The World's Top 10 Unforgettable Luxury Travel Destinations

10 Essential, Unforgettable Vacations on Planet Earth

Pantheon in Rome
••• Imagine: a cooking school in Italy where you got to see the Pantheon in Rome during an afternoon excursion. ©Mai Pham

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

Luxury travelers want more, spend more, and expect more. More attention, more comfort, more memorable meals, more exciting experiences. These classy global destinations, both old and new, know what luxury travelers seek, and deliver it.

  • 01 of 10

    French Polynesia, aka Tahiti, aka Paradise

    French Polynesia, also known as Tahiti, and as Paradise
    ••• French Polynesia looks like a dream. ©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. Ravishing resorts stablished by five-star hotel brands such as Four Seasons, St. Regis, and Relais & Chateaux await you.

  • 02 of 10

    New York, the City that Never Sleeps

    Sunrise over Brooklyn and Manhattan
    ••• Daybreak in the 24-hour city. ©joSon/Getty Images

    New York, New York... the cultural capital and business hub of the US, and 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 back yard, 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.

  • 03 of 10

    Paris, the City of Light

    View of Paris seen by Notre Dame gargoyle
    ••• Paris is gargoylicious!. ©Allan Baxter/Getty Images

    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.

  • 04 of 10

    Swinging London

    Big Ben and Houses of Parliament, London
    ••• "When a man is tired of London, He is tired of life," said Samuel Johnson. ©Toyohiro Yamada/Getty Images

    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.

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10

    Irresistible Italy

    Amalfi coast cliffs in Italy
    ••• Impossibly beautiful: Italy' Amalfi Coast. ©Getty Images

    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?

  • 06 of 10
    Neon-lit Las Vegas Strip at night
    ••• Sin City's neon heart, the Las Vegas Strip. ©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 sumptuous celebrity-chef restaurants, like the world-class Joel Robuchon, plus glamorous clubs, mesmerizing shows, seductive spas, designer shopping, and an amazing blowout of a festival, Vegas Uncork'd.

    And resplendent hotels like Nobu Hotel Caesars Palace, with magnificent dining at your beck and call, or​ Delano Las Vegas, the stylish, young wing of the Mandalay Bay funhouse resort.

    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. What's more, every attraction accords VIP perks to big spenders. Viva Las Vegas!

  • 07 of 10

    The Private Caribbean

    Saint Lucia's Caribbean landscape
    ••• Saint Lucia is famed for its Pitons peaks and its decadent resorts. ©Jade Mountain/Anse Chastenet

    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 to active resorts like Radisson Blu St. Martin, and couples to sunny getaways like Sonesta Great Bay. Lovers of luxury (and nature and chocolate) find their way to St. Lucia. And to Nevis, for Four Seasons Nevis. And 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

    Imperial China

    Ancient yet modern Shanghai, CHina
    ••• Shanghait, where yesterday collides with tomorrow. ©Andrew Rowat/Getty Images

    Now, China!

    The sleeping dragon -- China -- has awakened, 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.

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10

    Graceful Thailand

    Ritz Carlton Phulay Bay in Thailand
    ••• Aah...Phulay Bay Ritz-Carlton Reserve in Krabi, southern Thailand. © The Ritz-Carlton

    Old Siam o r 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.

  • 10 of 10

    Africa on Safari

    Giraffe on the Serengeti in Tanzania, Africa
    ••• Time to work on your Tan-zania. ©joSon/Getty Images

    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 more fabled destinations.