Lonely Planet have released their annual list of the hottest countries to travel next year. We like the sound of Switzerland, New Caledonia and Denmark, but which country made the top spot? And which countries have you visited?
Uganda may be best known for dictator Idi Amin, but according to Lonely Planet, this is the hottest country to travel to in 2012. Seek out the source of the Nile, as well as the wildlife.
Following the release of Aung San Suu Kyi in late 2010, the National League for Democracy began to encourage independent travel in Myanmar, formerly Burma. If you’re looking for off-the-beaten-track, it doesn’t get better than this.
There’s a hint of sadness in Ukrainian cities like Odessa and Kiev, but Lonely Planet hope you’ll get over it. The beauty of their wide boulevards and grand buildings (to rival Paris or Prague) is still apparent, despite various stages of disrepair. Ukraine will be co-hosting the Euro 2012 soccer championships during June and July, so plan travels accordingly (or get tickets now!).
The ‘Red Rose city’ of Petra should be on everyone’s bucket list, and if you’ve been hesitant in visiting the Middle East, Jordan is considered one of the most open and welcoming nations in the region.
Denmark is one of the loveliest Scandinavian countries, with a gorgeous capital, Copenhagen (foodies should book a meal at Noma, the world’s top restaurant). Look out for Queen Mary near the Palace.
Technically, independent travel doesn’t exist in Bhutan – you have to book a guide (the itinerary comes in at $US200 a day) – but this is far from a coach trip experience. Bhutan is one of those pinch-me destinations, from the mountains to the Buddhist temples, that will leave you with serious bragging rights.
Cuba is a photographer’s wet dream, from the old cars to the colourful bars. Stay with a family to really get the most out of this socialist state.
8. New Caledonia
Three hours from Australia’s east coast, and you have one of my favourite spots. Noumea is often dubbed the ‘Paris of the South Pacific’ but it really isn’t (despite the fabulous pain au chocolate). What it is, is a charming small town with stunning beaches, which become even more glorious when you hop over to the islands, like Ile des Pins or the Loyalty Islands. Or rent a car and discover the cigar-shaped mainland – stay with a local family in a gite for real hospitality and superb food.
Taiwan is becoming one of Asia’s biggest drawcards, with so much packed into the one small island. It has the energy you expect of Asia, the amazing food culture, and scenery that hasn’t yet been photographed to death.
Switzerland has been left off many European itineraries in the past decade, as travellers continue to explore Italy, France and Spain or the lesser-known Eastern European countries more accessible now thanks to budget airlines. But Lonely Planet say the chocolate-and-watch country shouldn’t be missed. Fondue, anyone?
Which of these 2012 destinations have you visited?