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Special Feature: Travel 2023

Where to Travel in the World in 2023

by Matt Thomas

The Biden administration has made it slightly easier to visit Cuba – there are now 12 approved classes of movement to the Island (for US citizens) according to travel expert Molly Layman. Of course if you are not from the US such issues do not apply and I would always recommend Havana as a fascinating city to visit.

Havana is a city seemingly stuck in a time warp and notable for her ubiquitous fifties style cars (see photo above), but nonetheless boasts bustling nightlife and an excellent restaurant scene along with good quality museums – the pick being the Museo de la Revolucion. Havana is a great city to visit with prices more than reasonable and a sound tourist infrastructure.

I would also suggest a visit to Plaza de la Revolucion (see photo below) as well as the Parque Historico across the bay. One could equally pass the time sipping mojitos at the malecon cafes and stop in at the Floridita and get a photo with the statue of writer Ernest Hemingway that sits at the end of the bar. Havana is essential visiting and works as a short break or part of a longer trip to Cuba that may take in the Varadero beach resorts.

Seoul, and Korea in general have featured on this page before; but Korea seems to be peaking at the moment in terms of cultural exposure whether it be the rise of K Pop music, Korean cinema – Parasite being the first foreign language film to win the Oscar for best picture in 2019, or cult TV shows such as Squid Game. Now seems a good time to go and see what all the fuss is about.

Seoul has an excellent bar and restaurant scene in the Gangnam and Itaewon neighbourhoods. For daytime activities whether your thing is walking or museums there are options ranging from the Shaminist Hillside Walk on the city’s outskirts, the Samsung Museum of Modern Art or the outstanding War Memorial Museum which for a free site is as good as it gets.

For a slice of mysterious old world Korea, the visit to the resplendent Secret Garden is a must.

Laos is a brilliant country to visit, however if she has one drawback it is the coach journeys from the north down to traveller hub Luang Prabang and the capital Vientiane. This may now be somewhat alleviated by the partly Chinese funded Boten-Vientiane railroad which opened in 2021. Journeys and excursion times may be cut from a whole day to several hours.

Even without the new railroad in terms of scenery, value for money, friendliness of people, and amazing range of things to do Laos is a great country to visit – this development makes it all the more appealing for both the backpacker and now perhaps the more discerning traveller.

Japan is back – fully open to tourists again post covid. Kyoto is perhaps Japan’s jewel in the crown, which from personal experience I can say is up against some tough competition. It is worth braving the warm summer temperatures and visit during July’s Gion festival with its gigantic floats and offerings of food and drink and general revelry. The festival dates from 869 and is the biggest of its kind in Japan, which again, is really saying something. In August, for something idiosyncratically and mystically Japanese, Kyoto marks Gozan Okuribi with her famous fire festival.

With new authentically Japanese accommodations springing up as well, 2023 promises to be a wonderful time to visit Kyoto.

The below is a photo from Kyoto Fushimi Inari Shrine which alongside the Golden Temple and bamboo groves at Arashiyama are among Kyoto’s highlights at any time of year.

Similarly, after one of the world’s stricter lockdowns, New Zealand is fully opened again to all visitors. I think of New Zealand as The Great Outdoors of destinations whose main attractions are activities such as mountain biking, rafting, bungee jumping (if that’s your thing), in fact more or less any adventure sport.

Culturally speaking Maori traditions and related attractions and sights are prevalent and plentiful. Start in Auckland or nightlife and culinary hub Wellington and work your way north or south to gems such as Kaikoura (for whale watching, walking and relaxing), Milford Sound and Bay of Islands ( for stunning scenery), or Franz Josef (for ambling around a glacier). Snowboarders and skiers junkies would be well served by visiting Queenstown in the country’s winter.