An epic journey, far and wide, to assemble (in no particular order) the very best that the planet has to offer
Never sleep in New York
NYC is the ideal USA-intro for the first-timer – it’s on the east coast, some 4,800km closer to the Middle East than LA, making direct flights much more manageable. The iconic skyline greets visitors from both of its major airports (JFK in the southeast or LaGuardia to the north), and beyond the sightseeing must-dos like the Empire State Building, The High Line and the Statue of Liberty, there are countless other unforgettable experiences to be had in The Big Apple. Sip coffee in Brooklyn, shop the big brands on Fifth Avenue and unwind in sprawling Central Park; you’ll feel you’re at the centre of the world.
Stay in Salalah during summer
As the rest of the Gulf region swelters around 50°C, the coastal town of Salalah offers gorgeous climes and lush greenery. In Oman’s second largest city, coconut-fringed beaches and banana plantations wait to greet you, while the surrounding mountains attract the monsoon blowing in off the Indian Ocean. The town itself is a sprawling expanse of whitewashed, low-rise buildings and Al Hosn Souk is a definite highlight; stop by to pick up a souvenir of frankincense for which the region is famed. Be sure to also visit Al Baleed Archaeological Site on the east of the city – a UNESCO World Heritage Site of citadel and grand mosque ruins.
Wander the historic site of Angkor Wat
So important is Angkor to this Asian country that it appears on the national flag. A must- witness for early-birds is to experience the beauty of a sunrise like no other, as you watch light creeping over Cambodia’s ancient temples. Dating back to the twelfth- century and hidden by jungle for hundreds of years, this remarkable monument boasts a hand-carved wall which took over 100 years to construct, using mountainous rocks delivered by boat. If you want to beat (some of) the crowds, head to the site past dark for the night tour, where the monuments are lit up beautifully.
Drive The Atlantic Road
For a unique twist on that old American favourite, a road trip on the Atlantic Road is a must-do. Built on several small islands and skerries, it’s one of the most scenic drives anywhere, with stunning open views on both sides. Teetering along the edge of the sea, the 8km of curved road dips and arches over the brutal waves of the Norwegian Sea, with ocean spray soaking the road during high winds. Linking Molde and Kristiansund via eight breathtaking bridges, the road is peppered with viewing platforms from which you can often spot whales and seals. When the weather turns gloomy, this road is a veritable photographer’s dream.
Feast on Michelin star fare
Want a world-class dining experience where the memories linger on your tastebuds rather your credit card bill? Hong Kong is your hero. At Tim Ho Wan, you’ll secure simplistic yet classy cuisine on your plate, and savour it against an unassuming backdrop: this is a venture for the true gourmand who cares about specialist dim sum, not interior-design razzmatazz. Testament to the quality of the restaurant (well, more ‘hole-in-the-wall eatery’) is that most of its patrons are locals, un-awed by the star status and here for the flavours. Mak Pui Gor has raised standards but not the prices; it will set you back around USD10. Another serving, please.
Glide through Milford Track
Regarded ‘The best walk in the world’, the Milford Track route was pioneered in 1888. Traversing the heart of New Zealand’s wild-country through the Fiordland National Park, hikers who take a five day/four night walk from Queenstown get up close to birdlife such as indigenous parakeets, bellbirds and kiwi. On fine days the deep lakes, luxuriant forest and sheer granite canyons define the landscape, but experienced hikers claim the sight of rain cascading off the mountains makes for the best views. Experts recommend tackling the hike in March – the weather is more settled, and fresh mornings, sunny days and cool nights are the norm.
Sail the Dalmatian coast
There are around 1,000 Dalmatian islands off the Adriatic coast of Croatia: set sail from Split in a southwesterly direction to come across Krnknjasi Blue Lagoon on the east coast of Drvenik. Then, taste Croatian glamour by berthing alongside gleaming superyachts in the port of Skradin. From here, Kraka National Park’s magnificent waterfalls are just a short journey away. Sail on to Vis Island – the most mysterious in Dalmatia thanks to years of isolation, and famed for its thriving fishing traditions. For the party vibe, make a beeline for Hvar and Korcula, while Miljet offers lush greenery and inland lagoons. You won’t want to leave.
Retrace the Tour de France
There are a multitude of cycling vacations available around the globe, but why not test yourself against the most prestigious route of them all? Thomson Bike Tours allows just that, including a King of the Mountains Cycling challenge (with Extreme and Hardcore intensity options) or a trip option that takes riders through Ventoux the Alps and Paris itself. Come Tour-time, there are even be-spoke VIP packages for you to spectate and then partake (once the competition-primed riders have departed, of course). It won’t secure you the coveted yellow jersey, but it’s a trip that will leave your sport-loving friends green with envy.
Dine under the stars at Ayers Rock
Now known as Uluru, Ayers Rock is much easier to imagine than to actually get to. The 300-million-year-old natural wonder is almost 3,000km from Sydney, across brutal, unforgiving outback desert. Australia’s main airlines both fly to Ayers Rock Airport, and luxury coach transfers can be taken from Alice Springs. Once there, The Ayers Rock Resort offers a breathtaking ‘Sounds of Silence’ experience. Canapés and sparkling drinks are served as the sun sets over the ancient monolith, turning it fiery red, gold and finally a deep purple as night falls. As the stars twinkle into life, a bush-tucker inspired buffet entertains the tastebuds.
Take a Nile cruise
Think you’re not the cruising type? Think again – because the Nile is one of the world’s most atmospheric boating destinations, where millennia of rich history are intertwined with myths and legends. Opt for a felucca, a traditional Nile vessel, to glide down-river in Pharoah-esque style, gazing out over restless waters beneath vast white sails billowing in the breeze. Of course, one of the highlights of cruising the Nile is the opportunity for adventures on land. You’ll disembark to discover the ruined glory of the Valley of the Kings, colossal statues of Ramses II, and the crumbling Temple of Karnack.