The World's Top 10 Unforgettable Luxury Travel Destinations

10 Essential, Unforgettable Vacations on Planet Earth

Beach sunset on an island in Thailand

 ©Marco Bottigelli / Getty Images

Luxury Travelers Want the World! Here It Is, in 10 Stupendous Vacations

Luxury travelers want more, spend more, and expect more. These classy global destinations, both old and new, know what luxury travelers seek, and deliver it. Which ones are on your bucket list?

01 of 10

Irresistible Italy

Ligurian Coast of Italy at sunset

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La Dolce Vita, the Sweet Life, Reigns in Italy

You could travel exclusively in Italy for the rest of your life and never get bored. Where in "The Boot" will you go next? Venice for its seductive setting, glorious churches, and sublime hotels? Rome and Florence, for their magnificent Michelangelos and da Vincis?  Tarquinia near Rome, for its heartbreaking family tombs of the vanished Etruscan people? Milan, for its Armanis, Pradas, and Versaces? Sicily or Naples, for pizza or the Italian Alps for skiing? Or the Amalfi Coast's seaside promenades (shown) and cliffside hotels like Monastero Santa Rosa?

Italy can practically almost overwhelm you with all its sensual bounty. But luxury travelers have decisions to make. Which Italian pleasure will you savor today?

02 of 10

Paris, the City of Light

View of Paris from Notre Dame gargoyle

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Paris, Je T'aime

There is no more romantic spot on Earth than Paris. It begs to be explored hand-in-hand, from its historic boulevards to its artsy enclaves.

Everywhere you look, France's capital is dotted with breathtaking monuments, enthralling museums, dignified hotels, divine restaurants, and tempting Parisian boutiques.

Today's Paris is a welcoming destination whose hospitality pros willingly speak our language. But one thing hasn't changed: the better you dress in the city that invented fashion, the more Parisian you will feel. And you can probably live with that.

03 of 10

Imperial China

Bridge over the Yangtze River in China

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Now, China!

The sleeping dragon, China,  is awake and roaring, and the world will never be the same. This enterprising mega-nation has swiftly built a luxury travel industry, and all the world's elite luxury hotel brands are racing to built pleasure domes in China. Posh hotels and resorts have sprouted in China's thrillingly modern cities of Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Beijing -- and in emerging hotspots like Hangzhou, Sanya, and the shopping mecca of Shenzhen.

Visitors come eager to take in China's traditions, treasures, and tastes. And they are awed by the contrast between China's dynastic palaces and futuristic cityscapes. Luxury travelers to today's China can count on flawless service and glorious meals. Exquisite lodgings, too. 

Got just a few days? Fly to Shanghai (shown), spend a few nights there, and then take a bullet train to stunning Suzhou, China's thousand-year-old jewelbox town.

04 of 10

New York, the City that Never Sleeps

Sunrise over Brooklyn and Manhattan

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New York, New York... the cultural capital and business hub of the U.S., and (ans any New Yorker will tell you) possibly the world. This exuberant city's energy and local pride are contagious.

By day, luxury travelers explore the city's only-in-New-York neighborhoods, its cultural beacons, and its legendary stores. Visitors' #1 rest station? Manhattan's backyard, Central Park.

By night, there are only-in-New-York restaurants like Grand Central Station's Michael Jordan The Steak House and lively scene
restaurants like Kingside in the Viceroy New York hotel. 

And when your New York energy flags, you have sumptuous hotels like The Pierre or quiet, all-suite hotels like The London NYC to recharge in.

Continue to 5 of 10 below.
05 of 10

Swinging London

Big Ben and Houses of Parliament, London

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London Town, Where English Speakers Feel Pride

Indisputably, London is the cradle of the world's English-speaking civilization. The city on the Thames feels agreeably familiar to Americans... but with more tradition, better cabbies, and an accent we can't help but love.

This regal metropolis entices luxury travelers with unparalleled theater, a culinary revival, and a thriving style scene. And London invented butler service.

Luxury travelers are well looked after whether they choose a distinguished grand hotel like The Langham, London; a glamorous, celebrity-magnet hotel like The Corinthia London; or a happening hotel in a trendy, artistic neighborhood, Andaz Liverpool Street. London can be pretty decadent, too. Test yourself.

06 of 10

Graceful Thailand

Best pool view on the planet
©Six Senses

Old Siam or Trendy Thailand?

Tradition coexists with tourism comforts in Thailand, furnishing an authentic yet inviting travel experience. No wonder this genteel, versatile, and breathtakingly beautiful nation has become the superstar of Southeast Asian tourism.

Service, spa culture, and cuisine are high arts throughout Thailand. And getting around is easy. Thailand's dynamic yet exotic capital, Bangkok, is within easy range of tropical beach magnets like the idyllic island of Koh Samui. See TripSavvy's gallery of the 24 best hotels in Thailand, You could get very spoiled in this country.

07 of 10

The Private Caribbean

Ladera Resort Saint Lucia Caribbean

©Ladera Resort St. Lucia

The Caribbean is North America's Glorious Beach

Luxury travelers claim their own, upper-crust Caribbean. They patronize exclusive (and expensive) islands with distinct personalities, clienteles, and even languages.

French-speaking St. Barth's attracts the international fashion crowd, many of whom rent WIMCO vacation villas while English-heritage Mustique lures royals and rock stars (and paparazzi). Dutch and French St. Martin/Sint Maarten draws well-heeled families and couples to active resorts like Sonesta Great Bay and to Nevis, for Four Seasons Nevis. Saint Lucia's fab hotels and chocolate tourism go hand in hand. On the right Caribbean isle, your vacation becomes a fantasy private getaway.

08 of 10

French Polynesia, aka Tahiti, aka Paradise

French Polynesia, also known as Tahiti, and as Paradise
©Karen Tina Harrison

Also Known (and Loved) as Tahiti

French Polynesia will never be a vacation destination for everyone. Nestled in the South Pacific halfway between Peru and New Zealand, it is far from anywhere. Its high tabs give any budget a workout. And with little for visitors to do besides laze in their "overwater bungalow" and snorkel in the turquoise lagoon below, French Polynesia is, in a word, sleepy.

Sound good so far? The best way to really see Tahiti is on a cruise that stops on numerous Polynesian islands (including, if you choose, the remote, untamed Marquesas). The luxury choice for a Tahiti cruise is the deluxe small ship, Paul Gauguin.

For luxury travelers (and newlyweds) seeking a one-stop private getaway on a tranquil tropical isle, French Polynesia is heaven-sent. Awaiting you are ravishing resorts established by five-star hotel brands such as Four Seasons, St. Regis, and Relais & Chateaux await you.

Continue to 9 of 10 below.
09 of 10

Africa on Safari

Giraffe on the Serengeti in Tanzania, Africa

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Africa, the Bucket-List Must

Is there a luxury traveler alive whose bucket list lacks a deluxe African safari? It's time to get started.

Eco-conscious Kenya, South Africa, Zambia, and Botswana have become the go-to African safari choices. Here, safari adventurers get personal with majestic lions, leopards, giraffes, rhinos, and elephants. Later, they relish candlelit dinners and moonlit nights at simple yet stunning safari lodges and camps.

Private or small-group African safaris, are highly customizable. Your adventure could include Range Rover trekking, heli-touring, biking, and hiking. Or it could swing by spectacular Victoria Falls or combine "bush and beach."  Even better, safari outfitters who are seasoned Africa hands, like Extraordinary Journeys AfricaJacada Travel, and Abercrombie & Kent, do the planning for you. Your African safari may not be so far off.

And there's more to Africa: Mt. Kilimanjaro, breathtaking Cape Town, tropical Mozambique, and a hundred more fabled destinations.

10 of 10

Fabulous Las Vegas

Neon-lit Las Vegas Strip at night
©Getty Images

Vegas, Baby!

Yes, Sin City boasts the world's biggest and best casinos. But this 24-hour desert flower would be a world-class tourism draw even without the wagering.

Vegas is truly a sight to behold. It flaunts resplendent hotels like Nobu Hotel Caesars Palace, plus glamorous clubs, mesmerizing shows, seductive spas, designer shopping, and an amazing blowout of a festival, Vegas Uncork'd.

Name your vice! Sin City is a garden of eatin'. Since tourism is Vegas's lifeblood, Vegas restaurants are sensational, and the hospitality service you get here is second to none. Viva Las Vegas!

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