With 2018 fast approaching, it’s time to start thinking about your travel for the new year. The question is, where should you go? I partnered with the travel experts at The Travel Corporation Canada to come up with 10 top destinations for 2018 that shouldn’t be missed. From ancient temples in Japan to towering mountains in Norway, these countries need to be on your travel radar.
Island hopping along golden beaches, tantalizing Thai cuisine, partying it up full moon style, and a culture completely unlike your own – just a few reasons why Thailand still remains one of the top go-to destinations for Canadians, especially young travellers. Combine this with its low-cost living and you’re in for one hell of a treat. Don’t let the Thai baht currency throw you off guard; a decent hostel will set you back around 255 Thai Baht / CAD$9.50. If you’re looking to steer away from the tourist trodden roots, Nakhon Si Thammarat offers some of the best food the country has to offer, or hire a motorbike to make the 600km trip along the Mae Hong Son Loop through the forested northern mountains. Despite how cheap the country, it’s worth splurging in Thailand since you can live like a king.
Trace the footsteps of the ancients along Peru’s Inca trail. A country steeped in history, Peru is brimming with archaeological wonders. From the sacred sky city of Machu Picchu to the mysterious tombs surrounding Lake Titicaca, there are thousands of years of history to delve into. It’s true, Machu Picchu can get pretty crowded, but when you first lay eyes on the lost city, you’ll be glad you made the journey. Do try to spend some time in Lima where you can drink pisco sours and visit colonial churches. Peru also offers many small villages scattered across the country where Andean rituals can be observed and handicrafts can be purchased to help the local economy.
Portugal may no longer be a hidden gem, but it offers sun, sea, beautiful beaches, culture and mouth-wateringly tasty food at a much lower price compared to neighbouring Spain. If you’re looking for some downtime, the Algarve is where it’s at. A surfer’s paradise and a beach bums retreat, you’ll find plenty of well-priced spots where you can feast on fresh seafood, piri-piri chicken and €5 wine to your heart’s content – seriously, Portugal is cheap. Lisbon brings the perfect combination of city vibrancy and slow pace Portuguese living. Surrounded by beaches, cobbled streets and an abundance of history, spots like Belem, Cascais and Alfama, are just a few of the must go areas in and around Lisbon. Be sure to plan a day trip to Sintra where the architecture will blow you away.
Enjoy traditional Japanese sushi, visit a temple like Kinkakuji, or hike to the summit of Mt. Fuji and watch the sunrise. Japan offers enormous eclectic cities, fascinating museums and countryside that leaves all its visitors enraptured. Tokyo is exactly what you expect, yet 10 times crazier – this futuristic city is absolutely bananas. Prefer something more traditional? Kyoto has hundreds of temples while there are many traditional villages that feel like you’ve gone back in time. The people are crazy friendly so you’ll never feel weird even when you clearly have no idea what each other is saying. Getting just about anything from a vending machine sounds weird at first, but trust me, it’s awesome. What the best thing about Japan? It’s surprisingly affordable.
From the colonial grandeur of New Delhi to the shimmering lakes of Udaipur, India is a real head-turner. Whether one strolls through bazaars selling spices and saris or takes a tuk-tuk to a palatial temple, the country caters for visitors of both a relaxed or energetic nature. Make a beeline for the Amber Fort if you want a marvellous example of Rajput architecture, or the Taj Mahal if you want a sunrise to remember. Built by an emperor to remember his beloved wife, it’s the epitome of romance. Air Canada recently added a direct Toronto-Mumbai route making it even easier to get to India these days.
Often named the Emerald Isle, Ireland encompasses vast landscapes of lush greenery, along with atmospheric towns and villages and a remarkably wild coastline. But aside from the glorious landscape, it’s the unique traditions people come here to experience, with a distinct history that can be seen through its ancient castles. If you have the time, try to drive the Wild Atlantic Way to see the natural beauty of Ireland. If time is limited, stopping in Dublin or Belfast is a great way to get a quick taste of the culture. While you’re here, be sure to head to one of the best pubs according to locals or stay in a castle.
The Galapagos Islands
Why not get adventurous with one of the top destinations for 2018? Located over 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador, The Galapagos Islands are completely cut off from the rest of the world and are the home to many species found only on the islands. Accordingly, the Galapagos was declared the first ever Natural World Heritage site in 1978 and today, around 90% of the land is designated national park territory. This living, breathing and thriving museum unsurprisingly lures nature enthusiasts from across the globe, with the promise of rare species and absolute world class diving and snorkelling the dominant calling cards. There are strict visitor numbers in place so you need to make your plans now if you plan on visiting.
Towering mountains and beautiful stave churches surround the countryside of Oslo, immortalized by the likes of Ibsen’s Peer Gynt. Norway’s capital city holds plenty of its own calling cards. Visit its impressive array of modernist buildings; stroll through the historic Akershus Castle guarding the harbour (which includes a chance to see Viking longships); wander by the intriguing sculptures of Gustav Vigeland in Frogner Park; or simply hop on the subway service to the forests, lakes and hiking trails that link the city to the wild Norwegian landscape in just a few short stops. Once you get outside of the city, you’ll see those stunning landscapes that the country is famous for. Google Kjeragbolten and see if you’re brave enough to make the journey for that epic picture.
A land of moussaka, spanakopita and calamari; smashed plates, tinkling church bells and scorched olive trees; as well as incredible ancient ruins, Greece oozes character like gyros ooze tzatziki. Mix ancient and medieval spheres by ascending the Sacred Way of Delphi, past the Parian marble treasury to the temple of Apollo, where the enigmatic oracle once gave her verdicts. Then, go up to the clouds, where the monasteries of Meteora cling to the cliffs, offering beautiful art on the inside and stunning views of Peneios valley below – we can’t think of a more memorable place to travel to in 2018.
If I’ve already sold you on Peru, why not add neighbouring Bolivia to your itinerary? The country offers some of the most beautiful, diverse landscapes around. With the Andes desert, tropical rainforest and vast savannahs of the Amazon basin all spanning across this one country, it’s a mystery as to why it’s still something of an unknown. Most commonly known for its Instagramable Salar de Uyuni salt flats, a two or three-day tour of one of the world’s most incredible landscapes will set you back less than CAD$160. If you’re really brave, you can bike down the most dangerous road in the world – known locally as the road of death. Bolivia is an absolute must for any adventure traveller or budget backpacker in 2018!