Argh. Not all of Paris is so exorbitant, of course.

Hua-Hin

My Favorite Beach Town in Thailand

The famous white powdery sands that stretch around the islands of Phuket and Kho Phi Phi in southern Thailand have attracted international tourists for decades. But on the Gulf coast, just four hours from Bangkok is where you’ll find my favorite Thai beach town…Hua Hin.

olinda

The Prettiest Beach Towns on Brazil’s Northeast Coast

A recent trip to Brazil’s Northeast coast was where I fell in love with this country. Culture…food…music…art…dance…beautiful weather, and beautiful people—it has it all. And I discovered two of my favorite Brazilian towns—Pôrto De Galinhas and Olinda. The towns are a 90-minute drive from one another, with the city of Recife (the capital of the state of Pernambuco) nestled between the two.

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Burn Away the Old Year in Ecuador

Ecuadorians are famously fun-loving people, who party every bit as hard as they work. This is magnified during the winter holidays, when throngs of visitors from Quito descend on the Bahía-San VicenteCanoa corridor on the northern coast for their family vacation. Over the last few weeks of the calendar year, the broad sidewalks of Bahía’s malecón (boardwalk) fill with vendors.

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Swim with Golden Jellyfish, Hidden Guatemala, and much more…

During the second Chinese Opium War, in the 1850s, a penniless teen named Cheong Fatt Tze fled from China to Southeast Asia. There he would make his fortune as a merchant. He became so wealthy that he earned the moniker of “Rockefeller of the East.” Tze owned many fine houses throughout Southeast Asia, but none was as extravagant as the Blue Mansion, on the tropical island of Penang off the coast of Malaysia. It’s a colossal beacon of 19th-century Chinese extravagance

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Walk With History and Nature on Scotland’s Isle of Saints

Off the west coast of Scotland, in the Inner hebrides, lies a small island that looms large in Gaelic history and religion. If you love walking in the footsteps of legends, you’re an avid nature buff, or you’re seeking some peace and tranquility, a visit to the island of Iona is a very special experience. Only one mile wide and about four miles long, Iona sits alone in the cold north Atlantic. Even today you can only reach Iona by ferry from the Isle of Mull…

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Tagaytay: Highland Haven in the Philippines

The road winds its way up tree-lined slopes. Here, the hustle and bustle of the Philippine capital, Manila, seems a world away. As you breathe in the cool mountain air, you can already feel the heat and humidity easing off. But it’s the scenery that leaves a lasting impression. Below you, the forested hills descend to a massive blue lake with small islands jutting from its basin. Rising from the lake’s center is a volcano, whose crater holds yet another small lake. There are views you can tire of… but this certainly isn’t one of them.

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Europe’s Royal Beach Escapes

The Golden Age of Europe’s royal houses may be long over, but the Old world beach resorts where the continent’s aristocracy summered still cling to a fin de siècle grandeur… In these spots, you can enjoy urban luxuries as fine as the enticing, sandy beaches. Biarritz, on the southwest French coast, has attracted European royalty and jet-setters ever since Napoleon III and his Spanish-born empress, Eugénie, built a palace there in 1854.

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Lakes, Castles, and Legends in Europe’s Secret Corner

Imagine a country with the Alpine landscapes of Switzerland, the mountaintop castles of France and Germany, an excellent foodie culture…and all with about half the tourists (and a fraction of the price) of Western Europe, even in so-called high season. Slovenia isn’t a place you hear about often. It’s one of those well-kept secrets—beloved by those who know it, but hidden away from the tourist masses. Even if you visit in high tourist season—July and August—the crowds are manageable. You can have whole castles, pretty hiking trails, and breathtaking gorges almost entirely to yourself. And with the dollar strong against the euro now this southern European nation of two million people is even better value.

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A Slice of Bygone England on the Scilly Isles

The setting sun casts a glorious orange hue across the sky and sea as it sinks into the west. As you tuck into some fresh lobster caught just offshore, you recall the friendly seal that nibbled on your flipper during today’s dive. Dessert is a generous helping of thick, local ice cream followed by a walk on the golden-sand beach. Hard to believe you’re in England, of all places. We don’t associate Britain with secluded islands where peace and serenity abide, where warm weather pervades (at least in summer), and white-sand beaches lie unspoiled by throngs of tourists. But you’ll find all this on the Isles of Scilly, 28 miles off the coast of Penzance, Cornwall. (It’s the town on England’s southwest tip.)

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