Every New Year’s resolution involves three key ingredients — the commitment to better one’s self, the passion to try something new, and the inevitable promise to venture beyond one’s comfort zone — and no one act accomplishes those goals more than international travel.
With 2015 on the horizon, it’s the perfect time to look ahead and seek new ways to discover the vast, wide world, and in the process, make changes for the better. But where should resolved explorers venture to achieve their New Year’s travel resolutions?
Here’s my list of the top 15 travel destinations for 2015, which includes countries that not only deliver unforgettable moments, but offer settings in which minds and hearts open and grow. This list was compiled by examining the growing demands of millennial travelers, new regulatory landscapes, the health of each country’s tourism industry, and the love affair that this writer has had with each of these destinations.
1. Thailand. One of the most beautiful, spiritual, and welcoming destinations on the planet.
2. Iceland. The Land of Fire and Iceshowcases the world’s natural beauty at sites like the famous Strokkur geyser, the natural hot springs of the Blue Lagoon, and of course, the contemplative wonders of the Northern Lights.
3. Cuba. One of the most amazing travel experiences possible, and to enjoy the island as it is right now, before the country is forever changed by Western influences.
4. Greece. These magnificent islands are every bit as gorgeous, romantic, laid back, and fun as any place you can find on earth.
5. Malaysia. A trip to Malaysia is like visiting two worlds at once. Peninsular Malaysia, richly spiritual, though thoroughly modern, while Malaysian Borneo encompasses the country’s wilder side, with dense, mysterious jungles and ancient cultures.
6. Croatia. Croatia is the hidden gem of the Mediterranean. Turquoise waters, sun-drenched beaches, and hundreds of quaint islands make it the ideal destination for any traveler who seeks leisure at its finest.
7. Dubai. Dubai stands out as the ultimate international getaway for the world’s rich and famous. Yet, travelers don’t have to be international superstars to visit this luxurious city.
8. Vietnam. Vietnam has recently been named one of Trip Advisor’s Destinations on the Rise for 2015, with the port city of Da Nang ringing in praises from travelers across the world.
9. South Africa. It is one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world, with a rainbow population, a gay-friendly attitude, townships like Soweto which produced Nelson Mandela, among the world’s greatest leaders, and cities like cosmopolitan Cape Town and historic Johannesburg.
10. Japan. Some of the most spectacular scenery in the world is found in Japan, and when it comes to color, there’s nothing like the cherry blossoms that bloom in the spring.
11. Costa Rica. It is the jewel of Central America, one that boasts incredible ecosystems, including tropical rainforests, cloud forests, mountains, rivers, volcanoes, and coastline on both the Caribbean and Pacific.
12. Egypt. It is one of those bucket list destinations that everyone plans to visit at least once in a lifetime, and for good reason. The historical and cultural treasures of Egypt are among the most important in human history.
13. China. This country is full of contrasts, which makes it such a fascinating destination. You’ll find plenty of sleek, expensive cars sharing the streets with bicycle rickshaws, formal Tiananmen Square, with its huge portrait of Chairman Mao. There’s so much more to see, do and experience, making China one destination that many travelers visit again and again.
14. Peru. For the third straight year, Peru has been named a top culinary destination by the World Travel Awards. Peruvian cuisine takes advantage of the nation’s diverse geography, which consists of jungles, coasts, and mountains, and combines it with European, African, and Asian influences to create unmatched global cuisine.
15. Australia. The nation’s unbeatable nightlife, world-class beaches, and unparalleled natural beauty — from the Great Barrier Reef to the Australian bush — make it a must-visit destination for all worldly travelers.
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