Published Date: Thursday, 1 Dec, 2016 Time: 9:43:55
10. SRI LANKA
Since the end of Sri Lanka’s civil war in 2009, visitor numbers have skyrocketed year-on-year. Searching out leopards on safari in Yala National Park, surfing along the island’s palm-fringed coast, and exploring the country’s plethora of inspiring temples and spiritual sites rank high on the to-do list. But that’s not all – Sri Lanka also boasts colonial towns, lively bazaars and a delicious, coconut-heavy cuisine. And following the ousting of the corrupt and divisive regime of former president Mahinda Rajapakse in early 2015, the island is looking forward with greater optimism to a brighter, more united future than it has for years.
Foreign media hasn’t been kind to Kenyalately, and the terrible attacks in Mombasa and Garissa in recent years have taken a heavy toll on the country’s tourism industry. However, travel bans have been lifted and most warnings are only in place within 60km of the Somali border, leaving the majority of this vast and breathtaking country safe for travel. Once you’ve had your fill of lion, leopard and elephant tracking there are pristine white sands waiting along the Indian Ocean, the otherworldly landscapes of Lake Turkana and the beautiful tribes of the northern Chalbi desert to discover. Go now and you’ll support a struggling tourism industry, while reaping the benefits of having many of Kenya’s most popular attractions all to yourself.
Wales celebrates its “Year of Adventure” in 2016, and there’s no better time to explore one of the finest natural playgrounds in Europe. Many still underestimate this small country, often overshadowed by its neighbours. But these are exciting times for Wales – the country is winning accolades for its extraordinary beauty and remarkably preserved historical sites. Culture vultures, foodies, festival junkies, adventurers, hikers and extreme sports enthusiasts will be spellbound here, be it amid the rugged peaks of Snowdonia, on the sandy beaches of the Gower Peninsula or in the quaint rural towns and villages.
7. EL SALVADOR
As tourist numbers and prices rise in Costa Rica and the Caribbean islands, travellers have sought new destinations for their Central American adventures. El Salvador is their shining star. For starters, secluded beaches with some of the world’s best surf lie less than an hour from the country’s frenetic capital. Venture inland and you’ll find unspoilt colonial towns in the shadows of awe-inspiring volcanoes and a picturesque patchwork of hillside coffee plantations. Prepare for plenty of piping hot pupusas (flat dough fried and stuffed with beans, cheese and pork), ample adventure activities and seriously low costs.
The world is waking up to Romania’s wonders. There are multicoloured medieval cities, the forest-clad Carpathian mountains and in Bucharest a brilliant capital city with excellent dining and nightlife. Geographically, the country is perfect road trip material, as winding tracks lead you through beautiful wilderness landscapes, to countless historic towns and into mystical castles. With Romanesque, Baroque and Gothic architecture, fascinating history, and the opportunity to see bears and wolves in the wild, you’re running out of reasons not to visit.
While nearby Greece and Croatia are well established on the tourist trail, Albania remains something of a mystery to most. But those who go will find fascinating UNESCO World Heritage sites such as the ancient Greek city of Butrint, pristine beaches on the Ionian coast, gorgeous mountain lakes, Ottoman architecture, and friendly locals to point you in the right direction for discovery. Make the trip before the rest of the world realises what they’re missing.
There’s a strong case to be made for Jordan as the Middle East’s most remarkable destination. The red pillars of Petra, an ancient city carved into the desert mountains, is the image that comes to mind for most. But the country’s wonders also include beaches and coral reefs on the Red Sea, mountains, fertile hills and the lowest place on Earth: the Dead Sea – not to mention the Martian landscape of Wadi Rum, beloved by Hollywood location scouts. While its neighbours have been troubled by serious security concerns, Jordan has remained safe, and a recent relaxation in visa rules as well as the launch of the Jordan Pass have made it much easier to visit. What’s more, you probably won’t have to share most of its unmissable sights with anyone else.
Travellers have been saying “now is the time to visit” Cuba for years, but with the re-establishment of US–Cuban relations last year, the statement holds more weight than ever today. The resulting increase in tourism, investment and consumer culture is set to cause radical changes on the island. Already, exciting new bars, restaurants and art centres like the Fabrica de Arte Cubano have started springing up in Havana, but old Havana and the rural gems beyond the capital still remain in their former state for the time being. Now really is the time to go
Tourism in Colombia is gathering pace. More and more travellers are realising the country’s past reputation for crime and drugs is far from the reality on the ground – and the endlessly welcoming locals will make sure you feel this way too. Go now and you’ll quickly discover what the fuss is about: head to cities such as innovative, buzzing Medellín or enchanting Cartagena, explore the country’s lush coffee growing region, trek to the jungle-strewn ruins of the Lost City, or find a slice of paradise on bone-white beaches lapped by the Caribbean sea. Tourism in Colombia is gathering pace. More and more travellers are realising the country’s past reputation for crime and drugs is far from the reality on the ground – and the endlessly welcoming locals will make sure you feel this way too. Go now and you’ll quickly discover what the fuss is about: head to cities such as innovative, buzzing Medellín or enchanting Cartagena, explore the country’s lush coffee growing region, trek to the jungle-strewn ruins of the Lost City, or find a slice of paradise on bone-white beaches lapped by the Caribbean sea.
After a series of devastating earthquakes and aftershocks, Nepal’s tourist industry is on the rise again. Though hundreds of thousands have been left homeless, and daily life is not fully back to normal, the country’s historic landmarks are slowly being restored. Trekking routes are reopening and the resilient Nepali people are finding their feet. Thoughtfully spent tourist dollars will go a long way here; choosing independent homestays and grass roots tour companies ensures money ends up in local pockets. With varied landscapes – from the Himalayas to jungles inhabited by tigers, elephants and rhinos – Nepal should be your first choice for travel in 2016.