The Taj Mahal in India at sunset

Where will be popular in 2018? Our predictions

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There’s something about a new year that brings about the plan-making in us. Maybe it’s purchasing a new diary with fresh pages, or maybe now that the festive season is over our minds turn to what’s ahead.

If you use January as an excuse to map out your year, you’ve probably already thought about what countries you would like to visit. You’re not the only one as January is one of the most popular times of year to book, with airlines and hotels offering an array of early bird discounts. If you’re short on inspiration, however, here are our predictions on what destinations will be must-visits over the next 12 months. 

1. Japan

Kiyomizu-dera temple in Kyoto during sunset

Japan is an island full of wonders. Whether you’re looking for sky-high cities, fascinating culture, or stunning natural landscapes, you’ll find it in this two-island destination. The country also boasts an impressive bullet train service, making it an excellent choice for a touring holiday if you can’t choose between the popular cities of Tokyo, Osaka or Kyoto.

2. Vietnam

Tourists on a guided river boat tour in Vietnam

Vietnam is the perfect mix between old-school oriental charm and modern-day buzz. Its capital, Hanoi, is a mixing bowl of French and Asian culture and boasts a European feel with a lively old quarter. Down in the south though you’ll find tranquil beaches in the resorts of Hue, Nha Trang and Hoi An (but if you begin to crave the city, the bustling Ho Chi Minh City can also be found in the south).

3. Argentina

The Iguazu Falls from above.

South America is a once-in-a-lifetime destination, and Argentina is currently its hotbed. Get lost in the infectious spirit of Buenos Aires where you can tango until seven in the morning. Then take a trip to the breath-taking Iguaza Falls on the Argentinian and Brazilian border. And remember to pop by the Andes.

4. Italy

Colourful buildings along the coast in Genoa Italy

Thanks to its generous offering of tourist hotspots, Italy makes this list every year. Whether it’s the canals of Venice, iconic buildings of Rome, the shopping in Milan, the scenic views of Lake Garda, or the rich architectural heritage of Genoa – Italy offers something for every traveller.

5. China

Gold pavilion in Chinese garden

China is a fascinating country, whether you’re looking for city lights or iconic world wonders. Celebrate modern China in the city of Shanghai, with its high rise buildings, the charming People’s Square and first-class Grand Theatre. Then explore the oriental temples of Beijing, before moving onto the ancient sites of Xi’an – including the Terracotta Warriors.

6. Croatia

Old Istrian town in Rovinj Croatia during the day with lots of boats in the harbour.

Croatia has seen a surge in popularity over the past few years, largely thanks to Game of Thrones. But this beautiful country is more than just the real-life location of the Red Keep and the House of the Undying. It is home to eight national parks, that are overflowing in fauna and flora, and the striking Postojna Caves.

7. Cuba

Buildings in Havana Cuba with a blue car outside them.

In 2017, the Cuban travel industry opened up and we’re predicting a rise in holidaymakers (especially from cruisers). A little bit different from the other islands in the Caribbean, Cuba boasts a unique, Latin-shaped history with an energetic atmosphere, as well as sunny beaches.

8. Thailand

A traditional boat in a secluded part of Thailand while the sun sets.

Thailand is always popular, and for good reason. Whether it’s the exotic aroma of lively Bangkok or the relaxed beaches of Koh Samui, Thailand offers something for beach-bums and city-lovers.

9. South Africa

Cape Town South Africa from above with the football stadium in full view.

If you’ve never been to Africa before, South Africa is the perfect place to start off. The city of Cape Town has plenty to offer such as Table Mountain, Robben Island and a modern waterfront with shops and restaurants. After you’ve explored the city, get back into nature with a safari in Kruger National Park or a shark diving expedition in Gansbaai.

10. India

The taj mahal in India from the front.

There are many sides to the country of India, but all of them are equally amazing. Feel the buzz in the bustling city of New Delhi, admire the Taj Mahal in Agra, or relax on the beaches of Goa. Whatever India you choose in 2018, we guarantee you’ll love it.

Where are you escaping to in 2018?

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Staff Travel Diaries: India Golden Triangle Tour

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Hi Lyndsay, tell us a little about yourself, what you do at Barrhead Travel and your trip to India?

Hi there. I’m Lyndsay and I am a Commerical Assistant at Barrhead Travel within the Business Development Team. India has always been a once in a lifetime experience for me personally, it’s somewhere I never ever thought I would visit. Working for Barrhead Travel is more than just a lifetime job, there is so much opportunity for you to visit/feel a destination for yourself – especially destinations that are a bit different or might be out your comfort zone. 

Although India was somewhere I also wanted to visit, I genuinely never thought it was for me as I like to go on beach holidays to relax and do my own thing opposed to an adventure holiday where you have your own local tour guide the full trip and you get to experience things like the locals which you don’t usually get to do on your usual beach/city holidays.

What parts of India did you visit?

I visited Delhi, Agra and Jaipur. This was the Golden Triangle Tour. A tour that gives you a feel for everything as each destination was really different to one another. Delhi was by the far the busiest city we visited. Everything was constant, cars beeping their horns every 10 seconds, roads with no lanes getting used so everyone was just driving wherever they could find a space, cows and goats walking around and stopping traffic whereas Agra and Jaipur was a bit more chilled out and touristy.

What attraction or activity was your favourite?

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Visiting the Taj Mahal is probably going to be the most amazing sight I will ever see. This place is just incredible! We had to get up at 4:30am to be there for 5am to ensure we were first in line as it gets really busy and also very hot. The gardens and the views were just spectacular, it’s hard to put into words how amazing it is to see this, you need to see it with your own eyes. When you first go through the entrance gate it’s almost like it’s really cloudy at the other end and then the more you begin to walk through the Taj Mahal just appears… amazing!

I also did a hot air balloon ride over the city of Jaipur, also known as “The Pink City”. This again was another early rise same time as the Taj visit although totally worth it for the sunrise. The balloon goes 2,000 feet up in the air and glides across the city very smoothly and has incredible views. The hot air balloon can hold up to 16 people (dependant on weight) as it is split into 4 different baskets, you would be surprised, I thought a hot air balloon ride could only hold 2 people! We landed the balloon in a local village which again was another amazing experience. Watching all the kids chase the balloon as we were landed was just so nice, it was like we were landing a UFO they were all super happy to see us!

What did you think of the hotels you stayed in?

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The hotels we stayed in were great, especially for a trip like this when you’re always out and about on the go and only need somewhere to sleep. The first two hotels we stayed in (The Picadilly Hotel and Seven Hills Tower) were a local 4/5* opposed to the other hotel we stayed in (Hotel Mabhuban) which was a heritage home. This was rated as a 3*, it was still comfortable and welcoming enough to sleep for 2 nights. On the second last night, we stayed at the local Fort Sawarda Village in Jaipur which is a 400 year old Fort but now converted into rooms etc. This was a real eye-opener for us as we got to live like proper locals for one night. This accommodation has no Wi-Fi, was very basic but had spectacular views.

What was the food like? Discover anything new?

The food was great considering I’m probably one of the fussiest people ever. I discovered that the majority of Indians are actually vegetarian so they have plenty options for everyone. You will find that you rarely get beef too. No menu in any restaurants will have any curries/Indian food that we get back home, I had never heard of the majority of things. A lot of curries are made with goat instead of chicken, which again was a shock to me. They have loads to offer though and are able to cater for everyone. They even have your usual McDonalds and KFCs!

What would you recommend someone packs when visiting India?

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I visited India in the summer months, which was very hot. Ensure you have a lot of sun cream – there were days where it was 43 degrees.

You always need to be mindful when visiting religious places. You must respect their religion and cover up your knees, legs and shoulders.

I took a few pairs of trousers that were loose and light so you don’t get too warm along with proper t-shirts and not vests.

I also packed a LOT of bug spray. Mosquitos are everywhere and you don’t see them. I recommend taking plenty of bug spray and ensure your full body is covered and not just the parts you can see.

Even though this is an adventure and touring trip, still pack your swimming stuff as you will more than likely have some free time to chill out at the pool. Most hotels I visited had a pool or even a spa area.

Some of the hotel sockets were just the same as back home so we didn’t need an adapter, although I also used the European and US adapter. I would take a variety of both as this sometimes varies. I also took along an extension cable as many rooms only have one plug. 

What are your top tips for someone visiting India?

I carried around tissues and wipes everywhere as sometimes public toilets didn’t have these.

Anti-bacterial hand gel. You can never have too much. 

You are able to wear whatever you wish, although I recommend carrying a scarf around in your bag in case you need to cover up when visiting local mosques/religious places.

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