Ten Must-Visit Places Worth Travelling Overseas for in 2017
Check for cheap flights and lock in a date.
The summer holidays might be only just over, but chances are, you're already contemplating your big international trip (or trips) for the year. So, we thought we'd do some research for you. Whether you're gearing up to lay down a deposit on a flight or looking for some deskapism to get you through to knock-off, here are ten international destinations to add to your 2017 wish list. We've got magical Indian cities dotted with blue temples, South American wilderness filled with giant-sized glaciers and a World Heritage listed, volcanic island.
The world's biggest natural aquarium, Mayan ruins atop a 13-metre high cliff, wild jungles, white sands on the edge of the Caribbean... Tulum is the kind of place people visit and drive their friends mad talking about when they get home. Stay in a traditional, palm-thatched cabaña just a stone's throw from the beach and linger over cocktails in rustic, waterfront bars. Unlike the touristy areas to its north, Tulum is UNESCO-protected from development, thanks to its limestone foundations and biodiversity.
Fabled land of dancing in the streets, cigars, classic cars and sticking it to the US, Cuba holds mythological status in many a Westerner's imagination. After all, it's been really hard to get to for a really long time. And, now that Fidel Castro has passed away, there's fear that the island will modernise rapidly. Should you make it this year, be sure to wander along Havana's multi-coloured Malecón boulevard meeting poets and philosophers, get lost in the winding alleyways of Camaguey and laze about on Cuba's stunning beaches.
If you love wide open spaces, four-legged beasts running free, sleeping in gers and calligraphy, then make Mongolia your destination. It's in the capital, Ulaanbaatar, that you'll come across galleries dedicated to the mighty pen and, while you're there, be sure to catch a spot of throat singing and a contortionist show or two — Mongolia's are among the best in the world. Next up, head into the Gobi Desert's 1.3 million square kilometres, where you can experience daily life with a nomadic family and drink airag, an alcoholic spirit comprised of fermented horse milk.
Your first reason to swing by South Korea is Jeju, a World Heritage-listed volcanic island, where former lava tubes have turned into some of the biggest caves on the planet. There are hiking trails a-plenty and a bunch of pretty, pretty swimming holes. For a startling contrast, spend the other half of your holiday among Seoul's ten million residents, drinking makgeolli (a sweet rice wine), checking out traditional arts and crafts at the Gahoe Museum, strolling around 600-year-old Bukchon Hanok Village and taking five in a tranquil tea house.
Foodies, this one's for you. To make the most of your trip, be there between October 26 and 29, 2017, when the Hong Kong Wine and Dine Festival takes over the city. You'll be sampling your way through more than 300 stalls, offering gustatory delights of all kinds — from single malt whiskeys to handmade cheeses. Take matters further by booking yourself in for a master chef-prepared, multi-course feast, with matching wines. Equally abundant is Hong Kong's contemporary art scene. Make your way to Kowloon to see the best of it, where a massive, new cultural precinct is under construction, or, if you're after something a little unexpected, take a hike on the lush Lamma Island.
India's biggest state, found in the country's northwest, gives you 342,000 square kilometres of intense sights, sounds and smells. Jaipur, the capital, is an established tourist destination worth dropping by, but we recommend focusing on some of the smaller cities. To meet artists and reminisce over Octopussy, get yourself to Udaipur (also known as the Venice of the East). To see one of the biggest completely preserved fort cities in the world, check out World Heritage-listed Jaisalmer. And to mix with mystics among blue temples and the humming of Hindu prayers, stay in Pushkar. Then, of course, there's the famous blue city of Jodhpur, with its labyrinthine, medieval streets.
Prepare to feel like a character out of Honey I Shrunk the Kids. Patagonia's one million square kilometres are filled with titanic landscapes. Make your first stop Glaciar Perito Moreno, a 30-kilometre long, five-kilometre wide, 60-metre high kingdom of ice that moves at a rate of two metres per day, causing colossal icebergs to crash into a nearby channel. After that, head to Parque Nacional Los Alerces, to wander among pristine creeks, sparkling lakes and lush mountainsides, and meet a 4,000-year-old tree species. Meanwhile, along the coastline, you'll be treated to epic whale shows, dolphins, seals and penguins — all year round.
Keen to experience the UK's vibrant music and arts scene, but not so keen on shoving your way through crowds in London? Skip the capital and go straight to Bristol. Found in England's southwest, on the River Avon, this 500,000-person city punches well above its weight when it comes to all things cultural and maintains a laidback, friendly atmosphere. If you can, time your vacation with the epic Bristol Harbour Festival, which takes over the waterfront from 21-23 July 2017, bringing free music, dance, circus performances, live art, food, drink and more. Any time of year, you'll get excellent coffee at Small Street Espresso and tasty vegetarian food at Roll for the Soul, a not-for-profit, community cafe, bike workshop and event space.
Another alternative European city to add to your itinerary is Toulouse. Despite being the fourth biggest city in France, it's yet to become a tourist hot spot, so you can walk around art galleries without bumping into people. What's more, it's the nation's festival capital, which means that, during summer, rarely a weekend goes by that public spaces aren't packed with dance, live music or theatre. Be sure to explore Les Abattoirs (an ex-slaughterhouse turned contemporary gallery), the Musee des Augustins (an ex-convent seized by revolutionaries in 1793) and Marché Victor Hugo, the biggest of Toulouse's 13 food markets, crowded with local produce and wine-tasting opportunities. You'll find more Toulouse tips over here.
Already visited NYC, LA and San Fran? Looking for a new place to explore in the US? We present, Boston. Found on the east coast of Massachusetts, this 700,000-strong city is legendary for its love of learning, innovation, ideas and the arts, partly because it's where you'll find Harvard Uni. If you're into American history, take the Freedom Trail, which carries you through the leadup to the War of Independence. For cracking Italian restaurants, hit the North End. And, when you're ready to go further afield, set sail for the Boston Harbour islands.