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VIP NEWSLETTER JANUARY 2014

VIP DESTINATION: TOP 10 DESTINATIONS FOR 2014

Pic: sfnewyears.comHappy new year! A new year means the chance to make exciting new plans for travel and in this month's newsletter we give you a list of places to put on your travel list for 2014. From the thermal activity of New Zealand to the beaches of Australia and the ancient cities of Europe, there's something here for everyone. Remember to use your VIP Backpackers card for discounts.

Mackay | Perth | Franz Josef | Rotorua | Honolulu | Rome | Edinburgh | Toronto | Rio de Janeiro | Siem Reap

MACKAY

Pic: visitedplanet.comMackay makes for an excellent base for excursions out to the superb Whitsundays, fabulous island and reef cruises, the wonders of Cape Hillsborough National Park, tours through Eungella Forest and an array of other adventure activities on sea and land. Located on Queensland's central coast, it has also avoided the big tourism hits of places such as Airlie Beach nearby despite its superb access to the aforementioned attractions. The Bluewater 20km trail is something else worth checking out - dedicated pedestrian paths and bikeways connecting various attractions. The annual Festival of Arts in July is also worth planning for with cheese tasting, live jazz, dance, music and other performances. The River Sessions Festival is held in June.

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PERTH

Pic: visitedplanet.comPerth easily gives Sydney a run for its money with its seaside location, great weather and relaxed manner. Not only is it appealing place to live for locals but a fantastic place for a working holiday or at least a holiday. The city also borders the Swan River adding a further attraction to cosmopolitan centres such as Fremantle, the wonders of Cottesloe beach, excellent local markets, the beauty of Kings Park and Boanic Gardens or wine tasting in the nearby Swan River area.

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FRANZ JOSEF, NEW ZEALAND

Pic: visitedplanet.comLocated on the west coast of the south island of New Zealand, Franz Josef is a must stop off in this part of the country. This area is part of the Te Wahipounamu World Heritage Site park with a whopping great 12 km glacier, plus the 20km Fox Glacier just 20km away to the south. The village of Franz Josef is just 10km from the face of the glacier and has a busy heliport offering walking tours and even heli skiing on the glacier. Most tourists book into guided walks on the glacier - an incredible experience.

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ROTORUA, NEW ZEALAND

Pic: BaseRotoruaRotorua needs little introduction. People come here really for one thing - geothermal activity! That means the chance to wallow in mud pools, mineral spas, enjoy the odd eruption of a thermal spring and deal with the rotten eggs smell that pervades the city - not so bad after a day or two. When you're not wallowing in it though there's plenty of other things to do, largely thanks to the 17 lakes in the region. There's plenty of activity on and around these from sailing to waterskiing and triathlon. Rotorua is also famed for its mountain bike trails and has been called "the Disneyland of mountain biking". Go see for yourself.

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HONOLULU, HAWAII

Pic: Polynesian Hostel Beach ClubFancy a bit of beach time this year on world famous Waikiki Beach, some pumping wave action, chilled out vibes, generous Hawaiian hospitality or wonderful views of places like Diamond Head? Hawaii is your place. Honolulu enjoys a spectacular location right on the shoreline with wonderful opportunities to dip into the North Pacific Ocean at every moment. Honolulu is renowned for its excellent Pacific Rim cuisine and in between visiting the other islands and seeing a museum or two you should still have ample opportunity to buy a loud Hawaiian shirt.

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ROME

Pic: visitedplanet.comThe monuments, the nightlife, the coffee, the museums... Rome is very much still the centre of the world in many ways and one of the most exciting cities you'll ever visit. If you haven't been there yet put it on your list in 2014. It's the kind of city you can feast in - either on the architectural sights that include the Colosseum and Pantheon, the food such as pizza and wine and gelati, or art by Michelangelo or Raphael. Added to that are the churches like St Peter's Basilica and you've got a recipe for grandeur, lifestyle and art that will probably have you coming back for more.

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EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND

Pic: visitedplanet.comThe fairytale city of Edinburgh is one to put on your list this year, particularly around August when the city erupts in festivities for the annual Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the largest arts event in the world. But really it's a great place to visit anytime of year. Draped over rocky hills Edinburgh's location alone sets the scene, with the famed castle located at one end and plenty of spirals and turrets in between. There's plenty of history in its cobbled streets and old pubs with many a tale to tell in them or time to make one of your own. Don't forget to try the haggis and get your kilt colours on the Royal Mile while you're here.

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TORONTO, CANADA

Pic: Global Village BackpackersToronto is a city to enjoy in all seasons. In summer there are ball games, outdoor pursuits and gardens to enjoy. Come autumn and the maple trees give the city a wonderful red orange lilt. By winter it's hockey season and time for warm galleries, coffee shops and pubs. There's so much to do here both in the city with various harbour cruises, good food to be had, galleries and markets to visit, and fabulous sights nearby such as Niagara Falls, Scarborough Bluffs and the Great Lakes to explore.

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RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL

The World Cup is coming to South America and that's as good a reason as any to join what is set to be a huge party from 12 June through to 13 July. Games will be played at 12 cities around the country including Brasilia, Natal, Salvador, Fortaleza, Belo Horizonte, Recife, Manaus, São Paulo, Porto Alegre, Curitiba, Cuiabá and of course party town itself, Rio de Janeiro.

If you don't make it for the World Cup there's bound to be football feverl all year round, so it's still a great time to visit. Rio needs little introduction - we've all seen the Christ the Redeemer statue, the panoramic coastline from the Sugarloaf and Corcovado mountains and the wonders of Copacabana beach. Then there's the samba, the live music, Carnival, the classic churches, numerous favelas and general hum of Brazil's second biggest city. Visit in 2014 - you won't be disappointed!

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SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA

Pic: www.visitedplanet.comFor a good dose of ancient culture in your travel schedule this year head to the temple ruins of Angkor. Dating back to between the 9th and 15th centuries the ancient Khmer kingdom is one of the world's most visited historic monuments with temples lying in rice fields, forest and farmlands near Siem Reap city. The most famous of the temples is Angkor Wat, particularly glorious at sunrise, and usually swarming with tourists but such is the size of the entire Angkor complex, and the sprawl of ruins that you can easily escape the crowds particularly in the outlying temples.

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