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Great Ocean Road, Australia

Best holiday destinations for 2023

The pulsing cities of Southeast Asia, thrumming with motorbikes and scented with spicy street food. The vast plains of the Masai Mara, where wildebeest roam in herds of millions. The sacred, snowy peaks of New Zealand volcanoes, the quiet grace of Kyoto’s geisha district… What do you want to experience in 2023? The world is a big, wide-open place and it can be hard to decide. Here are ten destinations that are calling out to us for trips next year. You might go snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef, take a river cruise on the Nile or the Mekong, or swim with marine iguanas in the Galapagos.

1. Japan

Tea ceremony in Kyoto
Tea ceremony in Kyoto

Welcoming visitors again

Delicate plum blossoms dancing in the breeze, the whoosh of a bullet train leaving the station, the smoky scent of yakitori on an open fire, and the steamy heat of an onsen… We’ve missed everything about Japan for more than two years and were excited to be one of the earliest visitors, before most people were allowed in.

We were there to check what the country would be like after reopening, and we’re happy to report back that it’s even better than we remember. While you’re visiting, you might step into traditional culture in Kyoto with a kimono-wearing class and a visit to the geisha district, or revel in the neon-soaked streets of Tokyo on a street-food tour.

Get me there: This classic route across Japan takes advantage of Japan’s remarkable rail network and includes time in Tokyo and Kyoto, as well Hakone National Park, to soak in the hot springs.

Explore Japan | Japan tours | Japan travel guides

2. The USA

Bryce Canyon National Park
Bryce Canyon National Park

Celebrating 100 years of Bryce Canyon National Park

When you think of the American Southwest, it’s likely you picture a red-rock desert, its stones sculpted by wind and sand into striking shapes — if so, you’re probably picturing Bryce Canyon National Park. Less well-known than the likes of Yellowstone, it’s nonetheless one of the most striking landscapes in a country that’s renowned for them. The park will be celebrating its centennial in 2023, making it the ideal time to visit and to explore its eerie hoodoos, which look like a forest of stone pillars.

If deserts aren’t to your taste, consider a visit to California instead, where Disney Studios are also celebrating their 100-year anniversary. You can include a visit to Disneyland on any visit to Los Angeles. To the east, 2023 marks 250 years since the Boston Tea Party — explore the historic protest as part of a guided tour along the city’s Freedom Trail, which examines the sights of the American Revolution.

Get me there: You can visit Bryce, as well as the other national parks that complete the Mighty Five, on a 2023 trip to national parks explored.

Explore the USA | USA tours | USA travel guides

3. Australia

Green Turtle, Great Barrier Reef
Green turtle, Great Barrier Reef

Recovered, reopened, reborn

Just emerging from a two-year shutdown, Australia seems entirely refreshed. The devastating wildfires of 2019 are a distant memory and there’s a sense of renewed energy across the country. That's especially true of hotels — many have been refurbished over the past two years and many others have just opened up.

Our specialists can help you narrow down where to go, depending on what you’re interested in doing and seeing. If you’d like to encounter Australia’s singular wildlife, we’ll arrange a safari on Kangaroo Island or snorkelling amid the teeming sea life of the Great Barrier Reef. For food and wine, we’ll send you to the vineyards of the Yarra Valley or the trendy eateries of Sydney. Gain insights into Aboriginal cultures in Kakadu National Park, or hike through the rainforest of the Blue Mountains.

Get me there: An eco-friendly exploration of Australia’s coast, Outback, and Great Barrier Reef, this tour offers a comprehensive look at the continent’s varied landscapes.

Explore Australia | Australia tours | Australia travel guides

4. South Africa

Table Mountain South Africa
Table Mountain in Cape Town

Big Five safaris, wine tasting & whale watching

Few countries pack as much into their borders as South Africa, making it one of our best-loved destinations. Thanks to the venerable Kruger National Park and the private reserves that border it, it’s well-known as a safari destination, but you can also see the Big Five elsewhere, including the Madikwe Game Reserve.

There’s so much more to South Africa, too — you can indulge in history and culture in cool, cosmopolitan Cape Town. (In 2023, nearby Robben Island will mark ten years since the death of its most famous prisoner, President Nelson Mandela.) On a driving tour of the Winelands, you can sip local vintages while admiring the landscape of expansive vineyards against a backdrop of mountains. And, along the windswept Garden Route, you can soak up the coastal views and keep your eyes peeled for migrating whales.

Get me there: Journey by rail as part of a trip that takes you from Kruger to Cape Town, including a guided tour of Robben Island and a visit to the Winelands.

Explore South Africa | South Africa tours | South Africa travel guides

5. Sri Lanka

Sigiriya Rock Fortress
Sigiriya Rock Fortress

Relaxation, jungles, safari & beaches

Beaches covered in rose-gold sand, serene walks among leafy tea estates, great temple complexes, birdwatching, and elephants… Sri Lanka is beguiling in its variety. The compact nature of the island also allows you to pack a lot into one trip. Additionally, after a challenging 2022, the island is eager to greet new visitors and we work hard to be sure that all our visits here are responsible, thoughtful, and help to burgeon the nation.

If you’re interested in safari, you might visit the green jungles of Yala National Park to spot elusive leopards, as well as hummingbirds, crocodiles, and elephants. For sea life, consider a whale-watching cruise off Galle. And, for the best views, you can climb Sigiriya Rock or stay at a luxe cottage nestled among the tea estates in the misty green highlands.

Get me there: See the best parts of the island nation on this highlights tour.

Explore Sri Lanka | Sri Lanka tours | Sri Lanka travel guides

6. Egypt

Sailboats on the Nile in Aswan, Egypt
Felucca on the Nile

Sun-baked pyramids, a Nile cruise & ancient temples

Reeds swaying gently in the breeze, cattle drinking at the muddy bank, the enigmatic Sphinx and its unblinking stare, and, of course, the stately statue of Ramses II keeping stern watch from the shore… Since the pharaohs, a cruise down the Nile has been the best way to soak up the sights of Egypt.

It was exactly 100 years ago, in 1923, that Howard Carter opened the door to Tutankhamun’s burial chamber and the golden treasures within sparked a wildfire of Egyptomania across the world. If your own Egyptomania has taken hold — perhaps you watched Death on the Nile recently? — 2023 is a great year to finally visit. We have a variety of ships, from traditional wind-driven dahabiya to thoroughly modern options that will let you watch the scenery scroll by in luxury fit for a pharaoh.

Get me there: You can see highlights like the Great Pyramid and the Valley of the Kings, but also lesser-visited sights like Philae Temple, on this comprehensive visit that also includes a Nile cruise.

Explore Egypt | Egypt tours | Egypt travel guides

7. Southeast Asia

Golden Buddha next to the Mekong River at Chiang Saen, Thailand
Golden Buddha next to the Mekong River at Chiang Saen, Thailand

Vibrant cuisine, storied temples & mighty rivers

Audley’s very first trips were to Vietnam more than 25 years ago, and Southeast Asia remains a special place to us. The region has almost completely reopened and our specialists took full advantage as soon as they could, sleeping in opulent new stays in Vietnam and Thailand, riding the high-speed train through Laos, visiting the soft-sand beaches, and renewing our long-running love affair with the many rivers that run through the region.

Inter-country flights are in full swing and now is a great time to plan a multi-country trip. Explore jungle-choked ruins, watch saffron-robed monks in meditation, and learn to make dishes like spicy green papaya salad, a common street food in Laos.

Get me there: Visit both Vietnam and Cambodia on this multi-country tour that includes time on the Mekong Delta on a traditional sampan.

Explore Southeast Asia | Southeast Asia tours | Southeast Asia travel guides

8. New Zealand

Kauri tree in the Waipoua Forest, Northland Region of New Zealand's North Island
Kauri tree in the Waipoua Forest, Northland Region of New Zealand's North Island

Epic landscapes, vineyards & Māori culture

Towering stratovolcanoes with snow-kissed peaks, jagged mountains reflected in mirror-smooth water, vast beaches that seem to never end, bubbling mudpots, caves lit by glow worms… New Zealand’s natural beauty has inspired myths from ancient Māori beliefs to modern day cinematographers on the new Tolkien TV series, Rings of Power.

We can help you explore these mythic landscapes on guided tours intended to help you connect with the natural world — kayak along Queen Charlotte Sound, walk among the seals on Tonga Bay, swim with dolphins, or take a cruise to the many corners of the country that you can’t reach on land. We’ll also help you explore Māori culture — visit spiritual sights in Auckland or the Waipoua Forest. And, of course, you can sample the renowned wines that are produced here on tours of Blenheim or Hawke’s Bay’s vineyards.

Get me there: This highlights tour includes a chance to sample wines, journey by train, and visit Milford Sound.

Explore New Zealand | New Zealand tours | New Zealand travel guides

9. Kenya

Lioness in the Masai Mara, Kenya
Lioness in the Masai Mara

The Great Migration & beach relaxation

In Kenya’s Masai Mara National Reserve, great herds of wildebeest move across the plains in a cloud of sunlit dust, shying from prowling lion prides. Lanky giraffe nibble on acacia trees whose branches might hold vultures or leopard. In the great Mara River, hippo yawn and crocodiles lurk, waiting to ambush an unwary antelope.

Kenya is the classic safari destination for good reason — a visit here gives you the chance to see the drama of the Great Migration, which includes a healthy population of plains animals and their big-cat predators. You can also meet the local Maasai to learn more about their history and culture in this wild and ancient land.

What’s more, a new train line has just opened linking Nairobi to Tsavo National Park, giving you easy, good-value access to a safari, as well as to the southern beaches, where you can unwind on white-sand shores after your many game drives.

Get me there: Indulge in a luxury safari, followed by a few days lounging on soft-sand beaches, on this trip to Kenya.

Explore Kenya | Kenya safaris | Kenya travel guides

10. The Galapagos Islands

View of two beaches on Bartolome Island in the Galapagos
View of two beaches on Bartolome Island in the Galapagos

Supporting rare, fearless wildlife

Comic red-footed boobies, sinuous marine iguanas, and Darwin’s famous finches — the wildlife of the Galapagos archipelago is as rare as it is fearless. Travel here is carefully restricted, to protect the fragile ecosystems and maintain this special natural space. Additionally, we only work with small ships to ensure your visit will have the smallest possible footprint. This means there are a limited number of berths, so it’s important to book well ahead if you want to visit.

Your advance planning will be rewarded with a chance to get up close and personal with the locals. You’ll see lumbering tortoises older than any human, waved albatrosses who look graceful in the air and clumsy on the ground, and sleek sea lions basking in the sun. You might go snorkelling, take a guided tour with a bird expert, or hike along the caldera of Cerro Negro Volcano.

Get me there: Hop from island to island onboard the Yolita II with this Galapagos cruise.

Explore the Galapagos Islands | Galapagos Islands tours | Galapagos Islands travel guides