Asia

China’s Amazing Snow & Ice Festival

Two phrases sum up Harbin China’s Snow & Ice Festival: Wow and I can’t feel my toes.

Each year the far northeast of China the city of Harbin holds this famous winter festival. Artisans from all over the globe come to carve gargantuan works of art out of blocks of ice and mountains of snow. The theme of the festival changes yearly but, no matter the theme, the sculptures will have you ohhing and awwing.

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Lose Weight While Traveling:
Three Fun & Cool Trips

A vacation is a wonderful time to get away from the normal day-to-day. But you needn’t spend it sedentary and immobile, sipping cocktails and grazing at the buffet.

To combat vacation hangover and dreaded weight gain here are three fun trips that will challenge your mind and your body. You’ll return home from each of these trips in better shape than you left.

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The Cat Cafes of Tokyo

Japan’s capital city can be a tough place for a cat lovers to live. Small apartments, long work hours and restrictive housing codes make it difficult for Tokyoians (Tokyoites? Tokyoids?) to keep cats at home. No wonder then that the city is seeing an increasing number of cat cafes—lounges where the felineless can drink coffee and find some catisfaction. Tokyo has seven different cat cafes that we know of (and there are probably many more than that). Here’s a look at our three favorite:

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The World’s 6 Coolest-Looking Bookstores

So how do you create a three-story bookstore in a cathedral when you can’t drill any holes into the building or attach anything load-bearing to its walls?

Usually a store is just a store. But a few stores are attractions in and of themselves. So it is with these six incredibly cool-looking bookstores. Next you are in Maastricht, Beijing, Porto, Buenos Aires, Paris or Mexico City, add these stores to your list of must-see attractions—even if you don’t plan on buying a book.

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The Budget Airlines of
Southeast Asia

Here’s a potentially money saving tip for your next Southeast Asia trip: Get the cheapest airplane ticket you can to the region (ie Bangkok, Singapore or Kuala Lumpur) and then separately purchase an onwards ticket to your other regional destination(s) on a low cost carrier.

Southeast Asia is rife with budget airlines operating frequent schedules with decently-reliable service. One-way tickets within the region go for as little as $100, $50 or even less. We once flew from Luang Prabang (Laos) to Hanoi for $28 and have seen domestic flights within Indonesia for $5!

Here’s our rundown of some of Southeast Asia’s budget airlines, subjectively arranged from the most to least useful:

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Our Favorite Hotel Room In Bangkok

Our favorite room in Bangkok is not the most luxurious . . . or the best value . . . or the most traditional . . . or the most chic. But give us a $150 budget and ask where in the Thai capital we’d want to stay and we wouldn’t hesitate with our answer: the Garden Suite at the Arun Residence hotel.

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Ice Bars In Warm Places

At almost any bar in the world you can get a drink with ice. At a few you can get a drink in ice. While sitting on seats made of ice. At a table made of ice. Surrounded by walls made of ice.

The concept of the ice bar originated, logically enough, in Sweden where both water and freezing temperatures are abundant. These icy drinking establishments soon became popular around Scandinavia, partly because they combined two elements Scandinavians tend to embrace (cold and alcohol) and partly because these bars’ LED lighting, artworks of frozen water and and intimate settings made them great places to chill out. (Pun. Sorry.)

Today, there are more than two dozen ice bars around the globe including ones in Amsterdam, London, Poland, Canada and Alaska. Not all of these frozen saloons are in places with cold climes. Hence this Spot Cool Stuff overview of ice bars in warm places.

For the purposes of this review, a “warm place” is anywhere it doesn’t snow in the winter and regularly gets hot in the summer. So, the ice bar in Beijing doesn’t count. The one in Shanghai would have had it not recently closed.

All of the selections on this list, like most of the ice bars anywhere, charge an entrance fee to get in. Usually this fee includes one free drink and use of cold-weather clothing that is designed as much to protect patrons from the bar’s sub-freezing temperatures as it is to protect the bar itself from the patrons’ body heat. To help keep their establishments below freezing, ice bars also have strict limits on the number of people allowed in.

And with that, let’s kick back with a cold one and tour the world’s ice bars in warm places . . .

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(Legally) Spend The Night In A Museum

Do you usually find the experience of visiting a museum:

    A) so dull that you want to fall asleep; or
    B) so interesting that you don’t want to leave at the museum’s closing time.

Either way, you could benefit from a museum that provides visitors a place to sleep. Here’s our rundown of five museums where you can spend the night among the art galleries and science exhibits:

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