Nepal

Top 10 Countries to Visit in 2016

So, have you taken good resolutions for this new year? We all know that it is usually some kind of idealistic thing that we’d like to do, but it never really works out at the end of the day – yes, let’s be honest. Why not then take the trip of a lifetime in 2016? The benefits you get from traveling have nothing left to prove, as it broadens your mind, expands your horizon, makes you discover different cultures, languages, and people than what you are used to back home. Culture shock is a maybe daunting but definitely super exciting and enriching thing to experience, and perhaps the biggest drawback is that it leaves you wanting more and more of it!

A lot of changes and events are happening worldwide in 2016 which makes it the perfect time to discover some countries that are rather flying under the radar, and some deeply underrated which really deserve some more attention from us visitors, because they have so much to offer. We’ve narrowed down for you the top 10 countries to visit in 2016 !

 

Myanmar

 

Myanmar

Located in Southeast Asia, Myanmar used to be a military dictatorship and very closed country, therefore not exactly very open to tourism; but things are about to change. The National League for Democracy party of Aung San Suu Kyi’s and its victory in 2015 helped the country’s politics to improve and the country to open up even if there is still a lot to be done; however some changes are already to be seen such as the end of censorship on media and the press, and its incredible scenery and culture is enough of a reason to go and visit this fascinating country.

 

Mongolia

 

Mongolia

Another captivating Asian country to see this year (and the next ones) is definitely Mongolia. This big landlocked country located in between its two huge neighbours that are China and Russia has a lot to offer tourists, starting with what French people describe with the lovely word dépaysement, that has no literal translation in English but means a change of scene and the (positive) feeling of being in a completely different place and atmosphere and enjoying it. From the Gobi Desert to the capital Ulaanbaatar, including the Mongolian steppes and the nomads with their horses, brace yourself for some adventure.

 

Romania

 

Romania

When one thinks of Europe, Romania is perhaps not the first country one would have on their Euro tour bucket list. And yet, this former Communist country (from Ceausescu’s fall that happened a quarter of a century ago) hides breath-taking scenery and landscape. If you have read Dracula, you are not without knowing that Stocker’s inspiration for the Count’s castle is actually Bran Castle, located in the Carpathian Mountains, in Transylvania and that you can visit. So, fancy some shivers ?

 

Bosnia and Herzegovina

 

Bosnia and Herzegovina

If Romania is already a quite overlooked country when it comes to top European destinations, I am ready to bet Bosnia and Herzegovina is even less popular. Yet this Balkan country has to be one of the most underrated but surprising destinations of the Old Continent, with charming little towns and a lovely countryside. Outside Sarajevo, don’t miss Mostar and Blagaj for instance, two of the best sights; and again, despite the turbulent past of the nation, the latter is filled with gorgeous places and landscape and the people are said to be incredibly warm and welcoming. Word of advice: go now and avoid the crowds before tourism really explodes here!

 

Cuba

 

Cuba

Another country that has opened up more last year is Cuba, thanks to the restoration of diplomatic relations with the United States in July 2015. Travel restrictions are being loosened, along with the opening of new places to stay and eat that are not run by the government, allowing tourist to really meet locals – which is what visiting a foreign place is most about. Although the US embargo has not been ended yet, things are changing in Cuba and hopefully for the better.

 

Iceland

 

Iceland

Want to experience something different than exotic, tropical beaches? Book a flight to Reykjavik right away. This absolutely fascinating country is undoubtedly one of the most surprising and gorgeous on earth. Nature-lovers can only appreciate this land unspoiled by pollution and which only counts 3 inhabitants per square kilometer; it is the quintessential definition of calm, peacefulness, and beauty. From lunar landscape to active volcanoes, including hot springs, glaciers, lagoons, black sand beaches and their awesome little Icelandic horses, this is definitely a place for adventure; just do everyone a favour and don’t roll stupidly on the iconic but fragile moss that recovers most of the earth there just like Bieber did. Plus, despite being an expensive country Iceland is actually quite affordable to go to from the UK; depending on the season, there are for instance rather cheap flights from Bristol, England directly to Keflavik airport.

 

Greenland

 

Greenland

You have already visited Iceland or are looking for an even more original Northern destination? I’ve got you covered. Greenland is certainly a place to go in 2016; it will host the Arctic Winter Games in March 2016 (if you are not afraid of the cold), and if you prefer milder temperatures you can head there in July-August and visit Nuuk, the northernmost capital in the world and its museums as well as going whale watching, dog-sledding your way on the ice, or hiking the glaciers all around the country. Greenland is unfortunately part of the first areas threatened by climate change, so better go now instead of waiting too long !

 

All the streets around old-town Cartagena look like this. The colors vary, but they are often strong, and lots of nice balconies. HDR of 3 handheld shots. This time Photomatix was not able to crisply align the images, but I insisted in using it because it is the only shot Ihave of this nice blue building. Cranked up the smart sharpen to make up the fuzziness, used Freaky Detail again (http://www.scottkelby.com/blog/2010/archives/8691), which is similar to Nik Tonal Contrast. For scenes with walls like these I prefer freaky detail because Tonal Contrast enhances the roughness of the walls too much. I masked the sky and street when applying freaky detail. Some dodging on the shadowed walls, and then Nik Skylight filter to give it a more sunny look.

 

Colombia

Colombia has suffered a bad reputation because of the violence and crime which have done harm to the country, mainly due to drug traffic and guerrilla warfare and conveyed by the media and TV. Yet it is much safer now, and most importantly hosts incredible cities, beautiful beaches and a biodiversity that certainly has nothing to be ashamed of in comparison to its neighbours. Its cute towns, good food and rich nature as well as its vibrant capital will make you want to go back for sure.

 

Oman

 

Oman

If you want to see the Middle East while avoiding countries that are sadly greatly affected by war, and if you are not very interested by quite “superficial” money obsessed places like the UAE and Dubai, Oman is definitely a country to consider. The country is opening up to tourism and has chosen to offer visitors a more authentic experience by preserving its gorgeous landscapes and heritage sites. Plus, Omanis are said to be incredibly welcoming and kind, which makes it all the more worth going.

 

Nepal

 

Nepal

Last but not least, the country of Nepal, located between China and India is desperately in need of an increase in tourism. The 2015 earthquake has devastated parts of the country, which is more than ever in need of an economic prosperity. While some cities (including Kathmandu), national parks or heritage sites have been ravaged, most of the places in the country have been spared and are still ready to welcome tourists. The many UNESCO World Heritage Sites, breath taking lakes, awe-inspiring trekking paths, as well as the exceptionally rich culture and great people are more than worth the visit. By going to Nepal, you help the local economy and therefore contribute to the restoration of the country; and if you seek an even more humanitarian experience, it is the perfect place to try your hand at volunteering.Whether it be helping with the reconstruction of buildings, or taking care of and teaching children, there are many opportunities that will allow you to travel while doing something genuinely useful.

 

USA

 

Bonus: United States

No, this is indeed not a country on the rise, let alone an underrated place to see, but I thought it was worth mentioning as the US celebrate in 2016 the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, that has been preserving these amazing places for a century. And this should be enough of a good reason to rush and see Yosemite, Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, Zion National Park, Acadia, Glacier and countless others! 

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