Here, we take a look at some of the more unusual travel destinations for the coming year. Buckle up, it’s gonna be a weird one…
What? Surely not. As recently as two years ago Burma was officially off the tourist trail, thanks to the imprisonment of opposition politician Aung San suu Kyi, and the consequent calls for a tourism boycott. Well, Kyi was finally released at the end of 2010, and Burma is getting hot once more. Hillary Clinton was the most recent high profile visitor, praising the country’s move towards a stable democracy. Tour operators are reporting unprecedented levels of hotel bookings from western travellers, keen to get in while it’s still relatively unspoiled. Former royal capital Mandalay is simply stunning, and Bagan (below) boasts over 2000 pagodas and temples. Further north it gets even more remote. In Putao there’s rafting and elephant trekking, as well as fascinating trips to isolated, traditional jungle villages.
Dubai is almost top-tier for western tourists these days. Hard to imagine, considering the undeveloped dustbowl it was only twenty years ago. Now dripping with wealth, Dubai has earned a reputation as an executive’s playground. Top attractions include the famous ‘The World’ development, a man-made archipelago which – from the sky at least – looks like a map of the earth. Camel trekking and dune buggying are essential. But be warned, it’s an expensive place, not well-suited to the budget traveller. Some dough can be saved thanks to the profusion of cheap flights now available to the region – try DialAFlight for a cheap flight to Dubai.
Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea’s culture, beaches and world-class scuba diving are beginning to attract the more adventurous tourist to the region. This place has to be seen to be believed. A real outpost of unspoiled natural wonder, the islands are inhabited by over a thousand isolated tribes, surviving much as they have for thousands of years. Regular expeditions to volcanoes contrast beautifully with the diving, which is well-regarded thanks to the extreme level of marine biodiversity. Thrillingly, there is no road access to the tropical rainforests inland, so guests have to fly in to a small landing strip, and from there take a boat to nearby villages (built on stilts, natch). Wildlife is exotic and abundant. You will see something special.
Image by Marc Veraart