You expect Marco Polo to round the corner at any moment. Pingyao is the very rare Chinese city, perhaps the last of the country’s great walled towns, to have escaped the successive waves of modernization that have swept China over the past 100 years—the 1911 Chinese Revolution, the 1949 Communist Revolution, the 1966–76 Cultural Revolution, and the rampant industrialization and globalization of the last generation. Its 72 watchtowers look out over a turbulent sea of tiled roofs, with curving eaves tipped with ceramic dragons. Red paper lanterns float over the pedestrian streets like so many autumn moons. The city is a time machine into the Chinese past and traditional Han culture. It’s all here, Pompeii before Vesuvius, a fine-grained, highly detailed, movie-set-perfect microcosm of traditional China, built during a seminal and flourishing period. The nearly one-square-mile town includes the ornate, tiered, three-story City Tower and numerous large Confucian and Taoist temple complexes, all part of one of the world’s best-preserved ancient cities.
Pingyao is 400 miles southwest of Beijing and accessible via train. The closest airport is Taiyuan.
The annual Glimmerglass Festivalon Otsego Lake, near Cooperstown, New York, has long mounted a vibrant four-opera summer season. But under Francesca Zambello, now in her fourth year as general and artistic director, it has broadened its purview to become an essential cultural destination.
As if airfare wasn’t expensive enough already, the TSA has just announced an increase in the federal Sept. 11 security fee—its first since the administration was founded in 2002. Effective on tickets purchased on or after July 21, the new fees are more than double the current ones.
Chile’s Atacama, China’s Gobi, Egypt’s Sahara, and Antarctica are widely considered the driest places on Earth—and they're all captured in Desert Runners, a documentary on the high-endurance 4 Deserts Race Series, which pits runners against salt flats, sand dunes, and snow drifts across the globe.
With airlines devaluing their loyalty programs left and right, the door is wide open for OTAs to benefit—and we’ve certainly seen them try. Orbitz has recently introduced a rewards system (enhanced by their credit card) that offers instant cash back on every purchase—as much as ten percent on certain purchases. Hotels.com offers a free night for every ten you book. And now Expediais jumping back into the game, with a refreshed loyalty program that aims to compete. But does it? Here are the basics you need to know.
The "fun ships" are becoming healthier too: Carnival Cruise Lines announced this week that, starting October 9th, it will ban smoking on stateroom balconies, joining an ever growing fleet of companies restricting where guests can light up.
Cigarettes will still be permitted in designated areas—such as certain nightclubs, casino areas, and several outdoor decks. Why the new restriction? According to Carnival’s official statement, the shift comes in response to the “preferences of a majority of our guests.” It also brings Carnival in line with its sister companies Cunard and P&O, which updated their policies last August. Other brands owned by the Carnival Corporation, such as Seabourn and Holland America, still permit balcony smoking.
Your day starts in the dark. At 4 o'clock in the morning, you can still hear hyenas calling. The bush is awake.
Saitoti Ole Kuwai is a field guide at the African luxury lodge, Singita. He says of his daily experience: "The area by itself is like a huge sea, so you never know what kind of fish you're going to catch. What's needed for you is the passion, the passion to wait."
From spotting a majestic female leopard to seeing zebras traverse the landscape, this video gives good reason to add "safari" to your bucket list.
Gabrielle Blitz is Associate Social Media Editor at Travel + Leisure.
With an unintentional Radiohead reference for a name, and a rapidly expanding fan base that includes the prime minister of Ireland, The Gloaming is not your typical world music chart-topper.
In just the past three years, the five-man, Irish/American group (Dennis Cahill on guitar, Martin Hayes on the fiddle, Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh on hardanger fiddle, Thomas “Doveman” Bartlett on piano, and Iarla Ó Lionaird providing vocals) has played to sold out crowds at international venues like Dublin’s National Concert Hall, won the approval of mainstream critics at The Irish Times and The New Yorker, and most recently, put out a debut album that simultaneously pays homage to Celtic melodies and innovates Irish folk music for the modern ear. Bag pipes and Riverdance, this is not.
When Iron Springs Resort re-opened three summers ago, it was cause for celebration. The storied resort, on a remote and windswept section of the Washington Coast, had been a popular retreat for Seattle and Portland families for decades, but had fallen into disrepair. Rather than see it crumble from neglect, longtime regulars Doug and Bill True and their spouses Janet and Ruth bought the property and renovated it from head to toe. (Brothers Doug and Bill had been coming since they were boys in the 1960's.)
This summer, James Beard Award-winning chef Hugh Acheson adds yet another restaurant to his growing Georgia empire. Following in the footsteps of his four existing Peach State successes, The Florence, Acheson's highly anticipated take on Italian cuisine, opened this June in a former ice factory, just minutes from Savannah College of Art and Design's campus.
Serving a menu of contemporary Italian fare infused with Southern ingredients (think a Sicilian fisherman's stew filled with fresh Savannah seafood or Neapolitan-style pizza piled high with local cheeses), the restaurant is a welcome addition to the coastal city's growing food scene.
Below, the Top Chef judge fills us in on his favorite Savannah spots, travel tips for foodies, and what diners can expect from The Florence.
Keeping track of your itinerary details, loyalty programs, and reservations can be a headache without the right tools. T+L takes a look at the best apps.
Worldmate Gold: Wish all of your travel details would show up on your phone’s calendar? WorldMate’s premium app will make it happen—whether you use Google, iCal, or Outlook. It can sync flight schedules, restaurant reservations, apartment rentals, and more—and if you add a hotel booking, the app will automatically try to find you a better price. Also handy: built-in weather forecasts that appear alongside your appointments. ($9.99 per year; Android, iOS, Windows Phone)
A new travel tech discovery we are digging? Borrowlenses.com. The site, which is owned by Shutterfly, offers cameras, lenses, and a broad range of photography accessories for week-long rentals. The idea solves an age-old travelers’ dilemma without the typically-requisite financial commitment—if we had a nickel for every time a T+L editor has canvassed the office for pro-grade photo gear before heading off on a safari or transatlantic adventure, we’d be made. Here, lenses that retail for well over a thousand bucks can be rented for as little as $20. For instance, a $1,395 Carl Zeiss wide angle lens (great for landscapes) runs $65 for a week, while a $6,749 Nikon 200-400mm f/4G lens (for sports and wildlife shots) costs $271 to rent. Travel packages bundle a few essentials and a tripod for $131, and most camera brands are supported. Time to sharpen those photo skills.
Nikki Ekstein is an Assistant Editor at Travel + Leisure and part of the Trip Doctor news team. Find her on Twitter at @nikkiekstein.
A new agreement between The Port Authority of New York and wireless provider Boingo means that travelers passing through JFK, LaGuardia and Newark—along with Stewart International Airport in upstate Newburgh, New York—will soon be able to access 30 minutes of free Wi-Fi.
Read between the lines: New York City is finally making strides to update its notoriously low-tech offerings.
In an ideal world, my carry-on liquids would begin and end with: toothpaste, cleanser, face cream. The problem with packing a simple dopp kit is that today’s beauty regimens can be anything but simple. Faced with deciding between myriad creams, serums, toners, exfoliates, and more, I yearn for one product that would take the place of ten—meaning a lighter suitcase and a simpler routine, all around.
Enter Clinique’s new Smart Custom-Repair Serum, a catchall formula that tailors its performance to address your personal skin care needs.
T+L Editorial Assistant Katie James shares her take.
Ray, as the new robot is called, picks up vehicles from six drop-off "transfer boxes" near the terminal before leaving the cars in one of 249 parking spots available through the program—the first of its kind in the world.
There’s no shortage of five-star hotels here in Manhattan. Five-star hotels with top-notch spas—now, that’s another story. The Four Seasons New Yorkrecently upped its game with a complete design overhaul, replacing the crammed check-in area with a warm, silver-and-chocolate-toned lobby that feels both spacious and inviting.
British Airways knows the importance of a “good flight’s sleep,” which is why they began testing its ‘Happiness Blanket’ on passengers last week. Volunteers on board the BA189 Dreamliner service from Heathrow to New York were among the first to try out the hi-tech throw woven with neurosensors and fiber optics to monitor a user’s relaxation patterns.
It's one thing to bring back souvenirs so terrible that they land you on your friend's blacklist, and quite another to tote home tchotchkes from overseas that send you straight to jail. To ensure you experience the warm fuzzy feeling that comes from hearing a US Customs agent say, "Welcome home" here are eight souvenirs you should absolutely not bring back with you.
Cool off with your family at one of these top affordable water parks.
Texas Schlitterbahn, on Galveston Island, Texas, opened in 1966 and calls itself the world’s first “water resort”—but don’t write it off as old fashioned. The park opens new rides almost every year, and with more than 35 water attractions, family adventures, and thrill slides, there’s something for everyone. Teenagers will love the Cliffhanger, with drops of 81 feet and speeds approaching 40 mph, while younger visitors prefer the Treasure Island kids area, a shallow pool designed to entertain the smallest Schlitterbahn guests. Tickets for the park are $46 adults, $36 kids. Stay at the nearby historic property, The Tremont House, A Wyndham Grand Hotel, where rates start at $139 on weekdays and $199 on weekends.
Traveling abroad? Be sure to keep your gadgets fully charged. A new mandate by the Transportation Security Administration is asking airport security to pay special attention to travelers’ electronics, following reports of terrorist threats involving explosives concealed in phone look-alikes. While Apple and Samsung phones were specifically called out on the TSA’s memo, any electronics that can hold a charge—laptops, tablets, smartphones, etc.—are being screened. Those that don’t turn on will be confiscated, and their owners will be subject to further investigation.
What are the best towns, cities, or regions in America for burgers or pizza? What about sports teams, beaches, or nightlife? We're devoting this week's Twitter chat to our popular America's Favorite #TLPlaces survey. We'll be sharing some current survey standings during the chat, so be sure to retweet if you agree or vote to change the results here.
Join our America's Favorite #TLPlaces Twitter chat on Tuesday, July 8th from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. EDT.
T+L's Deputy Digital Editor, Adrien Glover, @xoadrien
Last week, Delta introduced three Boeing 757-200 aircraft to its fleet, which come complete with fully reclining flat-bad seats in the BusinessElite cabin. For now, they’ll connect JFK and Los Angeles; as of summer 2015, the seats will be on all flights between JFK and Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle. Arranged in a 2-2 configuration, they have an average bed length of 76 inches and feature personal 16-inch video monitors.
Brooke Porter Katz is an Associate Editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter at @brookeporter1.
A recent study by the Center for Real Estate and Urban Analysis at George Washington University ranked the 30 most-walkable U.S. cities—and our nation's capital, Washington D.C. is ranked no. 1.
This challenges the results of a Travel + Leisure survey: last year, travelers ranked Portland, Oregon the friendliest city for pedestrians and public transportation in our America's Favorite Cities survey.
People are feeling good. Job numbers are up today; consumer confidence is rebounding. That means more people spending on travel. AAA Travel projects that 41 million Americans travel 50 miles or more from home this holiday weekend. That's a 1.9 percent increase from last year. The majority are hitting the road, with more 34.8 million driving. But if you’re flying, the goods news is that you probably paid five percent less for your ticket than last year, according to AAA.
Some advice for drivers: A lot of people start heading out right about now so expect heavier traffic from about 6pm tonight through tomorrow.