Best Vacation Places, Pictures and Information

Holi festival of colors, Utah, USA. Photo Steven Gerner

Holi festival of colors, Utah, USA. Photo Steven Gerner

The Holi Festival of Colour in March is a big hit in the streets of Kathmandu in Nepal and Indian cities such as fascinating Jaipur, but is also enthusiastically embraced by some western countries, notably Germany and the USA’s Utah state. Holi involves everyone throwing coloured water, powder or paint over everyone else, including you. It’s an iridescent madhouse and Holi is due to take place in 2018 on Mar 24 & 25 in Sri Sri Radha  Krishna Temple, Spanish Fork, Utah.

Vacation Places Guides March – April 2018

Americas      Europe      Africa      Asia      Australasia

Note that Sunday April 1 is Easter day in 2018 so the week before and after are going to be hectic for tourist accommodation and crowds (book early! ) but equally hectic with festivals, with plenty of colorful  Carnival events during March and April. If you want to confirm festival dates  check our festivals listings for March – April here.

The Northern Hemisphere is coming out of its winter depression, daylight hours are a decent length, grey skies are morphing into blue and spring flowers are popping up so it’s time to celebrate! Now. . . where to go?

Low cost vacation places in 2018

Currently the cheapest long-haul tourist destinations worldwide, based on typical holiday spending are:

1: Tokyo, Japan

2: Cape Town, South Africa

3: Mombasa, Kenya

4: Colombo, Sri Lanka

5: Hoi An, Vietnam

6: Bali, Indonesia

7: Tamarindo, Costa Rica

8: Orlando, Florida, USA

9: Penang, Malaysia

10: Punta Cana, Dominican Republic (some hurricane damage but major tourist destinations, including Punta Cana, Santo Domingo, Puerto Plata, and Samana are operating normally)

The Americas

US Vacation Places March – April 2018

Washington DC cherry blossom time, with the peak bloom between the last week of March through the first week or of April, USA

Washington DC cherry blossom time, with the peak bloom between the last week of March through the first week or of April, USA. Photo al jazeera

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Beaches in southern California should be reaching comfortable highs of around 69F (20C), lows around 50F (10C) while on the other side of the country north Florida – such as Panama City – should be  warmer with Daytona Beach showing highs of 77F (25C) and lows of 52F (11C).
Saturday 3rd of March is the start and best bit of Alaska‘s Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race; the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo runs from Feb. 27 – March 18; Daytona Beach’s Official Bike Week – the world’s biggest motorbike fest runs from 9 – 18 March in 2018; USA, St Patrick’s Day Parade is as always on 17 March and is an especially good event in Chicago, Boston,  New York and San Francisco; California’s Coachella Valley Music and Art Festival takes place 13 – 15 & 20 – 22 April;
New Orleans’ spectacular Mardi Gras goes over-the-top on Tuesday February 13th but locals start celebrating up to two weeks before while the biggest party in Texas, Fiesta San Antonio, runs 19-29 April.

Canada March – April 2018

Snowshoeing and snowmobiling around Whistler's lower zones. Photo by CTC.

Snowshoeing and snowmobiling around Whistler’s lower zones. Photo by CTC.

Canada  tourist life is still mainly about winter sports during these months with BC’s Whistler and Quebec’s Mont Tremblant at the top of winter destination list. Whistler’s WSSF -World Ski and Snowboard Festival is Canada’s largest free outdoor concert series, snow and music/arts/sports combined! It usually runs for 10 days in mid April but no date for 2018 has been announced yet (as of December ’17). Canadian hiking life begins properly starts in May.

Caribbean Vacation Places March – April 2018

Doctor's Cave Beach, Montego Bay, Jamaica

Doctor’s Cave Beach, Jamaica, Caribbean

Mexico and the Caribbean will be good and hot for your dollars as usual, and coming towards the end of their best season. Mexico offers a lot more culture (this is one of the world’s most interesting countries) and low cost travel options than the Caribbean but budget Caribbean islands do exist.  The cheapest Caribbean island that also happens to host some of the best beaches and a wide range of activities is the Dominican Republic which was not hit badly by the Fall hurricanes, unlike Puerto Rico and the US/British Virgin Islands. See below for more on hurricane damaged islands.

Please note that the infamously boisterous American college Spring Breaks will effectively take over some popular tourist destinations throughout March in 2018. Vacation here at your own risk:  South Padre Island, Texas; Panama City Beach, Florida;  Colorado Skiing; Cancun (Mexico), Cabo San Lucas (Mexico), and the Bahamas (almost Caribbean).

Hurricane Irma did considerable damage in some locations, especially when compounded with the Hurricane Maria follow-up.

These destinations sustained severe damage:

Barbuda (sister to Antigua)

St Maarten/Saint Martin

British Virgin Islands

USVI, especially hotels on St Thomas & St John

Anguilla

Florida Keys, particularly Middle Keys, and Miami is still a mess.

Cuba/Havan/Varadero has been well cleaned up we’re told

Turks and Caicos

Puerto Rico

The Bahamas southern islands

Anguilla

Guadaloupe

Dominica

Montserrat

However, these islands – and more –  are still beautiful and untouched by Irma:

Jamaica

Cayman Islands

Barbados

Trinidad & Tobago

Aruba

Bonaire

Curacao

Latin America Vacation Places, March – April 2018

Miraflores district of Lima, Peru.

Miraflores district of Lima, Peru.

Peru is an absolute must-see destination for any traveler interested in exotic surroundings with colorful people, amazing Inca structures, Andes Mountains, Amazon Rainforest, Nazca Lines and guinea pigs for dinner! Yum.

In Latin America (Central and South America) March – April should be fine in Argentina (esp. Patagonia or Bariloche hiking and Valdes wildlife), Chile (esp. Atacama Desert and brilliant hikes in Torres del Paine NP), Costa Rica (esp. wildlife + beaches+rainforest + volcanoes), the Galapagos Islands (wildlife) , Guatemala (pyramids and colorful people), Peru (everything! #1 must-see in the world! ) and of course Mexico (magnificent Maya structures, brilliant beaches, great food and drinks, cheap! ) but the weather in the remainder of the South American continent is at its worst.

Europe vacation places, March – April 2018

Fallas de Valencia in March, Spain. Photo by Soc de torrent

Fallas de Valencia from 15-19th March in Valencia, east coast of Spain. Photo by Soc de Torrent.

Some of the most interesting and best value southerly European countries (the north will still be very chilly) are: Portugal; Spain (esp. Barcelona for crazy Gaudi architecture, Seville for very warm weather, beautiful environment and Semana Santa festival in March and Feria de Abril in April); Italy (especially Rome, Florence, Venice); Czech Republic (especially Prague); Hungary (especially Budapest).

Arguably the craziest festival in Europe at this time is Fallas de Valencia, a madly explosive carnival/fiesta on the east coast of Spain. Locals spend 5 days partying with parades, pageants and modest fireworks until the last night when they set fire to hundreds of massive, spectacular papier-maché figures stuffed with fireworks. Kaboom.

Favourite Europe photos

For a more sombre but also spectacular few days in Spain head for Seville and Granada during Holy Week – Semana Santa – hundreds of pointy-hood penitents and torch lit processions up to Easter day in two gorgeous cities. Seville is much bigger. The premium time is during the night/early morning of Thursday-Good Friday.

Serious drinkers should perhaps head for Dublin St Patrick’s Festival and St Patrick’s Day Parade – a wild, green five days with main celebrations 15-19 March; folk who are partial to a funny smoke and drinks could do worse than hit the streets of Amsterdam on 27 April for King’s Day (Orange Day); down in Italy Florence hosts a celebration known as Scoppio del Carro – Explosion of the Cart – in Piazza del Duomo on Easter Sunday April 1, set off by a mechanical dove from the Altar during Mass; Mayrhofen in Austria is the scene of the Snowbombing Festival – a week long live music event, with bands and world-class DJs in a fantasy alpine setting. This ‘Ibiza in the Snow’ is regarded by many as ‘the Greatest Show on Snow’ and happens 9-14 April in 2018.

Africa Vacation Places, March – April 2018

Yasmina lake dune, Merzouga, Morocco

Lake Yasmina, an irregular attraction in Merzouga, Moroccco, Northwest Africa. Look carefully and you can see tourists climbing the dune, almost at the top on the right. Morocco is still the safest North African country.

North Africa will be brilliant in March/April, the last best months before the heat arrives, as madly colourful Morocco and Egypt  offer blue skies and fascinating exotic sights. Egypt’s magnificent mainland sights appear to be safe but across the Red Sea the Sinai district is not recommended for travelers.

Morocco is primarily about desert trips, wacky cities and Atlas Mountains hikes and/or drives while Egypt is grand pharaonic relics.
Central Africa is not so good at this time but South Africa’s varied attractions, from beaches to wildlife, brilliant hiking, wines and more are at their best now,  in autumn.

Spectacular Petra/Wadi Rum in Jordan and Israel generally are also perfect in this season (even if they’re not exactly in Africa! ).

Asia Vacation Places, March – April 2018

Singapore, Marina Bay's nightly free showtime

Marina Bay nightly free showtime, Singapore.

Singapore is definitely not a cheap destination, but for those who are tired of shabby, disorganised, corrupt Asia then Singapore is a beacon of what could be, offering lots of free stuff – such as these Super Trees, nightly laser/music shows, calm riverside walks – in a very safe environment. The weather during months is cooler and less humid than usual so there’s a lot going on. November-January are the wettest months there and May-June the hottest.

Good Value Asia in 2018: Japan, Indonesia’s Bali island, Vietnam and Cambodia are all terrific low cost destinations at this time.

If you’re in Japan at the end of March/early April for Sakura Matsuri or Hanami Cherry Blossom time (especially in Tokyo‘s Ueno park or Aoyama cemetery) then do consider a trip to Kawasaki, just south of Tokyo, to visit the hilarious Kanamara Matsuri (Iron Penis Festival) at Wakamiya Hachiman-gu Shrine in Kawasaki, between Tokyo and Yokohama on April 3. An hilarious, good-feeling event loaded with music, double-entendres, huge portable wangs and little willy lollies. 

India is also awaiting your visit but it’s massive so focus, don’t try to see everything at once! The biggest sights are in the Golden Triangle in Rajasthan –  climatically fine in March – and the outrageously psychedelic  Holi Festival of Colour (in March depending on where you are). This event involves throwing coloured water, powder or paint over everyone else, including yourself. It’s an iridescent madhouse. Especially spectacular Holi are held in Jaipur, Mathura, Braj Bhoomi and Sri Krishna in India and Kathmandu in Nepal.

The other monster destination, China, is difficult to plan these days – too cold, too hot, too, dusty, too polluted! But getting cheaper…. in mid April there is the Poshui Jie, Water Splashing Festival in Jinghong, beautiful Yunnan province, with dragon boat racing, fireworks, dancing and throwing water over everyone, but everyone.
A similar event splashes into Thailand on the same days as China, Songkran Festival (New Year Water Festival) nationwide is especially lively in Chiang Mai with four days of parades, fancy dress and water, water, everywhere.

Nepal is still fine in March, the skies are mostly clear, the ancient artefacts bizarre and the walks stunning.
Vietnam looks good in these two months as does Malaysia but Thailand’s beaches reach their peak in March and become less attractive in April.
Early April is roughly Cherry Blossom time in Japan, a fantastically beautiful season if the weather is willing.

In the Philippines the extraordinary Crucifixion in San Fernando takes place on Good Friday (March 15) when locals play out Christ’s agony, all dressed up, beaten by whips and finally nailed – for real – onto crosses.

Australasia Vacation Places, March – April 2018

Hiking, aka Tramping, in Aoraki, Mt Cook National Park, South Island. Photo by Corey Parsons.

Hiking, aka Tramping, in Aoraki, Mt Cook National Park, South Island. Photo by Corey Parsons.

March and April is prime time in New Zealand for incredible walks, beaches, wine tasting, and insane adrenalin activities.

Over the water in Australia the southern region (ie Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide) moves into Autumn and sees less of the blue skies while up north in Cairns or Brisbane the weather is still extremely humid and cloudy.
Adelaide Fringe is the Australia’s largest, wackiest festival. A huge and unhinged event like Edinburgh in the sun (16 February-18 March). Adelaide Pictures and Information. The more formal Adelaide Festival runs 2 – 18 March.
Sydney’s Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, 16 February to 4 March with the Big Parade on 4 March – is a monster, world famous celebration of gay life, with a stunning parade, shows and parties.

Dangerous Countries as Vacation Places?

We don’t want to discourage adventurous travelling but should clarify for 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 looking better now for robust travelers who can find reliable flights (with proper safety checks) going to Luxor and the opportunity of seeing incredible sights a) at low cost b) more importantly without the massed crowds that are normally there stuffing up the ambience.

Turkey still seems a little volatile these days but almost certainly OK for beach or Cappadocia holidays. But in winter it’s a Must-Not-Do anyway, wet and miserable, so that’s a pass.

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

Avoid

Africa except for Morocco, Egypt (at the moment seems OK!), 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 and even Thailand.

Whatever, wherever, safe travels!