As international tourist numbers are expected to reach record numbers once again this year, the search for new and exciting places to visit has become an increasingly difficult challenge – especially for those seeking to avoid the tourist crowds. The vast range of destinations that are now accessible to us can be overwhelming, so we have taken the trouble to highlight the best places to travel in 2017:

Bosnia & Herzegovina

Undoubtedly one the most beautiful counties in the Balkan region, Bosnia and Herzegovina achieved notoriety for the armed conflict that took place there during the 1990s. However, the country is currently experiencing a mini-renaissance and 2017 is certainly the time to visit before too many rediscover this wonderful place. The towns of Mostar, Visegrad, and Blagaj are all splendid examples of what the region has to offer in terms of natural scenery and culture, and an added bonus is that 4 and 5-star accommodation can still easily be found at reasonable prices even during the popular summer season.

Where to stay: Malak Regency Hotel (Sarajevo)

Bosnia & Herzegovina

Cambodia

Like Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cambodia has suffered from negative perceptions due to its infamously dark episodes in 20th century history. Nonetheless, this intriguing Southeast Asian country is now one of the fastest growing destinations in the region due its ancient culture and rapidly improving infrastructure. Thus, it’s arguably more important than ever to explore this fascinating place and to see its rich tapestry of cultural heritage sites and stunning rural backdrops. Cambodia has retained its authenticity in ways that popular destinations in Thailand or Malaysia can no longer reciprocate. A visit to Angkor Wat is an absolute must for anyone with a thirst for spirituality and mystic adventures too.

Where to stay: Phum Baitang (Siem Reap) & Song Saa Private Island (Koh Ouen)

Phum Baitang, Cambodia

Chile

Chile remains one of South America’s better kept secrets. Whilst many first-time visitors to the continent will opt for Brazil, Argentina or Peru, this exceptionally diverse county will certainly be one of the most exciting places to visit in 2017 – especially for those seeking to avoid the tourist crowds. Santiago, the capital city, is home to an eclectic array of fascinating experiences including beautiful parks, cathedrals, museums, and a growing number of gourmet restaurants that will no doubt expose visitors to the country’s excellent wine too. Beyond Santiago, Chile also boasts a range of amazing national parks including the awe-inspiring Parque Nacional Torres del Paine and Parque Nacional Villarrica.

Where to stay: Tierra Patagonia Hotel and spa (Torres del Paine), Hotel Vira Vira (Pucon)

Chile landscape

Colombia

The second South American destination on our list, Columbia is one of the best surprises the continent has to offer. Tourism continues to grow steadily in Colombia and there has never been a better time to visit this charming and friendly country. Highlights include the cosmopolitan city of Bogota, which is rich in culture and home to a number of impressive museums and galleries, Medellin, and the coastal city of Cartagena. Here, you’ll step back in time to one of South America’s oldest cities and experience an interesting array of cultural heritage sites dating back to Spanish colonial times. The serene Tayrona National Natural Park is also worthy of a visit for those in search of picture perfect beaches and a fascinating abundance of wildlife.

Where to stay: Hotel Casa San Agustin (Cartagena)

Cartagena, Columbia

Mongolia

Mongolia is quite simply one of the most incredible locations on the planet. This year will see the completion of a new international airport in the country’s capital, Ulaanbaatar, which will make travel to this amazing country easier than ever. Mongolia is famous for its vast mountainous landscapes and endless grasslands, as well as a unique nomadic culture. A popular choice for many tourists includes horseback riding through its deeply remote terrains, and Ulaanbaatar has recently seen the emergence of several luxury hotels. There can be few better options to discover and experience incredible scenery than a visit to Mongolia.

Where to stay: Shangri La Hotel Ulaanbaatar (Ulaanbaatar), Terelj Hotel (Gorkhi-Terelj National Park)

Mongolia landscape

Myanmar

Myanmar may still seem like a surprising choice for a tourist destination but the country has encountered significant tourist growth in recent years. The country has a fascinating array of historical sites and an ancient culture that remains largely authentic even today. In recent times, Yangon in particular has opened a range of high-end hotels and resorts that will enable you to balance both exceptional comfort and a rustic Southeast Asian charm. The hot air balloon rides over the ancient city of Bagan are a once in a lifetime experience not to be missed!

Where to stay: Belmond Governor’s Residence (Yangon)

Myanmar

Belize

Undoubtedly one of the most beautiful countries in Central America, Belize is famous for its exotic wildernesses and incredible beaches. This small nation also offers an incredible array of options for those with a penchant for snorkeling and diving (the Great Blue Hole is an absolute must-see). Belize is additionally home to a number of significant Mayan ruins including Xunantunich and Altun Ha, making this a perfect location for those in search of both natural and human wonders.

Where to stay: Itz’ana Resort & Residences (Placencia)

The Great Blue Hole, Belize

Rwanda

Despite one of the worst human atrocities occurring here only 22 years ago, Rwanda is synonymous with dense rainforests and of course, mountain gorillas. With the opening of Wilderness Safari Bisate Lodge, one of the most anticipated hotel launches for 2017, it has never been easier to encounter a touch of luxury as you experience the country’s truly spectacular range of diverse flora and fauna. Rwanda will certainly be one of the finest ecotourism destinations of 2017.

Where to stay: Wilderness Safari Bisate Lodge (on the edge of Volcanoes National Park)

Mountain gorilla, Rwanda

Bhutan

Bhutan is an awe-inspiring mountain kingdom located in the majestic Himalayas. Due to its geographical isolation, Bhutan has always been one of the more difficult countries to reach and consequently (and rather fortunately) it has remained largely unchanged for centuries. The stunning backdrops are complemented by a range of spiritual heritage sites including Buddhist monasteries and temples. Highlights include Taktshang Goemba (more commonly known as Tiger’s Nest Monastery) and the beautiful Punakha Dzong.

Where to stay: Amankora (Bumthang), Six Senses Bhutan (across five locations) 

Bhutan

Oman

Oman is still of one the Middle East’s hidden gems, offering an exciting blend of ancient cultural and natural beauty. The country’s fascinating combination of windswept deserts, vast mountains, and untouched beaches offer a touch of Arabian exoticness and mystery that can be difficult to find elsewhere in the region. Moreover, Oman’s enticing range of luxury resorts will provide you a wonderful sense of escapism and serenity, making it one of the best places you can experience this year.

Where to stay: The Chedi (Muscat), Alila Jabal Akhdar (Al Hajar Mountains), Six Senses Zighy Bay (Dibba)

Alila Jabal Akhdar, Oman

Madagascar

Madagascar is arguably one of the most inspiring places in the world for any visitor with a thirst for adventure and a keen interest in nature and rare wildlife. It is home to an abundance of national parks, pristine beaches and several remote islands off the mainland. The islands of Nosy Be and Nosy Anko are considered two of the most exclusive locations in the country and are growing considerably both in reputation and tourist demand. However, there is even more to this incredible African island than its wonderful natural environments. Other highlights include the developing culinary scene in Antananarivo which will expose you to a unique and exciting range of Malagasy, French, and Asian fusion dishes.

Where to stay: Miavana Island Sanctuary (Nosy Anko)

Madagascar safari

Jerusalem

A fascinating city that caters for a wide range of tastes and interests, Jerusalem should seriously be considered for a luxury city break this year. With a range of hip hotel choices, you can now stay in style whilst exploring the very best of what this ancient city has to offer. Although Jerusalem has received its fair share of negative press in recent times, the city remains wonderfully vibrant. Visitors can experience an incredibly varied range of attractions that go beyond the cultural hotspots one might expect. Like Tel Aviv, Jerusalem’s buzzing night life is attracting the cool crowd with exotic culinary experiences and cocktail bars. The city also boasts a thriving contemporary art scene and an array of chic boutiques.

Where to stay: Mamilla Hotel

Jersualem skyline

Jordan

Jordan is well-known as being the host country of the ancient, hidden city of Petra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that should be on every traveller’s bucket list. Nonetheless, there is much more to this timeless Middle Eastern country than meets the eye and future visitors will be pleasantly surprised at the depth of activities they can engage in. The capital city, Amman, hosts an eclectic range of Roman ruins, beautiful mosques and museums that will comfortably meet the demands of those in search of a little cultural immersion. However, Amman is also a highly contemporary city that offers a range of shopping precincts, marketplaces, and coffee shops too – ensuring that the city is a beautiful blend of both the ancient and the modern.

Where to stay: Movenpick Resort and Spa Dead Sea (Ammam), Ma’In Hot Springs Resort (Madaba) and Movenpick Resort Petra (Wadi Musa)

Petra, Jordan

Hamburg

Hamburg is not a place many would automatically assume to be one of the best European cities to visit in 2017. However, Hamburg is experiencing a phase of rejuvenation and is rapidly becoming one of the hippest cities in Germany. The Schanzenviertel quarter is now home to a vibrant spectrum of cafes, bars, boutiques and multicultural cuisines, whilst the district of HafenCity (formerly a derelict port area) is now home to a curious range of postmodern architecture that houses museums, concert halls and fine-dining options by the waterfront.

Where to stay: The Fontenay

Hamburg

Gareth Butler

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