Travel is the only thing you buy in this world that makes you richer and Y has certainly done its fair share this year.
From the plains of Africa to medieval villages, island getaways and everything in between, Y has been all over the globe, discovering new people, places and cultures to provide you with inspiration and advice for future adventures. We hoped you’ve enjoyed the trip as much as we have!
But life is short and the world is wide, meaning that there is still plenty out there for you to discover as we move in 2016. Until then, here are our top five favourite places we’ve visited over the past year. Bon voyage!
It was a very close call, but in the end Vancouver took the win, purely because the Canadian city offers the complete package. From beaches to green spaces, contemporary architecture to a bustling nightlife, Vancouver has it all and more and is a fine example of how modern urban living should be. We particularly enjoyed the 27km of forest trails that weave through Stanley Park and a trip around Gastown, the city’s oldest neighbourhood. Second was Australia’s Whitsunday Islands, where we experienced some of the whitest sand and clearest water known to man. In third place was Belgian city, Bruges, thanks to its enchanting medieval architecture and network of quaint canals.
Each destination is in our top five for different reasons, but the one thing they have in common is that they will all capture your heart and mind, creating memories that will stay with you for many years to come. In Vancouver we got in touch with nature on a cable car up Grouse Mountain followed by some whale watching on Vancouver Island, while the Ngaro Sea Trail on the Whitsunday Islands gave us a fascinating insight into the history of Australia’s aboriginal people, the traditional owners of the area. We loved hiring a bike for a day in Bruges and cycling around the scenic city at our own pace, stopping for a picnic along the way before dropping in to the Absolute Art Gallery for a spot of culture. Chaing Mai spoilt us for choice with more than 300 ancient temples, but it was the intricate architecture of Wat Phra Singh that took our breath away, while in Gotland, a small island off the coast of Sweden, we enjoyed trying our hand at axe throwing at the Tofta Viking Village.
Being on the west coast of Canada, Vancouver is prone to frequent downpours and the modern metropolis can be somewhat costly, so keep an eye on your spending. Overcrowding can be a problem in Bruges during peak season, while the amount of deadly creatures in Australia can put some people off visiting. Tourists are often the targets of low level scams in Thailand and the winters in Gotland can be harsh, so wrap up warm.
Locally sourced gemstones such as jade, amber and quartz make for a great gift in Vancouver, as do bottles of original maple syrup. Belgium is known for its lace and delicate table linens and handkerchiefs, which can be picked up in Bruges for a snip. Gotland is dotted with dozens of pottery studios where you can pick up one-off items and in Chiang Mai, look no further than the night market, where you will find all sorts of curios. One of the best things you can take away from the Whitsundays is a printed canvas of the islands to remind you of your stay in paradise. These are available at Airlie Beach, the hub of the Whitsunday coast and the gateway to the islands.
With 25,000 options when it comes to laying your head at night, Vancouver is certainly not short on accommodation. We recommend urban Hideaway Guesthouse for those on a budget and the five-star boutique Opus Hotel for those in search of luxury. Chiang Mai is a backpacker’s dream with numerous hostels, but if that’s not your scene, you can always check in to the RatiLanna Riverside Spa Resort. Sudersands Semesterby is a family friendly choice that offers camping or fully equipped cottages in Gotland, while Hotel Adornes has a great location along a canal in Bruges. The best way to see the Whitsundays is to take a multiple night cruise with one of the local yacht companies.
2. Whitsunday Islands
4. Chiang Mai