Mekong River Cruise, Laos.

The Stories You Read On Grantourismo in 2015

It’s been our best year yet on Grantourismo with more and more readers visiting every day. As it’s our birthday month – Grantourismo has turned six! – we thought we’d celebrate a fantastic year for the site and reflect upon the stories you read on Grantourismo in 2015.

Ironically, 2015 has been the best year yet for Grantourismo since we said goodbye to hotels, hello to holiday homes and launched the site on 31 December 2009 with an invitation to join us on a grand tour of the world.

In terms of the number of visitors to the site each day, and the length of time they’re spending here, digging around in the archives and reading our stories, things have never been better: our traffic doubled in twelve months.

It’s ironic because we blogged less on Grantourismo in 2015 than in any other year due to a heavy writing and photography workload (stories for magazines, newspapers and travel sites took up most of our time), several big projects (a guidebook that ate up several months of the year; our culinary travel writing and photography tour; a cookbook we’re working on), and our travel business (our itinerary/trip planning service, tours and retreats; and new websites).

Regardless, you came, you stayed, and you read – and we sincerely thank you for that. These are the stories you read on Grantourismo in 2015…

The Stories You Read On Grantourismo in 2015

The Most-Read Stories of 2015

Our most-read posts on Grantourismo in 2015 are a real mix of stories from the archive, from 2014 and beyond. While you are mostly visiting the site to read about Siem Reap, Cambodia and other destinations in Asia we cover, you’re also dipping into our archives, reading about everywhere from Kotor to Venice. You’re also spending a lot of time on our food pages, consulting our posts on recipes and cooking classes, which are some of our most-visited posts. Here’s what you read:

Why You Should Avoid Orphanage Visits in Cambodia

This interview with Tara Winkler of Cambodia Childrens’ Trust about orphanage tourism, Cambodia’s orphanage industry, the ethics of visiting orphanages, and its detrimental impact on children, was the most-read post on our site with well over 100,000 visits in 2015. Every now and again the post goes viral (as it did yesterday), which we love to see, as it spreads awareness of important issues.

Our Culinary Guide to Siem Reap

The next most-read post on Grantourismo in 2015 was our culinary guide to Siem Reap, which provides comprehensive coverage of the city’s markets, street food, cooking classes, food tours, local eateries, the best Cambodian restaurants, and more. Our food posts and our Cambodia posts are the most visited on the site, so that makes sense. As we’re working on a Khmer cookbook, you can expect to see a lot more culinary stories from Cambodia in 2016.

Climbing up to Kotor’s Castle of San Giovanni

I love to see our archival posts get read, as bewildering as it is to me that this post on Climbing up to Kotor’s Castle of San Giovanni from our time in Montenegro in 2010 gets so much traffic and attention. Having said that, I have to say that it is a useful post, with a detailed explanation as to how to do the hike up the hill and some helpful tips, along with breathtaking images by Terence. I’m predicting that beautiful Kotor will be a hot destination in 2016.

A Guide to Mexico City’s Markets

Mexico was the first country we ever travelled around extensively when we did a backpacking trip there back in the early 90s, and Mexico City has long been one of our favourite cities. Whenever we’re there we love exploring Mexico City’s markets, and on our last trip in 2010 we did quite a bit of browsing, grazing and buying, evident in Terence’s vibrant images on the post. Looking at those images makes me want to return – right now.

Sopa de Tortilla Recipe

Terence has been making tortilla soup since that first trip to Mexico. For many years we’d host Mexican themed dinner parties in our Potts Point apartment, or at the very least would make margaritas and guacamole for friends which we’d enjoy on our balcony overlooking the harbour on weekends. Terence refined his recipe on our last trip to Mexico in 2010. It’s delicious, so I’m glad it’s getting shared and made. I like to think others are enjoying the soup as much as I do.

Our Hanoi Bia Hoi Guide

One of our favourite things to do when we lived in Hanoi, Vietnam, was to head to a local watering hole to down glasses of bia hoi, the fresh, unpasteurised beer beloved by locals, and eat the fantastic drinking food that goes with it. We also tested out a bia hoi tour and wrote about the bia hoi experience for a few magazines. It’s nice to see our Hanoi bia hoi guide getting used.

Understanding Venice, the City Built on Water – By Boat

We’ve spent a lot of time in Venice over the years, both on holidays and writing Italy guidebooks. Each time we visited Venice we used to contemplate the same sort of questions that people search for every day that brings them to this story. So on our last trip in 2010 we did a Context tour to find some answers that resulted in this insightful story on Understanding Venice, the City Built on Water – By Boat.

Melbourne Shopping: the Most Eclectic Boutiques of All

When we were young and lived in Sydney we used to go to Melbourne for weekends with friends to go out and eat, drink and go shopping. While Melbourne’s restaurants dominate our attention whenever we visit the gastronomic capital, we were pleased to find the shopping is still as fabulous as ever when we did the Hidden Secrets tour that revealed many of these eclectic boutique gems.

Cote de Boeuf Recipe

This côte de bœuf recipe, courtesy (Terence’s note: stolen from…) of the great French chef Pierre Gagnaire, is one of our all-time most-visited posts, topping the list of most-read stories in 2012. It’s a great recipe, an amusing tale, and it’s accompanied by Terence’s mouthwatering pics, so we’re chuffed to see that it’s so popular. I only wish I could see pics of people’s attempts to make this delicious dish.

Where to Stay in Siem Reap, Best Boutique Hotels

Before we found our Siem Reap apartment (incidentally, one of our other most popular posts, at #15, is a guide to renting apartments in Siem Reap), we spent several months staying in hotels, testing out everything from atmospheric boutique sleeps to ultra-luxe resorts. Despite living here, we still test out new properties when they open to ensure we’re only recommending the very best Siem Reap boutique hotels.

Cycling Around Siem Reap, Riverside Rides to Temple Bike Tours

I created this guide to cycling around Siem Reap in response to questions from readers and clients for whom I was creating itineraries. I add to it every now and again as we test out cycling tours or get great tips from locals and expats in Siem Reap who cycle far more often than we do, so I love that it’s helping so many readers. It’s just had an update this week actually.

A Guide to a Mekong River Cruise from Thailand to Laos

Considering that we live in Siem Reap, a popular departure point for Mekong cruises to Saigon, I’m embarrassed to admit that we’ve only ever done one Mekong cruise. That cruise was on the slow ‘luxury’ Luang Say boat from the Thai-Laos border to Luang Prabang, Laos, which we cover in detail in this guide to a Mekong River Cruise from Thailand to Laos. There are so many fantastic cruises that ply the waterways between Siem Reap and Ho Chi Minh City so we better change that this year.

While the stats on the most-read posts on Grantourismo in 2015 have been helpful for us to know what we’re doing right and what you’re enjoying and getting use out of on the site, we’re planning on doing a reader survey soon to find out how we can ever better provide the kind of stories and guides you’d like. If there’s anything you want to see on Grantourismo, don’t hesitate to contact us or leave a comment below.

Pictured above: Terence’s image of cattle grazing on the banks of the Mekong River, as seen from the Luang Say boat cruise from Thailand to Laos.

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