If you’re thinking about a different vacation experience beyond the usual destinations, consider some of the places that travel advisors have picked as the top up-and-coming international destinations.
Iceland is the top up-and-coming spot in Europe, according to the results of a survey of 1,000 North American travel advisors conducted by Travel Leaders Group as part of its annual trends survey. Peru topped the list for locations in Central and South America, with Thailand number one for Asia/Southeast Asia and Tahiti coming in at the top for the Pacific region.
For travelers who want to explore nature, Iceland offers a breathtaking landscape of mountains and glaciers, waterfalls and black-sand beaches. Enjoy a relaxing dip in the waters of the Blue Lagoon, a geothermal spa that’s just 40 minutes away from the lively capital of Reykjavik. Landmannalaugar National Park, in southern Iceland, is known for its hot springs and hiking trails. Take a tour from Reykjavik to see the northern lights, with September to April the optimal months for this dazzling nighttime display. Summertime, from April to September, is the best time for a whale-watching voyage off of Iceland’s coast.
Thailand draws travelers with its tropical beaches, ornate temples, and ancient ruins. In Bangkok, the temple complex is known for its large collection of Buddhist images. You can spend all day browsing at the Chatuchak Weekend Market, with thousands of booths selling items from all over the country. The 18th-century Grand Palace complex, in the heart of the city, is a must for any first-time visitor. After a few days in Bangkok, head to one of Thailand’s beach resorts. Koh Samui, Thailand’s second-largest island, offers lots to do in addition to sunbathing. Walk through the night market at Fisherman’s Village, go snorkeling at the Ang Thong National Marine Park, and take a cooking class at the Samui Institute of Thai Culinary Arts.
The South American country of Peru is a natural destination for travelers interested in ancient history. You’ll want to visit the spectacular ruins of Machu Picchu, a 15th-century citadel built by the Incas high in the Andes Mountains. In Lima, the capital, learn about Peru’s history by visiting Museo Larco, with its collection of pre-Columbian artifacts. Spend some time in the upscale Miraflores District, home to shops, bars, and restaurants. Take a walk along the Parque del Amor, known for its colorful mosaics, flowers and gorgeous views of the Pacific Ocean.
Tahiti is the largest island in French Polynesia, offering visitors both a relaxing beach vacation and plenty of water-based activities. You can relax and bask in the sunshine as well as enjoy swimming, snorkeling and surfing. Head to La Plage de Maui, on the island’s southern shore, for soft white-sand beaches and calm, clear water. Papeete, the capital, is a center for dining, nightlife and local crafts. Accommodations in Tahiti include overwater bungalows, with a staircase that will take you right to the ocean.