Fujisan, Japan

Yosemite National Park is a national park in eastern central California known for its grand waterfalls, impressive granite cliffs, towering sequoias, and vast wilderness. The bulk of visitors to Yosemite converge on Yosemite Valley, an 18 km2 glacier-carved valley where most of the park facilities and natural landmarks are located. On our visit to Yosemite last February 2013, we stopped at Tunnel View, a viewpoint at the end of Wawona Tunnel, where three of Yosemite’s prominent landmarks can be seen in one frame: El Capitan granite cliff on the left, Bridalveil Falls on the right, and Half Dome straight ahead in the center.

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Tunnel View at Yosemite National Park, California, USA

Getting There: Yosemite Valley is a 4 hour drive (210mi/336km) east of San Francisco on the CA-99 and CA-140 state routes. An alternative during the peak season is to park your vehicle at Merced and take the Yosemite Area Regional Transportation System (YARTS) bus service to the park.

The Hiroshima Atomic Bomb Dome (officially the Hiroshima Peace Memorial) was the only structure around the area left almost intact when an atomic bomb obliterated Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. In 1966, Hiroshima’s city council decided that the dome should be preserved as a memorial to peace and as a statement against nuclear weapons. Reizel and I went on a weekend trip to Hiroshima last April 2009 during her business trip in Tokyo.

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Hiroshima Peace Memorial, Hiroshima, Japan

Getting There: Hiroshima is 4 hours by shinkansen or 10 hours by night bus from Tokyo. From Osaka, travel is 1.5 hours by shinkansen or 5 hours by bus.
Ayutthaya was the capital of the kingdom of Siam (Thailand) from the 14th to 18th centuries, before it was razed to the ground by Burmese invaders in 1767. Today, the ancient city is a popular day trip from Bangkok. Among our stops on our Thailand honeymoon in 2011 is the Wat Phra Mahathat, where the famous tree with an intertwined Buddha head can be found. Local etiquette requires visitors posing for photos to be at the same level with the Buddha head.
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Wat Phra Mahathat, Ayutthaya, Thailand

Getting There: Ayutthaya is a popular day trip from Bangkok. If not on a tour, trains (2 – 2.5 hours) and buses (2 hours) depart frequently from the capital city.

The Santo Tomas de Villanueva Church, more popularly known as Miag-ao Church, is one of the four Baroque Churches of the Philippines inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list. The structure combines European Baroque architecture with native interpretations such as saints dressed in traditional clothing and native flora and fauna on its bas-relief facade. The fortress-like belltowers were built to keep watch against Muslim pirates in the 18th century.

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Santo Tomas de Villanueva Church, Miag-ao, Iloilo, Philippines

Getting There: Miag-ao is less than an hour (40 kilometers) by bus or jeepney from Iloilo City.

Fujisan (Mount Fuji) is Japan’s most recent UNESCO World Heritage site, being recognized only in June 2013. Japan’s tallest mountain, at 3776 meters, and also its most iconic symbol is the source of inspiration for countless works of art. This view of snow-capped Fujisan across Lake Ashinoko was taken from Hakone, a quick weekend trip from Tokyo.

Fujisan, Japan

Fujisan, Japan

Getting There: Hakone is located about 100 kilometers southwest of Tokyo. The Hakone Free Pass by Odakyu Railways (in 2 or 3 day variants) is convenient for travel to Hakone, as it includes a round trip from Tokyo on Odakyu Railways and unlimited rides on buses, trains, boats and cable cars in the Hakone area.