18 Awesome Places to Visit in 2018

Time to start planning your 2018 travels. Here at Unquote Travel we’ve been planning our 2018 for months now. We’ve got an epic year in store. Here are our picks for our top 18 places to visit in 2018:

Transylvania

Places to Visit in 2017

The Germanic Saxons started colonizing Transylvania in the 12th century. Few of their ancestors remain, but what has lasted is their legacy. Across Transylvania are stunning fortified churches, pretty uniform houses, and stoic castles. Not to mention the forested hills and scenic grazing land that covers the region. Transylvania is a place to get a perfect mix of quiet countryside, village life, centuries-old history, authentic cuisine, and friendly local interaction. Notice I haven’t said anything about Dracula yet. Well, I guess a trip to Bran castle is in order before you leave this spooky region.

See our: Experience Transylvania Tour

Perfect for: All ages. Those interested in Saxon heritage, local food, village experiences, and historic cities.

Taiwan

Places to Visit in 2017

Why Taiwan isn’t more touristy is the mystery of East Asian tourism. Taiwan is a supremely welcoming place, with friendly people and delicious food. And the biggest risk of visiting Taiwan is putting on a few pounds! Taiwan is an interesting mix of the modern and traditional. Efficient trains and clean buses take you from the urbanized west coast to the wild east coast. If natural gorges, scenic coastlines, incense-filled temples, and energetic street markets sound like your cup of oolong tea, then experience Taiwan. Best of all the country is one of the best value destinations on the planet. Not a cheapie, but what you get for your money is outstanding.

See our: Experience Taiwan Tour (coming soon)

Perfect for: All ages. Foodies and culture vultures most welcome.

Kyrgyzstan

We’ve been in love with Kyrgyzstan long before Unquote Travel existed. I first traveled to Kyrgyzstan in 2003 while I was a Peace Corps volunteer in neighboring Uzbekistan and went again the following year. In 2017 I returned again to rediscover my affection for this landlocked, mountainous country. Kyrgyzstan is a remote country in Central Asia with gorgeous alpine scenery, fresh lakes, and endless outdoor opportunities. Locals are some of the world’s friendliest and not shy about inviting visitors in for a cup of tea or kumis (fermented mare’s milk). Hiking, horseback riding, rafting, skiing, off-road driving, and mountaineering are just some of the activities tourists like to do here.

See our: Experience Kyrgyzstan: Trekking and Local Culture

Perfect for: Adventurous travelers who love hiking and the outdoors

Mongolia

Places to Visit in 2017

Mongolia is one country that it pays to join a tour. I’m a diehard indie traveler but have joined a tour to properly experience the vast landscape, nomadic hospitality, and Buddhist culture of Mongolia. If you’re looking for an off-road adventure on the steppes this year, Mongolia is your pick. Day hikes in a national park, sleeping overnight in traditional gers, tasting dairy products made of camel’s milk, and watching the sunset from atop the Gobi desert’s high dunes. This is a true Mongolia experience.

See our: Experience Mongolian Gobi Tour

Perfect for: Nomads at heart. Those of all ages looking for a good old-fashioned adventure.

Thailand

Think Thailand is old news? Guess again. I’ve returned several times to the Land of Smiles but never have I been this excited. This year I’m forgetting the overcrowded beaches of touristy Phuket and heading back up north. Northern Thailand is a landscape of green mountains, hill tribes, and endless adventure. I’m looking forward to village homestays and meeting friendly locals and losing the tourists for real this time. Will you join me? Don’t forget about extraordinary Sukhothai and the incredible cuisine that Thailand is famous for. We won’t be skimping on the food!

See our: Experience Ancient Kingdoms of Thailand

Perfect for: All Ages and adventurous types. Those looking to get beyond the typical tourist nonsense and really experience Thai culture.

Sichuan Province (China)

Places to Visit in 2017

In a country full of magnificent places, Sichuan province stands among the most naturally beautiful, most culturally preserved, and the most adventurous for visitors. The obvious draw to Sichuan is to see the Giant Panda. Of course that is reason enough, but actually only a small fraction of what Sichuan offers. The real treasure is its soaring mountains and minority cultures. Tibetan culture is alive and well in Sichuan and this is the preferred place to witness it and interact with Tibetans. But it’s not easy to reach! Expect long rides over mountainous terrain.

See our: Sichuan tours coming soon

Perfect for: Those really looking to witness extraordinary people in a magnificent landscape. You’ll be traveling where most people only dream of going.

Peru

peru small group tour

Peru is a country rich in cultural heritage and natural beauty. It’s astounding how much there is to see and do in this country, from coastal wildlife viewing to trekking in the Andes to eating at world-class restaurants to gazing at Incan ruins in awe to exploring the Amazon by boat. Few countries are this diverse. For most people, it’s the legacy of the Inca builders that captures their imagination. Everyone has seen photos of Machu Picchu but this is a place you have to experience first-hand to really feel and understand the magnitude.

See our: Peru Inca Heritage

Perfect for: Mountain goats or anyone interested in seeing Machu Picchu once in their lifetime.

Colombia

Medellin Street Art (Photo Credit: Paige Conner Totaro)

One of my favorite things about Colombia (besides the Colombians themselves) is the pride that Colombians take in their country’s diversity. There’s diversity in the population, with nearly 85 different ethnic groups in the country. But there’s also diversity of geography, from the clear blue Caribbean beaches to the deep jungles in the northwest, from the vast urban centers of Bogotá and Medellin, to the natural escapes of Tayrona National Park and the northern ranges of the Andes. With direct flights from the United States to Cartagena as well as the larger cities, and low-cost domestic airlines cropping up, now is a great time to explore this gem of a country.

See our: Experience Colombia Tour (coming soon)

Perfect for: Those looking for something a little different. Colombia is a supremely welcoming place but you still need to have your wits about you.

Galapagos

Galapagos tour

It’s on every traveler’s bucket list, even if they don’t have a bucket list. The nature-watching is unlike anywhere else in the world. I think it will be on my “Places to Go” list every year because if you haven’t been there, you really should. You can do it DIY on a fairly low budget without taking a cruise, but this is one time you should probably splurge. You can get to many more protected areas with a licensed cruise ship than you can on day trips from the islands.

See our: Experience Galapagos

Perfect for: All ages. Good for those who just want to observe from the boat and great for those active travelers who enjoy light hiking and snorkeling.

Catalonia (Spain)

Catalonia, Spain

From the rocky coastline of Costa Brava in the north, through the modern metropolis of Barcelona, to the port of Tarragona in the south, the fiercely independent state of Catalonia has a unique take on Spanish culture. The area has inspired legions of artists over the centuries, with Salvador Dalí, Antoni Gaudí and Joan Miró the most notable of the 20th century. History buffs will enjoy seeing the many historic influences in the area, with its Roman buildings, Medieval towns, and Moorish architecture. You can spend a lot to eat in some of the finest restaurants in the world, like El Cellar de Can Roca, or you can spend a few euros for a picnic on the beach and some local Cava or a beer from the growing craft beer scene, and either one could be the best meal of your life.

Perfect for: Families, couples, foodies, beach lovers, history buffs, quiet escape, etc.

Cuba

The rest of the world has been visiting Cuba for years, but Americans were restricted from visiting the island nation until just last year when President Obama lifted many of those restrictions. Now everyone wants to see what they’ve been missing. Is Cuba ready for the onslaught? Not exactly. But that just makes us want to visit now even more, before people start saying, “Yeah, but you should have been here back in ’18….”

See our: Experience Havana

Perfect for: Travelers looking to make personal connections and gain deeper insight into Cuban society.

Yucatan (Mexico)

The Mayan temple at Uxmal from above (Photo Credit: Paige Conner Totaro)

There’s plenty to love about the eastern side of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, with its crystal blue waters and miles and miles of beaches for all budgets and tastes, but there’s so much more to explore in the other direction. Head west to find the Mayan temples of Chichen Itza, Chunchucmil, Uxmal, Dzibilchaltun, and modern Mayan people who still carry many of their ancestors’ traditions. The early 20th-century sisal (henequén) boom resulted in massive and ornate haciendas, some of which have been converted to hotels, others of which rest in ruins and serve as backgrounds for fashion shoots. Charming cities like the golden yellow Izamal or the colonial expat haven of Merida offer all the modern conveniences, but you may find a traditional healer or tortilla maker around any corner.

See our: Discover Yucatan (coming soon)

Perfect for: A warm escape when the rest of North America is freezing. Those looking for something beyond the all-inclusive resorts.

Alaska

eklutna lake
There are so many (almost too many) reasons to travel to Alaska. Do you like wildlife? Moose, bears, caribou, Arctic fox, and many more animals are calling this great state home. How about the outdoors? With more than 3 million lakes, 17 out of 20 tallest peaks in the United States, 3,000 rivers, 100,000 glaciers, and more coastline, there is no shortage of nature in Alaska. It also happens to be the least densely populated state. The sun shines 24 hours a day in summer and the whole state is blessed with fresh snow in winter. Also, don’t forget the cultural aspects. The rich cultures of native Alaskans run deep within the people. The whole world was jealous over President Obama’s visit to Alaska last year. Now, are you packing your bags yet?

See our: Alaska tours coming soon!

Perfect for: Nature lovers and those who want to experience the rawness that the wilderness offers.

Moldova
Wine Festival Moldova

Those eager to get off the beaten track, look no further. Ditto those who want to brag about going someplace their friends haven’t been. But Moldova is more than just an obscure destination. It’s a burgeoning wine destination, has got a handful of castles and old monasteries, and is home to other non-traditional tourist destinations like “Gypsey Hill”, a village of Old-Believers, one of very few remaining collective farms, and various monuments from Soviet times. Perhaps the most prominent legacy of the Soviet Union is the unresolved issue of unrecognized Transnistria which you can now visit.

See our:  Soviet Experience in Moldova & Wine Festival Experience in Moldova

Perfect for: Travelers who are interested in getting off-the-beaten-track, tasting really good wine and food, and those interested in Soviet history and traveling to a country that doesn’t exist (Transnistria).

Korea
Jirisan National Park

I was born and raised in Seoul, Korea. I spent most of my life here until I embarked on my career as a travel writer and photographer. When I first traveled overseas 11 years ago, I met people who didn’t know where Korea was. But now South Korea is sort of a well-known country, thanks to Gangnam Style, K-POP and TV shows, high-quality electronics and automobiles, and Korean food. It’s an exciting change to experience. The Seoul I knew and grew up in was a bit different than what you’d know from the pop culture. For me, it’s a place where we can buy a ‘handful’ of vegetables from my grandmother’s friend at a traditional market down from our house. I love when visitors experience the real Korea, like the one I grew up.

See our: Experience Korea Tour

Perfect for: Travelers who want to gain deeper understanding into Korean culture and society. Foodies wanting a taste of authentic Korean cuisine.

Lapland (Finland)

Northern Lights seen in Utsjoki

Lapland is a destination on its own. It’s the largest and northernmost region in Finland, bordering Sweden, Norway, and Russia. Sami people are the main inhabitants here who still continue the tradition of reindeer herding. Even above the Arctic Circle, northern Lapland is full of life. Thanks to the warm gulf stream, even at 70° latitude, there are trees, farms, and grass for sheep and cows to graze. In summer, Lapland celebrates the midnight sun. In winter, the area turns into a winter wonderland. If seeing the northern light is your dream, head north to Finnish Lapland next winter.

See our: Northern Lights in Lapland Tour

Perfect for: Families, couples, solo travelers, reindeer at heart. This is a great place to join a small group tour in order to leave the aurora chasing to the experts.

Central Norway

Arctic Experience in Trøndelag (Photo: Wild Norway)

Trøndelag region in Central Norway is a center for cross-country skiing. Skiers from this region captured more medals in the Olympics in Sochi than the US in total. And they only have a population of 450,000. If you want to experience the winter in Scandinavia but are not ready to go as deep as the Arctic, head to Central Norway for legendary winter adventures. A one-hour flight away from the capital city Oslo, Trøndelag offers various winter adventures, including cross-country and downhill skiing, dog mushing, Arctic expedition training, and Musk ox safari.

See our: Arctic Experience in Norway

Perfect for: Adventurers and winter sports enthusiasts who want to learn how to survive and thrive in the Arctic.

Chile

Atacama Desert
After three weeks of traveling, Chile quickly became one of my favorite countries. From the Atacama Desert in the north to Patagonia in the south and the lake region in between, Chile has a whole lot to offer. I conquered Cerro Toco, at 5,604 meters above sea level, traveled through the driest desert in the world, and hiked the beautiful Volcan Osorno. Not to mention the magical 5 days in the most remote inhabited island in the world, Easter Island. Chile is home to wonderful environmental diversity, rich culture, and delicious cuisine.

See our: Chile trips coming soon.

Perfect for: Adventurers and lovers of the great outdoors. Those looking for intense landscapes, surfing in December and to perfect their Spanish skills.

 

This Awesome list of 18 Places to Visit in 2018 was compiled by Stephen Bugno, Paige Conner Totaro, and Juno Kim.

Leave a Reply