EXPERT PICKS FOR 2018's HOTTEST TRAVEL DESTINATIONS
"Somewhere like Cuba is popular as the unique culture and vibrant architecture of Havana, along with an increased accessibility, compels travellers to explore all this unique country has to offer. Try staying in one of the new wave of Casas Particulares (Cuban B&Bs). You can find these in the heart of Old Havana and in the historic centres of Trinidad and Coenfuegos. You will be in the middle of the action." — Sean Berenson, Flight Centre
"With the 2019 Rugby World Cup and 2020 Olympic Games being held in Japan, there will be lots happening in a country that combines rich history with an eclectic mix of modern-day life. Average temperatures and weather patterns vary considerably. Cherry-blossom season falls between March and May, when the weather is warming up and the skies are clear. If you are an experienced skier or just beginning, Japan needs to be on your must-visit list between late December-March. Japan also has some amazing beach holiday options. Sunset Beach on Ishigaki Island is a short flight from Tokyo yet a world apart from the bustling metropolis. The white sandy beach and emerald water is the perfect spot to watch the sunset over the East China sea." — David Fordyce, House of Travel
"Everyone should have Chile on their travel list for 2018: its 200th anniversary is a great excuse to experience this sliver of a nation's geographical diversity, from the soaring Andes in the east to the wilds of Patagonia in the south." — Chris Zeiher, Lonely Planet
MIDDLE EAST & TURKEY
"The Middle East is going to be huge in 2018. In 2017 alone, we saw a 35 per cent increase in travellers visiting the region. Egypt is up 44 per cent, Jordan is up 66 per cent and travel to Israel is up by a whopping 120 per cent. We are expecting Turkey to continue to bounce back in 2018. That culturally rich country was Peregrine Adventures' most popular destination just a few years ago before taking a plummet. In 2017, however, we saw bookings increase by 106 per cent and 560 per cent in late November/early December." — Brett Mitchell, Peregrine Adventures
"The Philippines is my pick for a hot new cruise destination in 2018 and, in particular, the island of Boracay, known for its stunning beaches with powder-soft sand. Along the west coast, White Beach is backed by palm trees, bars and restaurants. On the east coast, strong winds make Bulabog Beach popular for water sports. Offshore you can explore coral reefs and shipwrecks, home to diverse marine life. Very few cruise lines actually visit Boracay but this is starting to change as they search the world for new and exciting destinations to explore." — Jacqueline Unsworth, helloworld.
Stephanie Holmes is NZ Herald’s Deputy Travel Editor, you can find her work here: www.nzherald.co.nz/travel/