Here is our pick of unforgettable, long-haul destinations where you can treat yourself to the holday of a lifetime
Say Bali and images of cerulean waters washing up enormous stretches of powder-soft sand spring to mind. But the island’s interiors with its holy temples, amazing wall carvings and rolling rice paddies and dramatic gorges are just as beautiful. Revel in it all while staying at the idiosyncratic wooden suites of the Como Shambhala Hotel & Spa, which overlooks the rice paddies. While there, soothe body and mind with the resort’s famed holistic treatments. For details, see www.balitourismboard.org
Image copyright: Como Shambhala Hotel & Spa
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Dream holidays don’t get much better than at Parrot Cay, one of the most exclusive islands in the Caribbean. This magnificent resort combines a mile of pure white sand (lapped by a turquoise sea) with beachside villas and the award-winning Como Shambhala Retreat. Visit the Parrot Cay website for more details.
A sea in every shade of turquoise wash against a pristine expanse of white coral sand at Grand Anse, one of the Caribbean’s most beautiful beaches. The gorgeous seascape would be reason enough to visit Grenada but the island offers much more. Take time to soak up the thousand sounds of the rainforest in the Grand Etang National Park, enjoy a delicious lobster crepe at the Coconut Beach and travel back in time along the streets of the country’s historic capital, St George’s. Stay at luxurious Mount Cinnamon for great views of Grand Anse. For more details, visit grenadagrenadines.com
Image: Grenada Tourist Board
Breathtaking lakeshore palaces, spellbinding deserts and the Taj Mahal, one of the seven wonders of the world – India’s romantic scenery slowly unfolds as you progress through the country on the opulent Palace on Wheels, a restored version of the trains that once used to carry the maharajas. For more details visit www.incredibleindia.org
Image copyright: Rex/ImageBroker
South Africa is a land of extraordinary contrasts – arid savannah, soaring mountains, wildflower-strewn forest and dramatic bays that are home to whales and dolphins. Every day harbours a new adventure, from capturing on your camera a leopard lounging in the sun to dining by campfire under the African stars. Stay at the Thornybush Waterside Lodge for a luxurious safari experience where you may spot lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo – all in the same day. For more details, see southafrica.net/uk.
Image copyright: South Africa Tourist Board
Magical sunset views across a crystalline sea, deserted, powder-soft beaches and rainforests crowded with monkeys, flying foxes and colourful butterflies are only a few reasons to visit this East African archipelago off the coast of Tanzania. But Zanzibar also has a rich history – you’ll walk in the footsteps of 15th-century spice traders – and an intriguing culture that blends Arab and Indian elements. For more details, see www.zanzibartourism.net
Image copyright: www.sxc.hu/Mrkt
Water buffalo plough glistening rice fields at the foot of towering mountains as you sail on the hyacinth-strewn Mekong Delta. An ancient Japanese bridge leads you to an old quarter of wooden houses in the elegant old port of Hoi An, and in Hanoi, grand French-style mansions line leafy boulevards. Little beats Vietnam for the sheer variety of dramatic scenery but the country also appeals for its fascinating culture and divine cuisine – an exciting combination of French and Chinese flavours. Stay at the Victoria Hoi An Beach Resort and Spa for superb views across Cua Dai Beach. For more details, see www.vietnamtourism.com
Image copyright: Victoria Hoi An hotel, Victoria Hotels
Hua Hin, on the Gulf of Thailand, is a charming combination of awe-inspiring landscapes and sophisticated atmosphere – after all, this is the Thai Royal Family’s favourite retreat. Palm-studded, golden coves opening onto an impossibly turquoise sea will take your breath away but it’s worth tearing yourself away from the beach for a soothing Thai massage and a delicious seafood supper at Hua Hin’s night market. Find out more at tourismthailand.org/uk
Image copyright: Thailand Tourism Authority
It’s hard to say what is best about Sri Lanka – whether it’s the peaceful, jasmine-scented Temple of the Tooth with its sacred lake, the quaint streets and tropical tea plantations of Nuwara Eliya, the amazing Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage, the idyllic beach at Bentota or Galle’s dramatic sea walls. Stay at Nuwara Eliya’s Grand Hotel for a taste of 19th-century charm. Visit www.srilanka.travel for more details.
Image copyright: REX/Eye Ubiquitous
St Lucia’s soft, pure-white beaches are sandwiched between the rainforest-clad hills and the Caribbean sea’s many shades of turquoise. Go snorkelling or scuba diving for a different look at the seascape, visit the local fish markets for a taste of the local produce and take a dip in the bubbling mud pools of Sulphur Springs Park for silky smooth skin. Treat yourself to a stay in one of the Colonial style villas, complete with four-poster beds and claw-foot baths, at the gorgeous Sugar Beach Resort — which also has a heavenly spa. Visit www.stlucia.org for more details.
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