The favourite places of Paul Bachant

The favourite places of Paul Bachant

Bastiaan Ellen

After travelling the world extensively, living abroad for long stretches and fully immersing himself in foreign cultures, Paul Bachant founded Insider Voyages to share his passion and expertise with those on a journey of discovery. “I want to help my clients see the world in a way that feels fresh and relevant to them,” he says. “It goes beyond booking exceptional hotels and mapping out seamless transitions. That’s a given. But making the right connections – between people and places, between travellers and guides – and opening up new possibilities, that’s when travel becomes truly transformative.” He talks to Mr Hudson about some of his favourite places.

Tell us about yourself

I’ve had a passion for travel all my life. Fortunately, I’ve had the opportunity to travel the world extensively, live abroad for long stretches of time and fully immerse myself in foreign cultures. I founded Insider Voyages to share my passion and expertise with people looking for a memorable travel experience.

My restless curiosity drives me to continually seek out inspiring destinations, resources and relationships wherever I go. For me, the most memorable trips are those that reveal the authentic heart of a place.

What makes Insider Voyages special?

Insider Voyages provides the kind of VIP access and expertise essential in finding your way to the hidden gems, luxurious private corners and authentic experiences that define the very best journeys.

We take the time to understand our clients’ interests, how they like to travel and where they feel most comfortable—whether that’s relaxing at an exclusive resort or spelunking in ancient French caves. Then we meticulously create a customised itinerary that is based on their input, yet still fresh and exciting.

Our extensive network of on-the-ground contacts makes anything possible. Wherever your interests lie—in art, nature, sports, shopping, food, music—we can take you on an immersive dive into that subculture.

Why is Insider Voyages so popular with gay travellers?

We understand that gay travellers want what everyone else wants: an extraordinary travel experience. Increased acceptance around the world has opened up endless possibilities for us, but sometimes it is nice to be with our own tribe while travelling. We have solid connections with companies that serve the LGBT market.

What destination has lived up to the hype?

Burma (Myanmar). After the government opened the country several years ago, there was a lot of hype about visiting this undiscovered land. I went for a month in 2014 and was blown away by the sights, the food and especially the people, who were incredibly warm and welcoming. It was untouched by the rampant commercialism you see in other parts of Asia.

What destination hasn’t?

The Great Wall of China. To me, it was just a long, pretty wall laced over some hills. Nothing Great!

What is your favourite place in the world?

It’s so difficult to choose favourites! I would have to say Rome, and the entire country of Italy will always have a special place in my heart. I lived there for three years, and it was a wonderful experience. I go back to various parts of Italy at least once a year and each time I am amazed at the voluptuous beauty of the country. A close second is India. It is fascinating and overwhelming in so many ways.

What is it about travel that you enjoy most?

Experiencing new cultures and new cuisines. To me, food is an essential part of the travel experience.

What is the best hotel you’ve stayed at?

The Blue Bird Bagan Hotel in Myanmar. It’s an intimate, luxurious boutique hotel with huge rooms and just the right mix of modern and local design. The service was incredibly attentive, and guests were made to feel at home. We even had drinks with the owners a few times while there.

What does your ideal trip look like?

My ideal trip is just the right combination of activities, like sightseeing, museums, excursions, and free time to wander and discover. It’s so important to have that free time to really experience your destination and open yourself to whatever might happen in the process.

Who is the most interesting person you’ve met while travelling?

When I was in Yangon, Myanmar, I was in the main park of the city, and I met a young guy who was a tour guide. He had just finished his residency as a Buddhist monk, which all young Burmese men still do, and he decided that working in the tourism sector was his best bet for the future. He took me around the city for a few days, and it was fascinating to hear about his view of the world, his hopes, his dreams. Coming from a country that had been closed off from the world for so long gave him a unique perspective.

What are your favourite places in New York City that people need to know about?

I love the West Village for the intimacy and quaintness. It’s one of the few places left where you can wander and escape the frenetic energy of the city. The High Line receives all of the hype, but the Hudson River Park is a true gem. You can bike, run or walk its length and along the way stop at a museum (the Whitney, the 9/11 Memorial) eat great food (Grand Banks, City Winery) or just relax on the grass.

What is your best-kept travel secret?

Be open to new experiences, whether it’s a destination or type of travel. I always had a distaste for cruises: the regimentation, the crowds, etc. A friend convinced me to go on a gay cruise a few years ago, and I had so much fun and made some lasting friendships. It was completely unexpected. I followed that with an Azamara cruise, and that changed my perspective even more. Going on a luxury, small-ship cruise with no crowds, exceptional food and interesting ports makes for a completely different experience. And to top it off, it was very gay-friendly.

Any recommendations for gay travellers?

Don’t limit yourself to gay-friendly destinations, but be aware of the customs of where you are travelling. It’s always good to know whether you can hold your partner’s hand or show affection. A travel advisor is a good resource for this info.

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