Friday, 26 April 2013

One of the most popular trends in recent years is to book twin or multi centre holidays, and especially so if you can combine sightseeing with a beach stay. I often find that while one person might really want 2 weeks on a beach, the other would go mad at the thought! So a good compromise is 1 week touring and 1 week beach.

Here is a list of the most popular combinations so far in 2013:

1. Kenya Safari and Beach Holiday - after a week on safari, you can fly down to Mombasa where there are a number of excellent hotels at great rates. Or for something extra special Zanzibar is just a little further and a touch more exotic. The Kenya safari lasts 7 nights although there are shorter 4 and 5 night trips, but the 7 night tour uses I think the most exciting lodges and camps. There are a couple of places where you stay 2 nights - the Samburu and the Masai Mara, and in both you stay in really lovely luxury camps run by Ashnil.

2. Istanbul and Turkish Coast - typical is 3 nights in Istanbul plus 7 nights in one of the Turkish beach resorts,   but it's best to pick your beach resort carefully. Give the huge mass market resorts a miss, especially the ones that play host to enormous cruise ships. I much prefer resorts like Kalkan (lots of cafes and restaurants), Akyaka (authentically Turkish), Dalyan (said to be the 'nicest resort', set on a river) or Datca (small with a reasonable choice of restaurants).

3. Jordan Tours - The Dead Sea is perfectly located on the way back to the airport from Petra, and is ideal for a stop of 2 nights or more. There are just a handful of hotels (for now!) with a beach and access to the Dead Sea where you can try the float experience. The touring part of Jordan is usually about 5 days, so if you only have a week then you can still do touring and beach.

4. South Africa - a little awkward because South Africa does not have any resorts to speak of where you can lie by the beach all day sunbathing. Most people combine South Africa with Mauritius or Mozambique, although neither are particularly 'cheap' options.

5. Italy - head down to the Amalfi Coast for a week - you can visit some beautiful towns and villages along the coastline, plus Pompei and Mount Vesuvius near Naples. So there's lots of sightseeing to do. But then you can keep a few days free to do nothing - just make sure you have a hotel that's by the sea.

6. Sri Lanka Tour and Beach Holiday -   very popular at the moment because Sri Lanka is excellent value for money. You can see a lot in a week - elephants in the wild, tea plantations, lakes, temples, caves, the famous Sigiriya Rock, and awesome scenery. There are some cheap and cheerful hotels but also some like the Fortress that have a more boutique style.

7. Thailand - I did this several years ago - Bangkok (4 nights) + Chiang mai (2 nights) + Phuket (6 nights) + Phi Phi (2 nights). If I was to go again, I would stay at the amazing Anantara Golden Triangle Hotel near Chiang Rai - you get to see elephants up close. As ever, choose your island and beach resort carefully. Not all are the idyllic places you see on the postcards.

8. Marrakesh and Essaouira Beach Holidays - typical is 3 nights in Marrakesh and 7 in Essaouira, which by the way is more interesting than Agadir which is more package holiday resort. If you want a trip to the Atlas Mountains then either add an extra day in marrakesh, or even better, stay in one of the wonderful kasbah's like Kasbah Bab Ourika.

9. Egypt - Cairo and Beach twin centre holidays - To see the Pyramids and Sphinx, you only need 2 nights in Cairo (= 1 full day) but to explore in a bit more depth and see the Egyptian Museum then book 3 nights in Cairo. From there, you can fly down to Sharm el Sheikh or Hurghada, so those resorts plus Dahab, El Gouna, and Soma Bay all become possible.

10. Vietnam - One of the most interesting places anywhere in the world is Hoi An, in the centre of Vietnam, and with its own beach, so people often spend an extra few nights here just to relax. But because of the geography of the country (Hoi An is in the centre), this would be in the middle of the holiday. There are several new and exciting hotels opening up - a really excellent choice (cost and quality and interest) is Phu Quoc, a few hours from Saigon.