UPDATED: This article was originally published in January 2018
You’ve decided you want to travel more this year (good on you), but you’re struggling to choose your next destination. Surely there’s an easier way than trawling through endless travel mags and guidebooks for the answers, right? That’s where our ultimate month-by-month travel guide comes in: your easily digestible list of places to visit, things to experience, and amazing weather to chase around the world.
Shining a light on March this time! European frosts are beginning to thaw, South America is starting to hot up and year-round destinations like Hong Kong and Dubai, make for easy travel wins. Whether you’re after rum tasting in Cuba, colourful chaos in India or orangutan spotting in Borneo, here’s your guide to where to travel in March.
Impossibly long and thin, this slither of South America offers a breathtakingly diverse range of natural scenery. From the red Mars-like plains of the Atacama Desert to the icy blue glaciers of Torres del Paine National Park, take your pick of stunning places to explore. It’s also home to cosmopolitan hubs like Santiago with its emerging food scene, and Valparaiso with its vivid street art displays and ties to Nobel prize-winning poet, Pablo Neruda.
March marks the start of Chile’s first shoulder season (March to May). The Patagonia crowds have subsided, the Lake District is ready to wow, and in vineyard country it’s time for the grape harvests and traditional vendimias (wine harvest festivals). Don’t forget to take a ride on Chile’s funiculars, too. They’re cheap, fun and can give beautiful landscape views.
More than cigars and vintage cars, this Caribbean giant is a vibrant mixture of history, culture and cuisine. Learn all about the pivotal role Che Guevara played in the revolution, salsa dance the night away at Trinidad’s famous Casa de la Musica, bask in the quiet beauty of Soroa, and enjoy strolling through the pastel-hued streets of Havana. Remember to sample a few of Cuba’s other specialities, including rum (of course), coffee and honey.
Sunnier days, more manageable temperatures and slimmer chances of rain all play their part in attracting travellers to Cuba’s Caribbean shores this time of year. During the dry season, it’s especially important to try and book in advance to avoid disappointment (if at all possible).
A fair few of us would admit to thinking of Dubai is a mere layover, a place to take a breather en route to your final stop. But, at Intrepid we’re firm believers in the philosophy that: it’s the journey, not just the destination. So, if Dubai is part of your trip, embrace it! March is a great time to go as temperatures haven’t reached their peak yet and rain showers are few and far between.
Want to know what to expect from this surprising and opulent city? Take a trip to a man-made island carved like a tropical palm tree, soak up awe-inspiring vistas from the great heights of the Burj Khalifa, or lose yourself in one of the world’s biggest shopping malls. You can also take a trip back in time to the historic area of Bastakiya, exploring its spice and gold souqs.
Step out of the everyday and into the captivating Land of the Pharaohs this March. Egyptian springtime is getting underway, and dry days and daily temperatures of around 25°C can be expected. What better climate to set off and explore this country’s marvellous monuments, or set sail down the Nile?
Get to grips with the mythology and mystery that ancient Egypt is shrouded in as you visit the Pyramids and Great Sphinx of Giza, and the tombs of iconic rulers in the Valley of the Kings. Or make your way through the maze-like marketplace of Cairo’s Khan al-Khalili Bazaar to shop for glass lanterns, jewellery and other traditional trinkets. You’ll love the feeling of being dwarfed by the two enormous rock temples of Abu Simbel, too.
Are you absolutely orangutan obsessed? Then Borneo, and particularly Sabah, should be the next destination you tick off your bucket list. March kickstarts Sabah’s dry season, meaning fewer visitors, lower levels of rainfall and increased chances of finding these gentle giants in their natural habitat. It’s also an ideal time of year for sunning yourself on the beaches of Gaya Island, Kota Kinabalu and Sipadan.
If you’d describe yourself as a bit of a water baby, you’ll love the fact that March also brings keen snorkelers the chance to go swimming in search of the world’s largest fish, the whale shark. Lankayan Island is a hotspot for tracking down these graceful beasts and is amazing for diving amongst its rainbow-coloured reefs and sunken shipwrecks from times gone by.
6. Hong Kong
Hong Kong is yet another one of those places considered a stopover and not a destination in its own right. But, this bustling city gives you a fascinating window into what the future of modern China will look like. With its impressive skyline, varied foodie offerings, and many museums and concert halls, you’ll wish you were staying longer than a few days!
This vibrant urban centre is split into a mass of different neighbourhoods, each with its own speciality and personality. Shop until you drop in Causeway Bay, dig into sophisticated dishes in SoHo, embrace your inner hipster in Sheung Wan, sample a craft beer or two in Kennedy Town and so much more. Aside from all this excitement, Hong Kong also has over 260 outlying islands – boasting abandoned villages, challenging rock climbing opportunities, and otherworldly scenery.
Alright, you caught us. We’ve already recommended India as a fantastic country to travel to in November and December, but we’d be missing a trick if we didn’t mention it here too. Why, you ask? Two words – Holi Festival. Officially ushering in the spring, Holi is celebrated as the Festival of Love all over the sub-continent and is one of the most colourful times in the Indian calendar.
Join locals in the streets as they shower each other with vibrantly coloured powders and water and watch the Holika Dahan (wood and dung bonfires) burn as good triumphs over evil. Plus, try traditional festival treats like puran poli (a sweet buttery flatbread) and dahi vada (vegetable fritters soaked in thick Indian yoghurt). Holi is a cultural experience not to be missed!
Not looking to travel in March? No worries. Check out our other monthly destination guides:
Feature image C/O Cliff Bielawski.