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INTERESTING AUTUMN TRAVEL DESTINATIONS FROM EGYPT
by Ted Cookson
Published in July 2006
Casablanca, Morocco dancers and musicians, 59-second video clip
Reunion Island volcano, 38-second video clip
Are you considering an autumn holiday this year? Autumn is the best time to visit 21 different countries - 12 in Asia, two in the Near East and five in Africa and the Indian Ocean plus Australia and New Zealand.
TWELVE COUNTRIES IN ASIA:
BHUTAN: The best time to visit this remote Buddhist Himalayan kingdom is from October through March or April. Tourism to Bhutan is strictly regulated. Visas are only granted to travelers who have prepaid a package which includes accommodation and sightseeing. Tours include visits to Buddhist monastery-forts called dzongs.
CAMBODIA: The best season for visiting this Southeast Asian country is from November through February. The biggest tourist draw is Angkor Wat, a sprawling temple complex akin to Luxor's Karnak but in a jungle setting. Angkor Wat can be reached in only one hour by air from Bangkok. The Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh, with its French colonial architecture, is also worth a short visit.
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.
INDIA: In general, prime time for a visit to India is from October through March. Although this vast subcontinent offers many sightseeing possibilities, the major tourist destinations include the capital of Delhi and Agra's Taj Mahal plus Jaipur and Udhaipur in Rajasthan.
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.
MALDIVES: Best visited from November through March, the Maldives is a paradise for divers and snorkelers. Located south of India in the Indian Ocean, this island republic has allowed over 90 of its 1,200 islands to be developed for tourism. The airport near the capital of Male can be reached from Cairo via Dubai or Doha.
MYANMAR: The prime season for visiting this interesting country is from November to February. Formerly known as Burma, this Southeast Asian country is situated between Bangladesh and Thailand. Yangon, the capital and largest city, was previously called Rangoon. Yangon is home to the remarkable large gold Shwedagon Pagoda. As Myanmar is so inexpensive, shopping in Yangon's old, covered Scott Market can be a real treat. Air service to Yangon is available via Bangkok.
SOUTH KOREA: The prime months for visiting South Korea are April and October. While not on the agenda of many travelers from Egypt, 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.
SRI LANKA: November to February is the best time for a visit to this teardrop-shaped island nation off the southeast coast of India. Although one will probably not dwell long in the capital of Colombo, Kandy's Temple of the Tooth and the extensive ruins at Anuradapura, Polonnarua and Sigiria all draw plenty of tourists. Several days of touring in Sri Lanka combined with a relaxing beach holiday in the nearby Maldives would make a terrific two-destination holiday.
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.
THAILAND: Best visited from November to February, this ancient kingdom has a rich culture. There is plenty of history to see not only in Bangkok but also in the former capital at Ayyutthaya to the north. Now that adventure holidays are all the rage, the northern centers of Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai have become very popular. The well-developed beach resorts at places like Phuket and Ko Samui can become quite crowded during peak travel periods.
VIETNAM: The best months to travel to this long and narrow country are from November to February. The primary tourist destinations are Ho Chi Minh City (formerly known as Saigon), Hanoi, and the central region where Danang and the former capital of Hue are situated. Because exotic Vietnam is very inexpensive, shopping there can easily turn into an extravaganza!
TWO COUNTRIES IN THE NEAR EAST:
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.
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.
FIVE COUNTRIES IN AFRICA AND THE INDIAN OCEAN:
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 and/or to South Africa to visit Cape Town.
ETHIOPIA: Prime time for a trip to Ethiopia is from September to February. Although not on most travelers' radar screens, this mountainous country boasts some fascinating sites. Aside from Africa's largest outdoor market and a couple of interesting museums in the capital of Addis Ababa, the so-called Historic Route in the north forms the usual tourist circuit. The most fantastic sight is Lalibela with its large rock-cut churches. But there are also stone obelisks at Axum, well-built castles at Gondar, and of course Tisisat Falls on the Blue Nile near Bahar Dar.
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.
REUNION ISLAND: The best season for a visit to this remote but beautiful island lying to the east of Madagascar is between May and November. Volcanic in origin, Reunion is nearly devoid of sandy beaches. Tourists can explore the island's volcanic craters and even drive into cirques, large craters whose walls have eroded, leaving a path to the sea.
TUNISIA: The best months for visiting this small North African nation are October and November and also February and March. The well-known Bardo Museum in Tunis contains one of the world's best collections of Roman-era mosaics. The skimpy ruins of ancient Carthage are also located near the capital. The well-preserved coliseum at El Djem is definitely worth a visit. The pilgrimage center of Kairouan and the picturesque desert oases of Nefta and Tozeur round out the list of tourist destinations in Tunisia's interior. Mediterranean beach resorts at Monastir and elsewhere are popular with European visitors.
AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND:
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.
NEW ZEALAND: While the period from December to February is the best time to visit this two-island nation lying to the east of Australia, one will encounter fewer tourists in October and November and also in March and April. Auckland, the largest city, and Wellington, the capital, are both located on North Island. Volcanic wonders abound around Rotorua in the center of North Island. The much less-developed South Island, home to many natural wonders, is also well worth a visit. Magnificent Milford Sound and snow-capped Mt. Cook are the most outstanding of these. Queenstown has developed into an adventure travel center, offering everything from a ride in a microlight aircraft to a ride down a river in a jet boat. Bungee jumping originated in Queenstown too!
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: firstname.lastname@example.org. Web site: www.eptours.com.
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