Sunset is one of our favourite times of the day – it’s an excuse to sit back, drink in hand and take in the scenery, whether you’re high above your favourite city at a rooftop bar, or you’re on the beach catching those last few rays.

But where is the most beautiful place in the world to see the sunset? We’re pretty sure this beguiling nation is up there. Here are 12 amazing photos from across the country…

Sunset over the river in Monywa

Myanmar / Around Mandalay / Monywa / sunset over river

Fishermen on Inle Lake

Inle Lake, Myanmar, Burma

Sunset over Bagan‘s southern plains

Myanmar / Western Burma / Bagan / sunset over Southern Plain

Tourists watching sunset from Shwesandaw in Bagan

Myanmar, Western Myanmar, Bagan, tourists watching sunset from Shwesandaw

Shwesandaw, Bagan

Myanmar / Western Burma / Bagan / sunset from Shwesandaw

Mrauk U, Western Myanmar

Myanmar / Western Burma / Mrauk U / Sunset over stupas

The beach at Sittwe

Myanmar / Western Burma / Sittwe / beach at sunset

The stupas of Mrauk U

Myanmar / Western Burma / Mrauk U / Sunset over stupas

The river in Hpaan

Myanmar / South east Myanmar / Hpaan / sunset on river

The Kyaiktiyo Pagoda (Golden Rock)

Myanmar, South east Myanmar, Kyaiktiyo Pagoda, Golden Rock

Sunset over Bago

Myanmar, Bago Division, Bago, sunset

Ngapali beach

Myanmar, Western Burma, Ngapali, Ngapali Beach

Explore more of Myanmar with the Rough Guide to Myanmar (Burma)Compare flights, find toursbook hostels and hotels for your trip, and don’t forget to buy travel insurance before you go. 

Among a certain segment of travellers, cruising is sometimes maligned: the dismal buffet and watered-down cocktails. Those kitschy lounge acts. The contrived shore excursions. But that, as they say, was then.

Cruising today, and especially river cruising, offers an entirely different experience, from celebrity chef-driven cuisine to stargazing lounges to bike rides along leafy canals.

River cruising is, in a way, ideal for those who don’t consider themselves cruisers: the ships are relatively small and intimate; land is always in sight, offering daily access to villages and towns; and dinners are elegant affairs at linen-topped tables, instead of noisy group melees.

Here are our five top picks for European river cruises, where the experience is the destination and the journey.

1. The Romantic Rhine, Germany

The Rhine has been immortalized for centuries: it inspired Richard Wagner to write his first opera, and the river’s famous Lorelei rock – supposedly helmed by a swirling-haired siren – has starred in poems, rock songs, and even as a Marvel Comics character.

Germany’s longest river is also one of Europe’s most beautiful cruise routes, particularly the 65-kilometre Middle Rhine, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site known as the “Romantic Rhine.”

During the Roman Empire, the Rhine was a strategic waterway, and looming over its banks are castles and crumbling fortresses that date back a thousand years.

The Rhine scenery is stunning – hilltop castles presiding over terraced, fragrant vineyards. Plus, there’s Riesling-tasting galore, the Mechanisches Muskikkabinett (Mechanical Museum) in Rüdesheim and a stop in Heidelberg, Germany’s oldest university town.

Sunset on The Romantic Rhine, GermanyPixabay / CC0

Travel with: CroisiEurope. Celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2016, the family-owned CroisiEurope offers affordable prices, but amenities are on par with the highest-level ships: spacious decks, hotel-style beds, and elegant dining rooms with French menus developed by notable chefs Paul Bocuse and Marc Haeberlin.

2. The River of Gold, Portugal

The traditional fado songs of Portugal are soulful and poetic, much like cruising the country’s waterways. Explore the river Douro and sip aromatic port in the country’s birth city, Porto; explore the lively Spanish university city of Salamanca; and, ease into the evening to the mournful sounds of fado.

A cruise down the Douro glides past looming rock formations and the Valerian and Pocinho Dams, to Barca d’Alva, with an excursion to Castelo Rodrigo, surrounded by almond trees, and on to Pinhão and the Douro Wine District.

Along the way, sample Portuguese specialties like salt cod, caldo verde stew, and the country’s famous port wine.

Viking River Cruises shipImage by Viking River Cruises

Travel with: Viking River Cruises winds through Portugal on the Douro River, from the capital city of Lisbon to Porto and its Baroque cathedrals. Their Scandinavian-themed vessels also maximize scenery-watching, with panoramic windows throughout.

3. The Canals of Burgundy, France

Best known for its centuries-old winemaking traditions, Burgundy is going through a rebirth, with wine-tasting salons that are spotlighting the latest oenological tech products and new farm-to-fork restaurants and upmarket B&Bs.

A cruise here floats lazily through the heart of Burgundy, stopping at family wineries like Domaine Briday in the northern Côte Chalonnaise, which is known for its white wines and the sparkling Cremant de Bourgogne.

Highlights include the Chateau de Rochepot, crowned by Burgundian multicoloured glazed tiles; the medieval wine capital of Beaune; and, above all, the barge’s slow pace. The full trip is around 75 miles, which you could cover in a morning drive in a rental car. Instead, this cruise can be spread out over six days, and the hypnotic movement of a barge is a powerful sedative, especially after a glass of Burgundy red.

Burgundy, canals, FrancePixabay / CC0

Travel with: French Country Waterways. The oldest U.S.-owned barge company operating in France, French Country Waterways is the elegant godmother of the canals. The ship interiors are done up in dark-wood paneling, plush sofas with tasseled pillows, and a grand communal dining table, laden with heavy silverware and flickering candles.

4. The Danube: Prague to Budapest

It’s shortly after that first beer lands on the table, with views of the city’s famous bridges glinting beyond, that Kafka’s famous quote hits home: “Prague never lets you go. This dear little mother has sharp claws.”

After a couple of days in Prague, it’s hard to escape its grip, but the Danube awaits. The river’s history unfolds along the way, with stops at medieval Regensburg; the Benedictine Abbey of Melk, one of the largest monasteries in Europe; and Passau, which rises over the convergence of the Inn, Ilz, and Danube rivers.

The cruise culminates in Vienna – where you’ll sample the famous sachertorte and ink-black coffee – and Budapest.

Enjoy sausages and a beer (or five) at Historische Wurstkuchl, Germany’s oldest restaurant in Regensburg; an evening of opera in Vienna and crossing beneath the 1849 Chain Bridge in Budapest.

Avalon_DanubeImage by Avalon Waterways

Travel with: Avalon Waterways. Launched in 2003, Avalon Waterways has among the newest ships on Europe’s waters, with ample rooms with sliding glass doors, a sky deck with whirlpool, and stylish dining quarters.

5. The Norwegian fjords

Few sights accompany the morning coffee better than the sun rising over Noregian fjords. Greet the first light of day on the deck, as your ship glides around a bend and Norway’s cliffs come into focus, rising like skyscrapers over the waters.

Embark on a twelve-day trip from Bergen to Kirkenes, which includes Ålesund, with its Art Nouveau architecture, and Tromsø, the capital of the Arctic.

Norway, fjords, EuropePixabay / CC0 

Travel with: Hurtigruten. On most other cruises, you’ll see the same passengers day in and out, but take the Hurtigruten ship and the faces change daily, since it also functions as a commuter route, with locals hopping on for short jaunts up and the down the coast.

And, don’t underestimate the allure of nostalgia: one of Hurtigruten’s most popular ships is the MS Lofoten – it launched in 1964, and little has changed since then. The ship celebrates the vintage era, with cargo loaded by traditional crane; gleaming wood and brass throughout, as well as oil paintings of coastal Norway; and sherry served on silver trays.

Explore more of Europe with the Rough Guide to Europe on a BudgetCompare flights, find toursbook hostels and hotels for your trip, and don’t forget to buy travel insurance before you go. Featured image: Pixabay / CC0

Not feeling the love for Valentine’s day this year? Looking for an alternative to soppy mini-break destinations? We’ve picked the least romantic experiences around the world.

1. Exploring the Museum of Broken Relationships, Croatia

There’s plenty to ogle at this unique museum in Zagreb, where any amorous feeling will be shattered by illuminating stories of relationship failures and disasters. The trauma is further embellished by the display of associated artefacts. Once-treasured mementoes are now just creepy relics of pain and broken promises – a gross spectacle to be sure, but perhaps you’ll leave feeling mutually confident that yours is a love which will endure?

Exploring the Museum of Broken Relationships, Croatia

2. Getting serious sunburn, Australia

If there’s one way to set you apart from the locals, it’s getting sunburnt. As a nation of surfers and sun worshipers, beach life in Australia is par for the course. But be warned, twenty minutes in the powerful Oz sun is enough to scorch you senseless. Once burnt, you can wave goodbye to most activities, so spare your partner the task of gingerly applying aloe lotion to rupturing blisters before bedtime. It’s a total mood killer.

Getting serious sunburn, Australia

3. Celebrating Holi Festival, India

This colourful Hindu festival is celebrated every year in March to commemorate the victory of good over evil. You can expect high spirits and vibrant revelry as multi-coloured powdered paint is thrown about in joyful abandon. The sight is thrilling, but handfuls of paint smacked vigorously into the face will work its way into every orifice. Be on your guard as crowds enjoying the festivities might become overzealous, and losing your partner in the rabble is a real possibility.

Celebrating Holi Festival, India

4. Boating on the Broads, Norfolk, England

Norfolk is an ideal destination for couples looking for a slice of English countryside and navigating the waterways of the Broads by boat doesn’t get more quintessentially British. However, a narrowboat can sink in less than a minute and there are various ways of accomplishing that job with a rookie at the helm. Other snares include seasickness and cabin fever. It’s an intimate experience to say the least.

Boating on the Broads, Norfolk, England

5. Motorbiking, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Ho Chi Minh City is famous for street food, bargain shopping and chaotic traffic. Motorbikes swarm like angry hornets, vying for space and jostling to squeeze through gaps in the congestion. Biking in this urban jungle is stressful to say the least and at worst, deadly. So keen motorcyclists should head for the highway between Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi instead, for memorable scenery and an open road without exhaust fumes clouding the horizon.

Motorbiking, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

6. Digging into Sichuan food, China

Powerful combinations of garlic, chilli and Sichuan peppers make this cuisine quite possibly the boldest and most pungent of chows. Originating in the South Western province of Sichuan and today available widely across China, its fiery flavour will quite literally knock your socks off. When dining out, we advise to taste tentatively, thus avoiding unappealing chilli sweats and the unmentionable after effects.

Digging into Sichuan food, China

7. A dip in Totumo’s volcanic mud bath, Colombia

Forget all notions of a spa-like experience. It’s not necessarily the slithering around with strangers in a pit of liquid mud that is most unappealing; it’s probably exiting the ‘bath’ up an awkward ladder, caked in grey, crusty mud-slime. Vigorous (and thorough) scrub-downs are available from locals for a fee after your dip in the gloopy pool, but these obliterate any mineral benefits and leave your skin unattractively raw.

A dip in Totumo's colcanic mud bath, Colombia

8. Climbing Giotto’s Bell Tower, Florence, Italy

It is 414 steps to the zenith of this stunning Gothic bell tower. Once you reach the top, the views over Florence are undoubtedly rewarding, but first must come the legwork. Even the fittest of couples will be puffing by halfway. Will you see the funny side of your red faces, as you wheeze your way up each narrow flight of steps? For those who are unsure, this magnificent edifice is best admired from below.

Climbing the Giotto’s Bell Tower, Florence, Italy

9. Stay in a haunted hotel, England

With buildings dating back to 500AD and a long gruesome history, it is no surprise that England boasts some of the most notoriously haunted dwellings in the world. The upside of staying in a haunted house? Your lodgings are likely to be of architectural and historical importance (think romantic Tudor beams and cosy firesides). Downsides include a sleepless night feeling like you’re not the only people in the room…

Stay in a haunted house/hotel, England

10. Eating deep-fried delicacies in Cambodia

Discovering local cuisine can be one of the most exciting parts of your trip, and tasting new things together a bonding experience. But how far would you go? Cambodia is notorious for its deep-fried market treats and it is not uncommon to see piles of freshly cooked snakes, frogs and bugs for sale. Whole, crispy tarantula is another treat the Western palate might find less, erm, palatable.

Eating deep-fried delicacies in Cambodia

11. Arriving at the airport

We know we will soon be feeling the hot sun on our skin, sipping a cappuccino in a local bar or breathing fresh mountain air, but negotiating airports is the ultimate bubble-buster. Queues at the check-in desk, over-the-limit luggage and flight delays… the list goes on. Return journeys are testing as you struggle to hold on to those happy memories whilst grappling luggage off a conveyer belt. The only remedy is the thought of planning your next trip together.

Arriving at the airport

12. Visiting Rome in July, Italy

Walking around this museum-like metropolis during the searing heat of summer is almost unbearable. Despite this, it is the most popular time of year for tourists to visit. Long queues in inescapable heat will cause sweating from the most peculiar places, and the challenge of eating ice-cream in such temperatures is tenfold. We can’t imagine you’ll feel up to much more than slinking into the shade for an icy (overpriced) drink.

Visiting Rome in July, Italy

13. Acclimatising to altitude, La Paz, Bolivia

Situated at over 3500m above sea level, La Paz is the highest capital in the world. The magnificence of this sprawling city however, can be overshadowed by the struggle of adjusting to the altitude. Sickness is likely to commence on the ascent journey, only subsiding once your body has regulated the lack of oxygen. On the plus side, large colonial plazas are the perfect perch to take in the city’s frenetic energy, just don’t count on being too energetic yourselves.

Acclimatising to altitude, La Paz, Bolivia

14. Taking a camel safari, Jaisalmer, India

Trekking across desert dunes and sleeping under twinkling skies, could there be a more a dreamy escape? Unfortunately, not only might dung beetles take the shine off this enchanting fantasy, there are few things less sexy than a chapped backside from the lolloping gait of your camel. Come nightfall, sharing a simple sandy hole for toilet requirements and bundling into separate sleeping bags is barely conducive to passion.

Taking a camel safari, Jaisalmer, India

15. Visiting Jagalchi Fish Market, Busan, South Korea

Markets are a fun way to discover how locals source their food and Jagalchi, the largest fish market in South Korea, is the ultimate destination for seafood lovers. The sea creatures are mostly live, available to buy and sometimes consume on the premises. You’ll see plenty of dissection, fish gutting and boiling up of live crustaceans. Avoid this excursion if even a tiny bit squeamish; overpowering odours pervade the air and you are likely to witness people scoffing squirming fish.

Visiting Jagalchi Fish Market, Busan, South Korea

16. Kayaking on Vancouver Island, Canada

For the adventurous couple, such an activity may seem like the perfect way to inject a heady dose of endorphins into your trip. But kayaking very rarely tops ‘most romantic holiday’ lists and there’s a good reason why. The icy waters of Vancouver Island may be ideal for whale spotting, but even energetic paddling won’t stave off the chill. Once this spreads to your vital organs, any chance of an impromptu steamy session afterwards is surely off the cards. Novices beware.

Kayaking on Vancouver Island, Canada

17. Shopping in the souks, Morocco

We all know that shopping with a loved one can be challenging. But have you ever tried tackling the souks of Marrakesh together? Granted, you are likely to find plenty of trinkets and affordable mementoes. But the labyrinthine network of streets and shops selling often-identical merchandise can befuddle even the most expert shopper. High temperatures, persistent merchants and feeling like you could have got a better deal elsewhere all contribute to rising tempers.

Shopping in the Souks, Morocco

18. Doing karaoke in Japan

Japanese karaoke bars offer a superior experience to those of the Western world. For intimate parties of two, it is possible to be spared the public humiliation of performing to a room of strangers thanks to the private booths on offer. Sober karaoke is generally intolerable, so helpfully (or perhaps to your detriment) many bars provide an all-you-can-drink service, meaning any preconceived inhibitions won’t linger long. Couple this with the bonus of privacy, and unbridled crooning is inevitable.

Doing karaoke in Japan

Whether your idea of romance is a stroll in the countryside or a sunset cocktail over one of the world’s greatest cities, the United Kingdom isn’t short of romantic spots. Here are our favourites.

Brecon Beacons National Park, Wales

If paradise is strolling out of your back door and straight into the mountains, then the Brecon Beacons is your nirvana. Holiday cottages situated within this seemingly boundless national park offer couples with outdoorsy spirit a chance to commune with nature. Walking, mountain biking and pony trekking are fun ways to explore the uplands and valleys of the Black Mountains and if you’re not tired-out from the day’s adventures, the area is scattered with proper pubs boasting serious cheffy credentials.

Brecon Beacons National Park, Wales

London, England

Seeking the ultimate city break? Look no further than London. Smart, edgy and bursting with multicultural swagger, the diversity of this buzzing heartland is perhaps its star quality. The Shard’s viewing platform is a magnificent way to soak up some atmosphere with your amore, but you can cop a thriftier view by boarding the Thames Clipper from Tate Britain to Tate Modern or taking a stroll up the infamous Parliament Hill to watch the sun go down over this sprawling city.

London, England

Tintagel Castle, Cornwall, England

In the most far-reaching corner of the British Isles dwells Cornwall, known fondly for its sandy beaches and cream teas, but also as a county that exudes myth from every mound. Tintagel Castle is perhaps the most evocative, as one of the greatest medieval sites in the entire country, and alleged birthplace of King Arthur. Think wizardry, tales of damsels in distress and knights in shining armour. The winding paths and sea views along Tintagel’s ruined battlements are simply enchanting.

Tintagel Castle, Cornwall, England

Peak District National Park, Derbyshire, England

Escape to the wildly romantic Peak District for a rural sojourn. In August, when the moorlands yield vibrant purple heather, this hearty hinterland – stomping ground of Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre – is breathtaking. Make sure you book into one of the many characterful cottages available in the area and spend a day at the stunning stately home of Chatsworth House, the historic seat of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire and setting of many famous love stories.

Peak District National Park, Derbyshire, England

Bath, Somerset, England

A UNESCO World Heritage site interwoven with literary history, the Georgian city of Bath is the perfect setting for a weekend liaison. Stroll through town to the Royal Crescent and observe Palladian architecture at its most magnificent before visiting The Pump Room for champagne tea overlooking the Roman Baths. Browse independent galleries and shops for a memento and end the day with a soak in the naturally warm rooftop pool at Thermae Bath Spa – the twinkling city views from here are awesome.

Bath, Somerset, England

Orford, Suffolk, England

This small Suffolk town with its Norman castle and picturesque quayside is pretty and quaint in equal measure. Stay at the King’s Head Inn, a quality Bed & Breakfast owned by Adnams Brewery, or head to The Crown and Castle hotel for a cosy stay with castle views. Breakfast at the village’s celebrated Pump Street Bakery and get a heady dose of aphrodisiac at the Butley and Orford Oysterage – a local institution serving up the freshest oysters in an unpretentious setting.

Orford, Suffolk, England

The Isle of Skye, Scotland

Undulant and unspoilt, the rugged scenery of Skye is some of Scotland’s most captivating. The island’s hub is Portree, a picturesque town of colourful harbour buildings and a good base for those looking to explore the island. Keen wild swimmers should head for the enchanting Fairy Pools near Glen Brittle – a memorable spot for taking the plunge. And whisky fans mustn’t leave without a trip to the Talisker Distillery, where you can warm those cockles with a tasting tour.

The Isle of Skye, Scotland

The Giant’s Causeway, County Antrim, Northern Ireland

Journey to the northeast coast of Northern Ireland to see the sun set over the horizon from atop Giant’s Causeway. A brisk walk will bring you to this remarkable natural phenomenon, created by an ancient volcanic eruption, where approximately 40,000 hexagonal columns interlock to produce an undulating ridge of basalt rock. If the symbolism of perfect natural unity isn’t enough to get you all gooey eyed, the aura of myth and legendary stories surrounding this site will surely captivate your hearts.

The Giant’s Causeway, County Antrim, Northern Ireland

Edinburgh, Scotland

Elope to Scotland’s capital for an elegant weekend away and to experience the fabulous contrast of medieval and cosmopolitan. You’ll find chic bars and restaurants nestled amongst landmarks steeped in centuries of history. Book a table for dinner at The Outsider with a castle view to enjoy modern Scottish cuisine in the heart of the Old Town. A climb to the peak of Arthur’s Seat (an extinct volcano) will reward you with stunning views of the city and Edinburgh Castle.

Edinburgh, Scotland

Durdle Door, Dorset, England

For the British coastline at its most arresting, pitch up on the Jurassic Coast near Lulworth. Here you’ll find campsites with far-reaching sea views and private beaches. The picture-postcard limestone arches of Durdle Door make this weather-beaten landscape a dreamy location for long cliff-top walks, fossil hunting and a blustery picnic or two. Come twilight, cuddle over a campfire and if stormy weather threatens to cloud your stay, take shelter in the nearest cheerful pub – of which there are many.

Durdle Door, Dorset, England

Big Sur, California

Dizzying views of the Pacific Ocean are awarded at every bend of the 90-mile stretch of craggy coastal road between California’s Carmel and San Simeon. Rent a convertible and hit the highway in true Californian style. This is a sparsely populated region, so for it’s ideal for romancers seeking seclusion. Don’t miss the stunning McWay Falls and Pfeiffer Beach.

Big Sur, California

Las Vegas, Nevada

Rising out of the Nevada desert like the emerald city of Oz, fabulous Las Vegas flaunts its reputation as a destination for high rollers and thrill seekers. Notions of romance are vast and varied in this neon Mecca, so clasp hands and take your pick from gondola rides in the Venetian, a spin on the high-flying SlotZilla zipline or a late-night stroll along The Strip to the spectacular Fountains of the Bellagio.

Las Vegas, Nevada

Stowe, Vermont

Frank Sinatra crooned over moonlight in Vermont, but autumn in this New England state is the real showstopper. As the weather turns chilly, the landscape, which is thickly carpeted in forest, erupts into riotous shades of amber and gold – a spectacle of colour to make any pair of autumn-lovers swoon. Stowe is particularly picturesque, a classic American town with friendly locals and a backdrop of rolling hills.

Stowe, Vermont

Nantucket, Massachusetts

It’s a two-hour ferry from mainland Massachusetts to the beachy isle of Nantucket, where long stretches of sandy shore and wild heathland will certainly bowl you over. Inland, dreamy clapboarded houses – many still standing strong after 150 years – line the charming cobbled streets into Nantucket Town. Pick up supplies from a local deli, rent bicycles and pedal your way to the iconic lighthouse at Brant Point for a picnic in the dunes.

Nantucket, Massachusetts

New York City

New York City is arguably the ultimate city destination. Home to some of the world’s most venerated galleries and museums, even the most discerning culture vulture will be awed. The iconic skyline, bursting with recognizable landmarks, will delight city wanderers hunting photo opportunities. And for foodies planning a memorable meal? Dine under the arches of The Grand Central Oyster Bar, a city institution opened over a century ago, which boasts a whispering gallery famous for hushed propositions.

New York City

Crested Butte, The Rockies, Colorado

Outdoorsy couples seeking activity and alpine summer air should head to Colorado’s Rocky Mountains. From June through August the meadows and forests of Crested Butte are blanketed in colourful arrays of wild flowers. Bike through woodland trails into a rugged wilderness of snow-capped peaks, or hike the 12-mile distance to Aspen and spend the night in one of the town’s luxury lodges – balcony hot tubs are, of course, de rigueur.

Crested Butte, The Rockies, Colorado

New Orleans, Louisiana

Colonised by France, briefly ruled by the Spanish and bought by the US in 1803, The Big Easy embraces cultural fusion like no other city in America. Perhaps best known for its music scene, and arguably as the hometown of jazz and blues, New Orleans is imbued with a spirit of festivity. Come nightfall the seductive French Quarter buzzes with romance. Think balcony dinners, red-hot Creole cuisine and buskers playing nightlong on street corners.

New Orleans, Louisiana

Kauai, Hawaii

Tropical island life doesn’t get more laid-back than Kauai. The palm-dotted beaches of this most northerly Hawaiian Island, famous for its surf and remarkable volcanic landscapes, offers pure paradise for any duo searching for a tranquil escape. Test the waters of Kiahuna beach – best for beginner surfers – or if catching waves isn’t your thing, head to Ha’ena on the northern shore, where trails through the State Park will lead you to ancient Hawaiian sites.

Kauai, Hawaii

Fairbanks to Anchorage, Alaska

Begin your trip by taking in the ethereal spectacle of the aurora borealis, best observed from the skies above Fairbanks during winter months. Here, temperatures can drop to heart-aching sub zero levels, but the Northern Lights (and a cuddle or two) will surely set frozen pulses racing and leave you starry-eyed. Next, ride the rails south from Fairbanks to Anchorage in a glass-topped train, the ideal vantage point to soak up that dramatic scenery in comfort.

Fairbanks to Anchorage, Alaska

Portland, Oregon

Artsy and vibrant with outstanding green spaces, Portland is the ultimate hangout city. Having planted itself on the map as a haven for keen cyclists and coffee lovers, there’s now a burgeoning street food scene and commitment to craft beer, with more local breweries than any city in the world. Spend an evening bar hopping and banish any resulting hangover with a trip to the enchanting Multnomah Falls, where a gentle amble leads you to the cascading waterfall and fairy-tale bridge crossing.

Portland, Oregon

Sri Lanka’s heady mix of British colonial heritage, beautiful landscapes and incredibly friendly locals make it a beguiling destination. But the tropical isle has only cropped up on travellers’ radars in recent years, following the end of the country’s 26-year-long civil war in 2009.

With more tourists heading to Sri Lanka every year, now is the perfect time to visit. Here are ten tips and tricks to help first-time visitors.

1. Prepare to go slow

Although infrastructure is improving and transport options are plentiful, getting around this modestly-sized country, with its tightly winding roads and engine-testing inclines, might feel a little trying at times.

The Hill Country is particularly notorious for eating away time – whether traveling by bus, tuk tuk or train, expect to inch from one tea plantation to the next at speeds of around 12-15 miles per hour. For those with little time or deep pockets, taking a seaplane or hiring a car and driver are good alternatives.

Tuk tuk in Sri Lanka, Asia

2. Go to relax, not to rave

Outside of Colombo, and a few beach resorts, hostels with dorm rooms tend to be thin on the ground. Family-run guesthouses are much more common, which means it’s easy to meet locals but tricky for solo travellers hoping to make friends on the road.

As an emerging honeymoon hotspot, Sri Lanka also attracts a lot of couples. Those looking for nightlife to rival Bangkok’s Khao San Road will leave unfulfilled: beach bars pepper Arugam Bay on the east coast and Hikkaduwa on the west, but these are mellow affairs and many shut down out of season.

3. Treat yourself

If you’ve got Sri Lankan rupees to spare there are plenty of new luxury hotels and resorts where you can spend them. International names such as Aman have already set up shop on the island, and Shangri-La has two new hotels scheduled to open soon.

But it’s the home-grown, luxury hotel mini-chains that you ought to keep your eye on. Uga Escapes and Resplendent Ceylon are just two examples of burgeoning local brands that offer more than just copy-and-paste properties.

Buddha statue, northeastern Sri Lanka

4. Go north to get away from the crowds

Formerly off limits, the country’s Northern Province is prime territory for those who want to roam off the beaten path. A Tamil Tiger stronghold, it was one of the last areas on the island to reopen to tourists, and has yet to succumb to the same wave of hotels, resorts and other developments – or to receive the same flurry of foreign visitors.

If you’re after deserted golden beaches, remote temples and colonial port towns go north.

5. Focus on food

Sri Lankan food is delicious, so make the most of it while you’re there. However, knowing where and when to find the good stuff may prove a harder task than you anticipated. Bowl-shaped hoppers (savoury rice flour crêpes) are a highlight, though they are typically only served first thing in the morning or in late afternoon. Rice and curry is a lunchtime affair, while kottu rotty (chopped flatbread stir-fried with eggs and vegetables) is only available in the evening.

Those familiar with Asia will be surprised at the lack of street food stalls; instead, some of the best food can be found in the kitchens of small guesthouses.

Galle Fort, Colombo, Sri Lanka, Asia

6. Consider Colombo

With jazz clubs, rooftop bars, boutique stores and internationally-acclaimed restaurants, Colombo can no longer be considered a mere gateway city. And though there are a number of sights to see, the capital is also a great place to simply settle in and get a sense of what local life is like.

Watch families fly kites on Galle Face Green at sunset; cheer for the national cricket team at the R Premadasa Stadium, or observe grandmothers swathed in vivid saris bargain with stallholders at Pettah Market.

7. Plan around the seasons

While the monsoon rains might not dampen your enthusiasm for exploring bear in mind that experiences can vary wildly depending on the season. If you’re desperate to climb Adam’s Peak, for example, then visit during pilgrimage season (December–May).

Outside of these months it’s still possible to hike to the summit, but the myriad tea shops that line the path will be closed. You’ll also tackle the peak with a handful of tourists instead of hundreds of local devotees, meaning much of the atmosphere and camaraderie among climbers is lost.

Surfing in Sri Lanka, Asia

8. Get active

Sri Lanka might be known for its stupas, beaches and tea plantations, but it’s also crammed with adrenalin-packed activities. Why not try surfing in Arugam Bay, hiking the Knuckles Mountain Range or white-water rafting in Kelaniya Ganga, Kitulgala. Cycling holidays are also becoming increasingly popular with a number of international tour operators offering specialist tours.

9. Make the most of your money

By western standards Sri Lanka is still a cheap destination, but prices are rising quickly: the cost of a cultural show in Kandy has doubled in the last year alone.

For everyday items such as tea and toothpaste, head to the supermarkets in big cities where you can rest assured that you’re not paying over the odds. In the corner shops of smaller cities simply check the packaging, which has the price printed next to the letters “Rs.” (meaning rupees).

Monk meditating in Sri Lanka, Asia

10. Understand the culture

At its closest point, only 18 miles of aquamarine waters separate Sri Lanka and India – but there’s a world of difference between the two. The pace of life in Sri Lanka feels much less frantic than that of its neighbour, which makes it ideal for those intrigued, yet intimidated, by India.

Few locals bat an eyelid at western visitors and while covering up is always appreciated (and necessary at places of worship), wearing shorts and vests is unlikely to attract much attention.

Explore Sri Lanka with The Rough Guide to Sri LankaCompare flights, find toursbook hostels and hotels for your trip, and don’t forget to purchase travel insurance before you go.

Looking through the Rough Guides photography archive, one kind of shot stands out again and again: pictures captured at sunrise. Sure, there’s nothing more tempting than sleeping in until noon while you’re on holiday. But if you can bring yourself to brave the odd early morning, you’ll discover a magical world as dawn breaks. From misty views atop Victoria Peak in Hong Kong to dreamy sunrise reflections on Ko Samui in Thailand, these are some of our favourite images.

Dawn breaks over the horizon pool at The Tongsai Bay Hotel, Ko Samui, Thailand

Tongsai Bay Hotel, Ko Samui, Thailand

Morning mist on the Mae Hong Son loop, Thailand

Morning Mist on the Mae Hong Son loop, Thailand

An early morning in Hong Kong, as seen from Victoria Peak

View from Victoria Peak, China, Hong Kong

Dawn breaks over Monument Valley, Arizona, USA

Monument Valley, Arizona, USA

Sunrise reflections on Naknek Lake in Alaska’s Katmai National Park

Naknek Lake, Katmai National Park, Alaska

Spectacular colours on Playa Lucia at sunrise, Puerto Rico

Playa Lucia, Puerto Rico

Chinese fishing nets silhouetted as the sun rises, Kochi, Kerala, India

Chinese fishing nets, Cochin (Kochi), Kerala, India

A peaceful Grand Canyon, as seen from Bright Angel Point, Arizona, USA

Grand Canyon, Angel Point, Arizona, USA

Early morning cloudscape over Puerto Viejo, Limon Province, Costa Rica

Cloudscape Puerto Viejo, Limon Province, Costa Rica

Sunrise at Kazan Gorge (Cazanele Dunarii) on the Danube River, Romania

Kazan Gorge (Cazanele Dunarii), Romania

Looking out over the water at dawn, Copenhagen, Denmark

Dawn, Copenhagen, Denmark

A calm start to the day in Mariehamn, Åland, Finland

Mariehamn, Aland, Finland

Gulls circle a life guard post on South Beach, Miami

South Beach, Miami, at sunrise

Liked this? Discover more great photography with Rough Guides on Pinterest:
Visit Rough Guides’s profile on Pinterest.

It’s often said that travelling broadens your horizons. Whether you’re immersing yourself in a new culture or navigating a bewildering city with no more than your wits and a pocket-sized phrasebook to help, travel teaches you something about yourself and your life. So, to tide you over until your next trip we’ve compiled some of the best advice and most astute observations from around the world. These inspirational quotes to live by range from the bon mots of national heroes and literary greats to proverbs passed from generation to generation, with thoughts on everything from the pain of a broken heart to the joys of being alive.

Sex museums are nothing new. Dozens were erected across Europe during the Swinging Sixties when the sexual revolution was in full swing. These days the orgy of sex museums has slowed to a mere mouthful, though they have been stimulated by a new breed of ‘erotic’ museum that aims to steer more towards art than pure physicality. Sex looks like it is going to be back en vogue this year with the release of a certain film, so join us as we go in search of the world’s finest sex museum.

Paris, France

In sophisticated Paris they go all posh on matters of the flesh. Here it’s not about sex, but the erotic. The Museum of Eroticism, though, lies in the shady red light district of Pigalle in the shadow of the Sacré-Cœur. Opened in 1997, the exhibits swirl around the erotic art collections of antique dealer Alain Plumey and teacher Jo Khalifa. The eclectic range of art spreads across five floors and hails from as far afield as Africa and Japan, with everything from ancient religious works, though to the avant garde, with temporary exhibitions too. The film Polissons et Galipettes sheds pornographic shorts light on the nefarious Parisian maisons closes.

Reykjavík, Iceland

Maybe it was inevitable in a land so cold and dark for much of the year, but the citizens of Iceland seems to have developed a fascination with the phallus. That is if the Icelandic Phallological Museum is anything to go by. This whopper lays claims to hoarding the world’s largest collection of penises and ‘penile parts’, with over 200 male members. There may be one human penis here (you honestly don’t want to know the story), but it’s not all about man, as there is flaccid flesh from myriad species, from polar bears to whales (they’ve got over 50 whale specimens alone).

Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Europe’s sex capital was always going to have a sex museum wasn’t it? In fact it sports an impressive pair. You’ll find the first in the heart of the red light district in De Wallen, but the stand out is the, er, slightly more upmarket temple to sex on bustling Damrak. It has stood proudly here since 1985 and is actually fairly tame, a way of getting a taste of this sin city without actually getting involved in anything too seedy. The names of the exhibition spaces say it all: Casanova Gallery, Fanny Hill Street and a hall dedicated to the father of sadism, the Marquis de Sade.
Amsterdam red light district, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Amsterdam’s Red Light District

Barcelona, Spain

Opened in 1997 the Erotic Museum of Barcelona is slap bang in the middle of the city on La Rambla. It promises ‘Sensuality, sexuality, provocation… Fun!’. It’s all here, too, from the sultry world of the Kama Sutra, right through to samples of erotic art that have been banned in Japan. As well as international exhibits the 800-strong collection also delves into the murky world of Spanish pornographic cinema.

London, England

If the French and Spanish choose the erotic over sex, traditionally the British are known for evading the subject of sex entirely. This nation of over 60 million sex-starved souls cannot muster up one upstanding sex museum, but being very British London’s landmark British Museum houses a secret section devoted to, well, you know what. Items deemed ‘obscene’ are said to have been stored away in the Secretum since the nineteenth century. Some have made their way into the main collections, though others remain locked away, too shocking for the genteel Brits. We’ve not yet managed to squirrel our way in, but if you do we’d love to hear what you unearth…

New York City, USA

The Museum of Sex, or MoSex as it is also affectionately known, opened in 2002 in Manhattan and has expanded to an impressive size since. Its mission statement is to ‘preserve and present the history, evolution and cultural significance of human sexuality’ and it has a scholarly angle to its permanent and ever changing temporary exhibitions. Unlike some sex museums it weaves in lesbian and gay sexual narratives too. Even their café is designed to get you in the mood, and they sell ‘penis pasta’ and the delightfully naughty-sounding ‘dirty fortune cookies’.
USA, New York State, New York City, Manhattan, Museum of Sex

Museum of Sex, New York City

St Petersburg, Russia

The Russians seem to have less qualms about all things carnal with sex museums in both Moscow and St Petersburg. MusEros in St Petersburg opened in 2004 and it’s an impressive member of Europe’s sex museum fraternity with a 3D cinema, multimedia gallery and the largest collection of sex machines in the country. It even claims to have its hands on the preserved penis of legendary man about court Rasputin. It also offers answers to ‘anything you ever wanted to know about sex, but were too afraid to ask’.

Prague, Czech Republic

Many of Europe’s sex museums are actually fairly tame. If you’re interested in something a little more hardcore head to Prague. Providing everyone in the group consents, you can visit the Sex Machines Museum. Opened in 2002 it claims to be the only museum in the world dedicated to sex machines – and we are not going to argue with them. Spread across a threesome of floors are a frankly frightening smorgasbord of around 200 gadgets and a store for seriously strange souvenirs. We’ll just mention the more, er, mainstream exhibits like ‘copulation tables’ and the trusty old vibrator. The ‘domination chairs’? Well that is an entirely different feature altogether…

Tongli, China

As China has grown to become an economic and political superpower, the country has also emerged as a willing partner on the sex museum circuit. The first sex museum swung open its doors in Shanghai in the late 1990s and has played the field a bit since, shifting between various venues before finally settling down in TongLi. Their eclectic collection is said to number over 3000 exhibits with a particularly impressive orgy of Asian erotic art. The exhibits are laid out in various buildings surrounding a sculpture garden (we reckon you can guess what some of the sculptures look like) along thematic lines such as masturbation, homosexuality, prostitution and threesomes.

Compare flights, book hostels for your trip, and don’t forget to purchase travel insurance before you go. 

Treasure Beach, Jamaica

If you love the idea of the Caribbean but balk at the reality of mass-market resorts, Treasure Beach could be the answer. This remains one of the most scenic and laidback coastal areas on the island, with a sense of the real Jamaica still very much in place. There’s an abundance of interesting accommodation, friendly local bars and beautiful beaches, combining to make this one of the world’s best honeymoon destinations, and an ideal choice for a sun and sand honeymoon.

Treasure Beach, Jamaica

Santorini, Greece

Santorini may not boast the white-sand beaches found elsewhere in the Greek islands – the dark-sand reflects the island’s volcanic past – but don’t let that put you off. The bright white villages clinging to the sheer cliffs of the caldera are a perfect contrast against the bright blues of the sky and sea, and provide the ideal accompaniment to the awesome views. In addition, the island produces some excellent white whines, best enjoyed over a meal in one of the cliffside tavernas.

Santorini, Greece

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Arguably the most seductive of South American capital cities, Buenos Aires is a natural fit for honeymooners. Synonymous with tango, the city has a strong artistic and cultural identity, and you’ll be hard pressed not to fall for the sensual dance. This is very much a place to soak up from the streets; in the evenings, sample one of BA’s other specialities – its parrillas, or steakhouses.

Buenos Aires, Argentina

KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Encompassing everything from game parks and dramatic mountain ranges to solitary stretches of white sand and hippo-infested lakes, KwaZulu-Natal is undoubtedly one of South Africa’s most diverse provinces. One of the highlights of a visit here is beautiful Kosi Bay, where you can stay in luxurious safari tents by a stunning wetlands system. Alternatively, head to Hluhlwe-Imfolozi National Park, one of the best places in the world to spot white and black rhino and ideal for independent exploration.

KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Venice, Italy

Venice is one of the most romantic cities in the world – but to appreciate it at its most sublime, you’ll need to visit outside of summer. Though winter weather may be a little on the rainy side, there’s no denying that this is a hugely atmospheric time to explore the old streets and waterways of this fascinating city. And as the mist clings to the canals, you’ll have the bridges to yourselves.

Venice, Italy

The Great Ocean Road, Australia

In a country full of big sights, it can be hard to know where to start. For a laid-back honeymoon experience, hire a car out of Melbourne and hit the road – or rather, hit the Great Ocean Road. This famous coastal route extends for 285km along Victoria’s southwestern coast and more than lives up to its name. The highlight is undoubtedly the Shipwreck Coast between Moonlight Head and Point Fairy, home to the striking rock formations of the Twelve Apostles.

The Great Ocean Road, Australia

Kerala, India

Kerala makes an ideal choice for honeymooners, with plenty to offer both those looking for lazy seaside sojourns and those wanting a little more adventure and exploration. Start off with a few days historic Fort Cochin (and staying in one of its luxurious hotels housed in old colonial mansions) before spending a relaxed few days sailing along the backwaters on a converted rice barge, then finishing off on one of its palm-fringed beaches.

Kerala, India

Phu Quoc, Vietnam

Asia is full of honeymoon-worthy islands, but Phu Quoc remains one of the most appealing. Though it’s undeniably been ‘discovered’ now, the level of development here is still relatively low key, enabling you to really kick back and enjoy the palm-backed soft-sand beaches and warm waters. Phu Quoc is also a starting point for tours to the unspoilt An Thoi islands, the waters around which are ideal for snorkelling.

Phu Quoc, Vietnam

New Orleans, Louisiana, USA

The Big Easy’s heady mix of music and food will have you seduced from the moment you arrive. Jazz seems to be around literally every corner, but head to Preservation Hall for one of the city’s defining musical experiences, which is life-affirming in its joyfulness. Afterwards, toast your recent nuptials at the delightfully kitsch Carousel Bar, where you can sample another of the city’s specialities, a Sazerac cocktail.

New Orleans, Louisiana, USA

Bagan, Myanmar

Over two thousand Buddhist structures dot the plains of Bagan, and there’s no denying that the view over the temples and monasteries is breathtakingly romantic, especially at dawn. The best way to experience Bagan is at a leisurely pace – spend a few days here to soak up the atmosphere and explore beyond the crowds, and be sure to factor in room in your budget for an unforgettable balloon ride.

Bagan, Myanmar

Masoala National Park, Madagascar

Madagascar’s largest protected park, Masoala National Park covers both coast and forest, which has helped make it home to an incredibly diverse array of flora and fauna, even by Madagascan standards. Unsurprisingly, it’s tricky to get to (you’ll need to take both a flight and a boat), but it’s well worth the effort, offering the opportunity to spot everything from humpback whales and dolphins to aye-ayes and enormous Parson’s chameleons.

Masoala National Park, Madagascar

Ilha Grande, Brazil

Limited development and a ban on motor vehicles has left Ilha Grande blissfully unspoilt. The island, which is within easy reach of Rio de Janeiro, boasts some beautiful beaches that will fulfil any of your honeymoon desert-island fantasies; in addition, a mountainous, jungle-clad interior and a number of historic ruins means that there’s plenty to occupy you when you fancy exploring beyond the beach.

Ilha Grande, Brazil

Dartmoor, England

There’s a wild romance about Dartmoor that makes it perfect if you’re looking for a more active honeymoon. The rolling, heather-clad moorland, mystical tors and forested river valleys are ideal for exploring on foot or two wheels, and you don’t have to go too far before you’ll feel like you have this dramatic corner of Devon to yourselves. Best of all, you can finish your days with a pint or two in a cosy country pub.

Dartmoor, England

Vancouver, Canada

With views over both water and mountains, Vancouver is undoubtedly one of the most scenic cities in the world. The dining scene alone is reason enough to visit the city, but add to this the semi-wilderness of Stanley Park and its many fine museums and galleries, and you have the ingredients for a fabulous city honeymoon. Vancouver also makes a great starting point for any number of itineraries further into Canada or down the west coast of the US.

Vancouver, Canada

Skeleton Coast, Namibia

Bleakly beautiful, the Skeleton Coast stretches for 500km up to the Angolan border and boasts some of the most pristine coastline in the world, littered with shipwrecks and whale carcasses. Only eight hundred people a year are allowed to visit the northern extremes, and of course such a privilege comes at a cost, but makes for a truly unforgettable honeymoon experience.

Skeleton Coast, Namibia

Placencia, Belize

Boasting some of the best beaches in Belize lapped by crystal-clear waters, the narrow Placencia peninsula is the stuff that honeymoon dreams are made of. You’ll find upmarket places to stay in Maya Beach and Seine Bright, while palm tree-shaded Placencia village is home to more budget options, and the cool breezes help make it the ideal place to kick back and relax.

Placencia, Belize

Provence, France

Irresistibly seductive, Provence makes an ideal honeymoon destination, offering a heady mix of food, sunshine and wine, set against a beautiful backdrop that ranges from snow-capped mountains in the north to fortified hilltop villages and the glitzy beaches of the Cote d’Azur. Come in late spring or early autumn and you can enjoy the region at its best, but with none of the crowds of summer.

Provence, France

Abel Tasman National Park, New Zealand

You don’t have to want an active honeymoon to visit Abel Tasman National Park, but it helps. Hire a canoe to explore the spectacular coastline, picnicking on secluded golden beaches and swimming with seals in the crystal-clear waters, or hike the famous track, with gentle climbs up to lookouts to really soak up the magnificence of the park, which stretches from lush bushland and granite outcrops to idyllic beaches.

Abel Tasman National Park, New Zealand

Monument Valley, USA

The iconic, otherworldly sandstone buttes of Monument Valley are at once so familiar and so strange that you can’t help but be astounded by their presence. There’s no better – and no more romantic – way to experience the amazing landscape here that by staying at The View Hotel, where even the cheapest rooms look out onto the Mittens. Watching the sun rise over the majestic desert landscape will undoubtedly be one of the most memorable moments of your honeymoon.

Monument Valley, USA

Luang Prabang, Laos

Scenically set on a peninsula between two rivers – the Khan and the Mekong – Luang Prabang retains a dream-like feel that’s quite uncommon in modern Asian cities. Don’t come here for a buzzing city experience, but instead for pleasurably slow days, complemented by atmospheric hotels in old colonial buildings and the sound of temple bells ringing out along dusty side streets at dusk.

Luang Prabang, Laos

Weekly newsletter

Sign up now for travel inspiration, discounts and competitions

Sign up now and get 20% off any ebook