Embrace your adventurous spirit this spring, with our guide to the best destinations for March 2020. From Nevada to North Africa, this is the month to tick off a once in a lifetime bucket list experience.
Best for: world heritage beauty (landmarks and gothic architecture)
Throughout history the world’s greatest painters, including Canaletto, Turner and Monet, have drawn inspiration from Venice’s picturesque Grand Canal and its unique fusion of architecture. Their masterpieces enshrined the city as one of Europe’s most alluring destinations and visitors continue to flock to Veneto’s capital in their droves. During the height of its powers, the Venetian Republic was a key trading port, attracting merchants from all corners of the globe, who brought with them a plethora of architectural influences. This is most apparent in the Doge’s Palace, the seat of government during the Republic, which clearly exhibits the Byzantine and Moorish styles that typify Venetian gothic architecture. The highlight of the palace is the mesmerising Sala del Collegio, which was used to receive important foreign dignitaries. Its gilded ceiling features works by Veronese, whilst its antechamber is bedecked with Tintoretto canvases. Across the Piazza San Marco lies St. Mark’s Basilica, another tribute to Byzantine architecture, which features over 8000m2 of beautiful mosaics superimposed on glittering golden backgrounds, as well as a stunning tessellated marble carpet. If it’s a clear day, climb to the top of the bell tower where you will be greeted by a golden statue of the archangel Gabriel, as well as incredible views of the Piazza below. No trip to Venice is complete without paying a visit to the Rialto Market – established over 1000 years ago, this is where the locals converge to browse the vibrant fruit and fish stalls.
Best for: medieval magic
With its rich history, beautiful palaces and pulsating souks, head to Morocco’s Red City this spring for a cultural experience like no other. The Bahia Palace is the result of a heart-warming real life rags to riches story and is perhaps Marrakech’s most famous attraction. Set within eight hectares of lush gardens lined with fruit trees, this exquisite palace was built for Si Moussa, a lowly slave who worked his way up the ranks to become the Sultan’s Grand Vizier, and would later house the Résident Général when Morocco was a French protectorate, thus playing a vital role in the nation’s modern history. Equally spectacular are the Saadian Tombs, located in the city’s Kasbah district. Considered one of the best-preserved remains of Marrakech’s golden age, this royal necropolis, full of marble sepulchres and beautifully written inscriptions, was sealed off for over two centuries as a mark of respect for the Saadi dynasty, but was rediscovered by the French in the early twentieth century and has been a popular tourist destination ever since. After taking in the major landmarks head for the world-renowned souks. Prepare for your senses to go into overdrive as you wander through the labyrinth of tightly packed alleyways, all brimming with stalls offering everything from aromatic spices to luxurious pieces of jewellery.
Best for: glitz and glamour
Despite only being founded in 1905, Vegas’ neon lights and poker tables quickly made it the entertainment capital of the world. Each year millions of visitors descend on its world famous Strip to experience the electric atmosphere of Sin City’s casinos and shows. Home to some of the world’s most famous gambling houses, including Caesar’s Palace and the Venetian, which features replicas of Venice’s most famous landmarks, the thrill of Vegas attracts amateur gamblers and high rollers alike, all eager to soak up a piece of the action. However, Vegas offers so much more than slot machines and roulette wheels. This March alone will see some of the most distinguished global entertainment stars coming to town, including Rod Stewart, Shania Twain and Lionel Richie, whilst illusionists Penn & Teller and David Copperfield leave audiences speechless throughout the year. In recent years Vegas is also considered to have replaced New York as the Mecca of boxing, with multi-million dollar bouts regularly staged at the city’s leading casinos. If you’re lucky enough to get a ringside seat, expect to see a who’s who of the showbiz world, with A-list celebrities eager to be seen. The Strip is also home to a range of exceptional culinary experiences, but the highlight is undoubtedly the late Joël Robouchon’s eponymous restaurant, located in an art-deco townhouse within the MGM Grand. Considered the greatest chef of his generation, with 30 Michelin stars to his name (including three for his Vegas restaurant), his menu is a treat for the palette. Particular highlights include the Oscetra caviar and the truffled langoustine ravioli.
Best for: food and adventure
A haven for the taste buds, Vietnam should feature on every foodie’s bucket list. Just like Marrakech, Vietnam was heavily influenced by France’s presence in the country during the 19th and 20th centuries. Indeed, ever since the introduction of coffee by a French priest in the 1850s, it has become a highly lucrative business for the country, with Vietnam now ranked as the second highest global exporter of coffee. In the West coffee drinking is often associated with takeaway cups being chugged down by tired-looking commuters desperate for a speedy pick-me-up. However, Vietnam has a more civilised coffee culture, with groups of friends and families using cafés as a meeting place to relax and converse over a steaming brew. The drink has now become so popular within the country that it is even infused into yoghurts and smoothies. After quenching your thirst, allow your senses to be overpowered by fragrant street-food stalls, offering the country’s most famous delicacies, including rice noodle soup, caramelised pork belly and hot & sour soup. Away from the hubbub of the cities, Vietnam is a country of outstanding natural beauty. For lovers of adventure, there is no better place to visit than Ha Long Bay, recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1994. Sail around the Bay’s thousands of limestone islands in style on board a luxury cruise – some cruises even offer spa facilities! If you have time, it is also worth taking in Hoi An’s ancient town, known for its enthralling blend of French and Chinese architecture, as well as its stunning evening lantern displays by the Riverside. It has the added benefit of easy access to the nearby Cham Islands, which are ideal for water sport enthusiasts.
Best for: outdoor adventures
If off the beaten track adventures are your thing, the snow-capped Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan is the place for you. A country often neglected by tourists in favour of its better-known neighbours India and China, those who do make the trip to the ‘Land of the Thunder Dragon’ are rewarded by some of the most remarkable sights on earth. A visit to Punahka Dzong should be on every tourist’s itinerary. The former capital of Bhutan, this fortress is one of the country’s most impressive architectural structures and is where Bhutan’s monarchs continue to be crowned to this day. The Dzong houses some of the country’s most important national treasures, including the preserved remains of Ngawang Namgyal, the Buddhist lama who unified Bhutan. However, the most impressive landmark is the jaw-dropping Tiger’s Nest monastery, perched on a cliff edge nearly 1000m above the verdant Paro valley below. Legend has it that Guru Rinpoche flew from Tibet on the back of a tigress (hence the monastery’s name) in order to rid Bhutan of a demon, before meditating in the nearby cave for three months. Visitors are able to visit this cave, as well as the monastery itself, which is considered one of the most important religious sites in Bhutan.