All posts filed under: Must Do’s

5 Days in Cuba: Havana and Varadero

As soon as relations between Cuba and America were “normalized” and direct flights to Havana became available, I booked my ticket to this isolated island nation. I have always been fascinated by this isolated nation. The recent flood of Instagram photos of Havana only increased my desire to visit Cuba even more. Planning this trip was a bit difficult since there is limited information for Americans and requires a lot of research. My original plan was to explore Havana (Wednesday, Thursday and Monday afternoon), Viñales (Friday) and Varadero (Saturday through Monday morning). One thing I did not account for was the heat and humidity at the end of May, which according to Cubans is temperate for spring. The heat takes a toll on your body and I ended up not doing as much as I had planned, so I saved Viñales for another time. This is my 5 days in Havana and Varadero. Note: With President Trump’s reversal of the Obama Cuban policies, travel to Cuba may become restricted again. I recently searched for JetBlue …

Must Do’s: Oxford, England

I traveled to Oxford for work several times over the past few years and fell completely in love with this English city.  Oxford is full of picturesque historical buildings that have been perfectly preserved.  You feel like you are walking through history along the cobble stone pathways.  The local myth is that Hitler wanted to make Oxford his new headquarter and therefore ordered for it to be “left alone” during WWII.  We are fortunate enough to have this city  preserved for our enjoyment. It’s also favorite location for the film industry.  You might feel a sense of familiarity with the buildings as Harry Potter was filmed at Christ Church, Bodleian Library and New College.  Downtown Abbey also used Oxfordshire (the suburbs of Oxford) for their filming locations. For more information on locations used by the film industry, click on Film locations. Here are my recommendations for Oxford. Getting to Oxford: Oxford is a close day trip for those staying in London.  I normally fly into London and stay a day or two to visit friends before heading to Oxford.  My …

Must Do’s: 7 Days in NYC with Children

I was asked to put together a 7 days itinerary for a friend visiting NYC from France for the first time with her husband and two boys (elementary school age). This was a challenge as they also did not speak fluent English. I am used to taking friends and family around NYC but I have never taken children around, especially at night. The feedback from my itinerary have been very positive so I am sharing it for visitors to NYC on this site. The visiting family was able to pick and choose the activities each day depending on their timing. Day 1 (Saturday):  Explore Midtown West Start at 2pm after checking into the hotel. Start the day at 53rd Street and 7th Avenue, the beginning of Times Square area. Area of interest are: Broadway District and Time Square Rockefeller Center and  Radio City Music Hall Saint Patrick’s Cathedral Afterward, walk toward Bryant Park and get a drink/coffee at the following options: Southwest Porch and Bryant Park Café There are activities in the park such as ping pong, mini …

Must Do’s: My Virginia Beach Experience

I remember going to Virginia Beach for the first time when I was in elementary school. Back then, the oceanfront boardwalk did not even reach its current length and there were only a handful of upscale hotels. The city has invested heavily to make VA Beach a family beach destination. I have fond memories of my parents giving us a few dollars to take the trolley up and down Beach Street USA, to window shop along the main street stores and to watch the free entertainment on the other side of the beachfront properties. The boardwalk expanded to its current 28-feet wide and 3 mile long pathway with a separate bike lane over the years. Each night, one could hear live music from the various venues along this pathway. It has become a tradition to have our family reunion in VA Beach for the last 20 plus years. There are a few things that my family love to do and this is my list of the Must Do’s in VA Beach. Activity: Wake up early in the …

Must Do’s – Local Favorite Eateries in Hue, Vietnam

Every year and a half, I will travel to Hue, Vietnam to visit orphanages as part of Orphans’ Futures Alliance due diligence trip. I am always excited to visit the kids and also to sample my family’s favorite restaurants in the city. Hue is known to have the best authentic traditional cuisine stemming from its imperial history. My family is originally from Hue so I grew up eating many of the local specialties. Locals take great pride in the food culture and I am excited to share with you some of my family’s must eats when we are in Hue. Huyen Anh (52 Kim Long Street, Hue, Vietnam) This place specializes in fresh rice rolls (bánh ướt thịt nướng) and bbq pork (thịt nướng). This is a local favorite and the people there do not speak English. Don’t be intimidated as there are only 3 items that you can order. You can always just show them a picture. I would advise bringing your own wet naps as the place can be a little grungy like …

Must Do’s: Select Local Eateries in Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam)

Ho Chi Minh City (“HCMC”) is the center of a diverse food and modern culture in Vietnam. HCMC is also the largest city in Vietnam and home to approximately 9 million people and growing. The city has gone through many iterations from an important Khmer seaport up to the 17th century to a romantic city under French colonization and now a vibrant metropolis in 2016. With its diverse history, it is no wonder that the variety of food is present in HCMC. I asked a good friend of mine to scout her favorite places to eat in HCMC and the following places are her recommendations. Ốc Đào (Seafood Restaurant) Address: 214/C84 Nguyễn Trãi St, Nguyễn Cư Trinh Ward, District 1 Hồ Chí Minh, Việt Nam Open: noon – 9:00 pm This is a quintessential local hangout for friends and co-workers. This restaurant serves many different types of snails and seafood at reasonable prices and has good quality. Don’t be afraid to check this restaurant out as they have pictures for non-Vietnamese speakers. Banh Mi Huynh Hoa (Vietnamese Sandwiches) Address: …

Hanoi: My Picks for Hair, Nails and Spa

Finding a good place for haircut or manicure can be daunting in Hanoi when you are only visiting for a few days. During our multiple stays in Hanoi, we tested several locations to find places that have a combination of quality service and fair price. Le Spa Du Metropole (Sofitel) Price: Expensive ($75+) Metropole Website This is one of my favorite spa and hotel in Hanoi. The design highlights the luxurious interiors with French Indochina aesthetics. The spa continues with the same decor but emphasizes more on relaxation as shown in the photo above. I sampled both facial and full body massage here which left me sleeping like a baby. The spa uses high end products including Clarins. The treatment costs approximately $80-$100. This is a splurge for those days when a touch of luxury is needed. Lavender Spa Price: Budget ($20+) 60 minutes massage is VND 520,000 vnd or approximately $23 Address: 28 Nguyễn Du Street Phone: 0433 899 999 (requires a reservation 1 hour in advance) This mid-range spa was recommended by my Hanoi friend.  This no frill spa …