Japan’s Hokkaidō tops Lonely Planet’s ‘Best in Asia 2016’ list

The travel lists are coming thick and fast today! Hot on the heels of world’s best airline lists, Lonely Planet has just issued its Asian hotspots for 2016.

Here’s what the Lonely Planet experts have to say:

“Lonely
Planet’s Best in Asia 2016
1.
Hokkaidō, Japan
Hokkaidō’s perfect
powder snow put it on the international map, but it has also blinded visitors
to the year-round charms of Japan’s northernmost island. Hokkaidō has
become a lot more accessible this year thanks to the new bullet train linking
its southern port city, Hakodate, to Tokyo.”
2. Shànghǎi,
China
“Looking
for the centre of the universe right now? It’s surely Shànghǎi.
This year’s a big one, with the first Disney resort in mainland China opening
here, as well as the completion of the long-awaited Shànghǎi Tower,
the world’s second tallest building.”
3. Jeonju,
South Korea
“Having long flown under the
radar as the country’s top foodie destination, Jeonju has
finally started to make mouths water further afield. The birthplace of Korea’s
most famous dish, bibimbap, now lures a younger crowd thanks to its
fast-emerging street food scene.”
4. Con Dao Islands, Vietnam
“This archipelago now ranks among
Asia’s hottest emerging destinations. With improved flight connections
from Ho Chi Minh City, there is no better place right now to feast on
fresh seafood, explore in search of a perfect beach and revel in a castaway
vibe.”
5. Hong Kong, China
Hong Kong is
focusing on its natural heritage – specifically, the
UNESCO-designated geopark, a 50-sq km region to the northeast. A shuttle
bus between the geopark’s Sai Kung town and its ancient rock
formations debuted this May, hard on the heels of a ferry service to Lai
Chi Wo Village.”
6. Ipoh, Malaysia
“Malaysia’s lesser-known food
capital has new flair thanks to a crop of boutique cafes that have sprung up in
its historic quarter. At the heart of Ipoh’s renaissance is otherworldly
concept hotel Sekeping Kong Heng.”
7. Pemuteran, Indonesia
“A double bay of beaches
near Menjangan … don’t wait until everybody arrives; catch the
buzz now from this alluring mix of art-filled resorts, inventive new
restaurants and the mellowest vibe around.”
8. Trang Islands,
Thailand
Trang Islands pack
the same knockout punch as their more famous Andaman Coast neighbours; all they
lack are the crowds. Go, now – while these sleepy islands bask in untouched
splendour.”
9. Meghalaya, India
“Opportunities for hiking,
climbing, caving and rafting abound. After decades off the tourist map, people
are starting to notice this backwater. Meghalaya won’t stay
this quiet for long; go before thrill seekers storm the Khāsi Hills.”
10. Taitung, Taiwan
Taitung is Taiwan’s
secret wild card. This cradle of indigenous culture is the place to party after
harvest with music festivals and sweet millet wine. Or take advantage of this
rural county’s superb whale watching, stargazing and cycling.”  Please
note: Typhoon Nepartak has caused recent devastation; however Best
in Asia
 is a collection of great places for the next 12 months and
Taiwan has already begun the rebuilding efforts and will be welcoming
travellers again soon.
Visitors to www.lonelyplanet.com/best-in-asia can
also enter a competition for the chance to win a trip for two to Lonely
Planet’s
 number-one Best in Asia 2016 destination, Hokkaidō,
Japan
, valued at AUD $10,000.”

The real trip advisors reveal their tips for travel in 2015

Mesmerising Myanmar: Ancient temples and an increasingly
modern infrastructure are the drawcards. Photo: Getty Images.

So – what’s the next big thing? Travel experts
reveal their tips for the coming year.
With an
eye on the hip pocket, we’re looking at hometown holidays in 2015, say travel
industry’s chiefs. And while Asia is back on top as our favourite playground,
Myanmar continues its stellar orbit as the region’s shining star.
Gary Bartelings, Captain’s Choice
Where is
everyone going in 2015?
Gallipoli for the centenary, on unusual train journeys, South America,
Antarctica and our new Australian tours by private plane.
Where
should everyone be going in 2015?
Iran and Myanmar. For safe and trusted, a British
Isles cruise or a train journey through Switzerland.
The
biggest issue in travel in 2015?
 An unsettled world and the weakening
Australian dollar.
Where are
you packing your bags for?
Chichen Itza in Mexico, Rio, Easter Island, Tahiti, Angkor  Wat,
the Taj Mahal and the Serenas, well as the UK and Europe.
Fearless
prediction?
Keep
travelling, so people across cultures, religions and countries can connect
peacefully. See captainschoice.com.au.
Simon Westcott, Luxe City Guides 
Where is
everyone going in 2015?
Myanmar: infrastructure is improving and there’s a sense it’ll all
change fast.
Where
should everyone be going in 2015?
Bhutan: because it’s not going to change fast. A
purer and more controlled experience awaits.  
The
biggest issue in travel in 2015?
Travel safety: the perceived threat of increased
terrorism and infectious diseases.
Where are
you packing your bags for?
London, Florence, Marrakech, Taipei, Tokyo and the USA.
Fearless
prediction?

 Wifi flights will become the norm. See luxecityguides.com.
Alan Alcock, Wendy Wu Tours
Where is
everyone going in 2015?
Japan, now great value for money, and India.
Where
should everyone be going in 2015?
Sri Lanka, which is rapidly healing after its
terrible civil war, the idyllic Maldives, and Myanmar for quaint, rustic
antiquity.
The
biggest issue in travel in 2015?
The potential spread of terrorism to our region, health
issues such as Ebola and the value of the Australian dollar. 
Where are
you packing your bags for?
 Vietnam, Japan and Mongolia.
Fearless
prediction?

Self-drive three-wheeled tuk-tuk tours in India! See wendywutours.com.au.
Tom Walley, Flight Centre Australia
Where is
everyone going in 2015?
Philippines: budget carrier Cebu Pacific Air has just kicked off a
service departing Sydney four times weekly.
Where
should everyone be going in 2015?
London, for the Rugby World Cup! 
The
biggest issue in travel in 2015?
Airfares have never been more affordable and
unless the US dollar drops significantly, the only issue is choosing where to
go. 
Where are
you packing your bags for?
Whistler: snowboarding is my passion. We will thaw out on Hamilton
Island. Fearless prediction? Aussies are in a golden era of travel with more
accessible prices, services and routes. See flightcentre.com.au.
Sue Badyari, World Expeditions
Where is
everyone going in 2015?
Hiking and biking Cambodia, trekking the Patagonia Ice Cap, Arctic
cruising to see the Northern Lights, Nepal’s Manaslu Circuit, walking Spain’s
Camino. 
Where
should everyone be going in 2015?
Trekking the Altai mountains in Mongolia, hiking
and biking in China, cycling Puglia, Italy. 
The
biggest issue in travel in 2015?
Flight availability in peak seasons, more freak
storms and volatility in weather patterns due to global warming.
Where are
you packing your bags for?
Italy’s Gran Paradiso Trek plus a self-guided cycling holiday from
Slovenia to Croatia!
Fearless
prediction for 2015?
The Great
Himalayan Trail – a five-month trek traversing Nepal’s high passes. See worldexpeditions.com.
Ann Sherry, Carnival Australia 
Where is
everyone going in 2015?
Cruising Europe, Alaska, and the Baltics. 
Where
should everyone be going in 2015?
Asia, cruising from Japan and Singapore, visiting
Vietnam and Cambodia, and even Indonesia’s Komodo Island. 
The
biggest issue in travel in 2015?
The falling dollar, sharpening travellers’ focus
on value.
Where are
you packing your bags for?
Stradbroke Island, maybe an African safari and a PNG and Solomon
Islands cruise to test new destinations.
Fearless
prediction?
Weekends
at sea with Australia’s best food and wine. See carnival.com.au.
Caroline Kennedy, Cox & Kings Australia
Where is
everyone going in 2015?
Italy and Greece for the food, wine, history and sites and Norway for
the Northern Lights.
Where
should everyone be going in 2015?
ANZAC centenary commemorations in Gallipoli, with
or without ballot tickets.
The
biggest issue in travel in 2015?
Global safety issues and natural disasters.
Where are
you packing your bags for?
I would like to do The Ultimate Travelling Camp in India.
Fearless
prediction?

Experiencing destinations in 3D, such as enjoying the view from your
(prospective) hotel’s balcony. See coxandkings.com.au.
Anton Stanish, Stayz Holiday Accommodation
Where is
everyone going in 2015?
The Gold Coast, Darwin and fringe CBD; homeowners are realising the
viability of short-term rentals while travellers can immerse themselves in the
local neighbourhood.
Where
should everyone be going in 2015?
Dunsborough, Western Australia. Definitely a new
hot spot.
Where are
you packing your bags for?
A holiday rental in Cape Kidnappers, New Zealand, near golf courses,
vineyards and beaches. 
The
biggest issue in travel in 2015?
Low-cost air carriers continuing to open up new
markets, particularly in Asia.
Fearless
prediction?
Holiday
rentals becoming bookable online, like hotels. See stayz.com.au.
Karin Sheppard, InterContinental Hotels Group 
Where is
everyone going in 2015?
South-east Asia and the Asia Pacific, for snorkelling safaris, stunning
beaches.   
Where
should everyone be going in 2015?
On ‘staycation,’ exploring your own city. Sydney’s
Double Bay has new eateries, bars, shops and the new InterContinental Sydney
Double Bay. 
The
biggest issue in travel in 2015?
Truly personalised and local experiences. 
Where are
you packing your bags for?
Japan’s Cherry Blossom Festival, a diving holiday to Fiji and skiing in
Queenstown. 
Fearless
prediction?
More
marketing aimed at locals through social media, and brands rewarding guests for
publicising their trips via social media. See ihg.com.
Dave Boyte, Skyscanner
Where is
everyone going in 2015?
Safe, affordable Nicaragua, Central America and Mykonos, Greece. 
Where
should everyone be going in 2015?
Colombo, Sri Lanka is reinventing itself as a cool
foodie paradise. Flight searches to Bhutan are also on the rise.  
The
biggest issue in travel in 2015?
Online travel companies becoming mobile savvy, as
travellers use mobile phones to research, plan and book holidays.
Where are
you packing your bags for?
The coolest little capital, Wellington, and Tasmania.  
Fearless
prediction?

Meta-search websites – websites that aggregate information from all over the
web into one site – being an essential planning tool. See skyscanner.com.au.
This feature by Belinda Jackson was published in the Sydney Morning Herald’s Traveller.

Traveller deals: Tasmanian retreat

We all want to be in Venice, specifically at the Belmond, yes we do. Purse strings a little tight? Then lovely Launceston will do, for some winter warmth. Take the kids to Japan, take them to the Queensland islands in this week’s international and domestic travel deals.

GO NOW

TASMANIA
Get cosy this winter in the heartland of the cold season,
Tasmania. Originally a corn mill dating back to the 1840s, the recently
refurbished Launceston hotel is offering a hot price to counteract the
cold nights, until August 31. From $99 a night. (03) 6335 6600, leisureinnpennyroyal.com.au.

ITALY


Luxuriate at Venice’s Belmond Hotel Cipriani. Save 20 per cent on its
suites and junior suites, with private balconies or gardens, and
vineyard, lagoon or pool views. For stays until November 8. From $1194 a
night. 1800 217 568, belmond.com.

The Majestic Malacca, Malaysia

GO SOON
MALAYSIA
Explore the UNESCO-listed city of Malacca during a midweek
stay at the Peranakan-style mansion, The Majestic Malacca. Includes
dinner in-house or a spa treatment. Normally from $370, B&B. From
$210 a room, a night, Sunday-Thursday. +800 9899 9999, ytlhotels.com.

NEW SOUTH WALES
Live it up at The Byron at Byron Resort and Spa in Byron Bay.
Stay one night and get hot chocolate on the verandah, a bottle of wine
when dining in-house, a room upgrade, yoga and bike hire. Costs $299 a
room until September 14. 1300 554 362, thebyronatbyron.com.au.

GO LATER
MEXICO
Rev your Mexican cuisine up a notch from tortillas and tacos,
then learn how to shop for the meals and cook them on a 13-day foodie
tour from Mexico City to Oaxaca, Puerto Escondido and Acapulco. Departs
October 25. Costs $2144 a person, twin share, land only, quote “AUZ14D”.
1300 439 756, exploreworldwide.com.au.

QUEENSLAND
Explore the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest
and get a free night’s stay when you book three nights at the Hotel
Grand Chancellor Palm Cove. Book by July 31, travel until October 31.
From $150 a person, twin share. 138 833, sunloverholidays.com.au.

Mt Fuji, Japan

IMAGINATION WONDERLAND FOR KIDS
Let the kids indulge their wildest animation fantasies in
the imagination wonderland that is Japan. This 10-day family tour
includes two days at Tokyo Disneyland and a visit to the Universal
Studios theme park in Osaka. Then take it up a notch at the Ghibli
Museum, an animation studio in Tokyo; and explore scenic Hakone via
cable car, ropeway, boat or train; see Mount Fuji and take a dip in the
hot springs. From $2396 an adult, $1888 a child. 1300 365 355, travelindochina.com.au.


This travel deals column by Belinda Jackson is published in Sydney’s Sun-Herald newspaper every Sunday.

Travel deals: Shizuka Ryokan

The Peninsula Paris, now open.

Go Japanese in Victoria or channel Peninsula style in Paris: the world is your oyster, so add garnish and drink it up in this week’s international and domestic travel deals.

GO NOW
VICTORIA
Save on an airfare to a Japanese spa and instead stay at
Shizuka Ryokan in Hepburn Springs, 75 minutes from Melbourne: expect
green tea, tatami and spa cuisine. Book and pay in full by July 31 and
get $50 credit. From $179 a room a night, three-night stay. See shizuka.com.au.

INDIA

Do India in five-star style and save $1165 a person for
travel until September 30. Begin in Delhi and travel by private car to
Agra, the pink city of Jaipur and the city of palaces, Udaipur, staying
in Oberoi hotels. From $2785 a person, twin share. See abercrombiekent.com.au.

GO SOON
QUEENSLAND
Set in Brisbane’s CBD, the new Mantra on the Quay opens with a
bang – and a discount until August 31. The one, two and three-bed
self-contained apartments all have balconies, and facilities include an
outdoor heated pool and tennis courts. From $189 a night, one-bed
apartment. See mantra.com.au.

ZAMBIA
Save over $2600 a couple on an eight-day stay in six camps in
Zambia’s South Luangwa National Park. Travel includes walking safaris
and game drives. Departs Lusuka, travel by October 31. From $5487 a
person. Phone 1300 363 302, see africanwildlifesafaris.com.au.

GO LATER
FRANCE
The ultra-luxe Peninsula Paris opens its doors on August 1
and is celebrating with an offer that saves $580 from the standard rate.
Expect 360-degree views from the rooftop restaurant, a Rolls-Royce in
the driveway and an elegant spa. From August 1-31. From $1005 a night.
See peninsula.com.
NSW
Sneak in a staycation at one of Metro Hotels and Apartments’
four Sydney properties and catch a winter special until August 31. Stay
at the Metro Hotel Sydney Central, with breakfast for two and Wi-Fi
included. From $143 a night, saving $207. See metrohotels.com.au.

KIDS’ DEAL
SCHOOLIES GOT SOUL
Skip the hedonistic schoolies celebrations and channel that
new-found freedom into voluntouring in Cambodia. Spend five days
volunteering on community projects such as teaching English or working
in a team on a development project, overseen by an experienced
co-ordinator. Then reward yourself with some beach time in Cambodia’s
resort town, Sihanoukville, and take a guided tour of Phnom Penh and
Siem Reap’s UNESCO-listed Angkor Wat. Includes international flights,
transfers and 24-hour emergency contact. Departs November 22. From $2700
a person. 1300 559 527, travelpartners.com.au.

This travel deals column by Belinda Jackson is published in Sydney’s Sun-Herald newspaper every Sunday. 

Travel deals: the Playford Adelaide

The Playford Adelaide.

It’s all sweet, chic and boutique this week, with Adelaide’s boutique hotel The Playford on show, Melbourne’s Art Series hotels on offer and a ‘raid the minibar’ deal while in New York. 

Otherwise, strap on your fringed white playsuits and head to the Deep South to celebrate the birthday of the coolest octogenarian Elvis Presley (if he’s still with us), in this week’s Sun-Herald travel deals.

GO NOW
SOUTH AUSTRALIA
The Playford Adelaide is now in the boutique MGallery
Collection and is celebrating with a City Getaway package. Get a free
upgrade to a superior deluxe guestroom and $50 hotel credit for food and
drinks. From $175 a night, (08) 8213 8888, theplayford.com.au.

CANADA
Book a Rocky Mountaineer holiday of six nights or more and
get a free hotel night in Vancouver or Seattle until July 31. The
eight-day Journey Through the Clouds Discovery Drive, with car rental
and two days in SilverLeaf class, costs from $3671 a person. rockymountaineer.com.

GO SOONER

QUEENSLAND
Save 30 per cent on four-night stays at Piermonde Apartments’
two-bed apartments, by Cairns harbour. The deal includes use of a
rooftop sundeck and barbecue area. From $201 a night until June 30. (07)
4042 6500, piermondeapartments.com.au.
USA

It is an open invitation to go crazy on the mini-bar at the newly
renovated Loews Regency Hotel in Midtown Manhattan. Pay an extra $30 and
“milk the mini-bar”, from champagne to gummy bears, on two-night stays
until August 31. From $499 a night, loewshotels.com.

The Cullen, one of the Art Series hotels, Melbourne.

GO LATER
VICTORIA
Don’t pay for hours you don’t use. Melbourne’s Art Series
hotels let you check in between 2pm and 6pm, and check out 24 hours
later. Until December 31, Saturday nights only. From $179. 1800 278 468,
artserieshotels.com.au.
JAPAN
It is half-price and seven minutes from the mountaintop at
the five-star Hilton Niseko Village. Stay for seven nights and get
airport transfers and a five-day multi-resort lift pass. Book by June
30, travel January 20-February 22. From $1550 a person, twin share.
Phone 1300 457 843, see ski-resorts-japan.com.

Tour watch:
Rock & soul

If you don’t believe he’s dead, then Elvis should be in the
building for the celebration of his 80th birthday on January 8, 2015.
The Elvis Birthday tour travels from LA down to Studio B in Nashville,
where the King recorded many hits (and you can also hit the mic), and
on to Memphis and his birthplace in a wooden shed in Tupelo,
Mississippi. Take a candlelit vigil at Graceland and visit Sun Studios,
where he was discovered in 1954. Departs January 2, 2015. From $6990 a
person. 1300 884 891, eliteset.com.au.

This travel deals column by Belinda Jackson is published in Sydney’s Sun-Herald newspaper every Sunday. 

Ultimate downers: ultimate travel experiences

The world’s most polluted city? Delhi, India.
Photo: Belinda Jackson.

Hi, travel stats lovers, as an addendum to the previous story on ultimate travel experiences, ‘Boasters with the Mostest, here’s five travel downers, from worst airline to most dangerous city.

1.      
Worst
airline
: Scat (Kazakhstan), Kam Air
(Afghanistan), Agni Air, Buddha Air and Tara Air (all Nepal) and Bluewing
Airlines (Suriname) (airlineratings.com)
2.      
Worst airport: Dilapidation and poor customer
service makes Manila airport the world’s worst, say travellers (sleepinginairports.net)
3.      
Most
polluted city
: New Delhi bounced Beijing down to second place as the most
polluted major city in 2013, says India’s Center for Science and Environment (cseindia.org)  
4.      
Most
expensive city
: Singapore has pushed Tokyo off the throne as the priciest
town. Sydney came in fifth, and Mumbai the cheapest in the 131 cities surveyed
by the Economic Intelligence Unit (eiu.com).
5.       Most dangerous city: San
Pedro Sula, Honduras, wins this award for the second year running, with 187
homicides per 100,000 capita in 2013, says Mexican thinktank the
CitizensCouncil for
Public
Security and Criminal Justice. 


This article by Belinda Jackson was published in the Sydney Morning Herald 
and The Age newspapers. 


Get going: Adelaide festivals

GO NOW
SOUTH AUSTRALIA
It’s festival season in Adelaide, with WOMADelaide and the
Adelaide Festival top of the list. Save $20 on a stay in BreakFree
Directors Studios, from $99 a night, or a studio at BreakFree Adelaide
from $268 for two nights, saving 15 per cent, until April 30. 1300 987 602, breakfree.com.au.

JAPAN
Save 10 per cent on World Expeditions’ Japanese adventures,
such as the five-day Kii Hanto Pilgrim Hike along mountain trails to
ancient Buddhist and Shinto shrines. Book by March 31 for travel July
1-December 31. Costs $1791 a person. 1800 567 2216, worldexpeditions.com.

Breakfree Adelaide.

GO SOON

UNITED STATES
Bright lights, big cities – save 25 per cent on US and Canada
journeys departing by June 30, such as the 23-day Best of America trip,
from New York to Nashville and New Mexico, finishing in freewheeling
San Francisco. Book by March 31. From $2471 a person, save $824. 1300 797 010, intrepidtravel.com.

NSW
Pet-friendly Mavis’s Kitchen is 10 kilometres from Murwillumbah on
the NSW north coast. Save $94 and get breakfast for two, a bottle of
organic bubbles and Devonshire tea. Sundays to Thursdays until April 28.
Costs $199 a night, two people. (02) 6679 5664, legendarytweedvalley.com.au.

GO LATER

HONG KONG
Do the city in style with a B&B package at the luxury
Hyatt Regency Hong Kong in Tsim Sha Tsui. Book on the Kowloon hotel’s
website by April 30 and get breakfast for two, free internet access and
2pm checkout. From $365 a night. See hongkong.tsimshatsui.hyatt.com.

VICTORIA
Check into the Vibe Hotel Melbourne, on Little Collins
Street, and get perky. Choose two perks, including 24-hour Wi-Fi, valet
parking, in-room movies or $25 credit at the hotel bar. Valid from April
1 to June 30. From $220 a night. (03) 9622 8888, vibehotels.com.au.

TOUR WATCH
ROAM FREE
This small-group Tauck Roman Holiday raises you up above the
crowds, with an after-hours private tour of the Vatican museums and
Sistine Chapel, a reception in Rome’s Cinecitta film studios and five
nights at The Westin Excelsior. Departs October 18, from $5982 a person.
1300 950 622, traveltheworld.com.au.

KIDS DEALS
CRUISE WITH ATTITUDE
Girls on the move come with a dash of attitude and this
season’s travel luggage from surf label Rip Curl has it in spades.

Forget boring black, the new Heartland range, in stores this month,
comprises 80-litre ($249.99) and 40-litre ($199.99) four-wheel
hard-shell upright cases with a slot for the laptop and an internal
cosmetics case.

Lock in the teen-queen look with a matching beauty case
($49.99). (03) 5261 0022, ripcurl.com.au.

Belinda Jackson‘s Get Going column is published every Sunday in Sydney’s Sun-Herald newspaper. 

Get going: Cable Beach Resort

Cable Beach, WA.

Go west, to where camels roam the beaches and French champagne comes on ice. Yes, it’s Broome. Or ski Japan, swank up to the Gold Coast or take a textiles tour through England and France. You know you want to, with this week’s international and domestic travel deals.


GO NOW

WESTERN AUSTRALIA

Get away in February to Pinctada Cable Beach Resort in Broome
and save $200. Book a Honjin courtyard suite for two nights and get
French champagne, chocolates, bath oils and airport transfers. Costs
$528, two nights. Phone (08) 9193 8388, see pinctada.com.au.
JAPAN

Catch the last of Hakuba’s snow season with mates and save up
to 40 per cent staying at The Lab’s six-share dorms. Five-day lift
pass, breakfast daily and airport transfers. From $670 for seven nights.
Phone (02) 9905 6162, see ski-resorts-japan.com.

GO SOON
HONG KONG

Stay three nights at Disney’s Hollywood Hotel and get one
ticket to Disneyland Hong Kong and airport transfers. Book by March 17
for travel May 4-17, May 14, Aug 31-Sep 13. $619 adults, $95 children
two to nine years. Phone 1300 301 711, see creativeholidays.com.au.

QT Gold Coast

GOLD COAST

Glam up on the Gold Coast at QT Gold Coast with a room
upgrade to an ocean-view king room, free breakfast, discounts in the spa
and midday checkout. Book by March 15 for travel until March 31. From
$229 a person, two nights, twin share. Phone 1300 019 130, see studentflights.com.au.

GO LATER

UNITED KINGDOM

Book your London stay by February 28 and stay six nights for
the price of five, or 12 nights for 10 at Citadines “London Apart”
hotels in five locations including Trafalgar Square. For stays April
1-August 31. From $341 a night. See holidaystoeurope.com.au/specials.

NORTHERN TERRITORY

Go bush in style at El Questro Homestead. Stay four nights,
pay for three when booked before February 28 for travel April 1-October
25. From $5907 a room, three nights, includes meals, transfers from
Kununurra, some tours. Phone 1300 863 248, see elquestro.com.au.

Citadines London ‘Apart’

TOURWATCH

UK & FRANCE

Join tapestry artist Cresside Collette on a journey from
London to Aubusson discovering mediaeval tapestries, artists’ studios
and a four-day workshop at the Manoir du Bost. There’s also a daytrip to
weaving heartland Aubusson. The tour, from September 1-20, is $6699 a
person, twin share. Phone 03 9557 5898, see tapestrytour.blogspot.com.au.

This column by Belinda Jackson was published in the Sun-Herald newspaper. 

Going, going, gone: last-minute summer holiday ideas

Still stuck for a trip this summer? Let us tell you where to
go with these last-second holiday ideas compiled by Belinda Jackson.

Throw the schedule out the window and cut loose. There’s
still time to plan and book a holiday this summer. Really. What about a
fancy weekend on the Gold Coast, or a touch of luxury in Bali?
Auckland’s sparkling harbour is calling or go on the hunt for powder in
the Japanese alps. Adelaide’s festival scene is about to kick off and
there are bargains to be had in the South Pacific’s off-season.

Cheer
up, slackers, the early bird doesn’t always catch the worm, but you’d
better get your skates, fins or walking boots on, quick smart.

GOLD COAST HINTERLAND
Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat, Tallebudgera Valley

The deal Who doesn’t dream about getting away from it all?
Organic, low-tech, wellness, but with a hefty dose of gorgeousness.
Internationally recognised for its luxury spa offering, five-star a
weekend escape at Gwinganna includes all-organic meals, and activities –
think bosu balance training, indoor cycling, hiking or creative dance –
and a massage in its 33-room Spa Sanctuary. Save 15 per cent on
selected weekends from January 17 to March 30.

How much From $948 a person, twin share in an Orchards Suite.

Getting there Tiger Airways, Jetstar and Virgin Australia fly Sydney-Gold Coast.

More details 1800 219 272, gwinganna.com.

CANBERRA

Five hotels including Novotel Canberra and Ibis Budget Canberra

The deal The National Gallery of Australia’s blockbuster
exhibit Gold and the Incas: Lost Worlds of Peru is now showing. Book a
Cultural Getaway package at one of Accor’s five hotels, with breakfast
and two adults untimed tickets thrown in, until April 21.

How much from $119 a night at Ibis Budget Canberra, from $165 at Mercure Canberra and from $195 a night at Novotel Canberra.

Getting there It takes less than three hours to drive from Sydney to Canberra.

More details 1300 656 565, accorhotels.com/canberra-art.

VICTORIAN ALPS

Dinner Plain village

The deal Summer in the Australian Alps is free from the
madness of ski season, which means plenty of seats in Bright’s shining
restaurants and cooking schools and discounted accommodation. Stay
three, pay for two, nights in a self-contained apartment. They’ll throw
in local wine and cheese and a 90-minute horse ride with Dinner Plain
Trail Rides.

How much From $235 a person, twin share. Save $70 until April 30.

Getting there Qantas, Virgin Australia and Rex fly Sydney-Albury (1½ hours). Dinner Plain is two hours’ drive into the mountains.

More details (03) 5159 6556, skiholidays.com.au.

THAILAND

Radisson Blu Plaza Resort, Phuket Panwa Beach

The deal Phuket is so hot right now, with sleek properties
giving it an injection of fab, including oceanfront beauties.. Some
things stay the same: there’s still the great beaches, fun shopping,
bars and fabulous Thai cuisine to soak up. Save 20 per cent on two-night
stays on Radisson’s Asia Pacific hotels, including Sydney for a little
stay, until December 30 when booked by February 21.

How much From $244 for two nights.

Getting there Jetstar flies Sydney to Phuket.

More details 1800 333 333, radissonblu.com.

CAMBODIA, VIETNAM AND THAILAND

From Ho Chi Minh City to Bangkok, via Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Battambang

River life, Cambodia

The deal The nine-day adventure takes in the glory of Angkor
Wat’s temples and Battambang, where French Colonial and Khmer
architecture mix, not to mention racy Ho Chi Minh City and Bangkok’s
great shopping. Trips depart January 19, 22 and 29, 2014. Book by
January 12.

How much from $791 a person (was $1055)

Getting there Vietnam Airlines flies direct Sydney-Ho Chi Minh City.

More details 1300 018 871, intrepidtravel.com/tkse.

MALAYSIA, MALACCA, IPOH AND PANGKOR ISLAND

The deal Named one of Lonely Planet’s top 10 must-visit
countries for 2014, a good starting point in Malaysia to explore is the
UNESCO-listed heart of Malacca, once a kingdom, then a Portuguese
colony. Save $200 on travel on this seven-day journey with private car
until March 31, 2015. The tour departs daily from Kuala Lumpur.

How much From $1260 a person, twin share.

Getting there Air Asia, Malaysia Airlines fly Sydney to Kuala Lumpur.

More details 1300 295 049, adventureworld.com.au.

HAWAII

Shoreline Hotel, Waikiki

The deal With a 64 kilogram luggage allowance (oh, hello!)
Hawaii’s famed shopping is yours for the taking home. Stay six nights at
the newly renovated Shoreline from January 17 to March 25 (with more
dates later in the year) and get more than $550 in bonuses. Book by
January 31. We suggest upgrading to an ocean view.

How much From $1690 a person, including airfares with Hawaiian Airlines.

Getting there Hawaiian Airlines, Jetstar, Virgin Australia and Qantas fly Sydney-Honolulu.

More details 1300 004 292, myhawaii.com.au.

BLUE MOUNTAINS

Emirates Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa

The deal Voted the best hotel in Australia in 2013 on
TripAdvisor, stay two nights in a Heritage Suite with a private pool,
all meals, some drinks and two activities a day, including horse riding
and save $390 a couple. They’ll also include pre-dinner cocktails and
canapes one night, and souvenir pool towels. Midweek guests get 25 per
cent off spa treatments, from January 6-March 31.

How much from $1680 a person for two nights (two-night minimum stay).

Getting there 2½ hours’ drive from Sydney.

More details (02) 9290 9733, wolganvalley.com.

NEW ZEALAND

Huka Lodge, Taupo

The deal The world’s biggest movers and shakers have
luxuriated in Huka Lodge, from Queen Elizabeth II (mover) to Bette
Midler (shaker), but the lodge loves families, too. It’s offering four
nights for the price of three in its suites or cottages, ideal for
multi-generational festivities, until August 31 (excluding Christmas
until January 5).

How much from $4125 a person, four nights, includes all meals, drinks, activities and transfers.

Getting there Air New Zealand, Jetstar,
Virgin Australia, Emirates, China Airlines, LAN Airlines and Qantas fly
Sydney-Auckland. Taupo is three hours’ drive from Auckland.

More details + 64 7378 579, hukalodge.co.nz.

Family getaways

BALI

Semara Seminyak, Bali, Indonesia

Semara Seminyak

The deal Petitenget is Seminyak’s coolest strip of
restaurants, bars and boutiques and Semara Seminyak is on the golden
strip between Ku De Ta and Potato Head Beach Club. Its spacious
executive suites are great for families, sleeping up to four, and gold
stars for the kids’ Cubby House throwing a New Year’s Eve party, so you
can kick up your heels. Save 70 per cent on stays until January 31.

How much From $134 plus 15 per cent a room, a night.

Getting there Virgin Australia, Garuda International and Jetstar fly direct to Denpasar.

More details +62 361 847 6661, semaraseminyak.com.

ADELAIDE

Adina Apartment Hotel Adelaide Treasury
The deal Adelaide goes off in summer, with the Tour Down
Under in January and the fabulous Adelaide Festival. Stay three nights
and save 15 per cent until February 28. They’ll give you a picnic
blanket, so stock up at the Central Markets and head to the Botanical
Gardens for a lazy lunch.

How much From $185 a night.

Getting there Jetstar, Qantas and Virgin Australia fly direct Sydney-Adelaide.

More details 1300 633 462, adinahotels.com.au.

Skiing at Hakuba, Japan

JAPAN

Wagaya Chalet, Hakuba, Nagano Prefecture

The deal Spring skiing in the Japanese Alps means
deliciously blue skies, no crowds and an average snow depth of 2.5
metres. This new three-bedroom chalet sleeps up to eight and is 500
metres to the lifts, with runs from beginner to Warren Miller. Save 40
per cent on this and other Hakuba accommodation in March: get seven
nights’ stay, five-day multi-resort lift pass, airport transfers and
breakfast.

How much From $1200 a person, six adults sharing. Children’s discounts available.

Getting there Qantas, Japan Airlines fly
Sydney-Tokyo direct. Jetstar flies (via Gold Coast, Uluru). About four
hours bullet train and bus, Tokyo to Hakuba.

More details (02) 9905 6162, ski-resorts-japan.com.

GOLD COAST

Soul Surfers Paradise

The deal Soul shoots 77 storeys up and its luxe pool is
where all the chic families are soaking up the Queensland sun this
summer (when they’re not on the beach out front). Make time for its
two-hat restaurant, Seaduction by Steve Szabo, of Palazzo Versace fame.
Stay four nights, pay for three in a two-bedroom ocean view apartment
until March 31.

How much from $1437 for four nights.

Getting there Tiger Airways, Jetstar and Virgin Australia fly Sydney-Gold Coast.

More details 1800 737 444, peppers.com.au.

 

Soul Surfers Paradise, Gold Coast, Queensland.


VANUATU

Coconut Palms Resort, Port Vila

The deal A South Pacific getaway without busting the budget,
and only 3½ hours’ flight time. True, January is the wettest month,
but regardless of weather or budget, the waters are warm, the markets
are bustling and the islands are for hopping. Stay five nights, pay
four when booked by January 31, available until March 31. Includes
return airfares and breakfasts.

How much From $945 for five nights.

Getting there Air Vanuatu and Qantas fly Sydney-Port Vila direct and Virgin Australia (via Brisbane).

More details 1300 747 400, creativeholidays.com.

AUCKLAND

The Heritage Auckland

The deal Tap into Auckland’s Polynesian vibe, picnic at a
volcano’s feet and kick off your exploration of Middle-Earth as NZ goes
into Hobbit overdrive with the launch of The Hobbit: The Desolation of
Smaug this month. The art deco hotel offers a stay in a family deluxe
suite with free parking, breakfast for two adults and two kids, free
Wi-Fi and drinks until February 9.

How much From $NZ209 a room.

Getting there Air New Zealand, Jetstar, Virgin Australia, China Airlines, Emirates, LAN Airlines and Qantas fly Sydney-Auckland.

More details 1800 141 780, heritagehotels.co.nz.


This article by Belinda Jackson was first published in the Sun-Herald newspaper.

The new world order: Myanmar and Sri Lanka our must-do destinations

Stilt fishermen in Sri Lanka. Photo: Alamy
Myanmar and Sri Lanka top the list of must-do destinations,
industry experts agree. 
CHRIS ZEIHER
Lonely Planet
My pick for 2014 is Riga, the art nouveau jewel of the
Baltics. The Latvian capital is a twin to Prague, minus the fleets of tour
buses and crowds, and is the 2014 European Capital of Culture.Next year is all
about indulgence for me: I’ll be travelling to stunning Waiheke Island off
Auckland to celebrate my birthday.
DAVE BOYTE
Skyscanner.net
Brazil will be in the limelight, thanks to the football World
Cup. We’ve seen increased interest in Myanmar and Cambodia and Sri Lanka is a
rising star: visit the fort town of Galle. Mount Kinabalu (4095 metres) is the
highest mountain between the Himalayas and New Guinea: let’s see if I am up for
it.
SUJATA RAMAN AND GEOFFREY KENT
Abercrombie & Kent
Sri Lanka is still remarkably unspoiled, with ancient cities,
tea plantations and hill stations vying for attention alongside amazing
wildlife, temples and golden beaches, while Myanmar is a truly spiritual
destination. In 2014, you will be able to travel along the Ayeyarwady River on
the boutique river cruiser, Sanctuary Ananda, through stunning landscapes.
JAMES THORNTON
Intrepid Travel Group
Myanmar is Asia’s hottest new destination: get even further
off the beaten track and set sail around the 800 islands of the blissful Myeik
Archipelago. Sri Lanka is rising in popularity, and with all eyes on South
America for the World Cup, my tip is to escape the crowds in Colombia.
Outdoor dining in Istanbul. Photo: Getty Images
SALLY GODFREY
Homeaway Holiday Rentals
Internationally, Dubai, Istanbul, Phuket, Kyoto and Tel Aviv
are receiving strong booking inquiries for 2014, while domestic mainstays are
Gold Coast, Byron Bay and Sydney. Rising stars include Seminyak, Boracay and
Goa and the holiday rental market is becoming more popular in South-East Asia.
I will be hitting the slopes of Queenstown, sunning on a Bali beach and catching
some weekend respite on Phillip Island.
ROWENA FITZGERALD
Mr and Mrs Smith
Lanterns in Kyoto. Photo: Getty Images
People are looking for accommodation that offers an authentic
connection to the destination, such as smaller, locally owned boutique hotels
like Brody House in Budapest or Claska in Tokyo. We’re seeing a surge in
interest in Japan, prompted by its distinctive pop culture and increased
flights. I’m going to Costa Rica and Belize for their beautiful beaches,
incredible diving, and unspoilt rainforest. I hope to stay at six-suite hotel Kura.
RICHARD MOLE
Byroads Tours
Sri Lanka is safe, easy to get to and great value, has an
excellent range of accommodation and offers both beaches and culture. In many
respects, it’s the new Bali. Myanmar is another one on my list. It still lacks
beds, so prices are unreasonably high, but it’s seen as Asia’s last frontier.
Cuba is in the same category – go before it changes forever! My left-field
prediction is Iran. The new government is clearly trying to build bridges with
the West.
THE LEGGY LOVELIES
Luxecityguides.com
Why sprint madly through an overcrowded airport when you can
transfer leisurely and luxuriously via riverboat? We like Heritage Line’s
(heritage-line.com) vintage-inspired fleet for South-East Asian jaunts. For gastro-travel, Copenhagen, Lima, Bangkok and Tokyo are
emerging as envelope-pushing culinary destinations. Pack your elastic-waist slacks! There’s very good bang for
your buck. Quaint boutique hotels and delicious street foods keep it cheap,
cheery and culture-savvy. South America is booming but we also intend to escape the
crowds in Mongolia and Myanmar.
 

The delights of Noma in Copenhagen. Photo: NY Times
SIMON McGRATH
Accor Hotels
After slowing in 2012-13, Bali is becoming popular again for
Australians. Our top picks are Sydney for its great 2014 events line-up,
Tropical North Queensland for beach and adventure travel and Adelaide, just
named in Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2014 roundup, with a focus on culture
and the arts. With an increase in low-cost airlines flying into Adelaide and
Cairns, accessibility has never been easier. I’m heading to Terrigal, NSW,
close to home, for a great Australian beach holiday.

Compiled by Belinda Jackson for the Sydney Morning Herald/The Age newspapers