There’s only a few days left in 2016, and for many, it is the end of another year and possibly the end of many other things. I have friends that have decided 2016 will be the last time they take any big trips overseas, I have a few cousins that completed their degrees in 2016 marking the end of their studies and for me personally, I quit my job in 2016 and decided that was the end of a lifetime career being stuck in an office. But, it’s not all about endings…
As we head into 2017, let’s start planning the beginning. The beginning of a new hobby that you always wanted to pursue, the beginning of a healthier lifestyle or, my favourite, the beginning of more adventures around the world. To get you started, here are 10 countries you must visit in 2017:
1. South Korea
If you have been following Asian pop culture in the past few decades (sorry if you’re a bit too young to know what I’m talking about), you would have noticed the 80’s to early 90’s were dominated by Hong Kong pop culture, then in the late 90’s to early 00’s the Japanese took over for a bit, before the Taiwanese had a little time in the limelight in the mid 00’s. However, in the past decade or so, Asia has gradually been taken over by what is known as the Korean wave or Hallyu. With names like PSY gaining worldwide recognition, I don’t think this wave will subside anytime soon.
With this in mind, South Korea has been growing in popularity as a travel destination for Asian tourists. In fact, if you walk into a shop in some of the main shopping districts in Seoul, and you look Asian, they will be more likely to speak to you in Mandarin than Korean.
This tourism boom is gradually spreading to Western countries too as South Korea is slowly stepping out of the shadows behind it’s more popular neighbour, Japan. So, why 2017? Beat the crowds and go before everyone else does!
We visited in 2016 and many tourist areas were still relatively quiet. We had such an amazing time, I literally did not want to leave. I’ll go into more detail in my South Korea blog post (COMING SOON). All I can say for now is, keep your eyes peeled because I am certain South Korea will be popping up on everyone’s Instagram and news feeds very soon.
I don’t think there’s ever been a time when I didn’t want to go to Japan, so 2017 is no different. I’ve already been twice and am still dreaming about going. So much so, that I’m actually considering moving there entirely, but we’ll talk about that in a separate post (COMING SOON).
Japan is one of those places that are so full of culture, yet so modern and full of curiosity. You could find an old tranquil temple hidden among the super advanced bustling metropolitan. There is no other place like it in the world!
The best thing is, if you aren’t a seasoned traveler, Japan is super safe, clean and easy to get around. Plus, if you stay in an Airbnb, most hosts offer free pocket WI-FI, which means WI-FI everywhere you go. Turn on your navigation, google where to go and utilize Google Translate – You can’t possibly get lost (unless, of course, you run out of battery).
If you like big celebrations and events, then Canada could be the place for you in 2017. The country is celebrating it’s 150th anniversary and celebrations will be everywhere! Canada is famous for it’s natural beauty and outdoor activities. So, if you like skiing or hiking, this is the perfect destination for you. I haven’t been before so I can’t really say much about this country personally, but for more info, check out the Canada website.
Another country that is celebrating a big anniversary is Finland which will be turning 100 in 2017. Wander through it’s lush national parks and stick around for the Northern lights. If you like nature, you will love Finland. On top of all that, Finland will be hosting the World Figure Skating Championships and the Nordic World Ski Championships in 2017. With so much to do, there is no better time to visit Finland than in 2017. Visit the Finland website for more information.
I’m a bit bias with this country because it’s somewhere I really want to go in 2017. Apart from the obvious visit to Machu Picchu, Peru also boasts 3 of the top 30 best restaurants in the world! Hence, Peru is the perfect destination for adventurers and foodies alike. Visit the Peru website for more information.
Cuba is changing and tourism has been growing in the past year. With more flights opening up to different cities in Cuba, this country will gradually become more accessible and popular. At the moment, you still need to obtain a Visa for non-touristic reasons to visit the country, but think of this as an opportunity to see this country before everyone else does. There is still so much to explore and discover about Cuba. TripAdvisor has a really good guide for traveling to Cuba here.
Another country you should see before everyone else does is Nepal. Unlike many over-visited countries that everyone has been to, Nepal is still relatively undiscovered. I mean, apart from Mount Everest what else do you know about the country?
Nepal has some of the most tranquil scenery in the world. It also has plenty of adventure activities to keep you entertained. Best of all, it is great for budget travelers as it doesn’t cost much to travel around. For those that want their travels to have a positive impact on the country they are visiting, Nepal is the perfect place to go. Don’t forget, they are still recovering from the earthquake in 2015, so any flow of money into the country will help speed up their recovery. If you want to take one step further, you could even look into volunteer programs to help rebuild the country. For more info, visit the nepal website.
Amongst all the islands in the Caribbean, Dominica would be the island that still maintains most of it’s authenticity. Due to the absence of shiny white beaches, this island has not been over-commericalised or over-run by tourists. But, things are about to change with it’s first large-scale chain resort due to be built in 2018. Visit in 2017 and see this island as it is now, before it undergoes a makeover. For more info, visit the Dominica website.
On the topic of change, I don’t think any other country is changing as rapidly as China. With different cities experiencing different rates of growth, China is a country with so many contrasts. Go see the advanced city of Shanghai before having a more authentic experience in the UNESCO designated city of Chengdu. Check out the man-made splendour of the Great Wall and Terracotta warriors before embarking on a journey into the the natural beauty of Zhangjiajie. China is ever-changing, visit in 2017 and by the time that 2018 comes around, you will find much has already changed. Visit cities that have still maintained it’s authenticity and tradition, because in this rapidly advancing country, we don’t know how long these places will stay this way.
Be charmed by the medieval city of Edinburgh, explore the music scene of Glasgow or adventure into the Highlands. 2017 is the year of history, heritage and archaeology for Scotland, so be prepared for a year-long calendar of celebrations at some of Scotland’s most famous landmarks. If you’ve ever considered visiting Scotland, 2017 is the year. For more info, visit the Scotland website.