Features // Stephen Keeling

The Mayan ruins less travelled: El Salvador’s forgotten history
The Mayan ruins less travelled: El Salvador’s forgotten history

El Salvador’s Mayan ruins can’t be compared with the great Mayan centres in Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico, but they have their own powerful charm – and on most days you’ll have the sites completely to yourself. Stephen Keeling went to explore El Salvador’s rich but oft ignored Mayan heritage. Joya de Cerén Around 1400 years…

The best places to visit in May
The best places to visit in May

May is the perfect time to travel in the northern hemisphere. With the weather warming up, fewer tourists and lower prices than the peak summer months, the beaches of the Caribbean and the Med are prime targets, but there’s plenty going on elsewhere. From New Orleans jazz to a whale shark festival in Australia, here…

Lost for words at the Grand Canyon, Arizona
Lost for words at the Grand Canyon, Arizona

If a guidebook tells you that something is “impossible to describe”, it usually means the writer can’t be bothered to describe it – with one exception. After pondering the views of the Grand Canyon for the first time, the most spectacular natural wonder on Earth, most visitors are stunned into silence. Committed travellers hike down to the canyon floor…

All aboard the Eastern & Oriental Express
All aboard the Eastern & Oriental Express

First, tea is served. In a fancy teapot, with biscuits, by a butler dressed in pristine white uniform. You gaze lazily out of the window as porters labour in the crushing afternoon humidity, blissfully cool in your air-conditioned cabin. Then the train eases out of the station: the skyscrapers of Singapore soon fall away, and you’re across the Straits…

The Great New York Historic Pub Crawl
The Great New York Historic Pub Crawl

This is not a guide for Sex and the City fans. Cocktails and glam clubs are still big in Manhattan, but good old-fashioned pubs, aided by the US craft beer revolution, are back in vogue. This tour takes you to the oldest, most venerable Manhattan alehouses. Technically the oldest tavern in the city, Bridge Café…

Exploring the Great Plains
Exploring the Great Plains

Most US travel itineraries skip the “middle bit” – often stereotyped as a boring, endless and pancake-flat swathe of corn that makes up the Great Plains. But while the region lacks showstoppers – no Grand Canyon, no New York – the Great Plains are crammed with surprisingly intriguing attractions and great tracts are, well, quite…

On the trail of Mark Twain in the USA
On the trail of Mark Twain in the USA

Stephen Keeling follows in the footsteps of Mark Twain, the American literary giant who penned such classics as The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Hannibal, Missouri “Hannibal has had a hard time of it ever since I can recollect, and I was “raised” there. First, it had me for a…

The Battle of Gettysburg: 150 years on
The Battle of Gettysburg: 150 years on

In an emotional venture to Pennsylvania, with Lincoln’s speech echoing in his ears, Rough Guides writer Stephen Keeling remembers the Battle of Gettysburg – the deadliest battle in the American civil war – 150 years on. I can’t remember when I first heard about the Battle of Gettysburg, but it was probably at school. Even…

Florida at 500: ten historic highlights
Florida at 500: ten historic highlights

Five hundred years ago, grizzled Spanish conquistador Ponce de León became the first European to set eyes on (what he called) La Florida, the “Land of Flowers”, though Spanish colonization didn’t get going until 1565, with the foundation of the city of St Augustine. Today the place is part historic theme park, part memorial to…

Staten Island – The Forgotten Borough?
Staten Island – The Forgotten Borough?

The free ride across the harbour to Staten Island is one of the highlights of any visit to New York City, but is there any point in getting off the ferry? Culturally Staten Island has more in common with suburban New Jersey than with the other four New York boroughs – and with parts of…

On the Trail of Bruce Chatwin In Patagonia
On the Trail of Bruce Chatwin In Patagonia

The Polish woman grins as the car ferry to Tierra del Fuego crashes over the Magellan Strait. The bus groans and moves very slightly forward, grazing the truck in front of us. I grip my chair. She waves a book at me. “Have you read our excellent Podróże Marzeń guide to Chile?” She smiles again…

A film guide to the Philippines
A film guide to the Philippines

For anyone planning a trip to the Philippines, Stephen Keeling has picked out ten top films that showcase the country’s landscapes, history and culture. 1: Oro, Plata, Mata (Gold, Silver, Death, Peque Gallaga, 1982) Make sure you watch the extraordinary restored and re-mastered version in high definition – it’s hard to believe this classic is…

The best historic pizza restaurants in New York
The best historic pizza restaurants in New York

Spend more than five minutes in New York and you’ll start to understand how much the locals love pizza. There are more pizza joints on a typical block than garbage cans, mailboxes and parking spaces. So as you’d expect, this is one town where pizza genealogy is taken very seriously, and title of best pizza…

Taiwan: A Traveller’s Movie Guide
Taiwan: A Traveller’s Movie Guide

Taiwan’s small but creative movie industry has been experiencing something of a renaissance in recent years. This selection – mostly recent films – should help you get under the skin of the island’s dynamic and complex culture. Aficionados should also check out the movies of two Taiwan legends: Hou Hsaio-Hsien and Tsai Ming-liang. Groundbreaker Hou…

Mexico movie guide – eight essential films
Mexico movie guide – eight essential films

Thinking of visiting Mexico for the first time? Watch a few films before you go. Like great works of fiction, movies often provide an illuminating insight into the culture of a country, its landscape and its peoples. Mexico has always been a rich source of movie material, with its own prodigious film industry and plenty…

Is Mexico safe?
Is Mexico safe?

Official warnings and news reports often paint a nerve-wracking picture of Mexico, but just how dangerous is the country? Stephen Keeling, co-author of the Rough Guide to Mexico, offers his first hand thoughts on some of the most supposedly dicey areas. Sipping margaritas on Puerto Vallarta’s languid beach, pelicans gliding off shore and kids playing…

Why you should visit Southern Brazil
Why you should visit Southern Brazil

Brazil’s booming southern states – Paraná, Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul – are often strangely absent on tourist itineraries of the country. The cities of Curitiba and Porto Alegre will host 2014 FIFA World Cup matches, and the region is already a huge draw for Brazilian, Argentine and Uruguayan tourists. Yet it can…