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Top Destinations and Travel Trends for 2019

David Pettitt

With so many different places to see and things to do, we look ahead to what we feel will be the most popular destinations and experiences over the next twelve months. From less well known places to some of the world’s greatest countries, these are our top destinations and travel trends for 2019. 

1. Indonesia

Indonesia is an incredibly varied and diverse country. The world’s largest island nation consisting of over seventeen thousand islands and home to more than 250 million people, each Indonesian island has a culture, language and traditions different from the next. Indonesia’s dry season begins in May and lasts until October, however, the weather is at its very best from June to September so it is an ideal summer destination and also perfect for the family too. Sumatra, Java and Lombok are home to epic scenery and ancient cultural sites, Sulawesi, Kalimantan and Komodo harbour rare wildlife including orangutan and Komodo dragon, the Gili Islands have picture-perfect beaches and warm turquoise seas whilst Bali offers all this and more.

Two wooden boats floating on the turquoise waters of Komodo National Park, Indonesia

2. Sri Lanka

There are few places on earth that offer such a wide range of experiences in so small an area. Sri Lanka also caters to everyone – from families looking for an exciting summer holiday to intrepid travellers wishing to ‘get off the beaten track’. The island is home to some of the finest Buddhist sites of the wider subcontinent and in the Cultural Triangle there are a number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites to explore including Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Sigiriya and Dambulla. The island is also blessed with an astonishing diversity of animal and birdlife including wild elephant, leopard, deer and crocodile. The tea hills offer relaxation and excellent walking whilst there are beaches on the south and north eastern coasts – the latter at their best between May and September.

Monumental white seated Buddha at Mihintale, Sri Lanka

3. Eastern Canada

Eastern Canada has the potential to be one of 2019’s most popular destinations. Less well known than Vancouver and Canada’s Pacific coast, Eastern Canada has everything from cosmopolitan cities and charming coastal towns to epic natural scenery and vast wilderness regions. It is also much closer to the UK than many people realise. Atlantic Canada – which clings to Canada’s eastern seaboard – is rugged and picturesque with pretty fishing villages, excellent seafood and pristine beaches. Neighbouring Quebec has a distinct French-Canadian culture, especially in historic Quebec City, and the more active can engage in numerous outdoor pursuits. Ontario is home to the capital Ottawa and the spectacular Niagara Falls as well as Toronto, Canada’s most cosmopolitan city.

View of the impressive domed St Joseph Oratory in Montreal, Canada

4. Cooking Holidays

Cooking holidays and tours that put an emphasis on food and drink have been increasing in popularity over the last few years and we expect to see this continuing into 2019. Whether a fully-fledged culinary adventure or the simple addition of a one-off cookery class to an existing holiday, the options to include food in an itinerary are almost limitless. Three of the most popular gastronomic destinations include Vietnam, Japan and India. Explore everyday food in Vietnam through cooking classes, street-food tours and market visits, learn about Japan’s gastronomic heritage with an expert soba chef and at a sushi making master-class or experience the authentic cuisine of Rajasthan through special food walks and a visit to a rural camel conservation centre.

Market stall laden with vegetables and produce in India

5. Uzbekistan and the Silk Road

Uzbekistan is known for its links to the medieval caravan trails of the Silk Road. At its zenith this colossal trading route stretched from the eastern cities of old Beijing and Xi’an, traversed the wilds of western China, threaded the mountains and deserts of Central Asia and negotiated the Anatolian plateau terminating at the Mediterranean coast in Bursa and Istanbul. Linking a kaleidoscope of cultures and peoples, incorporating frontier trading centres, exceptional Islamic architecture in Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva, mountains and desert, this is the ultimate journey for the adventurous 2019 traveller. A visit to Uzbekistan and the Silk Road is best undertaken over the summer between May and September.

Blue-domed and tiled facade of a mausoleum in Samarkand, Uzbekistan

6. Japan

It is expected that 2019 will be an important year for Japan, in large part due to the Rugby World Cup which begins in September. For food lovers there are few places better than Japan and spring’s beautiful cherry blossom season draws visitors from around the world, but with its futuristic cities, ancient temples and cultural traditions this is a country that offers something for everyone. Capital Tokyo is one of Asia’s great cities, a pulsating metropolis of shrines, ultramodern architecture, museums and galleries whilst cultured Kyoto is home to an astonishing seventeen UNESCO World Heritage Sights. The Japanese Alps combine traditional towns with walking, scenery and wildlife, Hakone is the gateway to Mt Fuji or explore the volcanic landscapes of Hokkaido.

Panoramic view of Tokyo's modern cityscape at dusk

7. River Cruising

River cruising in Asia is increasingly popular and we expect this to continue into 2019. Travelling by river is an excellent way to explore a country and provides access to areas that would be difficult, or even impossible, to reach otherwise. The other benefit of a river cruise is that comfort is not compromised, even in the most remote of regions. India, especially the Brahmaputra and Hugli, and the Mekong in South East Asia are key destinations, however, it is Myanmar which is synonymous with river cruising in Asia. Here inland waterways remain important arteries for travel and the vast majority of vessels are reminiscent of the original crafts that once navigated the Irrawaddy and Chindwin rivers.

Small boat sailing on the serene Irrawaddy River at sunset in Bagan, Burma

8. Argentina and Patagonia

Wild and largely uninhabited, Patagonia is land of epic scenery, extraordinary wildlife and big skies. The region also covers a vast area, straddling the southern section of the Latin American peninsula and encompassing parts of neighbouring Chile too. Visit the beautiful Lake District, hike a glacier at Perito Moreno, learn about the region’s Germanic heritage and explore the continent’s southernmost point at Tierra del Fuego. Wildlife enthusiasts should also head to Atlantic Patagonia to see the vast colonies of Magellanic penguin and South American sea lion and, between June and December, the migration of the southern right whale. In July 2019 Patagonia experiences a total eclipse and a new 1,700 mile trail through Patagonia’s national parks, the longest of its kind in the world, has just opened.

Magellanic penguins on the Atlantic Coast in Patagonia, Argentina

9. Jordan

The desert land of Jordan resides in a region of great antiquity. Close to the UK and with perfect weather the majority of the year round (desert nights can become cold during the winter months and, conversely, very hot at the height of summer) Jordan offers the perfect combination of culture and relaxation. There are fabulous Roman remains at Jerash, an astonishing 12th century crusader castle at Kerak, places of religious interest at Mt Nebo, Madaba and the River Jordan as well as the country’s most famous ancient site – Petra. Jordan also offers a range of desert experiences at Wadi Rum, the chance to float in the Dead Sea and excellent snorkelling close to Aqaba in the turquoise waters of the Red Sea.

View through a narrow passage in the rock to the Treasury in Petra, Jordan

10. Nepal

Flanked to the north by the snow-capped high Himalayas, Nepal is a fabulous destination and caters to a range of different travellers from families and couples to wildlife enthusiasts and those looking for adventure. This diverse country offers temples and palaces, stunning scenery, some of the finest hiking in the world and abundant wildlife – all easily accessible from the capital Kathmandu. Visit the medieval towns of Bhaktapur and Patan and explore Kathmandu’s temples and shrines then travel to Pokhara which is the starting point for a number of hikes in the Annapurna foothills. Chitwan and Bardia national parks protect the rare one horned rhinoceros and Bengal tiger whilst Koshi Tappu is home to 450 bird species. Nepal is best visited in spring when wild flowers are in bloom or autumn when clear skies provide excellent mountain views.

Panoramic view of the monumental Boudhanath Stupa that towers over the Nepalese capital, Kathmandu

11. Georgia

A lesser known country, the Caucasus nation of Georgia promises to be one of the most popular places to travel in 2019. A perfect summer destination, Georgia is at its best from May through to early October with good weather all but guaranteed throughout the country and there are direct flights to the capital Tbilisi from the UK. Georgia’s relatively small size means that a lot can be seen in a relatively short period of time and there is a good mix of culture, history, scenery and food and drink. Tbilisi offers an old-world charm of cobbled streets and grand cathedrals, the vineyards of Telavi produce some of the finest wine in the region and the interior conceals small historic towns and spectacular mountain views.

View of the stone built Ananuri Church and Castle Complex in Georgia

12. South Africa

The ‘Rainbow Nation’, South Africa is a land of grandiose scenery, cosmopolitan cities, excellent food and drink, and provides arguably the finest wildlife experiences of the continent. Head to beautiful Cape Town, known locally as the ‘Mother City’, ascend Table Mountain and visit Robben Island, spend time wine-tasting at the picturesque vineyards of Stellenbosch and Franschhoek then follow the Garden Route as it snakes along one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world. Those interested in history can visit the historic battlefield sites of Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift in KwaZulu Natal whilst wildlife enthusiasts can search for the ‘Big 5’ at one of the many outstanding national parks.

Herd of Zebras in a national park in South Africa

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