You won’t be disappointed if all you want to do is fly and flop on beautiful beaches. But Thailand is a place to discover as well as loaf, inspecting temples, visiting traditional hill tribes, exploring such enthralling cities as Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai, joining a cookery class and, of course, irresistible shopping.
Just four hours from the UK, Lanzarote ranks among the prettiest of the Canary Islands, with low-key resorts, sandy beaches, dramatic volcanic landscapes and a wonderful year-round climate. It’s easy and fun to explore and offers a wide selection of villas with private pools, making it an ideal choice for families, couples and groups of friends.
Ask most people to name an Indonesian island and you’ll probably get Bali, possibly Lombok. But Indonesia is a nation of 17,000 islands, each with its own distinctive show of both nature and culture. In these days of global travel, names like Java, Sumatra, Sulawesi and Komodo still evoke an enormous sense of adventure.
With its rugged moors and soft voluptuous dales, Yorkshire serves up helpings of English countryside at its most iconic. Add pretty stone hamlets and historic market towns, castles and walking trails, fishing villages and cosy pubs into the pot and you have a county that delivers a multi-course menu of holiday pleasures.
This low-lying, warm-weather Atlantic island is a well-groomed and bloomed world of pastel houses, poster-pretty beaches, umpteen golf courses and, with red pillar boxes and 4 o’clock teas, an unmistakable stamp of Britishness. Safe, dependable, jacket-and-tie respectable Bermuda makes a perfect spring or autumn getaway.
Nowhere within a four-hour flight of the UK is as exotic and alluring as Morocco. The highlight is Marrakech, with its swirling souks, ornate palaces, elegant back street restaurants and stylish riads, but you won’t want to miss the soaring Atlas Mountains nor the majestic kasbahs of the south.
Often staged in historic settings, such as the 2,000 year old amphitheatre in Verona where audiences applaud divas from the same seats as they once cheered their favourite gladiators, Italy’s opera season extends far beyond La Scala, with al fresco performances both magical and musically memorable.
It’s amazing to think that only 30 years ago Cambodia was torn apart by civil war and genocide. Today it’s one of Asia’s most exciting destinations, from the jungle-clad temple complex of Angkor to the vibrant capital, Phnom Penh. Throw in sensational food, great hotels and world-class beaches for an unmissable travel experience.
The dramatic scenery of the Amalfi coast, with its lemon groves, almond trees and bougainvillea, is stunning. You’ll find resorts for all tastes, from popular Sorrento – an ideal hub for boat trips to Capri and outings to Pompeii and Vesuvius – to the exquisite hilltop retreat of Ravello and alluring island of Ischia.
Some people are happy just lying beside the Mediterranean. But those who want to do something in it, on it or under it should consider a beach club holiday where a full range of watersports, from sailing to diving, windsurfing to waterskiing, is on the menu, along with land-based activities such as tennis and biking.
Most destinations fail to live up to the glossy brochure hype. The Maldives is an exception. No photographer can do justice to the splendid natural colours – the cobalt seas, the turquoise lagoons, the fiery orange sunsets. The standards of hospitality are outstanding and the modern world is a million miles away.
The most awe-inspiring views of the Rockies, the spine of mountains that form the backbone of North America, lie in Canada. More precisely, they lie within a single World Heritage Site that straddles British Columbia and Alberta. Drive yourselves or, for the ultimate in scenic rail journeys, travel from Vancouver aboard the Rocky Mountaineer.
Borneo boasts sandy beaches, luscious scenery and luxury hotels, but what distinguishes this huge island from its Asian neighbours is the abundant wildlife. Most famous are the orangutans, easily inspected in Sabah’s Sepilok sanctuary, along with Probiscus monkeys, turtles and exotic birds. For adventure, climb Mount Kinabalu or stay in a village longhouse.
Burma is one of the world’s most fascinating and beautiful destinations, its people gentle, warm and genuinely friendly. Although Burma is ruled by a brutal military dictatorship, the release from house arrest of the democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi makes us believe that now is the right time for tourists to discover this hidden gem.
Not all the Canaries have been over-developed. On La Palma you’ll find soaring volcanic peaks, wild forests and few other tourists. Its capital Santa Cruz is a cobbled colonial outpost with great charm. The barely known and tiny La Graciosa could pass as a desert island with tranquil beaches and crashing surf.
Spend a day walking the coastal paths of Cornwall and you might wonder why Brits ever travel abroad. The undulating hills, the secret sandy coves, the miles of beach and the soaring cliffs are as fine as you’ll see anywhere. With excellent local restaurants and superb self-catering cottages, this is one of the finest UK holiday destinations.
When Mount Vesuvius erupted in AD 79 it brought tragedy to the towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum. The volcano also served to freeze in time a fascinating period of Roman history. Visit the scene in the company of an expert archaeologist to discover the most complete insight into everyday life in Ancient Rome.
Dotted off the coast of West Africa, the 10 islands of Cape Verde are as varied and fascinating as they are beautiful. With tropical beaches, lush mountains, year-round sunshine and direct 6-hour flights from the UK, they offer high standards at a fraction of the price of many African destinations.
As well as tropical beaches and top hotels, your memories will be shaped as much by the Balinese countryside. You’ll see emerald rice paddies one minute, immense volcanoes the next. Bali is a spiritual place where daily life embraces ceremony and ritual, temples and stone gods. And Balinese craftsmen are amazing, so take an extra suitcase.
Grand Cayman is sophisticated, polished and safe – in every sense of the word – with classy hotels, top restaurants and dreamy Seven Mile Beach. There’s also plenty to explore with pristine reefs, stingray encounters, submarine trips, botanical parks and island-hopping excursions to Cayman Brac or Little Cayman. Perfect with or without the kids.
Both the Caribbean and Pacific coasts of Mexico have world-class resorts set on superb beaches with prices significantly lower than in rival holiday destinations. Besides affordable luxury, visitors can tap into a rich seam of culture, from remarkable Mayan archaeological sites and colourful Indian markets to Spanish colonial towns.
Nowhere in Africa can match Kenya for spectacular scenery and the sheer volume and diversity of its wildlife. The Masai Mara should be on everyone’s list of must-sees, not only during the annual summer migration of millions of wildebeest, but throughout the year to view lion, cheetah, leopard, hyena and hundreds of species of birds.
A voyage aboard one of the three Star Clipper ships is a vastly different experience to a conventional cruise. Modelled on historic sailing vessels, they fly great clouds of billowing sails and offer passengers a timeless adventure as they explore the world’s most beautiful oceans and islands.
If you think Ibiza is just a party island for teenage ravers, wise up. Out in the hills are some of Europe’s most glamorous villas where the likes of Kate Moss and Jade Jagger hang out. Take excursions to remote coves and mountain restaurants. Clubbing is optional. Chilling isn’t.