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Religious pilgrims have been travelling to Jerusalem for centuries, yet you don’t have to share their zeal in order to appreciate this city’s profound cultural and historical significance. Plan on seeing the major sights, but also leave plenty of time to walk through the streets and simply immerse yourself in the daily life of such an ancient and revered place.
Amman's layered history is reflected in its diverse people and its varied architecture. The city is home to a multidenominational and multicultural population. Even within the midst of the ultra-modern commercial centre, there is evidence of its ancient roots, with colorful souks, Roman ruins, cultural museums and monuments painting a picture of the history of the region.
If the mention of Mykonos doesn’t immediately bring to mind bright white buildings, turquoise skies and tanned bodies lining golden sandy beaches, you’ve been living under a rock. The most popular Greek Island in the Aegean Sea is all about energy and attracts a diverse and upscale crowd that thrives on its stylish nightlife. During the day some privacy can be had in the more secluded north beaches, but the south beaches are all party. Ski, jet-ski, windsurf, horseback ride, parasail or just save up your energy for the evening ahead, like most of your fellow travellers in Mykonos.
Lying at the heart of Norway’s Western Fjord area, Hordaland is home to culturally rich Bergen, the country’s second largest city. Hardangerfjord, Norway’s second-longest fjord (and the third-longest in the world), is here too, and cruising along its scenic 110 miles is a top area activity. Leirvik, the second-biggest town in Hordaland, has the interesting open-air Sunnhordland Folk Museum. Set atop one of the country’s biggest glaciers, Folgefonna National Park has a popular summer ski center.
You could spend your whole Chiang Mai holiday exploring the famous Night Bazaar. Once you’ve exhausted the art of the cheerful haggle, however, there’s plenty more to explore. The National Museum and Botanic Garden are great places to soak up some local culture and to breathe in the delicate fragrance of Thai orchids. In the city’s centre, the remains of ancient walls embrace over 30 temples. Limber travellers can climb 300 stairs to Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep, an ornate Buddhist temple in the hills.
Bangkok is full of exquisitely decorated Buddhist temples—as you go from one to the next you’ll be continually blown away by the craftsmanship and elabourate details. But if you’d rather seek enlightenment in a gourmet meal, or dance the night away, you’ll also enjoy Bangkok—the restaurant and nightclub scenes here are among the best in the world.
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.
The charming Vietnamese capital has aged well, preserving the Old Quarter, monuments and colonial architecture, while making room for modern developments alongside. Hanoi may have shrugged off several former names, including Thang Long, or "ascending dragon", but it hasn't forgotten its past, as sites such as Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum and Hoa Lo Prison attest. Lakes, parks, shady boulevards and more than 600 temples and pagodas add to the appeal of this city, which is easily explored by taxi.