STA Travel's Ten Top Travel Tips for 2012
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STA Travel has trawled the world to find the top ten travel hotspots to hit in 2012, from the full-on nightlife of Buenos Aires to chilling out with orangutans in Borneo.
STA Travel’s blog editor Ant Stone said: “Narrowing down the top trips to 2012 wasn’t easy and led to a lot of heated debate in the office, but after talking to our destination experts from all over the world we’re confident that we’ve got a great top ten. If you’ve got others to add then get on the blog and join the conversation.”
1. VIETNAM: Next year Vietnam will be firmly on the travel radar thanks to new direct flights from the UK into Ho Chi Minh or Hanoi.
Stone said: “I’d recommend hopping on a tour of this country to make sure you see everything as there’s so much to pack in. From the chaos of Saigon to the imperial capital Hue to charming Hoi An. And as Bond film ‘Tomorrow Never Dies’ was filmed in mesmerising Halong Bay with its 3000 monolithic limestone islands up to 100m high, so start practicing Bond-esque wry eyebrow raises and cheesy chat-up lines now.”
2. BUENOS AIRES: Buenos Aires is famous for football (you can’t stay long here without someone mentioning Diego Maradona) and steaks which are as big as your head - but there is way more to this fabulous city. It boasts stunning architecture and countryside and one of the craziest nightlife scenes in the world, however with clubs opening from 2am it’s not for the faint-hearted.
“If the club scene isn’t your thing then fear not - Buenos Aires is of course home of tango. Grab a group of mates and join locals and tourists alike to gawp and frankly drool at the many tango shows,” added Stone.
3. SRI LANKA: Sri Lanka will continue to boom in 2012 despite its troubled past, thanks to affordable prices, a 2011 survey by the Post Office put it at the number one spot in its for value-for-money report. “Beautiful beaches, a rich culture and fabuous food - all at great prices, what more do you need,” said Stone.
4. BORNEO: Borneo is one of the last tropical destinations which hasn’t yet seen prices rise as tourists flock in - however this won’t last for long. With its incredible wildlife - including the enigmatic orangutan - plus opportunities to go trekking through remote communities and climb south-east Asia’s tallest mountain Mount Kinabalu, on top of the chance to chill out on some of the world’s most beautiful beaches, there’s tons to do for even the most intrepid traveller.
5. NEW ZEALAND: New Zealand has had a tumultuous year in 2011 thanks to the devastating earthquake, and then the high of hosting and winning the Rugby World Cup. Head down next year to get active in the world’s adrenaline capital: from bungee jumping to skiing to sky diving, there are thousands of ways to get a buzz in New Zealand.
And next year there’s a small chance you’ll get ‘spotted’ to star in a Hollywood blockbuster as Peter Jackson returns to New Zealand to film the first of his two Hobbit movies. “However the exact locations are a closely guarded secret, so if you see any short hairy blokes being followed by a camera crew you’ll know why,” said Stone.
6 SYDNEY & NEW SOUTH WALES: Movie mogul Baz Luhrmann is in Sydney and the surrounding New South Wales countryside filming his latest epic, a remake of the 1920s classic “The Great Gatsby” with the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan, at the moment (December 2011).
“The film is due out at the end of December 2012 so head over to Sydney and its surrounds next year, take your camera, buy a cheap string of fake pearls for the 1920s vibe and create your own story,” said Stone.
7 THAILAND: One of the key elements for young people on a gap year in 2012 will be adding in a volunteering or conservation project on their travels, and Thailand is one of the destinations best placed to offer a wide variety of these opportunities.
Stone said: “Following the introduction of fees for university in 2012 as young people look to alternative means of bolstering their CV and skill-set in a bid to appeal to future employers. From working with elephants in a conservation sector to helping to rebuild a school or community centre in areas still not yet rebuilt after the tsunami - there are lots of projects in Thailand to get involved in.”
8 PERU: The Inca Trail and Macchu Picchu are, of course, Peru’s most famous must-sees, however this fascinating country has so much more to offer. Why not join one of the many treks into the Amazon to see some of the world’s greatest wildlife, accessing the Amazon from Peru is one of the best value and easiest ways, or see the country from the locals’ point of view with a home-stay on Lake Titicaca.
9 CUBA: Soak up the music and mojitos, cigars and old cars in Havana or simply hit the pristine beaches in Cuba. “President Obama’s increasingly tolerant attitude towards Cuba could mean that the time-capsule feel of this fascinating nation might be coming to an end. So get over to Cuba sooner rather than later before the American government swoop in and give its crumbling charm a make-over, so go now and soak up the incredible atmosphere before it all changes”, said Stone.
10 TORONTO: If you arrive in Toronto and get a strange sense of deja vu then don’t be alarmed... thanks to its incredible skyline it has masqueraded as New York City and Chicago among others. The city is home to the CN Tower, which may not be the tallest tower now but it is home to EdgeWalk, the world’s highest full-circle hands-free walk on a 1.5m wide ledge around the tower at 356m high - or 116 storeys.
Stone said: “Couple this with great vintage shopping, quirky boutique hotels, parks and lakes to explore and you’ve got a great citybreak waiting to happen - which you can bet none of your mates of done before.”
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