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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a Hanoi monument

10 must-visit historical monuments and temples in Hanoi

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The capital of Vietnam is one of Asia’s most visited cities. Found in the centre of the country and perched on the banks of the Red River, Hanoi is sometimes referred to as the Paris of the East thanks to an atmosphere that is equal parts cultural and cosmopolitan. But one of its main charms is definitely its extensive and multi-faceted history that has given birth to fascinating museums and temples. In between visiting the modern day shopping malls and eating some of the best Vietnamese food the country has to offer, make sure you stop by these impressive relics.

Temple of Literature

Temple of Literature in Hanoi

This Confucian temple was founded in 1070 by Emperor Ly Thanh Tong and is the site of Vietnam’s first university, established here in 1076, when entrance was only granted to those of noble birth. Inside you’ll find statues of Confucius and his disciples, steles with inscriptions of the names of distinguished scholars, a pavilion dedicated to the Constellation of Literature, plus the Well of Heavenly Clarity.

You’ll find the temple on Van Mieu Street, about two kilometers from Hoan Kiem Lake.

National Museum of Vietnamese History

Vietnam National Museum of History in Hanoi

Another must-see (as well as a great place to get a good all-round introduction) is the National Museum of Vietnamese History. Found just down from the Opera House, exhibit highlights include the menacing sculpture of Quan Am (the Goddess of Mercy who has 1,000 eyes and arms), Hung era and Neolothic mortuaries, and items from Vietnam’s pre-history before the 1947 revolution that led to the country we know today.

The building itself is also a tremendous example of historical architecture. Built between 1925 and 1932, the architect Ernest Hebrard constructed what was to be the first building in Vietnam to blend together French and Chinese design elements.

Ngoc Son Temple

Ngoc Son Temple in Hanoi

Arguably Hanoi’s most visited temple, you’ll find Ngoc Son Temple on a small island in the Hoan Kiem Lake accessible by a crimson red bridge. The name means ‘Temple of the Jade Mountain’ in English and was built in allegiance to General Tran Hung Dao (who defeated the Mongols in the 13th century), La To (patron saint of physicians) and the scholar Van Xuong.

Hoan Kiem Lake

Hoan Kiem Lake in Hanoi

The lake that surrounds Ngoc Son Temple also has a fascinating backstory. Legend has it that in the 15th Century, Heaven sent a magical sword in the direction of Emperor Ly Thai To, who was to use it to protect Vietnam against the Chinese. But the sword was to be used only for the war, and after the war had ended a green turtle grabbed the sword off him and dived into the lake (the lake’s literal English translation is Lake of the Restored Sword).

Bach Ma Temple

The inside of the Back Ma Temple

Considered to be the oldest temple in the city, the Bach Ma Temple is unassuming at first but inside lies some of Hanoi’s most sought after historical remnants. When you move through its wooden doors, you’ll set your eyes on a statue of a white horse – with folklore suggesting that Emperor Ly Thai To built the temple in the 11th Century to honour a white horse that guided him to this site.

Located in the heart of the Old Quarter, the current structure and exterior walls were most recently reconstructed in 18th century (and the shrine to Confucius was added in 1839).

Quan Su Temple

The exterior of the Quan Su Temple in Hanoi.

Hanoi has been the centre for Vietnamese Buddhism for over 1,000 years and since 1858 the Quan Su Temple has been the Vietnam Buddhist Association’s Headquarters (the word Quan Su has origin in the old word for “embassy”). Originally the temple was used as a boarding house for Buddhist Ambassadors visiting from other countries, but in 1822 it was opened to the public and routinely filled with worshippers and travellers.

Trấn Quốc Pagoda

Tran Quoc Pagoda in Hanoi at Twilight

Boasting a lifespan of roughly 1,450 years, the Trấn Quốc Pagodais the oldest temple in Hanoi. Found on the south-eastern shore of Hanoi’s West Lake, monks have lived here for centuries teaching the public about Buddhist philosophy. Across the complex there is a wealth of Buddhist symbolism, including lotus flower statues, a stone wall with carvings of lotus flowers and a Bodhi tree. The temple also has nearby statues of gods and goddesses that were worshipped in Vietnam before Buddha.

Hanoi Opera House

Hanoi Opera House during the day with cars driving in front of it.

The Hanoi Opera house was constructed between 1901 and 1911 while it was still a French colony and was based on the architecture of the Palais Garnier in Paris. Today the stage hosts a mix of Vietnamese and Western ballets, opera shows and orchestras.

Imperial Citadel of Thang Long

Thang Long Citadel in Hanoi during the day

A UNESCO World Heritage, Hanoi’s Imperial Citadel was the hub of Vietnamese military power for over 1,000 years. The first royal enclosure was built by the Lý Dynasty and subsequently expanded by the Trần, Lê and finally the Nguyễn Dynasty. The Hanoi Flag Tower (built during the Nguyen Dynasty) is a symbol of the city.

Old East Gate

Hanoi once had sixteen medieval gates that guarded the city, however, this is the only one that remains today. The gate is of historical significance but isn’t the easiest to spot – it can be found on the narrow street corner between Hang Chieu and Dao Duy Tu Street. It is also sometimes referred to as Cua O Quan Chong.

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