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It’s the kick off of 2015 and they’re all doing it (the mainstream press that is). So, as a professional traveller I thought I’d add my pinch of salt – or spice. Culled from decades of travel, here’s my short-list of affordable destinations that give you the best of all worlds … in 2015.

It’s always fascinating to leaf through old guide-books and see what was predicted about a place you’ve just been to, a decade or so on. In front of me is a well-thumbed and dissected (i.e. salient chapters sliced out for lighter travel, pre-internet days) tome dating from 1996. This is the Vietnam Laos & Cambodia Handbook, published by Trade & Travel, now known as Footprint. What a brilliant (i.e. serious and dependable) publisher that was, later overshadowed by the inexorable rise of Lonely Planet. I used their books repeatedly during long travels in the 1990s, from the South American Handbook (their original and best known) to Mexico & Central America, India and Indonesia, Malaysia & Singapore.

Few developing countries DON’T have a murky past, but Cambodia is surely at the top of the list for recent psychological and physical trauma. Yet now, in 2014, and despite depressing levels of government corruption, it seems to be climbing out of its deep and tragic 20th century hole. Hole? Perhaps I should say bomb crater – because there are many of those. But it’s definitely time to paint a more uplifting picture.