Thailand’s Three Best Mountain Towns for Simple Living

There’s no shortage of natural beauty in northern Thailand. There are dozens of rivers like the Mae Ping, which originates in the forest-clad Daen Lao mountain range and flows down through the temple-laden city of Chiang Mai. Waterfalls gush into fertile valleys like Mae Sa, where you’ll find elephant camps, orchid farms, and miles of lush jungle.

Discovering Ibarra—Ecuador’s “White City”

I had just polished off an al fresco meal at an Argentine steakhouse with my family, and was relaxing to the mingling sounds of several street musicians, when the bill arrived. Though I’ve been in Ecuador for some time, I still suffer from reverse sticker shock. A similar meal for four at a restaurant of the same caliber in the U.S. runs well over $100.

Lucrative Love Letters, War Plans, and Signatures

In 1994, billionaire entrepreneur Bill Gates spent $30.8 million on 18 pieces of paper. His purchases weren’t paintings or artwork—at least, not in the traditional sense. They were manuscripts, handwritten 500 years ago by artist, inventor, and genius Leonardo da Vinci. Bill Gates wanted to own the Codex Leicester because he wanted a tangible connection to one of his heroes—and he’s not alone.

Enterprising Foodies in a Mexican Art Town

It wasn’t one thing that attracted expats Veronique Marconnet and Julie Foley to Guanajuato. It was a whole bunch of them: superb colonial architecture, vibrant cafés, live music, art…and opportunities to make a living doing something they enjoy. “Guanajuato offers possibilities,” says Veronique. “And you can have a good quality of life at a relatively low cost, too.” Monthly expenses including rent average $1,500.

Savoring Life as a Café Owner in Costa Rica

When Michael Allen, 54, joined his wife Connie, 51, for a vacation on Costa Rica’s southern Pacific coast back in 2000, he made a startling discovery. “She had arrived there two weeks before me and had bought some land near the town of Ojochal, which is a hub of expat activity in the region,” says Michael. “I remember saying, ‘What did you do! Are you out of your mind? It’s in the middle of the jungle.’”

Delve into Panama’s Artisan Traditions

Over the years archeological sites across Panama have yielded artifacts used long before the conquistadores came from Spain. Round-bellied clay pots called tinajas kept water cool in the tropical heat. Geometric motifs adorned platters and open bowls used for meals and prayers. Centuries later, this tradition continues in La Arena, known for its pre-Columbian style pottery.