Bali has long been equated with an exotic paradise, a picturesque vision of green rice fields and plantations, soaring volcanoes, cool lakes and rushing rivers, lush forests and palm fringed beaches. It is Indonesia's number one tourist destination and as a result suffers from commercialisation and overcrowding, but this is confined to a few main areas. The original charm of the 'Island of the Gods' and its smiling people is still very much in evidence, especially in the many small rural villages and fascinating places of the fertile interior.
St Lucia is indeed a Caribbean dream: a small, lush tropical gem of an island that is still relatively unknown and undeveloped, although it does offer a good variety of accommodation for tourists, including a few discreet resorts. St Lucia is one of the Windward isles of the Lesser Antilles, situated midway down the Eastern Caribbean chain between Martinique and St Vincent, just north of Barbados. It is tiny - only 27 miles (43km) long and 14 miles (23km) wide - and shaped a bit like an avocado.
'Selamat Datang' is the traditional Malaysian greeting that welcomes visitors to this vibrant and exotic country. Ethnically diverse cultures share the same lush landscape and create a fusion of cultural styles, cooking and religions that is distinctly Malaysian. Festivals throughout the year mark the Malay, Chinese and Indian holidays, as well as those of the indigenous Orang Asli and the tribes of Sabah and Sarawak.
The breathtakingly beautiful Seychelles islands are surely the most romantic destination there is. They cast a siren-like spell over everyone who experiences its crystalline turquoise sea washing the pristine coral reefs and the powdery beaches that encircle the vast granite pinnacles which emerge from the verdant green rainforest.
Beguiling Singapore is a modern city-state embracing economic progress against the backdrop of age-old tradition. The customs that underpin community life are created out of an ethnic mix that includes predominantly Chinese, Indian and Malay groups.
Verdant patchworks of rice paddies, pointed lampshade-style hats, a country ravaged by war, and economic repression - these are the international images of Vietnam, seen on worldwide television and read about in the newspapers. But there are other scenes to be found, ones of natural beauty, ethnic culture, and imperial history, of timeless traditional villages, idyllic sea resorts and dynamic cities.
From idyllic, unspoilt beaches with turquoise seas and pure, white sands to bustling cities sporting exotic markets and a vibrant, colourful nightlife, it is easy to see why Thailand has become one of the most popular tourist destinations for the adventurous and young at heart.
The Maldives is a group of low-lying coral islands, forming an archipelago of 26 major atolls, situated south west of Sri Lanka. A small percentage of the islands are inhabited and 87 are exclusively resorts, boasting tropical landscapes hugged by picture-perfect beaches festooned with palm trees. The myriad islands are surrounded by coral reefs enclosing shallow lagoons.
The brash, bold city of Abu Dhabi is a modern marvel, capital of the wealthy United Arab Emirates and headquarters of the world's richest oil operating companies. The pulsating city, with futuristic skyscrapers and wide tree-lined boulevards, is capitalising on its sophistication, amazing duty-free shopping zone, its luxury hotels and top class transport and communication infrastructure to attract tourists. They come not only for the 'retail therapy' and glitz, but also to explore the fascinating culture of the vast Abu Dhabi Emirate itself (it is the largest of the seven Emirates), with its miles of desert and interesting oases.
It is easy to run out of adjectives when attempting to describe the natural beauty of the small tropical Indian Ocean island paradise of Mauritius. The volcanic island, covered with lush forest, streams and waterfalls, and fringed with palms, dazzling white sands and teeming coral reefs, lies east of Madagascar just south of the Equator. Mauritius, covering just 720 square miles (1,864 sq km), is the archetypal dream destination for an idyllic holiday, equipped with modern resorts that have been carefully developed to preserve the island's beauty and ecology.
There are two sides to the Dominican Republic, just like there are two sides of the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, which the Dominican Republic shares with neighbouring Haiti. On one side, tourists languish in luxury inside the confines of the many resort hotels along the beautiful coastline, sipping cocktails under the palm trees and bathing in beautiful blue lagoons.
With a Native American heritage and a distinct Spanish flavour, Mexico is vibrant, colourful and unique. Its varied terrain ranges from cactus-studded deserts to white sandy beaches and blue waters, tropical rainforest and jungle-clad hills to steep rocky canyons and narrow gorges, and from snow-capped volcano peaks to huge, bustling cities. The extraordinary history of the country is visible in the ancient Mayan temples strewn across the jungles, the ruins of Aztec civilisations, rural indigenous villages, Spanish colonial cities, silver mining towns, and traditional Mexican ports.
Graced with extensive beaches bleached white by the year-round sun and surrounded by sparkling turquoise waters filled with varied and colourful sea life, the islands of Bahamas are a major destination for divers, sailors and sun-worshippers alike. Although often thought to be part of the Caribbean, the Bahamas is actually an archipelago of 700 islands with thousands of small 'cays' strung out in the ocean starting 55 miles (89km) from Miami in the Atlantic Ocean.
Originally a small fishing settlement that became a busy port of call on the ancient trade route between Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley, the emirate was rapidly transformed into an international business centre and modern tourist destination following the discovery of oil in 1966.
It's easy to wax lyrical about Jamaica, the famous island in the north Caribbean. From the glorious glow of its sunsets, to the unique and engaging ways of its people, its alluring white sandy beaches, lush green mountains and sparkling waterfalls - all of these stunning features can inspire the poet in anyone. The beauty of this island paradise has drawn visitors for centuries.
In 1784, Admiral Horatio Nelson chose Antigua, situated in the centre of the Leeward Islands, as the base for Great Britain's Caribbean Fleet. It is hard not to see why, as the island boasts a varied coastline with secure docking points, a protective coral reef and steady trade winds. Add to that shimmering sandy beaches, bright sunshine and a laid-back attitude and it is no surprise that Antigua, together with its smaller sister island Barbuda, is today one of the Caribbean's most popular tourist spots.
Cuba can portray itself as the archetypal image of a Caribbean island with its sandy, palm-fringed shores washed by crystal-clear waters and cooled by breezes carrying the scent of frangipani, mango and guava. But Cuba has so much more to offer those who venture away from its beaches to the towns and cities and their Spanish colonial architecture and grand plazas, where classic automobiles labour along streets and country roads, and the hip-swaying sounds of salsa music fill the night air. Together with cigar smoke and rum cocktails, baseball, and everywhere visual references of the 1959 revolution, these picture-postcard portraits of Cuba tell a more complete tale of the largest island in the Caribbean.
The largest country in East Africa, Tanzania boasts the highest mountain on the continent, the exotic spice islands of historical Zanzibar, and the famous Serengeti National Park whose seemingly endless plains stage one of the greatest spectacles of animal behaviour, the annual migration of millions of wildebeest and zebra followed by their predators. The Great Rift Valley gives rise to the unique geological formations found in the magnificent Ngorongoro Crater and Mt Kilimanjaro. It is also home to the world's largest game reserve, the Selous, covering an area larger than Switzerland. Tanzania is richly endowed with many animal and bird species and offers some of the finest game viewing on the continent. Dar-es-Salaam is the largest city, a hustling, bustling and surprisingly scenic tropical seaport that is a common starting point for trips into the country. A dusty safari into the vast wilderness is superbly complemented by time spent on the refreshing Zanzibar islands, with white palm-fringed beaches, beautiful coral gardens, and historic Stone Town - an exotic reminder of its days as a major spice and slave trade centre.
Hong Kong perches on the edge of mainland China, occupying a unique position as a territory straddling two worlds. Since the handover in 1997 Hong Kong has become a 'Special Administrative Region of China', no longer a subject of British colonial sovereignty, though much of Britain's cultural and economic influence is still evident. Past and present fuse to create a capitalist utopia embedded within the world's largest Communist country.
Barbados, known as the 'pearl of the Caribbean', is the eastern-most Caribbean island, and is actually an enormous and ancient coral reef that was formed approximately one million years ago. It has been dubbed 'the real fantasy island', an appellation that points to its exotic resorts and glorious beaches. Enjoying 340 days of sunshine a year, numerous well-developed amenities, a throbbing nightlife and friendly inhabitants, it is one of the most popular holiday destinations in the Caribbean.
Kenya is the 'Land of the Lion King' and sits at the centre of the African safari experience, with an outstanding variety of wild animals and Big Five viewing opportunities. Although safaris are its greatest attraction, it is a country of great diversity with much more to offer than splendid wildlife. Essentially it is a place for outdoor living - the coast offers beaches and water-based activities, the mountains present a challenge to hikers and climbers, and the rolling savannahs are a game-viewers paradise.
The island of Sri Lanka lies off the southern tip of India in the Indian Ocean, a verdant paradise that is the cradle of the Buddhist faith. Apart from hundreds of miles of the world's most beautiful palm-fringed beaches, Sri Lanka boasts no fewer than seven World Heritage Sites listed by UNESCO, ranging from sacred cities, palaces and cliff-top citadels to colonial strongholds, spanning nearly 3,000 years of history. To complete the picture of perfection, Sri Lanka is situated just three degrees north of the Equator, meaning the weather is constantly hot, humid and tropical. Sunny skies are the order of the day; even in the brief monsoon season there is always a daily spell of sunshine.
South Africa has been billed as 'a world in one country', and any visitor who has experienced its delights, from the jumble of the gold mining city of Johannesburg in the north, to the sophistication of Cape Town in the south, to the sunny laid back beaches of Durban in the east, and all the mountains, game reserves and picturesque coastlines in between, is bound to agree.