Lonely Planet, the popular travel guide and publishing company issued its annual book of top places for experience-hungry travellers to dive in and explore in 2018, on Tuesday. And for 2018, folks should choogle on down to Chile, slide over to South Korea, or check out Portugal, Djibouti and New Zealand.
Last year Canada was all over these kinds of charts, even topping the list of best countries to visit, owing to 2017 being our 150th birthday. This year though we’ve slipped off the radar and nearly disappeared, at least in the Lonely Planet Guide.
Canada failed to appear in the list of top 10 countries, and Canadian destinations failed to make the lists for top 10 regions or even top 10 cities. Although there was mention of the Titanic dive in Newfoundland as a “best new opening”, a small bit about visiting private islands in Georgian Bay, Ontario, cruises to Canada’s Arctic, and a blurb about Montreal’s La Panthere Verte as a fine vegan restaurant chain.
For Chile, Lonely Planet gave them top ranking for 2018 due to “unmissable experiences” such as a walk through Torres del Paine National Park and trips to the world’s driest, non-polar desert (the Atacama). They also mention visiting the “mind-boggling moai statues on Easter Island,” something I had the pleasure of seeing a few years ago.
This year also marks their 200th anniversary, so it’s a great time to go.
South Korea might seem an odd choice given the tensions with North Korea these days, but don’t forget they’ll be hosting the Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang in a few months. There’s also a new, high-speed railway from Seoul’s Incheon Airport direct to Pyeongchang, and, as always, great food and shopping in Seoul.
Lonely Planet cited Portugal for having “emerged from the long shadow cast by neighbouring Spain, seizing the spotlight as a dynamic centre for art, culture and cuisine.” They also mentioned the culinary buzz in Lisbon, glittering beaches and microbreweries. I can also attest that it’s perhaps the most affordable country to visit in Western Europe, a place where your Euro goes a great deal farther than in France, Italy or other popular countries.
Rounding out the top five countries for 2018 are Djibouti in Africa (Martian-like deserts, intoxicating culture, beckoning beaches and incredible whale shark diving) and New Zealand (great walks around an amazingly diverse landscape.)
Filling out the top ten are Malta, Georgia, Mauritius, China and South Africa.
The top ten regions for 2018 are Belfast and the Causeway Coast in Northern Ireland, the US state of Alaska, the Julian Alps in Slovenia (I love that part of the country), Languedoc-Roussillon in France, The Kii Peninsula of Japan, the Aeolian Islands of Italy, The Deep South in the USA, Lahaul and Spiti in India, Brazil’s Bahia region and Los Haitises National Park in the Dominican Republic.
And the top ten cities for next year are Seville, Spain; Detroit, USA; Canberra, Australia; Hamburg, Germany; Kaohsiung, Taiwan; Antwerp, Belgium; Matera , Italy; San Juan, Puerto Rico’ Guanajuato, Mexico; and Oslo, Sweden.
Best value destinations were listed as Tallinn, Estonia; Lanzarote, Spain (Canary Islands); Arizona, USA; La Paz, Bolivia; Poland; Essaouira, Morocco; the UK; Baja California, Mexico; Jacksonville, Florida (I agreed); and Hunan, China.
To see the full list, visit the Lonely Planet website.