Holiday Destinations

Photos and Compact Guides

A massive grass ball outside Paris Town Hall, France

Paris is no stranger to exceptional art, but really, WTF is that grass ball in front of the Town Hall?

That eye-boggling ball was a temporary installation that you’ll sadly never see tho’ there’s plenty more weirdness where that came from! And if you go there on June 21st you’ll also catch the annual Fete de la Musique, a huge, free musical celebration taking place all over the city.
p.s. that ball, aka Jardin Ephemere is 100 metres long. Not diameter, in length! Think about it…explanatory photo

June 21st is the date of the summer equinox so Stonehenge in England is the place for midsummer night madness with all sorts of druids, hippies and new age wackos celebrating the solstice…and you get to touch the stones for a change!

Vacation Ideas May – June 2016

Gather Ye Rosebuds

May and June are arguably the best months for taking a holiday in the Northern Hemisphere as spring turns to early summer, the weather tends towards warm and sunny, kids are at school so families are out of the destination squabble, crowds around sights are limited, accommodation is at low cost and high availability, and staff are cheerful and energetic – unlike their exhausted and irritable August selves. Of course some brilliant destinations – such as India and Burma – are starting to get seriously hot and sticky while Southern Hemisphere favourites such as Australia and New Zealand will be chilling into late autumn but generally speaking if you can take a vacation during these months, do it, and avoid midsummer like the plague.

Florence riverside locals relaxing, Italy

Locals relaxing beside the river while tourists run around the mass of sights and totter into the museums, such as the Uffizi which is no more than 20m from this point.

Low cost vacation destinations in 2016

Europe

This continent is still cheap or possibly even cheaper due to terrorist and migrant issues. The chance of being involved with the former is about equal to being hit on the head by a coconut while the latter has little impact on tourists now that Angela’s open invitation to immigration has been shown to be seriously flawed and police/military/intelligence services have upped their game considerably. And fences are being built. . .
Bugbog is currently based in Nice, France, and we read news of busted European terror cells and see regular military patrols but life in this gorgeous city has not been impacted at all, except for less tourists than usual. We wouldn’t hesitate to travel to any city in the Eurozone except easterly Greek islands.

Some of the most interesting and best value southerly European countries (the north will still be very chilly) are: Portugal; Spain (esp. Barcelona for Gaudi, Seville for very warm weather, beautiful environment; Italy (esp. Rome, Florence, Venice); Czech Republic (esp. Prague); Hungary (esp. Budapest).

Worldwide

Interesting tourist destinations with low-value currencies in early 2016 are China, Russia, Japan, Bali (Indonesia), Vietnam, Cambodia, South Africa, Zambia, Morocco and Canada. If you care for a little risk Egypt is extremely cheap and wonderful in this season. Wow! Plenty of excellent choices there!

Beaches

The Dominican Republic is consistently rated as the best value beach island in the Caribbean while Puerto Rico is supposed to be good value and of special interest to Americans as it’s practically part of the USA.
In Europe Greek beach destinations are cheapish (esp. Crete and some less known Aegean islands); Croatia is pretty, relatively undeveloped and Zlatni Rat beach on Brac island is gorgeous.

Zika virus

The Changing Tourist Map…Tourist targets this year have shifted dramatically from some previously popular  vacation spots for a number of reasons.

• Terrorism is the  number one concern so North Africa and the Middle-East are suffering tourism drop-off though it’s a unfair on wonderful, colourful  Morocco, Jordan’s brilliant Petra or Bling-it-On Dubai, none of which have experienced any unpleasant incidents.

• The Zika virus is damaging visitor trade around Latin America and the Caribbean even though Zika is really a pregnancy issue; if you’re taking suitable precautions or not in the danger group there is no reason to fear Zika-carrying mosquitoes especially.  Hate the little bu****s sure but do your best to avoid them for any one of  many reasons – itchy spots, disturbed sleep, malaria, dengue, yellow fever, etc. Check Our Mosquito page.

• Europe’s ongoing migration issue is causing  havoc in the east, with Greece and Turkey being the big losers, though southern and northern European countries –  such as Italy, France, Spain, Austria, Hungary, Croatia appear to be controlling the influx and limiting numbers  so their visitors are not discombobulated.

North America May – June

Bryce Canyon walkers, USA

Taking a walk in Bryce National Park, inside the rim. Bryce is part of the ‘Grand Circle‘ of awesome canyons clustered near Las Vegas that includes Grand Canyon, Arches, Monument Valley, Zion, Moab Recreation Area and much more. What a road trip that is!

USA

Beaches in southern California such as Los Angeles’ Venice should be reaching perfect highs of around 77F (25C) and lows around 60F (15C) while on the other side of the country in Miami, Florida, temperatures could be heading towards toasty highs of 90F (32C), with lows of 74F (23C), the last months before the weather starts to get really muggy and oppressive. Still, two great months for southern USA beaches.

For those who yearn for a Caribbean experience on the cheap then May is recognised as being the most cost-effective month as the region is theoretically entering the rainy season (May-December) but generally the sunshine lasts well in May and the prices are waaaay down. Puerto Rico is the easy choice for Americans as US citizens don’t need passports or visas to travel there.
If you’re determined to avoid any chance of precipitation and/or love scuba diving then take a look at ABC and T, Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao and Tobago, islands that are below the rain belt and usually good in June too.
Bermuda’s not in the Caribbean, but the best time to visit the island – about 1,000 miles off the Florida coast in the Atlantic – is from June to October when  the pink-sand beaches sprawl in temperatures of about 30C, with long daylight hours, low rainfall and warm seas around 25C.

This is a great season to be travelling around the USA as school is not yet out so competition for rooms/views/restaurants/parking spaces is negligible but the weather – at least in central/southerly regions – should be brilliant. We are especially fond of the canyon country east of Las Vegas, aka The Grand Circle, a perfect destination for an American road trip in a rental camper (RV).

Sponsored: You can find reliable, good value RV campervan hire from Grand American Adventures. Pick up in LA, San Francisco, Las Vegas, New York and Miami. GPS, fuel-efficient and custom painted! You can hire a campervan sleeping up to four people for any duration over 7 days. For inspiration GAA have put together some itinerary suggestions based on popular trip durations, a flavour of what you could do on your campervan adventure and include some of the ‘must-see’ destinations. Vans come with bedding and pillows, cooking facilities, picnic chairs, maps, camping book and the kitchen sink, giving you everything you need to make your own road trip!

taking a dip in Canada, one of the less expensive activities on Whistler's Lost Lake in the summer. Photo by Whistler/Steve Rogers.

Taking a dip in Canada, one of the less expensive activities on Whistler’s Lost Lake in the summer. Photo by Whistler/Steve Rogers.

Canada

Canada’s currency is suffering and they have no problems with terrorism or Zika virus so this could be a good year for Canadian tourism.
May-September is the best season and some of the best attractions are:
Best cities: Vancouver (British Columbia), Toronto ( Ontario), Quebec City and Montreal (Quebec) province.

Best wildlife: Churchill (Manitoba), British Columbia, Alberta.

Best winter festival: Ottawa Winterlude, Ontario.

Best summer festival: Calgary Stampede, Alberta.

Best beaches: New Brunswick (Atlantic Provinces) and Vancouver (British Columbia).

Best natural wonders: Banff lakes and mountains (Alberta), Niagara Falls (Ontario).

Best cuisine: Quebec province.

Best landscapes: British Columbia, Alberta and North West Territories.

Latin America May – June

Tulum beach, Yucatan, Mexico

Tulum’s El Castillo, part of an ancient Maya city-state and narrow but beautiful Mayan Beach, seen from the Caribbean Sea. Photo by Jim.

If you’re looking for ‘exotic’ travel then Mexico is, like the Caribbean, heading towards the rainy season so May should be a good value month for seeing the some ancient Maya sights and have some beach time with a small risk of clouds/rain. June will be even cheaper but risks of unpleasant weather are ramping up.
Further south in Latin American May should be fine in Argentina, the Galapagos Islands, Guatemala, Peru and of course Mexico – but not June! And don’t even think about the rest of the South American continent during May or June.

Zika virus in Latin America February 2016

The mosquito-borne Zika virus currently ranges across at least 20 countries in Central and South America including Brazil,Mexico and the Caribbean’s Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Barbados, Martinique and Guadeloupe. The effects are generally mild but the concern is about a probable link with brain defects in babies.If in any doubt head elsewhere for your vacations BUT if pregnancy is not an issue due to contraception, age or gender then this may be a good time to travel in Latin America as competition for rooms and sun beds is likely to be lower than normal. More

Europe May – June

No guarantees of course but May is the start of European summer season and these months are generally fine with warm weather, occasional showers, low prices, cheerful staff and fewer travellers competing for services, so if you don’t have children at school make hay while the sun shines.

However, the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea will still be very cold – actually the Atlantic waters are always cold! – so beware if you fancy a beach holiday. In addition some summer services in more remote places may not go into action until June, such as beach cafés, ferries and marine activities in places like the Greek Islands.
Côte d’Azur beaches will definitely be starting to hum in May, even if it does always seem to rain during the Cannes Film Festival. Perhaps some greater power than Hollywood disapproves?
Much of Spain will be ready for beach action in May and definitely warm veering to hot.

Otherwise most European cities are a delight May to June. Walking between museums, art galleries, palaces, parks, bars, restaurants and shows are a grand way to spend time in this ancient part of the world. Some of our favourite cities – that will be packed and hot in the summer months but much more relaxed during May/June – are Florence, Rome (already hot!), Prague, Budapest, Paris, London, Vienna, Berne, Lucerne,Barcelona and Cadiz (both with nice beaches too), Lisbon (beaches nearby) and Amsterdam.

the cog wheel train moving up Mt Pilatus, near Lucerne, Switzerland

A tourist train heading up Mt Pilatus, near Lucerne, Switzerland.

Africa, May – June

Hiking up Crazy Dune in Sossussvlei, Namibia, southern Africa

Hiking up Crazy Dune in Sossusvlei, Namibia, southern Africa, an addition to the wonderful wildlife self-drive experiences in Etosha National Park.

North Africa will be getting decidedly hot in June and impossibly hot later so this is the last chance for reasonably comfortable travel in this colourful region, unless you want to hang out on a beach or head for the mountains. Morocco and Egypt’s Sharm el Sheikh‘s beaches offer incredible value and should present blue skies. Morocco is mainly about desert sights, wacky cities and cool, spectacular Atlas or Rif mountains.
The incredible ‘Rose Red City’ of Petra of Jordan is a must-see and fits well with a visit to Israel’s strange sights in May but getting quite hot in June.
Central Africa is not so good at this time but South Africa’s varied attractions, from beaches to wildlife to wines are at their best in the Southern Hemisphere autumn, along with Namibia’s incredible mix of massed animals and massive dunes.

Asia, May – June

Pingyao's old town in central Shanxi province, China

Pingyao‘s old town in central Shanxi province, China

These months are probably the best to view tricky China which is too cold in winter, too polluted in spring, too hot in summer, too wet in autumn etc.etc., but no guarantees, it’s a gamble. Tibet is ready for action if you’re ready for the altitude (seriously, it’s very high and arriving by plane is bad news for AMS); Japan is just about perfect in May and in Laos too. The East Coast of Malaysia is hot to trot, including Borneo and lovely Tioman Island but not Kuala Lumpur, the capital.
The final great possibility is wild and wacky Papua New Guinea, though best visited with a competent tour operator, it’s not a place for individual travelers.

Australasia, May – June

Cairns' freshwater lagoon in northeast Australia

Cairns’ freshwater lagoon in  northeast Australia.

Northern Australia is terrific from May to October, meaning mainly the activities resort of Cairns, the Great Barrier Reef zone and Darwin, but Sydney’s weather will be cool and probably damp. New Zealand is also heading into winter so less than perfect at this time but still fine for walking, the country’s favourite activity.

Dangerous Countries

We don’t want to discourage travel but should clarify for adventurous but novice travelers which parts of the world are problematical – troubled by disease, terrorist attacks, high levels of crime or aggressive disrespect for single women.

Egypt is off the tourist route for the moment though robust travelers who can find reliable, sophisticated flights (i. e. with proper safety checks) going to Luxor could mean the opportunity of seeing the incredible sights a) at low cost b) more importantly without the massed crowds that are normally there stuffing up the ambience.

Turkey has had a number of bomb attacks recently including the murderous Sultanahmet suicide bombing on January 11th 2016. Being close to the mid-east troubles is making security difficult. Best to avoid.

Here are some broad generalisations on where NOT to go on vacation if you have a nervous disposition.

Avoid

Africa except for Morocco, Namibia, South Africa, Botswana, Madagascar, Mauritius.

Middle-East except for Israel, Jordan (if you’re nervous about flights but really want to visit wonderful Petra, fly to Israel on the world’s safest airline – El Al – and drive into Jordan), Oman, Dubai, Abu Dhabi.

Venezuela, Honduras, Haiti. Some drug-cartel regions of north Mexico are also off the tourist trail.

Solo women travelers should think twice before going to Pakistan, Philippines, North Korea, Indonesia, India, east China.

There have been mysterious killings on Thailand’s west coast islands such as Ko Thao, always blamed on ‘foreigners’ and generally giving the impression that Thai police are either very corrupt, or very inefficient, or most likely, both. Budget island travelers beware, something psychotic is lurking in the soft, sandy darkness.

Whatever, wherever, safe travels!

FacebookTwitterGoogle+PinterestShare