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Where To Go Next Month: The March Edit

Rain, rain and more rain makes March a dull month. But there’s nothing like an escape to warmer climes before the spring is ushered in.

Whether its island-hopping, window-shopping, wine-sipping or day-tripping, we’ve got you covered for a whole month of exciting excursions. Read on to find out where in the world is best to see in March, from Vietnam’s chaotic capital city and spectacular natural wonders to the fabulous film locations of laid-back Malta, lets make the calendar’s seemingly most forgettable month a thing of the past!

New Zealand

If you are seriously feeling the winter blues, why not take a trip away as far as you can go. The opposite side of the world is flourishing at this time of year, and no where is more spectacular than New Zealand’s northern region.

Auckland is the country’s cosmopolitan centre. A beautiful city perched on the waterfront, it is very walkable and dotted with pretty parks, hipster cafés and unusual clothing boutiques. Thrill seekers will enjoy taking the lift up the sky tower to the glass-floored observation deck where you can people-watch from 60 floors up!

Three hours to the north of the city is the breathtaking Bay of Islands. These seemingly untouched inlets of clear shallow water and white sand beaches are flanked by rolling hills – think of Cornish coves and grassy knolls with the colour contrast turned up a few notches!

Stay in the cute town of Paihia, the ideal base for setting off on sailing, snorkelling and swimming adventures in the impossibly blue waters. We recommend a night-kayaking excursion around the sheltered rocky outcrops where you can spot glistening blooms of bioluminescent planktons beneath the water’s surface – a true wonder of nature! Lucky travellers may even see dolphins and orca whales breaking the waves in this region.

Waiheke island just off Auckland’s coast is a worthwhile day trip too. Take the ferry to the island’s western side and rent a little jeep or buggy to zip about the island in. Mid-way through the island, the tarmac stops and the roads become dirt tracks, leading through lush forest hill trails and to secret bays. Park up and don the hiking boots for some spectacularly scenic rural respite.

While summer is beginning to peter out in March, the days remain long, warm and quieter without the high season’s throng of tourists.

Sri Lanka

The teardrop shaped country is totally in vogue. Pick up any glossy magazine and they’ll all tell you that Sri Lanka is the destination to travel to in 2019. The ever-green isle is ideal any time of year, but we’ve chosen March as the best time to go for the least chance of rainy skies.

If you can draw yourself away from the picture postcard beaches of the south coast, with swaying palms and crystalline sand, then the hilltop tea plantations of the country’s rugged interior will take your breath away. The sacred city of Kandy is well worth a stopover, with its beautiful lake in the centre and buddhist temple said to hold Buddha’s tooth, and Sigiriya is home to the country’s most famous landmark – Lion Rock.

In the country’s south east you’ll find the incredible Yala National Park. The jungle region is a haven of wildlife, home to a vast range of flora and fauna such as elephants, leopards, monkeys crocodiles, sloth bears and bird species. As March is the driest season, you have the best opportunities of seeing the animals as they venture out to watering holes.

Remnants from the country’s British, Portuguese and Dutch colonial heritage are remarkably well preserved in Sri Lanka, and a visit wouldn’t be complete without a stay in a rural plantation retreat with pretty wooden terraces wrapped around the villa – the perfect setting to sip tea and lazily watch the world go by.

The principal city, Colombo, couldn’t be more different. A whirlwind of frenetic energy, scents and colours, the city is famed for its cuisine – a delicious blend of South Indian flavours with Malay and Portuguese influence and distinctive fruity touches.

Dodging tuktuks, scooters and even elephants in the labyrinthine streets is quite typical of this city’s constant bustle.

Vietnam

A whirlwind of colour, noise, and tastes, Vietnam, as a whole, is truly an onslaught on the senses. From vibrant metropolises to captivating natural beauty, Vietnam has it all.

The country’s capital Hanoi is a melting pot of culture. Its narrow, moped-packed streets play host to countless delectable restaurants and cafés and fascinating museums and architecture. The city is dotted with beautiful, park-edged lakes, most notable of which is Hoan Kiem with its pagoda island and bright red Huc bridge. Legend has it that giant turtles lived in the lake, but they are largely thought to no longer exist here. The museum on the island showcases a supposedly real, preserved giant turtle that measures nearly 2 metres in length.

A two hour drive to the east will take you to the spectacular Ha Long bay. A huge archipelago of 1,600 prehistoric limestone pillars and islets rising out of the emerald Gulf of Tonkin, the glorious image of these tree-topped chips of rock is what everyone sees when they picture Vietnam. The vast area is now a protected Unesco World Heritage Site and is like nowhere else on Earth.

Expedition boats head out each day from Ha Long town in stunning flotillas, most of which include a mouth-watering seafood lunch onboard. A day exploring Ha Long Bay is totally unmissable when venturing to Vietnam.

Costa Rica

This tiny nation packs an incredible wealth of diverse scenery between its borders. Situated in the narrow tail of land that links North and South America, the Costa Rica enjoys Pacific and Caribbean climates and weather systems and is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world. Its also a volcanic hotspot, creating the fertile lands that it owes its fascinating nature to.

The Monteverde Cloud Forest is top of the list on a trip to Costa Rica. Home to the famous Arenal volcano, the biological preserve’s wildlife is fiercely protected. Luckily there is a wealth of options for guided tours and activities including hiking and white-water rafting. Leave inhibitions behind with a white-knuckle zip-line ride through the forest canopy for those looking for true adventure.

Those who seek a more leisurely pace of life will be spoilt for choice of beautiful white or black sand beaches to while away the day on. Costa Rican coffee is known around the world, and there are countless, stunning plantations that give tours and tastings and educate enthusiasts.

The country’s two coasts are edged with exceptional places to stay. In Costa Rica there is a great emphasis put on eco-tourism, and most hotels and resorts are built from beautiful natural materials, cleverly reduce waste and aim to give back to their natural surroundings.

South Africa

March in South Africa is ideal. The heat of summer is beginning to wane and exploring the nature and cities is particularly pleasant right now. Cape Town’s annual carnival happens in March and the city comes alive with song and dance inspired by the huge variety of indigenous people and their different customs and costume. The city is known as a super modern foodie hub and is making quite a name for itself with exceptional concept hotels and boutique places to stay.

Just east of the city is South Africa’s breathtaking wine region. The hills criss-cross with vineyards peppered with sumptuous, colonial-style winery estates, many of which double up as B&Bs and offer wine tastings and tours. The historic towns of Stellenbosch and Franschoek are well worth a days shopping and cafe-hopping.

Further to the east again lies the enchanting Garden Route. This infamous stretch of plains and forests is thoroughly awe-inspiring, dotted with little traditional villages and fishing ports, broken up with pristine white-sand beaches perfect for surfing. You might even be joined in the waves by pods of playful dolphins!

Make the time to stop off for walks among the nature where you can get happily lost among the impressive and wildlife-rich forests of Knysa and Tsitsikamma. Drive safe, as buffalo roam free over the roads that cross the plains, although they’ll likely only lift a lazy head to consider you as you zip by.

A convertible is best to enjoy the endless sky along the shimmering coast. The Garden Route leads a fascinating 750km all the way to Port Elizabeth where you can end the trip and fly back to super-chic Cape Town.

Malta

Malta is quite simply the jewel of the Mediterranean. Its capital, Valletta is an architectural gem, with narrow hilly streets and pretty apartment blocks with intricate wooden verandas that protrude overhead, giving glorious views over the harbour. The harbour has many inlets, beautiful for strolling around and listening to the gentle clink of sails against masts that line the water’s edge. The town has been an important sea port through history from Phoenician times.

The historic cities of Vittoriosa, Senglea and Cospicua, with their neighbouring peninsulas that jut out into the harbour have grown over time to form Valletta. The Grand Master’s Palace and the megalithic temples of Hagar Qim are among the town’s principal attractions.

Its highly recommended to hire a car a drive around the the islands giving the freedom to explore, hopping on the ferries that link Malta to the smaller Gozo and hunting out hidden coves and deserted trails.

The islands have been the setting for numerous Hollywood blockbuster including Gladiator and and Troy, with the rugged back drops stepping in for ancient Greece and Rome. The islands’ relative obscurity also makes it ideal for actors to blend in.

A float around in the turquoise shallows of the Blue Lagoon is a must. The lagoon lays between the miniature island of Comino and its even more miniature sister island of Cominotto. Make sure not to miss the stunning sunsets over the Dingli Cliffs not far from the Blue Grotto.

The archipelago has a very unique cuisine that combines Italian and British influences with its own local spin. Make sure to hunt out the best Pastizzi, a filo pastry baked with ricotta cheese or mushy peas. Wash it down with a Kinnie, a refreshing soda that uses chinotto bitter oranges, spices and herbs only found in the region.

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