We may only be halfway through 2017, but we’re already thinking ahead to the destinations crowning our ‘must-visit’ list next year. So, are you in need of some travel inspiration for next year’s holiday? We’ve done our own research at the Destination Show back in January, as well as looking at global trends and our own gut instinct to pick our top 7 holiday destinations for 2018. Whether you’re craving full-on jungle adventures, seeking out new and untrodden paths or fancy discovering a new side to an old favourite, here’s where you should visit in 2018…
Don’t know much about Bhutan? That’s the beauty of it. Tucked away in the Himalayas in the shadow of India and China, this is one of Asia’s best-kept secrets – and now is the time to visit. The landscapes here are nothing short of spectacular – trekking through the Paro Valley and discovering mountaintop monasteries are on the cards here (the magical Tiger’s Nest Monastery is a must-see).
Bhutan’s colourful Buddhist festivals are an incredible experience for visitors, letting you immerse yourself in the local culture and join in with the food, dancing and festivities. One of the biggest is the Thimpu Tsechu, held around September in the capital city.
To get the most meaningful experience in Bhutan, we can arrange visits to the country’s working rice paddies, temple-studded valleys and even a homestay with a local family. Great for solo travellers, you’ll get to hear about life in rural Bhutan over steaming bowls of Ema Datshi (chilli and cheese – the tasty national dish).
When to go: The spring months of March to May are cool, green and filled with Tsechu (festivals).
Cuba has seen a steady stream of visitors from its US neighbour since trading restrictions were relaxed, but its character remains unchanged – warm, wild and open-hearted. There are the old world beauty and restless thrum of Havana’s streets, where you can raise a Mojito to Hemingway and see cornerstones of the country’s revolutionary history. You can roll cigars with local farmers and trek through the Tobacco Hills of Viñales, or spend lazy days under the palm trees of its desert islands. Welcome to Cuba!
The country is now tentatively opening up to tourism, and visiting now will let you see Cuba in a real time of change. Despite this, the differences here can be overwhelming (the country has two currencies, for example!). We can help guide you through this changing country for a genuinely meaningful experience without the stress. Our local partners in Cuba are committed to sustainable tourism and will arrange authentic local accommodation, home-cooked meals and true Cuban hospitality in a way that works with the local people and culture.
When to go: You’ve struck gold – Cuba’s sub-tropical climate means the sun shines all year round.
If you love heading off the beaten track, Borneo is ripe for exploring. With untouched, wildlife-rich rainforests, meandering rivers and national parks, it’s a playground for adventurers – and a surprisingly accessible one, at that. If you’re thinking of visiting in 2018, we can help plan a trip that’s as easy-going or as jam-packed as you fancy. If you’re looking for a family holiday with a difference in 2018, Borneo has plenty to please kids, too (we’ve even got special ready-made itineraries for families).
Think jungle boat cruises down its steamy rivers; days spent trekking through the rainforest and meeting endangered orangutans at the Sepilok sanctuary. You can get to grips with the Malaysian side with a spell in lively Kuala Lumpur; meet a native Iban headhunter tribe in Sarawak, or even squeeze in some horizontal hangtime on white-sand castaway beaches.
When to go: Borneo is a great year-round destination, but December and January tend to see the heaviest rainfall.
Chances are, you’ll be familiar with Thailand. The bustling whirlwind of Bangkok, the buzzing beaches and the non-stop party scene.
There’s a side to Thailand that’s warm, open, serene and traditional. It’s peaceful temples, sleepy rivers and emerald-green valleys. We’ve teamed up with the Tourism Authority of Thailand to guide you through the side to Thailand you may not know, in a way that works responsibly with the local communities.
First up, the scenery here is superb – if you don’t mind a hike, there’s nowhere better to explore on foot. Tread tropical jungle paths, climb the thick, green hills of Chiang Mai and get to know the minority hill tribes in mountainside villages. Animal lovers can have ethical wildlife encounters in the Elephant Nature Park or dolphin-spotting trips, while city slickers can experience another side to Bangkok – Buddhist temples, longtails and all.
When to go: Thailand’s climate varies from north to south, although things stay warm all year round. Central Thailand (including Bangkok) can get scorching from March to May.
Looking for somewhere a little different? Myanmar (formerly Burma) is a unique corner of Asia that reveals its charms to the in-the-know visitors starting to discover it. If you’re thinking of going in 2018, you’ll be rewarded with spotless green landscapes hiding tiny Buddhist temples, historic cities like Yangon and a traditional, rural life that feels totally tucked away from the rest of the world.
There are all kinds of authentic experiences to have here – immerse yourself in Buddhist culture, trek through its untouched hills and spend some time with some welcoming (and curious!) locals in the tribal villages. A homestay is a meaningful way to get to grips with local culture on Inle Lake, which is still rooted in centuries-old traditions and feels shielded from much of the rest of the continent. You’ll notice a distinctly British influence in some parts of Myanmar – Burmese high tea is an experience not to be missed!
When to go: The ‘high season’ is typically November to January, though the dry season lasts from October to April.
This emerald-green, teardrop-shaped island may be relatively small, but Sri Lanka is full to the brim with luscious green scenery, huge national parks and gold-dust beaches. If you love to see some local wildlife on your travels, Sri Lanka more than delivers. Yala National Park is brimming with grazing elephants, leopards and chattering monkeys, and jeep safaris let you spot them in the wild and even see orphaned, baby elephants resting at the Elephant Transit Home.
Hike into Sri Lanka’s famous rolling countryside to catch sight of its famous tea pickers in the green, fragrant tea fields; make the climb to the spectacular Adam’s Peak for panoramic views across the valleys or even hit the jungle to tackle the trails to Ella Rock. You can get to know the locals on a homestay, where you can pick up a few tips on cooking Sri Lankan curry (similar to Indian, with fresher, hotter chillies) and wind down with a break on the palms-studded beaches of the south.
When to go: Sri Lanka is great all year round, but avoid the south-west from May to September and the northeast in October and November to dodge monsoon season.
Finally, we give you Japan. A country that fully embodies a meeting of modern and traditional. Two-thirds mountains, the scenery here is a thing to behold. The soaring Mount Fuji is the country’s icon (you’ll even spot it on a ¥1000 note) and represents Japan’s sacred heart.
The cities need little introduction; the shimmering, hyper-modern cityscapes of Tokyo and Osaka have come to symbolise modern Asia, with world-leading food, fashion and nightlife scenes and ultra-luxury hotels jostling for prominence. There’s still the chance to seek out local secrets in Japan, despite its prominence as a tourist destination – the quieter, beach-fringed islands offer a radically different culture to the pace of the ‘mainland’. Alternatively, the time-honoured temples of Kyoto and breathtaking gardens are a glimpse into the past.
When to go: Japan’s doors are open all year around, depending on what you want to do. If you’re after the cherry blossoms you’ll need to go between April and May, however, if you want to have a cooler experience, winter in Japan is also great (and you can always head up to Nagano for some Skiing!).
WILDCARD – Brazil!
We’ve long since been fans of this South American superstar, but there’s no doubt about it – 2018 is a brilliant time to make the trip. Things are starting to settle down after the whirlwind of the Olympics, social unrest has begun to calm, and sustainability is now in the spotlight. The government are taking steps to preserve its world-renowned natural beauty, with eco projects hard at work in the Amazon. Plus, the recession means that it’s more affordable than before to reach this wild country.
So what’s on the cards for when you get there? Brazil’s appeal ranges from the colourful chaos of cities like Rio de Janeiro to the best beaches on the continent – not to mention the deep, mesmerising expanse of the Amazon.
Leap into Brazilian culture by experiencing the legendary Carnival (held in February or March) and head deep into the rainforest for wildlife-rich treks and sleeping in a wilderness lodge. Alternatively, you can even mix it up with a trip to the vast Pantanal wetlands, bustling with wildlife, you can glide down rivers on or go to the ranches in Brazil’s own cowboy region.
When to go: Brazil’s in the tropics, so things stay warm all-year-round, although December to February is the wettest time in southern Brazil.