For all those planning to explore and discover the world in 2013, it’s a tough task to decide where in the world to go. Whatever your style, interests and budget, there’s an unmissable travel destination waiting for you.
Are exotic beaches your style? Try Bali, Malaysia and Tuvalu. Looking for something a little more urban? Check out the hip and happening cities of Rio de Janeiro and Sydney. If you prefer art, architecture and history, check out the magnificent historic buildings in Krakow, the second oldest city in Poland. Another great place for art and architecture is Barcelona, Spain, where you will find an entire museum dedicated to Picasso. London is home to some of the most well-known icons in the western world, including the Thames River, often quoted in poetry. Las Vegas is well known for 24/7 fast-paced casinos and stage shows. If exploring natural wonders is more your thing, check out Zimbabwe’s Matopos National Park, home to black and white rhinos. New Zealand has two glaciers that can be visited. While visiting Singapore you can take a night safari or schedule breakfast with orang-utans.
The idyllic Indonesian island of Bali is described as a tropical paradise in Elizabeth Gilbert’s book “Eat, Pray, Love.” The island of Bali is small enough that you can drive the circumference of the island in a single day. Some of the Bali hotels and resorts feature glass floors, allowing guests to see the fish swimming below. Bali’s natural sights include towering volcanoes, steep mountains, vast crater lakes, gushing waterfalls, natural springs and pristine coral Reefs.
From a cultural standpoint, check out the Museum Le Mayeur in Sanur. Belgian artist Jean Le Mayeur built the house of antique carvings for his wife, Ni Polok, a Legong dancer, when he was 55 and she was 15. This is definitely one of my unmissable travel destinations – everybody should go at least once to experience the atmosphere and lifestyle.
Home to almost 25 million people, Malaysia is in Southeast Asia on the South China Sea. The capital city of Kuala Lumpur is a one-stop travel destination in itself. Some unmissable spots include the Lake Gardens Park, Menara – a communications tower with city views, the Batu Caves – a Hindu cave complex with shrines, statues and monkeys and the Skybridge between Petronas Towers, the largest twin towers in the world.
Culturally, Kuala Lumpur is also home to an Islamic Arts Museum. The city features a Colonial district and a Chinatown, both with many great restaurants to try.
Tuvalu is the third least populous country in the world. Its 10,544 people occupy 9 islands totalling only 26 square kilometers – about half the size of the island of Manhattan. Tuvalu is between Hawaii and Australia. Funafuti Atoll is the capital city. With nine islands, there are multiple beaches. Reef diving is a popular activity. So make like The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge who recently visited and enjoyed Tuvalu’s charms.
Sixty-three islands make up the country of Singapore in Southeast Asia. Singapore has the third largest per-capita income in the world. The capital, Singapore City, has a number of unmissable destinations such as Singapore Zoo, Asian Civilisations Museum, Little India district, Singapore Botanic Gardens and the Jurong Bird Park. If you have time, take a night safari or schedule breakfast with the orang-utans.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Located in Brazil, Rio de Janeiro is the third largest metropolitan area in South America and one of our unmissable travel destinations. Rio, aka The Marvelous City, is home to beautiful urban beaches, including Ipanema, voted best beach city in the world by CNN in 2012. Rio is host of the 2016 Summer Olympics and holds Carnival every spring.
Well-known sights to see include the world-famous Christ the Redeemer statue on Corcovado mountain, featured in many movies and television shows, the Tijuca National Park is a forest, surrounded by the city and Sugarloaf mountain – ride a cable car to the summit. If you would like to take a tour, there are several options. The Favela Tour goes through Rio’s shanty towns, giving tourists an eye-opening view of the reality of the well-known area. There is also a tour through the Santa Teresa neighbourhood with mansions, museums and shops and galleries.
London is a lively mix of the modern and the historical. Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, and the Houses of Parliament are all here. London is home to some of the most well-known icons in the western world, including the Thames River, oft quoted in poetry.
For art and history, visit The British Museum, the National Gallery, National History Museum and the Tate Modern Contemporary Art Gallery. For a more modern twist, take a ride on the London Eye, the world’s tallest Ferris wheel.
Myanmar, also known as Burma, is a Buddhist country in Southeast Asia. The southern Tanintharyi coast borders the Andaman Sea. The Rakhine coast faces the Bay of Bengal. It is the largest country in mainland Southeast Asia. Along with the beaches, the country has multiple mountain ranges covered in tropical forests.
Some unmissable sights include more than 2,000 pagodas in city of Bagan, Mount Popa, a live volcano, Mandalay – home of a gold statue of Buddha, Kachin - a pagoda in Khan Ti Lang, ten miles east of Putao. The Great Thiri Dhama Thwaka built 84,000 pagodas, including this one. Try hiking in the remote forests and traditional villages in the Chin State of Mindat and Kampalet in West Burma.
Las Vegas, USA
The sign says “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas.” Originally placed in the late 1950s, the sign welcomes tourists and locals alike to the famous Sin City in the south-western United States. Las Vegas is well known for its 24/7 glitzy casinos, flamboyant hotels and live entertainment shows, but there are also other unmissable sights to see. Outside of the city, the Hoover Dam is an engineering marvel and worth the time to visit.
The casinos are known as homes of the infamous Las Vegas Shows, the tables and the slots. But many of the casinos also feature uncommon sights. The Mirage Casino and hotel has an atrium with a rainforest, as well as jungle foliage throughout, a lagoon and a fiery volcano in front.
Rent kayaks or jet skis at Lake Las Vegas for a little bit of outdoor fun, or play at one of the many golf courses. For a little bit of culture, visit the Contemporary Arts Collective, Trifecta Gallery and the Art Center and Atelier.
Recently unveiled as the Cheapest City in the US marks Las Vegas as a great budget-friendly travel option too.
A great place for art and architecture is Barcelona in Spain, where you will find an entire museum dedicated to Picasso. In the south of Spain, on the Mediterranean, the city hosted the 1992 Summer Olympics. Beaches and the Montserrat mountain range are close. The city boasts one of the largest collections of Gothic architecture in Europe. Standout places to visit include the Expiatory Church of La Sagrada Familia, Park Guell, Picasso museum and the Joan Miro Foundation.
Barcelona is also a great destination for sports enthusiasts and in fact since it hosted the Olympic Games in 1992, the city has seen a double footfall of tourists during the last decade.
In Australia, Sydney is a mixture of outdoor activities, art and culture. Walsh Bay, under the Sydney Harbour Bridge, is a neighbourhood that is home to the performing arts. Visit the Sydney Opera House.
The Manly Scenic Walkway wanders through Sydney Harbour National Park in the middle of the city. Taking approximately four hours to complete, you walk by Reef Beach. Along the way you will see Aboriginal rock carvings, and spot the Grotto Point Lighthouse. Hikers also pass by Castle Rock Beach, Clontarf Beach, and Spit Bridge.
Located in Southeastern Africa, Zimbabwe is home to 12 million people. It is also home to a large number of ancient ruined cities, unmissable sights to explore. Other places to visit include the mighty Victoria Falls – the largest waterfall in the world, Lake Kariba – the largest artificial lake in the world, Hwange National Park – take a safari in an open 4x4 and see lions, elephants, and giraffes. Explore the Matopos National Park, home to black and white rhinos, Masvingo, oldest colonial settlement and discover the Mapungubwe National Park - home to both meerkats and Nile crocodiles.
Blue seas, wide beaches, and natural foliage define New Zealand. The Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers are still in existence and are two of the most visited glaciers in New Zealand.
Must see places include the Wellington Botanic gardens, Te Papa Museum of New Zealand and Kelly Tarlton’s Antarctic Encounter and Underwater World. Visit the Glow Worm Cave, Esplanade Scenic Railway, New Zealand Rugby museum and the Underwater Observatory in Queenstown.
And if you’re a fan of the Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, take a film set tour around the key sights from the film.
For art, architecture and history, check out the magnificent historic buildings in Krakow, the second oldest city in Poland. Located on the River in the southern part of Poland at the base of the Carpathian Mountains, Krakow is a cultural center.
Don’t miss these hotspots; Wawel Castle - the National Art Museum of Poland, Wieliczka Salt Mine- in continuous operation for more than 700 years and Schindler’s Factory - featured in the movie “Schindler’s List,” this is where Schindler employed Jewish prisoners during World War II and saved many lives.