I'm a guidebook writer who has written over 60 titles for Lonely Planet, as well as guidebooks for Odyssey guides, Insight Guides and Wilderness Press. For 25 years I've been travelling through the wilder parts of the Himalayas, Western China and Central Asia. I spend six to eight months a year travelling the world independently in order to recommend the very best hotels, restaurants, hikes and off the beaten track destinations.
What places and activities do you specialize in?
"I specialise in the Himalayas, from Ladakh and Spiti to Nepal and Bhutan, as well as every corner of the Tibetan plateau. Western China is another great love, as is Central Asia (pretty much anything ending in 'stan). I'm a huge fan of Tibetan monasteries and epic, inner Asian landscapes and preferably traversing them on foot. Essentially, the corners of Asia that can still take you out of the modern world and reset all your assumptions. "
How did you get involved in travel?
"I first started travelling in Tibet and China while studying Chinese at Oxford, and I've never really looked back."
Featured trips & expertise
The Newari town of Bandipur is one of central Nepal's hidden gems. It combines traditional village architecture, epic Himalayan views, lovely countryside walks, local adventure sports, and excellent accommodation. It's also an ideal place to break up the drive between Pokhara and Kathmandu while getting a relaxing taste of rural Nepal in the process.
When visiting Nepal, it's easy to set your sights firmly on Mt. Everest, Kathmandu, and Chitwan National Park — but don't overlook the religious site of Lumbini. As the birthplace of the Buddha, this is one of the world's great pilgrimage destinations. If you're interested in history, spirituality, or archaeology, add Lumbini to your Nepal wish list.
Nepal is a developing country, and the income earned from tourism can be a game-changer in marginalized or rural communities—especially those still recovering from the devastating earthquake of 2015. When planning a trip, your tourist dollars carry an inherent power. Spend them in the right places and you'll have a great travel experience, while enjoying the warm glow of knowing that you are directly improving people's lives.
Kathmandu is a shopper's paradise, particularly for those who appreciate high quality artisanal goods at an incredible value. That said, the city is big and traffic is bad, so strategizing your time and whereabouts is key, depending on the goods you're most interested in. Below is a rough guide to help you.
Kathmandu's shopkeepers have been expertly catering to foreign tastes since the first hippy stumbled into town looking for a tie-dye shirt. Fast forward a half-century and Kathmandu now offers some of the best shopping in Asia, showcasing a huge array of unique products whose quality and value make them almost impossible to pass up. From bargain-priced down jackets to buttery-soft pashminas, most visitors leave the city with considerably more baggage than when they arrived. If shopping is your thing, budget an extra day.
Most people come to Pokhara for the fantastic nearby trekking, and after a week of bucket washes and wet wipes you might just be ready for a splash of well-deserved luxury. The good news is that the charming countryside around Pokhara offers some of the Himalaya's most stylish and relaxing top-end places to stay. Budget a day or two to recover from your trek in style at one of these fabulous resorts.