Where to go in February 2011

by SHAWN LOW·
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February is that strange short month each year. Everyone’s recovering from New Year festivities and just getting used to being back at work. Too soon for a holiday? Too short a month? Nonsense. It’s low season so tickets are cheap! In fact, it’s one of the best times for a holiday.

Halong Bay, Vietnam

Northern Vietnam is cool this time of year and rainfall is low. That makes it a perfect time to get to Halong Bay. Access this stunning network of over 3000 karst peaks – all set in the emerald waters of the Gulf of Tonkin. Get on a boat for a cruise. Stay the night on board and get out on a beach the next morning. Spend the afternoon kayaking and finish it off with a visit to vast limestone caves.

Bhutan

Exotic Bhutan really lives up to its mystical nature. Heavily steeped in Buddhist culture, the misty mountain valleys are peppered with dzong architecture (Tibetan influenced), and the government has installed a kooky 'Gross National Happiness' system to measure, what else, the happiness of locals! Visiting costs are US$200 per day. It sounds expensive, but your fee includes transport, midrange accommodation, food, sights and a guide. Sounds like good value to me!

Great Ocean Road, Victoria

If you need to make one road trip, make it a coastal one. The 250km drive from Torquay to Warrnambool in Australia's south takes you past surfing beaches, beach resorts, national parks and even rainforests. The weathered cliff faces and crashing waves at the Port Campbell National Park are guaranteed to induce awe. Look out for the cluster of cliffs famed as the '12 Apostles'. (At the time of writing, mid-January 2011, flooding has affected road travel in the area - by February, weather permitting, this should be well and truly sorted, but check travel advisories in case.)

Where to Avoid:  Queensland, Australia

Recent floods in the Australian state of Queensland mean that much of the state is in emergency mode. Some reports put the size of areas flooded as being larger than France and the UK combined. Best to check government updates if you are planning on visiting.