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30 Dream Destinations

Exotic

MALAYSIA The quiet waters of Malaysia offer a direct antithesis to other Asian beach getaways. Few Americans have even heard of Langkawi, a cool jungle landscape off the Malay Peninsula's northwest coast, where the pervasive calm is broken only by the crash of a wave. WHERE TO STAY The waterfront Four Seasons Langkawi (800/332-3442; www.fourseasons.com; doubles from $450) has 91 teak-shingled pavilions.

MAURITIUS Adrift in the Indian Ocean, 1,250 miles east of Africa, the island of Mauritius has luxurious resorts and a multicultural soul. Four centuries of colonial experimentation have yielded a curious mosaic of Hindu temples, mosques, and Chinese pagodas, set amid waterfalls and volcanic peaks. WHERE TO STAY The decidedly Gallic Prince Maurice (800/735-2478; www.princemaurice.com; doubles from $942) offers service that is suave and precise.

SOUTH AFRICA Game parks blanket the land of the Big Five. One of the most luxurious is Singita, a 38,000-acre private reserve next to Kruger National Park that is such a celebrity favorite, it has been called Hollywood in the bush. WHERE TO STAY The five lodges that make up Singita (800/545-1910; www.singita.com; doubles from $2,372, including all meals and excursions) range from the tribal-chic Ebony to the mod Lebombo.

TIBET On a remote plateau thousands of feet above sea level, between India and China, Tibet is known as a sacred land of seers and sages. The magic begins on the flight to Lhasa from Kathmandu, when you first see Mount Everest looming above the cloud cover, and continues in the open countryside, where barley fields sit next to a broad river and white massifs guard the distant horizon. OUTFITTER A guide must accompany all visitors. Work with an experienced travel agent or tour operator such as Geographic Expeditions (800/777-8183; www.geoex.com; from $300 per person per day).

Country

ENGLAND The lush, temperate southeastern counties of Kent and Sussex are home to the 90-mile High Weald Landscape Trail. Hand-painted wooden placards posted along the road inform walkers what's in season at local farm shops, which are tucked away down narrow lanes. Towns are usually no more than seven miles apart: on foot or in a car, you can cover a lot of ground in a few days. WHERE TO STAY The quarters at Read's Restaurant with Rooms (Faversham; 44-1795/535-344; www.reads.com; doubles from $275) overlook the gardens.

IRELAND The emerald landscapes and deserted beaches of Ireland's wild west have long attracted painters, poets, and romantics. Explore the majestic coastline of the Ring of Kerry; the Lakes of Killarney; and the flat, untamed moorlands of Connemara, then step into one of the many pubs for a pint of Guinness. WHERE TO STAY Situated on Lahinch Bay, Moy House (800/323-5463; www.moyhouse.com; doubles from $295) is a perfect base for touring County Clare.

NEW ZEALAND Thanks to the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the secret is out: this preternaturally beautiful place of sheep and hobbits is a honeymoon heaven. Expats are even moving here, drawn not only by the pastoral setting, but also by affordable waterfront real estate. OUTFITTER The walking tour of the South Island with Butterfield & Robinson (866/ 551-9090; www.butterfield.com; $6,995 per person, double, including all meals) covers four regions.

Culture

CHIANG MAI Thailand's cultural capital is an outsize village where old-time street life, craftmaking, and folk rites are on vivid display. Traditionally, it has attracted a more respectful and curious traveler. That's changed a bit as Chiang Mai has grown into a minor metropolis, but it's still the art and architecture—particularly temple design—that keep visitors coming. WHERE TO STAY At the Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi (800/ 526-6566; www.mandarinoriental.com; doubles from $350), guests can learn basketry, weaving, and woodcarving.

ESSAOUIRA With its strong breezes, this Moroccan beach town—known as Wind City, Africa—is one of the world's top windsurfing and kite-boarding spots. But there's more to it than water sports: the local calendar is studded with world-class music and arts events, and galleries show internationally known artists. WHERE TO STAY Built around a courtyard, Riad Gyvo (212-44/475-102; www.riadgyvo.com; doubles from $120) is a stylish medina house turned hotel.

HELSINKI Chairs, vases, wallpaper—the Finns do it all with style. Take Finlandia Hall, the massive white Alvar Aalto edifice, or Hvitträsk, Eliel Saarinen's house, which has become something of a shrine. The Church in the Rock is a miraculous place—not for religious reasons, but for its breathtaking interpretation of what a church can be: it looks like a flying saucer, landed in the middle of Temppeliaukio Square. WHERE TO STAY The 39-room 1952 Palace Hotel (358-9/ 134-561; www.palace.fi; doubles from $285) retains its retro feel.

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