The world is awash with amazing holiday destinations, so how do you choose where to go? We look at three different, but equally magical locations that are well worth a visit.
Thailand is a hugely diverse country and an alluring holiday destination. The weather is usually balmy and warm, thanks to the year-round sunshine. The rainy season usually runs from July to October, but the bonuses are that temperatures tend to be cooler, there are fewer tourists and the landscape is green and verdant. The Thai beaches are among the best in the world – waters are calm and clear and the scenery, both over and underwater, is spectacular. Beaches range from remote, little-known island hideaways such as Ko Kut, to hardcore party-all-night places like Koh Phangan.
Thai food explodes with exotic flavours and fragrances, making it one of the best loved international cuisines. It tastes infinitely better in Thailand than it does in the restaurants back home – there is huge variety, ranging from the ever-popular Pad Thai and green and red curries to a host of delicious soups, salads, noodle and rice based dishes, not to mention meats and seafood cooked with the freshest of Thai ingredients. The food tends to be very good value too.
It doesn’t take long to fall in love with the country and its inhabitants. Thailand is known as the ‘Land of Smiles’ – generally the people of Thailand are warm, friendly and hospitable. This is a country steeped in culture – most Thais are Buddhist and the religion influences everything, from the way in which people relate to each other to the architecture. There are temples and giant Buddhas peppered throughout Thailand and the cities are alive with culture, history, architecture, exquisite food and great shopping. The capital, Bangkok, is a fascinating, bustling city, while Chiang Mai is the largest and most culturally important city in northern Thailand. A visit into the hill tribes of Kanchanaburi gives a taste of the true Thailand.
Thailand is bursting with accommodation for every budget, ranging from backpacker hostels to all inclusive Club Med holidays. Once you’re there, it’s eminently affordable and is a great stepping stone to a host of other magical Asian destinations, including Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos.
Brazil is the fifth largest country in the world and spans most of the eastern part of South America. With 4,650 miles of largely tropical coastline, Brazil boasts some of the best beaches in the world, which range from secluded coves and rugged cliffs to endless stretches of golden sand. While many of the beaches are densely populated, many are protected as ecological sanctuaries. Brazil’s natural beauty has to be seen to be believed – not only are there 62 National Parks, but the Amazon River, Rainforest and Iguaçu Falls are the country’s most famous natural attractions. Great efforts are being made to promote responsible eco-tourism initiatives and through participation from local communities, visitors are increasingly enjoying a more sustainable Brazil and appreciating its exquisite landscapes and ecosystems.
Brazil’s towns and cities positively buzz with clamour, culture and colour. There are UNESCO World Heritage sites such as colonial Ouro Preto and the bold capital of Brasília and the vast, sense-assaulting cities of Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and Fortaleza. The country is extraordinarily ethnically diverse – like the USA, it is a land of immigrants and a complex, yet inclusive society that’s rich in culture. Visitors flock to the famous annual Carnival in Rio, but there’s also Reveillon – the Brazilian New Year, Semana Santa – Brazilian Holy Week, Festas Juninas, Festa do Divino, Festa Nacional do Índio and the LGBT Pride Parade in São Paulo.
Brazilian food is celebrated at numerous culinary festivals, including Brasil Sabor and Comida di Buteco. The cuisine bursts with prominent flavours and carnivores will be in heaven tucking in at the country’s trademark barbecues and steakhouses. Feijoada is a popular black bean and mixed-meat stew and its pastries, particularly pão de queijo, or baked cheese rolls are ubiquitous. There is a vast choice of accommodation, ranging from affordable budget options to upmarket hotels. Tourism occupies an increasingly important role in Brazil’s economy and as a result it is becoming an ever-more attractive holiday destination.
The Maldives consists of over a thousand islands and this exquisite archipelago in the Indian Ocean is about as close to paradise as you can get. Once you have experienced the clear blue waters and pristine, palm-fringed, white sandy beaches, it’s difficult to imagine a more appropriate place to get away from it all. The tropical temperatures range from 24 to 35 degrees all year round, so even when there’s a greater chance of rain between November and April, it always feels warm.
Luxury resorts offering top-class accommodation and experiences proliferate in the Maldives, making it an ideal honeymoon destination or decadent getaway. The islands are inhabited mainly by Sunni Muslims and the local culture is a melting pot of South Indian, Arab and Sinhalese influences. The bustling capital, Malé, houses a host of cultural attractions including the Presidential Palace, National Museum, Sultan Park, Malé Fish Market and the Grand Friday mosque.
Maldivian cuisine is undeniably delicious, often featuring fresh fish and seafood, spice and coconut. There are hints of Indian, Sri Lankan and European influences and shellfish and tuna are particular specialities. The upscale resorts and excellent restaurants offer a vast variety of high-quality international cuisine.
The vibrant marine life of The Maldives is second to none. Most resorts have their own personal reef, perfect for snorkelling, while isolated dive sites can be reached by boat. Visitors can enjoy all manner of water-based sporting activities, including big game fishing, windsurfing, kayaking and sailing.