From essential experiences to can't-miss destinations, we've partnered with Qantas to bring you an incredible travel tale each month.
At the end of our run in this life, all we have are our experiences. Richer than gold, more valuable than diamonds, our memories are pretty much our lives (so we better make them extraordinary).
Travel tends to go hand in hand with life changing experiences – every trip, a fresh adventure: new connections, magic moments, and epic scenes to slide into our memory movie reels. Keen to create some fresh unforgettables in 2017? Hit the skies and go large: here’s our destination list on some of the world’s most failsafe memory makers.
A timeless rite of passage, many Australian travellers share at least one coming-of-age moment with London. The heart of England has provided us a dutiful springboard to a heap of Old World adventures for countless decades. Today, the British capital remains one of the greatest memory-making epicentres. From its iconic sights (think Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, the whole Monopoly Board), unforgettable nightlife (bars, pubs and world class dining), and endless array of awesome hostels and districts (not to mention its proximity and ease to explore the rest of Europe), this British hub should sit high on your 2017 hit list.
Don’t miss: Platform 9 ¾. Harry Potter fanatics can relish in the chance to pre-board for Hogwarts via the permanent embarkation point at Kings Cross Station (ensure your Gryffindor scarf, books, clothes and telescope are all packed). Sketch, with its themed rooms and abundance of Shrigley drawings, feels more like an art installation than a restaurant. A popular day trip from the city will take you to the quaint town of Bath, the royal Windsor Castle residence, and the still-mysterious Stonehenge. Alternatively, you can literally take a day trip to Paris. Yep, a whole other country.
Some memories call for a more far-flung touch: somewhere warm, where the elephants roam, and zebras move in silhouettes across the sunset. Sound OK? Then make South Africa a priority. With daily fares direct to Johannesburg, there’s never been an easier, or more affordable time to pack for an African safari. With a thriving cultural scene, incredible food and a storied history, Jozi’s ‘City of Gold’ status is no passing myth – make it your next port of call and head on from there to some of South Africa’s most incredible landscapes and outdoor adventures.
Don’t miss: The Living Room. This rooftop bar in Jo’burg’s hip Maboneng district is home some of the tastiest cocktails, tapas and majestic skyline views. The nearby Pilanesburg National Park is home to the ‘Big Five’ – elephants, lions, leopards, rhinos and buffalo.
Consider the snaps: you in the foreground, snow-capped Andes behind you, sunny skies radiating high over the beating heart of Santiago. Sporting world-class museums, delectable Chilean cuisine, stunning historical architecture and pisco sours that flow like water, Chile’s underrated metropolitan centre rewards travellers with a South American experience like no other.
Don’t miss: Bellavista is Santiago’s boho hub, pulsing with art, great food, requisite street art, and of course, the unmissable La Chascona, the colourful former home of Nobel Prize-winning poet Pablo Neruda. For some of the world’s best street art, head an hour west to the cool coastal town of Valparaiso.
United States of America
The traveller’s ultimate box of chocolates, the USA remains a sweet, crowd-pleasing blend of awesome cities, larger-than-life landscapes and 50 different countries all rolled into one. American hubs are some of the best in the world for making memories: LA, with its beach-side glitz and glam; San Fran with its Full House houses and sin-wave hills; the bustling Texan metropolis of Dallas; and, of course, NYC – concrete jungle where dreams are made of, and lifelong memories are so easily made.
Don’t miss: The great outdoors. Hire a cherry red Thunderbird convertible and hit the interstate. Take on Highway 1 from LA to San Francisco, or embrace your inner Kerouac and head out on an East-West drive from sea to shining sea. Tick off as many national parks – arguably the best invention to come out of the US – as you can.
Karaoke. Sake. Tantalising sashimi. Sci-fi skylines of epic magnitude. For out-of-this-world memories, you basically need a dose of Tokyo. Japan’s megalopolis has long attracted the world’s curious with its mix of tradition, futurism, food and theme park sensibilities. Sumo it up, take a ride on the Shinkansen, and enjoy plentiful ‘Suntory times’ as you eat yourself silly around this neon jungle’s countless intoxicating districts.
Don’t miss: A 90 minute bullet train and short bus ride from Tokyo will take you to Jigokudani Monkey Park, where over 150 snow monkeys spend their time bathing in the natural hot springs – it must be Tokyo’s best day trip. Head to Yoyogi Park on a Sunday to meet the King – fashionable cosplayers gather here dressed as Elvis, for some glorious reason. The Robot Restaurant earns its world-famous status, with it weird and wonderful vision of the future, and is well worth it for the story alone. Trust us – it will be a story.
Bangkok is for South East Asia what London is for the Old World – a central point of action, stepping stone to adventure, and metropolitan memory-machine. A rite of passage in its own right, Bangkok has long lured Australians with its wild nightlife, Buddhist benevolence, and delectable Isan cuisine. Add to that affordability, centrality to South East Asia’s myriad glories and a cosmopolitan vibe on the rise, and it’s plain to see why people keep saying that BKK’s got it going on.
Don’t miss: Flow House. No beach? No problem. Partake in some artificial hang-tens at Bangkok’s most sought after surf hang out. The opulent Grand Palace is a feast for the eyes and the endless buzz of Khao San Road goes ways in explaining why it’s still the backpacker capital of the world.
Shoppers and gourmands unite! If a way to your memory-maker is through the stomach (or indeed, the retail checkout), Hong Kong is the place for you. Though bustling and busy, Hong Kong’s ample green spaces, stunning waterline, world-class shopping, and abundance of cuisines (there’s over 12,000 restaurants) earns it ‘paradise status’ to those on the hunt for something different, delicious and accessible.
Don’t miss: Tim Ho Wan. Champions of HK’s best Dim Sum, this 24-hour hole-in-the-wall on Fuk Wing Street is legendary, a Michelin Star street-food institution. Take in the city of skyscrapers from the top of the peak – the steep tram ride up is memorable itself – and find a small shop full of locals, like Wai Kee, to sample some breakfast congee, a glutinous rice pudding served with additions like pork, fermented egg, Chinese doughnuts and fish.
For those keen on racking up some slightly less raucous, less gritty South East Asian memoirs, Singapore has your number. As the closest, and most well-connected, international hub proximate to Australian shores, Singapore is a no-brainer: world-class hospitality (with quality to match), classy nightlife, and a safe, clean, green and effortlessly navigable vibe – the perfect mix for an unforgettable, and fairly effortless, worldly cosmopolitan experience.
Don’t miss: Marina Bay Sands. Contender for the most spectacular hotel in the Southern Hemisphere, and home to one of the most incredible infinity pools in the world. Gardens By The Bay will also seep into your memory-maker with its futuristic vision of an electric forest, complete with the world’s largest glass greenhouse.
What’s not love about NZ? Our ‘East Island’ neighbours offer one of the planet’s most generously awesome travel experiences – a slice of Middle Earth, all within a short air bound hop. Whether shooting south, north or ideally both, take advantage of NZ’s choice of easy-access hubs in and out of Christchurch, Wellington or Auckland, and relish in our friendly neighbour’s dramatic and awe-inspiring natural splendour.
Don’t miss: Cape Reinga. Where oceans collide, the ‘place of leaping’ at the nexus of the Pacific and Tasman, where Maori spirits undertake their final journey before the next world. Lake Wanaka is a verified natural wonderland, and the universally loved Wellington indeed might just be the “coolest little capital in the world”.
Brazil has hogged the headlines in the past year or two, and for good reason. But with the World Cup and Olympic hoopla done and dusted, there’s never been a better time to visit South America’s most populous nation. Brush up on your Portuguese, pack the 50+ SPF and hit the skies for the idyllic sands of Rio de Janeiro, you’ll need your dancing shoes too (but little else).
Don’t miss: Ilha Grande. With the hustle, beach bustle and hectic vibes of Rio in the rear vision, hit the coast two hours away for a tranquil taste of Brazilian island paradise (a one-time pirate lair and penitentiary). With its mountainous peaks, Rio is best seen from up high. Take the cable car up to Sugarloaf Mountain or the Corcovado up to see the famous Christ the Redeemer statue, reaching out above the city.
The Qantas ‘Make New Memories’ global sale is on now, with great fares to all of these destinations and more.