What’s hot: August 2011

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What’s hot: August
CD Traveller tells you what’s hot and what’s not in the travel world. This month Machu Picchu and Mr&Mrs Smith are generating a buzz for all the right reasons but the same can’t be said of school holidays and the dismal Euro exchange rate

HOT
All aboard China’s high speed trains

Travelling in China has just got a whole lot easier thanks to the new $33 billion high-speed rail link. The line, which was formally opened by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, halves the rail journey between Beijing (China’s political center) and Shanghai (China’s commercial hub) in half to under five hours. One word: result!

Having a gay time in Rio

Brazil’s party capital is aiming to become the world capital of gay tourism. Recent months have seen an array of new lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) initiatives in Rio: vocational – think training courses for transvestites, anti-bullying projects and new legislation outlawing discrimination in the city’s nightclubs. “Rio is a city without prejudice,” says Eduardo Paes, the city’s mayor. “It is an open city that accepts everything with an open heart.”

Losing your stomach in Japan
Mumbo Jumbo at Flamingoland in the UK has held the record of the rollercoaster ‘ride with the steepest incline’ since July 2009. Fast forward two years and its all change. That title now belongs to Takabisha, a three billion yen (around £23million) rollercoaster ride which opened on July 16 at Japan’s Fuji-Q Highland Amusement Park. Fuji-Q is no stranger to records – this will be the 14th Guinness-recognised mark set by the park.

Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu – the mysterious lost Inca city – recently celebrated the 100th anniversary of its discovery, as well as the four-year anniversary of the site being voted one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in a global Internet poll. The ruins in the Urubamba valley attract 250,000 visitors a year; isn’t it time you were one of them?

Mr & Mrs Smith iPhone app

Boutique hotel experts Mr & Mrs Smith have brought their travel expertise and trademark irreverence to their latest project, the Plan and Play app, which enables users to find and book the perfect romantic getaway at the tap of a button. Even better? The fun yet practical app is free! Download the app on iTunes:
http://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/mr-mrs-smith-plan-and-play/id445834586?mt=8

Taking to the skies
OAG Aviation estimate that 2.76 million flights took to the skies last month – an increase of three percent on the same period last year. Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson in the US, Beijing and London Heathrow maintained their respective positions as the world’s busiest airports. For the full lowdown, see: http://www.oagaviation.com

Whitehaven beach
Looking to lounge on a beach? You want Whitehaven on the Whitsunday Islands (Australia), which was recently voted the ‘world’s top beach’ by TripAdvisor. The secret to Whitehaven’s appeal? According to TripAdvisor customer Debinmelb, it’s a combination of “the coral, beautiful white sand and azure sea.”

NOT
The Euro exchange rate

European destinations are more expensive than a year ago, as the euro continues to win the battle against the beleaguered British pound. Figures collated by the Post Office show a selection of typical holiday purchases in Italy works out at some 80per cent more expensive this year than in 2007. Little wonder then that as many as four in 10 Britons, are going without a summer holiday. Can’t stomach the idea of a staycation? Savvy holidaymakers looking to get more bang for their buck are heading across the pond to America, which remains relatively good value.

London

The British capital is still one of the most expensive cities to sleep having introduced considerable price increases in 2011, according to the hotelinfo hotel price barometer. London was named fourth most expensive city (behind Moscow, Oslo and Stockholm) but is still one of the most popular destinations in the world owing to its cultural offering and many, many sights.

School holiday debt

Family staycations can be more expensive than vacations, according to a survey carried out by satellite TV service Freesat. The research revealed that parents spend an average of £2,274 on petrol, attraction entrance fees and eating out in a bid to keep their kids happy over the summer holidays. However despite splurging on trips to the seaside, zoo and other so called kid pleasers, the survey also showed that 77 per cent of schoolchildren were bored during the long break.

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