2012 travel trends

Krabi, Thailand - ©Darren VurnumKrabi, Thailand - ©Darren Vurnum

This is the time of year when many people start planning their holidays, but with so many destinations to choose from it can be hard to know where to begin. Darren Vurnum, from local travel agent Escape Worldwide, takes a look at the likely long-haul hotspots for 2012.

Some of the best long-haul bargains for 2012 are likely to be found in Thailand, where things are now back to normal following the floods last year, but there are some excellent offers from airlines and hotels to encourage people to visit. Thailand has always offered great value for money along with excellent standards and great service, so with big savings and additional benefits such as free meals, room upgrades and free nights at hotels, Thailand is likely to be top of the long-haul pile when it comes to value for money. It's also a great destination for a splurge, with quality accommodation at low prices – a villa with your own private pool is ideal for a special trip such as a honeymoon or anniversary.

Elsewhere in the Far East, Vietnam saw the launch of the first ever direct flight from the UK in December, making it easier to get to and better value than ever before. This is one of the Far East's most interesting destinations, with a fascinating history, beautiful countryside and great beaches, plus you'll receive a really warm welcome as the people are so friendly. Take a junk cruise on beautiful Halong Bay, explore the Imperial Citadel in Hue and barter hard in the markets of Saigon before hitting the beach at relaxed Mui Ne or one of the other fantastic resorts – there are plenty of options to suit most interests and pace.

Sri Lanka has become increasingly popular in the last year or so, and this trend is likely to continue in 2012, so if you're planning a visit it's best to arrange things well in advance. The beaches here are beautiful, but Sri Lanka really comes into its own as you head inland, with spectacular scenery, ancient cities and a fascinating culture. If you have a head for heights climb Sigiriya Rock to see the ancient fortress, or keep your feet on the ground at the 12th century Sinhalese capital of Polonnaruwa. The highlight for many visitors, however, is the Pinnawela elephant orphanage, where you can watch the elephants as they bathe in the river.

Heading west, the Caribbean's largest island of Cuba is likely to see some major changes in the next year or so, as it gradually opens up more and more. It's a unique country and in places its like stepping back in time, so it's worth visiting before it changes too much. It's well worth a few days exploring the winding streets and pretty squares of Old Havana, and the capital is a great starting point for any trip. In central Cuba the UNESCO heritage listed towns of Cienfuegos and Trinidad are fascinating, with their unique architecture and faded grandeur. Cuba is also blessed with some of the best beaches in the Caribbean, so whether you're a culture vulture or beach bum, it may just be an ideal destination for you in 2012.

For more information on these and other long-haul holiday destinations, contact Escape Worldwide on 020 8989 0970


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