According to Travel and Leisure, the Top 10 Travel Destinations are as diverse a group as you can get. From the ultra lux Abu Dhabi to off the beaten path Xishuangbanna, China to down home rural Arkansas, it's an interesting list of contrasts for the discerning traveler. Here are their picks and our take on these up and comers, refreshed cities or newly recognized hotspots.
Agreed. Often touted as India's stepchild, Sri Lanka is beginning to come into its own limelight with eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites, 1,330 kilometers of coastline, 15 national parks showcasing an abundance of wildlife, nearly 500,000 acres of lush tea estates, 250 acres of botanical gardens, 350 waterfalls, 25,000 water bodies, and a culture that dates back over 2,500 years. They had a record breaking year in 2011 for tourism welcoming over 800,000 visitors with the majority from India, Japan, Germany, U.K, France, Netherlands, Italy, and Middle East. 2012 doesn't show any signs of slowing down as more and more Western countries begin to uncover it's wonders.
Definitely agreed. Touted as the NYC of Canada, Toronto has been climbing its way up many's list of favorite cities. 2010 was a record year for tourism in Toronto as the number of hotel room nights sold reached over 8.93 million. Toronto moved up to sixth place in hotel occupancy among top North American cities from 10th a year ago. In terms of attractions, Canada's National Tower (CN Tower) opened a new extreme, EdgeWalk, which is the first of its kind in North America, the world's highest full circle hands-free walk on one of the world's greatest man-made wonders. In addition 2011-2012 brought a number of new upscale hotels to Toronto including the Trump International Toronto Tower, Shangri-La and Four Seasons.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines
Agreed, but SVG isn't as exclusive or elitist as they portray it to be. Remote yes, but plenty accessible. Its casual, unpretentiously friendly people and deep wealth of natural attractions make this collection of 32 islands and cays a life-renewing experience. From the imposing La Soufriere volcano at 4,048 ft. to the oldest botanical gardens in the Western Hemisphere, SVG is as much a nature lover's paradise as a sailing and diving gem.
Mmm no way, too random. Portugal is really known for its gorgeous beaches, and I'm not sure this landlocked area makes the cut. Instead, our pick is Italy's Amalfi Coast, which has recently been getting star power with the likes of Kim Kardashian's short-lived honeymoon and famously as one of Elizabeth Taylor's favorite vacation spots. Often overshadowed by Rome, Venice, Florence and Tuscany, the rugged southern shore dividing the Bay of Naples from the Gulf of Salerno is a restful and picturesque area full of miniature towns, caves, castles and crashing cliffs.
Agreed, but mainly for the recent pop culture love they've been getting from Sex and the City 2 making every fashionista wants to hit the UAE. Headquarters of the world's richest oil companies, Abu Dhabi is capitalizing on its modern sophistication, amazing duty-free shopping, luxury hotels and world class infrastructure.
Costa Navarino, Greece
Meh, there are more interesting spots on the radar than struggling Greece, like Europe's Dalmatian coast. With over 1,000 miles of emerald-blue waters, secluded pebble beaches and countless unspoiled islands, Croatia is one of the most romantic honeymoon spots in the world with impressive medieval castles, national parks and charming local villages.
Possibly, but still pretty remote. We're not sure Westerners are brave enough to venture off the beaten path in red-shirted China. Combining influences of neighboring Burma, and Laos, and Vietnam, Xishuangbanna is a cultural melting pot, but if you're worried about safety or obscurity, hit up Taipei first. Taiwan is brimming with amazing food, adventure and shopping.
Southern Bahia, Brazil
Bahia may be a beautiful beach town, but it's still not that mainstream yet. Due to Rio's massive infrastructure overhaul for the 2016 Olympics, we say get there first and check out the new digs - and what's being retired. Vila Autódromo, a favela situated in the heart of Barra's Olympic Park was removed in 2013 to allow for further construction. See the legendary city before it's completely modernized.
Agreed, but we'd broaden this to Germany in general. The land of fairy tales, Germany where farmland minstrels headed to Bremen to become musicians, where Sleeping Beauty was woken and Little Red Riding Hood ventured into the woods. Discover the country that gave us Beethoven and Bauhaus, Goethe and Glühwein, Lager and Lederhosen.
Agreed, Panama is certainly Central America's most overlooked country. The Panama Canal just completed a $5.2 billion expansion to will its capacity and make it one of the most sought after cruise ports in honor of it's 100th birthday. The name, Panama, means "abundance of fish and butterflies," in an indigenous language, which gives a good indication of the wild wonders to be found here, beyond its rather daunting, but fascinating capital, Panama City.
Mozambique's Northern Coast
Most of Africa aside from the major safari areas and Cape Town are still considered undiscovered gems. In Africa it really depends what you're looking for - if it's spiritual enlightenment head to Mecca in Saudi Arabia, solo travel try the Red Sea in Egypt or Seychelles for an island escape. Mozambique is cosmopolitan beach town with old world charm.