New year, new destinations: Where to travel in 2015
Forget Bali this holdiay season, we've put together a list of must-see travel destinations to tick off your bucket list in 2015. From quad biking in Greece to scuba-diving in Panama, we teamed up with Travel Insurance Direct's resident travel expert, Phil Sylvester to wrap up 10 of the best quirky, fun and under-the-radar holiday spots you need to see this summer. You're welcome!
Myanmar boasts rural and urban cultural attractions, but the most visited city is the capital, Yangon. The local nightlife reveolves around 'beer stations', which are open air restuarants that serve alcohol (often draught beer) and where the locals gather in large crowds to get their dose of EPL football.
Top travel tip: ATMs are few and far between. Major hotels accept credit card payment for rooms and internally-provided services. For small transactions such as taxi rides, food from a street stall, and small purchases, you will pay in Kyat (the local currency). Larger purchases and services fees will need to be paid in US dollars. Make sure the notes are new, as creased, torn or crumpled notes will not be accepted. Watch out when you are given US dollars in change, as you’ll receive damaged notes which you may not be able to use again.
Mykonos is the in-between island of relaxation (Santorini) and party (Ios). Dance until the early hours or book a festival like the popular Xlsior, and rest your body the next day by the beach or local resorts. There’s good public transport on Mykonos, except if you want to explore the remote northern beaches (and who doesn’t). Hiring a quad bike is a popular alternative and local laws for experienced tourist drivers have changed to ensure safer roads.
Top travel tip: If you’re flying in to Athens airport, the port of Rafina is closer than the port of Piraeus. Ferries from Rafina to Mykonos are also about an hour faster. Mid-June to mid-August, you MUST book a seat on a ferry.
The beautiful Icelandic glaciers are unrivalled, with stunning views from vantage points such as Sólheimajökull. If you fancy a bit of glacier hiking, book ahead and get a guide who will help you navigate the weather.
Top travel tip: If you’re there in summer, bring an eye mask for a better night sleep. It never gets dark, and the sun barely dips below the horizon in the north, making it the ultimate location for 72-hour festival, Secret Solstice.
Brazilians are amongst the friendliest, happiest and most-welcoming people on the planet, so you’re bound to have a great time. Book in February for Rio Carnival or year round to visit the iconic Iguaçu Falls or the Amazon River.
Top travel tip: Petty thievery can be a problem in Brazil, so put away the flashy jewellery, leave the expensive watch at home, keep the camera tucked away and don’t leave your phone lying around.
Panama is all about island exploration. From Playa Las Lajas to Isla Toboga and the Pearl Islands, explore the hidden gems of the beaches and if you're a scuba diver you must check out Bocas Town for beautiful coral reefs.
Top travel tip: The once ubiquitous Diablos Rojos (converted former school buses used for local transport) are disappearing fast, only a few remain. Pay the 25 – 35 cent fare and take a ride for old time’s sake (but beware it can be an uncomfortable ride,)
Perhaps the most French of all the Franco-isles of the South Pacific. French sensibilities in an island location means you can munch on a croissant before heading off to snorkel in a pristine blue lagoon.
Top travel tip: Remember to take the insect repellent – dengue fever can be a problem between February and May.
Korean culture is varied and multi-faceted.The greater metropolitan area of Seoul has a population about the size of all of Australia – 25 million. South of the river is the district of Gangnam - the neon-lit, steel skyscraper-lined heart of the heavily urbanised, futuristic South Korea. An awesome urban playground which is well worth a look. Even better is that petty crime, pickpocketing and violent crime are almost unheard of in Seoul.
Top travel tip: No need to keep a hawk's eye on your belongings as pickpoting and violent crime are almost unheard of in Seoul, however there is somewhat of an intolerance to foreigners. Pack your manners travellers!
Colombo is electric and fast paced. Every developing nation has some pretty exciting traffic conditions, but Sri lanka really stands out. There appear to be no rules. Cars, buses, mopeds and pedestrians are everywhere. You will have no trouble getting to know the locals as tourists are showered in warmth.
Top travel tip: Hire a driver who knows all the local routes and can show you some must-sees off the tourist map.
Nicaragua is one of the safest countries in Central America and backpacker-friendly. Cheaps eats and tourist sites mean you will never be bored but don't have to worry about breaking your budget. Surfing and hiking are some of the best outdoor activities with numerous locatiosn to choose from.
Top travel tip: The best and cheapest way to get around is by local bus – also known as a “chicken bus” because a crate of chickens is bound to be brought on board at some stage.
The Okinawa islands stretch in a line between Japan and Taiwan. This is where Japanese go for a warmer holiday. The archipelago also has some of the best diving in the world (it’s claimed to be better than the Great Barrier Reef).
Top travel tip: If you are going diving, make sure you follow your instructor's rules, remove valuable jewellery and preferably dive earlier in the day.