Asia

12 Divine Chocolate Shops

Is chocolate good for you? Researchers, conducting highly scientific studies, have found chocolate beneficial in preventing a plethora of ailments including cancer, stroke and heart disease. But Spot Cool Stuff has a more simple theory:

If it makes you smile, it’s health food.

In honor of National Smile Month—and to the dismay of dentists everywhere—here’s our look at 12 wonderful chocolate shops. We hesitate calling them the “best” chocolate shops given how there are easily 60 or more stores that we could have included on this list. All the shops we did include are superlative in some way.

Note that this overview is a companion piece to our equally dentist-horrifying review of the world’s best candy shops.

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The Best Oktoberfest Celebrations
(Outside of Europe)

Have you ever been to a raucous wedding reception that turned into an epic party? Exactly 202 years ago this October, the German Prince Ludwig the First married Princess Therese and afterwards hosted exactly such a celebration. It was so memorable that the attendees wanted to relive it every year. That desire spawned the annual alcohol-filled party known today as Oktoberfest.

Happily for lovers of celebrations and beer, Oktoberfest has very much spread beyond Germany in the last two centuries. Here is Spot Cool Stuff’s roundup of a few great places to enjoy the occasion outside of Europe. These Oktoberfests span the globe and are attended by revelers across the spectrum of race, religion and political affiliation. We see it as proof that one of man’s most universal and fundamental desires is to have fun — while guzzling beer and wearing lederhosen.

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5 Temples & Monasteries
on Perilous Cliff Sides

To monks, the monastery represents the victory of good over evil. To travelers, it represents the victory of architecture over gravity.

Spot Cool Stuff previously reviewed five towns on cliff sides — villages where drinking and driving . . . or drinking and walking . . . or simply walking could be especially perilous.

Following up on that, here are five religious buildings—a shrine, temple, church and two monasteries—built at a cliff’s edge. Gaze down the rocky drops from these structures, and out upon the magnificent vistas they offer, and perhaps one can’t help but believe in God.

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China’s Pastel-Painted Mountains

There’s a UNESCO heritage site near the Chinese village of Nantaizi that, to some, looks like a real life scene from a Dr. Seuss illustration. Others imagine the giant hand of a deity painting the rocky mountains in pastel colors with long sweeping brush strokes. To Spot Cool Stuff’s eye, the area looks like giant pieces of bacon.

Whatever it reminds you of, unless you happen to have visited one specific section of Gansu province, you’ve never seen anything like the Zhangye Danxia Landform Geological Park.

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The Best View from a
Hotel Room in Bangkok

Bangkok is a city full of luxury hotels, each of which offers a high level of personalized service. However, one luxurious hotel (with a high level of personalize service) rises above the rest, literally: The Tower Club at lebua.

The Tower Club suites occupy the top floors of the State Tower, the tallest hotel and third tallest building of any sort in the whole of Thailand. But, is higher better? The Tower Club at lebua invited Spot Cool Stuff to stay in one of their suites for two nights. Here’s what we found:

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“The Restaurant Near the Sanyou Cave”

There are lots of blogs that repost photos of cool-looking places. Usually these websites give very little information even identifying the location shown in the photo, much less practical tips on how to travel there.

Spot Cool Stuff is a different in this way. We aren’t about spreading memes. Our travel blog is about discovering cool travel ideas. It’s about finding tips for getting out and exploring this amazing planet of ours. Because, a photogenic place is so much more than a piece digital eye candy. It’s a real life destination that anyone (appropriately equipped with a plane ticket, passport and credit card) can to go see.

It’s in that spirit that we previously wrote about visiting an impossibly secluded house in Iceland. And that we now write about the place made famous by the photo, below — a place usually described only as “The Restaurant Near the Sanyou Cave.”

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The World’s Best Bakeries

Spot Cool Stuff loves finding good bakeries on our travels. Spontaneously coming across one while exploring a village or city neighborhood can make an ordinary walk special. But some bakeries are special in their own right and worth purposefully seeking out — either for the quality of their baked goods or for their interior design or for the atmosphere of being there or for some combination of all those.

Below is our review of eight such bakeries. We hesitate calling them the “best,” since the world has many bakeries and we’ve only been to a relatively small handful. But each of our selections has some superlative feature that’s well worth a detour when traveling nearby.

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The Best View from a
Hotel Room in Hong Kong

You might have previously stayed in a hotel room with a five digit number, but how often did the first three digits represent the floor you were staying on?!

Take a scenic harbor, ring it with a series of eight high hills, liberally sprinkle the area with neon-lit sky scrappers and you’d correctly conclude that you have a recipe for world-class vistas. Yet there are few other cities more underrated for the quality of its urban views as is Hong Kong. Not only does the special administrative region of China host amazing views, it has a plethora of bars, restaurants and other spots from which to view them.

There are several Hong Kong hotels with incredible views too. Though if you want to take in the view without leaving your hotel room, there’s no better place to stay than the Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong.

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