Time to travel

Eight fascinating places to visit in 2017

December 30, 2016 01:42 AM The Week Bureau


The year 2016 is coming to an end and as people gear up to make New Year resolutions, it’s likely that travel plans are also being made for the upcoming year. For those would-be travelers vowing to see more of the world rather than just sticking to the tried and tested destinations that everyone seems to be going to year after year, there are plenty of places to consider. With the help of travel enthusiasts and agencies, Isha Bista rounds up a few places you should definitely visit this coming year.

Guatemala
Guatemala should be world famous. It should appear on bucket lists as frequently as Peru or South Africa or Egypt. It should be known for ancient ruins such as Tikal, for natural attractions like Lake Atitlan, for colonial towns like Antigua, and even for bustling mountain top hubs like Quetzaltenango.

But it’s not, which is good news for visitors, because it means there are fewer people to share it with – an ideal place to go to if don’t want a chaotic vacation. Lake Atitlan is not only surrounded by volcanoes, but also by charming little villages like San Marcos and San Pedro. The best time to travel would be from November to April.

Spain 
Even if you’ve already been to Spain, this destination is worth getting to know better. Each region has its own cuisine, its own traditions, and very often its own language too.

Get off the tourist trail next year and visit more remote regions such as Galicia and Asturias on the north coast, or Extremadura and Castilla la Mancha in the south. The Camino de Santiago, a pilgrim’s trail from the Basque country in Spain’s north-east to the city of Santiago de Compostela in its far west, is becoming a popular way to see the country. Summers are hot in the south, and winters cold in the north. Otherwise, you can visit year-round.

South Korea
Korea has been on the cusp of a tourism boom for some time, and 2017 might just be its year. This is, after all, a country rich with culture, though one that has often had to live in the shadow of its more well-known neighbor, Japan.

But Korea can hold its own, in terms of food, culture, city life, and for the sheer foreignness that makes this area so interesting. There’s more to Korean food than barbecue – try bibimbap, the fried-rice dish, or Korean-style fried chicken, or anything with kimchi. This place can be a foodie’s paradise. Autumn and spring are the best times to visit. 

Russia
Despite a recent slew of bad press for Russia, including its athletes doping and its politicians possibly plotting world domination, this is a country you want to visit in 2017.

As it gears up to host the FIFA World Cup in 2018, Russia is ready to show the world how much it has to offer: it’s a country of high culture and world-class sights, a seemingly impenetrable place that rewards those who give it a chance. The best of Russia can be seen from the window of the Trans-Siberian train. The months from April to September are the best times to visit this alluring place. 

Thailand 
You’ve probably been to Thailand, to Bangkok, or Chiang Mai, or to islands like Koh Samui or Koh Phi-Phi, but there’s more to discover in this fascinating part of the world, particularly for those prepared to get off the beaten track.

Every region of Thailand offers different food, different culture, and a different attitude. Each is worth discovering. The Isan region in Thailand’s north-east boasts some of the country’s tastiest – and fieriest – cuisine. And now Thailand is even more accessible with Nepalis being granted visa on arrival. The best months to visit Thailand are from September to April. 

Finland
Fought over by Russia and Sweden for 800 years, Finland finally gained independence in 1917. The Finns will celebrate their centenary with gusto, with events planned in every region.

Expect everything from al fresco concerts and communal culinary experiences to sauna evenings and vintage-travel-poster exhibitions. There’s even a new national park, an 11,000-hectare chunk of land in Hossa, studded with pine forests and crisscrossed with rivers. With the country also playing host to the World Figure Skating Championships and the Nordic World Ski Championships this year, there’s never been a better time to discover Finland’s proudly unique culture and landscapes.

Myanmar
Change has been a long time coming in the nation also known as Burma, but the election of the first civilian government in half a century has all eyes on the future.

No one is pretending that all Myanmar’s problems have gone away, but things are moving in the right direction, and Southeast Asia’s most secretive country is poised to receive an influx of travelers. Visiting comes with challenges, but the reward is a window onto a vanishing Asia, where the difficulties of travel are part of the appeal, and where life moves to the timeless rhythm of chanting monks and monastery bells.

Honduras
Honduras gets a bad reputation as one of the most dangerous countries in the world, which puts a lot of people off from traveling there.

However those who have been there say it’s a beautiful country with a huge amount to offer in nature, history and culture. The high altitude provides fresh, cool air and mountainous landscapes that are home to the best Mayan ruin sites. Honduras has everything from cheap hostels to expensive hotels and everything in between, with the best food found on the streets or in tiny street-side cafes. For nature lovers, there are many beautiful natural hot springs to enjoy. You will be happy you gave Honduras a chance when you get there. 


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