The 10 Destinations You Must Go To in 2019
Travel is a two-way experience—one of sharing aspects of our own culture while learning about those of others. We can delight in our common humanness and celebrate our differences. We can discover the achievements made throughout history in different parts of the world. We can witness the beauty and mystery that surrounds us on this amazing planet.
Travelling helps us discover parts of ourselves: our inner strength and independence, our need for reliance on others, while developing new characteristics that speak to our hearts. The world becomes a better place when we travel. And we become better people for having travelled.
This quote from Pico Iyer sums it up:
“We travel, initially, to lose ourselves; and we travel, next to find ourselves. We travel to open our hearts and eyes and learn more about the world than our newspapers will accommodate. We travel to bring what little we can, in our ignorance and knowledge, to those parts of the globe whose riches are differently dispersed. And we travel, in essence, to become young fools again—to slow time down and get taken in, and fall in love once more.”
This continues drive us to new countries, new experiences and to see new wonders of the world that behold extraordinary beauty. We are not alone on these journeys and as such it is the most iconic historical and natural sites as well as cities that draw the largest number of visitors each year.
This has an incredibly positive effect both for the travellers and to the destinations; however, “Over-tourism” can also have detrimental effects, resulting in significant wear and tear to an area or historical site. There is an ongoing discussion about whether or not tourist numbers should be capped. With the emergence of Airbnb, travel has become more affordable for many, and it allows travellers to stay in homes with families rather than impersonal hotels. Homestays have influenced an economic drive for destinations, but at the same time, created entirely new problems for cities.
The answer is not to travel less; it’s to travel to new, lesser known, and less popular destinations that will benefit greatly from tourism. Carve new paths, look for up-and-coming destinations. Yes, this will mean that the country is taking tourism and security seriously, but may not yet be in full effect and you may have to work a little harder to find the best restaurants and routes around the country. But it will open you up much local flavour as it is the unsung destinations where you can feel most empowered byyour adventures and connected to a new sense of community.
Make 2019 a year to explore the not-so-commonly-travelled destinations of the world.
Here’s our list:
Issyk Kul, Kyrgstan
A boost from the 2018 World Nomad Games has put the spotlight on this naturally beautiful and rugged country. With endless trekking routes, a free visa program (with 60+ nations being visa-free), a country-wide focus on tourism—including home-stays—has made travel in this unspoiled CentralAsian gem incredibly accessible. If you are looking for a rugged travel experience, get here before everyone else does!
“My love affair with Kyrgyzstan started back in 2013 and I have now traveled to the Central Asian country over ten times throughout the years. The people are genuine and inviting and they would give you the shirt off their back to make you feel welcome in their mountainous country. The one thing that is most amazing to me about Kyrgyzstan is that when I am there, I feel like I am home. It has so much to offer travelers and I hope people take the time to venture to this epic destination.”
Tsminda Sameba Church. Mt. Kazbeg, Mkinvartsveri,Georgia
One of the world’s best kept and most beautiful secrets, Georgia is an eastern European country situated near the Caucasus Mountains and the Black Sea. It’s a natural and varied wonderland where guests are considered blessings and hospitality is an integral part of life. Head to Mestia, a town in northwestern Georgia, where you can trek up the brilliant Chaladi Glacier or slowly wander through the Svaneti Museum of History and Ethnography. The lively Georgian culture, hearty food, and wine will fill your spirit with joy.
“Ask me what my favourite country is and I’ll answer without hesitation every time: Georgia. After a month in Tbilisi, the capital, and another 5 weeks travelling around, I got to know the country pretty well. The scenery is incredible, as is the food and wine, but it’s the gracious and hospitable people that really make Georgia memorable.”
Art. Food. Cafes. A hard-core summer-street-party scene. Also in Eastern Europe, Belarus offers a 30-day free visa. Belarus is a country where you can see the best of Europe without the rest of the world peering over your shoulder. The European Games are being held in the capital, Minsk, this year, so what has long been more of “curiosity” according to Lonely Planet, is quickly becoming the place to see.
“My visit to Belarus was such a pleasant surprise! I spent five days wandering along Minsk’s picturesque riverfront promenade, taking in its spectacular architecture and indulging in hearty Eastern European cuisine (often washed down with interesting local craft beers)… and almost never crossed paths with any other foreign visitors.”
Carly, Fearless Female Travellers
From mountains to gorgeous beaches, historical towns and cities, good food and wine, there may be no better value in Europe than this Balkan country on the other side of the Black Sea from Georgia. This country can be done on the cheap … especially in the winter.
“Bulgaria is definitely the path less traveled by, overshadowed by the well known countries of Europe. It is ideal for those wanting more than the traditional backpacker route of Europe. This country has such a diverse culture and history, making it much more interesting, authentic and characterful than many of the other matured iconic cities of Europe. Although Bulgaria sounds harsh and foreign, the country was nothing but warm, welcoming and truly charming. You feel as though you are in another age, in an eastern rome, a part of an bygone era.”
Taipei City, Taiwan
Considered the heart of Asia, Taiwan has a perfect blend of culture, adventure, food and well … just about everything a traveller could want. We’re a little biased because we just spent a few amazing days in Taipei. Check out our 3-day guide to Taipei next week and decide for yourself.
“Taiwan is well known for its modern cities and interesting culture but flies under the radar when it comes to its natural beauty. It’s the perfect place for hikers with hundreds of excellent trails that can be walked independently. We hiked up mountains, through forests and next to electric blue rivers, all within a few hours of Taipei city.”
We’ve read that a visit to Zimbabwe is viewed as a sign of support to the locals on their journey to a new beginning. And, despite what you may read in the headlines, this country is not only one of Africa’s safest destinations, it’sone of the best to travel to. You probably already know what it has tooffer—Nationals Parks, Victoria Falls, World Heritage Sites to name a few. Not to mention, the chill towns, friendly locals, and the “big five” animals(rhino, lion, elephant, buffalo and leopard), which all add to an incredible travel experience.
“Zimbabwe’s wide open skies (I swear the sun is bigger there), red earth, warm smiles and rhythmic music get under your skin. Victoria Falls is spectacular, and a safari in Hwange is unforgettable – when it’s just you, your guide, and a pride of sunbathing lions. Go, now, before all the other tourists ruin it.”
Arabkir Church, Yerevan, Armenia
Following the election of a more liberal government, Armenia has accelerated to the top of travellers’ list. World class hotels of are bringing a pulsating vibe to a country that already has an incredibly gorgeous countryside. The Transcaucasian Trail will take you through spa towns, monasteries and national parks. It’s a must. 8. Bolivia
“Ooohh Armenia. I first came to the country in 2013 and I can’t seem to stay away these days. I have never met kinder and more hospitable people anywhere in the world. The nature is raw and the tourism potential of Armenia is just remarkable. I was here (I am currently in Armenia) during the Revolution last April and it was one of the most humbling and moving things I have ever witnessed. I am just a few weeks away from launching a new tourism website with a close friend that will help travelers come and love Armenia as much as I do!”
Always on our list of amazing, affordable destinations, Bolivia is a must. Check out our Guide to Bolivia Travel for reasons why you need to travel there in 2019.
“Bolivia is a land of bright red lakes and bright pink skies, where alien landscapes grow commonplace and whacky superstitions are the norm. You’ll uncover new curiosities at every corner, and learn to never anticipate finishing day without fresh confusion and delight.”
Loaded with a rich history, culture, and ancient cities full of amazing architecture, Uzbekistan is a complete gem. While exploring the Silk Road, you can head to the city of Samarkand for a view of its mosques and mausoleums where you’ll see medieval architecture and mosaics decorated with gold and calligraphy. For the history buff, this place is a must; for the rest of us, this place is a feast for the eyes!
“The fabled Silk Road once weaved it’s way through Uzbekistan. Now ancient, old buildings are the star attractions of this country at the heart of Central Asia. My favourite were the many impressive buildings saturated in tiles of intense blues of every shade. So stunning! Uzbekistan also has exotic and colourful markets, black market negotiations and shared taxi adventures making it one of the most unique and unusual destinations in the world.”
10. São Tomé & Príncipe
You’ve probably never heard of the African, two-island nation—Sāo Tomè and Príncipe, but it should probably be on the top of our own list for 2019. If you’re in search of a rare experience, visit a wonderland where few have gone before. This country is full of unbelievable landscapes that rise dramatically skyward, surrounded by equatorial waters, and beaches where rare solitude can be found amidst dense tropical jungles. True discovery is yours.
“From the very first sight, São Tomé gives you a nostalgic feeling that something mythical happened here a long time ago. You can dive at untouched reefs, sleep in treehouses in the middle of the misty rainforest, or enjoy a delightful fresh fish right from the sea – everything is possible! It is a place that takes you back to forgotten times and with a touch of wilderness, you get to see for a second what the world looked like before the globalization.”
Lucinda Birk, Danish student and traveller