20 Most Beautiful Places in the Philippines to Visit (For Nature Lovers)

Located in Southeast Asia near Malaysia and Indonesia, the 7,641 Philippines islands are jaw-droppingly gorgeous, with idyllic ocean views, dynamic karst landscapes, and immense biodiversity.

This is the world’s fifth largest island nation, covering some 120,000 sqaure miles. So narrowing down our list of the most beautiful places in the Philippines to visit was no easy task. 

After, once you get outside of major cities like Manila, mass tourism thankfully hasn’t become a huge problem here yet. 

There are plenty of off-the-beaten-path points of interest in the Philippines, from traditional villages in remote communities and some of the world’s best places to Scuba dive to countless beautiful beaches, lakes, and mountains.

We collaborated with more than a dozen of our blogging friends

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Why We’re Recommending REI for Green Gifts This Season

This post is generously sponsored by REI. As always, EcoCult only works with companies we believe are doing good things. Support EcoCult editorial by supporting them!

You might think that any outdoor apparel or gear company would be much more likely to operate sustainably, since its key customers are passionate about respecting and preserving the natural world. 

But we also know that turning a large apparel brand sustainable is a difficult journey in today’s global capitalist system. Even some of the sustainable outdoor trailblazers have been surprised to find modern-day slavery in their supply chains. And there are in fact some other large outdoor apparel brands that are falling even further behind.

Still, no brand is doing things 100% “right.” So

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A Sustainable Fashion Lover’s Guide to Jaipur, India

Ruled by successive wealthy royal Hindu and Muslim families, Jaipur has a well-earned reputation for being a seat of luxury artisan fashion and craft, from woven silks and blockprint cottons to ornate jewelry fit for a princess — or a Bollywood star.

Before you run off to shopping, however, there are several places I want to send you where you can commune with the rich history of craftsmanship in Jaipur. Some of them have fantastic gift shops as well. I hope you saved room in your suitcase…

Do City Palace in Jaipur

You’ll probably want to start with the City Palace. It’s famous for its serene melange of Rajasthani and Mughal architecture, which you can take in at your leisure

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Weekend Reading: The D.C. Exhibits You Need to See

Hi readers,

It’s been an exciting couple of weeks! First, I appeared in the New York Times to give my expert opinion on sustainable gift-giving. The author gave me just a couple hours to come up with recommendations for brands I like for gifting. Like choosing a favorite child, but I did my best! My good friend Lauren also sent out her own sustainable shopping guide, and I even discovered some new amazing brands in there. Definitely worth a look!

Teen Vogue asked for my thoughts on faux versus real fur. I wrote something for the launch of Brightly about what sustainable fashion really means, and something for Arcadia Power on tricks to buy less stuff. And I told Business

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German Christmas Cookies- Lebkuchen Recipe (aka German Gingerbread)

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Lebkuchen, which is very similar to soft gingerbread, is a traditional holiday treat that has been around for centuries.

It was originally invented by monks in Franconia, Germany in the late 1200s, but has evolved over the last 800+ years into numerous variations.

Here’s a look at the origins of these beloved German Christmas cookes, as well as a simple Lebkuchen recipe you can make at home. 

READ MORE: 75 Christmas Traditions Around the World

German Christmas Cookies/Lebkuchen TOC History of German Christmas Cookies Nürnberger Lebkuchen Lebkuchenherzen Elisen Lebkuchen Other Types of Lebkuchen Lebkuchen Recipe a.k.a. German Ginger Bread Lebkuchen Cookies FAQs

Christmas market in Nuremberg Germany by Gerhard Gellinger from Pixabay The History of German Christmas Cookies

Lebkuchen

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Museo Maya de Cancun- Cancun’s Mayan Museum of Archaeology

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[Updated 12/3/2019] When visiting a major metropolis like Cancun, it’s easy to forget that the area known as the Yucatan Peninsula was once the heart of the mighty Maya empire.

But the Museo Maya de Cancun (a.k.a. Cancun Mayan Museum) offers an amazing overview of Mayan history, Mayan art and Mayan archaeology that makes it a must-see for anyone intrigued by one of the world’s most powerful ancient civilizations.

Opened in November 2012, the Museo Maya de Cancun was designed by Mexican architect Alberto García Lascurain, and built over the course of six years at a cost of $15 million dollars.

The modern white building seems perfectly at home in the heart of Cancun’s bustling Hotel Zone.

The Cancun museum’s sleek exterior

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An Open Letter to My Family on Sustainable Gift Giving

This is an update of an old post. I can tell you that it did its job, and now I get a few stocking stuffers and donations in my name. It works!

Dear Family,

I’m probably writing this a little bit too late, knowing how on-the-ball you are about buying presents. Why wait for Black Friday when you can have all your shopping done before Thanksgiving?

But, I wanted to talk to you about the issue of presents. This is a fraught one for us — for everyone, actually. But us especially, because buying presents for a sustainable living freak is not easy. I will admit that.

You must know that my relationship with personal belongings is a bizarre mixture

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Las Bolas, the Stone Spheres in Costa Rica at Finca 6

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By the beginning of 2014, science had found the Higgs boson (a.k.a. “the God particle), put a rover on Mars, and created a robotic hand that allows amputees to feel sensations.

Yet somehow the Stone Spheres of Costa Rica remain a complete mystery, with little more than educated hunches about their significance to the ancient peoples of Costa Rica.

We’d seen some stone spheres during previous trips to Costa Rica– usually individual stones displayed prominently in the center of a town’s park.  

But it wasn’t until we visited the Finca 6 Archaeological Site in Palmar Sur that we began to understand how important these mysterious orbs are to researchers trying to learn more about Costa Rica’s pre-Columbian

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20 Symbols of Christmas: The History & Meaning of Traditional Christmas Decorations

Christmas has been celebrated as a Christian holiday dating back to A.D. 336. But it has also become an international phenomenon whose widespread popularity supersedes both its religious and pagan origins.

Did you know that, while 70% of the planet’s population is not Christian, nearly 80% of the world’s countries observe Christmas traditions in one form or another?

Many of the traditional symbols of Christmas transcend cultures and continents, including Christmas trees, gifts, ornaments, Santa (who’s known by many names), and, strangely, pickles.

Yet Christmas legends and Christmas traditions around the world vary drastically, with each culture adopting their own customs, their own holiday folklore, and their own Christmas dishes.

This in no way diminishes the religious implications for those who

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10 Green Products for a More Eco-Friendly Home

As the sustainability movement continues to gain mainstream steam, more and more people are looking for simple ways to live greener.

The problem is that most people don’t know how to start going green. But a great first step is to convert from conventional household products to more eco-friendly products for the home.

Despite what some skeptical consumers say, it’s important to recognize that the concept of environmentally conscious or green living is not a hoax. Of course greenwashing can be a problematic issue, so it’s important to understand the difference between truly green products and scams. 

But many product manufacturers today are making more earth friendly products. This happens in a couple of ways, usually by using cleaner manufacturing methods and/or

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2019 Atlanta Christmas Events: 50+ Things to Do For Christmas in Georgia

[Updated November 19, 2019]  Everyone knows that we’re passionate about ecotourism and nature conservation. But unless you’re a long-time reader, you might not know that our family is equally wild about spending Christmas in Georgia.

From mid-November right up through Christmas Eve, we make a point of attending as many different Atlanta Christmas events as we possibly can. We won’t even travel in the weeks before the holidays, just to make sure we have ample quality time to celebrate the season!

These 2019 Christmas events will be especially special for us, as this is my daughter’s first year home for the holidays since she went to college. Fortunately, her budding independence seems to be making her nostalgic for her childhood, and reliving those

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The 35 Best Daypacks for Travel

As frequent travelers who aren’t into long-distance trekking, a good travel daypack is arguably the most important piece of travel gear we take on our trips. 

After all, once we reach our destination, our carryon luggage basically stays in our hotel or eco lodge the whole time.

But the best daypacks for travel can serve multiple purposes, keeping essential items close at hand when you’re on the plane, walking through the city, or hiking through the wilderness.

There are daypacks designed for almost any situation you can imagine. Lightweight daypacks for all-day carrying, day hiking backpacks designed to carry outdoor recreation gear, waterproof daypacks for watersports and hiking through rainforests, and urban backpacks for every day use. 

So here we’ve reviewed

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The 20 Best Places to Spend Christmas in the USA

Although many of our blogging friends enjoy traveling to Christmas destinations around the world, we personally prefer a classic Christmas at home with our families. 

We really get into the holidays, embracing American Christmas traditions ranging from decorating our house (both inside and outside) with lights, wreaths, and garland to making homemade Christmas gifts. 

But now that my daughter is in college, we’ve begun to discuss other places to visit during Christmas (including seeing Mary’s dad’s family in New Jersey and Connecticut). 

So this year we decided to chat with some of our blogging friends to get their opinions on the best places to spend Christmas in the USA.

They contributed tips on spending the holidays in big cities like

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Exploring Doune Castle, Scotland (aka Castle Anthrax, Castle Leoch, etc)

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I’ve dreamed of visiting a place like Doune Castle, Scotland ever since I was a boy.

It started when I was 13, after I was cast in a theatrical production of Excalibur! The Story of Young King Arthur. For my research I read everything I could on the subject (including T.H. White’s The Once & Future King cycle and Mary Stewart’s Merlin books). My head was filled with stories of knights and damsels, magic and mayhem, castles and courtiers.

I’d visited some of Scotland’s most famous castles during my 2002 visit to Edinburgh. But exploring Doune Castle during our tour with Rabbie’s felt very different, in large part because the castle was both ancient and familiar. 

The

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30 Facts About The Mongolian Horse (a.k.a Przewalski’s Horse or Takhi)

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Almost everywhere you go around the world, horses are a source of great wonder and intrigue. They’re often depicted as the embodiment of freedom, galloping through wide open spaces with impressive grace and picturesque beauty.

These majestic animals have proven to be essential ever since they were first domesticated by Asian nomads around 4,000 years ago. Even now, they remain prominent in traditional folklore and mythology.

Although horses are often associated with having a wild spirit, the only truly wild horse alive today is the Mongolian Horse (a.k.a. Przewalski’s Horse, or Takhi).

Other horses perceived to be “wild”– such as the North American Mustang, Australian Brumby, or Namib Desert horse– are actually just feral horses who descend from

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The Secret Petra Treasury Trail (The Ultimate Petra Tour)

[Updated 11/3/2019] I cried tears of joy when we visited Jordan‘s ancient city of Petra, not long after we ascended a secret trail to a cliff looking down on the world-renowned Petra Treasury.

I don’t care how many times you’ve read about this expansive “rose-red city half as old as time” (as poet John William Burgon once described it).

Nothing can truly prepare you for the intense emotion and wide-eyed wonder of seeing this immense archaeological wonder in person. 

From the first moment I laid eyes on Al Khazneh (a.k.a. the Treasury)– stopping dead in my tracks to marvel at a tantalizing glimpse from between the sheer sandstone cliffs of the Siq I was mesmerized by the majesty of this otherworldly desert dream.

But that

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30 Recycled Christmas Decorations & DIY Christmas Crafts to Make

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[Updated 10/29/2019]  Making recycled Christmas decorations at home is a fantastic opportunity to slow down and savor the holiday season.

It gives us a chance to spend some quality time with our family and friends, not to mention avoiding the ever-increasing consumerist trappings of the holiday season.

Using waste materials for our homemade holiday crafts is even better. It means that we aren’t producing more garbage in the course of our celebration, nor are we spending money to buy Christmas decorations we could easily make ourselves. But still, we’re fully embracing the festive spirit of the season.

When we give our DIY Christmas crafts as gifts, it means that much more, because– to paraphrase Dr. Seuss– it comes

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The 25 Best Places to Spend Christmas in Europe

Original content owned & copyrighted by Green Global Travel.

With the rapid rise of mass tourism, summer travel to Europe has become increasingly problematic. Record-breaking heat, record-breaking visitor numbers, and horrific tourist behavior are leading to many situations where locals simply wish travelers would stop visiting. 

But Christmas in Europe is a different beast entirely. The cold weather of European cities in winter naturally limits the number of visitors. The holiday season lends a fairytale glow to these ancient towns and historic buildings that feels positively magical.

The oldest European Christmas traditions– including Christmas markets, evergreen trees and wreaths, Yule logs, mulled wine (a.k.a. Glühwein), and Nativity scenes– date back 500 years. And some go back even further, to the pagan

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The Ultimate Tortuguero National Park, Costa Rica Travel Guide

 We’re speeding down a river in Tortuguero National Park, a pristine 77,000-acre protected area at the heart of efforts to conserve the remarkable biodiversity in Costa Rica’s northeastern Limón Province.

We’re far from anything you’d call “civilization,” over 2 hours by boat from the nearest road, in remote rainforests that receive up to 250 inches of rain a year.

Tortuguero National Park is a poster child for Ecotourism in Costa Rica a haven for nature lovers eager to get away from it all. 

READ MORE: Top 20 Things To Do In Costa Rica (for Nature & History Lovers)

Allie & Mary, Rolling On The Tortuguero River Wildlife in Tortuguero

My eyes scan the dense thicket of trees that line the river, scoping

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What to Pack for Day of the Dead in Oaxaca, Mexico

Hannah Aronowitz is passionate about travel, ethical fashion, social justice, and where the three intersect. She is the Founder of Miha and the Marketing Director at MZ. Hannah splits her time between Portland, Oregon and Oaxaca, Mexico. 

The Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos) celebrations in Oaxaca are a wonder to behold, and an absolute blast to participate in. The celebrations are deeply rooted in indigenous traditions, and while the holiday is celebrated all over Mexico, it is particularly strong in Oaxaca, which has the largest indigenous population in the entire country. 

Día de los Muertos highlights the unique relationship Mexicans have with death and their ancestors. Between October 31st and November 2nd (although festivities tend to start earlier and extend beyond

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