2016 Emerging Destinations
Now that 2016 is almost here, it’s about time to start planning for some adventures in the new year. Do you already have some places in mind? We’ve already got some exciting travels planned for the new year and we can’t wait to explore!
2016 looks set to be another power-packed year of discoveries, with plenty of exciting events happening around the world, including the Summer Olympics. We’ve done some research and collected our own list of emerging destinations for 2016 and hope it helps shine new light to under-the-radar places.
The expansive, diverse South American country has long been appreciated for its beautiful beachside cities, wild northern beaches, and untamed Amazonian forests. Brazil has a culture all its own, a melting pot of Portuguese, native, and African influences. Whether you’re dancing samba all night long, exploring the wild Amazon, sipping caipirinhas on the beach, or simply wandering through old colonial streets – Brazil has something for everyone.
Why now? The Brazilian real has dropped to a 10-year low, making a visit to Brazil cheaper than it’s been in over a decade. Usually one of the priciest South American countries, Brazil is now affordable for even shoestring travelers. In addition, the upcoming Summer 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro mean improved infrastructure, increased police forces, and English training for tourism employees creating a more pleasant, safer, and easier Rio for everyone.
Perhaps best known for its mountainous wonders, Nepal is a major trekking and hiking destination. Not everyone needs to conquer Everest, however, and there are a number of amazing trails for the more novice adventurer, including the Annapurna. For the true adrenaline seeker, Nepal also offers white water rafting, canyoning, kayaking, rock climbing and more – all set against the world’s most awe-inspiring mountain scenery.
Why now? The devastating earthquakes earlier this year killed more than 9,000 people and destroyed houses and monuments across Nepal. The tourism industry suffered severely. Because tourism provides major income for Nepal, visiting this country is one of the best and most effective ways to help them recover from this major disaster.
As an important stop on the Silk Road, Uzbekistan has been a cultural hotbed for more than two thousand years. With bustling markets, beautiful mosques, and expansive mausoleums, the country is also home to many sights of ecological interests including the Nuratau Mountains, remote Karakalpakstan, and the disappearing Aral Sea. Of all the countries we visited in Central Asia, Uzbekistan was easily our favorite.
Why now? While the country is still tightly (and harshly) governed, visa requirements have been relaxed in recent years, making it easier than ever to visit this cultural icon of Central Asia. In fact, many of the Stans have relaxed their visa regulations so it’s definitely high time to visit!
Tourism to Japan continues to increase, a trend that will only skyrocket with the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. While most tourists stick to the hotspots, adventurous travelers willing to get off the beaten path are in for a unique perspective an authentic and untouched Japan. Many amazing islands, including Skikoku and Hokkaido, are almost unvisited by foreign tourists, yet hold unparalleled peace and beauty, in addition to otherworldly landscapes (especially Hokkaid0).
Why now? Japan’s situation is very similar to Brazil’s. The devalued currency combined with new progress and development for its own upcoming 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, makes Japan less expensive than usual while Tokyo is at its prime in prep for the big games. The high-speed bullet train the Hokkaido Skikansen will link Tokyo the the remote Hokkaido Island in the north, making Japan more accessible than ever.
Famed for its classic cars, cobbled streets, and perfectly preserved colonial cities, Cuba has a unique charm and charisma you won’t find elsewhere. Cuba is famous for its music, also reminiscent of a time long gone, its sound collecting a wide range of influences from Spanish to African. Half a century of economic embargo created conditions that left the country in a sort of protected bubble time warp – but it’s all changing now.
Why now? With Cuba’s recent economic liberalisation and the resurrection of diplomatic relations between the US and Cuba, changes are definitely in the horizon. Travel restrictions on Cubans have already been lifted and the government is loosening its grip on food supplies as well as selling and buying of estates and cars. Many people are now traveling to Cuba with the hopes of seeing it before the Americans flood in and transform Cuba. The question here is just how will Cuba change?
Myanmar (Burma) is a spiritual land of golden temples, peaceful lake fisherman, and deserted ocean beaches. 2500 year old Schwedagon Pagoda is a national icon of the country, resplendent in gold and precious gemstones, and particularly beautiful at sunset. The country’s cuisine is an interesting draw, as Burmese food is seldom found outside the country, and represents a fascinating mix of Thai, Indian, and Chinese influences.
Why now? The recent landmark landslide election for beloved figure Aung San Suu Kyi’s NLD (National League for Democracy) party is suggested to be the first step in a long walk towards true democracy and more open relations. Even though a civilian government has been in place since 2011, the general elections on November 8 were the first national vote, cuing the end of almost half a century of military.
With some of the most diverse and plentiful wildlife on the planet, Botswana is a true animal lover’s dream and one of the best African countries for wildlife watching. Botswana is home to big cats, rhinos, antelopes, exotic birds, and more elephants than any other country in the world. It’s also where you’ll find the Kalahari Desert and the Okavango Delta, two of the most iconic African regions. Botswana is not a cheap destination but it is an unforgettable one.
Why now? Botswana was just crowned Lonely Planet’s #1 country to visit in 2016, which is a major stamp of industry approval. Furthermore, the African nation is celebrating an important milestone – 50 years of relatively peaceful independence this year.
Iran is a country extremely rich in Islamic culture and old Persian history. Thousand-year-old ancient sites sprawl across the deserts, surrounding outstanding Persian architecture and fabled towns. Modern Iran is a sharp contrast, with chaotic traffic flooding up the bustling metropolis and busy urban dwellers rushing from one place to another in fashionable apparel. Iran is so many things rolled into one, but there’s one thing it’s not: It’s not a country of gun-toting or American-hating extremists. It’s not a land of war-loving, flag-burning terrorists. And it’s definitely not how the world perceives it to be.
Why now? Increasingly positive international relations has led to the lifting of sanctions and more relaxed visa restrictions, in addition to more flight options. The country will be undertaking hundreds of projects in tourism and predicts 25 million tourists in the next 10 years. Traveling Iran is only going to get easier in the coming years.
[Photo credit: Dennis Jarvis]
While Poland may be most frequently admired for its cultural cities (especially Wroclaw and Krakow), it comes as a surprise to many that it’s home to amazingly unspoiled forests, low mountains, and interconnected waterways especially in the south. Hiking, kayaking, and canoeing are perfect pastimes for these often overlooked remote parts of Poland, and offer serene solitude. While Poland found itself in the midst of World War II, the nation is working to restore destroyed synagogues and has established Holocaust memorials, in addition to heritage trails at the Jewish centers for relatives to trace history.
Why now? Wroclaw has been named European Capital of Culture 2016, and will be holding events throughout the city. Its performance arts (including opera, puppet troupes, and theater) attract exceedingly high-profile acts every year, and the recent designation will only increase its draw, in addition to its many museums and galleries.
[Photo credit: aivas14]
Lauded one of Europe’s best-kept secrets, Lithuania is home to Curonian Spit beaches, beautiful forests, and exquisite castles and museums. The Baltic country, once part of the Soviets, possesses a fairytale-like charm and whimsical character. You can especially feel this charm in its capital city Vilnius, which was declared a World Heritage Site in 1994 (and is known to be one of the top places for a hot air balloon ride).
Why now? Lithuania is one of the most recent Eurozone members, having joined in 2015. Its member status will serve to further open its borders and encourage visitors while providing a more convenient currency. Lithuania is one of the cheapest EU countries to visit while still earning low tourist numbers.
Hope you like our list of emerging destinations for 2016! Which destination is on your list for 2016? Did we miss out any country you think is worth visiting in 2016?