Viva managing editor Amanda Linnell shares highlights from today’s Viva magazine. Be informed and inspired at viva.co.nz.

Though it is wonderful to live vicariously through people's holiday photos, Facebook and Instagram posts - there is nothing quite like being there. Actually feeling the sun on your back, smelling the mimosa in the evening air, discovering a small restaurant not previously researched on TripAdvisor, having struggling conversations to communicate with locals that usually end up in laughter, or finding a piece of handmade local pottery ... This is what travel is about - getting lost in new cultures, in history, in your senses.

In this week's special mid-winter escapes issue, we travelled near and far to bring you the best in inspiring travel - wellbeing editor Rebecca Wadey finds luxury on the island of Koh Kood in Thailand, writer Jessica Beresford journeys stateside to take in the sights of Las Vegas, and contributor Fiona Hawtin heads to Kuala Lumpur, which she finds is a haven for dental work.

Plus, this week Jesse Mulligan visits new Asian fusion restaurant White + Wong's in Auckland's viaduct harbour - have a read to see how he rates it.

- viva.co.nz

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