The world’s most ethical tourism destinations

ethical tourism destinationsEach year, non-profit organization Ethical Traveler conducts a survey of the world’s developing nations, analyzing their progress toward promoting human rights, preserving their environment, and developing a sustainable tourism industry. The study, run by Ethical Traveler’s all-volunteer staff, factors in country scores from databases like Freedom House, the Millennium Challenge Corporation, and the World Bank, then dives into actions that governments have taken to improve circumstances within their countries in the previous year.

The top countries are celebrated in Ethical Traveler’s annual list of the Developing World’s Best Ethical Tourism Destinations, with the hope that increased tourism will help those countries continue to improve. “Travel and tourism are among the planet’s driving economic forces, and every journey we take makes a statement about our priorities and commitment to change,” they say. “Ethical Traveler believes that mindful travel is a net positive for the planet. By choosing our destinations well and remembering our role as citizen diplomats, we can create international goodwill and help change the world for the better.”

This year’s list includes Argentina, the Bahamas, Chile, Costa Rica, Dominica, Latvia, Mauritius, Palau, Serbia, and Uruguay. Explore these countries more in the slideshow below.

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[Flickr image via Lisandro M. Enrique]

SkyMall Monday: Top ten things to stuff in the Turkey Cake Pan

SkyMall Monday Turkey Cake PanIt’s Thanksgiving time once again in the good ol’ US of A. That wonderful time of year when we slow down, take a break and acknowledge the people and things for which we are most thankful. Most people focus on the thanks. I like to focus on the ful(l). Here at SkyMall Monday headquarters, we love to stuff our faces on Thanksgiving. From stuffing to green bean casserole to, of course, turkey, Thanksgiving is a gut-bustingly wonderful holiday. Inspired by the impending feast, I searched for “turkey” on the SkyMall website. After wading through the various Turkish wraps, I found the delightful Turkey Cake Pan that you see demonstrated on the right. It’s breathtaking. It allows you to bake turkey-shaped cakes. But why stop there? What else could you stuff into that Turkey Cake Pan? Imagine molding your favorite foods to look like wild game. Are you imagining it? Well, let me help you. This week, we’re listing the top ten things to stuff in the Turkey Cake Pan.

10. Clay

Kids get bored at family get-togethers. The meals last too long, the strange relatives make bad jokes and all of their good toys are left at home. This year, let your kids paint a decorative clay turkey. Pop the mold into the oven on the self-cleaning cycle (it gets up to 900˚ in there) and the clay should set. Let the kids paint their turkeys and use them as centerpieces. What could go wrong?

9. Jell-O

Why have cranberry sauce when your side dish could be jiggling? Bonus points if you have giblet-shaped fruit floating inside the mold.

8. Stuffing

Let’s get one thing straight: Stuffing is far and away the best part of the Thanksgiving meal. It’s a scene-stealing side dish. Turkey gets all the attention though. Give stuffing the starring role it deserves by making it look like the headliner.

7. Ice cream

I mean, it’s ice cream. Do I really need to make the case for ice cream?

6. Butter

People are going to want butter for their mashed potatoes. People are going to want butter for their dinner rolls. People are going to want a giant butter turkey.

5. Fudge

Really pack it in.

4. Ice

Why should fancy gala events be the only places you see ice sculptures? Blow your guests’ minds with a turkey-shaped block of frozen holiday cheer on each and every table.

3. Chicken & Duck Cake Pans

Have you ever had turducken? Well, it’s amazing. Now imagine turkey-shaped cake stuffed with duck-shaped cake stuffed with chicken-shaped cake. Don’t forget to have mutliple flavors of icing in between each layer.

2. Whiskey

Ladle out some heaping servings of SkyMall Monday’s favorite medicine. It will make your family seem a whole lot more tolerable during those extended dinners.

1. Turkey

Let’s get meta. Stuff some ground turkey in there and make a turkey-shaped meatloaf. Throw some turkey meat in a blender and liquify it. Pour that protein shake in the Turkey Cake Pan and bake it until it reconstitutes into solid turkey. Even that sounds better than Tofurkey.

Have a very happy Thanksgiving. Here at SkyMall Monday headquarters, we’re thankful for all of you great readers with a sense of humor, our fantastic colleagues and editors at Gadling and, of course, SkyMall.

Check out all of the previous SkyMall Monday posts HERE.

South by Southeast: Top 10 Southeast Asia

There’s a lot to see in Southeast Asia. Over the past five months, as I’ve traveled through this amazing region, it’s something I’ve experienced firsthand. From mind-blowing jungle ruins to outstanding food and world class beaches, there’s a never-ending wealth of curiosities for visitors. But with so much to see and do, it’s hard to know what to prioritize. Is Angkor Wat really as awesome as you’ve heard? Where should you go in Vietnam? Is it safe to eat the street food?

If you’ve been thinking about that dream trip to Southeast Asia but didn’t know where to start, today’s post is for you. We’re going to run through ten of Southeast Asia’s most amazing attractions, from the outstanding food to the best adventures and most awe-inspiring sights. Expect to find a few of the Southeast Asia’s most famous spots, along with my favorite “off-the-beaten path” Southeast Asian destinations from more than five months on the road. Ready to visit one of the world’s most fascinating regions? Keep reading below for our top ten picks…#10 – Bangkok’s Khao San Road
You simply can’t make a top 10 list on Southeast Asia without mentioning Bangkok’s Khao San Road. Love it or hate it, it’s the standard first stop for most Southeast Asian itineraries. The sheer volume of travelers, sizzling street food and range of shady characters ensure there’s always a good time and a story waiting to happen.

#9 – Street food in Ho Chi Minh City
The variety, quality and value of eating in Ho Chi Minh City, also known as Saigon, is beyond compare. From the freshest ingredients to crispy French baguettes to the most extreme culinary adventures, the food scene in Saigon is sure to amaze and delight. Check out Gadling’s “South by Southeast” investigation of eating in Saigon if you want to learn more.

#8 – Thailand’s Tarutao National Marine Park
It’s really hard to pick a favorite island in Thailand. There’s literally hundreds of them. But when we saw the secluded beauties that make up the Tarutao National Marine Park in Southern Thailand, we were hooked. This chain of wild, jungle islands offers beach camping, peace and quiet and some amazing snorkeling. Though Ko Lipe has gotten rather busy, Ko Adang, Ko Tarutao and Ko Rawi remain delightfully undeveloped.

#7 – Exploring Angkor Wat
With almost two million visitors a year, it’s clear that Angkor Wat is one of Southeast Asia’s most popular tourist attractions. When you first set eyes on the stone giant that is Angkor’s main temple, you’ll understand why. The intricate carvings and sheer size of this ancient archaeological marvel are simply mind-blowing. If you’re heading to Cambodia for a visit make sure to check out our 5 Angkor Wat tips.

#6 – Burma’s Taunggyi Balloon Festival
Burma (Myanmar), is the forgotten country of Southeast Asia. Visitors stay away because of the country’s hard-line military government. But those who make the trip inside this cloistered country come away awestruck by the sights and humbled by the friendly, welcoming citizens. This is particularly true at the annual Balloon Festival at Taunggyi, where hundreds of giant hot air balloons are launched into the sky over an eight day event. Make sure you read up on responsible travel to Burma if you want to go.

#5 – Wandering Luang Prabang
Is Luang Prabang the world’s most beautiful city? Achingly beautiful colonial French architecture, serene Buddhist temples and elegant palaces make this former royal capital of Laos a must on any Southeast Asia itinerary. Make sure to enjoy the town’s top-notch eating at spots like Tamarind and enjoy Luang Prabang’s buzzing night market.

#4 – Motorbiking the Golden Triangle
The Golden Triangle, a remote region bordering Northern Thailand, Laos and Burma, just might be one of Southeast Asia’s last great exotic destinations. The area’s curvy mountain roads and remote villages make it haven for motorcycle trips. Increasingly popular routes, reliable maps and cheap bike rentals make it easy for even novice cyclists to grab a helmet and hit the open road. Check out our guide to motorcycle trekking to get started.

#3 – The Gibbon Experience in Laos
Want to feel like a kid again? Try sleeping in a tree house and flying around on zip lines in the jungles of Northern Laos, home to the legendary Gibbon Experience. This one-of-a-kind eco park is pioneering a new model of forest conservation and sustainable tourism. Not to mention you might get to see some wildlife and it’s a crazy good time too.

#2 – Trekking in Luang Namtha
Chiang Mai has Southeast Asia’s most popular treks, but they are often overcrowded and disappointing. Instead, head to Luang Namtha in Northern Laos, an increasingly popular base for hikers looking to visit remote hill tribe villages. Imagine waking to the sound of roosters, bathing in a river and drinking moonshine with a village chief.

#1 – The ruins of Bagan
Move over Angkor Wat. There’s a new champion in town. The ruins of Bagan, a stunning complex of over 2,000 deserted temples in Myanmar, is quite possibly the world’s most amazing sight. Spend your days exploring the ghostly structures by horse cart or bike, discovering ancient Buddhist murals and climbing hidden staircases to gorgeous 360 degree views. If you want to read more about Myanmar, check out our guide to ethically visiting this fascinating country.

Gadling writer Jeremy Kressmann spent the last five months in Southeast Asia. You can read other posts on his adventures “South by Southeast” HERE.

The 18 strangest airports in the world

Airports are unusual places. Every city of decent size has one, but they are rarely all that interesting. Each day, thousands of people move through these places, on their way too and from all manner of destinations, spending time browsing crappy little bookstores and consuming lousy food that would cost half as much elsewhere.

But sometimes, airports can be unusual for different reasons. Perhaps they’re located in odd places, or maybe they have some unusual feature or monument that makes them stand out. Popular Mechanics has compiled a list of the 18 strangest airports in the world, each of which meet those criteria and more.

The list includes airports large and small from all over the world and in a wide variety of settings. Some of the very unique airports that make the cut include Kansai International in Osaka Japan, which is famous for having been built on a man-made island and Congonhas Airport in Sao Paulo, Brazil, which sits just five miles from the very heart of that large and busy city. Other unusual places to take off and land include a runway made of ice in Antarctica and several that have you actually landing on a beach, proving that if we are determined to reach a destination, we’ll find a way to get there.

With 18 airports on the list, Popular Mechanics has done a fine job of highlighting some of the most unusual airports in the world. But did they miss any? What is the most unusual airport that you’ve ever been? As for myself, I’m looking forward to experiencing the airport in Lukla, Nepal in April. That airport is famous for it’s location, high in the Himalaya, with the landing strip running up the side of a mountain. Arriving and departing there is said to be scary and exhilarating all at the same time.
Be sure to check out the gallery below for some of the coolest airports in the world…

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…or watch the videos that demonstrate why these airports are soooo strange.

Courchevel International Airport
Courchevel,
France

Princess Juliana International Airport
Simpson Bay,
Saint Maarten

Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport
Saba, Netherlands Antilles

Foods named after places. That’s all.

Turkey legs have nothing to do with Turkey.It’s food day here on Gadling, meaning there’s never been a better day for talking about foods with place names. Grab a Danish and enjoy.

There are many wines named for their locales (all Champagne is), and many cheeses — even Cheddar. Sometimes, though, the food name has little to do with the corresponding place. French fries, for example, are not French food; they are named for the way the potatoes are cut. Hamburgers are not from Hamburg. They have them there, though.

Rather than attempt to rate all place-named foods on their geographical inaccuracies or flavor, I have elected simply to list them. Can you think of more? Add them in the comments below and I’ll pop ’em into the list with your name.

Why? Because the world needs comprehensive lists of things. Obviously.

Foods With Place Names. The List.

Alaskan salad roll (sushi) – Ken Cook
Baked Alaska
Balogna
Bayonne ham – James Romanow
Bearnaise sauce – Gerhard Postpischil
Beijing duck – Rita Moreno
Belgian waffles
Berliner
Bismarck
Bombay duck – Nick
Boston baked beans
Boston cream pie
Braunschweiger sausage – Gerhard Postpischil
Brazil nuts
Brie – Nick
Brussels sprouts – Nick
Buffalo wingsCalifornia roll
Canadian bacon
Caprese salad – James
Carrizo sausage – Danny
Catalina dressing – Danny
Cheddar cheese
Chicago deep dish
Chicken Kiev
Chinese dumplings – Gerhard Postpischil
Coney Island dogs
Darjeeling (tea … I guess you could eat it)
Denver omelet
Derbyshire cheese – James
Dijon mustard
Dodger dogs
Dome dogs
Dutch baby
Eggs Florentine
Fenway Frank
Frankfurter
French dressing
French fries
French onion soup
French roast – Ken Cook
French toast
French Vanilla – Ken Cook
Fresno chilies
Genovese salami – James Romanow
Georgia peaches – Adrienne Mitra
German chocolate – Ken Cook
Hamburger
Hollandaise sauce
Irish stew – Gerhard Postpischil
Italian ice – Ken Cook
Jalapeño
Java – Nick
Jerusalem artichoke
Jordan almonds – Ken Cook
Key lime pie
Lima beans
Limburger cheese – Ken Cook
Lincolnshire cheese – James
Linzer torte – Gerhard Postpischil
London broil
Manhattan clam chowder
Mars bar
Maryland blue crabs – Adrienne Mitra
Mayonnaise
Milky Way
Mississippi mud pie – Christy
Moon pie – Ken Cook
Monte Cristo
Nanaimo bars – Danny
New England clam chowder
New York cheesecake
New York pizza – Gerhard Postpischil
Nicoise salad – James
Nile perch – Rita Moreno
Parma ham – James Romanow
Parmesan
Pasta Florentine
Philadelphia cream cheese
Philly cheese steak
Prince Albert apple – Danny
Polish sausage
Quiche Lorraine – Danny
Roma tomato
Roquefort
Russian dressing – Ken Cook
Sacher torte – Gerhard Postpischil
Salisbury steak
Sandwich – Danny
Serrano ham – James Romanow
Szegedi goulash – Gerhard Postpischil
Spanish peanuts – Ken Cook
Spanish rice
Stilton
Swedish meatballs – Ken Cook
Swedish pancakes
Sweet Vidalia onions – Ken Cook
Swiss cheese – Danny
Texas toast
Thousand island dressing
Turkey
Turkish delight – Ken Cook
Valencia oranges – Danny
Vienna sausage – Gerhard Postpischil
Virginia ham – James Romanow
Waldorf salad
Welsh Rarebit – Nick
Wiener schnitzel – Danny
Worcestershire sauce
Yorkshire pudding