travel

Let your sense of adventure fly this year with a holiday with a difference. Style picks out 10 bold holiday destinations for the intrepid explorer.

Vietnam

 Description: Cua Dai Beach

Cua Dai Beach

 

Best for: Grown-up backpackers

Why go?: Although long-haul travel may seem like an extravagance in cash-strapped times, day-to-day living in Vietnam is actually very cheap.

Travel back several centuries by visiting the world heritage town Hoi An, take a luxury cruise along the Mekong or have a suit made for a pittance by a tailor in Ho Chi Minh City (formerly named Sai Gon).

With 3,400km of sparkling coastline to choose from, beach lovers may also want to explore Vietnam as an alternative to Thailand.

 

Peru

Description: Peru

 

Best for: History buffs

Why go?: Last year marked a century since American archaeologist Hiram Bingham’s discovery of Machu Picchu, but Peruvians would argue 2012 is the real year for celebration.

The long-anticipated Casa Concha museum opened at the end of last year in Cusco, housing artefacts from the ancient Inca citadel, taken by Hiram Bingham 100 years ago. Not for the faint-hearted, there’s also a new Inca trail to Machu Picchu.

Add to that ancient ruins to marvel at, lakes to admire, waves to surf and labrynthine cities to explore and there’s something for every venturer.

 

Myanmar

Description: Bagan-in-Myanmar_Bagan

 

Best for: Culture shocks

Why go?: Curious travellers have always had Myanmar (Burma) on their radar, but up until now the political situation has kept most visitors away.

Following the release of pro-democratic leader Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest and her subsequent seal of approval for tourism, tour operators predict this prodominantly Buddhist south-east Asian country will be the place to go in 2012.

Hightlights include cruises along the Irrawaddy river and visits to picturesque pagodas, enchanting monosteries and forgotten hill stations.

But the biggest allure is a country largely untouched by the outside world.

 

The Artic

Description: The Artic

 

Best for: Adventurous families

Why go?: Viewers of the BBC’s Frozen Planet series with David Attenborough can’t fail to have been mesmerised by the dazzling midnight sun-strewn icebergs of the Artic. Spitsbergen, the last stop before the North Pole, is rising in popularity as an expedition option for tourists, with the promise of dramatic scenery and wildlife, including polar bears.

As one of the most remote regions of the world, it’s not easy – or cheap – to get there; but it’s undoubtedly a trip of a life time you’ll never forget.

 

Iceland

Description: Iceland

 

Best for: Bargains

Why go?: Once considered one of the most expensive countries in the world, a financial crash in 2008 made this volcanic island in the North Atlantic ocean much more affordable.

Choose to enjoy a city break with a difference in quirky capital Reykjavik, take a dip in the famous geothermal Blue Lagoon, explore the island’s rugged terrain, or attempt to see the northern hemisphere’s greatest natural phenomenon – the Northern Lights. NASA predicts 2012 will provide the best opportunity in 50 years to witness the enigmatic aurora borealis.

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