Planning a trip in 2020, don't want to return to your usual haunts, but don't know where to start looking?
Going off the beaten track can be a daunting experience, especially if you're trying to research an area from scratch and don't have a personal recommendation to go by.
But award-winning luxury travel and food consultant Vibha Dania-Dhawan, who is the brains behind travel site Voyageur Chic, has shared her top travel predictions for the year ahead with Grazia to save you the trouble of trawling through Tripadisor.
From sun to snow, she's got you covered.
Taiwan’s Tourism Bureau recently announced that overseas visits hit a record high in 2019, with more than 11 million visitors recorded. It’s no surprise why this not-so-hidden gem is fast becoming a budget-friendly must-see for holidaymakers. This island offers diverse landscapes to suit varied preferences—from mountains, beaches and hot springs to the hustle and bustle of the city, including night markets. Vibha personally recommends catching the sunrise (or sunset, if you’re not a morning person) at the Yehliu Geo Park. “The natural beauty of Yehliu Geo Park will take your breath away, especially if you get there early enough to experience the sunrise. The rock formations are so unique that it feels like you could be on Mars,” she noted.
If you want to try a local delicacy, Vibha suggests Taiwanese Mochi. “Some people may have tried Japanese Mochi, but Taiwanese Mochi has a really soft, pillowy texture and isn’t as sweet as the Japanese version. They come with many different fillings but the peanut one is my personal favourite! I recommend a trip to I Jy Sheng, where they sell the best homemade Mochi in Taiwan. It is the best mochi I have found yet!” And there’s good news for tea drinkers: Taiwan produces some of the world’s finest teas especially the Oolong variety.
After a successful debut at a top travel exhibition in South Asia, South Africa’s tourism board has yet another reason to expect a surge of tourists. The breathtaking beauty of this country has been known to the world for a long time now, but many travelers tend to overlook South Africa because of perceived high cost and inaccessibility.
“More people are looking at South Africa as a gateway to the rest of the continent,” Vibha said. “And what a beautiful gateway it is.” She recommends the farm-to-table dining experience at Babylonstoren Farm Hotel in Capetown. Of course, South Africa is the perfect place to explore the beauty of nature so don’t leave without going on a safari. Check out Mala Mala Game Reserve, Londolozi or any of the Singita properties in and around Kruger National Park. If you’re up to it, you can even go shark cage diving or whale watching.
Vibha describes it as a “once in a lifetime arctic adventure.” It’s one of the best places to go to if you want to see the natural spectacle that is the northern lights aka aurora borealis. While not exactly a budget-friendly destination, it certainly is worth every penny. Iceland is home to surreal landscapes and amazing cuisine. The Dubai-based travel expert recommends a visit to the Fridheimar Tomato Farm for delightful tomato-inspired meals, including tomato ice cream.
She added, “Don’t forget to bring ankle boots; they’re essential. And Iceland is an environmentally conscious country so carry your own water bottle and refill as you go.”
Greenland is not a country that regularly shows up in top travel destinations. Many people assume it’s too cold and too remote. But on the contrary, the world’s largest island is a tourist-friendly destination, especially if you want to explore something off the beaten path.
According to Vibha, there’s a calming sense of “Arctic silence” to Greenland. “It’s relatively ‘untouched’ and not visited by many,” she explained. “Even the remoteness is a mesmerizingly beautiful experience.” Aside from catching the northern lights, you can sail amongst icebergs and walk to the glaciers.
Stunning beaches? Check. Rich culture and history? Got it. Remarkable cuisine? Definitely. Mexico is home to some of the world’s best street food. But if you want something fancy yet local, book a table at Pujol. “Chef Enrique Olvera shines the much-deserved spotlight on local flavours,” Vibha said. “It provides a culinary perspective to the evolution of Mexican cuisine and it’s one delicious perspective.”
Did you know that Mexico City is elevated? It’s over 7,000 feet above sea level and some people can feel lightheaded. It’s important to stay hydrated and take it easy while your body acclimatizes to the higher elevation.
Greece has everything you’d want in a European holiday—charming towns, excellent wine and cuisine, laid-back vibe and exquisite beaches, to name a few. Aside from the usual touristy spots, Vibha suggests exploring off-the-grid destinations like the picturesque island of Paros and Antiparos. Fun fact: Hollywood actor Tom Hanks has a house there and who knows, you might bump into him! She added, “Explore smaller islands. Take the ferry. And if possible, go during the ‘shoulder seasons’ in May and September to avoid the crowds. Try the local food products. My personal favourite is the thyme honey because it has a really distinctive and beautiful flavour.”
Greece’s national tourism body is hoping to encourage tourists to trade the traditional “sun-and-sea” route for the country’s mountain ranges, so consider this for your itinerary if you want the road less travelled.
This volcanic peninsula in far eastern Russia is a hidden paradise. It’s nature untouched—primal and captivating. If you love the outdoors and you are in search of an adventure like no other, this is the place to go this year. You’ll see rivers, hot springs and snow-covered peaks set against the backdrop of Kamchatka’s wilderness.
“It’s like being in a National Geographic documentary. You’ll see brown bears, reindeers, wolves, foxes and sea eagles. It’s best to book a tour because you’ll need a chartered ride to visit famous sights. Some places also require permission to access,” Vibha advised. The great thing about it is that you know it won’t be a crowded tour group. The only way to travel to this peninsula is via air transport. You can book a flight from Moscow and Saint Petersburg.