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12 Up & Coming Travel Destinations You MUST Visit in 2019

As we come to the end of each year, the "globetrotter/wanderlust-er" in all of us starts to put thoughts in our head.

 

"Where to next year?"

 

"When would be a good time to visit?"

 

In the past decade, we've seen travel destinations no one ever bothered about previously suddenly become popular. Destinations like Iceland, Egypt, Turkey, Croatia, and South Africa, to name few. And in the last couple of years we're hearing about destinations like Sri Lanka, Laos and Morocco come up.

 

So, what makes a previously unknown destination suddenly become popular? Why are people suddenly visiting destinations they haven't bothered to previously?

 

The answer? Social media. And the fact everyone else is going. Nobody wants to be left out. 

 

The problem? Well, while there's no competition on who went first, there certainly are advantages to going earlier than other tourists. Prices are lower for one thing, because the tourist hordes have yet to spoil the market. Plus, you get to experience the country for what it really is, instead of getting the "cooked up" version of it.

Orheiul Vechi, Moldova. One of Europe's least visited countries.

 

And yes, I've left out the truly exotic recommendations in this post because I know those recommendations are probably 20 years too early for most of the world to accept. But for those of you truly bitten by the wanderlust bug and don't want revisit London or Tokyo for the 3rd time, here are some recommendations that we'd highly suggest you visit in 2019. Yes, before they get trashed by the tourist hordes any further than they already have. 

 

These recommendations relatively acceptable, somewhat exotic, yet safe enough even for families. So there you go, "A Girl & A Bald Traveller's" recommendations for 2019.

 

1. Janurary, Oman

The Bimmah Sinkhole, Oman

 

Why You Should Visit:

If you're only going to visit one country in the Middle East, it's gotta be Oman.

 

Oman has hands down, the most diverse (and beautiful) landscape in the Middle East. Besides the usual "desert camp" experience, you can look forward to swimming in water holes, trekking in the mountains and canyons; basically having your own "Indiana Jones" moment.

 

And no, it's not just "adventure" that Oman has to offer. You'll be blown away by their beautiful beaches, picturesque seaside towns (Arabian Style), and have fun getting lost while shopping in their many souks.

 

Many people have told me they won't visit the Middle East because they don't click with Arabs. While I have met my share of arrogant Arabs (in Kuwait), the Omani's will blow you away with their hospitality. Every Omani I met was genuinely pleased and welcoming to tourists.

Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, Muscat, Oman

 

Getting There:

All international flights land in Muscat, Oman's capital. You'll likely need a visa and we got our tourist visa online for 5 OMR (13 USD). You can get a visa on arrival at the airport, but it'll cost you slightly more.

 

Getting Around:

Visiting Oman is like visiting New Zealand. You just rent a car (I got mine for $280 SGD for 1 week) and drive around. It's not difficult to visit TripAdvisor (or follow our blog) for the best things there are to do in Oman and just key them into your GPS and start driving. It's one of the easiest countries to drive around, and many people speak English.

 

But, you'll definitely have to rent a car. The public transport doesn't get you to the key attractions in the country.

 

How Safe Is It?

It's the safest Middle Eastern country we've been to. I'd go as far to say it's pretty much as safe as Singapore. In fact, we saw a local "securing his spot" by leaving his mobile phone on the table while he went to queue for food at the food court. I don't even do that in Singapore!

 

2. February, Zanzibar

Why You Should Visit:

 

White sand beaches and turquoise blue waters, need I say more? Zanzibar is home to the most beautiful beaches we've ever visited. And no, it's not just some typical beach destination like The Maldives. And certainly nowhere as expensive. We paid less than $30 USD for our room which was right on the beach.

 

Zanzibar is more than beaches. You'll take a step back in time as you explore the old city of "Stonetown", learn about the "slave trade", experience the "spice tours", sail on the traditional "Dhow's", and you'll get to see the "Giant Tortoises of Zanzibar".

 

People normally visit Zanzibar after a Safari excursion in Tanzania's Serengeti. This island is the perfect place to unwind. Oh, and did I mention Zanzibar is home to one of the most famous restaurant's in the world? "The Rock Restaurant", google it. 

 

Have You Read: What! You Mean The Worlds Most Amazing "Beach Destination" Is Found In Africa?

Getting There:

Many international airlines fly straight to Zanzibar, but that's not what you should do because there's so much more to Tanzania than just Zanzibar. Go on a Safari first and fly in from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania's capital after your Safari.

 

A visa on arrival can be gotten for $50 USD but be prepared for long queues at the airports. It's best to get a yellow fever vaccination done as well at your local hospital before your trip. Singaporeans don't need a visa for Zanzibar and Tanzania. So folks, don't waste this "privilege".

 

Getting Around:

Most people get around by Dala Dala, the local transport which is essentially a van/truck overloaded with sweaty locals. You'll be glad to know it doesn't cost much to take a taxi from one location to another, and if you have 4 people in your group, you won't even notice the cost.

 

How Safe Is It?

You'll probably encounter pickpockets while riding Dala Dala's, and if leave your resort and wander about dark alleys at night, you might meet a couple of unsavory characters who might rob you for a little "tourist money". Yikes! It's dangerous! Let me guess, you're not going to Zanzibar now.

 

But wait, doesn't the above apply to your preferred typical European countries as well?

 

3. March, Morocco

 Place Jemaa El Fna, Marakech, Morocco

 

Why You Should Visit:

I was debating whether I should have it on this list because it's become a lot more touristy since I was there and it isn't exactly "up and coming" unless you're comparing Morocco with the DR Congo. I'm finally starting to see Morocco appear on local travel blogs. Now that local bloggers have started blogging about it, you know Morocco has finally become "Iceland".

 

Still, Morocco is an amazing destination to visit and there are way too many reasons to for me to list down on why you should visit it. I would rate it among the Top 5 of the 85 countries we've visited, so that's saying a lot.

 

As to what there is to do in Morocco? Well, you'll just have to read the posts below.

- Marrakesh

- The Sahara, Fez, Atlas Mountains & Ouarzazarte

- Chefchaouen

 The Sahara Desert, Morrcoco

 

Getting There:

The popular cities to fly into are Casablanca, Fez, and Marrakech.

 

If you're short of time, I would suggest skipping Casablanca and flying straight into Marrakech. After a couple of days in Marrakech, visit the coastal city of Essaouira, and return to Marrakech to embark on the desert tour, and arrange for it to end in Fez. From there, you can easily get a bus to Chefchaouen, finish of in Tangier, then catch a 45 minute ferry over to Spain where you can continue the rest of your vacation.

 

Getting Around:

Taxi's are really cheap, just remember to negotiate the price first if they they refuse to go by meter. Many taxi drivers will attempt to bring you to the wrong place and charge you extra, so I'd suggest downloading an offline map like MapsMe so you don't actually get taken for a ride.

 

How Safe Is It?

When I was there, the locals called me names like "Jackie Chan, and Bruce Willis" because i'm Asian and bald. Women might be harassed a little more than men, but for the locals, it's all in good fun. Morocco is one of the safe African countries to visit and yes, I would let "The Girl" visit on her own.

 

4. April, Vanuatu

 Eton Beach, Port Vila, Vanuatu

 

Why You Should Visit:

Have you sat at the edge of an active volcano? No? Well, that's reason enough to visit. Vanuatu's Mt Yasur is the worlds most accessible active volcano.

 

You don't have to actually trek to the crater like those in Bali or go on the crazy trek I did at Mt Nyiragongo in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Your hotel will drive you to within 15 minutes walk from the volcano's crater and you can have your "volcano experience" without breaking a sweat.

 

Being a "beach destination", blue waters, white sand beaches, diving, wreck diving, blue holes, cave exploration, you'll get all of these plus you get to visit tribal villages instead of Hermes boutiques. Think of Vanuatu as something like "The Maldives" on steroids, with way more to do than getting a suntan.

 Yasur Volcano, Tanna, Vanuatu

 

Getting There:

Vanuatu is made up of a number of islands. You'll have to get yourself to Brisbane, Australia. From there, catch a flight to Port Vila, Vanuatu's capital where you will then fly to the outer islands of your choice. Tanna Island for the Volcano, and Espiritu Santo island for the white sand beaches and blue sea. There are others, but these two islands are the most popular.

 

Getting Around:

You can get around by mini van like the local or via private transport from your hotel. Aside from the capital of Port Vila, I wouldn't suggest walking out of your resort lest you get lost. Survivor Vanuatu was hit, but it's an experience I daresay you likely won't want to be part of.

 

How Safe Is It?

Wherever we walked, locals would greet us "good morning" or "good night". We felt nothing but absolute hospitality from the locals and practically zero danger vibes. Vanuatu is also known as "The Happiest Country in the World". Exercise commonsense and all is good.

 

Have You Read: Singaporeans Travel To Vanuatu, The Fiery Island Paradise of the South Pacific

 

5. Ireland/Northern Ireland

 The Cliffs of Moher, Ireland

 

Why You Should Visit:

So, the two Ireland's aren't exactly exotic destinations and the number of tourists have increased since "The Game of Thrones" aired. Still, compared to England and Scotland, Ireland is still pretty "ignored" by the majority of tourists.

 

Visit Ireland for the "Irish Experience"; whatever that is, is pretty much up to your interpretation. But what I'll say, is that its pretty fun listening to live music and throwing back a couple of pints at a local Irish pub on a cold rainy day over a plate of hot stew.

 

If that isn't your idea of a vacation, perhaps marveling at beautiful scenery is. Have an ice cream by the beach or trek along the island's beautiful coastline and be in awe of the magnificence of it all. And yes, like Scotland, Wales, and England, you'll have some amazing castles to explore as well. 

 

Have You Read: A vacation to consider? 7 days in Ireland & Northern Ireland under $1,000 SGD!

 The Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland

 

Getting There:

There aren't any direct flights from Singapore but on your next trip to England, Scotland or even Iceland, fly in straight to Ireland. The easiest way for Singaporeans is to fly in either Belfast (Nothern Ireland), or Dublin (Ireland).

 

Getting Around:

From both capitals, it's really easy to find day tours to the key attractions on the island. I got around both by renting a car and by long distance coach (DublinCoach for instance). As with most big cities, you can get a 24hr travel pass that should save you some $$ on transport and attraction costs.

 

How Safe Is It?