Where do you see yourself in 2019? Picnicking under the shade of 1000-year old trees at the moss-laden gates of Angkor Wat in Cambodia? Is that you, riding a quad bike past the shifting sand dunes of the world’s oldest desert? Perhaps the lush canopies of Costa Rica‘s tropical forests call out to you, with the promise of rare Quetzal sightings? Inspired by the masterlist of the best places to visit in 2019 from the good folks over at Travel and Leisure magazine, let’s help you narrow the list down!
Based on recommendations from travel writers around the world, a team of top-rated advisers and editors, T+L’s masterlist of 50 Best places to travel in 2019 is an inspiration in itself. We, however, have picked our favorites that proudly feature in our collection of 45 destinations around our enchanting world.
Best places to visit in 2019: Amazing Asia
Not only architecture, but culinary delights play their part too in making Hoi An the city of choice for visitors to Vietnam.
Got Asia on your mind? Start off in the Far East, at Hoi An. Vietnam’s most historically significant and beautiful port city is rightly deserving of its UNESCO-protected “Ancient Town” status. A melting pot of cultural influences, Hoi An’s diversity is plenty evident in every lantern-laden corner, past its French colonial buildings to its Chinese shops, and in the aroma of freshly made bahn mi wafting from street carts by the old temples. Not only its architecture, but also its culinary delights, liberally peppered with a smattering of chic new beachfront properties, all play their part in making this the city of choice for visitors. Just a few minutes from the bustle of downtown, the Four Seasons Nam Hai offers unbelievable luxury by one of Asia’s most scenic beaches. Back in town, you could just as easily lose yourself in the luxury of a perfectly prepared dish at Cô Mai – a re-purposed 200-year-old merchant house turned posh new eatery which celebrates Hoi An’s spice trade history. Or hop on a vespa and ride out to town, stopping only to sample the famed streetside fare, rated by many travelers as the most unique and flavorful in all of Vietnam!
If you’re spoiling for a beach, we recommend Koh Rong, in Cambodia.
Next door, Cambodia is just as impressive. Apart from the imposing Angkor Temples and Siem Reap (for these are must-see, must-do too!), head southwards to architect Bill Bensley’s remote tented camp Shinta Mani Wild. Google may have the location pegged as ‘unnamed road’, but we love just that – luxury amid 400 acres of lush greenery entirely untouched and unspoiled. And if you’re spoiling for a beach, might we direct you to Koh Rong – mile after mile of soft white sand flanked by powder blue waters. Soak in the sun at the Royal Sands Koh Rong, snug in your hammock under the shade of gently swaying coconut palms.
Langkawi, an archipelago of 99 islands, is the real star of Malaysia.
If you have beach on your mind, then Malaysia surely fits the bill. The country may be home to mischievous orangutans swinging around in prehistoric rainforests, and a melting pot of culture in its cities and coastal towns, but the real star is Langkawi, an archipelago of 99 islands. Tucked away by a near-hidden piece of paradise, the recently refurbished Dataioffers a canopy walk 50 feet up in the air – all the better for soaking in the ancient rainforest! Further inland, Langkawimay retains its idyllic charm but if its some world class pampering you are looking for, options also include the ultra-luxe St Regis by the largest swimmable lagoon on the island, and the time-tested Four Seasons set on a mile-long private beach.
Singapore is making the most of its colorful cultural and heritage sites, which includes a lively Chinatown, Hawkers Centers, colorful Malay quarters, mosques, temples and even Little India.
For the glitz and glamour however, look no further than Singapore, the glittering up and coming jewel in Asia’s crown. The 2018 movie Crazy Rich Asians has sparked renewed interest in what was once summarily dismissed as the “global business center” by travelers. Outside of the office buildings that line downtown, the city is making the most of its colorful heritage, including a lively Chinatown, colorful Malay quarters, and even Little India where shops hawk everything from garlands to curry to gold! Away from the bustle of the Hawker Centers and Clark Quay, that enduring hub of nighttime activity, Singapore’s many man made wonders, such as the Gardens by the Bay, find favor with locals and visitors alike. And there is plenty of ritzy accommodation, from the wonderfully restored Raffles that’s slated to reopen next year, to the brand new Six Senses Singapore, or iconic casino-hotel Marina Bay Sands.
Best places to visit in 2019: Undiscovered India
Uttarakhand may be best known for its Hindu pilgrimage sites but just as many know Rishikesh as the “yoga capital of the world”.
Fancy following in the footsteps of the Beatles? Then Uttarakhand, in northern India, is for you. Home to a section of the Himalayas, Uttarakhand may be best known for its Hindu pilgrimage sites but just as many know Rishikesh as the “yoga capital of the world”. In 1968, the Beatles enjoyed a brief sojourn here, seeking spiritual guidance by the banks of the holy river, Ganges. You don’t want to miss the evening Ganga Arti ritual, when priests worship the river with lighted lamps. Outside of the small city of Rishikesh, Uttarakhand’s landscape alone is enough to induce a state of spiritualism – bubbling brooks, green meadows, giant glaciers and glass-surfaced lakes all make Uttrakhand a spectacular destination. Adventure enthusiasts will enjoy the many hiking and trekking trails, but if camping out isn’t your style, the more sedate Raga on the Gangeswellness retreat may just be what the doctored ordered! For a luxury spa experience, check into The Anand Spa, erstwhile home of the Maharaja of Tehri-Garhwal and now the destination of choice for R&R.
Floating away in wild and beautiful isolation on the Bay of Bengal, the Andamans are the epitome of castaway chic.
The Andaman Islands, set to the south of mainland, is another perfect stop for rest and relaxation. Floating away in wild and beautiful isolation on the Bay of Bengal, the Andamans are the epitome of castaway chic. Nature lovers will be in their ultimate element here, since the 300+ islands and islets (including the Nicobar Islands) are lushly covered in misty, emerald rain forests, home to a myriad of exotic fauna and flora. There’s plenty and nothing to do – you could set out to explore the jungles, or dive in to discover the colorful underwater world, or grab some suntan, put up your feet, and enjoy the balmy tropical breeze at a completely secluded beach. T+L may be taken with the five star Taj Exotica for helping with that, but we’re leaning toward the brand new Jalakara villa hotel that offers all the boutique luxuries of a premium resort amid a pristine, undeveloped environment – a far cry from the Maldives or Mauritius.
Best places to visit in 2019: Awe-inspiring Africa
Urban Africa is wildly beautiful too – from its artsy new hotels and the famous Giraffe Manor, to buzzing shopping and nightlife, art exhibitions, and Kazuri, where tribal women design handmade jewelry.
If the land of giants is more to your taste, you’ll be thrilled to hear about the new non-stop flight from New York to Nairobi, courtesy Kenyan airways. You’re probably planning a Kenyan safari but before you set off, Nairobi has an exploding creative scene to offer. Urban Africa is wildly beautiful too – from its artsy new hotels and the famous Giraffe Manor where you can choose to dine with the elegant animals, to buzzing shopping and nightlife, art exhibitions, and Kazuri, where local women design colorful jewelry by hand! Nairobi National Park at Kenya‘s capital city, offers some interesting hiking and game drive options, while the Ole Sereni offers great views of the park itself. If you’re off to safari, what better than that old favorite – Masai Mara.
And if you travel with us, there’s something extra special on offer – lunch or dinner with Enchanting Travels COO and Co-Founder Florian Keller, who now lives in the historic house where the Oscar-winning Meryl Streep-Robert Redford starrer Out of Africa was filmed! Read more about it here.
Nothing quite beats the thrill of coming face to face with an endangered silverback, or watching a family of chimps in the impenetrable forests of Rwanda.
For an African safari with a difference, there’s no better place than Rwanda. One of the best places to visit in 2019 owing to the increasingly improving infrastructure, we’re quite certain that Rwanda will continue to enthrall visitors well into the next decade. And why not? After all, nothing quite beats the thrill of coming face to face with an endangered silverback, or watching a family of chimps care for each other deep inside an impenetrable forest. Less known, but just as impressive, is Rwanda’s coffee, easily available at Kigali’s Question Coffee that works exclusively with female farmers.
Namibia has travelers from all over the world flocking to see the shifting dunes of the Namib as well as the salt and clay landscape of Sossusvlei.
Speaking of spectacular sites, how about a visit to a land older than time itself! We’re talking about the Namib, which is not only the world’s oldest desert but also has the tallest sand dunes in recorded history! The former German colony of Namibia has travelers from all over the world flocking to see the shifting dunes of the Namib as well as the salt and clay landscape of Sossusvlei (photographers take note), not to mention the Big Daddy (dune). There’re also some fabulous safari experiences to be had in Etosha and did we even mention the experience of sleeping out under a starlit Namib Rand? There are a gazillion reasons to visit Namibia in 2019, not least of them all are the fabulous new resorts coming up around the Sossusvlei. T+L also recommends the Shipwreck Lodge, Hoanib Valley Camp and Serra Cafema, but we have some lesser-known gems to add to your bucket-list Namibia experience, including the eco-conscious Desert Homestead, and the oasis-like Little Kulala.
In Seychelles, expect idyllic white sands, crystal clear waters and some of the world’s best snorkeling!
Top of the world experiences naturally lead us to think of some of the world’s best beaches – at stunning Seychelles. Think idyllic white sands, crystal clear waters and some of the world’s best snorkeling! This island paradise is every beach dream come true but that’s not all – the 115 islands are also home to ponderous giant tortoises, some more than 200 years old. Thousands of birds and many reptile species inhabit the palm filled forests and mangroves, and a quick hike or trek through the islands can be just as rewarding as an impromptu picnic on a sudden sandbar. You can make the most of world class luxury at premium hotels too – from the Banyan Tree at Mahe to the Constance Lemuria at Praslin, or the wonderfully exclusive Fregate Island Resort.
Best places to visit in 2019: Simply South and Central America
Discover Costa Rica, where jungle meets beach and charming coastal villages dot the pristine, extensive coastline.
Closer to home, we couldn’t help but fall in love with Costa Rica’s jungle-meets-beach charm. Sun-worshippers are drooling over the long coastline – with the Caribbean on one side and the Pacific on the other, you’re spoiled for choice between beaches in Costa Rica. Add to it an incredible amount of biodiversity – how about a canopy walk at Monteverde’s cloud forests, or a volcano trek up at Arenal? A stunning few days spent whale watching later, you’ll have just as much fun watching tiny new sea turtles frantically make their way to the surf at Tortuguero. There are charming little coastal villages to keep you entertained too, such as a hidden gem called Manuel Antonio, where cozy beach shacks and cafes line the near-empty coastline. After all of this, you deserve some pampering at the famed Four Seasons spa, or even at our other favorite – Tabacon Grand Spa Thermal Resort amid some fabulous hot springs in the cool highlands of Arenal.
Visit Guatemala for its Andean landscapes, lush jungles, mysterious Mayan ruins, buzzing art and culture, colorful markets, and the hauntingly beautiful Lake Atitlan.
Just a little to the northwest, one of the hottest and best places to visit in 2019, Guatemala – the Land of Eternal Spring, is bouncing back into play after a slight setback from a volcanic eruption in early 2018. Guate, as the locals call it, has a whole lot of things to its credit – stunning Andean landscapes, lush jungles, mysterious Mayan ruins, buzzing art and culture in its capital, Guatemala City, colorful markets in its incredibly picturesque small towns and last, but definitely far from the least, the hauntingly beautiful Lake Atitlan. It’s no wonder that the folks over at T+L are raving about Casa Palopo, which offers stunning views of the lake, and, we are particularly interested to learn, a fabulous new menu that celebrates Guate’s local cuisine (as decreed by the top chef in the country!) But that’s not all – Antigua, that famous city of the past and the present, will lure you in with its eclectic vibe, colonial heritage and impossibly picturesque setting against a backdrop of volcanic peaks. Plenty of Antigua’s colonial style hotels speak of a glorious bygone era, including our favorites, the 16th century Palacio de Doña Leonor, and the upscale El Convento Boutique Hotel.
Escape to the Atacama desert for a spectacular bout of stargazing!
Further south, there’s a lot more stunning accommodation waiting for you in Chile, another destination on T+L’s masterlist of best places to visit in 2019. Apart from our favorite haciendas and estancias in Chile, and the eclipse chase slated to happen on July 2, 2019 at Elqui Valley (too late, sold out!), how about whiling away time at the Atacama desert? There’s some spectacular stargazing on offer, apart from nature trails, hot springs and salt flats, and some of our favorite hotels in the world – the superbly located Awasi Atacama, the unique Explora Atacama and the oh-so-chic Tierra too!
The pride and joy of South America boasts a homegrown art scene, and palaces and plazas that rival European hotspots of note.
If big city life is more to your taste, then look no further than Santiago. Riding on the wave of culinary explosion in Peru, Chile’s capital has been churning out some stunning new haute cuisine, and bucket-list restaurants by top class chefs. Out on the streets, you could also eat like a local at one of the 200 odd stalls in La Vega market or at the sublime seafood restaurants in Mercado Central. That’s not all- the pride and joy of South America boasts a homegrown art scene, and palaces and plazas that rival European hotspots of note. And if you need any more reason to visit Chile, how about the boho chic port city of Valparaiso, where colorful houses, artisanal shops and bohemian bars rule the roost? Back in Santiago, stay in the heart of the action at Bella Vista, snug inside the quaint Castillo Rojo. Or soak up the luxury at the Ritz Carlton, no less plush than a palace!
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