With the new year upon us, it’s time to start planning where to travel in 2013! With hundreds of destinations to choose from, we’ve put together our Top 10 recommendations to help inspire your travel wishlist for 2013:
1. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Similar to London who in the past two years hosted three once in a lifetime events, Rio is slated to host both the FIFA World Cup in 2014 and the Summer Olympics in 2016—the first South American City ever to host the summer games. As a city already known to throw the biggest party of the year –it’s iconic week-long Carnaval—everyone is definitely focused on this vibrant city ready to take the world stage.
The world didn’t end with the turning of the Mayan calendar but rather signaled a new beginning. As a country with a rich Mayan culture nowhere is this more evident than the country of Guatemala which is definitely one of the rising tourist destinations within Central America. This unique culture celebrates both its Mayan and Spanish influences resulting in a myriad of places of interest. From the former Spanish colonial city of Antigua, a UNESCO World Heritage site to the natural beauty of Lake Atitlán or the black sand beaches of El Hawaii on the coast, you’ll be hard pressed to find a more diverse country within such close proximity of North America.
3. New Zealand
Long before the Hobbits staked claim, New Zealand was seen as land filled with adventure for travellers worldwide. A country filled with stunning mountains to climb, rivers to kayak, cycling trails to explore and beaches to relax on continues to draw thrill-seekers alike. But don’t let this small country fool you into relying just on its natural beauty. It also boasts a distinct indigenous Maori culture, world-class wine regions and the tallest free-standing building in the Southern Hemisphere. New Zealand truly is waiting to be discovered for ALL that it has to offer.
Full of incredible history, culture and stunning beaches, Croatia truly has it all. Located between the Alps and the Adriatic Sea, Croatia offers visitors the opportunity hit the slopes in the winter or swim during the summer months. There are more than 1000 islands off the coast of Croatia and sailing is a popular way to enjoy its beauty. Its capital Zagreb, is a charming medieval city of exceptional beauty known for architecture and history spanning more than 900 years. A Sovereign nation for 700 years until its independence was abolished by Napoleon in 1806, the old town was completed in the 13th century and remains virtually unchanged today as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Still considered a “hidden gem”, Croatia won’t stay that way for long as it’s one of our fastest growing European destinations in terms of popularity.
5. Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic offers a colourful tapestry of Spanish, French, African, and Haitian influences woven by a rich history. Possessing some of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean, the Dominican Republic is quickly becoming a favourite among sun worshippers looking for an alternative to the more popular countries of Mexico, Cuba and Jamaica. In addition to the sun, sea, and sand, the Dominican offers a unique cultural experience that will captivate your senses and leave you wanting more.
India is a vast continent, bound by the majestic Himalayan ranges in the north and surrounded by the Bay of Bengal, Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean. Visitors to India have an astounding array of choices, from hiking the Himalayas to visiting a medieval palace. The mix of ancient and modern, and the country’s myriad cultures, religions, customs and cuisine make India one of the most unique places in the world. Today, the country is a paradox of old and new. For example, travellers can experience Mumbai’s ultra-modern shopping arcades, scientific centres and night clubs – and yet walk through a seemingly 2,000 year-old village with no roads or running water.
Home to some of Africa’s greatest tourist attractions including Mount Kilimanjaro, Ngorogoro Crater, Selous Game Reserve and the Serengeti, Tanzania is an obvious must on almost anyone’s bucket list. Drawing millions of visitors each year, it has somehow remained relatively inconspicuous and inviting. Understandably, the Reserves draw the most interest for their extraordinary wildlife spotting, but once you’ve had your fill of safari life, make the relatively short trek by air or by ferry to the often forgotten island of Zanzibar to relax on its stunning white sand beaches amid its crystal clear turquoise waters.
Positioned on the Rim of Fire, this volcanic archipelago of islands is home to 128 million people. Japan is a fascinating mix of ancient and modern mixing vast, contemporary cityscapes with sacred temples, and imperial palaces with “floating” shrines. And while Japan’s bustling economy has made it a world leader in technology and machinery and produced modern cities such as Tokyo and Osaka offering all the ultra-modern contemporary comforts of department stores, oxygen bars and bright neon entertainment districts, nature-lovers can still appreciate the country’s forested hillsides, active volcanoes and snow-peaked mountains.
Whether you are looking for sun, history, romance or just a relaxing getaway, the country of Panama is one place that definitely has it all. With average yearly temperatures in the mid 20’s to low 30’s, visitors can expect a warm to hot climate year round. From unspoiled and sun soaked beaches to culturally enriching encounters with local native tribes, Panama offers you countless unique and intriguing opportunities to discover on your own or as part of a group. You will be amazed at just how much the eco-rich rainforest and sun-soaked jungles of this Central American gem have to offer.
10. The Philippines
Often overlooked by tourists, this beautiful archipelago of over 7,000 islands features some incredible scenery and is home to some of the world’s most glorious beaches. Water-lovers will rejoice in the country’s impressive network of ferries and boats. Island hop on a bangcas, a small outrigger canoe, or take a luxury catamaran and experience gorgeous coastlines, beaches and turquoise water. Check out the incredible limestone formations in the caves of Samar at Sohoton Natural Bridge National Park, or snorkel or scuba-dive the pristine waters and incredible coral reefs.
What’s on your travel wishlist for 2013? Let us know in the comments below!