Planning a holiday is never too early, as this gives you something to look forward to. There are several travel options now that could be tailored to your budget, food preferences and type of experiences you want. The memories of a vacation though is something that only you yourself could make. To help you decide on when and where to go, we have lined up some popular destinations for 2016 that will provide you with plenty of new experiences, new insights and discoveries and knowledge of new cultures and traditions that are worthy of the time you’ll spend planning, saving up and juggling your workload.
- India is a huge country with diverse flora and fauna and varied climates. It’s a country with a very long history and is known for its rich heritage and culture. Even if many parts of the country have been modernized, it remains mystical, mythical and intriguing to many foreigners, and provides plenty of experiences to boot.
- One of the best reasons to visit India is to see the Taj Mahal, a World Heritage-listed site, and one of the most expensive gifts a person can give to the one he loves.
- Anywhere you go in India, spirituality is never far behind. It’s woven into the country’s cultural fibre, where several saints, including Mahavira and Buddha came from and where Hinduism is no longer a religion but a way of life. Near the Holy Ganges are the Varanasi cities and rivers such as Sarawati that are considered holy.
- Some cities of India are truly captivating such as the Blue City of Jodhpur, the Golden City of Laisalmer; Udaipur, the City of Lakes and Pinky City of Jaipur, all located in the beautiful Rajasthan.
- It is also a well-known fact that Indian cuisine, which is exotic and flavoursome, is something that is worth trying.
- Montenegró is quite unique. It’s a small island in the Adriatic and often called the Pearl of the Mediterranean. The country is rich in natural resources and almost all of them are within easy reach.
- The most famous among its many attractions is the Bay of Kotor that looks more like a fjord than a bay. Along its coast are beautiful churches and fortified locales such as Herceg Novi and the preserved town of Kotor. Montenegró’s Tara River Canyon is 1,300 meters deep, while wildlife, lakes formed by glaciers and limestone peaks are found in the Durmitor National Park.
- Out of its various churches, the most visited in the 17th century Serbian Orthodox Monastery of Ostrog, but you should not miss the other churches such as the Orthodox St Nicholas Church, Church of St. Luke and the St. Tryphon Cathedral that was constructed in the 12th century.
- The beaches of Budva are very popular, together with the picturesque old town centre called Citadela. The path towards the fortified old town has several squares, churches and buildings of historical importance, such as Church of St Sava, the Santa Marija of Punta and the St John’s Church that were constructed in the 12th, 8th and 7th centuries, respectively. Close to the town centre is the Church of the Holy Trinity.
- Budva is also called the “The Riviera of Sandy Beaches.” Architecture buffs will have a field day exploring the examples of architecture from the 17th and 18th centuries, best shown by the palaces of Smekja, Badovic, Zmajevic and Bujovic in Perast. Not to be outdone are Lake Skadar and the fortresses, squares and churches located in Herceg Novi.
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- Hungary, which used to be a European Capital of Culture, is a landlocked country. Much of the country’s tourist arrivals flock to Budapest, its capital. It’s no surprise actually, since the city boasts of outstanding architectural masterpieces particularly around Castle Hill and an undeniably rich history.
- At Széchenyi, you can soak your tired feet in any of its 15 thermal pools. By the way, Budapest is made up of the former independent cities of Buda, Pest and Óbuda that means Old Buda.
- Some of the major attractions in the capital city are Andrassy Street, Heroes Square, Gellert Hill, Buda Castle and Chain Bridge. If you are into live performances of the operatic kind, check out the schedule in the State Opera House.
- Hungary’s cuisine is a must-try, especially if you are into exotic, intensely flavoured dishes with a perfect blend of spices, highlighted by paprika.
- The country is also known for its wine. The grape varieties in Hungary are native to the country and had been grown since the time of the Romans. The Tokaji wines and the Bikaver (Bull’s Blood) are famous dessert wine made from late-harvested grapes.
- China is so vast, you might spend a lifetime checking out all its wonderful destinations. If you want to experience something very different, then China should be on top of your list, as the country has a wealth of interesting things to see and do – from its culture, traditions, practices, to its mouth-watering cuisines, natural attractions, man-made wonders and shopping venues.
- For culture, nothing beats the Great Wall of China, the thousands of clay soldiers that form the Terracotta Warriors found in Xi’an and the palace in the Forbidden City. The Great Wall of China is also an astounding place to go hiking, which you can continue down the Yellow Mountains toward Lijiang and the Tiger Leaping Gorge.
- Transportation, lodging and food vary from cheap to astronomical, thus you’ve got plenty of choices. Each city has its own specialty so even if you are not on a food trip, you’ll get to experience the different flavours of China.
- If you want something less tamer, find your adventure in Western China’s mountain ranges, including Wudang Shan, Wu Tai Shan, Mian Shan and Emei Shan.You can have a slow cruise on the Yangtze River or take slow walks along the old city walls in Xi’an and Pingyao, which is World Heritage-listed.
- While Pingyao displays old-world charm, Fenghuang in Hunan Province is a frontier town, where you can find some of the remains of the Southern Great Wall, the North Gate Tower and the City Wall that were built during the Ming Dynasty. Also top draw in the area are the stilt houses along the Tuo Jiang River.
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- Vietnam is increasingly getting popular as a tourist destination. It’s got its own innate charm and a host of World Heritage Sites to boot, including Cham Islands, Hoi An Ancient Street, Phong Nha Ke Bang caves and Halong Bay. While these are impressive destinations, you’ll find hidden gems in other places such as French-inspired Da Lat.
- The country is very affordable, even if you want to stay in a 5-star hotel. You won’t believe the food prices in Vietnam! They’re that cheap yet the taste is exquisite and delicately flavoured, and most use fresh local ingredients.
- There’s more to Vietnamese cuisine than spring rolls and pho. The coffee culture in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi is so French, too!
- Vietnam gives you opportunities to explore off-beaten paths, such as staying at an ethnic village in Sa Pa, go sand-surfing with the local children in Mui Ne or watch the sunrise in Hoi An.
- You can go camping, bird watching and learn wind surfing in the country’s national parks of Nha Trang, Cat Tien, Cat Ba or Cuc Phuong.
- It has several unique festivals as well, such as the buffalo fighting festival in Hai Phong. Believe it or not, Vietnam has beautiful beaches located in Mui Ne, Nha Trang and Da Nang.
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- Travellers not from the Asia-Pacific region find Australia quite remote. However, the country is a great and popular place to visit, whether you are from overseas or domestic tourists. Domestic travel makes you aware of your neighbouring states, the beauty of your country and the vast differences in traditions, culture, practices and lifestyle.
- Explore the beauty of the Great Barrier Reef or catch a performance at the Sydney Opera House or even just tour the world-famous Sydney and country icon, as well as the neighbouring Sydney Harbour Bridge. Would you dare yourself to climb “The Coathanger?”
- Sydney also boasts of flavourful food, beautiful parks and plenty of things to do for free. You can try surfing at Bondi or Manly Beach or dine at Darling Harbour after exploring the Chinese Garden.
- If you want to see local colour while in Sydney, visit King’s Cross. If you like to see a solid, multicoloured wave-like natural formation, you’ll find Wave Rock near Hyden in Western Australia.
- At the Red Centre in Northern Territory is the world-famous Uluru/Ayers Rock, which changes colour depending on the time of day.
- Australia is not totally a dry country, and there are some great wine regions like Hunter Valley that’s close to Sydney, Barossa Valley in Adelaide and Margaret River, which is close to Perth.
- Ningaloo Reef and Coral Bay rival the beauty of the Great Barrier Reef and Cairns, just like Kakadu and Litchfield are bested by Karijini National Park.
- Fremantle has the best beer in Australia and Perth has several fantastic beaches.
- In Noosa, Queensland, even beginners would be able to surf. These are just the tip of the iceberg, so to speak, as there are more places and great attractions around Australia.
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- New Zealand (NZ) for many people is not that accessible yet it is one of the greatest tourist destinations in the world, where you can see and do so many unique things any time of the year.
- The country is famous for its diverse scenery that has remained unspoilt. It’s got several volcanoes, glaciers, lakes, mountains, rainforests and beaches. The people are warm and welcoming and the weather is always mild. NZ is such a special place.
- If you’re in Abel Tasman National Park, you’d think that you’re in Thailand, with its beautiful beaches with azure blue waters. You can hike or kayak and explore many small coves during the day.
- New Zealand is one of the very few areas where you can hike the glaciers, which you can do at the Franz Joseph and Fox.
- Extreme sports in synonymous with NZ. Bungee jumping, white water rafting, zip lining, abseiling, caving, canyon swinging, sky diving, hiking – these are just some of the adrenaline-pumping activities you can do in New Zealand.
- Then there’s the fascinating culture of the Māori, the vibrant character and architecture of Wellington, the beautiful harbour and the incredible nightlife in Auckland; the enchanting glow worms at the Waitomo caves, picturesque Queenstown and the hiking trails and lake in Taupo.
- For serious hikers, you cannot resist Tongariro Alpine Crossing. If you are a fan of The Lord of the Rings, then you’d not miss a visit to Hobbiton and the Shire in Matamata in Waikato, North Island. There are other filming sites around the country as well.
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- Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina’s capital has bounced back from its tragic past, and is now a dynamic and vibrant city once again.
- Take a walk on Bascarsija’s cobbled streets that still bear traces of its Ottoman past and rummage in its craft bazaars lined up along narrow alleyways or see the influence of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in Ferhadija’s streets.
- Bosnia and Herzegovina’s landscape is incredible, with several waterfalls, rivers gleaming turquoise blue and rocky and tall mountains.
- The city of Mostar is also famous for its Ottoman architecture and its hunchback bridge, Stari Most.
- Diving into the icy cold waters of the River Neretva from the bridge is a rite of passage among young men, which has become an attraction.
- Prices in Bosnia and Herzegovina are very cheap, and it’s a great place to shop, because the craftsmanship of jewellery, woven items, traditional carpets, delicately handmade lace and copper goods hammered by hand are superb.
- The food is simple yet very filling. It’s also got a coffee culture that you should not miss. It’s a bit like Turkish coffee but there’s still some difference that you’ll see and taste.