It’s time to start thinking about planing your dream trip next year. So where should you go?
We looked at major developments, cultural trends, and global festivals to find the hottest places to travel around the world in 2014.
From Croatia, the E.U.’s newest member, to Tokyo, the site of the 2020 Olympic Games, here are the best places to travel next year.
Ever since Beyonce and Jay Z very publicly vacationed in Cuba in April 2013, the small Caribbean country has been on the forefront of American travellers' minds.
Cuba has been off-limits to Americans since the '50s, but it's now easier to visit the small island than it has been in decades, thanks to more relaxed travel restrictions and an increase in tour operators offering legal ways to see the country. That means that more and more Americans are travelling to Cuba now. In fact, the number of Americans visiting Cuba grew by more than 20,000 in 2012 alone.
And tourists who are venturing there are finding that the country remains incredibly beautiful, and often untouched by the outside modern world.
Over 11 million tourists visited Bangkok as of August 2013, and the city is expecting
15.98 million international arrivals by the end of the year, which would make it the number one destination for tourists in 2013.
That number is bound to grow next year, as Thailand's capital city continues to develop its tourism infrastructure. Several new hotels are set to open in Bangkok in 2014, including the Radisson Blu Plaza Bangkok and the Hyatt Place Hotel.
With its centuries-old-temples, modern nightlife and restaurants, and incredible food,
it's easy to see why Bangkok is a favourite city for tourists from around the world. The city caters to everyone -- and every price point. Whether its from a street vendor or an expensive upmarket restaurant, the food in Bangkok is incredible. There's also a wide variety of accommodations from cheap hostels and budget hotels around Kaosan Road to high-end luxury properties, like the Shangri-La Hotel, Bangkok.
Over the past few years, Croatia has been attracting more and more tourists, but now that it's officially a member of the European Union it's about to undergo a serious tourist boom.
Travellers love the famous beaches, gorgeous views of the Adriatic coast, historic architecture, and UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Croatia is also famous for its fresh Mediterranean-style food and wine.
And best of all: it's still one of the cheapest destinations in Europe -- especially if you avoid the peak tourist season in July and August.
For most people, a luxury safari is a once-in-a-lifetime trip -- and Botswana's Okavango Delta is the ideal place to experience one.
Between the floodplains of the Okavango Delta and the woodlands of Chobe National Park, Botswana is home to tons of animals, including elephants, buffalo, rhinos, zebras, giraffes, lions, hippos, leopards, and more.
For a truly memorable experience, stay in Mombo Camp and Little Mombo Camp in the Okavango Delta, which was recently ranked the best hotel in the world by Travel + Leisure. Located in the Moremi Game Reserve, the hotel, which is made up of two camps, offers unparalleled luxury in the thick of the wild. There are outdoor plunge pools, al fresco dining areas, and plenty of decks for wildlife viewing. Even the luxury tents have open windows for viewing the wildlife. It's not cheap though: Rooms in the tents start at around $US1,750 per person per night, including daily game drives, food, and drink.
When the announcement came that Tokyo would host the 2020 Olympics, all eyes turned to the bustling Asian metropolis. Now the city is expecting a major tourism boom, even though the games are still six years away.
Japan's capital city has high-end hotels, luxury shops, hip neighborhoods filled with secret speakeasies, and the most three-Michelin-starred restaurants in the world.
The Great Barrier Reef, the world's largest coral reef system off the coast of Queensland Australia, is one of the world's greatest natural treasures. It's a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site and is considered one of the seven natural wonders of the world.
It's teeming with colourful marine life, including whales, dolphins, sea turtles, and more than 1,500 fish species, that visitors explore by scuba diving, snorkelling, swimming, or boating.
However, the reef is in danger of disappearing, due to overfishing, overboating, pollution, and climate change. Environmental groups are fighting to protect the reef, but some say it may be too little too late, as almost half the Great Barrier Reef has died in the last 50 years.
That means that visitors who dream of one day snorkelling or diving in the reef should do it now, while it's still active. While there, stay at the Qualia hotel on Hamilton Island, overlooking the Great Barrier Reef, which was recently named the world's best hotel by Condé Nast Traveller.
Austin, Texas, is currently undergoing a major hotel boom that could add more than 3,200 guest rooms over the next three years. Several funky hotels have recently opened, including the restored 20th-century Hotel Ella, and more are in the works, including the 322-room Hotel Van Zandt and the innovative boutique Hotel Zaza.
Makes sense that the city is building hotels at a record pace, as it has to keep up with the growing number of tourists. Almost 6 million tourists visited Austin as of August 2013, and more are expected for 2014.
The city's slogan is 'Keep Austin Weird,' and residents make sure that stays true by keeping the city's culture quirky and eclectic. Austin is a cultural hub with with live music performances, film screenings, and readings all over the city every night. It hosts the annual Austin City Limits Music Festival and the music, film, and interactive SXSW Festival. Last year MovieMaker Magazine named Austin the number one city for filmmakers.
For those who can afford it, space travel isn't that far away. Sir Richard Branson has announced that he expects to launch the inaugural flights of his commercial space venture, Virgin Galactic, by 2014.
For now, though, only wealthy people will have the privilege of venturing into space -- flights aboard the spacecraft cost $US250,000 per person.
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