Long-haul holiday destinations to check off your bucket-list…

Words Helen Brown

Whether you’re wistfully wander-lusting or you have the pennies saved, these long-haul holidays are destination hotspots. The flight might cost you an arm and a leg but the adventure is priceless. With rich culture, exceptional cuisine and some of the world’s most magnificent wildlife, the jet lag is worth it. Go on, get one booked this summer.

RIVIERA MAYA

You’ll be hard pushed to find better white-sand beaches anywhere across the globe. Riviera Maya also offers ancient ruins and the world’s second biggest coral reef. Naturally, diving is a must. The nightlife is quite a crowd-pleaser, too. Head to lively Playa del Carmen for the bars and clubs. Alternatively, Punta Allen is ideal for a quieter stay. For the ruins, you’ll want to organise a day-trip to Tulum. Here you’ll discover an entire Mayan city perched on a cliff above the beach. There’s also a castle-like shrine and the Temple of Frescoes to explore. If you’re left wanting still more, there are four eco-parks to get around.

STAY: Tui Sensimar  El Dorado Seaside Suites

This adult-only seaside hideaway was voted one of the world’s most romantic hotels by Forbes. With canopied daybeds and beach waiters, as well as in-suite Jacuzzis, a stay here is luxurious from start to finish. To top it all off, there are eight incredible restaurants to choose from and just as many bars. The whole place is encased in palm-filled private gardens, offering a really intimate atmosphere.

Rooms from around £410 per night, karismahotels.com

BARBADOS 

Famed for its beaches and relaxed island life, Barbados has it all. There’s a huge amount of night-life to experience, as well as beautiful architecture and absolutely smashing surf. Head over to the capital city, Bridgetown to experience the island’s quirkier side. Here is where the Caribbean influence comes head-to-head with the heritage left over from British rule. Catch a game of cricket on the green, admire the Nelson statue and then head to the harbour for a live reggae performance.

STAY: Little Good Harbour

Located in a quiet fishing village on the West Coast of Barbados, this family-run hotel is the quintessential home-from-home.
Little Good Harbour’s Fish Pot Restaurant is a reason in itself to visit Barbados. Set within an 18th century fort overlooking the sea, it offers a delectable menu of Caribbean flavours and an unmatched ambiance.

Rooms from around £138 per night, littlegoodharbourbarbados.com

VIETNAM

From the rice valleys in the North, to the exhilarating bustle of the Mekong Delta in the south, Vietnam promises a wealth of attractions. The country now is a far-cry from it’s savaged state, post American War. Access is easier than ever with roads being upgraded and hotels springing up everywhere. There are beaches, rivers and Buddhist pagodas to seduce the globe-trotting explorers. History enthusiasts will want to visit Hanoi, Vietnam’s capital. It pays homage to the nation’s iconic Communist-era leader, Ho Chi Minh, via a huge marble mausoleum.

STAY: Banyan Tree Lang Co Resort

Discover the mystique of central Vietnam with a stay at Banyan Tree Lang Co Resort. Here you will feel the warm waves of the East Sea tickle your toes and gaze on the breathtaking Truong Son Mountain Range. It’s also within touch of three UNESCO World Heritage Sites – the imperial city of Hue, charming old town of Hoi An and My Son’s historical ruins.

Rooms from around £385 per night, banyantree.com

BALI

Bali has all the beaches, surfing, diving and exceptional scenery you could ever want from a long-haul holiday. But it’s the overwhelming friendliness of the Balinese that really make the place special. Here, there is something for every type of traveller. Head to Seminyak for designer shopping and Kerobokan for luxe resorts and superb dining. Kuta and  Legian have the nightlife and Canggu has a little bit for all.

STAY: Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan

Recognised as one of the world’s best resorts on Condé Nast Traveler’s Gold List 2012, Four Seasons Resort Bali epitomises paradise. From the hotel you can discover the island’s artistic traditions, visit its temples, and explore its villages. Alternatively, challenge yourself with a round of golf, a game of tennis, or a day of rafting. The place further affords multiple dining facilities of the highest calibre, as well as three spas.

Rooms from around £1141.47 per night, fourseasons.com

MAURITIUS

Mauritius is renowned for its beaches, lagoons and reefs. It’s ideal for adventurers who can explore the Black River Gorges National Park, as well as its rainforests, and hiking trails. Seas don’t get more azure than the ones around this island Eden and it’s high on the hit-list of any wildlife enthusiast. Mauritius has saved more bird species from extinction than any other country on earth. Here you can now see two of the loveliest birds of the Indian Ocean – the pink pigeon and the Mauritian kestrel.

STAY: Shanti Maurice

Nestling between sugarcane fields and the Indian Ocean, Shanti Maurice satisfies all the senses. It boasts exotic gardens, pristine white sands, a sublime spa and a host of innovative restaurants.

Rooms from around £830 per night, shantimaurice.com

HONG KONG

The iconic skyline, legendary dining and thriving nature of Hong Kong is enough to seduce any holiday-maker. The city worships the God of Cookery and is one of the culinary capitals of the world. Whatever your gastronomic penchant, it will certainly be indulged. Rich in culture and a shopper’s paradise, Hong Kong delivers on all fronts.

STAY: Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong

As the Mandarin Oriental’s flagship venue, this Hong Kong hotel is as iconic as the city itself. Here you’ll enjoy views over Victoria Harbour, a world-class spa and some of the best dining on the island.

Rooms from around £320 per night, mandarinoriental.com

SRI LANKA

Sri Lanka is definitely a destination to check off your bucket list. With endless beaches, ancient ruins, a friendly population, and vibrant cuisine, there’s no chance you’ll be at a loose end. The place packs in eight Unesco World Heritage Sites and over 2000 years of historical culture to discover.  Across the island, there are elephants aplenty as well as leopards, water buffaloes, birds and primates. You can spot them all on one of Sri Lanka’s many safari tours.

STAY: Cape Weligama

Cape Weligama has become the most celebrated among Sri Lankan Beach Resorts. It sits along the island’s palm-fringed shores and occupies 12 manicured acres rising above the Indian Ocean. Stunning panoramas await you, as well as an array of international dining venues, iconic sunsets and 60m infinity pool.

Rooms from around £196 per night, resplendentceylon.com

NEW YORK

As the city that never sleeps, New York offers round-the-clock entertainment for every appetite. Whether it’s your first time visiting or your fourth, there’s always something new to discover. No trip to the Big Apple would be complete without total gastronomic indulgence. Get your hands on the renowned Reuben sandwich – a mass of corned beef, Swiss cheese and sauerkraut squished rye bread. And wash it down with a Manhattan cocktail. With world-famous museums, a thriving theatre scene and incomparable shopping, one trip will never be enough.

STAY: 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge

With a prime location in the heart of the vibrant Brooklyn neighbourhood, this hotel is set to be NYC’s newest summertime hotspot. Here you’ll enjoy a rooftop pool and expansive views across the East River and iconic Manhattan skyline. The hotel also includes a beautiful Bamford Hayburn Spa which is opening later this year along with the in-house restaurant.

Rooms from around £369 per night, 1hotels.com

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