For some the magic and mystery of high mountains spells romance, while others prefer to make memories as they relax along golden sands and emerald waters. Whatever you choose, these destinations are within easy reach when you want a quick getaway.
Paro & Haa Valley, Bhutan
The excitement begins the moment you fly over the Himalayas. Flying into Paro airport affords one of the finest experiences from 38,000 ft. The aircraft takes you right into the icy heart of the Himalayas, gliding past formidable mountains and vast glaciers before dipping into the lush and beautiful Paro Valley, your gateway to Bhutan.
Start your trip in the Paro Valley, without doubt one of the loveliest places in Bhutan. Visit some of the iconic monuments, and then – body and mind willing – flex your calves on a trek out of Paro for some breathtaking views of the country’s loftiest summits. To get off the beaten track, venture into the remote Haa Valley and experience Bhutanese culture and heritage at its unspoilt best. It is dotted with some intriguing monasteries, lies southwest of the Paro Valley, and can be accessed by crossing the 3810m Cheli La pass on a three-hour drive from Paro.
Bentota, Sri Lanka
The ribbon of golden sand that makes up Bentota Beach is a glorious holiday sun-and-fun playground. While it’s primarily dominated by big package hotels, it also has some sumptuous boutique hideaways. There are more such places in nearby Aluthgama, a small town that is home to the main train station in the area. Induruwa doesn’t really have a centre – it’s spread out along the coast – and is home to the Sea Turtle Project. If you have time to spare, visit the artistic yet wild Brief Garden. The Bentota area is home to some of the best beaches in all the country. Yet despite the huge number of hotels on these magnificent stretches of sand, the beaches at the southern end of this strip are remarkably empty of people. Feel your stress levels drop under the palm trees and get set to be pampered in one of the area’s boutique hotels.
Langkawi isn’t called the Jewel of Kedah for nothing. Its white-sand beaches, isolated resorts, acclaimed diving and pristine jungles live up to the metaphor. Cheap drinks (Langkawi is duty-free) and a decent restaurant and bar scene provide a hint of party vibe, while activities, such as the famous Panorama Langkawi cable car ride make it a fun place. Kuah is the main town and ferry point, but Langkawi’s beaches are elsewhere. The most developed beach is Pantai Cenang, a lively place to base yourself.
Pokhara has a prime position beside a deep green lake, nestling among forested hills with a backdrop of gleaming Himalayan peaks. The dawn views of Machhapuchhare and Annapurna, mirrored in the calm waters of Phewa Lake or from the town’s hilltop viewpoints, particularly Sarangkot, are simply unforgettable and romantic. The town’s Lakeside is a chilled-out version of Thamel, but with fresh mountain air rather than traffic fumes. Pokhara also has a booming adventure sports industry and is the gateway to the world-famous Annapurna treks.
Ko Samui, Thailand
The Southern Gulf features Thailand’s ultimate island trio: Ko Samui, Ko Pha- Ngan and Ko Tao. This family of spectacular islands lures millions of tourists every year with their powder-soft sands and emerald waters. Ko Samui caters to the high-end visitor and spoils them silly. Ko Samui has the power to grant every tourist their ultimate holiday wish. Stay in Chaweng – the longest and most beautiful beach. When you tire of swimming and sunbathing, explore the inland regions of the island.