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Where to go in March for 'the journey'

Travel is as much about the journey as it is about the destination itself. And we don’t believe you should have to compromise on one or the other.

With these four adventures we bring you epic journeys across dynamic destinations; from idyllic island-hopping in Myanmar to hiking among karst outcrops in Vietnam; exploring Easter Island’s iconic stone heads; and tracking tasty treats on some of Australia’s best cycling trails.

myanmar
A Moken fishing boat cruises through the turquoise water in southern Myanmar © prapassong / Getty Images

Cruise among hundreds of idyllic tropical specs in Myanmar (Burma)

Far off the beaten track there’s a dock, and from that dock a boat sails even further from the modern world – to the long isolated Myeik (or Mergui) Archipelago, off the southeast coast of Myanmar. This sprinkling of 800 or so rocky islands flecking the Andaman Sea only recently began welcoming foreign visitors, and is at its most beautiful in the early months of the year; in March the weather is dry and warm, with underwater visibility perfect for snorkellers and divers to absorb the varied marine life.

Some islands, such as Lampi – a designated nature reserve – are blanketed with dense jungle in which tigers and elephants are reputed to roam. Others are studded with golden beaches and the stilted fishing villages of the Moken, the nomadic ‘sea gypsies’, who may have been the country’s earliest inhabitants.

  • Trip plan: Several international tour operators organise sailing cruises, mostly departing from Kawthoung near the Thai border, or liveaboard dive trips from Phuket or other Thai islands.
  • Need to know: Burmese food is a blend of Indian and Thai; the traditional breakfast (and unofficial national dish) is mohinga, a spicy fish noodle soup.
  • Other months: Other months: Nov-Apr – driest months, best for sailing islands; May-Oct – monsoon.

easter-island
The stone heads of Easter Island have always captured the imagination of travellers © Sean Caffrey / Getty Images

Wander in ideal weather among Rapa Nui’s enigmatic stone heads and gorgeous lakes

Chile stretches some 2700 miles (4345 km) from its border with Peru and Bolivia in the north to Cape Horn, the very tip of the Americas, at 56° south – so finding the perfect time to explore can be tricky. Try March: a balmy time to be roaming the Lakes District and the wineries (for the joys of the grape harvest), and it’s the end of the Patagonian summer when crowds thin and prices simmer down.

It’s also good for a journey to that baffling ocean-lapped rock, Rapa Nui (Easter Island), adrift 2250 miles (3621 km) from the mainland. The enormous moai, huge stone heads for which the island is famed, are just the most visible of the mysteries surrounding the culture of its first inhabitants. Make a circuit of the island’s ahu (platforms bearing moai) and ponder the birdman cult at Orongo ceremonial village.

  • Trip plan: Latam Airlines (latam.com) makes the 5½-hour flight from Chile’s capital Santiago to Rapa Nui several times a week.
  • Need to know: Occasional outbreaks of dengue fever on Rapa Nui mean covering up and using insect repellent is a wise strategy.
  • Other months: Jan-Apr & Oct-Dec – warmer and drier; May-Sep – rainier.

hilltribe
A member of the Red Dao tribe plants rice in the mountains of the Sapa region, north Vietnam © Gavriel Jecan / Getty Images

Roam among karst outcrops, drift through the delta and meet the hilltribes of Vietnam

With three micro-climates, and rain hitting different regions in different months, it’s always a great time to visit somewhere in Vietnam – but damp in other spots. March, though, is fine pretty much across the board: it’s a rare season when you can capture photos of the junks and karst outcrops of Halong Bay and Bai Tu Long against an azure sky rather than haze; when trekking up the country’s highest peak, Fansipan (3143m), and among the hilltribes around Sapa is comfortably cool and dry; when wandering Hanoi’s charming Old Quarter is a delight; and when the central coast and southern beaches such as Mui Ne or Phu Quoc are pleasantly warm and rain-free.

  • Trip plan: How long have you got? A fortnight allows time for a tour of the north, looping from Hanoi to Sapa and Halong Bay, possibly even down to Hue and Hoi An. Add more time and you can stretch your route south to Nha Trang, Dalat, Saigon, the Mekong Delta and those beaches. And maybe get off the beaten track, too.
  • Need to know: Visa regulations change often – check the latest requirements with a Vietnamese consulate before heading off.
  • Other months: South – dry Dec-Apr, rains May-Nov; central coast around Hue – dry Mar-Aug, rains Sep-Feb; north – cold Dec-Mar, wet Apr-Sep, dry and cool Oct-Nov.

nrn041213.001.008 The Age. Epicure. A cyclist on the Murray to the Mountains Rail Trai near Porepunkah. Photo Neil Newitt
What better motivation to get in the saddle than the promise of delicious foodie fare at the end of your ride? © The AGE / Getty Images

Enjoy fine cycling along some of Australia’s tastiest trails

The heights around Bright in the northeastern corner of Victoria make a credible claim to being Australia’s cycle epicentre, and March is an ideal time to saddle up – sunny, not too hot, just at the tipping point between summer and autumn. The region is laced with over 150 miles (241 km) of safe off-road routes including the 72-mile (116km) Murray to Mountains Rail Trail, plus adrenaline-piquing mountain-biking, testing road rides and plenty of family-friendly routes.

Pedal between historic gold-mining towns such as Yackandandah and Beechworth, stopping in at the bountiful cafes and cellar doors of notable wineries including Brown Brothers and John Gehrig. The region’s riddled with foodie treats, too, from artisan food producers (try the wares of Milawa Cheese Company) to gourmet restaurants.

  • Trip planner: Bright, usually considered the gateway to the High Country, is a three-hour drive north of Melbourne. There are plenty of accommodation options, many of them charming historic B&Bs.
  • Need to know: If you don’t bring your own bike, hire is available at most towns across the region; check details at victoriashighcountry.com.au.
  • Other months: Dec-Mar – summer; Apr-May – fine autumn foliage, harvest festivals; Jun-Sep – ski season; Oct-Nov – spring.

Looking for more inspiration? Check out our book Where To Go When for 360 ultimate escapes from family-friendly adventures to animal encounters and relaxing retreats.