Ride from Kandy to Ella on a scenic train ride that takes you high into the tea plantations.
Want to know which countries are the hottest places to visit this year? Then read on…
1 – CHILE
WHY: The South America country is the country celebrating 200 years of independence so get ready to party. Plus you’re going to find it a whole lot easier to get there as you can now catch new non-stop flights from London and Melbourne.
STAY: If you want to go into the desert, visit the refurbed Explora Atacama. The 17-acre resort comes with a spa, stable and its own hot springs. Or if you’re more of a city slicker book into the new Mandarin Oriental Hotel Santiago, the group’s first foray into South America.
EAT: When in Atacama take a picnic out on a desert drive, or book a quincho – a gut-busting Chilean barbecue. When in Santiago, reserve a table at Borago owned by Michelin-starred chef Rodolfo Guzman. Why? You’ll see.
EXPLORE: There are now two new ways to explore Chile in 2018 and both are just as much fun. You can saddle up and ride across the Atacama Desert on mountain bikes. Or you can climb into your eco-friendly two-seater Southmobile and go on a guided wine tour of the Colchagua Valley.
2 – SRI LANKA
WHY: They have just relaunched a super scenic train journey from Colombo to Jaffna and a plethora of chic resorts has just opened on its shores.
STAY: If you want to stay near the beach you can stay at the Anantara Peace Haven Tangalle. Or if you want to head into the jungle book into the new Wild Coast Tented Lodge that’s nestled between the beach and the Yala National Park.
EAT: Sightseeing in Galle? Take a trip to The Tuna & The Crab owned by the same team behind the Ministry of Crab in Colombo. Visitors are said to love tucking into the chilli crab and getting their sashimi fix at the sushi bar.
EXPLORE: You can go leopard spotting on safari in Yala National Park. Or you can go on a journey through the countryside on the newly opened Yal Devi Express or ride from Kandy to Ella on a scenic train ride that takes you high into the tea plantations.
3 – HAWAII
WHY: Scoot plans to launch a flight to Honolulu by the end of the year. If you fly United Airlines via the US island territory Guam you can clear US customs in a fraction of the time.
STAY: Nestled alongside the beach you’ll find the chic Andaz Maui Hotel. Choose one of the suites that come with stunning ocean views or relax in one of its 10 luxury villas that comes with its own private plunge pool or Jacuzzi on the terrace.
EAT: Hot foot it to Leilani’s near Whalers Village. This beachfront restaurant serves up mouthwatering snacks on its patio including coconut shrimp, fresh fish tacos and the hipster favourite, the Ahi Poke Bowl. But if you want to indulge in a little fine dining you’ll be pleased to know that its fine-dining restaurant suitably called the Dining Room reopens in Spring 2018.
EXPLORE: Take to the skies and catch a helicopter flight to Haleakala National Park, Haleakala Crater as well as the Hana Rainforest Preserve, which is the largest rainforest in the United States. Expect to see spectacular waterfalls and breathtaking beaches.
4 – ETHIOPIA
WHY: A new international airport terminal and now daily flights from Singapore mean that since June it’s been a lot easier to get there.
STAY: Rest your head at the Sheraton Addis, where your every last whim is catered for. Including having music pipped into the swimming pool as you practise your lengths.
EAT: Enjoy local dishes at the Oda Restaurant Café in Addis where Anthony Bourdain stopped by when he was filming No Reservations. Or follow the crowd to the Lime Tree, which is famed for its buffet brunch.
EXPLORE: If you go North from Addis, you can find some of the churches of Lalibela that are hewn out of rock underground. And if you go South you can visit Ethiopia’s Great Rift Valley, which is home to a dizzying array of wildlife including gazelles, baboons, zebra and hartebeest. And then head on to Turmi where you will find more than 50 tribes living how they have done for centuries.
5 – OMAN
WHY: The Sultanate of Oman is ready to have its moment in the sun. Not only was it the location for the 2017 Conde Nast Luxury Conference, but it’s expecting even more visitors as luxury hotels have been launching at a dizzying rate across the land.
STAY: If you are looking for a beach break you can book into the Al Baleed Resort Salalah by Anantara. This chic retreat, which opens in 2018 lies at the heart of the frankincense trail. Or if you would like to breathe in some fresh mountain air, book a stay at the Alila Jabal Akhdar, which offers massages overlooking the clifftop
EAT: Enjoy a picnic on the beach without getting sands between your toes – book a table at The Beach Restaurant in Muscat. This restaurant that lies alongside a private beach offers dishes such as lobster, mussels with kaffir lime and grilled fish.
EXPLORE: if you take a nine-day trip around the country, you will be able to go dolphin watching in the Musandam Peninsular, go dune bashing in 4WD in Wahiba Sands and relax in a mountain top spa.
6 – TIBET
WHY: It won’t be long before the masses want to follow you to the roof of the world. And why wouldn’t they? Thanks to its majestic mountains, glittering lakes and picturesque temples, Tibet is a sight to behold.
STAY: At St Regis Lhasa that overlooks that former home of the Dalai Lama, Potala Palace.
EAT: Snowland in Lhasa serves up an array of local treats, including yak curry. Although it’s almost just as famous for its baked items. Fans love the giant naans bread and the lemon pie.
EXPLORE: Tibet isn’t tiny by any means. It’s two-thirds the size of Western Europe. So leave the capital behind and drive to the former independent kingdom of Gyantse where you can view the Stupa of the 10th Panchen Lama, which is covered in gold and decorated in a plethora of precious stones. En route you will spy the Yamdrok Lake with its crystal clear water.
7 – BHUTAN
WHY: Times they are a changing. The kingdom that famously held fast to its traditional values is about to launch its first satellite in 2018. So if you want to see the Himalayan kingdom that has remained untouched for centuries, it’s probably best that you go now.
STAY: At one of the five Six Senses Bhutan lodges that will soon be scattered around the country. The new retreats that open in 2018 can be found in Thimphu, Punakhan, Gangtey, Bumthang and Paro.
EAT: The fastest way to understand a culture is through its food. So take a seat on one of the cushions at the Folk Heritage Museum Restaurant and enjoy an array of traditional dishes cooked with seasonal ingredients.
EXPLORE: Book a 10-day trip that will take you on a circular tour of Paro, Thimphu and Punakha. Along the way you’ll be given the chance to drive through rhododendron forests, hike through paddyfields and trek to the famed Tiger’s Nest monastery.
8 – MAURITIUS
WHY: This tropical island is about to celebrate 50 years of independence in 2018. Luckily enough they have enough supplies of rum to keep the cocktails flowing.
STAY: The One&Only Le Saint Geran has just relaunched after a huge makeover. All the suites have been revamped and it has also built a third swimming pool, a new club lounge. Luxury hotel company Jumeirah is also expected to open its first resort on the island in 2018.
EAT: Looking for a little privacy? Then book the One&Only Tipi Private Dining Experience. The bohemian chic tipi comes with its own Parisian chandelier. The perfect place to dine under the stars.
EXPLORE: Mauritius isn’t short of attractions. On shore you can join a quad biking trip through the Domaine de L’Etoile, a picturesque national park where deer roam among ebony and cinnamon trees. Offshore, you can charter a catamaran, go snorkelling in the Indian Ocean and enjoy a barbecue lunch cooked up by your own chef.
9 – ALASKA
WHY: An array of new air routes means that the wilds of Alaska are now even easier to reach and expedition companies such as Lindblad have launched new ships in the water.
STAY: Leave Juneau behind and climb aboard one of the expedition ships bound for Glacier National Park. Book onto the National Geographic Quest, which is a state-of-the-art ship that not only includes all the tools you need to explore alongside plush cabins, a sundeck and spa.
EAT: Dine on fresh, local, sustainable food when dining on National Geographic Quest. And you will even have the chance to ask your National Geographic expedition leader questions over lunch if you wish, as they will also join you in the dining room during meal times.
EXPLORE: Take a kayak and paddle alongside sea lions, or take a ride in an inflatables Zodiac boat and get up close and personal to the humpback whales that have made the area their home.
10 – ITALY
WHY: This is possibly the most fashionable country on Earth. Online fashion retailer Zalando recently ranked each country in the world on fashion, urban and accessibility and four cities (Rome, Milan, Florence and Venice) in the top 10 for 2018 are in Italy.
STAY: You won’t be short of places to rest your head in the Eternal City. Rocco Forte is just about to open Hotel De La Ville that can be found at the top of the Spanish steps and the W Hotel group is about to launch its first hotel in Italy, W Rome in 2021.
EAT: For showstopping food with a view to match book a table at Rome’s only three-star Michelin restaurant, La Pergola. Or for more traditional fare take a seat at Flavio Velavevodetto which is renowned for its rigatoni alla gricia.
EXPLORE: Want to see the country in style? Then how about in the seat of a Ferrari? You can enjoy a self-drive tour that will take you from Rome along the Mille Miglia route to Florence, and on to Lake Como.