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10 of the best river cruises

1 The Nile, Egypt

If you only take one river cruise in your life, it should be this route, sailing along the Nile between Luxor and Aswan. It’s worth it just for the temples at Luxor and nearby Karnak, Tutankhamun’s tomb at the Valley of the Kings, and Nefertari’s tomb in the Valley of the Queens. But there’s more: from Luxor most cruise ships sail to Edfu for the temple dedicated to falcon-headed god Horus, then on to Kom Ombo temple, dedicated to crocodile god Sobek. And at colourful Aswan you can take a trip to the Aswan High Dam and the temple of Philae, or fly to Abu Simbel’s temples. To get the most out of the country, combine a Nile cruise with a few days in Cairo to see the Pyramids at Giza and the Egyptian Museum.

nile cruise

2 Volga River, Russia

Moscow and St Petersburg are Russia’s must-do destinations for river cruises, and you can see both by cruising along the Volga River and other rivers, lakes and waterways which connect the two cities. Highlights along the route include: Uglich, Russia’s second oldest city; ancient Yaroslavl, with its 13th century churches; Goritza, a typical Russian village; Kizhi, with its amazing 22-cupola wooden church, and Mondraga village, home to the Vodka Museum.

russian river cruise

3 The Yangtze, China

Many UK-based travel companies offer Yangtze River cruises as part of a wider tour of China’s sights, often starting with several nights in Shanghai before flying to Wuhan and transferring to the Yangtze hub of Yichang. The Three Gorges – Xiling, Wuxia and Qutang – are the cruise highlight, with stops at the enormous Three Gorges Dam and Chongqing, home to lively markets. Longer cruises include: Nanjing, the ancient capital of several dynasties; historic Huangshan; Wuhan where you can visit Chairman Mao’s Villa and Yichang, surrounded by forests and mountains.


4 The Danube, Hungary, Slovakia, Austria, Germany

At 1,800 miles, the Danube flows through eight countries from its source in Germany to the Black Sea, with one of its most rewarding stretches starting at the historic Hungarian capital of Budapest. These cultural Baltic cruises through European history includes Slovakia’s capital, Bratislava, and Austria’s principal cities, Vienna and Salzburg. The countryside is also outstanding, including the Wachau Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage site.


5 The Amazon, Brazil

There are many ways to navigate the world’s largest river, but by far the most comfortable is by cruise ship. Itineraries usually call at the picturesque city of Santarem, where the River Tapajós meets the Amazon. Other colourful destinations include Parintins known for its Boi-Bumbá folklore festival every June; the wooden village of Boca de Valeria, and Manaus, the State of Amazonas capital.


6 The Rhine, Netherlands, Germany, France, Switzerland

There are plenty of options for sightseeing along the 900 miles of Europe’s most popular cruising river. You’ll see fairytale castles and medieval towns, as well as big-hitters such as Basle’s cobbled old city, Strasbourg’s fabulous mix of medieval, Renaissance and Baroque buildings, the half-timbered houses in historic Mainz, the neoclassical palace and Roman basilica at Koblenz (where the Rhine meets its cruising partner, the River Mosel), and Cologne’s UNESCO World Heritage gothic cathedral. You’ll also have access to Dutch cities such as Arnhem and Amsterdam.


7 The Mekong, Vietnam, Cambodia

Mekong River and Delta cruises usually begin with a few nights in Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon), a hectic urban sprawl which retains its elegant French colonial heart. The mystical Mekong offers an enticing mix of Buddhist shrines, colonial towns and floating markets. Many cruises cross into Cambodia where you can visit the capital, Phnom Penh, and the major temples of Angkor Wat by the town of Siem Reap.


8 The RhĂ´ne, France

Navigating France’s mightiest river is a favourite for wine aficionados and foodies. A cruise through Burgundy and Provence gives you the chance to visit vineyards (think Côtes du Rhône and Châteauneuf-du-Pape), explore Lyon – the gourmet capital of France – and enjoy historic towns such as the fortified city of Avignon and the Roman ruins in Arles. The countryside is equally superb: its fields of lavender and sunflowers were an inspiration for artists such as Vincent Van Gogh, and as the river drains into the Mediterranean you’ll see the famous white horses of the Camargue.


9 The Mississippi, USA

A trip along Ol’ Man River from Memphis to New Orleans reveals an impressive slice of the United States’ cultural and historic richness. You’ll see Elvis Presley’s Memphis, Civil War sites such as Helena and Vicksburg, and the Southern belle towns of Natchez and St Francisville with their beautiful antebellum houses. Baton Rouge is the spiritual home of folksy Cajun music and spicy Cajun food and then there’s jazz-soaked New Orleans, now recovering much of its nightly Mardi Gras atmosphere


10 The Douro, Spain, Portugal

Often overlooked, this beautiful river meanders through peaceful villages and towns, through gorges and past vineyards and tranquil almond orchards. The cultural highlights include Salamanca, an ancient Spanish university city fought over by Hannibal the Great, and Porto, Portugal’s elegantly historic second city and the home of port wine. En route you can stop at Peso da Régua and Pinhão, in the heart of Portuguese wine country, or visit market towns, castles and country homes such as the 18th century Casa de Mateus Palace.


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The world’s best rail journeys

Train journeys offer a more relaxed pace of travel and often evoke a feeling of a bygone era, with elaborately decorated carriages and the opportunity to mingle with like-minded people. There are countless rail journeys across the world all of which offer something different, but for me there are a few that really stand out. Here are five of my favorite rail journeys from around the world.

The Eastern & Oriental Express, Southeast Asia

Travel from Thailand’s capital, Bangkok, through the country’s beautiful landscape and into Malaysia and Singapore on board the Eastern & Oriental Express. This is Asia’s most luxurious train ,with lavish carriages full of brass fittings, rich wood and comfortable en-suite compartments.

Eastern and Oriental Express

Take the opportunity to dress in your finest clothes for an evening of fine food and wine in the ambient dining car, where you are surrounded by the elegant style of the Twenties and Thirties. Stops include Georgetown in Penang, the bridge over the River Kwai.

Rovos Rail, South Africa

If you’re visiting South Africa, why not take in the beautiful scenery from the comfort of the luxurious and historic Rovos Rail. The train’s carriages, including restaurant cars, observation carriages and sleeping compartments, have all been restored to their former glory, and a journey on this wonderful train is like taking a step back in time.


Designed for pioneering travellers and colonial grandees, the train is decorated with dark woods and period fittings – just perfect for enjoying a drink as you meet fellow passengers.

Rocky Mountaineer, Canada

A journey on the Rocky Mountaineer in Canada takes you through grasslands, canyons, past thundering waterfalls and through mountain tunnels. There are three classes available on this famous train, Red, Silver and Gold Leaf, the latter offering a superb bi-level glass-dome coach with a wonderful viewing platform. Gourmet meals served below in the dining car for those travelling in Gold Leaf.

Rocky Mountaineer

The train is one of Canada’s most well-known and operates a few routes in the summer months – between Calgary, Banff, or Jasper and Vancouver, and between Jasper and Whistler.

Trans-Siberian Railway

A fantastic overland journey awaits those who travel on this epic route. A series of railways which connect Moscow in the west of Russia to either Vladivostok in the far east of the country (the true Trans-Siberian route) or Beijing in China (known as the Trans-Mongolian as it crosses through Mongolia), the Trans-Siberian traverses several landscapes, time-zones and cultures whichever route you choose. Travelling by public trains, the Trans-Siberian may not be the most luxurious on this list but it is certainly one of the most impressive, attracting travelers from all over the world with a sense of adventure and a desire to experience the might and splendor of European Russia and the mysterious Far East. For those who prefer a more luxurious stance, there are a couple of private trains which offer set itineraries.

Trans-Siberian Railway

The Hiram Bingham, Peru

Chosen by the readers of Condé Nast Traveller UK as the best train in the world (2011) the Hiram Bingham is a luxurious train in Peru that takes you from the small village of Poroy, just outside of Cuzco, and on towards the world-famous site of Machu Picchu.

Hiram Bingham train

Enjoy a hearty brunch, learn how to make a Pisco Sour in the bar car or take in the scenery from the observation carriage, as you journey alongside the mighty Urubamba River in the Sacred Valley.

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Top 5 experiences in Thailand

There is so much to do in Thailand that it might seem a bit overwhelming at times. It is one of the most popular holiday destinations to visit in Southeast Asia, offering amazing beaches, tantalising cuisine and beautiful culture. Have a look at some of the best things to experience in Thailand.

Island Hopping

Renowned for its many islands, Thailand has an impressive coastline of beaches and islands for a taste of tropical paradise. Southern Thailand encompasses Phuket, Krabi Province, Ko Samui, Ko Phi Phi to name but a few, all of which offer stunning scenery and beautiful beaches.


Floating markets

Visit the most famous of the floating markets Damnoen Saduak and see plenty of boats filled with fruit and vegetables. Another location is Amphawa which is less touristy and more authentic attracting locals to the market at the weekends. Float along the canals and experience a leisurely day full of food and souvenirs.


Street food

Experience the hustle and bustle of Thailand’s capital Bangkok. For an authentic taste of Thailand, try out the street food found easily on Bangkok’s street corners. Cooked fresh to order from a cart, the results are delicious every time and food is extremely cheap to buy.

Thai street food

Riding in a tuk tuk

Some might say you have never truly experienced Thailand until you have taken a ride in a tuk tuk. These open air motorcycle taxis offer a journey like no other, filled with commotion and thrill. A good tip is to negotiate a price for your ride as drivers may try and overcharge.


Thai culture

Of course you can’t fully experience Thailand with visiting some of the country’s cultural sights. It is impossible to narrow down which temples to visit as there are so many to choose from. With over 30,000 temples in Thailand, you are guaranteed to be never too far from one. Wat Pho is home to the impressive reclining gold Buddha statue, the biggest in Thailand! Located directly next to the Grand Palace, Wat Pho is one of the biggest temples in Bangkok.

Wat Pho

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Barbados & St Vincent

I can definitely say I started my trip in pure style, as I entered the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse I was greeted by some extremely friendly faces with a selection of breakfast options and bubbly, only to be made better by a complimentary spa treatment – definitely took away the standard pre-departure stress. Feeling relaxed, I then boarded my Virgin Atlantic flight.

It was my first time in Premium economy & it certainly won’t be last. The seats were so comfortable, delicious food and the delightful stewardess ensured my glass was never empty. I didn’t want my flight to end! The flights were on time, and I quickly landed at Barbados airport. A quick browse around the shops & after a short wait, I was then on my next flight to St Vincent via a small island hopper flight. Upon arrival at St Vincent, a lush, 1376576_10153283099625346_1626513669_ngreen island, we were promptly greeted by our friendly driver. The transfer from the airport to our hotel only took about 30 minutes, and it was lovely to see such a beautiful, remote island not overrun with high-rise buildings and nothing but locals going about their typical days.

The sun started to set as we pulled up to the accommodation, Buccament Bay Resort – a luxury 5* resort cradled by lush mountains of vibrant rainforest. I stayed in a huge villa with my own plunge pool and private beach. The villa had the most comfortable bed I have ever witnessed, a sitting area, air con and a kitchen. The fridge was stocked up constantly with complimentary refreshments which was a nice touch! I couldn’t recommend Buccament Bay enough; the food was beyond amazing, with so much choice & so many different restaurants to choose from. The staff at the resort was second to none, really couldn’t do enough for you & made the stay that extra bit special. I can honestly say I have never been so spoilt in my life! The perfect holiday for couples / honeymooners. Or anybody wanting a luxurious, relaxing break away. Whilst at the resort they had a fantastic water sports centre, where I went on a glass-bottom boat to explore the rich & colourful coral reef, and Buccament-Bay-Resortsome extraordinary wildlife.

We stopped at Wallilabou bay where Pirates of The Caribbean was shot, amazing views and really worth seeing! The driver then stopped the boat in a stunning bay, when we jumped off and went snorkelling! The next day, after relaxing by the pool all day, we went on another boat trip off the coast of St Vincent to go dolphin & Whale spotting. We saw loads of lovely dolphins frolicking beside our boat & following us. I even saw a whale in the distance! After an amazing few days in St Vincent, I was sad to leave but it was off to Barbados for the last night, I stayed in The Tamarind Hotel. Set right on the beach, it was a perfect location and very modern and bright interior, food again was top notch and service impeccable. A more varied market, perfect for families or couples.

On the last day before catching my flight, I decided to go snorkelling in the Turquoise sea of Barbados, again only a matter of centimetres away from the coral reef, and much to my surprise I came across a turtle, only touching distance away. It’s safe to say it topped my holiday off perfectly.

Been to Barbados before, or wanting to experience for the first time? I now have lots of recommendations for some beautiful hotels! For anybody wanting to experience something a little different from the usual holiday, I couldn’t recommend Buccament Bay in St Vincent enough!- Total paradise!1379840_10153276095540346_1114969567_n

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Top 10 white-sand beaches in the world

Bora Bora, Tahiti

It’s billed as the most romantic island in the world, and it’s hard to find any reasons to argue with that. Private over water bungalows provide sublime relaxation. Mount Otemanu rises into the sky like spires of a castle, inviting you explore the fantastic panoramas above the glistening beaches. Matira Beach is enchanting while also being exciting. With plenty of water sports, Bora Bora brings all of the best amenities together in one place.

Bora Bora

Playa Paraiso, Cayao Largo, Cuba

Cuba you say? It is getting easier for Americans to travel there, as this report in the New York Times Points out. Experience remote and exotic before the exquisite beauty of this stretch of sand becomes more common knowledge. You can take a train ride from the hotel zone. Don’t confuse it with another fantastic beach by the same name in Tulum, Mexico.

Playa Paraiso

White Beach, Boracay, Philippines

Unlike the more remote Playa Paraiso mentioned above, White Beach on Boracay is definitely on the map when it comes to white sand tourist destinations. Inviting bars and restaurants that stay open until dawn are steps away from the white sand. The winds in the earlier months of the year make Bulabog Beach on the east side of Boracay a great destination for wind surfers and kite boarders, while White Beach offers exceptional snorkeling and diving.

White Beach

The Maldives, Indian Ocean

It’s a big island chain near the Equator, with lots of different resort options for those seeking a sublime getaway or a sport-filled excursion. Try the beaches near the Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru for the best of both. With villas spread across the UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve of Baa Atoll, guests experience five-star elegance amid grand natural wonder.


Rabbit Beach, Lampedusa, Italy

Located about halfway between Malta and the shores of North Africa, Lampedusa is graced with white sand beaches, crystal clear water, stunning bluffs, Rabbit beach was named the top Traveler’s Choice Beach in the World for 2013 on TripAdvisor. Looking at it makes it clear why it was so honored. Charming villas and hotels in styles from Mediterranean to Caribbean and African offer a nice variety.

Rabbit Beach

Langkawi, Malaysia

The word Langkawi, when translated, means “land of wishes.” Part of an archipelago of about 100 islands, it’s full of stunning white sand beaches. The Detai Langkawi embodies the land of wishes with its extraordinary location. Set in the midst of virgin rainforest with pathways leading to gorgeous white sand, the resort sets a high standard. Bountiful natural grandeur and luxurious pampering await.


Kauna’oa Bay, Hawaii

This treasure on the Big Island is the classic crescent-shaped white sand beach, lined with palm trees and beautiful blue water. Everything you might imagine a tropical Hawaiian paradise can be seen at one location. Resort hotels offer all the best amenities while the beach calls for you to explore, relax, and experience its serene beauty.


Wineglass Bay, Tasmania

Gorgeous sunsets, sparking white sands under pink granite rock formations and green mountain peaks, and stunning water vistas await. Part of spectacular Freycinet National Park, the natural grandeur will envelop you in its beauty. From camping to luxurious resorts, there is a range of lodging options. About 2 and 1/2 hours drive from Hobart on the East Coast of Tasmania, it’s exotic and enticing.


Grand Anse Beach, Seychelles

Located on La Digue Island in this remote chain in the Indian Ocean off the East Coast of Africa, this is truly one of the most beautiful locations in the world. The granite rock formations set against the beach, ocean, and green landscape draw you in. The Seychelles are astounding objects of natural wonder that will stir your imagination to the hilt. The beach does experience big waves – great news if you want to surf while on vacation.

Grand Anse

Anse de Grande Saline, St. Barts

The crystal blue water is in the mid-80s year round, while the glistening white sand is favored by naturalists. The marshy salt pool behind the stretch of sand gives the beach its name and is a haven for tropical birds. Taking in the scenery while sipping a nice tropical drink defines a beach paradise. The island promises enough relaxation and recreation to satiate anyone who desires a tropical holiday.

Anse de Grande Saline, St. Barts

Any of these beaches are worthy of being placed at the top of any list covering the world’s best beaches. Fine white sand, great amenities, natural wonder, and luxurious accommodations await those who dare to venture forth. Get rid of your winter blues straight away when you find yourself literally stepping into paradise

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Top 6 cities to enjoy in mainland Europe

1. Siena, Italy

This picturesque town is often overlooked in favour of nearby Florence and Pisa, but this is definitely an Italian highlight. There are loads of great boutiques to shop in and some lovely cafes out in the open air. Go later in the summer – July and August – to see the historic Palio bareback horserace in the centre of town. This has been part of life here for over three centuries, based around Siena’s grand medieval plaza.


2. Dubrovnik, Croatia

The Pearl of the Adriatic is a small but perfectly formed medieval city perched beside the azure ocean. The entire city is so unique and full of so many ancient buildings that it is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Check out Pucic Palace, the Old Town and wander the cobbled streets to understand why. After you’re finished exploring dry land, take a yacht trip out into the bay to snorkel and relax on the little islands dotted around the bay.


3. San Sebastian, Spain

This seaside city overlooks the Bay of Biscay in Spain’s strongly independent Basque region. It’s also the European Capital of Culture for 2016, so expect there to be some build-up going on when you visit. San Sebastian is the kind of place to visit if you want to indulge yourself – there are six Michelin-starred restaurants, and a gourmet tapas bar on every corner. The beaches are beautiful with long sandy, stretches of sand sandwiched between rocky coves.

San Sebastian

4. Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon is a vibrant city beside Portugal’s Atlantic coastline. Like Rome, this huge city sprawls across seven hills. Its sheer size alone means there are loads of things to see and do. The vibe is laidback and the whitewashed buildings lining the cobbled alleyways are absolutely charming. You’ll find fantastic shopping, castles, museums, botanical gardens and lots more besides.


5. Perast, Montenegro

This amazing country has long been overlooked but now, more and more visitors to Europe are adding this green gem to their itinerary. Perast is a small town on the Bay of Kotor, and while not a city as such it has a lot to offer. Visitors can explore its Venetian heritage – baroque palaces, nineteen (yes, nineteen!) churches, and stunning architecture everywhere you look. Make the most of the excursions in the locality, including the popular boat trips to Our Lady of the Rock Island to peek inside its church and its intricate interior.


6. Nice, France

Head to the balmy French Riviera for a classic South of France experience. Nice is the place to admire super yachts and sip chilled wine with steaming bowls of mussels. Elegant and glamorous, this city is typically French. There are some lovely museums and art galleries, pebble beaches to relax on, a pretty old town to explore and cliffside walks to enjoy.


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dalamanAs a travel agent one thing we always hear from our customers when we mention Turkey, is that they’ve ‘never really fancied it!’.. And I must admit I had always thought the same. That is until my trip there last year, now i have been completely converted! I loved everything about it, from the welcoming locals, to the traditional food and the magnificent mountains & beautiful, sandy beaches.

I travelled with Anatolian Sky holidays and spent a week visiting all the resorts around the Dalaman area. After a stress-free arrival into Dalaman airport, where we swiftly collected our luggage and visas and enjoyed a relaxing private transfer to our first destination; a small tourist resort, Datca. We started our trip by checking into our first hotel The Perili Bay Resort, set right on the beach front, it was a hotel like nothing I’d ever seen before; an old mansion transformed into a hotel, keeping all the old features from the Ottoman, Seljuk and Renaissance period in – A really lovely experience! We were on All Inclusive and the food was to die for, all traditional Turkish cuisine, allowing me to sampled a whole581669_10152835822385346_769094549_n range of different food that i’d never even heard of before.

Over the next few days we visited more of the popular tourist sites in and around Datca, before moving on to our next destination; Akyaka, a cute-as-a-button village which sits at the tip of the bay of Gokova, 40 minutes’ drive north of Marmaris. It’s got forested mountains at its back door, and a sandy beach at its front. And you’re never far from the restaurant-lined Azmak river that wriggles through its middle. We checked into our next hotel, Yucelen. Here we visited the local market and met the locals, who were all extremely welcoming, along with buying some fresh, local delicacy.
Our next stop was Fethye, the resort i was looking forward to seeing the most! A cosmopolitan atmosphere, a rich history and fabulous restaurants and nightlife, it is a wonderful place to visit with a long and varied history. Here, we stayed in The Ocakkoy, A series of large, beautiful cottages with a traditional feel.
We ended the trip in my most favorite place of all! Kalkan. A resort that I genuinely cannot recommend enough to anybody looking for a lovely, relaxing holiday in a tranquil place with views to die for; A lovely old fishing village which is penned into a small space by mountains. Here, we stayed at the Oasis. A small and very modern hotel with service a cut above the rest.

Finally, we ended an unforgettable week with a boat trip to ‘The sunken city.’ we sailed to a series of different bays, where the boat stopped off allowing us all to jump in and cool of from the hot sun. We even managed to see some turtles in the clear, turquoise waters!

I would recommend Turkey to anybody, it has something for all ages.amber in turkey

 Location: Europe & Asia


Capital City: Ankara


Area: 780,580 square km, 301,382 square miles.


Language(s): Turkish


Currency: Lira

You must now apply for Turkish visas before arrival, and will last for a duration of 90 days

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Here are the five things smart travellers should be doing this month

1. Explore Europe. In much of the Mediterranean, there’s no better month for sightseeing than May: The days are long, the weather is optimal, the summer crowds haven’t yet arrived, sites are open, and festivals abound.

2. Save 25% on Weekend flights. Fly on Saturday morning (instead of Friday) and return on Tuesday (rather than Monday). While weekend airfares are rising, they’re still probably cheaper than the high domestic summer fares that will kick in around June 8.

3. Get a credit card that waives foreign-transaction fees. You still have time if your trip abroad is this summer. Many cards charge an extra 3% on overseas purchases.

4. Redeem your miles for Christmas/New Year’s airline tickets. Six months ahead is the sweet spot for finding mileage-award seats.

5. Book your 2015 European river cruise. This summer’s river sailings sold out months ago, so lock in one for next year while early-booking savings still apply. Viking River Cruises’ two-for-one cruise/airfare deal ends May 31. plane