Lands of History & Mystery; Time to SM1 Mirror.Co.UK SUNDAY 06.09.2020 EXPLORE for Holidays in the New Normal; Escape to Where Progress and Time's Passage Have Yet to Make an Impact

Sunday Mirror (London, England), September 6, 2020 | Go to article overview

Lands of History & Mystery; Time to SM1 Mirror.Co.UK SUNDAY 06.09.2020 EXPLORE for Holidays in the New Normal; Escape to Where Progress and Time's Passage Have Yet to Make an Impact


TRANSYLVANIA

This semi-mythological chunk of Romania is where eastern Europe jumps back a couple of centuries, with horses and carts taking the place of cars.

It's a near-medieval landscape of rolling forests with wells in the villages, wolves in the woods and bears in the hills. Here, you literally make hay while the sun shines - and don't count your chickens until they hatch. What to do: Go bear watching, hire a horse and cart for a picnic, and visit Dracula's castle and the hilltop town of Sighisoara, where Vlad the Impaler - the model for Dracula - was born. But above all just stay local, renting a house in a charming Saxon village and feeling the pulse of daily life.

Try to book into the Prince of Wales's own guesthouse in Zalanpatak, provided the man himself is not in residence - he's a massive fan of Transylvania. How to do it: Village house rental costs from PS28pp per night with Experience Transylvania (experiencetransylvania.ro).

A six-day Transylvania Walking and Nature Holiday, based at Zalanpatak, with Responsible Travel costs from PS816pp, excluding flights.

responsibletravel.com LAOS South East Asia has been a travel nirvana for quite a number of decades, and for good reason.

Great food, fabulous temples, friendly people, lovely weather, low prices what's not to like? Thailand has been the soaraway leader, with Malaysia and Vietnam doing very well too. But the tourism invasion has changed them - while subtle Laos, in their midst, has gone on doing its own thing, just like a Thailand of 40 years ago.

What to do: The key hub for a vision of old Indochina is Luang Prabang, the former imperial capital, a charming mixture of old Chinese shophouses and immaculate colonial mansions, built by Vietnamese craftsmen.

It's like a film set, preserved by Unesco and animated by bicycle rickshaws and saffron-robed monks. This backwater city is literally that - a backwater, built on a peninsula on the banks of the Mekong, with much of the local transport still by boat.

How to do it: Trailfinders' Treasures of Laos private tour spends six days in Luang Prabang, including a trip on the river, and in the capital, Vientiane. From PS779pp with one domestic but no international flights. trailfinders.com BHUTAN The reclusive Kingdom of the Thunder Dragon, spectacularly folded into the foothills of the Himalayas, limits annual visitor numbers.

Formerly ruled by monks, it still marches to a very different beat - but now with an enlightened monarchy in charge. Money seems barely necessary when education, health care and property is all free. Buddhism is huge, rivers are straddled with prayer wheels and hillsides adorned with stands of tall ancestor flags.

What to do: The land is a rollercoaster of mountain passes and forested valleys, with macaques on the roads, eagles in the skies and clouded leopards among the wild chestnut trees.

It is a place of tremendous festivals - spectacular celebrations usually focused around the giant monasteries. Travel the mountain roads, stay in hilltop villages, and take the long hike up to The Tiger's Nest, a monastery clinging to a cleft on an escarpment.

How to do it: Mountain Kingdoms runs a 13-day small group Definitive Cultural Tour of Bhutan that covers key places, from PS3,365pp, including flights. mountainkingdoms.com PAPUA NEW GUINEA Once upon a time this large island off the northern tip of Australia had the reputation of turning its visitors into missionary stew. …

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Lands of History & Mystery; Time to SM1 Mirror.Co.UK SUNDAY 06.09.2020 EXPLORE for Holidays in the New Normal; Escape to Where Progress and Time's Passage Have Yet to Make an Impact
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