Stunning New Zealand

From culturally-loaded cities to exotic natural wonders, we’ve compiled our top 10 must-see destinations that should be on every traveller’s holiday wish list for 2013. Be inspired!

Top destinations 2013: Papua New Guinea

Despite its diverse culture, great diving, snorkelling and year-round surfing, Papua New Guinea is little known in the West. In 2013, that will change with the launch of new voyages by P&O Cruises to five different ports within the country ranging from scenic Milne Bay to beautiful islands.

Best time to go: Most of the year is a good time to travel, except during the rainy season from December to March.

Top destinations 2013: Myanmar

Temple BurmaTemple-strewn Myanmar
iStockphoto / Thinkstock

With newly opened borders, Myanmar’s trajectory is firmly on the rise. This largely undiscovered nation has been overshadowed by neighbouring tourism titans such as Thailand, India and China due to years of political instability. Tentative steps towards democracy and relaxed entry rules for tourists heralds the wings of change. So what can visitors expect? Towns and cities brimming with faded colonial grandeur, abundant temples, dense forests, mighty rivers and unspoilt beaches.

Best time to go: The best time to visit is during the cool season between October and March.

Top destinations 2013: Sri Lanka

After the ravages of civil war and the devastating 2004 tsunami, Sri Lanka is making a welcome comeback. 2013 will see massive infrastructural improvements with the opening of Hambantota International Airport in addition to the completion of the Southern Expressway from Colombo to Matara. Both will help make Sri Lanka more accessible to beach bums, history buffs, culture vultures and wildlife lovers keen to enjoy unspoilt coastlines, national parks rich with leopards, bears, elephants and birds and ancient temples, forts and ruins.

Best time to go: August to September is the dry season. From May to July, the southwest is hit by monsoon rains, which affect the northeast from October to January.

Top destinations 2013: Peru

Iconic PeruIconic Peru
iStockphoto / Thinkstock

Peru’s iconic landmarks - Machu Picchu, the bizarre Nazca lines, beautiful Cuzco and Lake Titicaca - have drawn curious visitors for decades. If you’ve ticked off all these boxes, you may need to return to check out a new must-see attraction. Chachapoyas is a formerly isolated mountain town boasting pre-Inca treasures and one of the world’s tallest waterfalls set amid beautiful cloud forests. Better road access and a concerted marketing drive means this remote outpost is set to be besieged by intrepid travellers determined to get there long before everyone else does.

Best time to go: Visit during the dry season between May and October.

Top destinations 2013: Moscow

Low-cost airline easyJet will launch new flights to Russia’s capital city from March from Manchester and London Gatwick. Tickets are already on sale, with single fares available from £47.49pp. It will certainly help take the sting out of paying for a trip to Moscow, one of the world’s most expensive cities boasting sky-high hotel prices. However, it’s worth splashing out for: the city boasts impressive architectural gems from the Kremlin to St Basil’s Cathedral, a legendary theatre and arts scene, sophisticated shops, dining and nightlife options.

Best time to go: May and June is less crowded and has pleasant temperatures compared to July and August.

Top destinations 2013: Florida

Florida beach500-year-old Florida
iStockphoto / Thinkstock

A perennial favourite for sun-seekers and theme park enthusiasts, Florida is set to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the arrival of European settlers in 2013 with a state-wide, year-long series of events to commemorate its diverse history, cultures and natural beauty. From rediscovering its waterways to exploring heritage trails and museums, it’s clear there is lots more on offer in the Sunshine State than merely beaches and thrill rides.

Best time to go: It’s hot and humid from May to September; it’s warm but less sticky between March and May although there’s more risk of showers.

Top destinations 2013: UAE

Dubai and Abu Dhabi have long been hotspots for avid shoppers. In 2013, the retail therapy cranks up a notch with the opening of new hotels within or next to glossy shopping centres, ensuring you can roll out of bed and literally onto the shop floor in a matter of minutes. At present, 10 malls are under development, including the highly anticipated Yas Mall in Abu Dhabi featuring no less than six hotels, 700 shops and food stores, and even a water park.

Best time to go: It’s cooler between October and May.

Top destinations 2013: Slovakia

KosiceCulturally-laden Kosice
Creative Commons / Jiri Brozovsky

2013 offers a double celebration for Slovakia; Kosice will be crowned the new European Capital of Culture, while the country also marks 20 years of independence. Kosice, the second largest city in the country, plans a new cultural and artistic centre, concerts and lectures, plus a new gallery and museum, to entice visitors. Culture vultures and city break fans looking for somewhere unique will not be disappointed with a trip to this fascinating city.

Best time to go: The best time to visit is during the warmer months from May to September

Top destinations 2013: Amsterdam

2013 offers much to celebrate in Amsterdam, one of Europe’s top city break destinations; the city will mark 400 years of its iconic Canal Ring, the 125th anniversary of its famous concert hall and orchestra, and 175 years of the Artis Royal Zoo. These celebrations supplement an already packed calendar year brimming with festivals, openings, and exhibitions.

Best time to go: Between April and September during the warmer months.

Top destinations 2013: New Zealand

Wellington cableViews over Wellington
Hemera / Thinkstock

After the much-anticipated release of The Hobbit earlier this month, and plans for second and third movies in 2013 and 2014, all attention has turned back to New Zealand. After a brief interlude from the “Tolkien tourism” witnessed after the Lord of the Rings blockbusters, eager film buffs are expected to once again flock to Wellington to see firsthand the filming location of the newest fictional masterpieces from director Peter Jackson.

Further north, a new cruise ship terminal at Queens Wharf in Auckland is expected to be completed by next April. The new terminal will be able to accommodate ships carrying up to 3,000 passengers, providing greater choice for cruise-goers in the coming year.

Best time to go: The summer months of December through to February are usually considered the best time to visit.

Author: Hannah Warne

Published date: 31 December 2012

Edited by Tina Banerjee

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