These five destinations are all on the rise as far as travel and tourism goes – so if you want to make the most of affordable living, amazing, unspoilt views and having the best places all to yourself, use some of your annual leave on one of these incredible countries this year.
Also known as Burma, Myanmar is currently still flying under the tourist radar; but not for long. If you’re into temples, monasteries and monuments, you’re in for a treat. Zip around from temple to temple in Bagan via means of electric scooter, which we assure you are far safer and less terrifying than the scooters you’ll find in Vietnam and Thailand. If you want to splurge, you can even take a hot air balloon trip to view the temples from a different perspective. In between temple-spotting, you can browse the local markets, indulge in the wonderful fusion cuisine and take a gentle hike through farms and plantations to lakes and fields – all at a price which will please your pocket, as in the majority of South East Asia.
A trip to Cuba is, in part, like a trip through an 80s gangster movie. Cigars, questionable mustaches and faded retro cars reign supreme. With such a history of music and dance, it’s no surprise that Cuba is an intoxicating mix of old-school Havana charm and a slowly-emerging modern culture. Explore the crumbling back streets of Havana and finish off with a few days relaxing with a rum cocktail overlooking brilliant blue seas.
Latvia has all of the charm of the more established tourist centres of Europe, but none of the crowds. If you’re a fan of Prague, the capital city of Riga will be right up your street. The narrow cobbled alleys, beautiful gothic architecture and cute street cafes could rival any historic city centre, from Porto to Budapest. If cities aren’t really your scene, then Latvia certainly isn’t lacking on the nature front either. Forests cover around forty percent of the country, and four national parks and over forty ‘nature parks’ somehow fit themselves into this small country. Explore them on foot, via bicycle or even on a boat in one of the beautiful lakes, and you’ll feel like you’ve stepped straight into a fairytale.
Israel has seen a drop in tourism due to obvious reasons; safety concerns, public perception and fears of hostility. For those that venture there though, Israel has so much to offer. Of course, you’ll want to be sensible about the areas into which you roam, but Tel Aviv is the perfect mix of first world Europe and Middle Eastern flair. It’s a bustling metropolis with a seriously Mediterranean vibe – it’s full of lively bars, quirky street cafes and great architecture. The rest of Israel offers everything from beaches (or the infamous Dead Sea) to expansive desert and everything in between. Plus, they’re having a bit of a culinary revival at the moment. Shakshuka, shawarma and falafel, anyone?
Rwanda is of course famed for its gorillas, which anyone would admit is reason enough to go in itself. Once you’ve had your gorilla encounter though, there’s no need to head on home and miss out on the other treasures that Rwanda has to offer. It’s a remarkably forward-thinking nation, one of the safest on the continent. Visit the lush tea plantations which are reminiscent of Sri Lanka, or kayak along the beautiful Lake Kivu. Plus, it’s a short trip so say goodbye to jet lag!