- Wondering what countries are going to be the ones to watch out for in 2010? Starting your wishlist of places you want to visit and thinking what destinations to put on? Read where Hostelworld.com’s Colm Hanratty believes will be the hotspots for the next twelve months and more.
When speaking to intrepid travellers who have backpacked their way around South America, if you come across one who has been lucky enough to have visited Colombia, and you ask them what their favourite country was, nine times that’s where they’ll say was their favourite country. “Aww mate...it’s not as dangerous as everybody thinks”; “the people are so friendly”. This is what people say who have been there. Here you can explore Bogota, the city’s vibrant capital which is well known for its museums and nightlife. You can also visit San Agustin, home to a World Heritage listed archaeological site and its coastal city Cartagena, widely regarded as its most charming.
South Africa isn’t the only country that will benefit from the imminent World Cup which takes place there in 2010 – other African countries will reap the benefits when the ‘Greatest Show on Earth’ rolls into the continent for the very first time. One of these is sure to be Kenya. Here you can gaze at awe-inspiring mountain peaks, go roughing it in one of the country’s numerous national parks, or catch waves on one of the beaches along its coastline. The base point for exploring this extremely diverse country is Nairobi, a busy and thriving city that can captivate you in minutes. From here your checklist should include the peaks of Mt Kenya National Park, the ruins of Gede on the country’s coastline, and speaking of the coast, you can’t visit without exploring the country’s very own archipelago at Lamu.
For years receiving bad press about being one of Europe’s ‘most expensive cities’, for those of you who have downed pints of ‘the Black Stuff’ in Dublin’s infamous Temple Bar, or sipped on frothy cappuccinos along the streets of Paris, Sweden isn’t really that expensive in comparison. The capital is one of the only cities in the world where you can go island-hopping, as Stockholm is built on 14 main islands, although there are hundreds other to explore. Cities aside, Karlstad is the gateway to Sweden’s Varmland which is renowned for its outdoor activities, while on the Bohuslan Coast just north of Gothenburg on Sweden’s west coast you will discover glaciers and more.
The first of two South-East Asian countries in my list, while thousands of backpackers pour on to the streets of Bangkok’s Khao San Road every year, many explore the region’s other countries but startlingly, many still don’t. If you are planning your trip here, place Cambodia next on the list. Straddling the Mekong River, Phnom Penh may not have the attractions of Kuala Lumpur or Bangkok, but is a fascinating city nonetheless and one that won’t fail to grab you. Here you can also visit the ‘killing fields’ as the film of the same name was shot in the area. From there most backpackers make a beeline for Siem Reap, the city that acts as gateway to the famous temples of Angkor Wat. Oh, and of course there are beaches, golden ones at that which are in Sihanoukville.
Few countries in Europe boast as beautiful a coastline as Croatia. This is largely due to the country’s Adriatic Coast which spans from just south of Dubrovnik, the ‘pearl of the Adriatic’, to past the ancient city of Pula up north. The aforementioned Dubrovnik is one of Europe’s most enchanting cities, with its walled Old Town and pebbled beaches. From here you can explore the country’s islands – the World Heritage listed Hvar which is also suitable for hedonists, Korcula which is a miniature Dubrovnik on an island, and the world-famous ‘Zlatni Rat’ (Golden Horn) beach in Bol on the island of Brac. And if you need a bit of city life after so much sun and sea, Split and the capital Zagreb will provide you destinations to choose from for a city break.
If you love the water, then you’ll love Belize. This country in Central America is blessed with pure blue seas (and skies a lot of the time also), making it the perfect place if you want a holiday full of snorkelling, diving, swimming, kayaking, or other aquatic activities. If you’re not one who’s at total ease in the water you can enjoy the hustle and bustle of Belize City, the country’s capital, or travel inland to go trekking through the jungle. If Central America is on your ‘to-do list’, make sure Belize is a on your itinerary.
7. New Zealand
I know what you might be thinking – “New Zealand? Really? Surely this isn’t a hidden secret and is already a hotspot?” You’d think wouldn’t you? But in recent times backpackers heading down under have kept their travels to a minimum and once they’ve hit Australia they’ve left it at that, choosing not to make the short journey to New Zealand. What mistakes they are making! Few landscapes can take your breath away like New Zealand’s. On the North Island you’ll be amazed by lakes and Maori culture, while on the South Island is where you’ll witness some of the world’s most dramatic scenery. Watch this space – 2010 is the year you’ll be hearing a lot about New Zealand again, and won’t be thanks to a bunch of hobbits.
Backpackers who travel around Mediterranean Europe regularly make the small trip over to North Africa. But when they do it’s usually to Morocco. In 2010 it’s a different North African country that people will begin to explore in the shape of Tunisia. Widely regarded as that little bit less hectic than its northern counterpart, Tunisia boasts beaches, deserts and busy cities to explore. The capital is Tunis, a city with many influences which are evident around its old and new towns. Other highlights of this fascinating country include Tataouine, inspiration for one of the planets in George Lucas’ Star Wars, Hammamet, one of the country’s best-known resorts, and the holy city of Qairouan.
The second South-East Asian country to make it in to our list of where to watch in 2010, your first experience of Malaysia will more than likely be Kuala Lumpur, the country’s capital better-known as KL. A hectic city with chaotic traffic and great shopping, it’s also home to great eating on a budget, particularly along Jalan Alor in the city’s ‘Golden Triangle’ area. Malaysia also boasts tranquil beaches, many of which are found on Langkawi its most popular island. As you’d expect, here it’s crystal clear waters and golden beaches. If you want to let your adventurous side take over, you can explore jungles in Endau-Rompin National Park and Taman Negara National Park. It is an amazing country that ticks many, many boxes.
Bordered by the Black Sea to the north, and the Mediterranean Sea to the south, Turkey enjoys sun-kissed beaches, bustling cities, and ancient ruins among others. The country’s capital is Ankara, a city which is home to 4 million people and one that has been the capital since 1922. But this isn’t Turkey’s most-visited country – instead that is Istanbul, home to mosques, buzzing nightlife and numerous museums. Those who have travelled here in the past always rave about other highlights such as Antalya near the Bey Mountains and the ancient city of Olympus which dates back to the 2nd Century BC.