Hidden Hutongs: A Peek Into Old Beijing by Pedicab (VIDEO)

Hidden Hutongs: A Peek Into Old Beijing by Pedicab (VIDEO)

There’s far more to Beijing than the remnants of its grand imperial past or Chairman Mao’s legacy. Tucked away beneath the city’s most impressive attractions, one can still find a slice of real Chinese life in the hutongs, or narrow alleyways, that make up the heart of old Beijing. Here’s a glimpse of some of the sights and sounds you might find in Beijing’s vibrant hutong neighborhoods, seen from the backseat of a pedicab. Read More


Holiday Cookies from Around the World

Holiday Cookies from Around the World

To help you get ready for the holiday baking season ahead, we compiled a list of some of our favorite holiday cookies from several of MIR’s destinations, each with a link to a recipe you can make for your next cookie party, for a family occasion, or as a treat to go with your eggnog. Read More


Making Ikats: Colors of the Silk Road (VIDEO)

Making Ikats: Colors of the Silk Road (VIDEO)

We caught up with MIR Tour Manager Abdu Samadov, who recently visited one of Uzbekistan’s renowned silk workshops in the Fergana Valley. While inside the studio, he captured this footage of a weaver creating a classic Uzbek silk fabric known as ikat. Take a brief look at the intricate process behind making these brilliant Silk Road textiles in this video. Read More


Hear the Sounds of the Silk Route: Music of the Karakalpaks (VIDEO)

Hear the Sounds of the Silk Route: Music of the Karakalpaks (VIDEO)

In the remote desert region of western Uzbekistan lies the small city of Nukus. It’s here that you’ll find the famous Savitsky Art Museum, which houses a massive collection of banned Russian avant-garde art. On a recent trip to Uzbekistan, MIR staffers caught some footage of a traditional Karakalpak musical performance while touring the Savitsky Museum. The footage highlights two distinct musical styles and types of performers. Musicians once held a most important role in Karakalpak society, acting as both singers and storytellers. They were an essential part of special occasions and weddings, many of which lasted for days, sometimes weeks. Read More


4 Must-See WWII Sites in St. Petersburg: The Siege of Leningrad

4 Must-See WWII Sites in St. Petersburg: The Siege of Leningrad

St. Petersburg: Russia’s capital of art and culture, with extravagant palaces, magnificent theaters, world-renowned museums and miles of canals. But during the Second World War, Leningrad (as St. Petersburg was known then) was an entirely different sight. Here are our recommendations for four must-see sights where you can pay tribute to the heroic deeds of this enduring city: Read More


Dancing in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan (VIDEO)

Dancing in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan (VIDEO)

Turkmen people love to dance. As a scattering of nomadic tribes, they reserved dancing for gatherings and special occasions. Today, everyone from young children to the elderly will find any excuse to flaunt their best moves at festivals, weddings, holidays, and national performances. It’s not just a fun outlet, it’s a way to express pride for their country and cultural traditions. Enjoy this three-part video from a recent trip to Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, which captures some of the most famous Turkmen dances. Read More


Feasting, Fanfare and Fireworks: Chinese New Year

Feasting, Fanfare and Fireworks: Chinese New Year

For thousands of years, the Chinese have celebrated the Lunar New Year as a way to pay respect to their ancestors, honor deities and welcome the arrival of a new year. With festivities stretching out over 15 days, it’s the longest and most important holiday in China, and millions of Chinese from all over the world make the journey home each year to reconnect with their families. In fact, the travel period before, during and after Chinese New Year has often been called the world’s largest annual migration, with over 2 billion passenger journeys made every year. How did this celebration of the new year begin? Read More


Jewish Heritage in Russia: Travel to Moscow, St. Petersburg, Birobidzhan

Jewish Heritage in Russia: Travel to Moscow, St. Petersburg, Birobidzhan

Russia has changed a great deal since the fall of the Soviet Union. A new generation of Russians is reconnecting with Jewish heritage and welcoming those who want to explore their ancestry. MIR is an expert at hand-crafting itineraries for travelers searching for their roots, or their relatives, in Russia. For those interested in traveling to Russia to explore Jewish heritage, here are some places you could include on your trip… Read More


The Coolest Hotel on the Edge of the World: Kirkenes’ Snow Hotel

The Coolest Hotel on the Edge of the World: Kirkenes’ Snow Hotel

You can take an exhilarating snowmobile ride, race teams of sled dogs, fish for king crab and, given the town’s near-perfect northern location and dry subarctic climate, catch a glimpse of the beautiful phenomenon known as the Northern Lights or the Aurora Borealis. And for unusual experiences like this, you need an equally unusual hotel to top everything off. That’s where the world’s coolest hotel comes in: the Snow Hotel. Read More