Wat Chedi Luang, Chiang Mai, Thailand.

The Stories You Read On Grantourismo in 2016

The stories you read on Grantourismo in 2016 covered everything from culinary travel to climbing castles. You arrived here having searched for recipes and city guides, and you stayed for our weekend itineraries and journey narratives. This is our annual round up of our most-read posts of last year.

Happy New Year! Hoping you all had a wonderful holiday. This is the time of year when we take a bit of space to reflect upon the previous year and share our plans for the year ahead. Firstly, a look back on 2016…

Stories You Read On Grantourismo in 2016

I’m pleased to be able to say that 2016 has been our best year yet for Grantourismo with loyal long-time readers returning regularly and more and more new readers arriving every day after searching on subjects from “how venice is built on water” (who would have thought) to “railway from yangon to mandalay” (an increasingly popular search; link below).

As it’s Grantourismo’s birthday month – our baby turned seven on New Year’s Eve and is entering its eighth year! – we thought we’d celebrate another terrific year for the site and consider the stories you read on Grantourismo in 2016.

We also wanted to thank you for sticking with us this year, even when we’ve been on the road and things have been a little quiet around here – something which will change in 2017. We have a big announcement coming soon, so stay tuned for that.

In the meantime, these were our most-read stories on Grantourismo in 2016. We hope you’ll find the list as fascinating as we do.

Your All Time Favourite Stories on Grantourismo

We thought we’d share your all time favourite stories first – the top 10 stories with the greatest number of views, all of which were written in previous years, and some of which topped our 2015 list.

While most of you are visiting Grantourismo for our Asia stories, especially our posts on Siem Reap, but also stories on Myanmar and Vietnam, you’re also turning up for our archival posts on destinations as varied as Montenegro and Morocco.

You’re spending most of your time on our food pages, browsing our culinary guides and using our recipes. But we’re also delighted to see that our where to stay guides and shopping itineraries are proving useful.

So here are our top 10 posts for 2016 from our archives:

Why You Should Avoid Orphanage Visits in Cambodia

My interview with Tara Winkler of Cambodia Childrens’ Trust on the orphanage tourism industry and the ethics of including an orphanage visit on your holiday itinerary remains our most-read post on Grantourismo. It continues to go viral every now and again, which we like to see, as we know that means it’s raising awareness of this hugely important issue.

Our Culinary Guide to Siem Reap

Once again, our next most-read post on Grantourismo was Our Culinary Guide to Siem Reap (which I update regularly) which gives detailed coverage on all things foodie in Temple Town, from the city’s best cooking classes and markets to its finest street food and best Cambodian restaurants, and much more.

Climbing up to Kotor’s Castle of San Giovanni

Another top post from 2015, our story on Climbing up to Kotor’s Castle of San Giovanni from our 2010 Montenegro stay continues to get consistent traffic every day. Sadly, its popularity means that Terence’s beautiful images keep getting pinched – they’ve been stolen some 200 times! – but we’re pursuing legal action in every case.

Shopping the Gorgeous Stores of Siem Reap – an Itinerary

I’m a tad embarrassed as this post, while still relatively useful, desperately needs an update. It’s still a fabulous shopping route to take but things are constantly changing here in Siem Reap, and while I’ve noted which boutiques have closed, I really need to add some of the gorgeous new stores that have opened. It’s high on the list for an update over coming days.

Moroccan Lamb Tagine With Prunes and Almonds Recipe

This scrummy Moroccan lamb tagine recipe from our two-week stay in Marrakech in January 2010, just weeks after we launched Grantourismo, remains one of your all-time favourite posts, appearing in the top five year after year. It’s odd, because unlike a lot of our other stories that appear on page one on Google, this recipe isn’t usually found until page three, which perhaps goes to show that cooks dig deeper than travellers.

The Road to Mandalay — Yangon to Mandalay By Train

The epic Yangon to Mandalay train trip was one of the most memorable journeys of our lives. We loved it so much that ever since we did it we’ve been seeking out opportunities to do it all over again. Maybe this year…

Cote de Boeuf Recipe

This côte de bœuf recipe, which came courtesy of the legendary French chef Pierre Gagnaire, is another of our most-visited posts, topping our list of most-read stories year after year. A fantastic recipe accompanied by an amusing tale and Terence’s tantalising pics, we’re delighted to see it get used by our readers, old and new.

Asian Food Etiquette — Eating, Drinking and Dining Etiquette

This three year-old post on Asian food etiquette got a lot of eyes in 2016. Are travellers becoming more conscious of the rewards from adapting their conduct and respecting local customs more, we wondered.

Our Hanoi Bia Hoi Guide

Heading to a local watering hole to sip glasses of bia hoi – the fresh, unpasteurised beer beloved by Vietnamese – was one of our favourite things to do when we lived in Hanoi, so we’re chuffed to see this post remains one of our most popular. Though we were sad to learn recently that the lovely guy who created the city’s first bia hoi tour and who helped us with this guide, died in a cycling accident. RIP Glenn Phillips.

Where to Stay in Siem Reap, Best Boutique Hotels

We’re constantly updating this detailed guide to Siem Reap’s best boutique hotels, a tightly edited list of the city’s chicest sleeps, all tried and tested.

Interestingly, the remaining posts that were in last year’s top ten that slipped down the list still remained in our top 20 most-viewed posts (in this order): A Guide to Mexico City’s Markets; Melbourne Shopping: the Most Eclectic Boutiques of All; Cycling Around Siem Reap, Riverside Rides to Temple Bike Tours; Understanding Venice, the City Built on Water – By Boat; and A Guide to a Mekong River Cruise from Thailand to Laos.

Equally fascinating is the handful of other older posts that made up that top 20: The Myths About Monsoon in Cambodia; Tomato Bredie Recipe, a Classic Cape Town Stew; A Guide to the Hanoi Art Scene — Art Galleries, Museums and Arty Cafes; Cao Lau, the Legendary Noodles of Hoi An, Vietnam; and Footpath Feasting: Phuket Street Food in Phuket Town

The Top 10 Stories of 2016

Once again, in 2016 you kept coming back for our new food stories, from the fresh recipe posts to chefs’ guides to local eating. Our European Summer series also proved compelling, especially our stories on the Italian Lakes, Mallorca and Calabria, destinations we know intimately, having written first edition guidebooks on them over the years.

Terence has been sharing advice gained on the job as a pro photographer shooting for some of the world’s best travel magazines since we first started Grantourismo seven years ago. Yet it’s this year’s photography posts that have been the most popular.

These are the top 10 stories for 2016:

Char Siu Pork Recipe — How to Make Chinese Barbecue Pork

You loved Terence’s char siu pork recipe and advice on how to make Chinese barbecue pork and I don’t blame you. I also love eating it!

Where David Thompson Eats in Bangkok

We spent a fun albeit long day with legendary Thai cuisine chef David Thompson, as he ate his way around Bangkok for this story on his favourite restaurants in the city, so we’re pleased to see you like it. There were some surprises in there for readers who expected the chef to only name Thai eateries and street food stalls.

Best Siem Reap Cambodian Restaurants

We’re constantly updating this guide to the finest Cambodian restaurants in Siem Reap (I’ll be adding two restaurants tomorrow), so once again it’s great to know that travellers to Siem Reap are finding it and using it.

Responsible Travel in Cambodia – A Comprehensive Guide

I put a lot of hours into creating this comprehensive guide to responsible travel in Cambodia, covering everything from responsible tour companies to fair trade businesses, so we’re chuffed this is proving to be an invaluable resource for travellers. Expect another update next week.

World’s Best Food Destinations According to World’s Best Chefs

I compiled this post from responses I gathered from 96 of the chefs helming the kitchens of the world’s top 100 restaurants for a CNN Travel story (96 because it’s complicated). I’m close to concluding a long-term project on how travel inspires chefs so if you liked this post check back here soon for more on that subject.

Banh Mi Recipe — How to Make Hoi An’s Best Vietnamese Sandwich

Terence and I ate banh mi almost every day for lunch when we lived in Hoi An, so my husband is something of an expert at making these Vietnamese sandwiches, so it’s satisfying to see this banh mi recipe post getting a lot of eyes and knowing there are so many happy taste buds and tummies out there!

The Best Camera Gear for Photographing Angkor Wat

Having worked on a number of archaeology stories since we moved to Siem Reap, including our exclusives on new archaeological discoveries for The Guardian and CNN, there a few photographers better placed than Terence to provide tips on what camera gear you need to photograph Angkor Wat and the other Angkor archaeological park temples. This is a must-read if you’re heading here!

The Italian Lakes, Where Grand Tourists Went to Live Like Locals

I have a decades-long obsession with the history of the grand tour and we’ve travelled the length and breadth of the Italian lakes region, writing and updating several guidebooks to the area, so I’m pleased this post was a hit.

Best Camera and Lens for Travel and Food Photography

Just like the Angkor Wat photography tips post above, this story did well this year. There are few better photographers to provide advice on food and travel photography than Terence. It’s challenging to straddle both fields, yet Terence has had his work featured in the best travel and food magazines over the years. His depth of knowledge and experience across both areas is evident in this post.

Dispelling Cambodian Cuisine Myths — It’s Not ‘Mild Thai’!

As our regular readers know, Cambodian food is a subject close to our hearts (and stomachs!) – we’re working on a cookbook on Cambodian cuisine, we host Cambodian Culinary Tours, and I curate bespoke ‘Savour Siem Reap’ trip itineraries – so we’re also pleased to see this story about the myths surrounding this misunderstood and under-appreciated cuisine resonate so much with readers, especially in Cambodia.

And the next ten most viewed of our 2016 posts for your reading pleasure: Lenses for Food Photography on the Road; Mallorca Road Trip – Driving the Dramatic West Coast and Tramuntana; The Remote Cambodian Archaeological Sites You Need to Explore; A Local Guide to Eating and Drinking in Siem Reap; Ruining Amok, The National Dish of Cambodia; Our Guide to Siem Reap Markets – Where to Go and What to Buy; A Night at Phare Cambodian Circus Siem Reap; Cambodian Saom Omelette Recipe – Weekend Eggs; Dr Damian Evans on the 2015 Cambodian Lidar Survey of Remote Temple Sites; and Calabria is the New Puglia – Italy’s Last Frontier for Travellers.

While the stats on the stories you read on Grantourismo in 2016 have revealed what engages you, we’d love to hear from you directly – because Grantourismo is a place we want you to continue to come for inspiration, information and advice on slow, local and experiential travel around the world, a space where we hope you’ll find the ways and means to experience more meaningful and memorable travel.

Pictured above: local girls making New Year offerings at a Buddhist pagoda in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

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