Sri Lanka, enjoying peace after a long civil war, and San Francisco, host for next year's America's Cup, are the top country and city to visit, according to the 2013 edition of Lonely Planet's annual guide to the world's best destinations.
Hobart, ranked No. 7 in cities to visit, is reinventing itself, Lonely Planet says, thanks to the addition of the Museum of Old and New Art created by the professional gambler and art collector David Walsh.
With tourism still suffering after last year's earthquakes, Christchurch received a boost, named sixth-best city. Lonely Planet praised its new energy and inventiveness, with the destruction of the city centre being used as an opportunity to rethink urban form.
Smart Traveller particularly likes two new lists: best places to get a tattoo - No.1 is Wat Bang Phra in Thailand, where Angelina Jolie is a customer; and best places to get fit - Bikini Bootcamp in Tulum, Mexico (bikinibootcamp.com) and Fatpacking around the world (fatpacking.com). with Craig Platt
Lonely Planet's Top 10 countries to visit in 2013
1. Sri Lanka
3. South Korea
6. Solomon Islands
9. Dominican Republic
Little city dreams big
A light on Hobart, with its inclusion in Lonely Planet's Best in Travel 2013, could not have been better timed for Australia's second-oldest city as it ramps up for summer.
Cultural tourism aside in year-round drawcard MONA, this year's Taste Festival (December 28 to January 3) at Princes Wharf No. 1 Shed and Salamanca Place and Parliament House lawns will focus on the locavore.
New stalls this year include Lost Pippin Cider, Mount Gnomon Farm (free-range Wessex Saddleback pigs) and Sweet Envy ice-cream, with flavours such as beer and wasabi pea dust served from a revamped Mr Whippy van.
For music lovers, MOFO, curated by Brian Ritchie of the Violent Femmes (January 16-20), includes David Byrne and St Vincent, and Dirty Projectors. And after sailors chart the course from Sydney to Hobart on Boxing Day, the Wooden Boat Festival is on February 8-11.
See tastefestival.com.au; mofo.net.au.
And that's why it's No. 1
A decade after the surf yoga spa retreat was opened in Bali, a second women's surf retreat has opened in the south of Sri Lanka.
Surfers at the Hob retreat can expect 90-centimetre swells during daily lessons; afterwards, there's the choice of yoga or meditation. A seven-day retreat, including surfboard, spa and villa accommodation, costs from $2395.
Sydney's Rocks and its indigenous connections can be explored with the launch of the Rocks Dreaming tour.
The Aboriginal elder Margaret Campbell has developed the tour, which indigenous guides will lead. The spokeswoman for The Rocks Discovery Museum, Catherine Gallagher, says the tour will give visitors a chance to discover how the harbour, waterways, sandstone strata and marine environment influenced the way Aboriginal people lived in the area.
The 90-minute tour runs at 10.30am Wednesday to Sunday and costs $42 an adult; $39 concession; $32 child (children under 8 free).
Phone 9240 8788, see therocksdreaming.com.au.
How to make a scene
Luang Prabang, the ancient royal capital in the north of Laos, is without a working cinema yet will host its annual film festival this December.
More than 30 films with a south-east Asian theme will be shown at the handicraft market, at the main intersection in town, in a bid to promote the burgeoning industry, according to its website. Meanwhile, a textile specialist based in Luang Prabang, OckPopTok, has launched its Hmong collection of scarves, bags and bound books. Weavers at the gallery's Living Craft Centre work on traditional looms practising ancient techniques.
The film festival is on December 1-5. See luangprabangfilmfestival.org; ockpoptok.com.
Y'all are going to love this
It will be bigger and louder in Texas next year for the inaugural United States V8 Supercars race.
The full championship event will be held at the 5.5-kilometre Circuit of the Americas in Austin.
A five-night trip costs from $4355 a person, twin share. See sportsnetholidays.com.
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