El Mercado Viejo in Masaya. Photo © Carles-Amalaric Navarro Parcerisas/123rf.

Sights in Masaya, Nicaragua

Soak in the culture and people-watching of Masaya’s plazas, especially the throbbing social and commercial heart of the mostly indigenous Monimbó neighborhood, peruse crafts markets where find all manner of delightful surprises: locally made leather shoes, brass, iron, carved wood, and textile handicrafts, plus paintings, clothing and hammocks, and cool off after an intense morning in the market on the windswept malecón.

Guatemalan huipiles are common handicrafts that are often hung in houses and hotels as decor. Photo © Al Argueta.

Shopping in Guatemala City

You can find almost anything you might possibly want or need in Guatemala City. In addition to many modern shopping malls stocked with the latest fashions and electronics, there are handicrafts centers, galleries, and bookstores catering to both Spanish and English readers.

Stairs leading to an old building near Perfume Pagoda. Photo © Tuomas Lehtinen/123rf.

Day Trips From Hanoi

Beyond the city limits, Hanoi’s suburbs and surrounding countryside offer a few easygoing day trips. Take a jaunt to the booming traditional handicraft villages of Tam Coc and Hoa Lu, Ninh Binh’s main attractions, and visit the serene pagoda complex of the beautifully austere Perfume Pagoda.

Lily pads at Victoria Regia. Photo © Andrew Dier.

Sight-Seeing Along the Río Amazonas

Several sights provide excellent photo ops along the Río Amazonas westward from Leticia to the Parque Amacayacu. These are usually visited as part of a package one-day tour offered by all hotels and travel agencies, but for greater flexibility and to avoid feeling part of the herd you can charter your own boat. To be specific about where you want to go and to negotiate a good price, here’s an overview and highlights of the area.

Mosaic mural in Hanoi. Photo © Dana Filek-Gibson.

Vietnam and The Arts

Traditional Vietnamese musical and visual arts display an interesting variety of mediums and influences thanks to its past relationships with China and France, an influence that continues into modern artistic expression.

The colorful Paisa town of Jericó. Photo © Flaperval/123rf.

Visit Jericó, Colombia’s Paisa Cowboy Outpost

Jericó and Jardín are two (colorfully painted) peas in the same pod. Both are fiercely traditional Paisa pueblos, and they won’t change for anybody. Of the two, Jericó feels more remote, and less visited, and therein lies its charm. Visit for its unique handicraft, the carriel, and its sleepy streets lined with brightly colored wooden balconies and doors that are a playground for shutterbugs.

A vendor sells fresh fish at the Mercado de Bazurto. Photo © Andrew Dier.

Unique and Casual Shopping in Cartagena

Shopping in Cartagena runs the gamut from a familiar modern mall setting to sprawling marketplaces, making it easy to find everyday essentials or more unique purchases and experiences. Here’s your quick and concise shopping guide to Cartagena.