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The village cluster of Ubud is the ideal place to try a famed Balinese massage and soak up the ambiance of one of Asia’s top spa destinations. Acupressure, reflexology, stretching and aromatherapy star in the island's distinctively firm massage treatments. Ubud is also the vivacious centre of Bali’s arts scene, home to a small treasure trove of museums and galleries. Monkey around at nearby nature reserve Monkey Forest Park, home to hundreds of mischievous long-tailed macaques. Don’t miss the valley of tomb cloisters at Gunung Kawi.
Bali is a living postcard, an Indonesian paradise that feels like a fantasy. Soak up the sun on a stretch of fine white sand, or commune with the tropical creatures as you dive along coral ridges or the colorful wreck of a WWII war ship. On shore, the lush jungle shelters stone temples and mischievous monkeys. The “artistic capital” of Ubud is the perfect place to see a cultural dance performance, take a batik or silver-smithing workshop, or invigorate your mind and body in a yoga class.
Home to Bali International Airport, Denpasar is usually overlooked by visitors flocking to Bali’s beaches. For those who stick around, this culture-rich city serves up ornate temples and some of the island's most authentic Balinese food.
The postcard-perfect beaches of Sanur are truly idyllic, the realization of all those daydreams about Bali beach vacations. More laid-back than neighboring vacation destinations, Sanur is the type of place where hip Europeans who have outgrown the party scene come to recharge. Every year, the endless blue skies are peppered with flecks of vibrant color during the International Kite Festival.
Low-key Legian is the picture of relaxation. Just about the only action the beach gets is from the evening fire spinners, whose quick hands pass orange balls of light through the sky. Surfers, body boarders and sunbathers share the calm sands happily. There are plenty of markets, cafes and restaurants to satisfy your cravings for merchandise and meals. If you itch to mingle with locals, you might be able to join in the game of football that happens nightly on Blue Ocean Beach.
Kuta boasts the best beaches in Bali, a five-mile stretch of clean sand that is a magnet for surfers and sunbathers. When that golden sun goes down, the animals come out—the party animals, that is. Kuta nightlife is almost frantic, as global tourists bounce from restaurant to nightclub in an effort to soak up the Kuta experience like a well-dressed sponge.
Nusa Dua is a hotbed of luxurious accommodations, golf resorts, fine dining and R&R. Surfing and diving are popular activities for more active visitors to this beach destination. Trek up the many steps to Mother Temple Besakih and combine sight-seeing with muscle toning. An array of spas, galleries and boutiques await those who prefer less exertion. Local Barong performances can be admired at Batubulan.
If it were located anywhere else in the world, Lombok would be on everyone’s bucket list. But because it’s just east of Bali, fewer people have heard of its secluded coves, endless string of cream-coloured beaches, and waterfalls crashing through its impossibly lush foliage. Fine with us, because that means it’s also less crowded. You can spot wild macaques in the trees of Baun Pusak or float with the green and hawksbill turtles around Gili Meno without feeling like there’s a line behind you. This Indonesian island has a high point that Bali can’t match: Mount Rinjani, an active volcano with a massive lake inside its caldera. An early morning hike lets you watch the sun rise over the sea.
Bogor is near enough to Jakarta to be a suburb but is also the third largest city in Indonesia and was once capital of the Sunda Kingdom. The city is at a slightly higher elevation than Jakarta and so offers a respite from the high temperatures and humidity of the city. With a world renowned botanical garden and a presidential palace (including massive herds of tiny deer), Bogor offers enough attractions to be worthy of a side trip of several days. Bogor is renowned for having a wide variety of cuisine and also offers golf courses, tennis and other recreational activities.
Forested hills, romantic white-sand beaches and crystal-clear waters greet visitors to tropical Palau Langkawi, the largest of the 99 islands in Langkawi archipelago. Known mysteriously as "Legendary Island" because of myths associated with its ancient geological formations, it drifts serenely alongside Malaysia in the azure Andaman Sea. Sample local cuisine at the night markets, hike to dramatic waterfalls or dive into an underwater marine park to take a guided glimpse at life beneath the sea.
Phuket offers a rainbow spectrum of spectacular holiday sights from blue lagoons and pink sunsets to orange-robed monks. Three wheeled-Tuk Tuks, taxis, buses and long tailed boats transport visitors between these marvels. Phuket's south coast offers its most popular beaches. The north is more tranquil. Koh Phi Phi, Phang Nga Bay and Patong Beach are popular spots. Diving, snorkeling, wind surfing and sailing are just a few active options. Inland, forested hills, mountains and cliffs wait to be explored.
Lovely, laid-back Melbourne has something for everyone: family fare, local and international art, haute boutiques, multicultural dining, Australian and Aboriginal history, spectator sports, and pulsing, swanky nightlife. Cruise on the free City Circle Tram loop to check out unique attractions like the Royal Botanical Gardens and the Healesville Sanctuary, which buzzes with local animal species.
Want to make your co-workers insanely jealous? Just casually drop "I’m holiday making in the Maldives this year" into conversation, preferably in the dead of winter. Or better yet, go there without mentioning it to anyone—then send them a "Wish you were here!" postcard.
Mauritius is arguably Africa’s wealthiest destination, a tropical paradise with tons to do. Port Louis, the modern capital of this 38-mile by 29-mile island, is a bustling port with a revitalized waterfront and a busy market. But most visitors gravitate toward resort areas such as Mont Choisy, quiet Trou-aux-Biches and the more bustling Flic en Flac, popular with scuba divers. Rivière Noire is ideal for those looking for great deep-sea fishing.
Dubai is a destination that mixes modern culture with history, adventure with world-class shopping and entertainment. Catch a show at the Dubai Opera, see downtown from atop the Burj Khalifa and spend an afternoon along Dubai Creek exploring the gold, textile and spice souks. If you’re looking for thrills, you can float above the desert dunes in a hot air balloon, climb aboard a high-speed ride at IMG Worlds of Adventure or skydive over the Palm Jumeirah.