And we continue...
Chengdu, China - The giant pandas, ancient temples and the spiciest food in China
Reason: Sichuanese warn their children: “don’t go to Chengdu when you’re young!” And for a good reason. There’s a real peril of falling for this magnetic city, smack in the middle of China. Chengdu’s famed Panda Research Center is reason enough to travel halfway around the globe and that’s just for starters. Join locals sipping tea in one of its many beautiful tea gardens and parks, and you will discover a new world. While you're here you shouldn't miss out on savouring some of the spiciest food on this Earth. With your stomach full, start by nourishing your spirit and add in a little art, because Chengdu is quickly becoming known for its contemporary art scene and recently hosted its 6th Biennial.
Tip: Visit the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding during feeding time between 9 and 10 am and watch in awe as the cuddly pandas nibble away at bamboo sticks and leaves. You can even hold a baby bear for a small donation.
When: Chengdu has mild, humid weather and four distinct seasons with a long, languid spring. Avoid the extremes of weather by visiting from March to June or from September to November.
Hvar, Croatia - The new hotspot for beach lovers and yachties on the Dalmatian coast
Reason: The hip European crowd has migrated to Hvar's stunning cypress-lined beaches for countless summers. The island's location along the route of Croatia's trendy Yacht Week (the 7-day tour of coastal locales in a fleet packed with young travellers from around the world) has expanded its popularity internationally and cemented its status as a party paradise. And clubs like Carpe Diem keep the flame alive by buzzing well past sunrise. If beach parties aren't your cup of tea, you can explore the winding medieval streets of Hvar Town and its outstandingly well-preserved ancient structures like the Franjevacki Samostan, or the magnificent main square, Trg Sveti Stjepan, the largest piazza in Dalmatia.
Tip: Make sure to reserve a table in advance for dinner at one of Hvar's most popular restaurants, Macondo. Tucked away down a narrow, cobblestone street near the main square, this quaint eatery is renowned for its superbly delicious seafood and exquisite service.
When: While prices during the peak season (July-August) rise considerably and the large influx of young party-seekers could deter travellers looking for a more peaceful holiday, the constant sunshine and lively atmosphere of the summer months are not to be missed.