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Tours Gone Wild

Segway tour

Here at T+L we’re increasingly concerned about the sanity and judgment of certain tour operators. Ever in search of novelty, they’ve lately stumbled upon some questionable gimmicks. We’ve seen a spike in sight-jogging tours (“Okay, folks, we have exactly four minutes and twenty-seven seconds to see the entire Left Bank—now GO!”) along with the highly suspect, deeply embarrassing trend of guided Segway rides (c’mon, people, is this actually any easier than walking?). Meanwhile, some jokers are even offering motorcycle-sidecar tours of Beijing. Terrific! As if the traffic and smog weren’t bad enough in a car, let’s go out in a tiny, exposed vehicle where we can get a front-row view of the city’s exhaust pipes while chain-smoking drivers ash on us out their windows. Sorry, but we’ll take the sidewalk.

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Peter Jon Lindberg is Travel + Leisure's editor at large. You can follow him on Twitter @PeterJLlindberg.

Photo by iStockphoto

Just Back: Exploring South Africa with World's Best Winner Micato Safaris

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We here at T+L know that our readers are the savviest around. So when I decided to go to South Africa essentially on a whim with three weeks’ notice, I decided it would be prudent to leave the trip planning to the experts. And if Micato Safaris’ impressive showing in our annual World’s Best Awards is anything to go by—they were voted Top Safari Outfitter for the ninth year running in the 2012 survey, out in the August issue—they must be the best.

The Micato experience begins before you’ve even boarded your flight, with the delivery of a mammoth safari bag filled with a bound itinerary, helpful packing list, and some gifts (a handy flashlight and a stylish passport holder), all wrapped in animal-print tissue paper to get you in the safari spirit. But even for someone like me, who likes to plot out every detail on my trips, it was nice to surrender myself to someone else’s expertise for a week and let them handle the logistics.

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Viewfinder: See Madrid (and the World) with PHotoEspaña

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Those of you traveling to Madrid this summer are doubly lucky because until July 22nd you will find PHotoEspaña in full swing. The photography festival, a long-standing highlight on the city's summer cultural calendar, brings more than 70 exhibits to town displaying work by history’s and today’s greatest lensmen.

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(Serious) Bike Tours of A Lifetime

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My bicycle excursions are largely limited to the Hudson Valley's very flat and nicely paved North County Trailway, with a cozy little tea shop at trail's end. So it will be no surprise that my bike has a spring-loaded comfort seat, an excess of safety reflectors, and a handlebar-mounted cup-holder for a can of, uh, Diet Pepsi. My biking attire leans more toward flip-flops and Hawaiian shirts than Spandex. Even so, I've always been impressed with those bikers I see hurtling over mountain passes and barreling along desert highways at 30 mph and more. So my interest was piqued by an upcoming series of luxury biking itineraries recently announced by Cannondale, the high-end bicycle manufacturer. Participants in the six tours offered in the inaugural season will follow the path of some of biking's most famous races in the United States and Europe, and even hang out with some of the sport's top athletes.

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ENDING SATURDAY: Vote to Win a $10,000 Dream Trip!

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Saturday is the last day to vote in the 2012 World’s Best Awards Survey!

All respondents will be entered to win a $10,000 dream trip, among other trip prizes.

Go to TLWorldsBest.com and tell us which hotels, resorts, spas, cruise lines, airlines, travel companies, and destinations you love most. We’ll feature your favorite places in the August 2012 issue of Travel + Leisure.

Hurry! Voting closes at midnight on March 31st. Cast your vote now! 

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. The 2012 World’s Best Awards Sweepstakes is open to legal residents of the 50 United States and the District of Columbia age 18 or older. To enter and view complete Official Rules, which govern this Sweepstakes, visit TLWorldsBest.com. Sweepstakes begins at 12:01 a.m. Eastern Time (ET) on 12/01/11 and ends at 11:59 p.m. (ET) on 03/31/12. Sponsor: American Express Publishing Corporation.

Briana Fasone is a digital editorial assistant at Travel + Leisure.

3 Weeks Left: World's Best Sweepstakes!

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Take T+L’s World’s Best Awards Survey and enter to win a $10,000 Dream Trip!

March is underway, which means there are only a few weeks left to cast your vote.

Go to TLWorldsBest.com and rate your favorite hotels, resorts, spas, cruise lines, airlines, and travel companies—and your top picks might make it into T+L’s annual World’s Best Awards issue in August 2012! Voting ends March 31, so time is running out.

A bonus? Respondents will be entered to win a $10,000 dream trip, among other first, second and third place trip prizes. What are you waiting for? Vote now!

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. The 2012 World’s Best Awards Sweepstakes is open to legal residents of the 50 United States and the District of Columbia age 18 or older. To enter and view complete Official Rules, which govern this Sweepstakes, visit TLWorldsBest.com. Sweepstakes begins at 12:01 a.m. Eastern Time (ET) on 12/01/11 and ends at 11:59 p.m. (ET) on 03/31/12. Sponsor: American Express Publishing Corporation.

Briana Fasone is a digital editorial assistant at Travel + Leisure.

Take a Smithsonian Scavenger Hunt

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Over the cold MLK weekend, my kids and I headed south to meet some cousins in Washington, D.C. and had the chance to test-drive a Smithsonian Art Adventure mobile-phone-based scavenger hunt from Stray Boots.

On Sunday morning, bundled up and armed with instructions for the hunt (the company’s website calls them “interactive walking tours” and “urban games”), we headed to the designated starting point, the Smithsonian Castle, punched our confirmation code into the phone, and the questions started coming.

Players participate via text message or, by using a smartphone, type answers into a web interface.  Points are awarded for correct answers and hints are available for incorrect ones, and additional interesting trivia is served up with each answer.  The cost to play is about the same as joining a human-hosted walking tour, but the phone-delivered narrative allows for more pausing, food breaks, and general messing-around, which suited our group better.

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Vote in the 2012 World's Best Awards Survey and Enter to Win a $10,000 Dream Trip

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Calling all globe-trotters! The 2012 World’s Best Awards Survey is live!

What tops your travel list? Click here to vote for your favorite hotels, resorts, spas, cruise lines, airlines, and travel companies—and the winners will be featured in T+L’s annual World’s Best Awards issue in August 2012.

PLUS Enter the sweepstakes! All respondents will be entered for a chance to win a $10,000 dream trip to the destination of your choice. First and second prize winners will also receive once-in-a-lifetime vacations—and all bespoke trips are planned by one of T+L’s expert A-List travel agents. Two third prize winners will each receive American Express gift cards worth $1,000.

Vote now!

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. The 2012 World’s Best Awards Sweepstakes is open to legal residents of the 50 United States and the District of Columbia age 18 or older. To enter and view complete Official Rules, which govern this Sweepstakes, visit TLWorldsBest.com. Sweepstakes begins at 12:01 a.m. Eastern Time (ET) on 12/01/11 and ends at 11:59 p.m. (ET) on 03/31/12. Sponsor: American Express Publishing Corporation.

Briana Fasone is an editorial intern at Travel + Leisure.

Quick Tour of Hong Kong’s Sheung Wan Neighborhood

Sheung Wan Hong Kong Tour

Hong Kong is a busy, busy place. I’m pretty sure I’m not the first person to say that. There’s been this massive rush to modernize all over the city, but here in the Sheung Wan district, things seem to slow down. Walking around, you’ll come across loads of graffiti by local street artists and contemporary art galleries like Cat Street (222 Hollywood Rd.; 852/2291-0006). And then nearby on Upper Lascar Row, you’ll see these old Chinese dudes selling antique jade carvings and Buddha heads. There are still high-rise buildings, but they’re generally older, with Man Mo Temple (124-126 Hollywood Rd.; 852/2540-0350) in the middle of them all. It’s a cool mix.” —Thomas Mauritsen, marketing manager

Interviewed by Christine Ajudua

Photo by Philipp Engelhorn

Papua New Guinea Tribesmen Spotted on Times Square

Wigman in NYC

I was one of the lucky New Yorkers who caught a brief, colorful glimpse of Papua New Guinea recently.  At an event sponsored by luxury tour operator Absolute Travel and the Papua New Guinea Tourism Promotion Authority, two tribesmen—a Wigman from the Huli tribe and a Mudman from the Asaro tribe—performed and mingled with the crowd to promote travel to PNG.  The promotion worked.  I want to go.

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