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NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - People might be short of cash due to the economic downturn but vacations are still on the agenda for 2009, although maybe with a different slant.
Rough Guides has picked its top nine best travel experiences for 2009. This list is not endorsed by Reuters:
1. Soak up Cuba's cultural legacy before everyone gets there.
Cuba's era as an island caught in time could be drawing to a close as the United States looks to ease restrictions on the communist-run nation. Experience the motors, mojitos and music before the hordes arrive.
2. Volunteering in New Orleans, USA
Immerse yourself in a city coming back tolife by joining up with an aid organization to help rebuild the Lower Ninth Ward and other areas hit hard by the post-Katrina floods. Then head to the French Quarter to reward your efforts with beignets, jazz and hurricane cocktails -- they're still served with gusto.
3. Chill out in UNESCO-protected town of Kotor, Montenegro
Climb to the top of the medieval walled town of Kotor for the best views of the world's second deepest fjord, or try out Montenegro's largest nightclub, Maximus, hidden in backstreets.
4. Formula One night racing in Singapore
Live life in the fast lane at the world's only Formula One night race when it returns to Marina Bay in autumn 2009. Marvel at the hair-pin bends and sweeping curves of the racetrack alongside Singapore's impressive skyline.
5. Discover Ningaloo, Western Australia, Australia
Escape the crowds on one of the world's largest fringing coral reefs. If you've got the nerve, swim with whale sharks, snorkel and dive the reefs, or wander along the shoreline exploring the crystal clear waters.
6. Witness the Granitola festival in Casamaccioli, Corsica
Celebrated in small villages across the island over Easter, the slow, spiraling processions of dozens of hooded penitents from the local monasteries, chanting and singing as they glide past, make it a wonderful place to be at this time of year.
7. Break out the kilt for one of the largest clan gatherings in history, Edinburgh, Scotland
2009 heralds the 250th anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns, and a year-long celebration of all things Scottish. The gathering will see clan members from all over the world congregate for a magnificent Highland Games in Holyrood Park: www.clangathering.org
8. The Maulidi festival in Lamu, Kenya
Join in with the all-island party to celebrate Prophet Mohammad's birthday in March. On this coconut island with no cars, where the town dates back to the 14th century, the whole population is caught up in processions, dancing and eating.
9. See the decade out in style in Baranquilla, Colombia
Come December the coastal town of Baranquilla turns into a winter extravaganza of dancing and partying. Round out a visit with a trip to the two neighboring cities: colonial Cartagena and the delightfully run-down seaside town of Santa Marta.
Editing by Belinda Goldsmith