With The Budget of a Worker Bee, Travel Like a VIP

March 2, 2014 Updated: April 24, 2016

Rarely are currency exchange rates as good for the American dollar as that of Asian countries. In Asia, the American dollar carries a lot of clout and with the recent devaluation of the USD; it is a good thing that these countries offer an excellent trip for so little cost to Americans.

    Let’s start with Japan. For every American dollar, the Yuan is worth 92.99 to an American traveler. Japan is a land of ancient feudalism, with as its human cultural symbols, geisha and samurai.  It has famous cities, like the city of Hiroshima that gained dubious fame as the first city on Earth destroyed by a nuclear bomb, to Kyoto that contains the districts of Pontocho and Gion, the famous Geisha quarters.

    Kyoto is the second most popular tourism city. It is a major source of Japan’s culture, from which springs the famous entertainers in all of Japan, their Geisha, the famous artisans and entertainers. It is the only city in Japan to remain undamaged during WWII. It contains a thriving spiritual center, with two thousand Buddhist and Shinto shrines and is among the best preserved places in Japan. Of the many temples, few compare to the Kinkaku-ji, the Temple of the Golden Pavilion; Ryōan-ji, famous for its rock garden; and one built by the Imperial Family in 1895 called the Heian Jingū, which celebrates the era in which the first and last emperors who resided in Kyoto, making it temporarily the capital of all Japan. The Kyoto Imperial Palace and Sento Imperial Palace, Katsura Imperial Villa, ; and the Shugaku-in Imperial Villa are three sites in Kyoto that celebrate the connections with the Imperial Family, since they were the homes of the emperors. It is the home of Japan’s feudal past and is revered accordingly by the Japanese.

    Nara is a place to go if you want to enjoy nature at a close range. The city has tame white deer that walk around freely and tourists can pay for biscuits to give to the deer. Most enjoyably, the deer in Nara have learned how to respond to the bows of tourists with one of their own. The only real flaw in this experience is if a tourist doesn’t have a set of biscuits to offer. The reason the deer are so revered is because in Japanese mythology, the mythological god Takemikazuchi arrived on the back of a deer to guard the local temples built for worship. It has both Buddhist and Shinto temples, which are a fundamental part of Japanese religious life. I’m recommending these two cities if you with to have a solid, incomparable experience in the most cultural and religious based cities in Japan that epitomize their fascinating past and impressive integration of religion and past/current culture.

    Singapore. Singapore gained a dubious fame when in 1994, eighteen year old American Michael Peter Fay, while living with his father, was caught vandalizing cars and was sentenced to punishment through caning. This type of punishment is also meted out to rapists and murderers, which can send a person into shock through blood loss and trauma. This has reinforced the reputation of the harshness by which crime is punished in Singapore. Despite the harshness though, it has also gained Singapore a reputation for being one of the safest places on earth for tourists. The currency exchange is 1.37 Singapore Dollars for every one American dollar.

    Singapore has a place in history of being a strategically placed territory over which many battles have been fought for thousands of years, the most recent being in WWII. After the “Battle of Singapore,” the Japanese surrendered Singapore into the hands of the British Crown, which eventually resulted in the Singapore government being formed and eventually they gained independence in 1965. Since Singapore has become a popular tourist destination. The country has a highly efficient public transportation system and plenty of taxis and car rental facilities. In addition, there are many tour packages that will ensure that groups of tourists can travel together and get the best possible experience in the event that a tourist is not comfortable touring on their own.

    The weather is balmy, with an atmosphere that is consistently hot and humid (the country being located 85 miles from the Equator). This is excellent for people who like to lounge at the beaches and enjoy soaking up the sun and surf. If you prefer the nightlife though, there are plenty of clubs for the avid dancer. To get the best and not waste time, it would be a good idea for the tourist to research and find out via reviews made by past tourists who have experienced the nightlife. There are ratings for each club that will ensure that the night crawler will have the best fun and know where to go. The hotels, given the exchange rate, are highly affordable and there are the usual moderately priced, middling priced, and high priced hotels like the Four Seasons Singapore. The average tourist is likely to be able to afford something pricier that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford in a more developed country. It is ironic really that one of the most famous Hindu temples in Singapore is located right in the middle of the touristy Chinatown.

    For someone looking for a more natural experience in the countryside, there is the rainforest of Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, and the Night Safari at Singapore Zoo. The Night Safari offers tours of the Singapore jungle at night, which with special illuminating lights the tourists, are able to view up to one thousand nocturnal animals from one hundred different species groups living in their natural habitat. Places are given on a first come, first serve basis. At the D’Kranji Farm Resort, tourists will have the unique experience of residing at a farm, which grows food for the country and at the same time offers tourists the enjoyment of living at a farm and experiencing the rustic enjoyments of a soothing, tranquil environment from the hustle and bustle of the city and also combines a spa to pamper oneself, retail kiosks, and delicacies such as the local cuisine of fried black pepper kuey teo and coffee pork ribs. Guests can also enjoy trying their hand at picking and harvesting. With an exchange rate of 1.37 Singapore dollars for every one American, the average tourist can enjoy the best without paying as much as they would anywhere else.

Hong Kong is where the interested tourist should go if they want something more cosmopolitan and bustling. Hong Kong offers much for families, such as the Ocean Park Aquarium, Water World where families and enjoy water slides and swimming pools, and a staple of many entertainment cities, a Disneyland. It is referred to as the Pearl of the East and jewel of the Orient because of its ability to combine their ancient heritage with current technology and modern business practices. The Pearl River Delta and South China Sea is legendary for its expansive skyline and natural harbor. The currency exchange rate is generous, which for every one American dollar, the tourist gets 1.76 Hong Kong dollars.

    Hong Kong also offers much to the tourist with cultural pretenses. There is the Hong Kong Heritage Museum, City Hall Museum and Art Gallery, and the Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts, which has among its graduates many famous Chinese actors and actresses. It was established in 1984 and is famous among the other learning institutions in Asia. It emphasizes the cross training in Western and Chinese traditions and learning methods. As well as traditional Chinese theater, it offers degrees up to a Master’s Level in dance, drama, film, television, entertainment arts, theater, and music. 750 students are enrolled by the Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts for full time education programs and 770 students attend the junior programs. Two years after its founding, the annual Hong Kong International Dance Conference has been host by the Academy and continues to the present day.

For music, the largest symphony orchestra has been the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra. It was established through the cooperative circumstances of the British and people of Hong Kong and called the Sino-British Orchestra, but in 1957 was renamed the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra. With the funding of the government in 1974 the orchestra evolved into a professional one. The Chinese name for the orchestra is “Xiānggǎng Guǎnxián Yuètuán” and the traditional symbols for writing are “香港管弦樂團.” The music for the orchestra is composed by natives of Hong Kong and with commissions and premiering numerous works of art, Hong Kong composers are promoted and through numerous works of music (contemporary), one of which was the five-work cycle of Voices of Hong Kong, by John Chen, David Gwilt, Daniel Law, Law Ping-leung and Richard Tsang. For the first time in 1986 the orchestra made its debut in Mainland China in an internationally covered event. They toured several cities and the Maestro Kenneth Schermerhorn invited and directed soloist violinist Stephanie Chase and solo pianist Li Jian to perform.

In 1995, in the autumn, the orchestra toured the United States in nine cities, and then proceeded to tour Canada as well. Seven years ago in 2003 the orchestra debuted in Europe; in the cities of Belfast, Dublin, Paris (performing in the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées) and London (Barbican Hall). Since the 2004/2005 season, the Artistic Director and Chief Conductor has been Dutch Edo de Waart, from Holland. Internationally renowned David Atherton is a past director, but is now the orchestra’s conductor laureate. Sixty percent of its budget comes from the government and the rest comes from sponsorships, performance fees, box office revenue, advertising and donations. ON a yearly basis more than 140 performances are conducted to audiences of up to and over 180,000 people. Venues include the Concert Hall of the Hong Kong Cultural Centre and the City Hall Concert Hall.

Vietnam is famous in America for being a country in which the war that America lost, and the word ‘tour’ has implications other than enjoying the sites. “Tour of Duty” is a euphemism for when soldiers are shipped off for a year’s duration to the battlefield. Vietnam fell to the Communists, but has become a popular place for tourists, American and otherwise. The hotels are up, the nightlife is thriving, and resembles very little the terrorized country that was caught in the crossfire of two military powers determined to maintain control. Those years are now thankfully over and the exchange rate of 18,955.00 VND for every one American dollar promises a vacation budget fit for a king. Such are the ironies of life; a once rabidly Communist country has become a capitalist hub.

The first place the nature oriented tourist should visit is Stork Island. In the northerly state of Hai Duong, those traveling in the early winter will be able to see thousands of storks, herons nesting among the bamboo and trees. The island is located at An Duong Lake in Chi Lang Nam Commune, which is one of the most attractive and eagerly visited tourist sites in the Thanh Mien District in the North. After the dyke of the Red River collapsed du rot a massive flood, the island was formed and from all over Vietnam, it eventually became a place of refuge for the storks that live in the country. From among seven different species there are 15,000 storks and from among three species of herons, there are five thousand herons. When they stay in September to April they create a breathtaking scene of natural beauty.

For shopping, the city of Hanoi offers 36 streets of shopping and provides a mixture of modern and old facets of their heritage with temples and monuments located in the Old Quarter of the city, which is where the shopping is located. There is always something to do and see in Hanoi, even if you’re just interested in the ancient art and literature. The largest city in the country, Ho Chi Minh City, is home to the spiritual and fundamentals of Vietnamese culture. It’s also formerly known as Saigon, and many tourists still refer to it, despite the formal name change. Because of its vast cultural offerings, it is known as the “Paris of Asia.” The city is breathtaking, with wide roads lined with trees, French villas, and the other side of town the city’s Chinatown is Cho Lon and with its rich diversity it is a tourist’s delight.

    For the tourist seeking tranquility from the busy cities, there is, after Stork Island, there is Halong. This is a tranquil bay that contains limestone islands with massive caves and is loaded with lush vegetation. With a modern touch, lighted walkway trails and quiet fishing villages for visitors to tour and observe. With many historical sites, Hue is another important place for the nature-loving tourist to explore. It’s located on the banks of the Perfume River and filled with historical sights that will delight the amateur history buff and professional historian with its ancient palaces that contain gardens, friendly people, and lakes and the cuisine is considered exquisite.

     Ah, India. Land of the Raj, the famous worldwide monument to love that is the Taj Mahal, and one of the few places where Alexander the Great failed to conquer. India is made up of many states, all of which were once ruled by various kings, known as the Maharajas. The country is a vital, colorful place that is as ancient in culture as Japan and China. It is established as a democracy since their independence from Colonial rule, a movement of which was led famously by Gandhi. Maintaining a perfect balance between their ancient heritage and modern developments, the country is awash in culture, modern fun, and also historical places that take the breath away. A person can travel like a Maharaja on the fantastically contrasting exchange rate, which consists of 44.4650 INR for every one American dollar. The tourist visas last for up to half a year, which is generous; for all the traveling a tourist can do and no matter how much is seen however, the most well traveled tourist will likely only glimpse a sliver of the whole of India. The religions honored in India are as varied as the colors that the saris that the Indians wear. For the religious buff, scholar, or believer, there are temples dedicated to the Hindu religion, Buddhism, Sikhism, Christianity, Islam, and Jainism.

    First of all, the shopping is a favorite of tourists who go to India. There are nine major shopping districts which are: Kashmir, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Maharastra, Goa, Uttar Pradesh, and Karnataka. Each district specializes in a specific product that makes their district famous for its product. Karnataka is famous for their exceptionally high quality fragrant industry of sandalwood. Especially around Mysore, carvings of sandalwood are found in abundance, along with incense. Goa produces an alcoholic drink called Fenni in great quantities and is a product that is booming in sales. Tourists can buy them in decorated bottles, the two flavors being cashew and coconut. It also has an industry that sells clothes to hippies.

Maharastra specializes in selling footwear to tourists and Indians, and in the province of Aurangabad, they are known for their Himroon weaving industry of saris, bedspreads, and shawls. With its productions methods imported from Persia (now modern day Iran) centuries ago, Kashmir creates carpets that are works of intricate art. For someone looking for woolen caps and shawls, the Kulu Valley in the province of Himachal Pradesh is where the tourist should go. The area is influenced by the Tibetan culture as well and makes silver jewelry; meditation bowls and beads, prayer wheels and flags, with traditional Tibetan rugs are also there in profusion. Punjab, (also famously known as the name of Daddy Warbuck’s Indian servant in the musical “Annie.”) is the state that hosts a dying art, the art of embroidering bright patterned flowers onto tapestries, clothes, and tablecloths.

For wooden crafts, the best place to go would be Bihar, the place of the country’s ancient woodcarving, one of the oldest crafts of the Indian state. In the Petna area, the artists that have settled there do wood inlays and the talented Indian artisans create Madhubani ceremonial folk paintings there. In West Bengal, the state Kolkata has specialists that create and design terracotta figurines, wall hangings, and bowls. West Bengal, as having the intimidating reputation as the cultural capital of India, they also create musical instruments. For the tourist looking for copper and brass items, the best place to go would be the state of Uttar Pradesh. In the province of Agra, there is a vibrant market that sells marble, inspired by the Taj Mahal. Lastly, the Kanpur state sells leather works while the Varanasi province is considered the ideal place to buy silk and saris. A word of caution: be careful when buying and be sure to pay attention to the quality and purity of the saris.

The nature of India is as exquisite and varied as the shopping and religions of the nation. There are tigers in Bengal, expeditions that take tourist to places like the Eklingji & Nagda Temples, Lake Pichola, Ranakpur Jain Temples, Mehrangarh Fort, Havelis, Sam Sand Dunes, Camel-breeding Farm, Shekhawati, Amer fort with elephant rides, and the Taj Mahal, which is the most famous monument in the world, dedicated to everlasting love and devotion. The following packages are based on taking tourists to see the natural wildlife. Below is the name of each tour package and what each one offers:

 

Tryst of the Wild: This is a seventeen-day tour.  

The exceptional places tourists can go to:

  1. Kanha National Park                             
  2. Taj Mahal
  3. Bandhavgarh National Park              
  4. Bharatpur Ghana Bird Sanctuary

 

 

Desert Expeditions: This is a thirteen-day tour.

The exceptional places tourists can go to:

  1. Eklingji & Nagda Temples                    
  2. Lake Pichola
  3. Ranakpur Jain Temples                       
  4. Shekhawati, Amer fort with elephant rides
  5. Mehrangarh Fort, Havelis                  
  6. Camel-breeding Farm
  7. Sam Sand Dunes                                      
  8. Taj Mahal

 

Best of Kerala: This is an eleven-day tour.

The exceptional places that tourists are taken to:

  1. Cochin                                                                
  2. Munnar
  3. Cardamom House                                         
  4. Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary
  5. Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary                     
  6. Trivandrum
  7. Coir Island                                                       
  8. Kovalam

 

Call of The Wild – Crossing the Golden Triangle: This is a thirteen-day tour.

The exceptional places that tourists are taken to:

  1. Amber fort                                             
  2. Jaigarh fort
  3. Sanganer                                                 
  4. Bagru
  5. Chambal                                                  
  6. Darrah Wildlife Sanctuary
  7. Ranthambore National Park           
  8. Jungle Safari
  9. Bharatpur Sanctuary                         
  10. Taj Mahal

 

Birding in Corbett International Park and Indian Himalayas: This is an eleven-day tour.

The exceptional places tourists are taken to:

Naina Peak                    
Nanda Devi
Corbett National Park                
Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary
Kosi River                    
Wall Creeper
Greater Yellownaped Woodpeckers        
Brown Fish Owl
Himalayan Kingfisher                
Brown Dipper

Wildlife Holiday Packages in India: This is a fifteen-day tour.

The exceptional places tourists are taken to:

  1. Red Fort            
  2. Chandni Chowk
  3. Jama Masjid            
  4. Qutub Minar
  5. Humayun’s Tomb        
  6. Sariska National Park
  7. Amber Fort            
  8. Royal Palace Museum
  9. Corbett Tiger Reserve
  10. Jantar Mantar            
  11. Hawa Mahal
  12. Ranthambore National Park    
  13. Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary
  14. Taj Mahal

 

In all, India is one of the very few countries in the world that have something for everyone. Touring in India is the biggest bargain for a tourist, for the lowest price because of the amazing exchange rate between the American dollar and the Indian Rupee.

Given its bad reputation for drugs, prostitution, and appalling poverty, one might question why someone would go to Thailand as a family or as an individual tourist who isn’t interested in the sex trade. But that isn’t all Thailand has to offer.

Despite its official Third World status, the country has so many cultural and economic advantages (the exchange rate is 32.2000 THB for every American dollar) that one can only be amazed that it isn’t more widely considered a treasure house of culture and religious devotion (the people are majority Buddhist). Rooms in five star hotels are priced at the current rate of $100.00 USD or less at the moment because of recent unrest and the government is desperate to ensure that tourists are not driven away. But even when there’s stability, the finer hotels are often cheaper than their international counterparts. 

The friendliness of the locals has earned the country the “Land of Smiles” and there is really no more exotic place in Southeast Asia. The country is a mixture of pristine beaches, mountains with flowing waterfalls, elephants bathing in rivers and lakes, to the dense cities where locals sell delicacies, clothing, jewelry, and other wares that include touristy trinkets. As a shopping center, few places rival Bangkok. It is filled with tailors who will whip up shirts, suits, and trousers of high quality. Jewelry is available, but it is advisable that tourists shop at respectable stores and not the regular markets that con artists inhabit and have often swindled tourists by passing off fakes as the real thing. But for all of the faults, the stalls do have fine jewelry that is incomparable. It’s all a matter of shopping wisely and adopting the “Buyer Beware” attitude. In addition to luxury items, there are also fascinating Asian antiques, electrical goods, and other exquisite luxury items.

As for religion, two branches of Buddhism is practiced, that of Theravada and Hinayana Buddhism. It is also the national religion of Thailand, but includes worshipers of Christianity, Hinduism, and Islam and Sikhism. The percentages of the other religions vary and are a small percentage, but 95% of the country practices Buddhism. The Thai Kings must be Buddhist, but is at the same time expected to maintain the tradition as the “Upholders of All Religions.” The moral, philosophical, and ethical framework provide a wide range of understanding and tolerance, which is the perfect recipe for the tourist who makes cultural mistakes and accidently offends the locals. Among the many monasteries, holy sites, none compares in reverence as the Emerald Buddha, a large statue of Buddha carved from a single block of green jade.

The palaces in Thailand that house the royal family are said to literally cause the eyes to be hurt because of the ornate structure, Imperial Western additions in the pagodas and their engraved symbols, much of which is all in gold. One such place is the Grand Palace that was constructed in 1782 by King Rama the First. It is the most popular with tourists and frequented by almost everyone that visits and even lives in Thailand. The throne halls are rich with history and decoration, used in the coronations for Thailand’s kings and many have now been converted into museums that house the old European paintings and antiques that have in the past been given to Thailand’s kings as gifts, as well as tribute from Thai feudal lords and other prominent families. In a modern twist, many throne halls were constructed in the Italianate Renaissance fashion. With lush lawns, beautiful architecture, it provides the tourist and even the locals with a haven from the hustle and bustle of the city.

For those seeking to explore the nation’s colonial history, there are places such as the Authors Lounge, where a visitor can take high tea and see the various mementos of Somerset Maugham and Joseph Conrad, two famous authors who were enthralled by the East. The lounge has white cane chairs, palm trees, and large courtyards gives even the most wound up tourist a fully relaxing experience. The Mandarin Oriental Hotel was founded in 1879 and was the first of what is now an international chain. It was originally called The Oriental, but is now known as the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. The hotel dining room offers authentic Cantonese, Italian, French cuisine and the Riverside Terrace and the Verandah offer international cuisine as well as a variety of others. With the generous exchange rate, even the humblest tourist should be able to enjoy at least some of the fine foods and accommodations.

In a rural setting, there are many tribal villages where the locals of these villages have lived for generations. Rural tours such as the Punjen Hideaway tour offer a tour that allows environmentally inclined tourists to participate in a rural tourism project. Tourists will see the rural areas on foot, pony carts, and the tour lasts for three days and two nights, with an ale-carte bed and breakfast service in the riverside bungalows. This sort of touring enables the adventurous tourist to get closer to the real Thailand outside of the shopping, cosmopolitan nightlife that many more tourists with sophisticated tastes prefer.

Although it abolished it’s reigning royal family and run by the Maoist Communists, Nepal is still a country worth visiting. The exchange rate of 72.38 Nepalese Rupees for every one American dollar makes it worth going to, even with all the unrest.

Despite tourist numbers steadily shrinking as political tensions increase, the last few years have been uncertain, yet residents have surprisingly maintained a good-humored self-respect, which speaks well of the character of the native Nepalese.

The formal name of Nepal is called the “Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal.” Since tourism has declined due to internal unrest, Kathmandu, the nation’s capital, its tourism centric economy accounted for 3.8% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 1995-96, but due to political unrest there hasn’t been an accurate accounting since. Kathmandu is indisputably the gateway to Nepal tourism and is the fundamental nerve center of the economy of the country. It has the most advanced infrastructure in the country from among all the urban areas of the country. Kathmandu is also the headquarters of what is called the “Central Region,” five development regions consisting of fourteen administrative zones located at the central part of the country. While an undisputed traveler’s Mecca since the 1960’s, you’re more likely to see a well of executive in a well-tailored suit in search of espresso rather than a hippy in a long beard, sandals, and a tie-dyed t-shirt looking for enlightenment. The city has a density of 13,225 per square kilometers. It is so far the largest urban development in Nepal, accounting for twenty percent of the urban population in an area of 5,067 hectares (12,520 acres) (50.67 square kilometers (19.56 square miles). 

The city’s history is nearly 2000 years old, as mentioned from an inscription in the valley. The common language of the city among the Nepalese natives is called “Nepali,” although in addition, languages such as the Nepal Bhasa Newari and of course, English. Among the educated, English is easily understood and frequently spoken. The literacy rate is ninety-eight percent in the city. The city has a panoramic backdrop and view of what are among the tallest mountain peaks in the world. The city is also well known as the “Gateway to the Himalayas,” which attracts avid hikers who eagerly challenge themselves to climb the heights and take in the breathtaking scenery. Its religious population is dominantly Hindu and Buddhist; other People of differing religious beliefs also live in Kathmandu giving it a rich religiously diverse cosmopolitan culture. People can catch flights along the Himalayas and take in the view of the magnificent Mount Everest. Nearby, discover the serene beauty of Tibet, the country from which the Dalai Lama fled to India.

A former major trading hub, Pokhara has become a solid tourist destination. The city provides a combination of culture and nature and is largely known as the gateway to the trekking route “Round Annapurana”, a trek that lasts twenty-five days on average. It isn’t touristy in the fact that it has things for the amusement of the tourists; it is more an old place that attracts tourists because of its authenticity. Fascinating in its own right is the old center in the north of the city (with areas such as Bagar, Purano Bazar among others) where there are still many old shops and warehouses designed in the Newari style are found. Among many of the religious temples worth visiting in the older part of town, there is the Bindhyabasini temple and Bhimsen temple. A third temple, the Barahi temple, is located on an island in the Phewa Lake, which is accessible only by boats.

The modern commercial city center is Chiple Dhunga and Mahendrapul (now called Bhimsen Chowk, named after a martyr in Jana-aandolan II, April of 2006). There are also several sub-centers in other parts of the town: in the north is Bagar, in the south there is Prithvi Chok and Srijana Chok (mainly hardware stores), and in the east, on the other side of the Seti, is Ram Bazar. The finest touristic attractions of Pokhara are its panoramic views in and around town. To quote James Hilton, Lost Horizon, ““And you think that Shangri-La may escape…Perhaps. We may expect no mercy, but we may faintly hope for neglect. …We have a heritage to cherish and bequeath.” The rest I will leave to you future explorers to discover the joys and (thankfully easy budget) scenes of Nepal.

Cambodia has a history of bloody regimes (Khmer Rouge/Pol Pot), but is making an amazing comeback with tourists coming by the thousands. Famous actress Angelina Jolie adopted her first child, Maddox from a Cambodian orphanage and her movie “Tomb Raider” filmed scenes from the movie on location in Cambodia. It is a richly varied country and has everything from modern hotels to the ancient Cham Towers. It has hundreds of years of history, from glorious temples, beaches and sites of natural beauty to cosmopolitan shopping centers. What a fortunate thing that the exchange rate for an American tourist is quite perfect, with each one American dollar fetching about 4,000 riel. Oddly, coins are not used in the country and it is highly advisable that a visiting tourist carries smaller riel amounts to pay for taxis and snacks. However that the riel is the nation’s currency, many, many restaurants have prices listed in American dollars.

The capital is Phnom Phen, established by the French colonialists to be the center of the nation. It is considered the loveliest of cities constructed in (then) French Indochina and was once known as the “Pearl of Asia.” It was founded in 1434 and the city is still legend for its beautiful architecture and numerous historical attractions. It is the fundamental economic and political hub of the nation. All the historical sites are close, with the chilling exception of the killing fields (also known as Choeung Ek) that contain mass graves of the people who were executed by the tyrannical Khmer Rouge regime, which is fifteen miles away. Inside the Royal Palace is the Independence Monument and Silver Pagoda. The darker side of Cambodian history can be explored at the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum. When the Khmer Rouge assumed full power, thousands of Cambodian citizens were arrested, taken there for torture and interrogation, and then often cruelly executed. Inside are hundreds of photos of people who suffered are posted along the walls. The Choeung Ek Memorial is located nearby the museum.

The most famous temple complex is the Angkor Wat; it was constructed in the twelfth century AD and made with sandstone, and is an enduring symbol of the richness of Khmer architecture. There are also along many of the bas-reliefs, depictions from the great epics from India, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. Cambodian King Suryavarman the Second originally built the temple in the early twelfth century AD as his state temple and then capital city. It (the temple) epitomizes the high classical style of the architecture of the Khmer. It is considered the prime tourist attraction of the country and it is the emblem on the country’s flag. It’s based on the architectural principles of South Hindu Indian architecture with Jagati as its key features.

Siem Reap is a province in Cambodia, with Siem Reap City as its capital. The buildings are based on colonial architecture with smaller establishments being located in the Old Market. Siem Reap is among the most popular of tourist destinations and it the gateway to the Angor Wat. The name of the city regrettably translates into “Siam Defeated,” but at the French colonialists are gone, the tourists have now taken over. It has managed to combine ancient traditions, the laid-back attitude, and modern amenities (as a result of the expatriate community) for tourists. Drivers there are persistent in offering everything from motodop and tuk-tuk rides. The two best available guidebooks are the “Siem Reap Angkor Visitors Guide” and the “Siem Reap Pocket Guide,” both of which are available at the local hotel or guesthouse that tourists usually stay at.

There are many others, but I think its best that the people reading this piece find out more themselves by going there! Now, these last tow countries I’m going to be brief with. The Philippines has an exchange rate of 43 PHP to every one American dollar and offers numerous islands to visit that make up the Philippines that have something unique to offer even the most discerning tourist. In Indonesia the currency exchange rate is 9,015.00 IDR per one American dollar. It has numerous tropical islands, each one offering a different form of diversion.