Want to know where everyone will be going next year? Well, we’re giving you the jump on all the rest. Taking from our recent survey*, here are the top 10 travel hot spots to hit up in 2015, as voted by all of you.
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Credit: Dennis Jarvis
India has long been the classic backpacker destination, made popular back in the 60’s when the whole scene was finding its feet, air travel was for the rich and travellers trekked overland. India was the perfect choice for budding adventurers, holding the perfect mix of mysticism and mystery to feed that desire to break away from the norm. Though, part of the popularity might also have been that it was a destination famously loved by The Beatles… and that it had a lot hash…
Still, even without the hippie trail, India is an adventure in-and-of-itself. From the busy streets of Bombay and New Delhi, to the wide open national parks like Ranthambore (where you can see incredible and colossal Bengal Tiger) to the mountainous Himalayas, the landscapes are ever changing and there’s a ton for travellers of all types. Then there’s the cuisines, which is so good, the UK stole it as their national dish.
If you want a taste of those old 60’s vibes, there’s the beaches of Goa. The area still maintains that alternative vibe and it’s where you’ll find some of the craziest parties known to man. If anything, I’d have put India a little higher…
Credit: Dennis Jarvis
Italy, the epicentre of European culture. It was this country that delivered those first tremors of modern civilisation, back when Romans marched across the continent delivering law, order and gladiator fights wherever they went.
If history is your thing, then naturally Italy is the best place to see remnants of this period. It’s quite something to see ancient architecture, like the Colosseum in Rome, that span back two millennia – a fact you should really let yourself absorb if you’re ever there.
But it’s not only about the history. It’s no secret that Italy has some of the best cuisine on the planet. Pizza, pasta, risotto, polenta, they perfected it here first and are still yet to lose the edge over their competitors. In other words, you can’t visit the country without hitting a good few restaurants.
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Just pipping its old Classical Period rival to eighth place is the other Ancient World giant, Greece. The home of philosophy, democracy and cheap, cheap retsina, it’s a place where you’re going to find incredible culture without scrimping on the parties.
It’s not hard to find unforgettable sights here. All you need do is visit Athens and look up at that high rocky outcrop and you’ll see the Acropolis, an ancient fort that dates back one and a half millennia, with the awesome Parthenon perched on top. This amazing view dominates the skyline and is lit up majestically at night.
If what you’re after is blue seas, the sand between your toes and dancing into the wee hours, then hit up one of the Cyclades islands in the South East. Mykonos and Ios are hot pretty much all year round and are packed full of beachside bars, clubs and hostels full of international adventurers.
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Home to the great Inca Trail and Machu Picchu, it’s no small wonder that this destination is on the list for 2015. You’ll pass a cavalcade of landscapes, from thick jungle to beautiful landscapes, up to amazing mountain ranges. At the end of it all you’ll find the awe-inspiring ruins of the old Incan civilisation that remained undiscovered and unspoilt for centuries until the early 20th Century.
Of course, that’s not all there is to Peru, not by a long shot. Peru has the second largest area of rainforest, after Brazil, with a unique and diverse ecosystem and is well worth a guided trek. There’s even opportunities to camp out in in an eco-cabin right in the heart of the wilderness.
If you want to get your heart pumping, then grab yourself a second hand snow board and get over to Huacachina. Its dunes are a popular spot for sandboarding. Alternatively you can strap yourself into a dune buggy and ride the sands that way, if you’re a little weary of landing on your face.
Japan is the ultimate clash of contradictions. Its capital, Tokyo, has to be one of the biggest and busiest cities in the world, yet it still maintains a calm that’s unseen in most major metropolises. The country is both ultra-modern, lit up by bright lights, sound tracked by mega-arcades and populated by some of the most colourfully dressed people going, and yet still traditional, with countless beautiful temples, palaces and a curtesy that most older people at home will say died with the baby-boomers.
Again, Japan is another culinary capital of the world. Everyone who visits wants to sample the authentic classics that have been exported all over the world. That’s cool, because the sushi and sashimi available here is honestly better than anything you’re going to find at home. Still, make sure you don’t just stick to the tried and tested dishes as there’s plenty of interesting gastric delights out there. Octopus balls for instance. Trust me, they are worth a go.
5. USA (New York)
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Whether it’s for the food, the film locations, natural wonders or the sheer specticle, the United States is a favourite for many a traveller. Known the world over for its grandiosity and bright lights, America probably has more famous cities than anywhere else; from the Hollywood excesses of Los Angeles to the extreme hedonism of Las Vegas. Out of them all, it’s New York that had the stongest pull on all of you, and I can’t say I’m surprised.
Ah New York, the city so good they named it twice. The Big Apple has it all – the landmarks, the nightlife and the food, all the things a traveller could ever hope for. The lifestyle is there is fast, but the city is so energetic that it carries you along – that and the food portions.
Like with most cities of this scale things can get a little pricey, but there are ways around this. For instance, instead of taking the official tourist boat, jump on the Staten Island passenger ferry which will take you right past the Statue of Liberty. Eat at the old school American diners for cheap eats and piles of tasty goodness to get through. Oh, and instead of climbing the Empire State Building, nip over to the 230 Fifth Bar and check out the view of the building from the outside, cocktail in hand.
The nightlife is pretty unbeatable too, which I suppose is why they call it ‘The City That Never Sleeps’. From the hipster dive bars in Williamsburg, to the jazz and blues clubs over at The Village, to the neon nightclubs down at the Meatpacking District, there’s plenty to keep you up all night.
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Another backpacking mecca, anyone that’s done the famous East Coast trek knows exactly why this beautiful, golden party paradise made it onto this list. The beaches here are basically unbeatable. Even the city-side beaches like Bondi are incredible, let alone places like Byron Bay or those protected and almost untouched wonder spots like Whitsundays and Fraser Island.
But seeing Australia as just a land of board shorts and surfing would be incredibly short-sighted. Melbourne is a city rich in contemporary culture; visit Fitzroy and you’ll find some of the coolest street art you’re likely to see, a flourishing music scene and some of the coolest bars in town. Its rival, Sydney, is cultivating its underground party scene, providing a welcome alternative to the repetitive chart numbers so typical of a night out.
It’d also be unwise to see Oz as just the East Coast. Perth is a wicked city with tons going on, as well as a big backpacking community. It’s also the starting line to explore the less-trodden West Coast. Best done with a big old cross-country truck so you can explore the outback.
3. New Zealand
New Zealand is Australia’s way more chilled cousin next door. The weather is less extreme and the countryside less hostile than some parts of Oz. Yet it is really beautiful, covered in lush greenery and imposing mountain ranges, as anyone that’s seen Lord of the Rings can attest to.
Getting up close with nature isn’t hard here. There’s plenty of national parks all over the place, providing anyone up for the trek with breath-taking views. One particular highlight is the Fox and Fraz Josef Glaciers that descend from the Southern Alps in Westland Tai Poutini National Park. Then there’s the skiing of course, which is hard to beat.
If you’re after nightlife, there’s plenty happening in Wellington. Kiwis like to party just as hard as their Oz cousins, and the number of drinking and dancing establishments reflect that. New Zealand is also a great place to check out live music, with its music scene spawning number of recent international success stories, including Lorde and The Naked & Famous.
Credit: Victor Montol
If you’re after the Northern Lights, then this is the spot for you. Iceland has to be one of the best places to spot this solar phenomenon of whirling lights, giving some of the clearest views of anywhere in the world.
But Iceland is far from a one trick pony. The capital, Reykjavik, puts on one hell of a celebration each weekend, and one of the most inclusive at that. Friendly locals move the party from bar-to-street-to-bar throughout the night and long into the AM. Not surprising considering the country goes through periods of extended darkness and almost never ending daylight. I suppose that’s one way to sort out the sleep pattern, maybe?
Then there is the Blue Lagoon, a geothermal spa that travellers, tourists and locals all adore. Chill out in the heated spring, clean your pores with a mud mask and sip cocktails from the in-pool bar. Perfection.
Here we have it, your pick for the top spot! The number one destination to visit in 2015 is… Thailand. OK, it’s not exactly a new entry, but that in no way diminishes its worthiness.
Thailand is, quite simply, the top place to party in the world. As well as having the world famous Full Moon Party each month (oh, and the Half Moon Party two weeks later), it’s pretty much party time on every single beach, on every single island, across the country, every single night. Fluorescent lights, cheap beers and fire dancers consume the night. Then, the country’s beautiful beaches eat away the days.
Of course, that’s not all there is to do. Explore the less-well-trodden islands by boat, snorkel amongst the tropical fish and definitely get some rock climbing lessons at Raleigh Beach, which is considered by most cliff crawlers to be one of the best spots in the world. Oh, and try the food. Try all the food.