9 Underrated travel destinations you should visit in 2018
Don’t say we didn’t tell you
So many places, so little time. It's good to have a travel bucket list - one that's 'Before I Die' and another that's by the year. We predicted a couple of hot destinations back in 2016 (have you visited them all yet?); had a 2017 year-end travel guide (where some of the places are still applicable for the next few months); and there are tons of other travel ideas here. But if you're hoping to stay ahead of the wanderlust game (and be the Instagram envy of many), here are nine of the must-visit underrated places in 2018.
With the rich Central American jungle (where the Mayan ruins lay... somewhere) behind you and the stunning Caribbean Sea (where The Great Blue Hole is... somewhere) in front of you, Belize is undoubtedly both a paradise and a mystery. And if island resorts are your thing, there is a throng of luxury ones opening in 2018 such as Placencia's uber-chic Itz'ana Resort and Leonardo DiCaprio's eco-hideaway Blackadore Caye.
Living in Southeast Asia has blessed us with beach vacations at our fingertips. Desert destinations and their treasure trove of sights, however, are set to soon emerge as popular alternatives. For Jordan, some of the highlights include the world-famous Nabatean city of Petra, the Roman ruins of Jerash in the north, the epic desert landscapes of Wadi Rum and the Dead Sea-the lowest point on earth and the best place for a float. Scott Dunn advises visiting in May or October when the weather is just nice.
3. Valletta, Malta
It's small, quaint and one of the European Capitals of Culture 2018. Since its birth, the UNESCO World Heritage city of Valletta—a 16th-century citadel capital—has been known to be a melting pot of European influences. Take a stroll around town and you'd agree. Take a look at its cultural calendar and you'd agree. But since it's Valletta 2018, the Maltese are taking it to new heights with hundreds of events—theatre, dance, opera, music, fireworks—fresh, shiny constructions by Renzo Piano, the architect of the London Shard, as well as extensive restorations—inside and out—for existing landmarks.
4. La Paz, Mexico
Pixar's Coco was like a love letter to Mexico—one which has easily taco us into putting it on our 2018 travel bucket list. Everything about the culture is colourful, beautiful and yet intriguing. However, if you still want to include a bit of shine and sea in your holiday, feel Frida stop at La Paz Bay where you can swim alongside whale sharks.
We've said it before and we'll say it again. Bhutan is high on our list of off-the-beaten-track getaways and if you're a seasoned hiker, be sure to visit in October where the kingdom will be celebrating its third annual Royal Highlander Festival in Laya, the highest settlement (at almost 4,000 metres) in Bhutan. You'll be able to witness true Himalayan nomad culture and if you're lucky, there's a chance you'll be able to meet the king of Bhutan.
Not a fan of roughing it out? According to luxury tour operator Scott Dunn, the Six Senses Bhutan circuit is set to open in early 2018 where you'll go on a 'Six Senses Journey' between each of their lodges which all boast incredible views as well as modern luxuries. The brand will also design itineraries with various local experiences unique to each location.
6. St Helena
What a difference two years can make? If we didn't manage to convince you the first time, we might now. Few have heard of the name St Helena and once you experience the remote island's beauty, you'll probably want to keep it a secret for yourself. It's untouched and brimming with unique sea creatures beneath its waters—a trait experienced divers and snorkelers would appreciate. Previously you could only get to St Helena via a five-day cruise from Cape Town but as of October 2017, you can travel there in four hours by plane from Johannesburg. Also, there is a new four-star Mantis hotel in the capital but Wi-Fi is still limited so go only if you're looking to truly disconnect.
7. Moscow, Russia
Everyone has heard of Moscow but how many have thought of visiting for leisure? 2018 is the time to put that possible thought into action as it celebrates 100 years as Russia's capital as well as play one of the hosts for the football World Cup. Expect the city to be extra vibrant, warm and welcoming. The iconic Red Square, Saint Basil's Cathedral and Gorky Park are just some of the city's highlights. Also, the food might just surprise you.
8. Azores, Portugal
Taking over the limelight from neighbouring Spain, Portugal has been on a steady rise to fame in the last few years as travellers slowly begin to uncover its quiet charm. Its capital, Lisbon, is a pleasant coastal city but it's the other regions where you'll find innate beauty. Both the Algarve and Alentejo regions—with their medieval towns, hilltop castles, untouched beaches and unspoilt beauty—have gained traction recently so we'd advise heading to the Azores instead.
If Western Australia's Ningaloo Reef is where you can swim with the mighty humpback whales, here is where you can do it with dolphins. The well-preserved small island group is also a great spot for whale and dolphin watching, scuba diving, exploring the island with a jeep safari and more.
Find out more on Futurismo.
9. Andaman Islands
You've been to the Maldives, Palawan, Bali and all those popular island getaways. Where you need to go next—before everyone else does—is the Andaman Islands in the Bay of Bengal. Made up of 300 remote islands, it's a true hidden gem surrounded by dreamy, turquoise seas teeming with underwater life (commercial fishing has been banned here for 40 years). The beaches shine with white sand and its lush rainforest beckons to adventurers and nature lovers alike. The Indian archipelago is still barely developed but it'll be an ideal time to visit come March 2018 when its first luxury resort, the Taj Exotica, opens.