Chinese New Year is around the corner, and is celebrated the world over. As the sun sets on the Year of the Pig, we're taking a look at the best destinations to see in the Year of the Rat.
As the Year of the Rat is set to be filled with wealth, abundance and new beginnings, there's lots to look forward to over the next 12 months.
From the snowcapped Himalayas to New Zealand's vast plains, these are the best places to travel for Chinese New Year.
As a country, the way India moves you is simply incredible. Every day is an adventure in this incredible country – a place to discover religion, colour, and soul, as if for the very first time. The seventh biggest country in the world and the second most populous, India can sometimes feel more like a continent than a country. From the snow-capped Himalayas in the far north to the lush waters of the south, this is a place where landscapes and cultures change in the blink of an eye. India is at once chaotic and noisy, peaceful and calm and it is this diversity that makes it such a fascinating and compelling destination.
India is one of the world’s oldest civilisations, its culture shaped by thousands of years of history. It gave birth to some of the world’s most prominent religions and is a country where life is lived out in hundreds of local dialects. Its soil was home to several ruling dynasties, each of whom left their mark. Every corner of the country reveals a different reflection on the past, from great Mughal masterpieces such as the Taj Mahal to quaint colonial churches and grand palaces built during the reign of the British Raj. India’s mystical charm and centuries of culture make it the perfect destination for a Chinese New Year getaway.
From stunning hikes to archaeological wonders, Peru is a country rich in culture and natural beauty, with plenty of opportunity for adventure. It’s known for its world-class gastronomy and the food is reason enough to travel there! Travelling in Peru is a truly magnificent experience and one which will leave you in awe in so many ways. Take in the Imperial City of Cusco, with its colourful carnival atmosphere, Spanish colonial buildings and ancient Incan temples. Start here on a descent into the Sacred Valley, where a wealth of archaeological treasure awaits.
Trek the Inca trail through cloud forests, jungle, and twisting Andean mountain passes to reach the Incan citadel of Machu Picchu, an extraordinary complex of temples, palaces and storehouses. Unravel the enigma of the Nazca Lines from a hot-air balloon; discover the mud city of Chan Chan, built by Chimú people before the Incas arrived; and marvel at the 5,000-year-old Sacred City of Caral-Supe ruins out in the desert sands. Even in Peru’s most modern city, Lima, there’s a UNESCO-listed historic quarter among the boutique hotels, designer stores and smart restaurants.
3) Sri Lanka
The island nation of Sri Lanka might be small, but beyond its Indian Ocean-lapped shores you’ll find a country of startling beauty and genuine warmth. Cinnamon and spices brought traders to Ceylon from around the world – first the Portuguese, followed by the Dutch, who fortified the ports of Colombo and Galle, before the British arrived for the tea. This history has lent Sri Lanka a diverse culture, reflected in the country’s cuisine and architecture. It is home to hundreds of miles of palm-lined beaches, rolling hills of verdant tea plantations punctuated with nimble-fingered pickers, millennia-old temples sat alongside faded colonial mansions and ancient forests where herds of elephants roam.
Hindu and Buddhist kingdoms date back thousands of years, gloriously preserved at UNESCO World Heritage Sites such as Kandy, Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa, the area between which is known as the Cultural Triangle. It is an island with swathes of wilderness and some fine safari, whether it’s leopard spotting in Yala National Park, or encountering herds of elephant, surviving here in a higher density than anywhere else in Asia, in remote parks such as Gal Oya. Birders will be in their element with over 400 different types of birds to spot, while whales and dolphins populate the island’s warm coastal waters, and five of the world’s seven turtle species come to nest in Sri Lankan sand.
4) South Africa
Land in South Africa’s oldest city – Cape Town – and be intoxicated by its nature and beauty. Surrounded by mountains and lush, green hills, the city has a surprisingly calming effect on anyone who walks its beautiful streets. Cape Town has recently opened the biggest contemporary art museum Zeitz Museum of Contemporary African Art, cementing the city’s status as an art destination in its own right
After spending a few days taking in the city’s superlative food and wine scenes, take an exclusive Harley Davidson ride to a winery as you enjoy fine wines and cuisine in the Winelands, before heading to Kruger National Park to spot the Big Five on a luxury safari. Check out this 10-day itinerary showing you the best of South Africa.
5) New Zealand
Escape to the other side of the world and discover this small country that packs a punch with rugged coastlines, pristine beaches, snow-capped mountain ranges and bubbling geysers. Add world-class cuisine and an endearing culture and it’s no surprise those who visit New Zealand are quick to fall in love with it. The country’s two main islands are dramatically diverse, the less inhabited but larger south is home to striking lakes, epic alpine ranges, remarkable marine and birdlife and rugged coastlines. The north is rich in Maori and European culture and is home to miles of sandy beaches, surfing, verdant vineyards, thermal reserves and the country’s cosmopolitan cities of Auckland and Wellington.
A bucket list country for any lover of the outdoors, New Zealand has some of the world’s best hiking and with a population of just 4.6 million it’s easy to get a piece of this spectacular scenery all to yourself. Discover one of its nine ‘Great Walks’ or simply head out into its easily accessible wilderness to kayak tranquil inlets, hike through native bush alive with birdsong or take your pick of the endless secluded beaches. Its diverse environment is a playground for adrenaline junkies who come here in pursuit of white water rafting, skiing, caving, canyoning, skydiving, paragliding and bungee jumping.