DestinationsThese 10 exciting destinations are on Travel Weekly Asia’s hot list.

Where to travel in 2023: Top ravishing places of the world

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Edge of the World, a natural landmark and popular tourist destination near Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Edge of the World, a natural landmark and popular tourist destination near Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Photo Credit: Adobe Stock/AFZALKHAN

1. Saudi Arabia

For decades Saudi Arabia was largely off the international travel circuit and the only visitors it attracted were religious pilgrims to Mecca, but all that changed in 2019 when the Islamic country adopted an open approach to tourism. The newly opened country has since 2019 introduced a new tourist visa, offering travellers access to some of its best-kept secrets – think the ancient ruins of AlUla; mud-brick palaces of At-Turaif; diving in the Red Sea and wondrous cliffs of the Edge of the World. Hospitality heavyweights from Waldorf Astoria to Rosewood and Four Seasons have set up luxury outposts in the country, and soon visitors can expect astounding attractions like Neom to become modern marvels in this intriguing destination.

The yellow taxi cabs are a widely recognisable symbol of New York City.
The yellow taxi cabs are a widely recognisable symbol of New York City. Photo Credit: Adobe Stock/Juli M.

2. New York City

Few cities on the planet can compete with New York City, the stuff of countless novels, movies and songs. Thanks to its bustling 24-hour vibe, high energy and great diversity, the city offers infinite possibilities for first-rate dining, cultural activity, and unparalleled shopping. First-time visitors gravitate towards Manhattan, but repeat travellers will find a lot more to explore in the other boroughs of Brooklyn, The Bronx, Queens and Staten Island – each with its distinct character and offerings. But the city is not all glass and steel; bountiful parks, museums and an ever-evolving hotel and dining scene keep people coming back. 

Spectacular aurora borealis, or northern lights, over winter landscape in Finnish Lapland.
Spectacular aurora borealis, or northern lights, over winter landscape in Finnish Lapland. Photo Credit: Adobe Stock/AkuAku

3. Finland

Visitors are attracted to this Scandinavian country, the world’s happiest, for its abundance of nature, fresh air and natural phenomena. Each of its four distinct seasons offers visitors unique things to experience – think cross-country skiing and snowmobiling in winter or witnessing the midnight sun in summer. The Finnish Lapland is one of the world’s best destinations to spot and admire the northern lights, or Aurora Borealis, while visitors can get upclose to Santa Claus in his official hometown of Rovaniemi, right on the border of the Arctic Circle.

Horses grazing near yurt tents amid the towering mountains of Kyrgyzstan.
Horses grazing near yurt tents amid the towering mountains of Kyrgyzstan. Photo Credit: Adobe Stock/Pavel Svoboda

4. Kyrgyzstan

There’s a reason why this tiny nation is often dubbed “the Switzerland of Asia” – its natural beauty is pristine, untouched and wild. The nomadic way of life remains pretty much alive in Kyrgyzstan, so a stay in a yurt, horse riding and eagle hunting will offer fascinating insights in the Kyrgyz culture. There are over 88 major mountain ranges in the country, most of them around Tien Shan, giving rise to dramatic alpine lakes, snow-covered peaks and gorgeous passes. Kyrgyzstan is a young nation, having achieved independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, and its tourism industry is still nascent (read: less crowds). 

Prince Palace and the old town of Monaco.
Prince Palace and the old town of Monaco. Photo Credit: Adobe Stock/Boris Stroujko

5. Monaco

The world’s second smallest country has a lot more to offer than just Formula 1 races, casinos and glamorous residents. Tucked between a sun-kissed stretch of coastline between France and Italy, Monaco state packs a mighty punch within its two square kilometre confines. Monaco’s Hôtel de Paris, the stuff of hotel legend, is graced by celebrities aplenty; the majestic Oceanographic Museum is perched on the cliffside overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, while Elsa lures diners with impeccable farm-to-table food, and is the world’s only Michelin-starred restaurant that is 100% organic.

The Treasury through a cave opening at Petra ruins in Jordan.
The Treasury through a cave opening at Petra ruins in Jordan. Photo Credit: Adobe Stock/mindstorm

6. Jordan

Ancient architecture, desert adventures and spectacular holy sites are what beckon travellers to Jordan. The most popular attraction in the country, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Petra – also known as the Rose City – is home to breathtaking archaeology sculpted out of rock. Dana Biosphere Reserve, the largest of its kind in Jordan, is one of the best places in the world for stargazing, while the Dead Sea, with its high salinity levels, allow swimmers to float on the water. The capital city of Amman, dating back to 13th century BC, is where visitors truly get to experience the Middle Eastern arts and culture.

The old town of Mostar and its iconic bridge in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The old town of Mostar and its iconic bridge in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Photo Credit: Adobe Stock/Freesurf

7. Bosnia and Herzegovina

While Croatia is overrun with tourists in summer, neighbouring Bosnia and Herzegovina remains one of the least visited destinations in Europe. Immense beauty is packed within the country: Its lakes come in mesmerising shades of blues and greens, towering mountains and gushing waterfalls are juxtaposed against quaint villages, and bridges and cobbled streets give way to spectacular architecture dating back to the ancient Ottoman Empire and Austro-Hungarian Empire era. Despite its turbulent and tragic recent history, the people of Bosnia are incredible warm and welcoming. This Balkan nation clearly warrants more attention.  

Paro Rinpung Dzong in Bhutan.
Paro Rinpung Dzong in Bhutan. Photo Credit: Adobe Stock/UlyssePixel

8. Bhutan

This small Himalayan kingdom reopened to the world in September 2022 with a renewed focus to keep the country as a “high value, low volume” destination, with international visitors now required to pay a sustainable development fee of US$200 a night, up from US$65 previously. Also reopening last year after extensive restoration work is the Trans Bhutan Trail, a 400km historic route that weaves through the country’s spectacular tapestry of deep valleys, lofty mountains, lush vegetation and 400 cultural sites from Haa in the west to Trashigang in the east. International tourists on the trail are required to go with a local guide.

People swimming at Kayangan Lake in Coron Island, Palawan, the Philippines.
People swimming at Kayangan Lake in Coron Island, Palawan, the Philippines. Photo Credit: Adobe Stock/Maxim Tupikov

9. Philippines

Boracay, Palawan and Cebu are probably the Philippines’ most famous beach destinations, but with 7,641 islands travellers can be assured that their own slice of paradise surely await this island-blessed country. Above water, breathtaking gems can be found in the Rice Terraces of Banaue, Bohol’s Chocolate Hills and Coron’s Kayangan Lake. Plus, its incredibly warm and friendly people, delectable food culture (sizzling sisig anyone?), and astounding festivals and street parades clearly are vital reasons why, as the country’s tourism slogan goes, ‘It’s more fun in the Philippines’. Travellers will never run out of things to do in the Philippines.

Aerial View of Mala Mala Island in Fiji.
Aerial View of Mala Mala Island in Fiji. Photo Credit: Adobe Stock/Marcin

10. Fiji

This archipelagic nation of 333 islands in the South Pacific ticks all the boxes of an idyllic tropical paradise, but it’s so much more than that. Fiji has everything to offer every type of traveller: honeymooners and couples will find luxury in the romantic getaways and overwater villas; families will delight in the array of exciting activities amid its lush rainforests, cerulean waters and rich Pacific island life; while underwater Fiji is an unsurpassed wonderland teeming with vibrant coral reefs and marine life. And did you know that both Cast Away and Survivor were filmed in Fiji?

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