It’s that time of year when we start looking forward to the next 12 months and all that they have to offer. For us here at On The Go Tours, that means looking ahead to what could, and no doubt, should be the hottest destinations of 2017. Whether it’s countries that have emerged from years of trouble to enjoy a renaissance or those with reason to celebrate next year, we’ve rounded up our choice of best places to travel in 2017 that deserve a place on your holiday wishlist.
It’s been a year since Myanmar elected their first civilian government and after almost 50 years of harsh military rule, the country is taking steps towards a brighter future. That’s not to say that it’s all peaches and cream with military lock-down recently taking place in the little-visited western part of the country but Rome wasn’t built in a day and it will take time for the National League for Democracy cabinet to bring into effect all they wish to achieve. What has been achieved over the last couple of years is better supply for tourist demand with a much healthier offering of hotel accommodation across the country’s main tourist destinations. This means more choice for travellers and more competitive prices. Visitor numbers are still a long way off more popular destinations in Southeast Asia so it’s still possible to enjoy this slice of a fast vanishing Asia with a modicum of peace and quiet.
After the devastating earthquake in 2015 that killed nearly 9,000 people and reduced many towns and cities to rubble, the beautiful Himalayan kingdom of Nepal is desperately trying to move on. Several important and historic temples and monuments in Kathmandu and the surrounding valley were badly damaged but have been open to tourists for over a year. Three months ago a number of important museums re-opened to visitors, housing several cultural riches that were salvaged from the debris. Despite the generous foreign grants and international donations, as a country highly dependant on tourism, Nepal now is in need of stable income and that’s what returning visitors bring with them. And despite the damage, there’s still plenty to enjoy with the FCO lifting limits on travel to the entire country. While a number of trekking routes are still waiting to be rebuilt, Everest Base Camp is open for business as usual and the Annapurna mountain range still offers superb hiking trails.
There was a time when Colombia was synonymous with cartels, cocaine and civil war but after decades of violent struggles, it’s finally shaking off its negative reputation to become one of South America’s hottest destinations. Thanks to countrywide regeneration projects, improvements in security and successful economic reforms, Colombia is enjoying a renaissance with travellers flocking to the country to enjoy its eclectic culture, outdoor adventure and mysterious ruins. Catholicism is the main religion in Colombia and so Pope Francis’s planned visit in 2017 will be met with much elation and exuberance, and see quite a bit of attention focused onto the nation. As a travel destination, it may lack a crowning glory to compete with say, Machu Picchu, but that doesn’t stop it from winning the hearts of all types of travellers from backpackers to families and those simply visiting for the day on a cruise. In fact, you’ll be hard pressed to find a returning traveller who didn’t fall in love with Colombia.
In 2017 Finland will celebrate 100 years of independence with a series of jubilee events planned for the occasion that falls on the 6th December. The countdown is already on with the organisation Finland 100 Years compiling an impressive programme of cultural offerings from a lively New Year’s Eve party in the capital of Helsinki to ballet performances and friendly football competitions with neighbouring Estonia. Many events will be free of charge and it’s not just the urban centres that will be enjoying the attention that this programme brings as a variety of events will be held throughout the country, including in Lapland, which is proving more popular than ever with international visitors. This winter season a record number of charter flights are expected to land in the Arctic region, and as the home of Santa Claus and his reindeer, pristine snowy landscapes and glass igloos from which you can marvel at the Northern Lights, Lapland’s popularity shows no signs of abating.
It’s been a bumpy road for Egypt these past few years what with political upheaval and terrorists attacks, but things are finally looking up as traveller numbers are once again on the rise. Sticking to the popular tourist destinations, the average holidaymaker is at little more risk than they would be in some of Europe’s cities. There’s no doubt that the last decade’s events continue to dissuade many travellers from visiting but what this means for those that do make the journey is that the country’s most incredible sights – the Pyramids chief among them – are largely free of crowds. The recent devaluation of the Egyptian Pound also means that as a travel destination, Egypt is now a much cheaper option for international travellers. Although it will take a few months for hotels to drop their prices, food and local goods will be noticeably cheaper and with the weaker currency, your tourist dollar will go much further.
Despite being one of Africa’s most developed and politically stable countries, Namibia has remained relatively low-key when it comes to travellers numbers and that, quite frankly, is a crime. Home to unique, magical landscapes of rolling sand dunes and a rich variety of wildlife, it’s not only a great safari destination but also paradise for outdoor adventurers. Not only this, but here you’ll also find the lush Caprivi Strip that can easily compete with the Okavango Delta in neighbouring Botswana but for a fraction of the price, while the remote northwest is where you’ll find one of Africa’s last remaining wildernesses where indigenous tribes live a very traditional way of life. Speaking of cost, the recent depreciation of the Namibia dollar makes it more affordable than usual while the great infrastructure and orderly road signals means it’s the perfect place for a self-drive holiday with a tent in tow for affordable travel done with total flexibility.
There’s little doubt that Mexico is something of a heavyweight when it comes to cultural offerings but 2017 will see the country take it up a notch as the charming colonial city of Merida becomes the American Capital of Culture. Located in the Yucatán Peninsula where you’ll also find the stunning beaches of Cancun and Playa del Carmen, Merida will be offering a dazzling smorgasbord of cultural events from live music to art shows, theatre productions to dance performances. And this is Mexico so you can bet on the fact that the culinary offerings will be just as sensational. Elsewhere in the country, this year witnessed Mexico City host its first Day of the Dead parade, inspired by the opening sequence of the James Bond film Spectre. Thanks to its success, this parade is likely to become a regular fixture on the country’s calendar of events, drawing more and more international travellers and cementing the lively festival’s popularity around the globe.
Close enough to Europe to be reached by ferry yet miles away culturally, Morocco offers a slice of the exotic without very far to travel for Brits, Europeans and Americans on the east coast. It’s a land of buzzing souks where magic carpets stand beside equally magical lamps, where camel caravans leave fleeting footprints in the rolling sands of the Sahara and where mighty kasbahs hold whispers of 17th century goings on. It’s an affordable travel destination with a host of attractions alongside dynamic music festivals that are increasing in popularity every year. Morocco has avoided the uprisings that rocked Egypt and Tunisia back in 2011 thanks to a popular prime minister and new constitution, making it one of the most politically stable countries in the region. There’s the added bonus of growing accommodation options and more flights to a wider variety of places including Essaouira.
It’s certainly a country that has experienced its fair share of controversy in recent years with questionable political actions on the world stage putting off many visitors but that doesn’t detract from all that Russia has to offer as a travel destination. There’s plenty to keep you occupied in the capital of Moscow while St Petersburg offers an unrivalled selection of art, and further out in the Golden Ring there’s rural idylls to explore and savour. The rouble has undergone two years of uncertainty and although it’s now bouncing back, it’s not as strong as it once was, which means Russia is better value for money with dining out and drinking the national tipple already nicely affordable. With the FIFA World Cup to be hosted here in 2018, next year is the best time to visit before large crowds descend, prices go up and you may have to contend with similar football hooligans that blighted the UEFA Euro championship earlier this year.
More popular with travellers in neighbouring Asian countries, South Korea is yet to have had the same impact on travellers from further afield with numbers rather paltry when compared to what Japan has been receiving in the last few years. And the mind boggles as to why because like Japan, South Korea offers remarkably preserved temples, charming age-old traditions and fascinating modern metropolises. The most famous of all the country’s cities is the capital, Seoul, where an ageing overpass is being transformed from an eyesore into a Skygarden offering a greener and more user-friendly space for residents and visitors alike. Its planned opening in April 2017 couldn’t be better timed as spring brings with it delicate pink cherry blossoms that decorate the landscape and bring out the festive spirit in the locals with outdoor picnics, street performers and exhibits.
Have you been inspired by our pick of best places to travel next year? Let us know which of these destinations is on your wishlist for 2017 in the comments section below.