As the new year draws in, it is time to make some challenging resolutions. Here’s a pleasant addition to your list of resolutions: why not visit a new country in 2019?
The Evaneos team has created a list of their must-visit holiday destinations for the year. Read on, and you might just find your own dream holiday destination!
Everyone is proclaiming the fact and they are not wrong: Sri Lanka is the destination for 2019. With its dense jungles, verdant hill country and tranquil beaches, this island is truly the pearl of the Indian Ocean. Sri Lanka is having a watershed moment – every day, beautiful and remote parts of the country become more accessible to foreign travellers. However, the country is not yet a part of the most commercial tourist routes.
A decade into peace time, the multicultural residents of this island have thrown open their doors to the outside world. These are some of the friendliest people you will meet on your travels. Catch a wave on one of Sri Lanka’s many beaches; it’s a growing hotspot for surfing, yoga and even the ancient health practice of Ayurveda. Not to mention Sri Lankan cuisine, which is delicious but healthy, consisting of the freshest seafood, pulses, and of course, spices. Definitely visit this tropical island nation before the rest of the world is in on the secret.
This peaceful haven in Central America is determined to foster responsible tourism, investing heavily in green infrastructure and promoting sustainable farming. Over two million visitors pour in annually for Costa Rica’s diverse nature reserves and adventure-filled coastlines. If you’re up for a slightly challenging trek, we recommend heading to Corcovado National Park. Here you will be rewarded by sights unlike anything you’ve seen before. National Geographic called it ‘the most biologically intense place on Earth’. A trek through this part of the world will bring you up close with crocodiles, scarlet macaws, endangered tapirs, howler monkeys and many more.
If you would rather lie on a beach and observe all that unspoiled natural beauty from afar, there is also plenty of that. Head to the chilled-out Puerto Viejo for some relaxation and great surf spots. Ultimately, Costa Rica is for leaving your troubles behind and spending a few weeks, as the locals say, pura vida.
We won’t contest that Mexico’s gorgeous beaches have historically been the main draw for tourists. The Caribbean beaches of Cancún and Tulum well deserve their popularity for warm stretches of white sand along idyllic waters. These beaches are also the ultimate destination for fun beach activities…from snorkelling over coral reefs to windsurfing and jet skiing. At the same time, this is the land of many ancient civilisations, notably the Mayans and the Aztecs. Chichén Itzá and Tenochtitlan are the most famous ruins but less frequented sites like El Tajín and Calakmul are equally fascinating.
Head inland to explore the beautiful colonial towns of Valladolid and Merida, and spend your days wandering down quaint cobblestone streets, admiring beautiful Spanish haciendas and tucking into flavoursome Mexican food. Be sure to take a few hours to relax in the sparkling waters of a cenote, a geographical quirk of the Yucatan peninsula. In brief, Mexico holds many surprises and delights for visitors willing to venture off the beaten track.
Madagascar has every natural landscape imaginable—vast rainforests, stark canyons, terraced paddy fields and 5,000 kilometres of coastline. On top of that, it is the indigenous home of 5% of all known flora and fauna. From lemurs, aye-ayes and humpback whales to exotic orchids and towering baobabs, the patient and intrepid traveller can spot them all. If you want to take a break from the learning, Madagascar offers up many exciting opportunities for adventure-seekers. In particular, rock-climbing, kite-surfing, mountain biking, hiking and scuba diving are all popular activities.
Be warned that travel through this beautiful island is not easy and roads are not always well-developed. It is all about learning to enjoy the journey, however. Travelling across the breadth of Madagascar brings you in contact with the local Magalsy people and gives you valuable insight into their way of life. In short, if you can take a leap of faith on Madagascar, you will not be disappointed.
Vietnam consists of a vertical strip of land along the length of Southeast Asia—and it is this geographical quirk that explains its fascinating cultural history. Chinese culture, especially Confucian philosophy, from the north freely mingled with the ethos of Hindu kingdoms in the south. The resulting fusion of cultures is still evident in present day Vietnam. Furthermore, Vietnam’s modern history is showcased by its European influences and its current government.
Beyond its complex antecedents, Vietnam is a sensory overload to the curious traveller. The cool, green scents of the mountains in the north, shrouded in mist and ringed by paddy cultivations. The frenetic energy of Ho Chi Minh city and its young population reshaping the country’s future. The delectable cuisine, permeated by the fragrances of lemongrass and shallots. The stillness of its long-forgotten cave temples and proud grandeur of its ancient palaces. The best way to live these unique Vietnamese experiences is by local transport; hop on a moped, or go on a scenic cross-country train journey. Visit Vietnam with an open mind and consequently be amazed by a whole new world of experiences.
It is impossible to condense the multitudes contained within India into a short overview. This modern-day nation is the result of many glittering, inter-weaving empires. The most recent of these was the British Empire, and its echoes are still felt. For example, English is widely spoken around the country. If it’s culture and history you want to explore, pick a region and devote at least two weeks to visiting its most important sites.
If you want to explore this country’s terrain, you will find yourself spoilt for choice. We recommend stepping away from the well-trodden paths of Goa and Kerala. Explore instead, the Andaman Islands in the Bay of Bengal. Havelock island in particular, with its white sands and crystal clear waters, rivals the Maldives for ‘paradise island’ status. If you’re a thrill seeker—head to the multi-faceted Himalayas. You could explore the Northeastern section of the mountains, lush, green and bordering Bhutan. For an otherworldly experience, head to the Northwest, and witness the lunar landscapes of Ladakh. All in all, India presents endless possibilities to the willing traveller.
One can see why visitors come seeking spirituality in the beauty and peace of these islands. Practise yoga in Bali in a number of airy, tree-lined outdoor studios. Then, consult a local shaman on how to channel and unblock your inner flow of energy. For a different Balinese experience, explore the elephant caves of Ubud and watch intricate ballet shows in the evening, depicting the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.
Many islands of this 17,000 island archipelago have recently become more accessible. To see some wildlife, head to Borneo for its orangutans and rhinos or Komodo for its deadly and primordial dragons. Raja Ampat in the Coral Triangle affords viewing of three quarters of the world’s coral species. Learn about Indonesia’s history as a medieval maritime superpower by visiting the ruins of the ancient capital at Trowulan. In essence, you can mix-and-match the islands you visit, depending on the type of holiday you’re planning.
Veteran travellers will despair at the higher cost of living in Norway but they forget one fact. Norway’s main attractions, namely its ethereal glaciers, fjords and natural formations, all have free entrance. You can drive, ferry, and snowshoe across the cascading, craggy peaks and spectacular fjords of Norway without harming your bank account. Norway’s great outdoors aren’t only for the young and reckless, it offers great hiking, rafting, snowmobiling and other sports for anyone who is of reasonable fitness.
When you’ve had your fill of activity and adventure and want a break, hit up some of Norway’s contemporary and stylish cities. Tour Oslo’s award-winning architecture, and marvel at its modern and minimalist shapes and designs. Norwegians have embraced culinary innovation and Oslo is home to many Michelin-starred restaurants. In sum, Norway is equal parts breathtaking wilderness and sophisticated urban living.
The fascination with Japan really lies in the startling contrast between its ultra-modern cities and calm, sleepy rural villages. Tokyo, located on the main island of Honshu, is a feast of sci-fi neon lights. Watch pedestrian traffic blur at the Shibuya crossing from your hotel room on a skyscraper. Proceed to walk the streets of Shinjuku, craning your head to read the names of restaurants and other establishments. The shops here are stacked one atop another in tall, brightly-lit buildings.
Take a train out of Tokyo and in little more than four hours, you will find yourself in the idyllic countryside of Hokkaido, the northernmost prefecture. Here, the summer months bring multi-coloured fields of flowers and fruit-picking orchards. Winters give over to ski-season: find some of the newest alternative ski resorts in the world here. Overall, Japan is everything you have heard about it and so much more.
From ancient palaces and medinas to bustling souks, Morocco feels like stepping into another world. Perhaps the world of A Thousand and One Nights. Start your journey in colourful Fez and Marrakech and immerse yourself in local culture and tradition. Be sure to have a traditional meal of tajine at the Jemaa el-Fnaa square, and a reviving cup of mint tea.
Scale the towering dunes of the Sahara desert and admire breathtaking star-filled skies at night. Once you’ve had your fill of culture and activity, head up into the Atlas mountains for some R&R. Spend a day just relaxing and enjoying the fantastic views from your balcony. Alternately, if sunshine and quiet beaches are more your thing, Taghazout is a favourite. A great spot for surfing, it also hosts wellness retreats with yoga and meditation. Ultimately, Morocco is the perfect holiday destination for those seeking culture and a bit of relaxation.