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One flight away from Australia: Top 5 holiday spots

From tropical islands to modern metropolises, these are the hottest travel destinations right now.

Reading Time: 5 minutes

 

If you are one with itchy feet, you’ve probably already started scheming your 2024 travel plans. These five countries are trending as hot favourites right now because they are affordable, easy to travel through and just one flight away from mainland Australia.

Vietnam

This S-shaped nation in Southeast Asia is currently drawing crowds of tourists who are keen to experience a mix of old and new. With remnants of its colonial past, the country boasts a vibrant history, lively culture, awe-inspiring natural wonders and excellent food. Accommodation is reasonably priced with ultra-modern facilities. Not to mention, the people are warm and welcoming. And, it’s one flight away!

The best itinerary for first-time visitors would be to start in northern Vietnam at the capital, Hanoi. From there, it’s easy to make a quick trip to Ha Long Bay, famous for its emerald waters and thousands of limestone islands rising from the sea. Further south, Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon, makes for a great third stop. Vietnam’s most iconic attractions include the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Hanoi’s Old Quarter, the War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh and French colonial buildings scattered around the nation. This ensemble is enough to make you fall in love with Vietnam and want to return again and again.

Statue of Ho Chi Minh (Source: Supplied)

Future trips could include visiting gems in the central part of the country like the imperial city of Hue or the charming ancient town of Hoi An, which reflects a fusion of Chinese, Japanese and European influence. If you want to head off the beaten track, Quy Nhon is Vietnam’s undiscovered beach destination, but Da Nang is its more popular neighbour. Also nearby is the UNESCO World Heritage My Son Sanctuary which is home to abandoned ruins of the Hindu Champa dynasty and popular amongst Indian tourists.

Food is sensational throughout the country, with the steaming rice noodle soup Pho not to be missed.

United Arab Emirates

Endless shopping, inspiring food options, and hordes of entertainment make Dubai a perfect holiday destination. Plus, it’s one flight away.

The second-largest city of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) lives with the never-ending desire to build icons, best described with superlatives such as tallest, largest, first, only, and so on. The best example is the Burj Khalifa Tower, the world’s tallest building, where visitors usually drop in first to enjoy a spectacular view of the cityscape before exploring what else is on offer.

Burj Khalifa (Source: Supplied)

A paradise for shopaholics, Dubai boasts avant-garde shopping malls, traditional souks (Arab markets), and bargain-hunting bazaars.

Dubai Mall, the world’s largest shopping arena, and the humongous Mall of Emirates are the front runners. Almost every name brand a person can think of has been ensembled under the roofs of these two shopping centres, where retail therapy is accompanied by thrilling entertainment. While Ski Dubai in the Mall of Emirates offers snow-filled adventures, the Dubai Aquarium inside Dubai Mall draws crowds to its 50-metre-long glass tank to watch the breathtaking diversity of marine life.

No visit to Dubai is complete without a trip to the Gold Souk, the world’s largest gold market, which vaults at least 10 tonnes of the metal at any given time.

New Caledonia

Also one flight away is New Caledonia, known as the Pacific French Riviera, because this island has been under French control since 1853. It’s the perfect destination for those who want a taste of the glitz and glam of Europe without having to fly more than three hours from Australia’s east coast.

Expect to be greeted in French on arrival in the capital Noumea. The feeling of being in a French territory intensifies after reaching the town where billboards and street signs are in the language, Renaults and Peugeots dominate the streets, bakeries display long baguettes, and the aroma of garlic overwhelms the food. Sporting visitors can be seen joining locals in playing pétanque – a popular game in France like bowling.

Nouméa Marina (Source: Supplied)

Besides immersing in New Caledonia’s French culture, there are plenty of things to do, from swimming, snorkelling and sunbathing to touring downtown Noumea where you’ll find museums, monuments and 19th-century colonial architecture. Just a 45-minute ferry ride away, there’s a tropical paradise, Amedee Island, which is home to one of the tallest lighthouses in the world. At 56 metres, the lighthouse was built in France and erected 159 years ago.

Sri Lanka

Yes, if you didn’t now, Sri Lanka is one flight away too. Just off the southern tip of India, the tropical island is drawing global attention. Despite its small size, the nation bears all the marks of a traveller’s paradise, from exotic beaches and exciting wildlife to Buddhist stupas and temples older than 2000 years. Sri Lanka’s rich culture and traditions are influenced by its intriguing history of colonisation by the Portuguese, Dutch and British. The country’s architecture is an eclectic mix of East and West.

The capital Colombo is the best place to start before heading north to explore the ancient cities of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa which are home to relics and stupas. Nearby, you’ll find the popular attractions Dambulla Cave Temple and Sigiriya Rock, ranked by UNESCO as the 8th Wonder of the World. Further south is the coastal city of Galle with remnants of the nation’s colonial settlements. If you’re more interested in tea plantations and Eastern history, head to central Sri Lanka to the former Kingdom of Kandy where ‘Dalada Maligawa‘, the Temple of the Tooth, houses the remains of Lord Buddha’s tooth.

Dagoba, Anuradhapura (Source: Supplied)

Philippines

Often flying under the radar, perhaps becaus emany don’t know it’s one flight away, is the Philippine archipelago in Southeast Asia contains many hidden gems. The capital Manila, which can feel like a Latin American city, has an abundance of attractions to lure tourists including sites of historical significance, ancient monuments, some of Asia’s best shopping opportunities and hotels and resorts to rival some of the finest in the region.

Built on the banks of the Pasig River, Manila was established as a metropolis after the Spanish conqueror Miguel Lopez de Legazpi laid claim to the land in 1571. The Spaniards later built a walled city called Intramuros to live exclusively away from the locals. It’s still a popular tourist attraction. The Philippines is Asia’s only Christian nation with San Augustine Church and the Manila Cathedral drawing huge crowds.

2024 travel
San Augustine Church, Manila (Source: Supplied)

Other notable destinations to check out in this archipelago nation are Boracay and Cebu for relaxing beach holidays.

READ ALSO: Cape York: Touring Australia’s northernmost tip

 

Sandip Hor
Sandip Hor
Writing is a passion for this culturally enthused and historically minded globe trotting freelancer

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