Best trips 2018 according to travel bloggers
It’s almost the end of 2018! I hope you put last year’s list to good use. Were you able to visit all the recommendations from the bloggers? If not, keep it, still. There’s no rush. You can still visit those places whenever you please.
Today, I gathered new faces and new destinations that will surely give you an inspiration for your next destination. This selection is fresh, enticing and might be new in your travel vocab so listen up! Here are the best trips 2018 according to travel bloggers.
1. Trek to The Tiger’s Nest Monastery in Paro, Bhutan
Contributed by Divyakshi Gupta, Quirky Wanderer
If I have to choose one memory of Bhutan that I will cling to for the rest of my life it has to be undoubtedly the trek to Tiger’s nest monastery. For fitness freaks, this trek is a cakewalk. Though steep, it can be easily done in 2 and half hours for those who have the stamina and regular trek. But for mere mortals like me, this was a challenge. Not just the steep climb but the altitude. But if you are ever in Paro, DO NOT MISS this experience. It is the journey that is so rewarding that you will be grateful for your decision to do a meditative trek to Tiger’s Nest Monastery in Bhutan.
The trail is rugged and raw with prayer stones and vibrant rhododendrons for company as you go higher. There are ponies available till a point but I strongly recommend to do this on foot for the sheer tribute to this pilgrimage.
The monastery is perched dangerously on the cliff making it such a bucket list destination for many. Once you reach the top, the feeling is blissful. The calm is infectious and I am sure it is not just the destination but the magical journey!
2. Driving Across Sri Lanka on a Tuk Tuk
Contributed by Anna Faustino, Adventure in You
Despite having spent the last four years gallivanting around the world, Sri Lanka is a country that was absolutely mindblowing. Our chosen mode of transport to explore this incredible country? The trusty tuk-tuk. Organized by a company called Large Minority, we traveled around Sri Lanka driving a tuk-tuk for ten days, competing against 10 other teams from around the world. Not only did we get to see this incredible country in a different light, it also allowed us to have meaningful interactions with the locals through the challenges given throughout the race. The entire thing was organized seamlessly in an Amazing Race-style format as we explored the best of the country. It is definitely a trip I recommend taking for those looking for an epic experience.
3. Road trip around the Faroe Islands
Contributed by Megan C. Starr, meganstarr.com
I think an incredible trip to take in 2018 would be a road trip around the Faroe Islands. I traveled to the Faroes recently and it is easily one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. The Faroes consist of 18 islands and each one has a unique beauty that will absolutely take your breath away. The islands are mostly connected by bridges, underwater tunnels, and ferries- all of which are surprisingly affordable.
There aren’t many roads on the islands and getting lost is next to impossible. There are more sheep than people living in the Faroe Islands and you will certainly need to be alert as you will share the road and landscape with them. Between the curious wildlife, waterfalls aplenty, and scenery so rugged and remote that you’ll feel like you’re in another world, the Faroes offer a road trip experience unparalleled to anywhere else in the world.
4. Expedition cruise to Antarctica
Contributed by Nellie Huang, Wild Junket
I’m not exaggerating when I say an expedition cruise to Antarctica is unlike any other experience in the world. Located in the southernmost part of the world, Antarctica is harsh, remote, and truly far beyond. One can really get a sense of being at the edge of the world here – there’s hardly any sign of humanity, and I only saw one other ship during our 11-day expedition.
Antarctica makes you feel like you’re the first person ever to have arrived, even on a ship with 120 other passengers. You’ll feel like a voyeur – taking a peek into a different world, one that belongs to Mother Earth. Each day of our Antarctic expedition was different from the other: sailing into a playground of icebergs and glaciers, watching Antarctica light up in bright vermilion at midnight, and cruising alongside playful whales towards the end of the trip.
5. Staying in a silk-route caravanserai in Iran
Contributed by Ellie Cleary, Soul Travel Blog
Few things conjure up more wanderlust to me than the words “Silk Road”. After all, world travel is not a new thing. Since around 500BC traders and explorers have travelled the Silk Route from Europe to Asia, carrying spices, bronze, gold, pottery, animals and many other goods of worth (alongside silk of course) between Europe, the Middle East and China. The routes deviated over time, but many of them crossed Iran and saw Iran become an important, strategic point on the silk routes.
While travelling in Iran this summer I had the chance to stay in a 400-year-old Caravanserai in Iran, at Zeinodin (about an hour from Kerman in Central Iran). Caravanserais were set up as stopping posts all along the Silk Road, for travellers to be able to relax their weary feet, house their horses for the night, and get a good meal and some rest. In 400 years, arguably not that much has changed (except the horses have gone). Zeinodin Caravanserai has been lovingly restored and is managed by a local Baluchi family native to this region of Iran. Travellers and tourists are welcomed to stay in private rooms, or in dormitories in the former stable block (where we stayed).
From the top of the Caravanserai you can sit back and relax to views over the Zagros mountain range as the stars come out, and imagine what it must have been like to wander the Silk Road as a trader in centuries gone by.
6. Swimming with humpback whales in Tonga
Contributed by Nicole LaBarge, nicolelabarge.com
One of the best trips I’ve ever taken was to fly to Tonga to go swimming with humpback whales. It is one of the few places in the world where it is legal for you to get in the water with a wild humpback whale. You are not allowed to touch the whales and you must stay at least four metres away from the whales but getting in the water with a 36,000 kg whale is an absolutely amazing experience. I spent six days swimming with the whales as they come to Tonga for the shallow waters to birth their calves. You often see the baby whales first as they have to come up for air more often than their mothers.
My favourite experience of the week was a two hour ‘hang’ with a mother and calf. The mother was just chilling at the bottom of the sea floor while the calf would come up to the top for a breath and then come check us out before returning back to its mother. Its almost like a ‘beam me up’ moment as the calf goes up and down as they can only hold their breath for 5-10 minutes while the mother can hold their breath for 30-40 minutes. Definitely a must do experience.
7. Monkey Fingers Canyon trek in Morocco
Contributed by Nina Zara, Safari Junkie
Every hiking enthusiast that visits Morocco will not skip the opportunity to hike the surreal Monkey Fingers Canyon known for its specific rock formations that change color depending on the light conditions. About five hours from Marrakech by car, two hours from Ouarzazate city and about 10 miles from Boumalne Dades, Monkey Fingers Canyon hike is simple and easy two to three hours trek from Tamellalt Village. The best experience of the Monkey Fingers Canyon hike is with knowledgeable local Berber guide that knows the maze of the canyon and the area. Those not limited by time can extend the canyon hike further into mountains to several days, visit Berber families along the way and sleep in the nomad caves. The longer version of the trek requires reasonable fit person that is ready to experience authentic side of Morocco. Cooking on the fire,limited water supply and no mobile network along the trek are some things to be prepared for but the overall experience of the nature will make it up for it.
8. Trans Siberian train through Russia
Contributed by Stefan Arestis, Nomadic Boys
Travelling on the Trans Siberian train through Russia was always a life long ambition of ours. We began our big trip in Asia on this long journey, starting in Moscow and ending in Mongolia.
There are two legs to this trip. The first to Vladivostok is the most traditional and the longest, covering 5,772 miles. The second is to Ulan Bator in Mongolia, which is the most scenic and more popular. We did the later, choosing to stop over in Yekaterinburg and Irkusk (for Lake Baikal) along the way to see more of Russia.
Life on board our Trans Siberian adventure was actually quite tough. We chose the 3rd class seats which is like a huge bed dorm. We definitely recommend splashing out on 2nd class to get a shared cabin, or even 1st to get your own private cabin.
The Trans Siberian trains are famous for the fierce provodnitsas – the ladies assigned to each carriage to look after the passengers, check tickets and ensure each carriage is kept clean. They never smile and retain a stern persona. Befriend them and they will cheekily sell you bottle of vodka from their hidden stash.
9. Chadar frozen river trek
Contributed by Amrita Sen, Tale of 2 Backpackers
Chadar Frozen River Trek is one of the most alluring treks in India. The Zanskar River flows gushingly through the treacherous canyons of Ladakh during the summer. Come winter, the river calms down and freezes. A blanket of ice forms on the river and it is the only way of travel for between Zanskar and Leh. That is the Chadar Trek (chadar means blanket in Hindi).
For the trekkers, it is an ultimate experience to hike over the ice. The nine days trek has some of the most beautiful views – from the golden mountains to frozen waterfalls and hanging icicles. The babbling of the river beneath the blanket of ice becomes music to ears after a couple of days of trek.
The trek starts from Tilat Sumdo and ends at Nerak village. The entire trek path is not uniform. There are fresh snows at some places while hard ice on others. You really have to master the art of walking on ice for this trek. It is always difficult to walk over hard ice. At places where the ice blanket is broken, you may also have to wade through the chilling waters.
Chadar Frozen River Trek is not an arduous trek, but the conditions do make it difficult. But at the end of the trek, you become a much experienced and hardened trekker.
10. Walking along the rim of active Mt Yasur Volcano in Tanna Island, Vanuatu
Contributed by Leezett Birch, Blended Family Road Trip
15 years of international travel and by far our stand best experience to date was the moment we walked together as a family along the rim of Active Mt Yasur Volcano. It’s our hot prediction for 2018.
There is no missing Mt Yasur as you arrive on the island and slowly make your way around to where she reaches up to the sky being seen for miles and miles. That moment you first hear her rumbles brings you back to the reality of just how awe-inspiring mother nature can be.
Once on top of the volcano the majestic views are breathtaking but just as quickly as you notice the view, her magma filled heart demands attention and you are instantly mesmerized by the all-powerful display of eruptions entertaining the island.
Wild eruptions shake the ground every 30 minutes catapulting magma into the air landing over the side of Mt Yasur. You literally are sitting on the edge of a Volcano, watching the Magma displays. There is no rails, no viewing platforms, just nature and her natural powerful beauty.
11. Hiking, trekking and mountaineering in Cordillera Blanca, Peru
Contributed by Maya Steiningerova, Travel With The Smile
The Cordillera Blanca is a mountain range in Peruvian Andes with many peaks around 6,000 meters high and around 700 glaciers. It’s is one of the most beautiful places in the world and should be on every outdoor person’s list. It offers the perfect balance of adventure activities and cultural experiences.
The city of Huaraz lies at 3,050m above sea level and is used as a base for trips to the mountains. One day hike to Laguna 69 at 4,628m is a great way to acclimatize and see the bluest lake in the Peruvian Andes. If that isn’t enough, you will also see Huascaran, the highest mountain in Peru.
After that, you can do the Santa Cruz Trek in 3-4 days. During a 50km trek, you will pass small villages inhabited by Quechua people, go through Punta Union pass and see many glacial covered peaks.
As a cherry on top, the most exhilarating experience for me personally was trying mountaineering for the very first time. Climbing Nevado Mateo to 5,150 meters is suitable for beginners with an experienced guide. The climb was tough because of the high altitude but it was a truly rewarding experience to see the giants of the Cordillera Blanca from high above. You can read our guide for more details about visiting the Cordillera Blanca.
12. Driving the Karakoram Highway, from China to Pakistan
Contributed by Joan Torres, Against The Compass
What was once a very important ‘’Silk Road’’ route where thousands of traders, civilizations and empires traveled, today, it has become one of the most epic road trips on Earth, as the Karakoram Highway is not only the highest paved road in the world (4,800 meters at Khunjerab Pass, the Pakistan – China border) but also, it goes through the three highest and greatest mountain ranges ever: the Himalaya, the Karakoram and the Hindu Kush.
Linking the capital of Pakistan with the far west China, these 1,300km of awesomeness were built in such extreme conditions that, today, it is also considered the 8th world wonder, one of the reasons why, for the last decades, this architectonic masterpiece has attracted the most intrepid travelers.
And by the way, this might be the only place in the world, where you can look at a 8,000-meter mountain, such as the Nanga Parbat, from the window of your car.
Driving the Karakoram Road is a real journey for the most adventurous travelers and it should, definitely, be in your travel plans for 2018.
13. Trekking the Larapinta trail in the Central Australian desert
Contributed by Crystal Egan, Castaway with Crystal
The Larapinta Trail is located in the remote MacDonnell Rages in the Central Australian desert of the Northern Territory. It is rated as one of the top ten best desert hikes in the world. 223 kilometres of pristine Australian desert lands, accessible only by foot. Traverse over mountaintops and through dry riverbeds. Swim in gorges and climb over the endless red dirt. Sleep with the Milky Way overhead and swim alone in secluded waterholes. Camp with 360° views of sunset and sunrise from 1, 200 metres high at Brinkley Bluff.
The Larapinta Trail is breathtakingly beautiful from every angle and it’s well worth the challenging hike. And the best part about it is you don’t need to trek the full 223 kilometres, you can hop on and hop off at any of the several accessible trailhead points like we did! It is recommended you only do this trek during the winter and cooler months of the year; otherwise, it is just too dangerously hot.
14. Yak herding with a Tibetan family in Western Sichuan
Contributed by Marie-Carmen Infantes Hughes, Orient Excess
Western Sichuan in China is well known for it’s glorious mountain ranges but also its Tibetan population. In what is called the Kham region, you’ll find a very different China to the glittering modern cities of the East, one of vast empty grasslands, populated only by marmots, wild horses, and huge, shaggy, yaks.
We’d arranged to spend a few days living with a family of Tibetan nomads, people who spend their entire lives roaming the >5000m Tibetan plateau, and tending their yak herds. It was, after all, the yaks that we had ventured a days’ horseback ride from the nearest settlement to learn about. And boy did we learn. We learned how to milk yaks, we learned how to turn this milk in to butter and cheese, which would keep for the winter months. We learned to weave rope from yak hair, and we learned to process yak dung in to firewood. But most of all, we learned how hard these peoples’ lifestyle is. After just a few short days in their company, we were exhausted, bruised, sunburnt, nursing multiple broken bones, and, quite frankly, covered from head to toe in yak manure. The life of a Tibetan cowboy is not a glamorous one, nor an easy one, but the cloudless skies, the snow-capped mountains, and the complete isolation from the modern world made it a trip to remember.
15. Helicopter to a glacier and dog sledding in Alaska
Contributed by Christine Knight Thomas, christineknight.me
Our most incredible trip of 2018 was during our Disney Cruise up the Inside Passage of Alaska, particularly the day at Juneau when we took a helicopter to the top of the Norris Glacier and mushed through the snow with sled dogs.
During the helicopter ride we passed over mountains and glaciers, before landing in the isolated dog sledding camp in Juneau. After meeting and grooming the dogs, we took off on a thrilling ride through the snow and ice, before returning to the camp for the rest of our adventure. We met the latest batch of Alaska husky puppies that would eventually be trained as sled dogs, then had some much-needed hot chocolate and cookies before our flight back to Juneau.
Getting up close to these incredible dogs and racing with them across the glacier was a breathtaking adventure that we will never forget. What an incredible experience to meet the people and animals who devote their lives to racing in such cold conditions!
16. A Baltic road trip through Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia
Contributed by David Murray, The World Is A Playground
One of the best road trips in Europe has to be a drive through the Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia each of which have a lot to offer. There’s a huge variety of sights and things to do, the drive times are relatively short and the accommodation and food are good value.
Take in the culture and history in each of the unique old town capitals of Tallinn in Estonia, Riga in Latvia and Vilnius in Lithuania, indulge in the delicious food (one of our favourites is the maze of food stalls at Riga’s Central Market), or relax by the sea in the spa resort town of Jurmala.
The Baltic states also have some of the most unique and thought provoking memorials we’ve ever seen. Be sure to visit the Hill of Crosses in Lithuania, a collection of over 200,000 wooden crosses on a hilltop, the gigantic Ninth Fort Memorial in Kaunas and the haunting concentration camp memorial at Salaspils.
17. Volcano tour in Santorini
Contributed by Hadas Aharon, The Fashion Matters
The volcano tour in Santorini is a great attraction when visiting the beautiful island. The tour departs daily from the Old Port of Fira where the volcano is reachable on a 10-minute boat ride. Visitors will then have to hike up the mountain to reach the active craters, so make sure you’re wearing comfortable shoes, carry water, and ready for the journey which takes about 1 hour back and forth. After reaching the top of the volcano, you’ll be mesmerized by the beautiful views. If you choose to take the longer tour, it might also include a visit to the Hot Springs at the island of Palea Kameni. The tour is suitable for anyone ranging from young travelers, couples or even families, as long as you’re able to hike. I would definitely recommend the volcano tour for anyone interesting to explore the adventurous side of what Santorini has to offer beyond the luxurious hotels.
18. Traveling by bicycle from Spain to Norway
Contributed by Ruben Arribas Cañamares, Gamin Traveler
Traveling from Spain to Norway by bicycle is one of the highlights in my last few years of continuous travel.
This trip was definitely focused ONLY on travel. No working online. Had a great time experiencing the beauty of Europe. Starting from Spain, France, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and visiting Lapland until my last stop in Helsinki.
This trip is very much a travel on a budget plan. If you love biking as much as I do, this is highly recommended. This kind of trip is one deep travel experience you’ll never forget. It helped us discover beautiful places in Europe, but slow enough for you to see and experience real local life in these cities. Plus we received the support of all the people. We were camping most of the days during the trip and many people helped us on our way.
19. Visiting with semi-nomadic Bosniak herders in Lukomir, in the mountains above Sarajevo
Contributed by Betsy Wuebker, Passing Thru
The mountain village of Lukomir (elevation just under 5000 feet/1500 meters) is the highest and most remote village in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Of little strategic importance during the 1990s war, it is also the only Bosniak village not destroyed by the Serbs during that conflict. Villagers are semi-nomadic Muslim herders, who grow hay and tend their flocks during the summer season in the shadow of medieval stecci tombstones. This is your best opportunity to see the old ways of Bosniak culture. While there is electricity, water is still carried by hand from the spring source. Access to the village is limited, and although it is reachable by 4-wheel drive vehicle on back roads past the Bjelasnica ski area (used in the Sarajevo Winter Olympics), you’ll find it best to book a small group day tour. You’ll be welcomed for traditional Bosnian coffee and lunch consisting of burek (a rolled pastry with meat and cheese) and fresh yogurt to drink. The day tour also includes a trek along the stunning Rakitnica canyon ridgeline – not for the faint-hearted – which plunges 800 meters (2600 feet) down.
20. Dosojin Fire Festival in Winter in Nozawa Onsen, Japan
Contributed by Paula McInerney, Contented Traveller
The Dosojin Fire Festival is like nothing we have ever experienced before, and as such is one of the best trips you can make in 2018. The snow falls heavily, the sake flows liberally, and the pyromaniacs have the best night of their lives before they shred up the champagne powder slopes the next day.
The Dosojin Fire Festival is one of three major fire festivals held in Japan. It occurs on the 15th January each year, in the traditional village of Nozawa Onsen, which is also a major ski area.
The origins of the Dosojin Fire Festival are bound in Shinto beliefs for the villagers to have a prosperous year.
One hundred villagers build the shrine and select the trees to form this pyre in October of the previous year. On the 13th of January, the villagers bring the trees through the streets, stopping to accept sake and to share their own sake. They are very generous. They then proceed to the designated area to erect the wooden structure or shaden, which is approx.. 18 meters high.
On the night of the Dosojin Fire Festival, the 42-year-olds sit on top of the shaden, singing, and drinking, while the 25-year-olds stand around the base …singing, and drinking. These are considered the unlucky ages. Their aim is to protect the shaden, while the other villagers hurl faggots of fire to try and set the shaden alight, while they are also singing and drinking. Sake works well in the sub-zero conditions.
It is quite vicious in a happy Japanese type of way. As part of the crowd that watches this event you can fully expect to be plied with a lot of free sake, and fully expect that you should watch for flying embers. After 4 hours, the 42-year-olds call an end to the fight, and the shaden is then left to go up in a blaze of glory. The local villagers take some of the embers home for good luck during the year.
Do we recommend Nozawa Onsen and the Dosojin Fire Festival? …most definitely.
21. Horse riding in Donegal, on the Wild Atlantic Way in Ireland
Contributed by Gordon Arthur, Short Holidays and Getaways
The Wild Atlantic Way in Donegal, Ireland is one of those unique experiences that not that many people get to experience when you discover Donegal. Riding a 17-hand high horse along the windswept beaches was even more unique. The county of Donegal is often referred to as the forgotten county in Ireland, because it is butted up against Northern Ireland, and positioned along the aptly named Wild Atlantic Way. The seas and the weather are often challenging, but that is why people come to this very remote region Tullagh Bay Equestrian Centre offered such an opportunity to experience the wildness and the wilderness that has made this region such a hidden gem. We wanted, the remoteness, and what an experience to ride an Irish steed on such a remote part of the planet.
22. Dinner in Hobbiton, New Zealand
Contributed by Thais Saito, World Trip Diaries
A visit to Hobbiton in New Zealand is part of the bucket list for most people. It should be, it’s stunning! But did you know you can have an evening tour with dinner at the Green Dragon Inn? It’s a whole different experience!
If you do it from November to February, you’ll have longer days and better weather, which increases the chances of seeing the sunset over Hobbiton. During the rest of the time, you have great chances of having wet weather. It’s still worth it, though. The food is delicious, a real Hobbit meal. And it’s a LOT of food! We even received a Hobbit surname.
The best thing, though, is watching the hobbit-holes light up while you walk around the Shire. It’s just amazing. And you’re walking back from the Green Dragon Inn feast with a cute lantern, hearing more curiosities about the movies, in a magical place. If you choose to do it, make sure you book in advance (a couple of months, at least), and take a tripod. It gets a bit harder to take photos as the sun goes down.
23. Backpacking through Central America (from Belize to Panama)
Contributed by Chantell Collins, Adoration for Adventure
One of my most memorable trips that I would recommend for 2018, is backpacking through Central America. It had been my dream to travel overland from Belize City to Panama City, stopping in each of the seven countries.
The good thing about backpacking through Central America is that it can be done in a reasonably short amount of time and on a budget. Compared to the South American continent, which could easily take a year to travel throughout. I spent nine weeks traveling the entire seven countries of Central America, and have a friend who did it in five. Although it is a wonderful experience that I would have liked to have enjoyed even longer.
I spent USD $27 per day, with the cheapest countries being Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, and the north of Nicaragua. If you don’t speak at least a little Spanish, I would recommend sticking to the popular spots in Belize, Costa Rica, and Panama although they can be a little more expensive.
Overall, it will be an unforgettable journey filled with contrasting landscapes of dense jungles, spectacular waterfalls, colourful cities, and breathtaking beaches.
24. South Korea for the Winter Olympics
Contributed by Anne Slater-Brooks, Travel The Globe For Less
The Winter Olympics 2018 takes place in a number of resorts throughout South Korea this coming February. If you want to experience an heady mix of culture, great food, friendly locals and the infectious exuberance of South Koreans, you really should make a beeline for this event. All the Olympic venues are within four hours of Seoul and are located conveniently along highway 50, but I recommend basing yourself in Alpensia, a purpose-built resort, reminiscent of Vail or Winter Park in the Rockies.
The slopes are within touching distance of your hotel room and you will be able to hear the clatter of the bobsleigh from your hotel balcony. The ski jump and cross country ski course are also within walking distance whilst Yongpyong Alpine centre is a short taxi drive away. This is where the downhill skiing events will take place, but the best news is that they will only be using a fraction of the mountain, so if you tire of being a spectator and want to experience the exhilaration of skiing in stunning mountain scenery, you can take to the slopes yourself. We were fortunate enough to ski in South Korea earlier this year and were hugely impressed by the set up with ski jets, lockers and rental facilities in convenient locations for the slopes.
Best of all, when you have had enough of the action, there are plentiful bars and restaurants to indulge in steaming bibimbap (a type of South Korean stew) washed down with a cold beer.
25. Ice trekking in the Perito Moreno glacier in Argentina
Contributed by Barbara Wagner, Jetsettera
The Perito Moreno glacier is one of the largest glaciers in South-America. It is situated in the southern tip of Argentina near the town el Calafate. Visitors are given the option to do a big trek or a mini trek on the glacier. The mini trek allows the travellers to spend about an hour and a half on the glacier. It starts with a boat ride across the river along the glacier. Later visitors tie crampons on the sole of their shoes and start walking on the glacier.
Glacier trekking in Perito Moreno is a great adventure. You are allowed to fill your bottle from the glacier as the water is potable. After hiking for a while, we stopped to drink some scotch chilled with ice from the glacier. It was a great way to finish the hike.
26. Island hopping to the best honeymoon destinations – from Bora Bora to Fiji to Maldives
Contributed by Mar Pages, Once In A Lifetime Journey
Why have one honeymoon when you can have them all? Many just married couples look to the Maldives or Bora Bora as their main honeymoon destination. Others also consider Fiji. My dream trip for 2018 would tackle them all again. Starting in French Polynesia I would repeat my stay at an over water bungalow in the motu (outer reef), go diving, swimming with rays and sharks and exploring the mountains. In Fiji I would spend some time at the many private island resorts, diving and enjoying the stunning volcanic landscapes and getting offbeat in Taveuni island. From Fiji I would hop over to the Maldives where more than one resort visit would be in order. I would combine some of the best diving resorts with beautiful beach and over water villas, fall in love during sunset dolphin cruises, dive with mantas, learn to surf and indulge with long wine pairing dinners under the stars.
27. Visit the elephant nature park in Chiang Mai to learn about elephant abuse and be educated on how to stop it
Contributed by Nadeen White, The Sophisticated Life
Responsible tourism is currently a hot topic, as it should be. While planning my trip to Thailand in 2017, I was faced with this issue. My friend and I decided that we wanted to spend time with elephants. There are majestic and intelligent endangered species.
We decided to spend a day at the Elephant Nature Park in the Chiang Mai area of Northern Thailand. It is a rescue and rehabilitation center for elephants as well as other animals. During the drive from Chiang Mai to the Elephant Nature Park, we were shown a video with examples of elephant abuse. Elephant trekking, circuses and drawing pictures are a few.
While at the park, we spent time with elephants with damaged limbs from land mines, broken backs from trekking and those who were physical abused in order to perform tricks. We fed the elephants, washed them and observed many at play. It was an amazing experience that I encourage everyone to seek out. There is a definite movement in travel groups now to educate tourists about these harmful activities. Thailand also has an animal cruelty law but it is hardly enforced. It’s simple: if you know better, do better.
28. Visiting the world’s biggest off-road festival in Inner Mongolia
Contributed by Marco Buch, Life Is A Trip
The best thing about the world’s biggest off-road-festival? Nobody knows about it yet! That is, outside of China. An incredible one million Chinese 4×4-enthusiasts gather in the Tenger desert with about 300 thousand off-road cars every year in the beginning of October. A week of madness in the sand awaits the visitor at the FB Life Festival. Not only can you drive your SUV through majestic dunes as well as perfectly carved obstacle courses. You can also attend a car fair, a tattoo convention, a dog beauty contest and a food festival. You can watch sand art and ice sculptures, flight and stunt shows, MMA fights as well as various bands at the integrated Tenger Music Festival. If you’re early, you can even witness the China Rally that ends right here. In between, you can eat your way through all of Asia at countless hawker stands from all over the place. But most of all, you can just soak up this incredible feeling of being on a different planet!
FB Life Festival, near Alxa Left Banner, Inner Mongolia, China. First week of October.
29. Nusa Penida (Bali, Indonesia) on a motorbike
Contributed by Tom Grond, Travel Tom Tom
If there is one trip you should take in 2018, then it is definitely exploring Nusa Penida on a motorbike. Only on my 5th visit to Bali I finally took the 1-hour boat ride to the magical island just Southeast from Bali. The absolutely breathtaking coastline is so impressive that you will be stunned when you experience it. One of the best places to see in Nusa Penida is of course the dinosaur shaped cliff also known as Kelingking Beach, but don’t forget to visit Broken Beach and Angel’s Billabong and Atuh Beach on the other side of the island. Driving a scooter around Nusa Penida itself is already a big adventure as the roads are challenging. The rewards after a difficult drive are incredible though. Try to leave most of your stuff in Bali, pack light and rent a scooter as soon as you arrive. It is easy to find accommodation on the spot and roam around the island for a couple days. Nusa Penida is my secret travel tip and one of the coolest places I traveled to in 2017.
30. Fish Route in Alentejo, Portugal
Contributed by Inma Gregorio, A World To Travel
You might have heard about Portugal main jewels: Porto, Lisbon, and the Algarve. Even its two main archipelagos, Azores and Madeira, are somehow getting more and more tourists as the low-cost airlines are now making possible for thousands of tourists on a budget to explore its stunning natural beauty. But, let me ask you. What comes to your mind when I say Alentejo?
Alentejo is one of Portugal’s jewels, yet it is one still to be discovered by mainstream tourism. Without the crowds and keeping all the authenticity that Portugal is famous for, I can only recommend you to put Alentejo on your list for 2018.
And if you are doing so, you might as well follow the fish route. Here’re the 7 stops you can’t miss on this Alentejo road trip. Go check them out!
Being one of the largest areas in Portugal, Alentejo is also one of the less populated ones. Mainly reliant on fishing, agriculture, livestock, and forestry, it won’t be much longer before tourists (especially foodies) start noticing all the goodness that comes from it.
31. Scuba diving in the Maldives
Contributed by Aleah Taboclaon, Solitary Wanderer
If there’s only one country you should visit in 2018, it should be the Maldives. It’s the quintessential paradise — fine, clear, white sandy beaches, turquoise waters, and endless blue skies — not to mention the unbelievably rich marine life that you can see even from the jetty of your beach resort!
However, while the water and the beaches are exceptionally beautiful and definitely Instagrammable, nothing can beat the experience of diving with manta rays in the Maldives. There are specific reefs they go to, either to eat or get cleaned, so expect to see a lot of them in season. Seeing those huge creatures swim round and round above you is surreal and magical, making it the best diving trip I’ve ever had.
You don’t even need to be certified; you can take a Discover Scuba course where a dive master accompanies you, and you will still get to dive with the mantas. Definitely a bucket list worthy activity for 2018!
32. Staying in a Tented Camp in the Serengeti
Contributed by Mary Talbott, Life Long Adventures
Stop for a moment and imagine sitting by a bonfire watching the sunset behind the distant rocky outcroppings, the last few flares of light striking the acacia trees framed against the darkening horizon. Later as you are enjoying a family-style dinner in an open-air dining tent, glowing eyes peer back at you from out in the surrounding darkness. You watch as a pair of hyena run past laughing as they head out of sight. Imagine lying in your bed, staring up at the ceiling of your walk-in tent, your breath caught in your throat as you listen to that deep rumble that can only mean lions are right outside. When you wake up in the morning and step out of your tent you see antelope and zebra grazing in the distance. Looking past the row of tents you notice your safari vehicle is waiting for you.
Spending one or two nights in a tented camp in the Serengeti is a magical, once-in-a-lifetime experience and should be on everyone’s list for 2018. You can read more about my experience at a Serengeti tented camp here.
33. A trip into the Amazon rainforest in Ecuador
Contributed by Patrick Muntzinger, German Backpacker
One of the best trips you can do in 2018 is an Amazon tour in Ecuador. My visit to the Amazon was certainly a highlight of my journey around South America and it’s a unique place which you shouldn’t miss.
You can organize your tour (around 4-5 days) into the Amazon rainforest directly in Quito. After a long night bus, a few hours in a minivan and 3 hours in a boat, you’ll finally be in the Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve, deep in the Amazon. It’s a great experience to be so far away from civilization and completely disconnected from the outside world (also due to a lack of electricity and mobile service). Get prepared to connect with nature and to see many monkeys, sloths, spiders, snakes and insects! On your days in the Amazon, you can join various activities – including a night walk (scary!), a day walk, canoe tours, a visit to a local village and bird watching. My highlight was a sunset swim in the middle of a lagoon – a truly magical experience.
34. Parola Island in Camarines Norte, Philippines
Contributed by Maria Rona Beltran, mariaronabeltran.com
Have you ever been to a place so raw and otherworldly-looking that it’s better to keep it to yourself? At one point, that’s what I wish for Parola Island in Camarines Norte. Unlike the famed Calaguas island which is located in the same province, this beach gem is frequented by locals alone. Shaped like a long tadpole, Parola is an island of many faces. If you want to swim, you can do so in the parts where the shore is a mix of pearlescent and golden brown color. If you want to snorkel, go to the other side where the sand is pinkish. If you’re searching for Instagrammable spots, you can have your photo taken at these charcoal-colored rock formations that can deceive someone’s eyes thinking you’re in another planet or in front of coconut trees planted in straight line.
You can effortlessly catch a fish here. Just throw a makeshift fishing rod (stick not included) with a bait as far as you can to the sea, wait for a few minutes then pull it back. In no time, you’ll have a squiggling fish for lunch. Bring your own tent because there’s only one cottage on the island.
35. Driving through Western Australia
Contributed by Claire Martin, Claire’s Footsteps
Tell someone you’re heading on a trip to Australia, and they’ll most likely think you’re exploring the East Coast. But if you’re looking for a unique adventure, I’d really recommend taking on the Perth to Broome drive on Australia’s West Coast.
Western Australia is spread out and unpopulated, but this means that its beauty is pure and not affected by mass tourism – and quite often, you’ll have fantastic spots all to yourself. Western Australia is where the red outback meets the blue sea and is home to fantastic national parks with dramatic gorges, beautiful swimming holes and extensive walking tracks.
It’s also one of the best places in the world to go four wheel driving and accommodates the Ningaloo Reef, Australia’s not-so-well known second coral reef where you can snorkel, dive or, if you’re there in the right season, swim with whale sharks.
There’s no doubt about it, Western Australia is a fantastic place for an adventure – and once you’ve finished a day’s exploring, you can enjoy a local beer while watching the sun descend into the Indian Ocean, turning the sky a mix of oranges, pinks and reds in the process.
36. Driving with a motorcycle across Vietnam
Contributed by Mike Still, Live Travel Teach
The best adventure to embark on in 2018 is flying to Vietnam, buying a motorcycle and driving it from one end of the country to the other. Many people try to do the drive in 2-4 weeks but I enjoyed having 6 weeks to stop more. Plus we still had to skip some things so better yet, throw out your calendar before you get to Vietnam because everything here will make you want to stay longer in this beautiful country.
Vietnam has some of the most beautiful places in the world with magnificent waterfalls, beaches, temples, caves and tropical islands. Driving yourself by motorbike means that you can stop at each and every wonderful destination along the way. In case you were curious, some off the beaten path highlights were Cat Tien National Park, Phong Nha, Cat Ba Island and Ban Gioc Waterfall. You can find the mainstream spots on Google 😉
Many backpackers drive a motorcycle across Vietnam as a right of passage into Southeast Asia and the good news is that it’s cheap and easy to organize. I recommend some motorbike experience before driving in cities and stay off Highway 1, big trucks are scary. This trip will certainly be the best adventure you have in 2018 so be careful and have fun!
37. Finally, my personal recommendation this year is to ‘wine and dine’ in the Golan Heights
Last year, I recommended Jordan as one of the best places to visit in 2017 but I’m rooting for its neighbour this year. Together with 5 other travel bloggers, I was fortunate enough to join the Vibe Israel Travel Tour 2016 and was surprised that there was more to Israel than Jerusalem.
The Golan Heights, Israel’s wine country is probably my favourite in the 7-day blogger trip. We started the day with a dirt road drive through rough roads and vineyards in the area. When we reached the top where huge windmills were located, we were greeted with a treat: the best of the Golan Heights Winerywhites plus a selection of fruits and cheeses.
By noon, we were taken to a private vineyard where we had the chance to cook our own lunch under the supervision of Chef Nir Margalith of Puzzle Israel. We savoured the afternoon with Israeli cuisines and of course, wine.
As if we didn’t have enough wine in our system (we were drinking since noon that day), The Golan Heights Winery invited us for another treat – wine tasting in their very own factory. In here, we got a chance to have a private tasting with the cool winery peeps that gave us nothing but the best experience.
Did you know that wine civilisation started in this area? Not really in Israel but no matter how many regions and countries in the world are claiming wine originated from them, it is definitely Assyrian. I wonder why every time wine comes up, it’s always France, Italy, Argentina, Chile, Australia, South Africa and not Israel or Syria. No matter how famous these countries are for wine, as a wine enthusiast, I think Israel’s wine country should be on that map.