The Year 2013 is all about the road less traveled. The Lonely Planet has come up with the top 10 countries you should visit in the next 12 months.
Sri Lanka – The country off the southern tip of India is slowly recovering from the tragic 2004 Boxing Day tsunami and decades-long civil war. There are plenty of low-cost flights from Bangkok to its largest city, Colombo, and accommodations in this “cut-price paradise” are affordable.
Montenegro (pictured) – This small country in Central Europe is an emerging star in this region’s tourism market. The Lonely Planet describes Montenegro’s nature as “prolific and creative,” recommending travelers to visit the Bay of Kotor and the beaches along its Riviera. But sun bathing along the sands is just half the fun, as Montenegro’s beauty can also be found on its rugged interior, with its network of hiking and biking trails.
South Korea – You can visit South Korea for many reasons, but the travel publication recommends visiting this country for its “untapped” potentials like golfing, hiking, and fishing. While few people outside the country know about South Korea being a hiking and fishing destination, that anonymity will likely disappear as the country will host a series of major sporting events next year.
Ecuador – Located in South America, this country’s railway network is set to become radically renovated in 2013 with new lines linking the cosmopolitan Quito and the coastal city of Guayaquil. The rails will also connect to famous volcano Cotopaxi and the Nariz del Diablo, where travelers ride along the steepest stretch or railway in the Americas.
Slovakia – It’s been two decades since the Velvet Revolution and Slovakia has evolved into one of Europe’s fastest-growing economies, drawing in tourists for bargain ski packages and stag weekends. But the country’s tourism industry is gearing itself away from the perception that Slovakia is all about cheap beer, as there are plenty of places to visit and discover both natural and cultural.
Solomon Islands – Traveling to tiny islands in the Pacific Ocean is among the most expensive, but not around the Solomon Islands. While other nations can spoil you with luxury retreats, the Solomon Islands offer you with affordable eco-resorts, village homestays, and breath-taking scuba spots.
Iceland – Every tourist visiting this little island nation instantly falls in love with it, whether for its magnificent scenery, delicious lamb and fish dishes, or the friendly local hospitality. The currency crash, which devalued the krona by 75 percent, makes it even more favorable to tourists. And since the global economy is slowly recovering, so you might want to visit Iceland while your wallet can afford it.
Turkey – The untapped tourism potential of southeastern Turkey, with its historic old towns and fantastic food, becomes more affordable and accessible with low-cost airlines and bus services. Lonely Planet recommends visiting the towns of Mardin and Midyat for the history, Gaziantep for the food, and Sanliurfa to discover the ruins of Gbekli Tepe.
Dominican Republic – It is not called the “Caribbean’s Next Big Thing” for nothing. The country is experiencing an uptick in tourism, with more airlines bringing travelers to the Dominican Republic’s eight international airports, as well as cruise ships making the country a major port of call.
Madagascar – This island nation in Africa is slowly recovering from years of political instability and uncertainty. While accommodation remains best-valued, the fact that it can only be accessed by long-haul flights from Thailand, France, and Switzerland, makes traveling to Madagascar a bit on the expensive side. But once you get over that, be prepared to be marveled with the island’s unique wildlife, resulting from hundreds of millions of years of isolation.