First mentioned in the Book of Ezekiel, this historic port city (pop. 560,000) and former capital of PDR Yemen was once a thriving trading city, but after Vasco da Gama discovered the sea route to Asia around Africa in 1498, its fortunes waned. Most travelers visit Yemen's economic capital and second-largest city by ship as a one-day excursion, but an overnight stay gives the curious a better chance to try to get below the surface of the city. As you walk around, you'll notice a unique mix of people: Arabs, Africans, Indians, Somalis, Pakistanis, Chinese and others. Spend time in the most interesting and oldest part of town, the Crater (built in the crater of an extinct volcano—it has a wonderful minaret as well as a military museum displaying the war history of PDR Yemen). Also visit the panoramic Cisterns of Tawila (ancient water cisterns located atop Jabal Shamsan). These 18 cisterns, built in the 1st century AD, can store up to 10 million gallons/45 million liters of water! Afterward, slake your thirst for knowledge at the National Museum of Antiquities (with pre-Islamic displays) and the 14th-century Al Aldarus Mosque. A day trip to Little Aden (fine beaches, fishing villages) might also be in order—the town is also built in an extinct volcanic crater. Plan one night in Aden. 190 mi/305 km south of Sana'a.

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