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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?

The occasional drunk local aside, it's probably the safest place to visit on this list. If this isn't family friendly, I don't know where is.

 

6. June, Ukraine

 Chernobyl, Ukraine

 

Why You Should Visit:

I would go as far as to say Ukraine is without doubt among the Top 10 countries I enjoyed. It's cities are more beautiful than most of the cities in Europe I've visited (and trust me, I've probably seen more of Europe than you have), but at a fraction of the usual "European prices". I can get a spaghetti for 2.5 Euros and a steak for 4 Euros.

 

Ukraine is great not simply because it's beautiful and really cheap. There are fascinating experiences to be had here that no other country can offer. For instance, Chernobyl. When was the last time you got to experience visiting a city untouched for over 30 years?. I know you'll say, "why would I want to do that?" Then why would you want to visit the Colosseum then? Or walk around in one of Europe's old towns?

 

After the cold war, missile silos and tank factories were abandoned. I don't know about you, but in my childhood, I played a game called "Red Alert". It's pretty fascinating to see and actually be a part of the experience a portion of the game was based on. Drive a tank and fire a Kalashnikov Rifle. You won't get to experience that in the typical "Eastern European" countries.

 

Have You Read: My Trip To The Most Radioactive Places On Earth; Chernobyl

 Kiev, Ukraine

 

Getting There:

Singaporeans can get a visa on arrival (100 USD if I remember right) in Kiev at Boryspil International Airport or from Odessa, Ukraine's coastal city. For Singaporeans, it's best you fly in from Istanbul since that's a place you'll typically visit. For the rest? Tickets are pretty cheap if you fly in from Lithuania, Poland, or Belarus.

 

Getting Around:

It's cheap, just get a taxi.

 

No I'm kidding, you can get a taxi, but in Ukraine, you'll want to experience the "underground trains" and ride those long escalators found in former Soviet Republics. For places like missile silos and Chernobyl, you'll need a tour (around $100 USD). But for everywhere else, just switch between trains and taxi's and you'll be fine,

 

How Safe Is It?

When I mention Ukraine, the first thing people ask is, "is it safe?".

And I always ask, "why do you ask me that? You wouldn't ask me that if I said I was going to Paris".

 

For the record, while part's of Ukraine might be unstable, many parts, including it's capital Kiev, are perfect for even a family holiday. Let's just say I would wear a Rolex in Kiev before I would wear one in Paris. Just use basic common sense and all should be good.

 

7. July, Kenya/Tanzania

Why You Should Visit:

Have you been on a Safari? No?

That's why then.

 

That aside, in Kenya and Tanzania, you'll be able to catch the "wildebeast migration". Basically, its THE National Geographic experience that the touristy South African "Kruger National Park" CAN'T give you.

 

If you're planing a Safari experience, East Africa (not South) and the likes of the Masai Mara and Serengeti are without doubt, are the world's premier safari destinations.

 

Have You Read: Planning to go on an African Safari?...Wait!...Don't Book Without Reading This First!

 Our Honeymoon Suite in Amboseli, Kenya

 

Getting There:

The best way is to fly in to South Africa, sight see a little, do their famous "garden route" before catching another flight to Kenya or Tanzania. There are no direct flights from Singapore of course. Also, you'll need a yellow fever vaccination done (I did mine in Singapore, TTSH, travel clinic). You can fly in from other parts of Africa of course, but I know you likely won't be going there, so yes, stick to flying in from S.Africa.

 

Getting Around:

You can negotiate a Safari package the minute you touch down in Nairobi, Kenya's capital. Negotiating face to face is cheaper than booking online.The package should include everything you'll need. If you're more adventurous, rent a 4WD and do your own self drive safari, loads of people do that.

 

The local bus? Well, try it once as an experience, but I wouldn't recommend public transport in Kenya, especially Nairobi.

 

How Safe Is It?

Well, as long as you stick to a safari tour, it's as safe as in can possibly be. Many people go on family safari's. If you're self driving, it's safe so long as you're good at navigation and fixing cars.

 

But, this is Africa. I would be lying if I said it was totally safe. The capital cities Nairobi and Dar es Salaam can have pesky touts and unsavory characters.

 

And it isn't safe if you wander around after dark into the wrong neighborhoods, but then again, isn't that the same even if you visit America?

 

8. August, Slovenia

Lake Bled, Slovenia

 

Why You Should Visit:

Lake Bled, Lake Bled, Lake Bled. That's why most people visit Slovenia.

 

Fortunately, there's more to Slovenia than just a pretty lake. The whole of Slovenia is pretty. Think of it as Switzerland at half the cost. Ljubljana, it's capital is pretty, there are other lakes besides Bled, like Lake Bohinj that's pretty. They have the Julian Alps that look like the Swiss Alps, there are gorges to explore, caves to explore and an overload of pretty towns that will keep you oohing and ahhing.

 

So yes, if you can't afford to visit Switzerland? Visit Slovenia.

Ljubljana, Slovenia

 

Getting There:

Singaporeans don't need a visa and you can get a direct flight in from just about any major country in Europe, so I won't talk much about this.

 

Getting Around:

Slovenia isn't exactly cheap compared to the rest of the "Balkans". Obviously, it's way cheaper than Switzerland but not to the extent where you don't have to bother about money. My suggestion is to rent a car. This way, you'll be able to visit the lakes, mountains and all without bothering about bus time tables. It's easy enough to get around and with a car, you can continue on to other European destinations.

 

Just remember to buy a vignette before you drive. It's like a road tax for highways. The fine is 150 Euros for tourists if you drive without one.

 

How Safe Is It?

If Singapore and Japan are safe, Slovenia's safe. Simple as that.

 

9. September, Georgia

 Kazebegi, Georgia

 

Why You Should Visit:

If you profess to be a wine connoisseur and you haven't heard of Georgian Wine, empty that bottle of wine over your head. Georgia doesn't just have the "world's best wines", it IS the "birthplace of wine".

 

Wine aside, Georgia represent a vast mix of landscapes, from snow-capped mountains to great beaches. If you enjoy visiting European "old towns", Georgia's capital of Tbilisi has one of the most magnificent and well preserved old towns in the world.

 

More than just wine and beauty, Georgia is fascinating. It was one the 15 Soviet States and what you get to experience on vacation here is an amazing blend of worlds and an interesting history. I was as fascinated with what I read in the museums here as I was blown away by the beauty of this country.

 

Oh, and did I mention, great food and cheap prices?

 Tbilisi, Georgia

 

Getting There:

The cheapest way from Singapore is to fly in to Dubai. From there, catch a flight on FlyDubai, their equivalent of SIA's Silkair. It's not a cheap place to fly into if you use any other permutation of flights unless you're flying in from Europe.

 

Getting Around:

Georgia is cheap. A full day tour can cost as little as USD 25. Name me another European country offering tours cheaper than that (okay, perhaps Armenia). Taxi rides cost next to nothing compared to to what Singaporeans are used to. Of course, you can self drive. But with taxi's and local tours at such dirt cheap prices, support the local economy and get around with those instead.

 

How Safe Is It?

Georgia is one of the safest countries in Europe with very low crime. Again, if you're comfortable with the level of safety in Paris or the US, you'll be okay with Georgia.

 

10. October, Cyprus

 Ayia Napa, Cyprus

 

Why You Should Visit:

I would describe Cyprus as the more exotic version of Greece. The same blue sea, same sort of beaches, same weather, same food (mix of Greek and Turkish), similar sort of architectural ruins to check out, similar mountains to hike, but here's the difference, Cyprus is just a little more "happening".

 

Parents bring their kids here for a family vacation, Europeans fly down here to escape the cold harsh winter. But many people, come down to Cyprus for the "parties". Together with Spain's Ibiza, Cyprus's Ayia Napa is the party capital of the Mediterranean.

 

So yes, for beers, parties, beaches and sex, Cyprus is where you want to be, not Greece. Oh, and of course for the family beach holidays as well.

 Paphos, Cyprus

 

Getting There:

I flew to Cyprus from Bahrain, but you don't have to go that route.

 

Cyprus is split into two, the Turkish side and the Greek side. The common cities to fly into are Larnaca (Greek), and Nicosia (Turkish). There are direct flights from most major cities in Europe and Middle Eastern capital cities.

 

Getting Around:

Public Transportation in Cyprus is great. Even the most far out attractions are served by public buses. English isn't an issue and there are tourist information booths all over to help you if necessary. In fact, the public transportation is so good you won't even need a taxi. I was traveling solo when I visited Cyprus. But if I had come in a group of 3-4, I probably would have rented a car.

 

How Safe Is It?

So safe, and the locals are really friendly. I neither felt any danger vibes nor a tinge of boredom when I was traveling solo in Cyprus. When I travel, I usually dress to look broke, or to look like a backpacker. I did the same when I was in Cyprus, and was surprised to find myself surrounded by tourists decked out in luxury items head to toe

 

11. November, Zambia/Zimbabwe

 The Devil's Pool, Zambia

 

Why You Should Visit:

Both Zambia and Zimbabwe sit alongside one another and share the arguably the most famous attraction in all of Africa, The Victoria Falls.

 

November is one of the drier months of the year, and this means you'll get to actually see the falls instead of seeing a huge mist in the rainy season. Also, you'll be able to swim in the "Devil's Pool" because the water level is low enough.

 

Besides the falls, you can look forward to not just the typical Safari game drives, but also, game viewing in the river. There are boating safari's, and even Houseboat safari's where you get to sleep on the water surrounded by animals. If you're an adrenaline junkie, you'll love the zip-lining, canyoning, and even bungee jumping off the Victoria Falls Bridge!

 

Unlikely many other African countries, both Zambia and Zimbabwe have proper 5 star historical hotels like the Royal Livingstone and Victoria Falls Hotel for your to truly have a comfortable, magical African vacation.

 

Have You Read: Visiting The Devil's Pool? I Suggest You Read This First.

 Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

 

Getting There:

The cheapest way to get here is also via South Africa which also happens to be the most "worthwhile" country to use your air-miles on if you're coming from Singapore. There are many flights to Victoria falls or Livingstone which is where most tourists visit when coming to either of these countries.

 

Getting Around:

Taxi is the safest way to get by. If you're staying at a high end hotel, you'll probably have your own driver or shuttle bus to your hotel. The rest of the time, you'll be on tours that pick you up from your hotel and drop you back there. The town you'll be in is small enough to get around on foot.

 

How Safe Is It?

There are many policemen around looking out for tourist safety probably because their economy can't afford to take a hit if something were to happen to tourists. So yeah, it's as safe as can be. I would let "The Girl" come alone  if she wished to; it's that safe.

 

Unless of course you plan on getting drunk in a local bar and finding your way back at 3am in the morning.

 

12. December, Laos

 Vang Vieng, Laos

 

Why You Should Visit:

It's actually getting touristy already, but you should visit while most people are still fixated with Cambodia and Vietnam.

 

Visit Vang Vieng and float down the river on a rubber tube with a beer in hand, you'll never experience this anywhere else. Did I also mention the "world's cheapest hot air balloon" ride is also in Laos? 90 USD for a ride. In Turkey, it's twice that, and in Bagan, Myanmar, its Asian neighbor, a hot air balloon ride is closer to $200 USD than it is to $90!

 

Luang Prabang is also pretty touristy with beautiful waterfalls, nice temples and the like. Overall, I would recommend Laos over most of its neighboring countries.

 

Have You Read: So you've visited most of South-East Asia? Well, I bet you forgot about LAOS.

 Kuang Si Waterfall, Luang Prabang

 

Getting There:

You can get direct flights from Singapore but timing and cost isn't exactly ideal. If you're exploring other countries in Asia as well, fly direct to those instead and then get a direct flight from say Cambodia. Don't just visit Luang Prabang like many Singaporeans do, start from Vientiane and make you're way up through Vang Vieng else you're missing out.

 

Getting Around:

Like Thailand, there are tuk tuks. Singaporeans should have it easy here. Just bargain and hop on. If your planing to start from Vientiane, there are express buses that will get you about to the different major stops. If you're just visiting Luang Prabang, all you'll do is switch between walking, tuk tuk and tours.

 

How Safe Is It?

Is Thailand safe? Laos is pretty much the same.

 

What About "The Girl & You"?

Okavango Delta, Botswanna

 

Well, we might be on our 85th country but we've still not yet visited the Caribbean, Central America, and South America. So in 2019, we'll likely visit those regions at long last.

 

In March we'll be heading back to Africa yet again, June probably the Caribbean and S.America as mentioned, in September maybe Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands or even another part of Africa again, and at the end of the year, maybe a touristy destination like Korea, who knows?.

 

Well, we've got our travel plans mapped out for 2019. Have you?

 

Try one on this list, you won't regret it!

 

 

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