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Special Feature: Tips for 2017

Where to go in the world this Year

by Matthew Thomas

Before the inevitable influx of Trump refugees from across the border (the Canadian immigration website crashed within hours of the results of the recent Presidential election) make Canada high on your list for 2017. You will find a sound infrastructure, unspoiled national parks, cosmopolitan and vibrant cities and the warmest of welcomes. For old world European charm try Quebec City for cobbled streets and spectacular bay views. Contrarily Montreal is Canada’s student hub and is alive with night life and boasts the best of new school North America mixed with gallic charm. For a city with close proximity to some of the world best skiing and snowboarding try Vancouver which is as multicultural as it comes in terms of restaurants, cafes and it’s art scene. Finally a trip to a national park to take some extreme or not so extreme sports is a must. The Rocky resorts of Banff or Jasper are home to spectacular scenery, off the beaten track walking trails and outstanding rafting opportunities.

Colombia, contrary to the image portrayed in Netflix drama Narcos, is a safe and exhilarating destination to travel to. The country has moved on and is opening its arms to the travellers of the world. Like all top destinations, Colombia has fine mix of reliable transport, value for money accommodation, as well as a sound blend of fascinating cities, world class beaches, and fine hiking and nature trails. Bogota, some may say one could take or leave save the cable car, but it is home to an impressive selection of museums and does exude gravitas as the nation’s capital. The more traveller friendly Medellin with its thriving nightlife and the hugely photogenic Cartagena are often preferred with their more relaxed vibes, fewer crowds, and more temporal climates. On the Caribbean coast the Ciudad Perdida trek is, I’m told, hard work but thoroughly rewarding. Time spent at beach laden Parque Tayrona and trip to the white washed University city of Popayan in the South is also strongly advised.

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Parque Tayrona

Nepal has always endured despite the country’s economic issues which makes travel a much more than worthwhile challenge in this country. Of the cities the rich diversity between the pulsing vibrancy of Kathmandu with its magnificent temples, compared to the serenity and tranquility of Pokhara fascinates. The main draw is evidently the trekking which is arguably unrivalled around the world in terms of value against awestrking scenery. A visit to Royal Chitwan park in the south, perhaps prior to crossing the border into India where you may be lucky enough to view rhinos and even tigers in their natural habitats. Failing that, monkeys, antelopes, impala and all manner of other flora and fauna are guarantees.

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Longtime favourite of this site and of travellers in general, southeast asia must be mentioned but it is burgeoning Myanmar rather than the more long standing neighbours that is recommended for 2017. The regime change has by no means led to all of its human rights and other political issues evaporating but travellers report being drawn to the resilience of its people, and their fascination with western travellers without intrusion. The infrastructure is new which means new accommodation options are springing up all the time and the tourists buses are, for the most part at the moment in very good condition. For night life the capital Yangon is highly rated. For your temple fix Bagan via the riverboat is a must if only for the spectacular early morning and evening sunrises and sunsets respectively.  Further trips down the Ayeyarwady and Mandalay will take you Myanmar’s unique and beautiful heartland where you are simply way off the beaten track.

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Cape Town

If it is a city break that you are after Cape Town set against the stunning backdrop of Table Mountain is as picturesque as it gets. This is also the heart of South African wine country and is due to be home to the world largest Museum of Contemporary African Art (MOCAA) as of September. Going out to Robben Island to visit the prison, albeit a much cleaner tourist friendly version is a must, as is taking the cable car up to Table Mountain – hopefully on a clear day. Be sure to take a ramble around the summit’s botanical garden. Scenic coastal drives and beachside restaurants and bars are a plenty a little further out.

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Mt Inwangsan, Seoul

In 2017 the Seoul SkyGarden will be unveiled close to Seoul Station. The old elevated highway will be in part replaced with a green area where trees, shrubs and flowers will be planted to create a city central botanical area where local species can flourish. This area will also include cafes, restaurants, a library and greenhouses. South Korea has historically tried to outdo rivals Japan on the technology side and this is no better manifested than at the Leeum Samsung Musuem of Art or the War Memorial Museum which are world class. The more ambitious one is in Seoul the more rewarding. Try away from the crowds Shaminist walking tours up Mt Inwangsan. In the evening much heralded Gangnam is home to numerous bustling hipster bars and restaurants for the city’s younger crowd. The more discerning traveller may prefer the more laid back but just as cool Itaewon bar scene.

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