10 Best Destinations to Travel in 2018

Sure, we all know the world is getting smaller and we’re more hyper-connected than ever before. On the flip side however, there are now ever more destinations – and experiences – for those willing to go for it. As thrilling as it may be to seek all of these out, sadly we only have a finite amount of time and money. So here are the 10 best places to travel in 2018, in no particular order.

Photo by londontheinside.com
1. Porto, Portugal
Set in the picturesque Douro Valley, Portugal’s second largest city (after Lisbon) combines ancient heritage, a laid back demeanour and contemporary European cool. Its historic core, a UNESCO World Heritage site, curves uphill from the Douro River and upstream to the vineyards that produce Porto’s legendary tipple, port wine. Like most medieval cities, its narrow cobbled streets are crammed with tiny shops and cafés, with a food culture as rich as any other in Europe.
With the recent rise in wine tourism, Porto’s most famous export, port wine, is firmly in the spotlight. Many of the major port houses have warehouses at Vila Nova de Gaia along the riverbank. However, to truly appreciate this fortified wine, visitors to Porto need to trek uphill to the port lodges, where guided tours are offered by the port houses. The complete wine experience may be had here, including food pairings and port tastings available in a charming lodge setting, with stunning views over the city of Porto.

Photo by truism.ig.com.br

2. Pyeongchang, South Korea
Nicknamed ‘the Alps of Korea’, mountainous Pyeongchang is easily accessible from Seoul and is a favourite winter retreat for Seoulites. However, the spotlight is on Pyeongchang in 2018 as it prepares to host the Winter Olympics. With a new high-speed rail line connecting it to Seoul, more visitors than ever can experience a Korean-style ski resort. Located at 700 metres above sea level, it is claimed that this is the optimal elevation for health and longevity, hence the area’s slogan of ‘Happy700 Pyeongchang’.
Aside from winter sports, visitors to Pyeongchang can enjoy some of South Korea’s most scenic mountain spots. The temples and waterfalls of Odaesan National Park come alive in the summer and autumn, though they can also be visited in the winter. As a prime destination for wellness and outdoors activities, Pyeongchang has much to offer should one tire of Seoul’s frenetic pace.

Photo by schoolofrepublicpolicy.com

3. Almaty, Kazakhstan
Former Soviet republics may not be one’s first choice when it comes to sophisticated travel destinations. However, Almaty in Kazakhstan offers exactly that – an urbane city that blends with the charm of the Silk Road. The city centre is an amalgam of traditional and modern, with Orthodox cathedral spires towering beside glitzy shopping malls, Western-style coffee lounges and expensive restaurants. A crossroads between East and West for millennia, the Kazakh people are an eclectic mix, with some of the best looking people anywhere in the world.
As Almaty lies at the foot of the Tian Shan, some jaw-dropping scenery may be had at the city’s doorstep. Snow-capped mountains, crystal clear lakes and the endless plains of the Central Asian steppe are only minutes away from the city centre. The ski resort of Chymbulak is especially well-known – Prince Harry once visited for a spin on the slopes.

Photo by architectural digest.com

4. Charleston, South Carolina, United States
Great manners never goes out of style, and there is no better place to experience that than Charleston, the oldest and friendliest city in the state of South Carolina. It may not be as well-known as other destinations in the United States, but historic Charleston retains much of the legendary Southern hospitality and proudly shows it off to visitors. Horse-drawn carriages, antebellum estates and cannon-lined forts dot the city, a reminder of the state’s role in the American Civil War.
Yet the most compelling reason to visit would be to sample Charleston’s fabled culinary scene, which emphasises fresh seafood caught off the Atlantic seaboard. Local chefs revere the fresh produce, which can be prepared either in a rustic Southern style or elevated to haute cuisine by the city’s French influence. American classics like barbeque, grits and pork chops are transformed by creative and contemporary restauranteurs, and many of the ingredients used are sourced within an hour’s drive from the city. Nowhere else in the world would one also find the farm-to-table philosophy so proudly maintained than in Charleston.

Photo by expedia.com

5. Gili Islands, Indonesia
Looking for an alternative to tourist-ravaged Bali? Fear not – the Indonesian archipelago is home to over 17,000 islands, and the Gili Islands make for an ideal getaway far from the maddening crowd. The three islands in the chain, Gili Trawangan, Gili Air and tiny Gili Meno are located close to Lombok and easily accessible by ferry. Each island has its own charm and attraction: Gili Trawangan has been well known for years as a party and backpacker haven, Gili Air makes a quiet, romantic getaway, and Gili Meno retains the most local flavor as the least developed island.
No motorcycles or cars are allowed on the Gili Islands, and the only way to get around are bicycles or horse-drawn carriages. This makes for a unique getaway experience, especially for honeymooning couples or those that just want to escape the city. Another main attraction of the Gili Islands is scuba diving amongst the tropical coral reefs and marine life of the Lombok Strait. A popular place to relax and get your diving license at the same time, the languid atmosphere of the Gili Islands is far from the (comparatively) feverish pace of Bali, ideal for those seeking peace and quiet.

Photo by presidential-aviation.com

6. Saint Petersburg, Russia
The city of Pushkin and Dostoyevsky, of Swan Lake and Anna Karenina, of imperial palaces and grand cathedrals, St Petersburg is Russia’s cultural epicentre and monument to its triumph and ambition. Built by the Tsars and witness to revolution, the ‘Venice of the North’ is a showcase of Russian art, culture and beauty. Located on the River Neva and lined with elegant canals, Russia’s gateway to the West rivals all of Europe in fashion, nightlife and contemporary art. In the evening, couples strolling down the banks of the Neva mingle with patrons of the renowned Maryinsky Ballet and a raucous clubbing scene.
Being one of the host cities of the FIFA World Cup held in the summer of 2018, a brand new stadium resembling a spaceship has been constructed on Krestovsky Island facing the Baltic Sea. Summer also brings a unique phenomenon to St Petersburg, the ‘White Nights’ where the sun doesn’t set due to the city’s extreme northerly location. Inhabitants of St Petersburg take this opportunity to indulge in revelry, sunbathing by the Neva and staying up all night. The highlight of the White Nights is the Scarlet Sails, a public event with fireworks and a water show on the Neva featuring, of course, a ship with blood-red sails. 

Photo by business insider.my

7. Cairo, Egypt
Since the tumultuous events of 2011, Cairo has recovered a semblance of calm. Tourist numbers are rising again, though not to pre-revolutionary levels. This has created an opportunity for unique experiences of Cairo's and Egypt's cultural treasures without the crowds. With a history spanning two millennia, Old Cairo’s Egyptian, Coptic and Islamic history is on full display amongst the chaos, humour and energy of everyday Cairene life.
Gateway to the pharaohs, Cairo is the hub for exploring the Great Pyramid and other ancient Egyptian monuments. The brand new Grand Egyptian Museum is opening in 2018, exhibiting the full Tutankhamun collection for the first time. But don’t let that be the only reason to visit Cairo. Centuries-old bookshops, coffee houses and souks litter Cairo’s anarchic streets, with Coptic Christian churches and Fatimid mosques existing cheek-by-jowl in close quarters. Go with Cairo’s energy flow and explore the nation once ruled by pharaohs, Roman emperors and sultans.

Photo by spiceee.net

8. Buenos Aires, Argentina
Bursting with Latin passion, the birthplace of tango is as captivating and seductive as the dance it spawned. Faded Italo-Spanish glamour mixes headily with romantic restaurants and pulsating nightlife in a city that almost defines Latin insouciance. Dinner doesn’t start until 9pm, bars start serving at 12am, and the hardcore clubbing set doesn’t show until 4am. Football competes with Catholicism as Buenos Aires’ official religion, climaxing when local rivals Boca Juniors and River Plate play each other in the Superclásico, amidst colourful banners, chanting and nonstop fireworks.
The wide boulevards of Buenos Aires, reminiscent of its European heritage, offer visitors everything from retail therapy to picturesque sidewalk cafés and landscaped parks. Steakhouses sit on virtually every corner, serving up perfectly-grilled portions of beef in this carnivore’s paradise of a city. Washed down with a fruity Argentinean red, Buenos Aires invites even the dowdiest shrinking violet to cut loose and party the night away.

Photo by fattrips.com

9. Mandalay, Myanmar
Evoking the splendours of old royal Burma, Mandalay is the economic and cultural centre of Upper Myanmar. As the last royal capital before British conquest in the 19th century, Mandalay contains some of Myanmar finest Buddhist temples and traditional artisans working silk, gold and jewels. Although the Royal Palace and Atumashi monastery are modern reconstructions (the originals were bombed in World War II), many original shrines and pagodas dot the hills around Mandalay. The city centre itself is undergoing a messy construction boom, but hidden gems such as gold workshops, traditional tea houses and the occasional sight of a Buddhist novitiation ceremony make it worth exploring.
Mandalay is also the unlikely trading centre for two of the most sought after luxury goods: rubies and silk. The legendary pigeon’s blood rubies, from the fabled mines of Mogok north of the city are long prized for their intense red colour. These rubies command the highest prices per carat of any gemstone in the world. On the other hand, silk from the township of Amarapura has clad generations of Burmese royalty for special and ceremonial occasions. Silk weaving is still largely handmade where ladies manipulate over a hundred looms to create intricate designs, which are then coloured using vivid natural dyes. 

Photo by trip savvy.com

10. Sabah, Malaysia
Legions of visitors have been drawn to the natural wonders of Sabah, the land below the wind. From mountain jungles to the crystal waters of the Celebes Sea, the varied landscape of Sabah keeps on unfolding as one travels through the state. Although Sabah’s more famous landmarks like Mount Kinabalu and Pulau Sipadan are as captivating as ever, the less well-known corners of Sabah make for an interesting destination as well for 2018.

Semporna is probably more well-known as a jumping-off point to the diving havens of Mabul and Sipadan etc, but the town in itself is also worth a visit. The annual Regatta Lepa is a unique boat race organized by the Bajau community in Semporna, culminating in the crowning of a ‘Ratu Lepa’ in a beauty pageant. Another destination off the beaten track is Pulau Layang-Layang, a reef in the middle of the South China Sea that is only accessible by chartered flight from Kota Kinabalu. Its remoteness and permanent presence of the Royal Malaysian Navy has ensured a pristine and untouched marine ecosystem surpassing that in Sipadan. The interior of Sabah is also the location of the Maliau Basin Conservation Area, an untouched wilderness protected by a basin of impenetrable hills, home to one of the world’s hottest biodiversity spots that, for now, is still being charted and explored.

Thanks to our guest writter, 
XH Ong. 
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Elvira said...

This is a great article! I´ve read in my horoscope on https://www.astrosofa.com/horoscopes/Yearly, that 2018 would be a good year to make a lot of new experiences. Since I thought for a longer time, that I would love to travel the world, I think this could be the year for this. I will check out these destinations to see where I want to go to. Thank you!

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