1) Faroe Islands: Remoteness at its best
With tourist numbers in Iceland up 34.9% already in 2017, the trend to travel north is on the rise: on the whole, the entirety of the polar regions are becoming more and more popular. Not far from Iceland sits the self-governing archipelago of the Faroe Islands. There are many reasons to visit the Faroe Islands in 2018, but chief among them is that only 50,000 tourists visit a year (for now), so it is noticeably quieter than Iceland. Iceland’s lesser-known cousin has stunning green scenery, a notable lack of crime, easy access (it’s a quick flight from Copenhagen), extreme remoteness, and amazing nature. All reasons to give Iceland a break in 2018 in search of something a little different.
2) Cambodia: Luxury in every corner
2018 is the year to visit Cambodia, with some amazing new properties opening around the country. In Cambodia’s beautiful southern islands, Six Senses is opening their new resort on Krabey Island and Alila is opening a new lux property on Koh Russey island. There are also more openings inland, including Rosewood Phnom Penh, and a Shinta Mani property in Siem Reap. Most interesting is the opening of The Bensley Collection’s Shinta Mani Wild, a private nature sanctuary near Bokor National Park and Kirion National Park, which is being built with an aim to promote conservation in the area – it’s the first of its kind in Cambodia. In short, the opening of these hotels – many of which open properties in locations known for their beauty – speaks volumes about the industry’s enthusiasm for this stunning region. Once a backpacker’s haven, it looks set to lead the way in high-end tourism.
3) Liuwa Plains, Zambia: Safari without the crowds
For a crowd-free safari experience, Liuwa Plains National Park in Zambia is the place to go in 2018. Since African Parks took over the management of the park in 2003, there has been a steady rise in the lion and cheetah population and a decrease in illegal poaching. Africa’s second biggest wildebeest migration also passes through the park, so it offers a great opportunity to witness the magic without being surrounded by dozens of other safari vehicles. The opening of King Lewanika Lodge in 2017 gave Liuwa Plains its first ultra-luxury property, as well, and there are sure to be more to come as the park’s animal populations steadily rise.
4) The Indian Himalayas: A stranger to mass tourism
Because Nepal is finally seeing a bounceback in tourism after the earthquake, you may find yourself wanting to go somewhere a bit less travelled in 2018. The Indian Himalayas have so much to offer – from stunning scenery to fascinating culture to out-of-this-world hiking. More specifically, the region of Kumaon, in the state of Uttarakhand, has been completely unspoiled by mass tourism, and its remoteness will impress even the most well-travelled of people. Whether you’re interested in exploring the region’s beautiful villages or hiking in the shadows of the Himalayas, do it in 2018 before the region’s remoteness attracts too many like-minded travellers.
5) Bordeaux, France: Easy access and fine dining
The city of Bordeaux has undergone a 20-year renovation programme, and in 2018 will be the place to visit in France. It’s now just a two-hour train ride from central Paris, making it even easier to get to than before. The region offers a selection of 5-star properties either in the city itself or in the heart of the vineyards, and if you are looking for something different, deluxe rooms in very exclusive wine chateaux are available. Not only does the region offer some of France’s best wines but it’s also home to some of the country’s best restaurants, with everything from Michelin star gastronomic restaurants to up and coming chefs.
6) French Polynesia: Relax like a Royal
French Polynesia is having a moment right now thanks in part to Pippa Middleton, who honeymooned there earlier in 2017. It has since seen a domino effect of other wealthy celebrities visiting, such as Barack Obama, Beyoncé, Diane von Furstenburg and Bradley Cooper. As a result of this influx of ultra-famous visitors, interest is on the rise, with more and more travellers looking to explore the amazing country. 2018 looks set to become an even bigger year for the idyllic island nation.
7) Komodo Islands, Indonesia: An experience to rival Bali
Komodo National Park has been an upwardly trending destination for the last two years or so. This is due, in a large part, to the improved access to Labuan Bajo – the gateway to Komodo. What was once a somewhat dangerous multi-day trip from Bali involving a combination of boat and bus can now be done with a short flight from Bali. To accommodate the increased traffic to the area, a wide assortment of hotels have been popping up both around Labuan Bajo and within the park itself. As a rising tourism destination, Komodo now has more broad appeal thanks to these new openings. It is no longer as “rustic” as it once was. Travellers come from around the world for the dragon spotting, stunning views, Pink Beach snorkelling, one of the world’s best diving sites and natural and cultural marvels. Jacada Travel has seen an increase in popularity in trips to Indonesia: four-fold between 2015 and 2016. And that number is continuing to rise into 2017, with more and more travellers interested in seeing a different side of the country.
8) Rwanda: The new African luxury hotspot
Rwanda is the new luxury hotspot in Africa right now, thanks to a few recent luxury lodge openings by Wilderness and One&Only in 2017. In addition to going in search of the famous mountain gorillas, visitors will soon be able to see the famous Big Five as well. Work is being done on Akagera National Park to restore its Big Five status, with lions having been reintroduced to the park recently, and rhinos to come soon. Offering tourists the chance to see the famous mountain gorillas as well as the Big Five – especially in luxury – could no doubt catapult Rwanda to the top of everyone’s safari lists in 2018.
9) Papua New Guinea: One of the last great frontiers
Considered one of the world’s last great frontiers, Papua New Guinea has so much to offer visitors. And, with it hosting the Pacific Games in 2017 and APEC in 2018, has seen a recent and notable increase in infrastructure investment, making it even easier to travel to and stay in Port Moresby, PNG’s capital city. In an age of “go now before it gets too popular”, PNG should be on the top of everyone’s lists for 2018.
10) Quito, Ecuador: A destination in its own right
2018 is a great time to visit South America’s often overlooked capital, Quito. New hotel openings in the city – Ilia Experience Hotel, Quito Polo Club and Republica del Cacao Chocolate Boutique – are elevating the city’s status from a stopover to a destination in its own right, where you can experience the culinary, artisanal beer, theatrical and cultural scene the city has to offer. In 2018, Quito will also be celebrating their third annual Festival of Lights, a five-day festival in August where artists build and project stunning light images onto the city’s historical buildings in the Old Town. The festival is already attracting travellers from all over, and it is well worth a visit before it becomes too crowded.
More info on the ‘must-see’ destinations of 2018.