We’ve pulled together search data from Skyscanner Australia since 2012 to find 10 overseas destinations that look most likely to be the go to places for Aussies next year.
As a slight aside, you might be interested to know that Skyscanner Australia also predicts that Uluru (up 16%), Hobart (up 12%), and to Whitsunday’s via Proserpine (up 16%) to be upcoming local hotspots for Aussies next year.
1. Havana, Cuba (up 16%)
Cuba is hot! There was a huge spike in interest to Havana on Skyscanner Australia in 2015 recording a 95% increase from 2014 to 2015.
So why is it so trendy and why will 2016 be just as big? Well, there’s a time warp feel about the place, with vintage American cars still growling around and salsa music everywhere. While meandering through the cobbled streets of Havana you’ll have frequent sightings of cowboy hats, cigars, and impromptu dancing too. Now that’s cool!
Expect to see more Americans following the USA lifting its long standing ban on travel to Cuba for its citizens in 2015. However, they are only officially able to get around as part as a registered tour, and can’t just laze around on the beaches or go scuba diving. So you won’t be overrun by our cousins from the good old US of A.
2. Seoul, South Korea (up 41%)
Another hot spot for 2016 looks set to be the South Korean capital with its Buddhist temples, flashy neon signs and interesting food.
The spicy fermented cabbage known as kimchi is well known, but did you know that sushi is huge here too? Yes, the Koreans do sushi as well as the Japanese and you get to wash it down with rice wine too.
Try street foods like spicy rice cakes, fried squid, blood sausage, and mung bean pancakes at the fascinating Gwangjang Market. Among the best out-of-town experiences are visits to the giant Everland theme park, and the freaky Demilitarized Zone to witness the standoff between South Korean and North Korean soldiers.
3. Taipei, Taiwan (up 5%)
There’s more to see in the capital of Taiwan than the iconic Taipei 101. The city’s vibrant shopping strips are backed by a spine of mountains and pretty villages, like Jiufen. Hailed by some as the Santorini of Taiwan, Jiufen is known for its tea houses and food stalls.
Chinese New Year celebrations are huge in Taiwan, with the Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival seeing thousands of white candle-lit lanterns released into the sky.
4. Goa, India (up 7%)
Imagine watching the sun go down as quick as a blink into the Indian Ocean while sipping a cocktail from a bamboo table. Dinner is about to be served. A hot fish curry perhaps? Or a plate of samosas with a Kingfisher beer? Welcome to paradise.
Goa is a melting pot of cultures and cuisines. With its Portuguese churches, sultry Indian bazaars, full-moon parties and golden sands, no wonder that word is out and about and Aussies are flocking there.
5. Colombo, Sri Lanka (up 22%)
Sitting on the patio of Colombo’s colonial Galle Face Hotel with a beer in hand as the sun sets into the sea is one of life’s great experiences.
But the thing about Sri Lanka is that memorable experiences come thick and fast. One day you can be helping to bathe elephants as part of the Elephant Freedom Project, and the next playing cricket on the beach with the locals in Galle.
Then you could be admiring religious artifacts at Kandi’s Temple of the Tooth, before staying in shabby but charming colonial hotel amidst the rolling green tea plantations of Nuwara Eliya.
6. Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia (up 2%)
Did you know there was a Gobi bear? Not the famous cartoon character called ‘Yogi’ bear… No, it’s a Gobi bear. And the only place the Gobi bear lives is in the Gobi region of Mongolia. There are only around 50 of them left. And if you were thinking that Gobi was all about the Gobi Desert you’d be wrong. There are forests there too, and these are home to the rare and elusive snow leopards.
The most likely animals you’ll see in Mongolia though are horses, and two-humped Bactrian camels. As for culture, there’s plenty of that, from archery competitions, festivals, wrestling, horse riding – all with a twist that makes it a place as far away from the everyday life as it gets.
Maybe that’s why there was a 22% increase of searches to Ulaanbaatar in 2015 than the year before. August and September would be a good time to visit with the Gobi Naadam Festival and The Nomads Day Festival taking place. Both include archery, horse racing and wrestling.
7. Oslo, Norway (up 6%)
If you like hiking with your Viking, then Norway is the place for you. Actually, while you can do a lot of hiking, and skiing, and all sorts of outdoor activities, Norway has a lot more to offer the Aussie in need of adventure.
Oslo is the starting point of course, and it’s a civilized kind of place with a thriving bar culture and lots of world-class museums (including a Viking Ship Museum, of course).
Head out of Oslo though and you will come face to face with a glacier, or the Northern Lights, or the midnight sun. You will find one of the best train journeys in the world in Norway – the Bergen Railway. The seven-hour journey takes you through spectacular mountains. Cruises around the Norwegian fjords are popular with Aussies too. Skyscanner figures show there has been a 24% increase in flight searches to Oslo from Australia in the past year!
8. Apia, Samoa (up 21%)
The famous Scottish writer Robert Louis Stevenson loved Apia so much that he spent his final years here. You can visit his house, which is now a museum.
The town is a staging post for white-sand beaches, moss-covered boulders you can slide down into waterholes, and a sea so clear that the corals sparkle in the dazzling sun.
The people are friendly, and the food is unreal. You have to experience an Umu meal of breadfruit, taro and fish in coconut milk cooked underground amidst volcanic rock.
With interest to Samoa heating up, this only goes to show that this South Pacific gem is going stratospheric.
9. Tokyo, Japan (up 13%)
Sushi, ramen, yakitori, steak, beer and whisky of the highest quality are just some of the reasons Australians are heading to Japan. However, skiing is a growing attraction for Aussies these days looking to spend the southern summer on the Japanese slopes. A visit to Tokyo’s Tsukiji Market to see the amazing array of seafood on offer should be on everyone’s agenda. Sakura season next year happens between 26 March to 7 April and visitors can see the cherry blossoms bloom in all its splendour in parks across Tokyo.
10. Cebu, Philippines (up 29%)
Cebu Island is a big hit with Australians, partly because of its bone white beaches and also because of its scuba diving, snorkeling and waterfalls. The city of Cebu has lively bars and eateries and offers opportunities to hop across to tropical islands. It is a great alternative for Aussies looking for something a bit more off beat than Bali.
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