Strikingly beautiful and bursting with vibrant culture, HELLO! Online brings you five of the most exotic, exciting destinations to visit in 2012
From the shimmering white sands of Thailand and the Maldives to the breath-taking scenery of Sri Lanka’s tea plantations, whatever your exotic fantasy, these alluring destinations are sure to be the next on your travel list.
Visit the mythical country of Thailand for a cultural and relaxing experience. The pearly white beaches of Phuket and the coastal islands of Phi Phi and Koh Samui shower this exotic coastline and create the perfect spot to unwind with a traditional Thai massage. Bustling markets located in the city of Chiang Mai - over 700km northwest of Bangkok, boast over three hundred tranquil temples; an expression of the importance of religion to Thai culture. With such unforgettable adventures ranging from authentic Thai cooking classes to hill tribe treks, set against the back drop of the stunning landscape and authentic culture, Thailand is undoubtedly the perfect exotic holiday haven.
For an eclectic mix of exotic wildlife, culture and scenery – delve no deeper than the spiritual island of Sri Lanka. Don’t miss the Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage that is home to over sixty elephants, or the ancient ruins of Polonnaruwa, boasting over thirty shrines and beautifully preserved buildings. Following a trip to Colombo’s treasure trove markets, you can unwind on the heavenly stretch of Unawatuna Beach. Palm trees tower over the silk-like sand and the aqua sea breaks rhythmically as you relax with a cocktail or traditional Sri Lankan tea from the hillside plantations.
With over one thousand islands scattering the Kornati Archipelago coastline, Croatia is an exotic hub of medieval cities such as Korcula, fantastic beaches, delicious Italian-style cuisine and sparkling sunshine. Disappear down the cobbled streets of the rustic harbour town of Hvar Island – smelling of lavender, olive groves and home to authentic restaurants, bakeries and beach side bars perfect for a smooth glass of wine at sun-down. Whether it’s UNESCO listed towns, the cultural buzz of the ‘Pearl of the Adriatic’, or simply the pull of the clearest waters in Europe, a visit to the striking islands of Croatia will be one you’ll hope to repeat.
A cluster of coral islands nestled off the coast of India present an undeniably exotic, idyllic and inviting coastal retreat. If it is relaxation you seek, there is no better place to sip a refreshing cocktail with turquoise water lapping against your toes, than the white gold sands of the pristine Angsana Ihuru beaches. Island-hop to your destination and discover your own personal paradise. Alternatively delve into the tranquil underwater world of the green sea turtle. For the most enchanting of fantasies, look no further than the Maldives; the jewel in the crown of the Indian Ocean.
As the second largest island in the Mediterranean after Sicily, Sardinia is surrounded by piercing blue waters and steeped in fascinating medieval history. The search for tropical beaches doesn’t equate to a long haul flight so Sardinia is perfect for a short yet exotic break; transporting you to medieval Alghero, the vibrant capital of Cagliari or up-market Costa Smerelda in the North. Geographically closer to Africa than Italy, Sardinia shares the passion for sumptuous food and wine but boasts a coastline which rivals that of the tropics.