Best Countries for Spring Travel, by Ted Cookson

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BEST COUNTRIES FOR SPRING TRAVEL

by Ted Cookson
Published in January 2006
Eight-gun salute during sail away from Valletta, Malta harbor, 112-second video clip
Casablanca, Morocco dancers and musicians, 59-second video clip

Aerial view of Sydney Harbor, 37-second video clip
Panorama of Sydney's Circular Quay, 31-second video clip
Harbor ferries at Sydney's Circular Quay, 31-second video clip
Sydney Opera House, Sydney Harbor Bridge & Sydney Harbor, 32-second video clip
Wallaby at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary in Brisbane, 30-second video clip
Melbourne's free tourist tram, 20-second video clip

Singapore Panorama from roof of Fullerton Hotel #1, 55-second video clip
Singapore panorama from roof of Fullerton Hotel #2, 35-second video clip
Singapore Harbor, 50-second video clip
Courtyard of Singapore's Raffles Hotel, 22-second video clip

 

Still wondering where to take a holiday this spring?  From the point of view of climate, spring is the best time to visit fifteen different countries.  Five of these countries, situated in the Middle East, Europe and North Africa, are relatively close to Egypt.  Of the other ten countries, three are long-haul destinations in Africa while the other seven are long-haul destinations in Asia plus Australia.


FIVE NEARBY DESTINATIONS:

JORDAN:
  Although it can be visited year-round, the very best months for visiting Jordan are April and October.  The primary tourist site is Petra in the south.  The second most interesting site is Jerash, the ruins of a Roman-era city some 75 minutes north of the capital of Amman.  When driving the old, winding Kings' Highway connecting Amman and Petra, tourists can stop off en route at Madaba, Mt. Nebo and Kerak.  The oldest map of Palestine is drawn in mosaic on the floor of a church at Madaba.  The Biblical site of Mt. Nebo features a mosaic museum and an overlook of the Dead Sea, while Kerak sports a well-preserved Crusader-era castle.

MALTA:  Best visited from April to June and in September-October, this island republic combines the best of the United Kingdom and Italy.  In fact, lying near Sicily as it does, Malta is best combined with a visit to a second country such as Italy in a week-long holiday.  Air Malta, the only airline offering nonstop flights between Cairo and the capital of Valletta, only flies twice a week at inconvenient hours.  The airfare, say, from Cairo to Catania, Sicily via Malta with a stop in Malta en route, is less than the airfare to Malta via Italy on Alitalia.  The highlight in Malta for the tourist is undoubtedly the well-preserved Crusader-era architecture. 

MOROCCO:  The prime months for visiting Morocco are April and September-October.  Although scenic and exotic Marrakesh is the best-known tourist destination, the ancient city of Fes is equally enticing.  Meknes and Volubilis, both near Fes, offer Islamic architecture and Roman-era ruins, respectively.

RUSSIA:  The best time to visit Moscow and St. Petersburg is from May to September.  Austrian Airlines operates flights via Vienna which allow tourists to fly into Moscow and out of St. Petersburg, or vice-versa.  Moscow's tourist highlights are the Kremlin and Red Square while St. Petersburg boasts the world-renowned Hermitage Museum, housed in the czars' former winter palace.  If flying Aeroflot nonstop from Cairo, Moscow is only two hours' flying time due north!

TURKEY:  The best months for Turkey are April-May and September-October.  Istanbul is simply overflowing with the remnants of the grand capital of the Ottoman Empire.  In addition, there are wonderful Classical ruins both north and south of Izmir on the Turkish Aegean coast.  Ephesus is of course the most famous.  But Bergama, 90 minutes north of Izmir, and Priene, Miletus and Didyma, all south of Izmir, provide wonderful day trips from a base in Izmir or from the much smaller, nearby port of Kusadasi.  Cappadocia, situated on the Anatolian plateau and with its multi-layered underground cities and unique fairy chimneys, is accessible by car from Ankara or from the smaller, closer airport at Keyseri.


THREE LONG-HAUL DESTINATIONS IN AFRICA:

BOTSWANA: 
The dry season for viewing game stretches from April to October, with September being the very best month.  Botswana's gem is the game-rich Okavango Delta, one of the world's largest inland oases.  This country is often combined with visits to Zambia to see Victoria Falls or to South Africa to visit Cape Town.

SEYCHELLES:  Best visited from May to October, this island republic lying off the coast of Kenya contains some of the world's most beautiful beaches.  In the Seychelles large granite boulders form a unique, picturesque backdrop to the pristine white sand, creating images worthy of posters which could be displayed in any travel agency window.

ZAMBIA:  As is the case for Botswana, the dry season for game viewing is from April to October.  In addition to its large game reserves of Luangwa and Kafue, Zambia also boasts world-famous Victoria Falls, called "mosi-oa'tunya" in the local language, "the smoke that thunders."  The reference is to the clouds of mist given off by these world-class falls which were discovered by David Livingstone.


SEVEN LONG-HAUL DESTINATIONS IN ASIA PLUS AUSTRALIA:

AUSTRALIA: 
The two best seasons for visiting Australia are March to May and September to November.  Sydney is at its best from September to May whereas Melbourne is best from November to March.  With so much to offer tourists, Australia's highlights include the very urban Sydney and Melbourne plus Ayers Rock in the interior and the Great Barrier Reef in the northeastern state of Queensland.

CHINA:  The prime months for visiting China in general are April-May and September-October.  China's tourist highlights include:  Beijing with its Great Wall and Forbidden City; the sprawling port of Shanghai with its unique early twentieth-century European architecture; Xi'an with its terra-cotta warriors; Guilin where tourists take a day-long Li River cruise past scenic karst formations; and Chengdu with its pandas.  The best time for visiting Hong Kong is from March to May and from September to December.

JAPAN:  The best months to visit Japan are from April to May and also October.  While not visited often by tourists from Egypt, the metropolis of Tokyo, the gardens and shrines of Kyoto and the nearby ancient capital of Nara are among the many highlights of Japan.

MALAYSIA:  Best visited from March to September, Malaysia's tourist highlights include shopping in the very modern Kuala Lumpur, beach resorts on such islands as Langkawi and the remnants of British colonial architecture in Penang.  The Malaysian states of Sarawak and Sabah on the island of Borneo afford an opportunity for adventure travel and nature-related travel.

SINGAPORE:  The best season to visit this efficient mini-state is from April to August.  So clean, organized and convenient, Singapore is a tourist mecca because of its shopping and excellent entertainment.  In addition to the recreation offered on Sentosa Island just offshore, Singapore's museums are first-rate; and one should not miss the night safari at the Singapore Zoo!

SOUTH KOREA:  The prime months for visiting South Korea are April and October.  While not on the agenda of many travelers, Seoul offers traditional temples as well as some incredible shopping.  Also, a day tour to view Panmunjom in the De-Militarized Zone (DMZ) is a fascinating experience.  Due to security issues, however, this tour must be arranged in advance.

TAIWAN:  Best visited in April-May and October-November, Taiwan is a land of contrasts.  Its well-stocked national museum contains a number of treasures.  On the other hand, in the alleys of Taipei one can witness local men chugging down fresh snake blood, which they believe will render them more virile.  Unfortunately, Taiwan is another destination which is not on the map of most travelers originating in Egypt.



ABOUT TED COOKSON:  Egypt's most widely-traveled travel agent, Ted has been to every country in the world!  He has also visited 307 of the 315 destinations on the list of the Travelers' Century Club (visit www.eptours.com and refer to World Travel Club).  A travel agent in Cairo since 1986, Ted manages EGYPT PANORAMA TOURS, a full-service travel agency, at 4 Road 79 (between Roads 9 and 10, near the "El Maadi" metro station) in Maadi.  Contact Egypt Panorama Tours (open 7 days a week 9 AM-5 PM) at:  Tels. 2359-0200, 2358-5880, 2359-1301.  Fax 2359-1199.  E-mail:  ept@link.net.  Web site:  www.eptours.com
 

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