A new year is the perfect time to break old habits and make a few new ones – especially when it comes to travel!
We’ve taken 10 of our most popular destinations for South African travellers and offered up an equally enjoyable alternative so you can shake up your travel plans in 2015.
Hermanus instead of Cape Town
A mere two-hour drive from the bustling metropolis of Cape Town will find you in a quaint, yet flourishing seaside town called Hermanus.
There is great weather, long stretches of coastline and plenty of luxury accommodation to choose from, just like in Cape Town. You can also enjoy strolls along the promenade, shopping at the market and delicious seafood at various restaurants.
Although summer season is busy season, it does not overflow in quite the way Cape Town does and you have the added bonus of being able to partake in the town’s most renowned pastime: whale-watching.
Réunion instead of Mauritius
An island paradise is always a good way to spend your holidays and the automatic assumption of the best place to go is often Mauritius; but just a boat trip away is Réunion Island.
As lush and green as its counterpart, it is outranked by Mauritius when it comes to beaches; but as for adventures in nature, it is unrivalled, offering an exciting array of activities in an idyllic setting, including hiking, canyoning and paragliding.
The island is also less populated, so if you are more of the lone ranger type traipsing through nature’s glories, Réunion is a great option.
Richards Bay instead of Durban
Sun and surf are available in abundance in Richards Bay, just as in Durban. Home to one of the busiest and largest harbours in South Africa, Richards Bay boasts the same subtropical climate, making it a favourite holiday spot for locals.
It may be a key industrial hub for the country, but you’ll still find plenty of natural wonders to enjoy such as the Richards Bay Game Reserve. Previously a large swampland, you can expect to find aquatic animals such as crocodiles and hippos, as well as over 300 species of birds.
As the gateway to the verdant hills of “Shaka’s Country”, Zululand, the drive is about an hour and a half shorter than coming from Durban.
Shanghai instead of Dubai
Besides both ending in “ai”, these two cities are vibrant vortexes of urban opulence with soaring skyscrapers and retail therapy galore.
Bright lights and amazing architecture are the order of the day in these destinations, and both offer an incredible host of cultural activities. However, Dubai is the more expensive of the two, and their dress code and alcohol restrictions will dampen your party spirit.
Shanghai, meanwhile, is also deemed safer, with the weather being somewhat more pleasant.
Mbombela instead of Johannesburg
Formerly known as Nelspruit, this fast-growing city is becoming increasingly popular. Its proximity to the Kruger National Park is a huge draw card, and with an international airport to boot, it’s a far more convenient city stop than Jo’burg.
There is also plenty within Mbombela itself to keep visitors entertained, and in 2010 the Mbombela Stadium played host to several FIFA World Cup matches.
If sports are not your thing, you can attend the wildly popular Innibos festival instead. Taking place every year, it spans over several days and offers a variety of local music, plays and plenty of good food.
Borneo instead of Thailand
It’s safe to say that everyone has either been to Thailand or knows more than one person who has been there. If you’d rather try somewhere different, yet still reap the wonders of Southeast Asia, then you may want to hop, skip and jump to Borneo.
Besides trips to the beach, you can enjoy numerous attractions of the natural and the adventurous kind. The island is renowned as an excellent diving spot, while on land it is famous as one of only two locations in the world to be home to the endangered orang-utan.
Bordeaux instead of Paris
The romance of Paris and its prominence in pop culture throws a shadow over the many over remarkable cities in France, not least among them, Bordeaux.
In fact, if you like what Paris has to offer, but want to avoid the clamouring crowds and astronomical expense then Bordeaux is the place to be. Brimming with cafés, boutiques and bars, you can sample delectable macaroons and canelé, just as you would in Paris.
Thriving with art and culture, another bonus in Bordeaux is that there are several museums which grant free entry; and instead of the Seine you have the Garonne, making riverside strolls just as possible.
With beautiful buildings, haute cuisine and fresh-produce markets, Bordeaux has everything Paris has and more, along with the added delight of being home to some of the best wine in the world.
Kuala Lumpur instead of Bangkok
With both cities offering incredible street food, sprawling Chinatowns and the opportunity to shop till you drop, picking between Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok is not easy.
The former, however, is the more unusual choice and also boasts a couple of the tallest buildings in the world, the Petronas Twin Towers (at one time the tallest buildings in the world).
For more experiences at dizzying heights, it doesn’t get much better than the Heli Lounge Bar, a helipad on top of a skyscraper transformed into a bar! A night out at the Helibar is an extravagant expense, but otherwise Kuala Lumpur is generally the cheaper destination.
Botswana instead of Namibia
If it’s African safaris you’re after then both these countries offer fantastic options, and trying to draw comparisons is a tough job. But if you’re caught between the two consider that the Okavango Delta in Botswana – the world’s largest inland delta – was recently named the 1000th UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa.
The great variety of wildlife living in the delta – including hippo, wildebeest, giraffe, zebra, cheetah, hyena, painted dog and the Big Five – gives you plenty of reason to check it out. Botswana is also one of the few places in Africa where you can go on safari by boat and is home to the world’s greatest elephant population.
Prague instead of Amsterdam
When you mention Amsterdam, the first thing to come to mind is typically, legal cannabis. The city is well-known, and much loved, for this reason, but it is not the only option.
Prague is great alternative, and it’s a lot cheaper too – in terms of food and accommodation that is!
If you want to do more than get acquainted with Mary Jane, there are plenty of other things to do such as drink local beer, tour the Old Town, walk across the Charles Bridge, visit Prague Castle and admire the magnificent gothic, medieval, baroque and renaissance architecture.
Originally published on Cheap Flights