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Top Destinations and Travel Trends for 2020

Charlotte Boswell

As we look ahead to the New Year, the Pettitts Travel team have put together a list of our top twelve destinations and travel trends for 2020. From the less travelled to some of the world’s greatest countries, we hope to inspire you with our recommended countries and experiences for travel over the next year.

1. Georgia

Nestled in the heart of the Caucasus Mountains, Georgia has a fascinating historical and cultural heritage. As one of the world's oldest Christian nations, Georgia retains much of its traditional charm and character as well as being extremely beautiful. Affordable, relatively untouched by tourism and only a five-hour flight from the UK, Georgia is one of our favourite destinations for 2020. Explore the alluring alleyways and colourful homes of the ancient capital Tbilisi as well as the rolling vineyards and wineries surrounding Telavi, the birthplace of wine. Visit historic Akhaltsikhe with its Ottoman and Russian influences and discover important religious sites including the sacred Svetitskhoveli Cathedral and Alaverdi Monastery. For a longer trip that incorporates more of the Caucasus, combine Georgia with neighbouring Armenia.

tbilisi old town georgia
Tbilisi Old Town

2. Bhutan

Known as the ‘Land of the Thunder Dragon’, Bhutan is unlike anywhere else on the planet. Over two-thirds of the nation is forested, the government measures progress in terms of ‘gross national happiness’ rather than GDP and tourism is regulated to ensure it has a low impact. Enveloped by the eastern Himalaya, Bhutan is a land of proud traditions, colourful myths and ancient legends. Towering white-washed Dzongs (historic fortresses and monastic centres) guard each of the country’s major valleys, prayer flags flutter atop high mountain passes and colourful mask dances take place at annual festivals. Hike to famous Tiger’s Nest Monastery which clings precipitously to a mountain ledge, visit Thimphu, Bhutan’s charming capital city, or head east to subtropical Punakha with it spectacular Dzong or Gangtey, home to the rare black-necked crane. For the more intrepid, continue to Bumthang and the far-flung valleys of eastern Bhutan.

punakha dzong monastery bhutan
Punakha Dzong Monastery

3. South Africa

Located at the southernmost tip of the great African continent, South Africa is a melting pot of vibrant cultures, cosmopolitan cities, fabulous food and some of the world’s finest wildlife experiences. The Western Cape is one of the country’s most enticing regions home to the picturesque vineyards of Franschhoek and Stellenbosch, a mountainous interior and stunning city of Cape Town. An eclectic and multicultural city that recently won the Telegraph’s ‘Best’ City in the World’ award, Cape Town’s highlights include Table Mountain, V&A Waterfront, Robben Island and the penguins of Boulders Beach. South Africa is also home to the Garden Route, one of the most beautiful coastlines and a very popular place for a self-drive holiday. Those interested in history can visit the historic battlefield sites in KwaZulu Natal whilst wildlife enthusiasts can search for the ‘Big 5’ at one of the many outstanding national parks including Kruger or the iSimangaliso wetlands.

cape town south africa
Cape Town

4. River Cruising

Unhurried and exploratory, river cruising offers the unique chance to experience a country from a different point of view. Get up close to rural communities and visit special or inaccessible places whilst navigating historic waterways in a comfortable and relaxed environment. We have seen an increase in popularity for Asian river cruises and believe this to continue into 2020. Cruise highlights include the spectacular Lan Ha Bay in northern Vietnam which is a serene and less-visited alternative to Ha Long Bay, India’s mighty Brahmaputra River which traverses the country’s remote north east and exploratory journeys on Burma’s Chindwin River or on the Mekong between Laos and China. Alternatively, follow a classic route along the Mekong in Cambodia and Vietnam, cruise the holy Ganges River between Kolkata and Varanasi in India or explore the Irrawaddy River in Burma which links many of the country’s most important historical sites.

mekong river in laos
Mekong River in Laos

5. Oman

One of the most beautiful and untouched parts of the Arabian Peninsula, Oman is a fascinating country home to lush wadis, ancient forts and spectacular beaches. Only a seven-hour flight from the UK and with a wonderfully warm climate eight months of the year, this little-visited destination offers a more authentic and less-touristic experience than the neighbouring UAE. Oman's charming capital Muscat is dotted with low-rise white-washed homes and retains many aspects of traditional Omani culture – a refreshing contrast to other regional cities such as Dubai and Abu Dhabi. The Wahiba Sands is famous for its shifting sand dunes and Bedouin camps whereas the fortified cities of Nizwa, Bahla and Jabrin sit in the country's surprisingly mountainous interior. Oman also benefits from a beautiful coastline, turquoise seas and a number of fabulous hotels that make it a perfect option when considering a relaxing end of holiday beach break.

sultan qaboos grand mosque muscat oman
Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque in Muscat
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6. Southwest USA

Big, bold and beautiful, there really is nowhere else like America. Spectacular scenery, larger-than-life cities and iconic landmarks, the USA is a treasure trove of diverse regions. For us however, the Southwest USA is our favourite American destination for 2020 with its rugged red-rock canyons, Wild West legends and inviting Navajo culture. Encompassing Arizona, Utah, Nevada and New Mexico, the Southwest is home to some of the country’s greatest national parks including Zion, Bryce Canyon, Monument Valley and Grand Canyon. Those who love adventure and the great outdoors can enjoy hiking, cycling and rafting through the ethereal canyons, towering crimson monoliths and orange desert plateaus. Arizona is also home to some great ranches where guests can saddle up and experience an authentic cowboy adventure. Culturally the Southwest is a melting pot of Hispanic, Apache, Navajo, Pueblo and modern-day culture creating one of the country’s most interesting and multicultural regions.

bryce canyon utah
Bryce Canyon National Park

7. Romania

Home to charming medieval towns, outstanding natural beauty and monumental castles, Romania is a fascinating country and a destination to watch in 2020. Nestled in the heart of Eastern Europe, Romania retains much of its traditional culture and heritage. The Transylvanian towns of Sighisoara and Brasov are home to gothic castles and fortified churches whilst ancient Moldavia is home to the UNESCO protected painted monasteries of Bucovina, rich folklore and picturesque villages. The Danube Delta wetlands support over 300 species of bird, the rugged snow-capped Carpathian Mountains are swathed in thick emerald forest whilst capital Bucharest is a diverse and vibrant city with plenty to see and do and is famous for having Europe’s largest parliament building. For a unique experience, we would recommend staying at the delightful Prince of Wales Guest House – a 17th century farmhouse joint-owned by HRH the Prince of Wales and local nobleman Count Kalnoky.

sighisoara fortress romania
Sighisoara Fortress

8. China

A bewildering blend of modern mega-cities, ancient monuments and a proud culture, China is a mammoth country that stretches from the plateaus of Tibet to the Pacific Ocean. Northern China is the location of some of the country’s best-known attractions including Beijing's Forbidden City, the Great Wall, the ancient town of Pingyao and Xi’an’s Terracotta Warriors. Travelling further south the climate and scenery changes, limestone peaks and emerald rice terraces start to appear, the great cities of Shanghai and Hong Kong dominate the region and, in Fujian Province, the unique circular tulou roundhouses of the Hakka people dot the landscape. In the interior, explore the snow-capped mountains and traditional towns of Lijiang and Shangri-La in Yunnan Province, whilst Chengdu in Sichuan is an excellent place to see Giant Panda. For the more adventurous, traverse the Silk Road to Central Asia or travel to the remote and deeply spiritual region of Tibet.

black dragon pool lijang china
Black Dragon Pool in Lijang

9. Chile

Stretching over 4,000kms from the southern tip of Tierra del Fuego to the Atacama Desert in the far north, Chile is a land of volcanoes, lakes and colourful cities. Chile’s cosmopolitan capital Santiago is one of South America’s most energetic and modern cities, framed by the snow-capped Andes and sparkling skyscrapers. A great introduction to the country, Santiago offers a vibrant arts scene, eclectic culture and a proud history. About 300kms north lies the Elqui Valley, which is one of the best places in the world to stargaze and even further north sits the fascinating Atacama Desert, a barren landscape of volcanic peaks and steaming geysers. In southern Chile explore the spectacular lakes and mountains of the Torres del Paine National Park and the Chilean Lake District. It is also the gateway to the fjords and glaciers of Patagonia.

atacama desert chile
Atacama Desert

10. Morocco

Awash with colour, spices and mystery, Morocco is the jewel of North Africa. This year-round destination is an exotic land of bustling souks, snow-capped mountains, Saharan sand dunes and picturesque coastal towns – all just a three-hour flight from the UK. Morocco’s most famous city is Marrakech, a place full of energy and the perfect destination for a long weekend away. Explore the bustling souqs, meander the twisting lanes of the old medina and watch the colourful street performers at Jemaa el-Fna Square. Using Marrakesh as an entry-point, travel further afield to experience Morocco’s diverse heritage and scenery, from the High Atlas Mountains and arid Sahara Desert to the beautiful blue-washed hill town of Chefchaouen, the medieval medina of Fes, Roman remains at Volubilis and picturesque coastal town of Essaouira.

draa valley morocco
Draa Valley
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11. Nepal

The landlocked nation of Nepal is nestled between the Himalayas and the plains of India. For a relatively small country the diversity of cultures, landscapes, wildlife and habitats is astounding, there is excellent walking and trekking, exceptional animal and birdlife, beautiful scenery and ancient temples and shrines. Nepal’s capital city Kathmandu is dotted with palaces, stupas, pilgrimage sites and bazaars. It is also a great base to visit the historic towns of Patan and Bhaktapur in the neighbouring Kathmandu Valley which have remained unchanged for centuries. Western Nepal is centred on the lakeside town of Pokhara. Here the Himalayan views are spectacular and the walking fabulous – from gentle walks in the foothills to more strenuous multi-day lodge treks. For those interested in nature, Chitwan and Bardia national parks are rich in wildlife including the endangered one-horned rhinoceros and the majestic Bengal tiger.

boudhanath stupa nepal
Boudhanath Stupa in Kathmandu

12. Canada

Renowned for its spectacular scenery, vibrant cities, wildlife and national parks, Canada is a holiday destination that offers something for everyone. April to October is a wonderful time to visit Canada with great weather and excellent wildlife viewing. Western Canada is home to some of the continent's finest national parks including Banff and Jasper, including the Rockies Mountain’s snowy peaks, turquoise lakes and superb wildlife. Alternatively, eastern Canada boasts fabulous cities including vibrant Toronto, charming Quebec City and diverse Montreal as well as the thundering Niagara Falls. In 2020 we feel that Canada’s Atlantic Coast is one to watch. Dotted with quaint fishing villages, Canada’s maritime provinces offers some of the country’s warmest hospitality, finest seafood and historic towns as well as picturesque scenery and excellent whale watching.

halifax harbour canada
Halifax Harbour

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