While many travellers revisit their favourite haunts, whether to remind themselves of a memory or to celebrate an old memory, other travellers look to create new memories and to enrich their knowledge of the world and see what is beyond the frequently-visited destinations.
Island getaways, adventure and a touch of the gourmet lifestyle will shape the holiday plans of travellers in 2014. With that in mind, here are our top 10 destinations to visit in 2014.
1. The Greek Isles
Despite the current economic turmoil, Greece remains a hot spot for visitors, with up to 6,000 islands to discover, each offering something a little different: from the flush white volcanic remains of Santoniri, now a harbour for romantic trysts, to the historic quartet of Mykonos, Rhodes, Corfu and Crete, each retelling a different timeframe and story of Greek history and mythology.
2. Lesser-explored Malaysia
With a plethora of islands stretching across the entire peninsula, Malaysia is an island-lover’s paradise. From the beautiful islands of Langkawi and Tioman, to nature as promised for divers visiting Sipadan or adventurers exploring Borneo, there is something for everyone.
There is no better place to be watching a football match live than in Brazil come summer 2014, when football-fever will be at its peak with the World Cup being hosted in the country. If football is not your cup of tea, there are also plenty of activities to enjoy, culturally and leisurely, from the streets of Sao Paulo and the beaches of Rio de Janeiro, to the more pristine areas such as Foz do Iguacu, famous for its waterfall, or the rivers of Bonito, where river-snorkeling is a popular option thanks to the diversity of aquatic creatures.
4. Lesser-explored Indonesia
Presumably, by now, every nook and cranny of Bali has been explored; but there is much more to Indonesia than Bali. Visit its lesser known sister, Lombok, an ideal destination for visiting rolling green hills or frolicking in the warm glow of sun-scorched white beaches, without the crowds of Bali to accompany. Or why not visit Komodo only an hour and half’s flight from Denpasar. An unforgettable experience in Komodo includes a face-to-face encounter with the largest living species of lizard – the Komodo dragon.
A favourite of couples looking to celebrate special occasions receives a timely boost with Cathay Pacific now serving direct flights from Hong Kong to the turquoise-watered atoll reefs in the Indian Ocean. While it was previously primarily a sojourn for the well-heeled, resort openings in the mid-range sector are making the highly sought after destination more accessible. However, Maldives still retains its exclusivity, and is still the go-to place for romantic couples looking for the ultimate in luxury, as attested to by a slew of exclusive and prestigious resort launches.
6. Northern Territory, Australia
A nature lover’s paradise, the Northern Territory in Australia is largely arid, but also hosts one of the nation’s most iconic sites – the Uluru, or Ayers Rock as it is more commonly known. Despite the aridity, the northern side of the territory itself houses one of the country’s best known and most ecologically and biologically diverse national parks, the Kakadu National Park, that contain four major river systems, six major landforms and a budding wildlife that include the saltwater crocodile and the wallaby.
Tokyo is everyone’s dream destination, with the promise of superb sushi, fascinating culture and shopping splurges on offer. However, travellers looking for something a little different from the streets of Shinjuku may be inclined to head south to Okinawa. The culture and trends of this prefecture vary somewhat from the rest of Japan, having been a separate nation until 1879, but the region is better known for its quaint fishing village that spawned global exports. Alternatively, Kyoto presents a culturally-enriching option, with over 2,000 shrines and temples, in addition to the palaces and gardens. Book a trip to Kyoto during the Cherry Blossom season and be astounded by the beauty of this place.
8. South Africa
From Mediterranean-inflected cities to the majestic Kruger National Park, South Africa is a must-visit destination. From the unique flat-topped Table Mountain, to the fresh air punctuated by cool gusts of sea breeze, to the spectacular surf and fashionable food, there is never a bad time to visit Cape Town, with temperate weather, though warm in the summer, marking it as a holiday heaven. For an extraordinary experience, the Kruger National Park has lions, leopards, white rhinos, and a host of other wildlife roaming free in their natural habitat, visible only metres from your jeep.
9. Spain: Basque Country and Andalusia
Spain has been a well-known haunt for tourists seeking sun, sea and sand in Europe over the years. But away from Madrid and Barcelona, the northern Basque Country is widely considered one of Europe’s hottest destinations in the coming few years. The Basque Mountains and the coastal regions provide a stunning topography, topped off by large cities such as Bilbao. Nearby, San Sebastian, with a high concentration of Michelin starred restaurants, is a paradise for foodies. Culture-enthusiasts will certainly appreciate Andalusia, at the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula. Granada, home of the Alhambra, marks a converging point for many of Europe’s greatest empires to have passed through it, all leaving their mark on the architecture and respective cities and regions.
The Yucatán Peninsula is one of Mexico’s most diverse, with the pyramids of Chichen Itza and the resort town of Cancun both conjuring up vastly different images of the same state. The peninsula is also arguably a large reason as to our existence on this planet today, with the Chicxulub crater, in the sea just off the peninsula, caused by the meteorite that purportedly wiped out the dinosaurs. The peninsula’s Mayan remains are a popular archaeological and tourist site, but it is the region’s white-sand beaches, and the spectacular diving just off-site, that draws visitors in regularly.