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900x500 CEO Blog 062018

Our CEO's Favorite Cultural Experiences

Kristen
by Kristen Gilbert

July 05, 2018

This month, we sat down with our CEO, Dan Sullivan, Jr., for our latest installment of CEO on the Go, and discussed his favorite cultural tourism experiences around the world. As the leader of our 100-year-old family-owned business, he's certainly seen and done it all, though we were eager to see if there was a place that stands out from the rest in regards to culture and the kind of cultural immersion that defines our product.

What are your favorite local and cultural experiences around the world?

There have been so many places over the years that I've visited and had experiences that left me feeling like a local - or like I really understand the traditions and daily life for the locals. That kind of connection is one of the best parts of travel and each destination offers something unique. But when you asked that, I found my mind going right to Vietnam. Vietnam offers so many experiences that give you a real glimpse into the local culture. The locals really are so friendly and when I was there, I found that I interacted a lot with the people, which is always one of my favorite things to do.

What might surprise people about Vietnam?

I think people think right away of the culture but not necessarily the beauty. And there are sights that can take your breath away. I love to go out to Halong Bay, to take an overnight cruise on board a luxury junk boat. The mystical emerald green waters and limestone peaks covered in lush green leaves surround you. It's just incredible. The beauty and otherworldly quality of the bay will stay with you forever. It's something you've got to see to fully understand.

How is the food in Vietnam?

Well, the food is a big part of the culture in Vietnam. You don't truly get to know a culture until you eat what they eat, which is why I think it's imperative that anyone who visits Vietnam experiences the street food. There's no better way to do that than to walk the streets and sample the wide variety of local specialties that are available. They cook it right there in front of you, so it can't get any fresher. In fact, in Hanoi, you know the food is fresh because you see the farmers hauling their offerings into the city early in the morning. Taking part in all of this and just observing what's going on around you, you can see how important food is to the Vietnamese people. As a traveler, you really become immersed in it too.

As if sampling the street food isn't enough, traveling to Hoi An finds you in a very immersive culinary experience when you learn about shopping for, preparing and cooking Vietnamese food. It starts with a visit to a local market to interact with the vendors and learn about traditional ingredients, but then you actually learn how the ingredients come together to make the meal you'll enjoy for lunch. It really doesn't get more immersive than that.

I think this is a real stand- out destination because Vietnam has such tremendous culture everywhere you turn. There's always something new to discover there, so food and scenery are just the start.

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