The Daily Telegraph - Travel - - FRONT PAGE -

Where am I go­ing? Fea­si­bly you could travel to any con­ti­nent but Antarc­tica. Like Dubai and Abu Dhabi, Qatar has been po­si­tion­ing it­self as a global avi­a­tion hub – with flights in ev­ery di­rec­tion.

Air­line: Qatar Air­ways (0330 024 0127; qatarair­ flies to Doha from Birm­ing­ham, Cardiff,

Ed­in­burgh, Gatwick, Heathrow and Manch­ester, and con­tin­ues on to Auck­land in each case. Re­turn flights from Cardiff to New Zealand’s big­gest city, de­part­ing on Dec 1 in time for the start of high sum­mer “Down Un­der” – fac­tor­ing in two full days in Doha on the way us­ing the multi-city book­ing func­tion – cost from £998. Rea­sons to linger: Qatar is try­ing to im­prove its im­age as a des­ti­na­tion as it pre­pares to host the foot­ball World Cup in 2022 – al­beit amid huge con­tro­versy about con­di­tions for the work­ers con­struct­ing the sta­di­ums. In Au­gust last year, it loos­ened en­try re­quire­ments, an­nounc­ing visa waivers, valid for at least 30 days, for 80 coun­tries, in­clud­ing the UK. This is long enough to see Doha high­light the Mu­seum of Is­lamic Art (; free) – which, de­signed by the ar­chi­tect I M Pei, il­lu­mi­nates the Cor­niche.

Stay: The stylish W Doha (mar­riott. com) has dou­bles in De­cem­ber from 679 Riyal (£142).

Fur­ther in­for­ma­tion: vis­ April, with TUI Air­ways (0871 231 4787; – there is ev­ery rea­son to seek out Bangkok with Thai

Air­ways (0330 400 4022; tha­iair­ways. com), from Heathrow. Re­turn flights to Phuket, leav­ing Lon­don on Dec 1, and fil­ter­ing in three whole days in the Thai cap­i­tal on the way east via the multi-city op­tion, cost from £1,340. Rea­sons to linger: Nu­mer­ous. Bangkok is a swirling sen­sa­tion – veer­ing from Bud­dhist seren­ity at the Wat Arun tem­ple (; 50 Baht/£1.20) to the street-food frenzy of Khao San Road and the bars of Sukhumvit. The Bangkok Art and Cul­ture Cen­tre (; free) is a blur of the mod­ern, show­cas­ing all the arts from mu­sic to lit­er­a­ture.

Stay: The Man­darin Ori­en­tal (tele­­dar­in­bangkok) is one of the city’s most so­phis­ti­cated re­treats, dat­ing back to 1876. Dou­bles in De­cem­ber from £420 – room only. Fur­ther in­for­ma­tion: tourismthai­

SPEC­TAC­U­LARThe Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi is one of the world’s largest, above; Ice­land’s Blue La­goon, above left

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