Where to go and when?

As a Travel Agent I am often asked to find holidays for people at the complete wrong time of year – for instance, people going to Dubai in August – way too hot. Majorca in November to get a tan – it probably wont happen or Iceland to see the Northern Lights in June – you wont see them. I am hoping the following will give you a good idea as to the best time to go to some of the most jaw dropping destinations.

JANUARY As Christmas slopes into the distance and with cold weather still to come, travelling to find some sun is an appealing prospect for January. I recommend beach time in the west of Thailand in Krabi, Phuket, Koh Samui and Koh Chang . I started my traveling in Thailand and still love it. I have just returned having re-visited to make sure it has kept its charm and It has for the better with local airports springing up it has made the islands much easier (and cheaper) tocheetah-serena-safari4 get to. In Africa, the January rains break the Kalahari heat and the quenched plains spring to life. Journey to Botswana to watch the migration of wildebeest and zebra as they follow the scent of the fresh grazing – do a side trip to Victoria Falls – the most spectacular of all the falls in my eyes where three countries join together by water.. It
is also the perfect time to visit Cape Town and the surrounding areas. I was Cage Diving with Sharks last January and stayed at the ONE & ONLY CAPE TOWN – the most wonderful of hotels. And January marks the start of another wildlife showpiece. It’s the whale watching season in Baja California on Mexico’s Pacific Coast and on a cruise you can sit alongside as hundreds of whales and dolphins leap, arch and twirl in and out of the ocean.

FEBRUARY February might be bleak in the top half of the world, but it’s summertime down south and New Zealand nz vanand southern Australia are basking in the life outdoors. Renting an RV (Recreational Vehicle) is a very popular way of seeing lots. Both Australia and New Zealand are geared up or these Camper Van Holidays – we stayed in some amazing parks really close to the cities within walking distances of incredible places to eat – unlike the UK where you tend to rock up near a chip shop! Walking trails are open and you can stretch out on the beaches while they’re at their best. In Hong Kong, 15-day-long festivities kick off in February, when ancient Chinese traditions combine with true multicultural modernity. Relive New Year’s there before spring boarding to dry and sunny Cambodia to extend your journey in Southeast Asia. You need to book early if you are considering the Chinese New Year celebrations.

MARCH Japan’s springtime blossom starts to pop open in March, and milder temperatures coupled with the showings of early plum blossom make it a good-value time to travel here ahead of the peak blossom season. Japan has been a popular destination, with independent tours (Organized to a cdetain degree) but with independent travel by Bullet and Hotels on the lakes in Hakone, make Japan an exciting place to go. In Bhutan, the subsiding cold is encouraging high-altitude rhododendrons to wake, while a number of colourful festivals take place. And a full spectrum of coloured powders plume in the air in Indian towns and villages as locals celebrate Holi festival. having experienced this myself I can give you advice on how best to experience the ‘festival of colours’ as part of your trip to India.

APRIL Travel to South America in April as nature offers wonderful bird watching in the Galapagos, including likely sightings of the fascinating mating ritual of the blue-footed booby. The Iguaçu Falls, bordering Brazil and Argentina, are also at their most dramatic after the summer rainfalls. We were in Peru a his time last year we had an amazing trip HOTEL B – LIMA, PERU  In Morocco, IMG_5399the April climate is cool enough for you to explore Marrakesh’s souqs or hike the High Atlas Mountains in clearer air. And, if Easter falls in April, a trip in the Philippines is a window into the Spanish legacy of a ‘fiesta’ culture, and the weather is fantastic for the beaches. Boracay is one of my personal favourites and with many flights from Manila direct to the Island, this now makes this really accessible. Having lived in Dubai for almost 18 years, April was always my favourite month to be there on the beaches or lazing around a hotel pool experiencing the most incredible service.

MAY If you’re planning a May break, the sun is always out over Bali’s soft-sand beaches at a time of year before the crowds hit their peak. Planning in advance pays off, as some of my favourite hotels are quick to book up. On a cruise in Canada, canadaoff the west coast of Vancouver, you can spot migrating grey whales and their young, along with minke and killer whales. Take a Cruise up to Alaska here – where you will witness the most spectacular scenery. I loved Alaska… And for a trip in the mountain air, hike along the wildflower trails of the High Atlas in Morocco. The comfortable temperature allows you to enjoy the scenery by day and camp out in Bedouin-style tents by night. treat yourself and have a few nights at Richard Branson’s Kasbah Tamadot – it’s not as expensive as you would think and getting there is easy with direct flights now from Manchester. May is a great time to also visit Istanbul for a long weekend. So many boutique hotels, mosque’s an shopping – just a 4 hour direct flight from the UK.  I flew Turkish last year and was really impressed with them – no wonder they are one of the fastest growing airlines in the world.

JUNE June marks the start of the dry season in southern Africa and the chance to see newly born game as you safari in Tanzania. Newborn gorillas are given their names in a traditional festival in Rwanda each June and we can design you a trip there gorilla trekking, which pairs nicely with added time on safari in Kenya’s Masai Mara. June is also an ideal time for visiting Costa Rica in the quieter green (or rainy) season when you’ll still find plenty of dry weather, quieter national parks and better views of the famous Arenal Volcano. All of Central America is still undiscovered and one of the new ‘cool’ places to go. Try cycling from Costa Rica to Panama – of course, not the entire trip, but have someone follow you and you jump on a boat, or a car while your bike is being transported to the next place where you can then take your time cycling at your leisure past some spectacular scenery.

JULY Ladakh in India is an ideal destination for July, with warm weather and little rain to accompany the Himalayan scenery. Spend time in Leh immersing yourself in the Tibetan Buddhist culture and exploring the monasteries, lakes and high-altitude deserts. I also recommend the Manu Rainforest in Peru in the month of July. After you have of course been to Machu Picchu – and this no longer means you need a strong pair of hiking boots (although this of course can be arranged) but you can now go via Train from Cuzco – even take the South American version of the Orient Express not the Bingham Highman. We did this earlier in the year and loved it. Even take an extension to the Galapagos Islands, just a short flight froIMG_1797m Peru – these, as Machu Picchu should be on everyones bucket list. If you want a few days away – Lisbon and Cascais are high on my list of places to return to. Cascais on the coast and just 20 minutes away from Lisbon has the most amazing restaurants – even more so if you like fish! or steak on a hot stone!!

AUGUST School’s are out for summer – of course, Europe for the weather is a great destination, and with direct flights from East Midlands to many destinations it seems strange to go further. My top 5 would be Turkey, Croatia, Greece, IMG_6629the Balearics or Italy of course. We have just returned from a few days in Santorini followed by a week in the hills above Cannes in the South of France. Perfect weather and amazing food in both places. If you did want to go further afield then Africa plays backdrop to one of the great wildlife spectacles: the annual migration of over two million wildebeest from the Serengeti plains to the grasslands of the Masai Mara. Or travel to Kandy in Sri Lanka at the time of the Parahera Festival held at the Temple of the Tooth, where Buddha’s tooth is said to rest. Get swept up in dancing and parades by torchlight. Combine a Safari followed by some chill out time on the beach in Zanzibar.

SEPTEMBER September kicks off the changing of the seasons in many regions, bringing with it shifting climates and bright landscapes. Before the wet season sets in, take a trip to Borneo and observe the orang-utan at the Sepilok sanctuary in Kota Kinabalu. In Peru, September is the a good time to take a hike to Incan city in the clouds Machu Picchu peruwhile there’s still very little rain. And there’s no better place to witness the seasons change than in China, as the locals celebrate the harvest season across the country with the Mid-Autumnal Festival. With a selection of many different tours throughout China it is possible to almost feel you are having 3 holidays in one.. If you wanted to try something completely different and like the buzz of a city, then September is a great time to visit one of my favourite Cities… Beirut. On the Mediterranean, with a host of restaurants, bars and clubs and shops a plenty – this is an ideal place to visit for just a few days.

OCTOBER October is a great time to immerse yourself completely in another culture. Head to India and join millions of Hindus, Sikhs and Jains for Diwali, the five-day ‘Festival of Lights’. Experience the Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda Festival with the locals in Myanmar, where revered Buddha images are paraded around Inle Lake in an elaborate barge for over 20 days. Or discover the historical sites in Jordan, where the lifting of the summer heat allows you to explore in comfort the Roman ruins at Jerash, and biblical sites such as Mt Nebo and the desert of Wadi Rum. Jordan is one of my favourite places, few tourists, it is very safe and cheap to get to and not too far..

NOVEMBER Though the temperatures may begin to drop, November still offers plenty of opportunity for active adventure.. Enjoy snorkelling or scuba diving in the warmer temperatures of the Red Sea in Egypt, DSC05165where the water is a clear blue and the coral reefs teem with marine life. Or experience Vietnam by bicycle, along the countryside around the historic merchants’ town of Hoi An or through the rice terraces and remote villages of Sapa. There are some really good deals to the Caribbean in November, before prices are hiked up for Christmas. And, if like me Bora Bora is on your bucket list, then November is a good time to go as flights are at their lowest.

DECEMBER December brings celebrations of all shapes and sizes across the world. Embrace a wintry yet magical Christmas in Russia, where Gorky Park turns into an ice rink and sleigh rides are offered throughout the month. Top off your year joining in a New Year’s celebration in another part of the world. Travel to Brazil and watch the cariocas (Rio’s locals) dressed in white as they gather on a sunny Copacabana in tribute to the goddess of the sea. Spend Christmas in Cuba – we were in Havana last year, a great place to be with its UNESCO World Heritage Sites and most amazing bars to spend your evenings in.. Or head to AustraliaDavid Walker - The Travel Snob for a New Year’s celebration of a lifetime in Sydney. Witness fireworks exploding off the Harbour Bridge and Opera House, while enjoying the summer temperatures – one of my most magical New Years ever! If it a Christmas Get-a-way you want, then I highly advise booking in January, this is still one of the busiest times to go away..

As a home based ABTA and ATOL independent Travel Agent with 110 countries under my belt, I am always around to offer advice, not only on which destination to go to but on what to do and where to go when you get there.

For impartial advise and a quote – feel free to get in touch with me david@thetravelsnob.co.uk

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