Follow our guide to 2012's hottest destinations

Get your finger on this year's travel pulse with World Travel Guide's top destinations 2012! From dramatic island scenery in Indonesia to historic rock-carved cities in Jordan, we've scoured the globe to bring you the best travel hotspots for your 2012 holidays.

Top destinations 2012: Hong Kong

Top destinations 2012 - Hong KongHong Kong is a buzzing place
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See stirring protests, take leisurely country walks across rolling hills, swim and sunbathe on a beautiful beach, drink elaborate cocktails in Ozone – 118 floors above the sea – and stuff yourself silly with an unending array of delicious dumplings. Why visit Hong Kong now? Well, why not? Hong Kong is a buzzing, upbeat, finger-on-the-pulse place that’s safe, runs like clockwork and is packed with fine hotels, gourmet restaurants and designer bargains. But Hong Kong is not all about glitz and glam. Street food stalls come piled high with weird and wonderful produce – cuttlefish tentacles, anyone? – and lines of cafés and cantinas chatter with filled tables chowing down on bulging dumplings and golden noodles.

Best time to go: Head there October-December for warm days and blue skies.

Top destinations 2012: Indonesia

Top destinations 2012 - IndonesiaIndonesia has an enticing culture and dramatic scenery
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Exotic Indonesia’s enticing Asian archipelago offers deliciously relaxed and simple beach life, bubbling parties, rich and varied culture and dramatic island scenery. It is possible to exist on under £10 a day, and a decent guesthouse in Kuta in Bali – a popular tourist spot – costs under £10 per night for three people. Must-see sights include the breathtaking sunrise at Gurung Bromo – an active volcano on Java – the impressive temples of Prambanan and Borobudur, and the Gilli Islands. And of course then there’s taking a road trip around beautiful Bali – take a morning surf in lively Kuta and then spend an afternoon amid the tranquil rice fields near Ubud.

Best time to go: Enjoy the dry season May-September.

Top destinations 2012: Cambodia

Top destinations 2012 - CambodiaCambodia is firmly on 2012’s tourist trail
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After decades of war and destruction, Cambodia is open for business. This spiritual and naturally blessed land is firmly on 2012’s tourist trail, and its temples, coastline, islands and rainforests make for a mesmerising and largely unspoiled adventure. See the half-Buddhist half-Hindu temple complex Angkor Wat – the only one of this ilk in the world – and delve into the hubbub of capital Phnom Penh, fizzing with energy and teaming with relics from Cambodia’s colonial and Khmer pasts. The islands off the country’s south coast are set to become popular island getaways once word gets out. Visit now to relish the tranquillity. Getting back to nature is what much of Cambodia is all about; spot river dolphins at Kratié, volunteer on a marine conservation project or at an elephant sanctuary and trek through the wilds of the Virachay National Park.

Best time to go: Peak season – December and January – offers the kindest temperatures but also bring the crowds. Visit in May and June if you don’t mind some showers alongside gorgeous greenery.

Top destinations 2012: Poland

Top destinations 2012 - PolandHead to Poland to be in the centre of the action when it hosts the UEFA Euro 2012
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Many remain quite unaware of just how beautiful much of rural Poland is. Across the more remote swathes of this vast land flourish wild and deep forests, glistening lakes, soaring mountains and golden beaches. But in 2012, as a joint host of UEFA Euro 2012 together with Ukraine, Poland’s much overlooked natural charms will be highlighted more than ever before. Poland’s steadily developing cities, such as capital Warsaw and historic Kraków, will be enjoyed by visitors from across Europe. See Kraków’s stately Wawel Castle and wander the Old Town’s large market; in Warsaw indulge in a thriving night scene – a heady mix of restaurants, bars and clubs demonstrating the increasingly cosmopolitan face of Polish city life.

Best time to go: June and July offer the most sunshine, and June is when the Euro takes place. Expect some cheerful crowds and a lively atmosphere.

Top destinations 2012: England

Top destinations 2012 - EnglandEngland will be host to a whole stream of events
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In 2012, England is firing on all cylinders. From 27 July till 12 August, London sees the greatest athletes of our time compete against its ancient and prestigious backdrop. Supporting the Olympics is the Cultural Olympiad – a whole stream of events across the UK culminating in the London 2012 Festival. Also being celebrated across the country in 2012 is the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. Festivities are set to centre round a long weekend at the beginning of June. In April, celebrate the World Shakespeare Festival with artists from around the world taking part in performances and events across the UK – from Stratford-upon-Avon to Scotland. Also coming to London in 2012 is World Pride – the biggest Gay Pride Event ever. On 7 and 8 July, central London promises a throng of truly colourful celebrations.

Best time to go: Share in Olympic fever in July and August.

Top destinations 2012: Portugal

Top destinations 2012 - PortugalA rich culture, beautiful beaches and a lively night scene are all on offer in Portugal
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Taking centre stage in Portugal for 2012 is Guimarães, a historic city picked to be one of the year’s European Capitals of Culture (the other is Maribor in Slovenia). Throughout 2012, Guimarães’ medieval centre and prominent art spaces host an array of cultural happenings – from music and dance to photography and literature. Just over 50km (31 miles) away in Porto – a previous European Capital of Culture (2001) – musicians and artists are also flourishing. Browse cutting-edge art and see the architecturally impressive Museu de Arte Contemporânea and the Casa da Música. Further south, Portugal’s charming capital Lisbon confidently displays all the attributes expected of a well-heeled European metropolis: ancient relics, great nightlife, cosmopolitan shopping and a thriving culinary scene. Hire a car and explore them all for a culture-rich road trip in the sun.

Best time to go: Visit in May for balmy spring days without the peak-season crowds.

Top destinations 2012: Jordan

Top destinations 2012 - JordanRock-carved city Petra celebrates its 200th anniversary in 2012
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This year Jordan celebrates the 200th anniversary of its historic rock-carved city and key tourist draw Petra. Cut into the looming sandstone cliffs find tombs, temples, ornate baths, streets and more. See the stone change colour as the intense sun makes its way across the blue sky. As well as Petra, much of Jordan is steeped in tales from the distant past. See the spot where John baptised Jesus at Bethany by the Jordan, follow in the footsteps of Lawrence of Arabia from his headquarters fort at Azraq, through to the deserts of Wadi Rum, trek routes mentioned in the Old Testament, view the Promised Land that was revealed to Moses and gaze out over a landscape that has changed little in the last 2,000 years.

Best time to go: Visit in spring and autumn to avoid the stifling summer heat.

Top destinations 2012: Ghana

Top destinations 2012 - GhanaSee Ghana’s fantastic wildlife
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Friendly people and the belting African sun welcome those stepping off the plane into Ghana. Capital city Accra is a vociferous jumble of Ghanaian life, mixing shanty towns and rugged pavements with increasingly good restaurants and nightlife. Accra sits on Ghana’s vast stretch of coastline, which runs from the Ivory Coast to Togo. Along this vast stretch find largely untouched palm-lined beaches. To see Ghana’s fantastic wildlife head north. The Mole National Park is the largest park in Ghana, and hosts impressive beasts such as elephants, lion, buffalos and leopards. Ghana is also home to Lake Volta – the world’s largest artificial lake – its edge studded with towns and villages, and its sands the nesting ground for many turtles and sea birds.

Best time to go: June to August offers hot days without the extremes of earlier in the year.

Top destinations 2012: Iceland

Top destinations 2012 - IcelandIceland has stunning natural wonders
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Modern Iceland, with its immense natural wonders and comfort-driven luxuries, makes for a wonderful stay. And with scientists predicting 2012 to be one of the best displays of the Northern Lights for over a decade, Iceland is a particularly fantastic destination for 2012. Around the coastal regions, Iceland is a bustle of activity, particularly in the capital city, Reykjavík, where more than half of Iceland's population lives. Reykjavík is set on a broad bay, surrounded by mountains, and is in an area of geothermal hot springs, creating a natural central heating system and pollution-free environment. Elsewhere, watch for birds and whales, and get active with skiing and glacier walking.

Best time to go: June, July and August offer the brightest days.

Top destinations 2012: Finland

Top destinations 2012 - FinlandRural Finland offers world-class skiing and cosy wooden huts
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Fashion shows, film festivals and cutting-edge exhibitions spanning modern jewellery to green architecture are just some of the events celebrating Helsinki’s status as the World Design Capital 2012. A year of design-led events kicks off across the Finnish capital with a focal Design Week in September. Elegant design is at the forefront of Helsinki, with its blend of contemporary spaces, art nouveau architecture and focal harbour. Outside the city, rural Finland may be firmly associated with world-class skiing and cosy wooden huts, but this verdant chunk of Scandinavia is also a beautiful summertime destination, with shimmering lakes, lively festivals and truly wild national parks.

Best time to go: Finland has something to offer all year round. Enjoy gentle sunshine in June and July, see the wide stretches of countryside in a rainbow of autumnal colours in September, and rejoice in the snow December-February.

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