A culinary tour of the world

For many people, one of the best things about going on holiday is the chance to experience a whole new way of living, as well as a completely different culture and lifestyle. However, one of the best ways of getting to know a country is to look at the food and culinary traditions that it offers: India with its spices and herbs, Britain with its hearty workerís food, and Spain with its wonderful fresh fish.

Trying new dishes on holiday can be scary, but can also open up a wonderful new world of tastes and textures. And since most people let the diet slip on holiday anyway, now is the perfect time to indulge. But where to head on your culinary tour of the world? We take a look at the top foodie destinations for 2012.

For those looking to be pampered, Dubai holidays simply canít be beaten for absolute luxury. As home to some of the finest restaurants and hotels in the world, the Emirate state offers copious amounts of five-star dining; head to the fabulous seven-star Burj Al Arab hotel for a spot of afternoon tea, or perhaps an Asian tea ceremony if you fancy something different.

If youíre looking for something a bit more authentic, one of the best things about Dubai is its location in the heart of the United Emirates, meaning that dining here opens up a world of things to try. From Persian cafes to Lebanese streets vendors, the state has it all, so donít be afraid to shop around for the best meals.

If you like your food spicy, fresh and exotic, the Caribbean islands will certainly give you a chance to indulge. Caribbean holidays are traditionally loud, colourful and exciting, and the food is no different. Each island has its own delicacies and if youíre looking to go all out why not go on a tour of the islands to give you a true taste of the area?

One of the best things about Caribbean dining is the huge host of exotic fruits and vegetables on offer. The stunning climate allows everything from coconuts to papaya, okra and zucchini to flourish, so take the opportunity to try something a little different. Most restaurants will offer the chance to try new vegetables on the side of your main dish, so you can really search for your favourites and have something new with every meal.

If youíre on a budget, or are looking to try something truly authentic in your chosen destination, holidays to Thailand offer the ultimate in cheap and cheerful dishes. For the true Thai experience, a meal from one of the many street vendors is a must. Selling everything from fresh fruits to rice pancakes and curries, thereís something for every palate, and most of the meals come at bargain prices.

For something a little more upmarket, head into Bangkok and try one of the local restaurants; the pricier ones do tend to offer a more high-end experience, but the food can err on the side of Western and may be slightly too bland. The cheaper restaurants tend to fare better in terms of quality and flavour, although donít expect too much in the way of fine dining!

Wherever you end up on holiday, trying some of the local dishes is a great way of getting to know the country, as well as making new friends in the form of the chefs and restaurateurs. While it can be tempting to stick to the usual pizza and chips on your sunshine break, itís usually a bit of a waste, after all, why bother going abroad for something you can have at home?

Being brave in 2012 and giving your taste buds a workout is definitely the way forward so get ready to indulge.