As the end of the year approaches, it’s time to dream about where you’ll be exploring in 2010 – there have been lots of changes in travelling trends over the past few years. Instead of popular spots like Italy and Thailand, travelers these days are searching for something different, something new and refreshing. Beat the crowd and check out these up-and-coming countries before everyone does!
Hot springs, giant glaciers and vast volcanic areas, Iceland’s mystical air has placed it tops on many adventure travelers’ list. 2010 is the year to visit it. With the recent financial crisis leaving Iceland close to bankruptcy, the country’s currency has fallen drastically and so have prices. It is now much cheaper to travel to Iceland, and what better way to help revive its economy?
There’s plenty to see – from soaking in bubbling spring water in Reykjavík’s famous Blue Lagoon to watching spouting whales in Húsavík. The island’s real beauty lies in the rural areas where bohemian villages and nature co-exist. Iceland Air flies from 25 airports in Europe, U.S. and Canada.
Flickr photo by pocius
What used to be associated with war and political issues, Israel is slowly stealing the limelight as a country diverse in culture, landscapes and history. You could be at the trendy beaches of Tel Aviv, the next day in world’s holiest city, Jerusalem and within a few hours, on a 4X4 desert tour through Mitzpe Ramon. Israel, unlike how people perceive, is a relatively safe place to visit.
With the opening of a new museum in Tel Aviv, travelers will have another reason to visit Israel. “Revealing the Hidden City’”, an innovative project put together by 300 volunteers, is designed to preserve historic photos from Yafo. These photos along with thousands of artifacts will be displayed in the new History Museum. You can book cheap flights to Tel Aviv from several destinations in the U.S. and Europe.
3. South Africa
World Cup 2010! It’s catching the attention of many as the host city of the important sporting event. But that’s not just it. South Africa is famed for a gorgeous coastline, vibrant cosmopolitan cities, side by side with world-class national parks teeming with wildlife.
Most visitor’s first stop is Cape Town, one of the world’s most beautiful cities. Within a day, you can explore isolated Zulu villages or spot some wildlife at acclaimed Kruger National Park. Then go further afield to the snowcapped peaks of the Drakensberg Range and hop over to the lush subtropical coast of KwaZulu-Natal. South African Airways link Johannesburg to many major cities around the world.
Having been listed as the World’s Happiest Country, Bhutan has gained overnight fame. In 2010, it’s also become tops on the list of many adventure travelers’ list. But most do not know that visitors have to pay a minimum of US$200 per day, making it one of the world’s most expensive countries to visit.
The ‘Land of the Thunder Dragon’ is a religious place – people come to find their spiritual selves and seek for a peace of mind. Explore the early Buddhist sites in the cultural heartland of Bumthang Dzongkhag or hike to the world’s famous Tiger’s Nest Monastery , precariously perched on a rock face. For many trekkers, Bhutan holds a world of opportunities to explore and hike.
Having only gained independence in 1991, Slovenia is coming into its own. As one of the smallest countries in Europe, it’s almost half the size of Switzerland. The Alps stretches to East Slovenia; the area nicknamed the ‘Sunny side of the Alps’. With a mixture of Mediterranean climate and mountain breezes, it offers more diversity than many other European countries. Slowly gaining popularity, many travelers are ditching its neighbours – Croatia, Hungary and Austria, for Slovenia.
Lake Bohinj is the country’s number 1 attraction. The idyllic calm Alpine lake beneath Mount Triglav is picturesque: its image appearing in postcards and websites. Ljubljana, its capital, is the country’s gateway, reachable by several budget airlines.
As one of the most visited North African countries, Morocco has always been a favorite among European tourists, thanks to the proximity. These days, the rest of world also has its eyes on this intoxicating country. No longer though of as the far and mystical land somewhere in the Middle East, Morocco is making itself known to the world.
Bridging Africa and the world, the country brings the isolated Sahara deserts and the high Atlas Mountains close to you. Get wonderfully lost in Marrakech’s endless souks, or surf the huge waves along the Atlantic Coast in Essaouira. Catch a ferry from the tip of Spain or fly Easyjet from London.
Having been boycotted and ostracized by the world for years, travel warnings to Burma were lifted only a few years ago. A country that has remained a world apart, Myanmar holds on to what many other places have lost – an unpretentious self. This time-warped country is perfect for travelers seeking adventure in a lost world: a chance to be the first explorers.
Catch sunrise at Bagan, admiring the 4000 sacred stupas that are scattered across the plains. Drift down the Ayeyarwady in an old river steamer, or bum around Ngapali Beach. Drift along Ngwe Saung on the blissful Bay of Bengal and trek through pine forests to minority villages around Kalaw – it’s a raw country to uncover.
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