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    Port Macquarie – Your next escape

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    If you are looking for a coastal holiday in the North Coast of NSW, then you should consider Port Macquarie. This is a beautiful and diverse region packed with lots of things for you and your family to see and do. You will see a range of beautiful beaches and waterways in this town.

    Back onto the Pacific Highway driving through the Manning Valley, at the mouth of the Hasting River, Port Macquarie is the city of getaway. This place is known for its extensive beaches, beautiful waterways as well as the home of Koala.

    Furthermore, Port Macquarie has a range of things to see and do for people of all ages, including scenic river cruises, surfing with dolphins, camel safaris on the beach, cultural exhibitions, art galleries, oyster farms, and much more.

    Paradise of water lovers in Port Macquarie

    Port Macquarie is the water lovers’ paradise with 17 beautiful beaches and surf lifestyle, such as Rocky Beach, Flynns Beach, North Shore, Nobbys Beach, Shelly Beach, Miners Beach and Lighthouse Beach.

    Town Beach, closest to Port Macquarie’s town centre, is a popular beach in the area with the CBD only a few minutes’ walk away.

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    Vacation Location- Eye-Catching Santorini, Greece

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    Santorini Island is considered to be the most striking and lovely destination in the Greek island. It is located at southernmost island of the Cycladic group in the Aegean Sea, and is located 63 nautical miles north of Crete. Its surface area is 73 sq. km. The Red Beach in Santorini, Greece is a very exclusive vacation location due to the amazing display of large red and black rock slabs which cradle the beachfront. The stunning look of these ancient volcanic ruins deliver a stunning contrast to the azure blue waters of the Aegean Sea. This dynamic contrast beckons thousands of beachgoers and seekers of adventurer each year. Lots of vacationers come strictly for the remarkably photographic view, while others come to enjoy the beauty of the cool waters as well. Hotel lodgings designed to satisfy any preference and restaurants and bars for all tastes make the Red Beach a red hot vacation location. Located near the ancient site of Akrotiri, the Red Beach offers a welcome interval from the hustle of city life.

    The perfect hideaway location, the Red Beach is reachable by vehicle and boat only and is surrounded on nearly all sides by tremendous rock formations that lend seclusion and add to the fantasy of being lost at sea on a deserted island. Black lava rocks line the seashore and crystal clear waters wash on shore to offer relief from the warm Mediterranean sun. Beachgoers shield themselves with tiki umbrellas and relax on straw chairs in the shade. The added difficulty of reaching the beach rewards the lucky few who make the trek with exceptional scenery and island ambience.

    Diverse surroundings differentiate the Red Beach from other seafronts in Santorini, Greece. This locale struggles to maintain an ambiance of peace and serenity, with fewer restaurants and bars for a quieter enclave of vast craggy cliffs and a scenic black sandy coast. Lull the day away in perfect harmony as you enjoy an escape from the demands of daily life and make your way to paradise. Be fascinated by the dynamic contraposition of colors that await you at the Red Beach. The Red Beach is a naturist friendly place, thus you may be privy to nude sunbathers while enjoying this seascape. That’s how relaxing and open visitors feel as they peel off the pressures and fade which accompany urban living and get back to their more natural selves. Enjoy mouth-watering authentic seafood fresh from the sea, and indulge in an exotic cocktail made especially for you. Ancient glamour awaits as you set sail for Santorini, Greece and enjoy the eye candy of the Red Beach. Leave your cares behind and prepare yourself for wonderful surprises and the rekindling of your sense of wonder.

    Summary:

    The beauty of Santorini is a combination of human efforts and nature. If the individual really wants to spend quality time with his family or loved ones then Santorini Island is considered to be the best place. Person is able to get everything here easily from gorgeous surrounding to luxurious hotels. Red Beach earns its name from the red-volcanic sand that colors the beach and the volcanic rock wall structure just behind it.

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    Do a Grand Canyon National Park Helicopter Ride This Easter Vacation

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    Easter is on April 20, 2014, and although the day is on a Sunday and is a holiday too, you can still take a chopper tour of the Grand Canyon since they operate on the usual schedule that day. If this Easter is anything like years past, it will be a busy time for chopper tours to the Grand Canyon.

    The two main departure points for Grand Canyon tour helicopters are Grand Canyon National Park Airport (GCA) in Tusayan, AZ (just outside the National Park’s main gates, South Rim flights only), and Las Vegas (West Rim flights only). Vegas is fairly close to the West Rim, it only takes around 50 minutes to get there by helicopter.

    Currently, there aren’t any air tours (either helicopter or airplane) that fly between the South and West Rims. You might be able to take a flight out of Vegas on a Vision Airlines 737 jet and go to the South Rim as one leg of a tour. If this works out, I will post an update and let you know.

    However, no helicopters fly from Las Vegas to the South Rim because it is too far away and out of the range of the tour choppers. It is possible to go from the city of Vegas to the South Rim though. You can take a plane to GCA and board a helicopter there.

    Touring The South Rim

    South Rim helicopter tours are categorized by time in the air. The standard tour allows you a half an hour of air time while the extended tour gives you 50 minutes in the air. The standard tour takes off from GCA, flies to the North Rim by way of dramatic Dragoon Corridor (the widest, deepest section of the entire canyon), and then returns.

    The extended tour version covers the same flight path but also adds a leg that takes you to the East Rim. This takes you over amazing sights such as the Desert Watchtower, Zuni Point, Zuni Corridor, and Imperial Point.

    Tours Of The West Rim

    At the West Rim, you can opt for a landing tour or just take an air-only tour. The West Rim offers many fun options when it comes to things to do.

    If you have a limited budget or are short on time, then the air-only flights are just perfect. They fly out of several Vegas-area airfields and will treat you to views of Hoover Dam and Lake Mead in addition to the West Rim itself. That being said, I strongly recommend that you spring for a landing tour if it’s at all possible.

    One of these most popular tours is the one that lands at the bottom of the canyon. The tour comes with a picnic lunch and about 30 minutes of free time for exploring the canyon on foot. You’ll be near the Colorado River, which looks peaceful, but is actually the mighty force that carved the Grand Canyon out of the earth. The West Rim is the only place where helicopters are allowed to fly below the rim and land on the canyon floor.

    If you’re going to the West Rim, then you don’t want to miss out on the chance to see the Glass Bridge or Skywalk. This bridge allows you to stand 4000 feet above the canyon floor and 70 feet beyond the edge of the rim.

    The Skywalk is made up of 40 huge transparent glass panels that cost $250,000 each. You don’t have to worry though, the bridge is strong enough to withstand an 8.0 earthquake and winds over 100 mph. From the apex the views are unequaled – especially of scenic Eagle Point.

    There is no better way to see the Grand Canyon than by helicopter. Remember that many people travel over the holidays so Easter is expected to be a busy time for tour operators. Because of the higher demand, many of the best tours will sell out quickly. Book your tour online about one week in advance so you don’t get shut out.

    Have a great time on your Grand Canyon adventure!

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    Grand Canyon Helicopters – The Greatest Way to View the National Park from Vegas

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    If you’re interested in Grand Canyon helicopters that fly out of Vegas, I recommend taking one of the air-only versions if you’re short on time. They don’t land at the canyon, they just fly over the high points, therefore they are quick tours and less expensive than those that land and include other activities. An air tour departs from Vegas and provides aerial views of Lake Mead, the Grand Canyon, the Colorado River, Grand Cliffs Wash, and the Glass Bridge or Grand Canyon Skywalk.

    Although the tour operators refer to the air-only tours as basic tours, they are far from lacking in adventure. They offer fantastic value, particularly the tours that take off from the Vegas Strip.

    Tour Departures

    Air-only tours on Las Vegas Grand Canyon helicopters depart from either the Strip (how cool is that?) or the municipal airfield in Boulder City, Nevada ? a suburb of Sin City that’s a 30-minute shuttle ride away. The Strip flights are the ultimate in convenience. The airfield is only about ten minutes away from most of the big hotels. The tour operator arranges all your transportation needs and will even send a limo to pick you up for the tour. There is nothing better than that!

    However, you’ll pay more for the convenience and personal service than you would if you depart from an airfield located off the Strip. For example, tours departing from Boulder City cost less. That’s because getting there is less convenient and you’ll need to take a half-hour shuttle ride to get to the airfield. And because there’s no limo, you won’t get any extra style points. Plus, there are a lot more flights that depart from the Boulder City airfield than take off from the Strip. Since there are more available tour seats, the ticket prices are lower.

    However, riding to your helicopter in a limo is certainly a very nice touch. Especially when your Grand Canyon flight is meant to celebrate an anniversary, birthday or other special occasion? It is much more exciting to be chauffeured in a limousine rather than a passenger van.

    Even though the Strip departures cost more, they almost always sell out. That’s especially true if you wait too long to lock down your seats. I always recommend booking at least a week in advance, but two weeks ahead is even better. Plus, the price will be lower, it’s like airline tickets that cost more the closer it gets to time to take off.

    The Aircraft

    The tour helicopters are EcoStar 130 choppers. This aircraft is really the only way to go because it’s significantly bigger (and therefore more comfortable) than other helicopter models. The windshield is huge and wraps around the aircraft so everyone gets a good view, plus the seats are arranged theater-style for the ultimate viewing experience.

    To Conclude

    Las Vegas air tours can be deluxe (Strip takeoff and limo) or basic (Boulder City takeoff and shuttle van). Other than that, the tours are identical. Both types of tours are air-only and use EcoStar 130s. Just remember to book your tour in advance so you can get a seat. Seats on these tours fill up quickly and the tours will be sold out if you delay.

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    Absolute Best Grand Canyon Tours for Mother’s Day

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    Mother’s Day will be here soon. Have you made plans yet? Thrill your mom by taking her on a fun-filled tour of the Grand Canyon. There are several tours to choose from so you’ll find one that suits your mom perfectly.

    Mother’s Day falls on Sunday, May 11 and most all of the tours operate on the usual schedule that day. That is to your advantage since it gives you more choices in tours and times. Try to book an early morning tour if possible, especially now the weather is warm.

    You can choose to tour the Grand Canyon by raft, bus, airplane, or helicopter. Let’s take a quick look at these choices.

    Grand Canyon Helicopter Tours

    The tour helicopters depart from Vegas or the Grand Canyon Airport in Tusayan, AZ. Choppers from Vegas fly to the West Rim of the Grand Canyon while flights in Arizona go to the South Rim. One reason to consider a West Rim helicopter tour is you can land on top of the rim or on the canyon floor, the West Rim is the only place this is permitted.

    A great option for your mom would be a landing tour that includes a champagne picnic on the bottom of the canyon, a relaxing boat trip along the Colorado River, or passes to the thrilling Grand Canyon Skywalk.

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    Fort Bard Aosta: from military stronghold to museum

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    Bard, the smallest town in the region of Valle d’Aosta, is dominated by a splendid fortified building which stands on a rocky outcrop: il Forte.

    To define it as a strong set of buildings that are located on the top and at different levels, and from which you can enjoy the panorama of the valley, is a bit simple, because you are dealing with a work of a really imposing military architecture. This group of buildings that we can admire and visit today has a very ancient origin, which has its roots in history and dating back to none other than the sixth century AD, when King Theodoric put here a garrison of 60 men to guard the borders of his reign. Today, with the clash of arms as a memory, the Fort Bard Aosta houses the Museum of the Alps and various exhibitions.

    At Forte di Bard exhibitions and cultural events are held throughout the year, even though it seemed doomed to abandonment until a few years ago, like many other buildings belonging to the State, and its last role as a powder keg could not predict that today it would return to its former glory. Disposed of by the State in 1975, Forte di Bard has become a regional asset, and the small Valle d’Aosta, with a big financial commitment, was able to restore it and enhance it to the point that it has become one of the main museum attractions of the territory.

    As mentioned earlier, the history of the fortress of Bard is long and, although we know almost nothing about its early centuries, it is mentioned in many medieval chronicles of travelers who, as early as the eleventh century, remained astonished by its grandeur and defined it as impregnable. Its strategic position on a spur overlooking the entire valley that narrows at that point, allowed to have full control of the road connecting Piedmont to France, and it was for this reason that the Viscount of Aosta, Boso, enlarged it and left it at the disposal of his heirs until the thirteenth century. After a period in which the fortress was used by the local feudal lords, the Bards, Amedeo IV of Savoy took possession of it (approximately half of the thirteenth century) and the fortress remained with the Savoy until their exile in 1946. Widened over the centuries by the dukes and princes of Piedmont, it met the last readjustment in the nineteenth century, when the Savoy began to build buildings along the slope in anticipation of a French attack that, in fact, never happened, and the fort came to be transformed into a military prison and then in a powder keg .

    Currently two of the three main buildings which compose it are used as exhibition space, educational and interactive workshops. Only the lower part of the building, which is located at the lowest point, is closed to the public, while in the second, called Vittorio Opera, host an interactive program ( The Children’s Alps ),that encourages the younger to mountain-climb. Going up there’s the Piazza D’Armi con l’Opera Carlo Alberto, which hosts the Alpine Museum and temporary exhibitions on ground floor, while in the prisons below you can learn the history of the fortress.

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    Grand Canyon National Park – Helicopter Specials Throughout Memorial Day Holiday

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    The Memorial Day holiday is right around the corner. Bookings for air tours on Grand Canyon helicopters are skyrocketing.

    Memorial Day falls on Monday, May 26th this year. Since it is a three-day weekend, many people head for the Grand Canyon. So don’t wait until the last minute to book your trip. It is always a good idea to book your hotel and Grand Canyon tour at least one or two weeks ahead of time.

    Tours of the canyon originate in Las Vegas, Sedona, Phoenix, Flagstaff, Scottsdale, and Williams.

    Las Vegas Tours To The West Rim

    First, it’s important to know that choppers flying from Vegas only do the West Rim. The South Rim is just too far for them.

    However, that is certainly no problem, because the West Rim is a lot of fun. You can fly to the floor of the canyon at the West Rim, and that is the only place it is permitted in the National Park. The descent is a thrilling experience.

    Las Vegas tours come in two types, one is air-only and the other lands at the canyon. Both of these tour types give you aerial views of Lake Mead, Hoover Dam, the Skywalk, and the Grand Canyon. The landing tours, though, also touch down at the top or at the bottom of the gorge (the latter is way more popular). Once the canyon floor, you can enjoy a relaxing lunch or add on a boat ride along the smooth waters of the Colorado River.

    The Vegas chopper tours depart from an airfield in Boulder City, Nevada or from the Vegas Strip.

    Strip flights are better for several reasons. It is certainly more convenient to your hotel and the tours even pick you up at your hotel and take you back. If you take a tour out of Boulder City, you will ride a van shuttle to the airfield. If you depart from the Strip instead, the tour operator picks you up in a limo. How cool is that? You also get to see the Strip as part of the tour.

    South Rim Flights

    South Rim helicopter tours are ideal when you depart from a city in Arizona. Just keep in mind, none of those tours can land at the bottom of the canyon.

    The South Rim has its own claim to fame though, and that is its natural beauty because of the wilderness area it encompasses.

    There are two tours available here too, one of them is thirty minutes long and the other one lasts fifty minutes. The longer tour is best because it flies you over about 3/4 of the entire National Park area.

    Combo tours are also available at this Rim. Right now, the two most popular combo trips are the ones that include a ride on a Harley-Davidson motorcycle and the ones that include a sunset Jeep ride (it’s not overly rough).

    Look for a deluxe option when you book your flight. Why do that? These tours use the EcoStar 130 choppers and they offer an exceptional experience. These helicopters have huge windshields that wrap around the cabin so you have great views, plus you have lots of personal space and stadium-style seating for unobstructed sightseeing. EcoStars are really the only way to go.

    To Summarize

    The Grand Canyon will be much busier than normal during Memorial Day weekend. The date is fast approaching, so book your tour as soon as possible. If you plan to depart from Vegas, choose a tour that takes off from the Strip. Both rims offer tours on EcoStar choppers, so try to snag a seat on one of them for the best flight possible.

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    Charming Travel in Italy: Discover the Langhe area

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    Langhe is the name of a hilly area in Piedmont region, northern Italy, which is particularly known for its historical, cultural and food heritage.

    Thanks to its beautiful castles and the breathtaking views from its hill, it has become a very popular destination for charming travel in Italy.

    In this brief guide, you will find a list of the must-see attraction in Langhe area.

    Barolo – As above mentioned, castles are one of the main characteristics of this area. One of the most popular one is Barolo Castle located in an ancient middle-age hamlet in the Barolo village, which also gives the name to the worldwide known wine, that visitors can taste in one of the numerous “cantine” (wine cellars open to the public) or in one of the luxury restaurants while enjoying a typical Piedmont meal.

    The Wine Museum (WIMU) – If you really want to appreciate this area you must not miss the wine museum, located inside the Barolo Castle, where visitors are brought through an enchanting path to discover the castle’s artworks while tasting this precious wine.

    Alba – This village is another must-see attraction of Langhe area. Take a tour of corso Vittorio Emanuele and discover the charming historical centre with its small shops where you can find typical product such as the exquisite white truffle or the Langhe hazelnuts. Every Saturday morning in the centre is held a picturesque market, be sure not to miss it!

    Grinzane Cavour’s Castle – 5 km away from Alba, you can find the Ginzane Cavour’s Castle. This famous castle was built for the important statesman Camillo Benso, Count of Cavour, who lived in Grinzane for 19 years. The castle is listed among the UNESCO World Heritage sites and contains an ethnographic museum and a charming restaurant.

    Breathtaking views – If you like breathtaking views and panoramas, you must not miss La Morra belvedere, a panoramic view point where you can admire the beautiful hills and vineyards of this area. Also, do not miss the sunset from Altavilla, another enchanting village, only a few km away from Alba.

    Truffle Hunting tour – Accompanied by an expert of the territory with truffle dogs, visitors can go hunting this precious mushroom and discover many curiosities about it such as: how to recognise a high quality truffle, how to store it properly and of course how to cook it.

    Taste the regional food – Last, but not least, while in the Langhe region you must taste some dishes of the Piedmont tradition such as “vitello tonnato”, a veal meat roast garnished with a creamy sauce made of tuna, mayonnaise and capers; or try the “maccheroni del ferretto” a special pasta made by using knitting needles.

    The best period to visit this marvellous area is spring-summer, but also autumn can be very attractive thanks to the evocative red, yellow and brownish colours that covers the sinuous hills.

    A tour of the Langhe area is perfect for a romantic getaway since it offers luxury hotels and restaurants and also for those who love bike tours and trekking activities.

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    Grand Canyon Attractions – Ultimate Sightseeing Trips During Winter

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    Touring the Grand Canyon is a great way to celebrate the Christmas holiday season, but you need to start planning now. Whether you tour by helicopter, bus, or airplane, visiting the Grand Canyon is an adventure you’ll always remember.

    The North Rim closes for the winter, reopening in March. But you still have to rims to choose from. The West Rim or the South Rim. For these tours, you’ll need to decide if you’d like to begin your tour at the South Rim or in Las Vegas.

    Tours out of Vegas go to the West or the South Rim. However, when you are at the South Rim, you can only visit the South Rim.

    Beginning your tour in Vegas has its benefits, because that way, you have the most tour options. You’ll find a variety of tours by bus, chopper, or airplane. However, the only tours that operate on Christmas day itself are the airplane tours.

    Helicopters

    Helicopter tours originating in Las Vegas head only to the West Rim, because the South Rim is too far from the city. The choppers that go to the West Rim can land on top of the rim and on the canyon floor. One of the more popular tours is the one that flies to the canyon floor where you enjoy a champagne picnic before taking a raft ride on the Colorado River.

    Helicopter sightseeing packages from Vegas come in basic and deluxe packages. The basic tours take off from Boulder City, which is about thirty minutes outside of Vegas. Deluxe packages include a limousine service and begin in The Strip. These tours will also give you a view of The Strip on your way back from the Canyon.

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    Exploring Vietnam with SpiceRoads Guide Anh Co Nguyen

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    In the business world there is a quote that goes something like “highly engaged employees make the customer experience, while disengaged employees break it”.

    A truism, if ever there was one, it was a quote that refused to leave my mind after recently completing the SpiceRoads Cycle Tours ‘Vietnam Heritage by Bicycle’ tour with Guide Anh Co Nguyen.

    As anyone who has been lucky enough to complete a guided cycling tour anywhere in the world will very quickly tell you – especially someone who has had a bad experience – a guide has the ability to either make or break a tour.

    If you are assigned a guide who is engaging and organised, is sensitive to his or her group’s needs, has a sense of humour, possesses leadership skills, is multi-lingual and has an in-depth knowledge of the area being cycled, you are virtually guaranteed to enjoy an amazing cycling adventure.

    Conversely if your guide possesses next to none of the above abilities, your tour has the potential to be a huge disappointment.

    Fortunately this definitely wasn’t the case with Anh Co leading the way on our seven-day tour which saw us cycle 250 or so kilometres from Hue to the ancient town of Hoi An in central Vietnam.

    A true character in every sense of the word, Anh Co clearly fit into the ‘outstanding’ guide category given his engaging personality, attention to detail, local knowledge, sense of humour, language skills and ability to make sure that the needs of each and every one of his guests were catered to.

    An extremely proud Vietnamese who grew up near Da Nang during the Vietnam War, Anh Co has been a guide for 15 years – 10 with Spice Roads – and clearly during which time has spent a lot of time with tourists from around the world.

    The result, given his determination to constantly improve his English language skills from his cycling guests, is a man who has mastered the art of idioms, colloquialism and slang.

    As such, when it was time to resume cycling after a break the command from Anh Co wasn’t “It’s time to go.”, but “Let’s hit the road, Jack.”, or if we were nearing the end of the day “Home, James and don’t spare the horses.”, if we were going too slow “Shake a leg.”, or if he believed we were in for an easy stretch of cycling “It’s a piece of cake.” etc, etc.

    Over the course of the week of cycling Anh Co’s mishmash of Australian, American and British sayings had us all constantly laughing, so what did we do? We taught him a new one, of course.

    With the 10-kilometre climb up Hai Van Pass approaching on day 5 and one of the ladies in our group not sure if she could make it, the collective message was “No piking on the hill.”, a saying Anh Co immediately picked up on.

    In the future you can be sure that anyone struggling to complete a day’s cycling or to climb a hill will be issued with the “No piking.” message from Anh Co, with the saying now clearly entrenched in his armoury.

    A man clearly in love with his career as a SpiceRoads tour guide, Anh Co said he was constantly looking forward to his next tour.

    “I love what I do,” he said. “Cycling is good for health, I meet people from all over the world and I am able to show people my country.

    “Most of our clients are about 35 to 70 and have a lot of life experience; I call them ‘wise old owls’… that is why when I talk to them they are very interested in my stories. It always works out well, I learn a lot from them and they learn about Vietnam from me.

    “I know that Vietnam is a beautiful country. We have many, many landscapes and heritage sites listed by UNESCO, and I am very proud of my country.”

    While he leads cycling and walking tours all over Vietnam, Anh Co had no hesitation in picking central Vietnam as his favourite part of the country.

    “The area has mountains, rivers, beaches, jungles, rice paddies and a lot of history,” he said. “Further south the Mekong Delta is a little bit too flat and up north it is very mountainous; the central parts of Vietnam are suitable for everybody.”

    Certainly anyone who books a SpiceRoads Cycle Tours tour and is lucky enough to be assigned Anh Co as their guide is guaranteed to have a great time.

    Quite simply he is a fantastic guide who will do everything in his power to ensure you enjoy every aspect of your cycling holiday.

     

    Hi I’m Gary Corbett, an Australian journalist with a passion for recreational cycling, travel and life in general. Since discovering the ultimate holiday experience – organised cycle touring – in the mid-2000s, I have gone on to compete guided, self-guide and solo cycle tours across the world. My goal for the future is to see more of the world from the seat of my trusty Trek 520 touring bicycle.

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