We’re only a few days away from 2017, and a new year in sight means new opportunities to explore the world for another 12 months. The usual suspects in travel have been done to death and its time to switch it up. These five destinations are exciting, off-the-radar, luxurious and full of adventure and culture. In short, they got next.
Everybody always heads to Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam when they head out on a SEAsia adventure, but Laos is here to claim its spot on the roster. Covered in shades of green that cover everything from its thick jungles, glowing rice fields and tea leaf covered mountains, Laos retains a timeless South East Asian vibe that gives visitors a glimpse into a life commercialism has overcrowded in its more popular neighbors. The capital of Vientiane still boasts rural life, where stilt houses and paddy fields are common, and traditional Luang Prabang is home to the sight of hundreds of saffron-robed monks gliding through the streets. But don’t get it twisted, Laos has more than rice and temples. Travelers can explore underground river caves, soar through the trees via jungle ziplines or take a walk on the wild side and spot exotic animals such as gibbons or elephants. Foodies can indulge in Laos’ spicy culinary scene with a cooking class. Looking for luxury? Head to Amantaka for a tranquil and spiritual wellness retreat, or indulge in refined luxury at the area’s first five-star hotel, President by Akaryn, located steps from the temple of the Emerald Buddha.
Like we told you earlier this year, Africa is so much more than South Africa, and Madagascar is definitely a destination to add to your African travel list. An island off the coast of Africa, Madagascar is an adventure lover’s dream. Its incredible and diverse landscape make it perfect for ATV riding, trekking, diving, mountain biking, kitesurfing, rock-climbing and more. With 5% of all known animal and plant species found here, and there alone, animal lovers can will find delight in spotting lemurs, chameleons, oddly shaped insects, colorful frogs, stingrays and turtles, several species of sharks and even humpback whales. For the luxe lovers, Miavana, opening in April 2017, will be situated on Nosy Anko and is set to be the most luxurious and eco-friendly resort in the country with panoramic ocean views and stunning aquamarine bays.
While everyone is clamoring to go to Colombia, Nicaragua is slowly planning a travel sneak attack. This Latin nation is definitely slept on, but those that know, know Nicaragua it a destination on the rise. The elegant and colorful streets of Granada, the country’s best-preserved colonial town, are mesmerizing with architecture, lush courtyards and stately mansions perfect for taking Soul Society worthy pics. León offers a different experience with a vibrant city that, while proud of its heritage, is too busy to feel like a museum. But walking the streets isn’t the only way to experience the wonders of Nicaragua. Hike or sandboard cloud covered volcanoes, dive underwater caves or canoe alligator infested waters. Explore the history of the country through cooking classes with locals or visit remote indigenous communities more than happy to share tales of their culture. Head to Costa Esmerelda to relax on Nicaragua’s pearlecent beaches at Meson Nadi, its newest boutique luxury resort.
This is another destination with a little something for everyone. Part Indonesia and part Malaysia, Borneo is a breathtaking mix of virgin rainforest, untouched beaches and mountain ranges, and shockingly remains an off-the-beaten-path adventure. Home to some of the world’s most species-rich equatorial rainforests, it’s not out of the ordinary to catch a glimpse of a wild orangutan swinging through the jungle, an Irrawaddy dolphin in the waters of the South China Sea, or hear the call of a gibbon. Because Borneo is a hodgepodge of cultures, its cuisine is as amazing as its landscape. Delicious seafood from the South China Sea, smoky chicken satay at Malay night markets, yummy cooking from the Kelabit people – including Bario rice and pineapple curry – and Dayak dishes such as bamboo chicken and midin jungle fern, are sure to tantalize your palette. Idyllic, palm-fringed islands, such as Gaya Island, allow you to explore underwater life such as sea turtles and whale sharks, all from the comfort of the pristine Gayana Eco Resort.
Bermuda is paradise, period. Known for its pristine pink sand beaches, a pleasant climate that rarely sees extremes of either hot or cold, locals who feel more like family than strangers and quick accessibility from the East Coast, Bermuda is becoming the must visit island escape. But there’s more to Bermuda than romantic beaches. In spite of its tiny size, Bermuda has tons to offer – explore its neighborhoods by Segway, take a jetski safari to explore shipwrecks, discover underwater caves, museums and art galleries, eat like a local at Art Mels and explore your eclectic side at Urban Cottage. Once you’re done exploring and hanging with locals, head to Cambridge Beaches Resort and Spa for a traditional Bermudian feel or to Rosewood Tucker’s Point for a tranquil, sophisticated experience.