El Fortín, a circular fortress tower, in Heredia, Costa Rica.

Heredia, Costa Rica’s City of Flowers

Heredia, seven miles north of San José and colloquially known as La Ciudad de las Flores (City of Flowers), is surrounded by coffee fields. A pleasant atmosphere pervades the grid-patterned town despite its jostling traffic, making it easy to wander. There’s something here for history buffs, coffee aficionados, nature lovers, and after all that, the nightlife is pretty good too.

The Imperial City Gate. Photo © Dana Filek-Gibson.

The Imperial City in Hue, Vietnam

From the early 19th century through the end of the Vietnamese monarchy in 1945, Hue’s Imperial City housed an impressive cache of temples, palaces, and administrative buildings. Of the 148 buildings in the walled Citadel complex, today 20 remain. Wide, opulent palaces and dimly lit temples pepper the now-overgrown grounds, boasting a mix of traditional Vietnamese architecture, vibrant lacquered woodwork, and ornate rooftops, not to mention 143 years’ worth of imperial history.

Paso Fino horses. Photo © Suzanne Van Atten.

Puerto Rico’s Paso Fino Horses

Although not indigenous to Puerto Rico, the Paso Fino horse is closely associated with the island because it was here and in the Dominican Republic where the Spanish conquistadors first introduced the mixed-breed horse. The Paso Fino are superb saddle horses thanks to their unusual gait, high level of endurance, great agility, and remarkable obedience.

Puerto Ferro Berdiales Lighthouse Ruins Archeological Site. Photo © Michael Hopkins/123rf.

Sights on Vieques, Puerto Rico

From the overgrown ruins of a sugar mill to a restored 19th century Spanish fort to an incredible bioluminescent bay, there’s plenty to see on Vieques–and most you can do for free. Here are the most interesting sights to see, along with the island’s best beaches for a break between all the activity.

Iglesia San Francisco in Old Town Quito. Photo © Paul Prescott/123rf.

Sights in Quito’s Old Town

Quito’s Old Town is what makes the city famous, containing a huge number of colonial churches and religious buildings set around elegant plazas. Old Town is cleaner, safer, and a joy to wander around following a recent multimillion-dollar regeneration. While there are excellent guided maps and multilingual tours to be had, independent travelers will find exploring easy with expert author Ben Westwood’s account of the area.

La Muralla, a nearly 400-year-old wall that surrounds Old San Juan. Photo © Suzanne Van Atten.

Puerto Rico’s Iconic City Wall: La Muralla

The most enduring symbol of Puerto Rico is La Muralla. Nearly 400 years old, the city wall is composed of rock, rubble, and mortar that wraps around Old San Juan from the cruise-ship piers on San Juan Harbor to the capitol on the Atlantic Ocean. Its iconic sentry boxes serve as a symbol of the island’s Spanish heritage and resilience in an ever-changing world.

Street facade of the Castillo Serralles. Photo © Mtmelendez (Own work) [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

Explore Historic Castillo Serrallés in Puerto Rico

Set high on a hill overlooking Ponce is a startling reminder of the height of the city’s flourishing sugar industry, when its port was the busiest on the island. Castillo Serrallés, built in 1934, is an impressive feat of architecture housing an astonishing array of antiques. Visit for its history and its beautiful surrounding gardens, including a butterfly garden.

A Victorian clock tower on Fort Christian in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, USVI.

Sights in King’s Quarter on St. Thomas Part 1

King’s Quarter is the oldest part of the city of Charlotte Amalie on St. Thomas. Exploring the steep step-streets of Government Hill in the western environs of King’s Quarter is the best way to experience the city’s historic charm. Here’s part one covering major points of interest such as historic sites, museums, and walking tours.

Castillo San Felipe del Morro. Photo © Suzanne Van Atten.

Old San Juan’s Two Historic Castillos

History buffs and especially those interested in military history should take time to explore Old San Juan’s two historic forts, Castillo San Felipe del Morro dating from 1539 and Castillo de San Cristóbal dating from 1634.

Inside the Dau Go Cave in Ha Long Bay. Photo © Nikolay Grachev/123rf.

Visiting Ha Long Bay’s Caves

Ha Long Bay is home to caves, islands, a few small beaches, and sleepy fishing villages. Since the bay is accessible only by boat tour, you’ll have little to no control of which sights you see once you’ve booked your trip. Here’s an overview of the caves visited on tours to ensure your trip includes those you’re most interested in.