Highlights of Vietnam & Cambodia

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Intrigued by our last post on Vietnam/Cambodia, featuring Pam’s visit with Vexplore Tours, but not sure what all the fuss is about? Here’s each highlight we mentioned, so you can truly appreciate everything Vietnam & Cambodia have to offer:

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1. Hanoi & Hanoi Old Quarter

Hanoi is the capital of Vietnam and a curious melange of East-meets-West, with French colonial architecture meeting traditional Sino-Vietnamese motifs. The most stunning part of the city is Hoàn Kiếm District, marked by the Hoan Kiem Lake and the Old Quarter. This area also houses most of the tourist attractions, from temples, cathedrals, bridges and the Hanoi Opera House.

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2. Tran Quoc Pagoda

This ancient, red Buddhist temple is located on a small island in Hanoi’s West Lake. Constructed in the 6th century, it was originally on the shores of the Red River, but relocated in 17th century due to risks of flooding.

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3. Van Mieu

The Temple of Literature was built in 1070, dedicated to the studies of Confucius. It’s remarkable for its elegant pavilions, halls and statues. If you’re lucky enough to be there during Vietnamese New Year Tet (February 5, 2019), you can watch the calligraphists at work outside the temple.

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4. Halong Bay

The much-revered Halong Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, drawing thousands of visitors each year. The name means “descending dragon,” and is known for its limestone karats and millions of isles. Reaching an area of around 1,553 km2, including 1,960–2,000 islets, you can imagine how picturesque it is to cruise in the canals here!

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5. Saigon

Saigon, or Ho Chi Minh City, is Vietnam’s largest city. As the capital of the French colony of Cochinchina, it still bears nods to its colonial influences in food, architecture, and culture

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6. Cai Be

The small town of Cai Be is a river/land settlement known for its floating market. Lying along the Mekong Delta, the soil is fertile, tropical fruits are aplenty, and people are known for their warm hearts and welcoming natures.

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7. Siem Reap

Welcome to Cambodia! This popular resort town is known for its traditional Apsara dances, Chinese-style architecture, souvenir shops, rice paddies and a vibrant food and drink scene. It draws many tourists on account of its proximity to the Angkor temples.

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8. Treak Village

Treak Village is a traditional town just 4 kilometers south of Siem Reap. Its a great destination to see how life in the countryside was like 100 years ago.

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9. Angkor Wat

If you haven’t heard of Angkor Wat, chances are you’ve been living under a rock! Called the 7th wonder of the world, Angkor Wat is the largest religious monument in the world, stretching over 162.6 hectares. Initially built as a Hindu Vishnu temple, it was converted to a Buddhist temple in the 12th century. Serving as a temple complex, mausoleum and cultural symbol, Angkor Wat is a must-see for all visitors to Cambodia.

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10. Angkor Thom

Thom goes down in history as the last capital of teh Khmer empire. Built in 12th century, it is known for its stone monuments, peaceful Buddhist visages, and ancient temples.

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11. Banteay Srei Temple

Also known as the Citadel of Women, Banteay Srei is a 10th-century site dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. Built of red sandstone, a malleable medium, the sculptures are revered for their miniature buildings, intricate carvings, elegant colonettes, and many other delicate features.

Intrigued and would like to know more? Call one of our agents to speak Vietnam, Cambodia, Southeast Asia — there and back again! 503-224-0180 or email inquiry@wittravel.com.

More of our posts on SE Asia, one of our most popular destinations for clients looking for a culinary and cultural destination!

Explore SE Asia with Vexplore Tours

Vexplore Travel: Unique Itineraries of SE Asia

The Quiet American”, and other classics of SE Asia

Festivals in Asia

 

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Pam in Vietnam with Vexplore Tours

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This week, Pam has joined Vexplore Tours on a fascinating discovery of Vietnam & Cambodia’s cultural & culinary delights. 

09 days / 08 nights
Hanoi – Halong Bay – Saigon – Mekong Delta – Siem Reap

 

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Day 1 – Arrive in Hanoi

Arrive in Hanoi airport, you have warm welcome from our guide. Transfer to hotel check in. Free time or you may take complimentary history tour “the Lost Bomb Shelter” of this hotel, an honorable mentioned in 2013 UNESCO Heritage Awards.

Accommodation: Sofitel Legend Metropole – 2 nights

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Day 2 – Hanoi (B,L,D)

Today we spend full day to explore Hanoi, the city’s cultural heart that bears trace of centuries of changing dynasties. We visit Tran Quoc Pagoda, the oldest pagoda in the city, and Van Mieu, a famous historical and cultural relic consisting of the Temple of Literature and Vietnam’s first university. Then enjoy traditional cyclo ride through Hanoi Old Quarter.

After lunch visit “Hanoi Hilton”, where American prisoners of war were once confined. We end tour at local coffee shop enjoy sips of coffee dripping from the filter. Transfer back to your hotel.

Dinner will be served at authentic Vietnamese restaurant.

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Day 3 – Hanoi – Halong Bay (B,L,D)

Morning, leave your hotel and drive to Dinh Vu Port. Onboard the Azalea Cruise. Cruise briefing and safety instructions. Start cruising and explore Halong Bay, UNESCO World Heritage Natural Site. Lunch and dinner on board.

Accommodation: Azalea Cruise / Deluxe balcony cabin – 1 night

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Day 4 – Halong Bay – Hai Phong – Saigon (B,D)

Enjoy Tai Chi session on the sundeck. Continue sailing across thousands of islets. Disembark and transfer to Hai Phong airport for flight to Saigon. We have dinner at local restaurant . Check in hotel.

Accommodation: Grand Hotel – 3 nights

Day 5 – Saigon – Cooking Class (B,L,D)

In the morning, we will join “Grain by Luke Nguyen cooking class”. Grain studio have its own fresh market on site. You will hand on cooking 4-­‐‑course meal, and demystify Vietnamese cuisine so you will gain a new-­‐‑found confidence that will inspire you to cook more at home. Lunch will be your own prepared and served at the cooking class. It will be a great Vietnamese cultural and culinary experience.

Afternoon, we have a sightseeing of the city’s colonial legacy; the Reunification Palace, the Central Post office, the Fine Art Museum and stop Ben Thanh Market. Tonight enjoy dinner at local restaurant in town.

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Day 6 – Saigon – Mekong Delta (B,L)

In the morning transfer to Cai Be. We take a small boat to visit interesting villages and workshops that produce local products. Go by boat deeper into the Delta to Tan Phong Island to visit workshops where villagers make unique products for export. Walk or bike on the island. Visit a traditional family home and enjoy Southern Vietnamese folk music. Return to hotel late afternoon. Evening is free on your own.

Day 7 – Saigon – Siem Reap – Cooking Class (B,L,D)

Arrive in Siem Reap, you have warm welcome by our tour guide.

Transfer to Treak Village (10 minutes drive from Siem Reap town). Learn to make traditional Cambodian Cuisine in a rural village. Classes include a visit to a local family and garden. Learn about cooking in a traditional Khmer household, local food customs and superstitions. Lunch will be served at lovely bamboo pavilion. Transfer to hotel check in.

Late afternoon. Inspection Villa Ni Say, cocktail and dinner will be followed.

Accommodation: Heritage Suites – 2 nights

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Day 8 – Siem Reap – Angkor Wat – Angkor Thom – Ta Prohm (B,L)

Early morning, we depart to Angkor Wat for sunrise picture. Back to hotel for breakfast.

After breakfast, we explore the wondrous Angkor Wat Temple Complex.

After lunch, continue vist Angkor Thom included the grand Bayon Temple, the South Gate, Bapoun, the Terrace of the Elephant, Leper King and Ta Prohm – the 12th century temple that has been left largely unrestored. Back to hotel. Evening is free, you may explore Siem Reap night market.

Day 9 – Banteay Srei – Siem Reap Departure (B)

Today we will visit Banteay Srei temple, the Citadel of Women with its very attractive carvings and Siem Reap market. Back to hotel check-­‐‑out. Transfer to the airport for departure flight. Have a safe trip!

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Inclusions

  • Private air-­‐‑conditioned vehicle;
  • Local English speaking guide in each city;
  • Accommodations based on Twin/Double sharing;
  • Meals (excluding drinks): daily buffet breakfast, 6 lunches, 5 dinners;
  • Boat fee & sightseeing fee as specified;
  • Government taxes and service charges

Excluded: Visas Vietnam & Cambodia; Travel insurance; Tips and gratuities; Personal expenses

More Tours from Vexplore

Northern Beauty with a Mighty Mekong Cruise

Cruising Mekong River on a Private Cruise

Cultural Mosaic of Indochina

Highlights of Cambodia

 

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Travel News: Holland America Line Partners With Rolling Stone Magazine

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Holland America Line Partners With Rolling Stone Magazine for Rock Room Music Venue
Cruise Critic reports Holland America Line continues to show its commitment to live music at sea with the announcement of its latest venue, Rolling Stone Rock Room. At a live-streamed event in Seattle yesterday morning, Orlando Ashford, president and CEO of Holland America Line, spoke about the new partnership. “We are so excited to tap into Rolling Stone’s incredible expertise to create a new live entertainment venue that will appeal to all our guests,” said Ashford.”Innovative and authentic music experiences are at the heart of all our entertainment offerings and is what distinguishes us in the industry. Classic rock appeals to people across generations because the music is universal, and Rolling Stone Rock Room will bring another incredible live music venue to our ships.” The rock ‘n’ roll-style space joins the Music Walk lineup of Lincoln Center Stage, B.B. King’s Blues Club and Billboard Onboard onboard the line’s Pinnacle-class ships. The Music Walk concept first debuted aboard Koningsdam in 2016, but individual venues have rolled out to other ships over the past two years. The space will feature a live band playing the greatest hits from four decades of classic rock. It will also feature its own themed drink menu. The Rolling Stone Rock Room will make its debut aboard Holland America’s upcoming cruise ship Nieuw Statendam in December when it launches and will be added to Koningsdam’s Music Walk that same month. 
 
Longest Nonstop Flight In America Announced
Travelwirenews reports Hawaiian Airlines announced the launch of “the longest regularly scheduled domestic route in US history, weekly between Boston and Honolulu ” which flies five days. Flight time from Boston to Honolulu will need around 11 hours, 40 minutes, the airline says. How far is that? 5,095 miles, challenging for most passengers, but doable according to the kind of seat and airplane configuration. Hawaiian Airlines Flights HA90 and HA91 will undoubtedly be flown by an Airbus A330, a wide-body twin engine that may typically seat about 275 passengers. Hawaiian said this flight could have 68 Extra Comfort seats in the primary cabin with a 36-inch pitch and 18-lie-flat leather seats in high grade, measuring 76 inches long and 20.5 inches wide in a 2-2-2 configuration. Later this season Singapore Airlines plans to start a flight that spends almost 20 hours in the air between Singapore and NY, about 9,500 miles. 
 
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Kenya Receives Formal Approval to Facilitate Direct Flights To The USA 
PR Newswire: Kenya Airways has received the Last Point of Departure (LPD) confirmation affirming that Jomo Kenyatta International Airport JKIA meets the Transport Security Administration (TSA) security standards. The US Ambassador, Robert Godec presented this letter to Kenya Airways Group Managing Director and CEO, Sebastian Mikosz at a ceremony held at the Pride Centre, Embakasi. The Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure, Housing and Urban Development, James Macharia witnessed the handing over of TSA’s Last Point of Departure security standards letter. This letter enables Kenya Airways to operate direct flights to the United States of America. “We are indeed delighted that JKIA has been granted the Last Point of Departure status. This will now permit us to fly daily non-stop flights to John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) New York as scheduled on October 28, 2018,” Kenya Airways Group Managing Director and CEO Sebastian Mikosz said.
   
Tons Of Marine Litter Removed In Arctic Cleanups
Seatrade reports as the Arctic cruise season draws to a close, the Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators looked back on the results of the summer’s efforts to combat marine plastic pollution. AECO’s environmental agent Sarah Auffret has been working with cruise operators to identify ways to reduce the use of disposable plastic on ships. AECO’s UN-affiliated Clean Seas campaign also focuses on enhancing the involvement of expedition cruise passengers in Arctic beach cleanups. According to Auffret, people are becoming more and more aware of the problem of marine litter. ‘The project is about cutting down on single-use plastic and cleaning up litter that has already found its way to the ocean, but it’s also about educating people. Photos of polar bears chewing on Styrofoam send a strong message about how important it is that we change our habits,’ Auffret said. AECO’s efforts to change attitudes and address the problem are already yielding results. Auffret is impressed with what has been achieved in a just few busy months. ‘I’ve visited 21 ships and witnessed the changes they are making, for example by installing water dispensers to get rid of disposable water bottles. We’ve also seen that our members are making great contributions on the cleanup side of things. We know that at least 127 cleanups were completed by expedition cruise ships this summer, often in remote coastal areas where they can make a big difference. Fishing nets and other debris can have devastating effects on local wildlife and every cleanup counts,’ Auffret said. 
 
Delta Joins United, JetBlue In Raising Checked-Bag Fees
Associated Press reports Delta Air Lines is joining two rivals in raising fees to check a bag on a flight within the United States. Delta on Wednesday posted new fees of $30 for checking a first bag and $40 for a second bag, increasing the previous fees by $5 each. The changes match increases recently imposed by United Airlines and JetBlue Airways. By midday, American Airlines had not increased bag fees. Southwest Airlines lets passengers check up to two bags free. Airlines have been pulling in more revenue from extra charges for several years. Last year, US carriers raised $7.4 billion from fees on checked bags and ticket changes, led by American, Delta and United.
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The World’s Biggest Airport Will Open in 2019
Reuters reports Beijing’s new airport is set to be the world’s biggest. The Beijing New Airport, opening in the southern Daxing district in 2019, will serve as a way to meet the growing needs of air transport in Beijing and enhance the country’s civil aviation presence. It will become the new base for China Southern Airlines and China Eastern Airlines, according to China’s National Development and Reform Commission. This will put the SkyTeam alliance members under one roof, allowing for easy flight connections for passengers. According to BuroHappold Engineering, part of a consortium team that won the competition to help design elements of the space, visitors will find an array of open and expansive interiors. The late architect Zaha Hadid designed the Beijing New Airport Terminal Building, which will be filled with civic gardens and include separate passenger areas for international and domestic flights to create a more compact building and reduce travel times. 
 
Some European Cities Don’t Want Tourism Caps
Skift reports attitudes over tourism have been boiling over across Europe’s hotspots in recent years, some of the findings in this report, such as residents not wanting tourism numbers to be capped, are very surprising. More than 1.3 billion people took an international trip in 2017, a record high, and much of that growth was centered in Europe. Yet 30% of residents in Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin, Copenhagen, Lisbon, and Munich said “there should be no limitations to the growth of visitor numbers” in their particular city, according to a new a United Nations World Tourism report. What’s more, the survey released Tuesday found that 23.8% of respondents believed “that there is still room for visitor numbers to grow further” in their cities, and only 2% (the lowest total) saying that “all tourism development should be stopped”. While this seems largely like good news for tourism-related businesses in these cities, those surveyed did express some concerns. Notably, the 13% who thought “the growth rate of visitor numbers should be slowed down,” the 12.7% who felt there was “still room for visitor numbers to grow further, but not in holiday flats,” and the 13.8% who said there was “still room for visitor numbers to grow further, but not in the peak season.” Taken together, more than half (54% percent) of those who responded had a positive response to tourism growth in their city, with no caveats.

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The Thorns & G Adventures in Portland

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In Portland this Saturday? Treats lie in wait!

They DID it!
The Portland Thorns beat Seattle Reign 2-1 in National Women’s Soccer League Semifinal playoffs last Saturday at Providence Park in Portland!!
Go Thorns!
This means they will be playing the finals at 2018 NWSL Championship Game THIS Saturday, September 22 at Providence Park.
Our friends over at G Adventures have shared a wonderful post on their blog about the Portland Thorns. Read up on their post on the quirky Rose City neighborhood blocks around Providence Park Stadium to stay on the loop!

In town October 16? You’re all invited to our exclusive G Adventures Event!

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It will be a night of G Adventures fun, lectures, snacks, to learn all about one of the world’s leading travel organizations.
G Adventures is a small-group adventure travel company known for their authentic, down-to-earth tours and philanthropist offshoot Planeterra.
Reservations are a MUST! RSVP as soon as possible for your spot!
G ADVENTURES EVENING
6 p.m. doors open, appetizers/drinks
6:30 p.m. presentation begins
Tuesday, October 16, 2018
Kara, our representative from G Adventures, will be in attendance
Call 503-224-0180 to Reserve your Spot Today
Dreaming about the Inca Trail? G Adventures’ flagship itinerary along the Inca Trail is one of the best and most-talked-about tours. They also offer 700+ different tours in 100+ countries. Come to our October 16 Event to learn more about this and other exciting tours.
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An Unsung Hero in Kenya

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Unsung Heroes in Tsavo West National Park…! What a great story from Kenya!

 

More Reading on Elephants & East Africa: 

8 Awesome Africa Accounts you should be following on Instagram

African Safari: Elephants at Tsavo East National Park

African Safari: Samburu Game Reserve Elephant Bedroom Camp

African Safari: Maasai Mara National Reserve

Conscientious Traveler: Iewa Wildlife Conservancy and Iewa Safari Camp

A Closer Look: Ithumba Safari Camp in Kenya

The Elephants that Came to Dinner

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Travel News: Will the EU End Daylight Savings?

Will The EU End Daylight Saving? 

The Associated Press reports The European Commission decided Friday it will push the EU parliament and member states to ditch the system of twice-yearly changes to the time following a citizens’ consultation. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker told the German ZDF network on Friday that “the people want that, and we will make it happen.” EU Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc said that 84% of the 4.6 million people who took part in the consultation “do not want the clocks to change anymore.” Participation among member states varied widely with 3.79% of Germans taking part compared to 0.02% in Britain. Juncker said that it would make no sense to disregard people’s wishes, indicating the European Commission proposal would go in that direction. The European Parliament and the EU member states would still need to approve the abolishment of the time change and could still impose further changes to the time system and, for example, decide whether it would be constant summer or winter time. Since 1996, the EU nations have moved the clock forward by one hour in March and backward again in October. It was harmonized across the bloc to meet concerns of the transport and logistics sectors in the single market. There are three standard time zones in the EU.

Latest on upcoming Chicago’s Hotel Strike

For the first time, UNITE HERE Local 1, Chicago’s hospitality workers union, has called a citywide hotel strike. Thousands of housekeepers, doormen, cooks and other hotel employees at 25 hotels began picketing on Friday, and plan to do so around the clock until an agreement is reached.

United Airlines Increases Baggage Fees In Step With JetBlue, Air Canada And WestJet 

Forbes reports United Airlines has become the first US legacy air carrier to raise its baggage fees in what has become an expensive week for North American air travelers. The week started with news that JetBlue was suddenly increasing baggage fees by 20% for most passengers for flights booked after August 27th. Mere hours later, both Air Canada and WestJet, the second largest carrier in Canada, followed in JetBlue’s footsteps. All three carriers ended up raising first-checked-bag fees to $30 from $25 while second-bag fees went to $40 from $35. JetBlue, alone, raised its third and later checked baggage fees from $100 to $150 while oversize and overweight bags saw a similar increase. JetBlue, Air Canada and WestJet pointed to increasing operating costs and tighter competition as justification for the increased fees, saying that it had been several years since the fees had gone up.

Santorini To Impose Limits On Cruise Arrivals As Infrastructure Comes Under Strain

WSJ reports on most days from March to December, thousands of tourists spill out of cruise ships and onto Santorini, where they pump money into the local economy as they eat, drink and make their way to the Greek island’s northern tip to watch the sun slipping into the Aegean Sea. Some officials here say they have seen enough. “The island is saturated,” Mayor Nikos Zorzos said. “We can’t handle anymore tourists.” Starting next year the island will cap daily cruise arrivals at 8,000, hoping to curb a flow of day travelers the mayor said is putting too much strain on infrastructure and supplies. The move has rankled cruise operators and business owners, who say such a move would choke off their economic lifeblood and that the onus is on the island to do more to accommodate the crowds.

Travel to Mars For A Day In All New Program at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex 

Travelwire news reports on a New Program at Kennedy Space Center in Florida: Travel to Mars For a Day by NASA. In this all-new program, students travel to the Red Planet for a day to live and work on Mars Base 1. Set in a landscape of the future, Rookie Astronaut teams have the unique opportunity to travel to Mars through the Mars Transporter Vehicle. Once there, work through the challenges of living on the Martian surface: manage the Base Operations Center on Mars, grow and harvest plants in the Botany Lab, and collect and analyze data that will be sent to real NASA scientists. Rookie Astronauts will also need to optimize energy intake for the Base by programming robots to clear debris from solar panels. Students will leave Mars with a better understanding of how to adapt to life away from Earth. It is an experience unlike any other on the planet! View available dates below.

Italy’s Florence Bans Eating In the Street

Italy might be the home of al fresco dining, but in the tourist mecca of Florence street-snacking has become such a problem that local authorities have introduced fines of up to €500 ($581) to combat it. The four streets affected by the ban — Via de’ Neri, Piazzale degli Uffizi, Piazza del Grano and Via della Ninna — are among the busiest in the city and the restrictions are in place during peak eating times: noon to 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Hungry sightseers often loiter here to feast upon some of Italy’s finest carbs and dairy. This, supporters of the measure say, exacerbates congestion in an already crowded city and also adds to a litter problem. CNN has the full story.

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8 Alternative Attractions in Paris you shouldn’t miss

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1. Auld Alliance in the Marais

This cozy Scottish bar is a must-see for any scotch aficionados. Yes, it might be known for its strong Scottish personality, but even if you’re in Paris, it’s a worth a visit. Sample a range of top-shelf whiskies or come for the cozy, intimate atmosphere. The name Auld Alliance refers to a historical agreement (we’re talking 1295) between Scotland and France against the English.

80 Rue François Miron. 

2. Pomze Paris

This quirky Parisian restaurant has been called a hidden gem, and is the only eatery in town to focus squarely on apples. Choose from the finest French ciders or order from entrées that know how to seduce the apple flavor right… duck, smoked salmon smoked on apple wood, foie gras, pan-seared cod fish… the tantalizing menu goes on and on.

109 Boulevard Haussmann.

3. Musée des Arts Forains

The private Musée houses a collection of funfair objects, curated by actor and antiques dealer Jean Paul Favand. Among the artifacts include 14 amusement rides, carousels, bicycles, Japanese billiards, a Hooghuys Organ, and so much more—all from 1850-1950. Open by reservation only, it also includes a Italian opera-based automata show and a glimpse into early 20th century world fairs.

53 Avenue des Terroirs of France.

4. Musée de Cluny

Though a bit on the beaten track, the de Cluny is a unique museum that shouldn’t be missed. Also known as the National Museum of the Middle Ages, the de Cluny is housed in a medieval structure, and stores illuminated manuscripts, stained glass, and most famously the 15th century tapestry cycle La Dame à la Licorne.

28 Rue du Sommerard.

5. Le Louxor Palais Du Cinema

Lovingly restored in 2013, this historic picture house is the perfect attraction for any cinephile. Watch French films in the company of breathtaking Art Deco and neoclassical staircases and columns.

170 Boulevard Magenta. 

6. 59 Rivoli

Marvelous 59 Rivoli was once a well-known artists’ haunt back in the 1800s. Recently renovated, it’s a celebration of creative and artistic spirit. The six stories are free and open to the public. On Saturdays and Sundays starting at 6 p.m. there are free concerts in the ground-floor gallery.

59 Rue de Rivoli.

7. Dodo Manège

This grandiose Art Deco carousel might look like a historic relic, but it was only erected in 1992. Located close to the Natural History Museum, you can hop onboard to ride a dodo, panda, or even an aepyornis (once the world’s largest bird, now extinct).

Jardin des Plantes, 57 rue Cuvier. 

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8. Montmartre Vineyard

It’s a wonder how it’s managed to survive so long, but the Montmartre Vineyard is Paris’ last active vineyard and a beautiful staple of the neighborhood for the past 800 years. Be sure to be in town in October, when the annual Fête des Vendanges kicks off in full force.

Rue des Saules.

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