At the end of 2017, Holiday Gems conducted a study to find the best-loved travel destinations. After interviewing 33 travel influencers – writers and bloggers – the online travel agent published the ultimate bucket-list of destinations. Here are the top three.

3rd place: Cuba, New Zealand and the Antarctic

A disparate group, all three locations attaining the bronze medal are considered to be dream destinations, and once-in-a-lifetime travel experiences.

Cuba

  • Visit for: sugar-white beaches, tropical flora, beautiful coves, salsa music and dancing
  • Must see: Spanish colonial architecture and pastel houses lining the streets of the capital, Havana
  • Bring home: the country’s legendary cigars

New Zealand

  • Visit for: white sandy beaches, beautiful mountains,
  • Must see: Wellington’s Mount Victoria was Middle Earth in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings
  • Bring home: Jade, also known as greenstone or pounamu

The Antarctic

  • Visit for: the jaw-dropping scenery, the wildlife
  • Must see: the wildlife: chinstrap, king and macaroni penguins; orka, humpback and minke whales; elephant and leopard seals; polar bears,
  • Bring home: limited souvenir options, but it’s likely to be stamped with “Antarctica”

2nd place: India

From the dry and dusty plains of the north, to the lush hills and valleys of the south, all punctuated with ruined cities of long-vanished medieaval empires, India wins the silver medal.

  • Visit for: the culture
  • Must see: Taj Mahal, statue-covered gopuram of Virupaksha Temple, Hampi, the beaches of Goa
  • Bring home: jewellery and pashmina

1st place: Japan

Nabbing the gold medal of bucket-list travel destinations is the island nation of Japan. Japanese culture has absorbed influences from across the world, and in turn has influenced eastern, western and European cultures worldwide.

Almost 20% of the interviewees rated Japan’s uniqueness, cultural diversity and cuisine as the best in the world.

  • Visit for: a life-changing experience
  • Must see: everything! Densely populated cities of skyscrapers, imperial palaces and thousands of shrines and temples are part of the nation’s history, and future. Ride a bullet train, take time to pay respect at Honshu (home to Tokyo and Hiroshima’s atomic-bomb memorial) and try karaoke to sample the pop culture that Japan is famous for.
  • Bring home: Japanese delicacies; sweet lovers will adore the small and beautiful wagashi; health-conscious will enjoy the delicate flavour of green tea (which is a great match with Japanese confectionary); sake; or the traditional hand fan, the sensu.

Whether you’re after a cultural experience, or long for a tropical retreat, we hope this article helped spark your wanderlust. Bon voyage.

 
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