With the incredible choice of destinations on offer, we ask the experts on travel where everyone should go this year.
Richard Quest: SYDNEY
A visit to Sydney hits all the right notes – a thriving city centre just a stone’s throw from great beaches and walks. Visit the iconic Sydney Opera House for sundown. The photos of this place don’t do it justice, but take some anyway and then stop in at the Opera Bar for a drink.
A night-time climb up the Sydney Harbour Bridge costs a pretty penny, but it’s worth it. The views are spectacular and the experience a memorable one, silly jumpsuits and all. It’s not for those who are afraid of heights, though, and be sure to book; the best time slots fill up.
The winding, cliffside walk from Bronte to Bondi Beach is a highlight. It takes 90 minutes at a leisurely pace and shows off Sydney’s famous coastline. Plus, you can finish with a dip or a long lie on the sand.
Sydney’s Fish Market isn’t glamorous but it’s packed with a variety of the world’s freshest seafood at good prices. Grab some sushi or oysters and sit in the sun at one of the outdoor tables. Just watch out for the seagulls. They are an aggressive bunch.
If you have more time, explore some of the suburbs like Newtown or Surry Hills for the cafés, boutiques and night life. Or take the ferry to Manly for another beautiful day at the beach. You can never have too many.
Richard Quest is a CNN Anchor and Correspondent, CNN Business editor-at-large, host of Quest Means Business and Quest’s World of Wonder.
Alyssa Ramos: EASTER ISLAND
Easter Island wins my vote for the destination that needs to be at the top of your 2019 travel list! Not only was it at the top of my personal bucket list, but it has stood out the most to me out of the 90 countries I’ve been to on all seven continents! What makes Easter Island so incredible and travel-worthy is the fact that it’s one of the very few remaining places with stunning evidence of ancient civilisations. Yes, I’m talking about those iconic Moai “head” statues that are so recognisable, they even have their own emoji!
While many people might automatically credit aliens with their creation, I highly recommend going to Easter Island yourself to discover how a now-dwindling ancient civilisation hand-carved the full-length statues out of the quarry of an extinct volcano! The island itself is small, and literally in the middle of the ocean, which makes exploring it and its fascinating history so alluring! I rented a car and drove the whole island myself, making friends with locals as I went to each site.
Aside from seeing the famous Moai statues, you can also enjoy the one tropical beach on the island (the rest are mostly cliffs!), scuba diving to see a sunken Moai statue, and my favourite, a traditional Rapa Nui dinner and dance show. Your life will never be the same after you see it, trust me. The statues aren’t the only tantalising features on the island!
Alyssa Ramos is an award-winning travel blogger and social media influencer who has been traveling the world solo full-time for three years. She has been to 90 countries so far, all seven continents, seven World Wonders, seven Wonders of Nature, and has climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.
Mei Mei Chu: EGYPT
The first time I travelled to Egypt was for its pharaohs and pyramids. Five years later, I returned for its paradise beaches, desert adventures, Coptic Churches, and Mediterranean flair mixed with European influences. It’s easy to be taken away by the sights and sounds of Egypt, and even easier to fall in love with it. Nothing compares to the view of the Cairo skyline from the Saladin Citadel of Cairo. The triangular silhouette of the Great Pyramids of Giza towering over a sea of boxy, tan building is truly a sight to behold.
Away from Cairo, Alexandria in the North and Aswan in the South are drastically different cities, each with its own unique cuisine and architecture to discover. Admittedly, it’s not the most comfortable place to travel – the summer heat is intense, the touts can be suffocating, and the nation is facing political and economic uncertainties. But Egypt is also an incredibly intoxicating country. You will get lost in Egypt, not only on its messy streets but also in its colourful markets, captivating history and its friendly yet chaotic culture. This North African nation sounds far and exotic, but Egypt is very accessible and surprisingly affordable.
I can’t wait for my third trip to Egypt; there is so much more to discover and do. Perhaps the next trip, I will go for its underwater treasures. When you visit Egypt, you must explore more than just its pyramids. Do that, and I promise you’ll return home with a book of stories to tell.
Mei Mei Chu is an award-winning solo travel blogger. She first started solo backpacking at age 18 and has since seen the best and worst in mankind. Through her intimate travel stories, Mei hopes to inspire women to seek their own adventures and find independence, strength and empowerment.
Daniel James: INDONESIA
It’s never been a more exciting time to traverse the beautiful islands that make up Indonesia. With around 17,000 islands to explore and visa-free travel available for many nations now, this archipelago of hidden gems is waiting to be unearthed, so much so Lonely Planet recently named it a top country to visit in 2019.
From the sheer beauty of Komodo National Park, where epic hikes complement encounters with Komodo Dragons, to lesser-known islands such as Ambon, which offers traditional culture alongside insanely good diving experiences, the unique diversity that stretches across the islands make each one an exceptional memory. Whether you want to taste the varied cuisine, explore an underwater playground, relax on a white-sand beach or trek up active volcanoes, the breadth of adventures on offer is outstanding.
Old favourites such as Bali are seeing new resorts and experiences opening in the less-explored north, while a journey through the rainforest of Sumatra for its unique wildlife encounters, including with orangutans, will leave you breathless.
Indonesia is often overlooked, especially as Bali has been in the limelight for so long, but with so many new ways to explore the archipelago, including new luxury liveaboards for those seeking their comforts, that is soon about to change, making now the time to find your hidden paradise before everyone else does!
Daniel James Clarke is a full-time travel photographer who has extensively explored Indonesia and has a passion for getting lost and exploring as many different sides of a culture and nation as possible.
Anna Sherchand: MYANMAR
Tourism is only just starting to blossom in this ancient country, so it is still a good time to go and experience everything Myanmar has to offer. It is full of natural beauty. One minute you could be watching the jaw-dropping sunrise on top of a 200-year-old temple, next minute you see modern high-tech hot air balloons flying over you, then you meet a monk who loves selfies and then you eat at a place where everything is washed with purified water and freshly made. Your day just keeps getting better! When it is time for sunsets, you head out to one of the 2,000-plus temples to mark the end to the delightful day. Again, the serene view takes your breath away!
It is exciting to explore this beautiful country as it hasn’t been long since they opened their doors to foreigners. You can’t help but take photo after photo and share them with your friends and family, from famous centuries-old pagodas to a tiny unheard-of village, mountain hikes to five-star luxury, long neck tribes to city life and more. The fibre-optic cable network and easy-to-use SIM plans make staying connected so convenient.
Like many other Asian countries, Myanmar does really good food. From the tea leaf salad to different types of chicken and pork dishes, food can be as cheap as 600 Kyats (USD0.40/RM1.60), depending on where you dine. The food is so full of flavour, colours and ingredients that you won’t mind eating the same dish again and again!
A Nepali-Australian, Anna Sherchand left a career in corporate Information Technology and Services not too long ago to travel the world. Since then, she has travelled to over 37 countries, lived in four and ticked some big adventures off her to-do list. She has collaborated with brands such as InterContinental Hotels, Red Cross, National Geographic, and others.