The 10 Best Long Haul Holidays for 2019
Our collection of long-haul destinations combine culture, history, wildlife, sumptuous cuisine, a dose of tropical sunshine, and a truly luxurious flair. Explore the cultural delights of Vietnam or Burma, relax on some of the world’s best beaches in the Maldives or discover the winter sports in Japan… Browse our suggestions for long-haul holidays below, and do contact us for further inspiration or advice.
1). Cape Town, South Africa
Winter is the perfect time to escape to the blue skies and city buzz of Cape Town, an oceanfront paradise that ticks all the boxes. Stay in style at the iconic Grande Dame, Belmond Mount Nelson or the sleek and sexy, privately-owned Ellerman House. The city has a vibrant arts scene from the astonishing Zeitz-Mocaa, celebrating Africa’s shining talents, to local hotspots such as the street art in the boho Woodstock neighbourhood (also home to the hip Saturday Neighbourhoods Market). On the city’s doorstep is the diving haven of False Bay called the ‘Serengeti of the Seas’ with its breathtaking array of marine life. The cluster of towns around the bay are worth exploring too, including the picturesque Simon's Town, with its Victorian buildings and The Salty Sea Dog, one of the best fish and chip shops south of anywhere! The beautiful Winelands are just over an hour's drive away too, and make for the perfect spot to sample some of the country's finest wines at a slower pace of life. Explore the very best this country has to offer on our Gourmet South Africa itinerary.
2). Namibia, Southern Africa
A place of haunting landscapes, vast panoramas and remote but achingly stylish eco-resorts, Namibia is the country on everyone's lips right now. Discover the heartbeat of the world in the oldest known desert, the Namib and revel in the utter ‘otherness’ of this mysterious land. The Damaraland region and Etosha National Park offer unique chances to glimpse black and white rhino, as well as the globe’s largest population of free-roaming cheetahs along with giraffes. The Skeleton Coast is a place of shipwrecks, flamingos and wild Atlantic vistas. The north of the country brings a chance to interact with the semi-nomadic Himba tribe and their crafts. Start at the bustling capital of Windhoek, staying at a miniature castle, Heinitzburg, built by a German aristocrat for his bride, then dive into safari at Okonjima Private Bush Suite in Damaraland and the Sossusvlei Desert Lodge for champagne in the desert sands under the stars. Namibia is remarkably child friendly too, and makes for the perfect family holiday option.
3). Kalahari, South Africa
There is so much more to the Kalahari than bushmen and barren scrubland. Come here to experience burnt-orange and crimson sunsets, gushing waterfalls and unrivalled game - in short, the Africa you have always read about. The Witsand Nature Reserve is the place to try out sand boarding on the dunes and be silenced by the singing of the sands in the winds - a hauntingly beautiful sound, unlike anything found elsewhere. The Green Kalahari is home to native wines of the Mighty Orange River, and the Tswalu Kalahari, South Africa’s largest private game reserve, protecting over 110,000 hectares of scenic grasslands and mountains, and is home to a number of luxurious accommodation choices which are scattered throughout the reserve.
4). Winter Sports in Hokkaidō, Japan
Hokkaidō is Japan laid bare, with 20% of the country's land but only 5% of its population. Electric-blue lakes, ancient forests and mineral-rich hot springs, the soul and body blossoms with new-found vitality here. Then comes the winter season (December-February) and Hokkaidō becomes an Oriental Narnia with pristine powder snow creating a wonderland for winter sports. International level resorts include Niseko and Rusutsu with both skiing and snowboarding well-catered for, the average snowfall being 15 metres! February brings the celebrated Sapporo Snow Festival with its impressive and intricate ice-sculptures.
5). Mumbai, North India
Mumbai is the New York of the East. It dreams, it’s both rich and poverty-stricken, it thrills and educates, it's just a 9 hour flight (perfect for a long weekend!), and it definitely never sleeps. India’s financial and cultural powerhouse, home to Bollywood, nightlife, temples and beaches. To come here is to step into a balmy spectacle. Check into the legendary Taj Mahal Palace for a hit of luxury in prime location opposite the Gateway of India. The hotel has hosted royalty (The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge stayed here in the Sheesh Mahal Suite), film stars and statesmen. Take a boat from nearby Colaba Harbour to the rock-cut temples of Elephanta Island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. On dry land, Bandra, known as ‘Queen of the Suburbs’ is a cool enclave of hipster bars, art galleries and fantastic restaurants. Finish the day with dinner at hot Mumbai restaurant, The Table and cocktails by the swimming pool at the Taj Mahal Palace.
6). Bali, Indonesia
Bali is the ultimate tropical escape. White-sand beaches, paddy fields, untouched villages and gorgeous boutique hotels. With an estimated 10,000 temples, the island has myriad ceremonies, festivals, traditional music and dance to experience. The tallest peak, Gunung Agung is Bali's spiritual centre. From the colourful markets of Kuta to the barefoot luxury of Seminyak and Kerobokan, and the culture of Ubud with its art galleries and dance shows, Bali has every element for the perfect long-haul holiday. The Balinese are a truly warm and hospitable people, defined by their Hindu faith. Stay at Alila Villas Uluwatu, on Bali's southernmost tip, poised on the rugged limestone cliffs with dramatic views over the ocean, or the unmissable Amandari in Ubud, which overlooks natural forests and an emerald green cascade of rice paddies.
7). The Maldives - some of the best beaches in the world!
The Indian Ocean paradise of the Maldives is a place for a holiday of a lifetime. Boasting arguably the best beaches in the world the Maldives has the softest, whitest sand and the most azure waters to be found anywhere on globe. Add to this that every resort in the Maldives is a private island, making this group of islands the ultimate luxury destination. The diving and snorkelling is unrivalled: explore splendid caves, corals and in the deeper waters, even the world's largest fish, the whale shark (best seen at South Ari Atoll, a Protected Marine Area). Find your own desert island experience at the super luxurious Cocoa Island. Part of the COMO hotel group and only a thirty minute speedboat ride from Male airport, this tiny island has elegant suites, spa treatments, game fishing and romantic dining. A perfect honeymoon or anniversary retreat. The world's first underwater spa can also be experienced at the decadent Huvafen Fushi with its infinity pool and excellent wine cellar.
8). Laos, Southeast Asia
Laos is one of the Southeast Asia's most fascinating and beautiful destinations. It has a laid-back, lost-in-time atmosphere that makes for a relaxing long-haul holiday. The mighty Mekong River is the country's artery, and it is a memorable experience to follow the sacred river’s route. From the green mountains of the north to the islands of the south, there is so much to explore. Colonial French architecture, Buddhist monasteries, colourful mountain tribes, night markets... the list is endless. The capital Vientiane is a sleepy city with its French bistros, temples and Pho restaurants. Venture inland to the much-loved UNESCO protected town of Luang Prabang and spend an afternoon at Kuang Si falls, one of the most enchanting in all of Asia, visit a bear sanctuary or head out into the countryside to an organic rice farm. The nearby Amantaka is a luxury boutique hotel on a gracious estate. Close to the Governor's Palace and the Mekong River, Amantaka has redefined the concept of luxury in this charming town. Or bliss out at the indulgent and brand-new Rosewood Luang Prabang. An authentic Asia is waiting to be found.
9). Burma (Myanmar), Southeast Asia
‘This is Burma', praised Rudyard Kipling. ‘It will be quite unlike any land you know about.’ Myanmar, as it is now formally known, still carries a seductive charm for visitors who enjoy remote and cultural adventure. Sights include hot-air ballooning over the 4,000 sacred stupas scattered across the plains of Bagan, Golden Rocks and the dolphins of the Irrawaddy River. Stay at the Belmond Governor's Residence in Yangon. A colonial relic transformed into a cool oasis luxury hotel, lit at night by candles and bamboo torches. Belmond also have a luxurious cruise on the Irrawaddy River to Mandalay furnished with beautiful Burmese fabrics, gleaming teak wood and jade tiles. Those in search of off-grid discoveries can head to the the intriguing port town of Kawthaung in the south, where privately chartered yachts can be taken to the vast Mergui Archipelago, home to the newest addition to the eco-luxury hotel scene, Wa Ale Resort, with its paradise reeds and local Moken people, also called sea gypsies.
10). Vietnam, Southeast Asia
From the limestone islands of Halong Bay to the street food and nightlife of Hanoi and the most astonishing caves in the world at Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, Vietnam, one of the last communist states left in the world, is a country of extremes. A true Southeast Asia escape, 'The Land of the Blue Dragon' is a destination filled with culture, adventure, folklore and foodie trails. There is something for everyone; adrenaline-junkies can motorbike up the hair-raising Hai Van Pass or kite surf on the turquoise waves of Mui Ne. Urban thrills can be found in the French colonial-era capital of Hanoi and the skyscrapers and cocktail bars of Ho Chi Minh. Cruise on luxurious vessel Paradise Peak through the waters of Halong Bay and venture up to the largest spa in the country, Fusion Maia near Danang City. Names are as evocative as the landscapes here: The Marble Mountains, the World Heritage sites of My Son Sanctuary and the Imperial City of Hue. Amanoi is a serene retreat on the southern coast and rightly called 'pared-down perfection'.