When it comes to where to travel, more and more Australians are choosing up-and-coming destinations over well-known favourites. This year, we're still seeking Asian getaways, tropical islands and adventure-packed escapes, but finding it all in new places. Cuba, Myanmar, Antarctica, Iceland and Sri Lanka have us packing our bags. Here’s why…
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The last two years have been pretty big for Cuba: the diplomatic restoration with America, Netflix and Airbnb have become available, and let's not forget the Rolling Stones' Havana Moon concert. Beyond the beaches and technicolour streets – Cuban cliches that remain as mandatory viewing – you'll discover a surprising blend of forests, scenic countryside and mountains. Oh, and plenty of retro charm too.
With its own distinct identity, the island nation is home to an almost endless list of cultures – primarily African and Spanish – which results in incredible architecture, music, dance and, of course, food. A multi-coloured gem in the Caribbean, Cuba is a great option for budget-wary travellers and those seeking a tropical island escape.
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Definitely hot on the travel radar right now, Myanmar is the word on travel writers' lips across the globe. Enchanting and utterly serene, the Southeast Asian nation (formerly Burma) is rapidly developing and the time to go is – without a doubt – now.
Blessed with time-forgotten villages, sprawling rural regions, fascinating sacred sites and the world-famous Inle Lake, Myanmar has plenty of natural charms, but its people really make the nation stand out. With a genuine warmth and enthusiasm to meet all who visit, the locals will really make you feel special and keep you excited to return again and again.
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This one's definitely for the thrill-seekers out there. A little more pricey to visit than Cuba and Myanmar, Antarctica is only accessible for travellers by cruise ship, so don't expect to find a cheap commercial flight any time soon. You will be rewarded, however, with other-worldly sights, extraordinary wildlife and adventure opportunities like mountain climbing and even kayaking.
Giant glaciers and towering mountains will make you feel tiny in comparison, while spotting Antarctica's seals, emperor penguins and whales will be a definite highlight of your winterland adventure. Pack a ridiculous amount of thermal underwear.
From one icy wonderland to the next – Iceland has quickly become a hit with Australian travellers looking for one-of-a-kind adventures. The fact that it's been made even more famous by Game of Thrones might also have something to do with it.
Situated near the Arctic Circle, Iceland requires a long flight – well over 24 hours in fact – but is worth the trip, boasting volcanos, glaciers, rivers, caves, mountains and the iconic Northern Lights. Besides the natural wonders, the island has a booming live music scene, as well as adventure experiences aplenty. Make time for discovering Iceland's Nordic legends and getting to know its lovely locals.
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Australians have an undeniable love affair with warm, tropical islands – especially in Asia – and Sri Lanka has clearly stolen our hearts. With eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the South Asian nation has more than enough natural beauty to make the troubles of every day life magically disappear.
Beaches, rainforests and waterfalls – plus an elephant or two – are solid reasons for visiting, while Sri Lanka's spiritual and historical sites are a must-see. Friendly locals round out the whole soul-enriching experience and the favourable Aussie dollar conversion is a welcomed bonus.
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