An old adage among travelers is the more you travel, the more you realize there’s so much of the world you have yet to discover. Have you figured out what places you’re going to discover this 2018? If you haven’t yet, we recommend that you include these 14 places in your travel itinerary for 2018.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
2018 is an exciting year to visit Buenos Aires. If you’re an artist or a supporter of the arts, you can look forward to the first-ever Art Basel Cities public arts program. This arts program is the product of a recent partnership between the city government of Buenos Aires and Arts Basel. The partnership’s aim is to promote the rich cultural and artistic heritage of Buenos Aires to a global audience. The Art Basel Cities public arts program includes forums, workshops, coaching sessions and musical performances. It will be held on September 11 to 16, 2018.
If you’re into sports, then you should visit Buenos Aires in October 6 to 18, when the city will be hosting the 2018 Summer Youth Olympic Games. More than 3,000 athletes from over 200 countries will be participating in the Games. Events include competitions in aquatics, athletics, basketball, boxing, golf, gymnastics, karate, tennis, weightlifting, and many others.
While you’re in Buenos Aires, don’t forget the sights the city is famous for. Among these sights you need to visit are the enchanting Carlos Thays Botanical Garden, the historic Plaza de Mayo, and the lively Plaza Dorrego. And if you have time for more adventures, pass by Iguazu Falls, the Niagara of South America, on the border between Argentina and Brazil.
How to get to Buenos Aires: The Ministro Pistarini International Airport serves flights from major cities in Europe, North America, Central America, South America, and the Middle East.
Why should you visit Sydney this 2018? If you’re a fan of ballet, the one big reason that could draw you to this city Down Under is the return home of the Australian Ballet on March 2018. But there’s more to this year’s Australian ballet season than that. The Australian Ballet comes home to a newly renovated Joan Sutherland Theater, with its upgraded theater equipment, acoustics, and other new features. These new features are sure to enhance anyone’s experience of watching ballet.
The renovation of the Joan Sutherland Theater is part of the Sydney Opera House renewal project. This project is designed to revitalize the Australian icon and adapt it for 21st-century audiences. Partially funded by the New South Wales government, the project is expected to reach full completion by 2021.
The Australian Ballet is just one of the many performances slated at the Sydney Opera House. If ballet is not your thing, you can check out other events scheduled at SOH this year. The popular Vivid Sydney light and sound show is also set to transform Sydney into a gigantic, awe-inspiring light installation from May 25 to June 16 this year. Other Sydney attractions you can look into are:
- Sydney Harbour Bridge, which you can climb if you dare
- Bondi Beach, a haven for surfers
- Spice Alley, where you can taste authentic Asian food
- Sea Life Sydney Aquarium, home to 13,000 aquatic creatures belonging to more than 700 species
- Royal National Park, a coastal bushland where you’ll find the Instagram-worthy Wedding Cake Rock
How to get to Sydney: Sydney (Kingsford Smith) Airport handles international flights from major cities in Asia, the Middle East, North America, South America, Africa, and Europe.
Located 3,800 meters above sea level in the northern Bhutan, the village of Laya is the country’s highest settlement. It’s also one of the most remote. There are no roads leading to the village, and you’ll have to do a three-day trek to get there. But if interacting with peoples with a unique identity and culture fascinates you, you’ll trek to Laya. This is also the place where the Royal Highlander Games are held.
The Royal Highlander Games is an initiative of the Bhutanese government to promote the culture of the Layap people to the world at large. The Layap people are the traditional inhabitants of Laya, who follow a semi-nomadic way of life. The Games include marathons, horse racing, martial arts, and other traditional feats of strength and cunning among the Layap. Lots of traditional food is also served during the Games.
The three-day trek to Laya may seem daunting, but it’s totally worth it. You’ll get to see some of the most pristine scenery in the world on your way to the village. While you’re in Bhutan, make the most of your journey by visiting:
- Gangtey Valley, a beautiful valley considered to be “the last Shangri-La on Earth”
- Punakha Dzong, or “Palace of Great Happiness,” a magnificent white fortress surrounded by purple jacaranda trees
- Tiger’s Nest Monastery, a cliffside monastery in a forest of blue pines, considered to be the birthplace of Buddhism in Bhutan
How to get to Laya: Aside from the three-day trek to the village, you need to consider the fact that you can only enter Bhutan through a tour operator. There are plenty of tour operators accredited by the Tourism Council of Bhutan.
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Cambodia’s capital city has been getting a lot of press lately, thanks to the Netflix original film First They Killed My Father. This movie directed by Angelina Jolie is based on a memoir of the same name by Loung Ung. Jolie and Ung co-wrote the screenplay, and the film was chosen as Cambodia’s entry to the 90th Academy Awards’ best foreign language film category.
First They Killed My Father brought to the world’s attention once more the horrors of the Khmer Rouge regime. The regime resulted in the infamous Cambodian genocide, in which three million Cambodians were estimated to have died or been killed between 1975 to 1979. The Khmer Rouge sites and the gory history behind them have drawn tourists to Cambodia.
Most famous of these sites are the Choeung Ek Killing Fields and the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum. The Choeung Ek Killing Fields is the gravesite of 17,000 victims of the Khmer Rouge and the subject of the film The Killing Fields. The Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum is a former high school building the Khmer Rouge used as a prison. Some 17,000 Cambodians were tortured and killed there. Their names, photographs and manner of death are documented in this museum.
Not all tourist attractions in Cambodia have anything to do with the bloody Khmer Rouge regime, of course. While you’re in Cambodia, make it a point to stop at Angkor Wat, the majestic temple complex near Siem Reap. If you feel like partying at the beach, spend a few days hanging out at the beach resort town of Sihanoukville.
How to get to Phnom Penh: Phnom Penh International Airport handles mostly flights from major cities in Asia and the Middle East.
If you love the Great Outdoors, you have a big reason to visit Canada’s Newfoundland and Labrador Province. Parks Canada is in the process of establishing the country’s newest national park, the Akami-uapishku-KakKasuak-Mealy Mountains National Reserve. The new nature reserve covers 10,700 square kilometers and is poised to become Canada’s largest national park.
Mealy Mountains National Reserve centers around the Mealy Mountains, granite peaks that rise some 3,500 feet above sea level. The reserve also covers part of the Labrador coastline, particularly the silver-streaked Wonderstrands beach. Wonderstrands is believed to be Furđustrandir, the beach where Erik the Red landed in the Viking saga named after him. The rugged terrain around Mealy Mountains is also one of the few places where black bears and polar bears co-exist. The coastline of this new national park is a popular place to watch icebergs and whales during daytime and aurora borealis at night.
While you’re in Newfoundland and Labrador, you might as well visit the other national parks in the province and enjoy this wild and enchanting terrain to its fullest. You can visit Torngat Mountains National Park and join the Inuit in a spiritual trek. You can ride the rapids at Terra Nova National Park. You an also drink in the majestic serenity of Gros Morne National Park.
How to get to Akami-uapishku-KakKasuak-Mealy Mountains National Reserve: The closest airport to Mealy Mountains is CFB Goose Bay in Happy Valley-Goose Bay. You can fly there via Montreal, Halifax, Deer Lake, and St. John. You can drive to the park from the airport.
The recent years have not been kind to Egypt as far as tourism goes. Since the Arab Spring of 2011, tourists have been hesitant to visit this ancient country for fear of their safety. But Egypt is now safer than in the past few years. More than that, there’s a new reason to visit Egypt if you’re a fan of antiquities, and that is the soft opening of the Grand Egyptian Museum in May 2018.
Located in Giza just two kilometers away from the Great Pyramids, the Grand Egyptian Museum will highlight the whole Tutankhamun collection. The collection includes the boy-king’s mummy, his famous golden mask, and all the artifacts found in his tomb, including items that were never displayed before. Not only that, this modern museum, with its floor space of 480,000 square meters, will house more antiquity items that have been in storage since they were uncovered.
Of course, while you’re in Egypt, you might as well visit the other revered places of antiquity in the country outside of Giza. These include the temples of Luxor and Karnak, the Valley of the Kings, the Valley of the Queens, and Mount Sinai. You can also enjoy the food and immerse in the nightlife in Cairo.
How to get to Cairo: Cairo International Airport is the main airport serving Cairo as well as the busiest airport in Egypt. The airport handles flights from major cities in Africa, the Middle East, and Europe.
Georgians will be in a festive mood this 2018, and they will want to share this festiveness with everyone visiting their country. That’s because May 26, 2018 is the centennial anniversary of their independence, and they’re commemorating the event with concerts and other events.
If you can’t make it to Tbilisi for Georgia’s Independence Day celebrations, you’ll have other reasons to visit the city in 2018. This highly underrated destination has so many sights worth seeing. Getting lost in the wandering alleys of Tbilisi’s medieval Old Town is an experience in itself. You can go on a pilgrimage of the city’s ancient Greek Orthodox Churches, including the Sameba Holy Trinity Cathedral of Tbilisi, the largest Greek Orthodox building outside of Russia. Other things you mustn’t miss on a visit to Georgia are the sulfur baths in the middle of Old Town and a cable car ride to the Mother Georgia Statue.
How to get to Tbilisi: The Shota Rustaveli Tbilisi International Airport handles flights from major cities in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and China.
Tokyo is all a-buzz this 2018. The city is in the midst of a transformation. For one, 2018 is the final year of Emperor Akihito’s reign. The Japanese Imperial Household Council has previously announced that the Emperor will abdicate in favor of his son Crown Prince Naruhito in 2019. For another, Japan will be hosting two major international sporting events in the coming years: the 2019 Rugby World Cup and the 2020 Summer Olympics. Construction is under way to upgrade Tokyo’s many sporting stadiums and facilities, many of which have been in use since the city first hosted the Olympics in 1964.
If you want to see more than the transformation of Tokyo as a modern Olympic city, you can visit the old favorites. Among these are the Imperial Palace Complex, the Sensoji Temple in Asakusa, Ueno Park, and Tokyo Skytree. And if the bustle of Tokyo becomes too overwhelming for you, you can head on to Iya Valley in Shikoku Island’s Tokushima Prefecture. Iya Valley is one of the most isolated places in Japan and is famous for its dramatic, rugged, mountainous terrain.
How to get to Tokyo: Tokyo Narita International Airport is one of the main gateways to Asia and counted among the busiest airports in the world. It handles flights from major cities across the globe. From Narita Airport, you can take a bus or train to Tokyo.
Malta may be a tiny archipelagic nation on the Mediterranean Sea, but it boasts of a rich and ancient heritage. Its history stretches back to the Neolithic period, as evidenced by the ancient megalithic structures found on its islands. Its culture is a blending of influences from the countries that colonized it over the centuries. Its capital city, Valletta, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has majestic medieval buildings dating back to the 1500s.
Despite its natural beauty and its multifaceted culture, Valletta isn’t getting enough love from tourists, unlike its neighbors like Sicily. In 2018, though, Valletta is finally getting its spotlight, having been declared the European Capital of Culture for the year. To celebrate, Valletta is hosting 400 events throughout the year, starting with the ECC opening ceremonies on January 20. The Opening Week coincides with the annual Valletta International Baroque Festival, a musical extravaganza that commemorates the baroque aspect of Malta’s culture.
If you can’t make it to Valletta in January, there are plenty more events to watch out for, like:
- The Maltese Carnival – February 9 to 13
- Valletta Film Festival – June 8 to 17
- Malta International Arts Festival – June 29 to July 14
- The Malta Jazz Festival – July 20 to 22
How to get to Valletta: Valletta is served by Malta International Airport, located in nearby Luqa. The airport serves flights from major cities around Europe as well as Dubai.
Mexico City, Mexico
2018 is a big year for Mexico City. The reason? It’s been declared the World Design Capital of 2018, the sixth city and the first in the Americas to be designated as such. Mexico City earned this prestigious designation for creating a socially responsible plan to keep the city livable and sustainable even as it grows bigger. The city has achieved this by implementing various health, communications, transportation, and security programs. These programs include improving traffic, installation of urban parks and playgrounds, and the revitalization of low-income areas.
To celebrate its new designation, Mexico City will host a number of events and programs throughout the year. Among these events and programs are an international design conference and related forums. Mexico City will also implement a number of cultural and academic programs on socially responsible city planning and design.
You don’t have to attend these events and programs to appreciate the beauty of Mexico City. Among the sights you shouldn’t miss while you’re in Mexico City are:
- Zocalo-Constitution Square, the central square that serves as a good starting point for any sightseeing in Mexico City. It’s flanked by the National Palace, the Templo Mayor, and the Metropolitan Cathedral.
- Square of Three Cultures, the site of the ancient Aztec city of Tlatelolco that’s now filled with Aztec ruins, Mexican baroque buildings, and modern city towers.
- Chapultepec Park, Mexico City’s main urban park. It’s also where you’ll find the city’s leading museums, such as the National History Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, and the National Museum of Anthropology.
How to get to Mexico City: Mexico City International Airport is Mexico City’s main airport and the busiest airport in Latin America. It handles flights from major cities in the Americas, Europe, and East Asia.
Johannesburg, South Africa
If he’s still alive today, freedom fighter and anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela would have turned 100 years old on his birthday on July 18, 2018. To celebrate his centenary, both the Nelson Mandela Foundation and the South African government will hold a number of cultural events commemorating Madiba’s extraordinary life and legacy. These events will be held all over South Africa.
A number of international institutions and organizations would be participating too. For example, Habitat for Humanity will build 100 homes in the South African provinces of Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, and Western Cape for the centenary. Glasgow will unveil a statue of the South African icon at his namesake Nelson Mandela Place. Gresham College’s Professor Elleke Boehmer will hold a lecture entitled “Nelson Mandela in the 21st Century” at the Museum of London.
Aside from attending the events scheduled for his centenary, you can pay tribute to Nelson Mandela by going on a tour of the South African attractions related to him and his memory. These include Constitution Hill in Johannesburg, the Nelson Mandela Youth and Heritage Center in Qunu, and the Mandela House Museum in Soweto.
How to get to Johannesburg: O.R. Tambo International Airport is the main airport serving Johannesburg. It’s also the main gateway to South Africa and the country’s busiest airport. O.R. Tambo Airport serves flights from major cities in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and North America.
Pyeongchang, South Korea
The eyes of the sporting world will be focused on Pyeongchang, South Korea this year. This mountain resort town will host two major international sports events in 2018, none other than the Winter Olympics and the Winter Paralympics. Representatives from 90 countries will be participating in 102 events covering seven winter sports disciplines for the Winter Olympics on February 9 to 25. For the Winter Paralympics on March 9 to 18, athletes from 42 nations will compete in 80 events in five disciplines.
Pyeongchang has long been considered the Alps of South Korea. South Koreans and tourists alike head there every winter to ski and enjoy the snow. The town has numerous ski resorts, the largest of which is Yong Pyong Ski Resort. Yong Pyong shall host many of the 2018 Olympiad events.
If you’re not into skiing or snow sports, there are still plenty of things you can do when visiting Pyeongchang. The town is within the neighborhood of Seoraksan National Park, a protected area designated as a UNESCO Biosphere Preservation District. Seoraksan is home to 2,000 animal species as well as 1,400 plant species, many of which are rare and not found elsewhere. It’s a popular destination for mountain hikers and nature lovers.
You can also go temple-hopping in Pyeongchang. Seoraksan National Park has two Buddhist temples within its premises, namely Baekdamsa Temple and Sinheungsa Temple. The treasure-filled Woljeongsa Temple is another Buddhist temple you shouldn’t miss when visiting this mountain town.
How to get to Pyeongchang: The best way to get to Pyeongchang is to fly to Seoul via Incheon International Airport. From Incheon, you can ride a bus or train to Pyeongchang. If you take the bus, it will drop you off at the bus station right within Pyeongchang itself. If you take the train, you will need to stop at the city of Wonju and then catch a bus ride to Pyeongchang.
New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
Why do you need to visit New Orleans in Louisiana this 2018? Well, this grand old city will turn 300 years old this year. And because one of the many adages close to New Orleanians’ hearts is “Laissez les bon temps rouler” or “let the good times roll,” you can expect them to celebrate their city’s tricentennial in style.
Resilience is naturally the theme of the New Orleans Tricentennial. The city after all has survived a number of disasters throughout its history, Hurricane Katrina being among the most recent. The year-long events slated for the Tricentennial highlight the city and its people’s gift for overcoming hardships and obstacles without losing the buoyancy of their spirit. Of course, other events in the lineup allows the New Orleanian sense of fun to shine. These events include jazz festivals and concerts, street parties, food, and even a burlesque opera.
While you’re in New Orleans, don’t forget to visit its popular attractions, such as:
- The French Quarter, the center of shopping, food, and nightlife in New Orleans
- The Garden District, where you’ll find many of the stately mansions belonging to the city’s oldest families
- Preservation Hall, the birthplace of jazz
How to get to New Orleans: The Louis Armstrong International Airport is New Orleans’ main airport. It handles mostly domestic flights, but it also serves flights from Cancun, Frankfurt, London, Punta Cana, and Toronto.
San Antonio, Texas, USA
Just like New Orleans, San Antonio in Texas is celebrating its 300th birthday in 2018. And because the people of San Antonio love a good fiesta, this birthday party is going to last the whole year. There’s something scheduled every single day in San Antonio this 2018 to commemorate the city’s long and rich history, heritage and diversity. These events include sports competitions, symposiums and lectures, beauty pageants, fashion shows, concerts, and music festivals.
When visiting San Antonio, you should make time to see these sights:
- The San Antonio River Walk, a promenade along the banks of San Antonio River, a favorite destination for leisurely strolls and river cruises.
- The Alamo, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most historically significant sights in the US. It’s also a synonym for last stands.
- Natural Bridge Caverns, a large cave system 30 minutes outside of San Antonio
- SeaWorld San Antonio, the largest SeaWorld aquatic theme park and home to numerous marine mammals, including dolphins, orcas, and whales
How to get to San Antonio: San Antonio International Airport handles mostly domestic flights. The only international flights it serves come from Guadalajara, Mexico City, and Toronto. You can get there via connecting flights from larger gateway airports like New York City and Los Angeles.
The year 2018 is an exciting year for traveling and seeing the world. Make sure to include these 14 fabulous destinations in your travel itinerary this year.
Until next time. Keep on traveling.