Nothing beats the rush of excitement that comes with discovering amazing new places, well new to ourselves anyway. That feeling of eye opening, heart pumping, skin tingling joy the type that you only get through travel.
So now imagine stepping away from the crowd and placing yourself somewhere really different, somewhere where the locals are as excited to meet you, as you are them. The destinations below are exactly that, 14 up and coming destinations where the travel track isn’t as well worn as some of the old favourites with something a little bit special to offer to travel lovers this year.
With our new destination brochures freshly delivered to stores, and available to download for free online now, who better to give advice on the next hot destination for 2014 than brochure writer, and former STA Travel Expert Hannah Jeffrey. Hannah is one of our most clued up experts, so I’ve asked her to share her tips for places to visit next year. Here’s what she said…
Where’s going to be hot in 2014?
Lituania’s lovely capital Vilnius is the perfect escape for a European city break that’s not overrun with groups of stag parties. Flights are cheap and so are the local beers and food as the country opted not to join the Euro. The city is charming and has a picturesque old town steeped in history, the perfect place to chill out in a street side cafe with a glass of wine and watch the world go by.
It’s had it’s troubles, no denying that, but Burma is open for business and words not spread too far yet. Escape the crowds often found in spots around other parts of Southeast Asia and explore the untouched rainforrests and towns of Burma. It’s possible to be the only non Burmese face for hundreds of miles in large parts of the country and, in this age of travelling, is a rare but incredible feeling.
Nepal and India have long been on travellers wish lists, but this year, neighbour Bangladesh steps into the spotlight as it hosts the Cricket Twenty20 World Cup. So, Step off the beaten path and head to this more unexplored part of Asia for tiger spotting in Sundarbans National Park, spiritual Buddhist retreats, heaps of beautiful landscapes for wildlife and trekking, sailing around tribal islands and surfing. Yes, surfing. Weird right. Cox’s Bazar beach resort down near the Burmese border offers an excellent Bangladeshi surf spot.
Namibia is an amazing for a road trip. Fact. It has awesome German built roads, National Parks like Etosha that can be driven into, and massive German beers after a day spent exploring. It’s also an adrenalin junkies dream. Sand boarding, skydiving, dolphin swims to name just a few of the activities on offer. Plus it’s cheap – as if you needed anymore convincing.
An oldie but a goodie, Brazil isn’t exactly ‘up and coming’, more, ‘well and truly arrived’, but this year the country is hosting a certain monster footballing competition, so if you’ve ever wanted to travel there – or travel back there – 2014 would be a very good time. The buzz has kicked in, excitement is building and for a country that is notoriously vibrant anyway, you can expect one hell of an experience. Head to the big cities such as Rio, Sao Paulo to get in the thick of the action.
Ok, so it’s not exacatly the cheapest place to get to (you can fly via Chennai) but the Andaman islands are a totally unspoilt bounty paradise. Closer to Thailand in geography and looks, but distinctly Indian in culture, making it completely unique. Take a boat to one of the smaller islands – laid back India (random wandering cows included) in a ‘paradise’ kind of setting. Not all parts are accessible, but the bits you can get to will leave you speechless.
A part of Oriental Asia that has so much to give, but is often bypassed for the likes of China and Japan. South Korea is a great country to travel by train on a rail pass or work as a teacher with a TEFL qualification. Explore the natural landscape by cycling and trekking in the many National Parks, as well as wandering the suped-up modern metropolises, and hanging out at cultural events like the famous Lantern Festival.
It’s so important for the Philippines recovery from the tragedy of 2013 that in 2014 people still travel to the there as, firstly, not all of the country was affected, secondly, it will desperately need the support of tourists to rebuild, just like after the Asian Tsunami, and thirdly, is is one of the most aesthetically beautiful countries in the world with stunning beaches, temples and mountain landscapes to explore, head to Boracay and El Nido for the best all round Philippines experience.
If you want a short break that delivers a taste of the best bits of a beautiful and fascinating country not overly populated with other travellers, consider Belize. Belize, combines ancient Mayan Ruins, National Parks, wildlife sanctuaries, and, and if you’re a keen diver this will need no introduction, the famous Blue Hole and Cayes dive sites.
Cool as F… hell. Moab, a strip of land in Jordan, is a complete Mecca for mountain bikers that has an almost tribal following for bike enthusiasts. Some of best bike trails in the world are here and the bohemian, laid back, quasi-spiritual town also has western saloon bars, craft beers and a micro-brewery (we all love a micro-brewery don’t we?!).
One word. Gorillas. These magnificent creatures aren’t the only reason to visit Uganda, but they’re definitely it’s star attraction, trek some of the lushest and most stunning jungles to be found anywhere in the world and be rewarded with an intimate and unforgettable with these fascinating animals. Kenya and Tanzania are usually more frequently visited than Uganda, which is slightly unfair as it has just as much to offer. Also, head to Jinja, the countries second largest town for bungee jumping, rafting and adrenalin aplenty.
The USA’s Deep South
Good southern food like jambalaya, corn bread and fried chicken await in Americas Deep South. Step away from the USA’s big hitters such as Los Angles, New York and Vegas and consider a trip to the states of Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee and Louisiana. It’s a whole new US experience where you can ride with Cowboys at the rodeo and visit the home of rock and roll and jazz music.