With each new year, people all over the world optimistically set their resolutions for the twelve months ahead. From establishing fitness routines to setting money-saving objectives, most tend to boil down to becoming better versions of ourselves. For some of us, one of those goals is to travel more, and with a bank of replenished vacation days, now is the perfect time to start narrowing down where to go in 2018.
While hot spots like Iceland and Thailand may have blown up your Instagram feed in 2017, this year will be all about discovering the world’s newest up-and-coming destinations—and trust us, there are plenty of incredible contenders. From reinvented capitals to secluded island getaways, here are the top under-the-radar destinations for 2018.
While thrill-seekers may have already added Patagonia to their bucket lists, thanks to famous features like Perito Moreno Glacier and Torres del Paine National Park, chances are they haven’t yet heard of Aysén. Described as the region’s final frontier, this remote land is sparsely populated and still very much unexplored. Adventurers will appreciate the area's dramatic landscapes, including snow-capped mountains, staggering fjords, and temperate rain forests. Splendidly isolated, going off the grid is no challenge and countless adventures await. For those interested in a curated experience, Upscape offers expert itineraries, including trekking the Aysén Glacier Trail, horseback riding along the Andean mountains, or kayaking the Exploradores Valley’s challenging rivers.
Those looking to embark on a European escape to someplace other than tried-and-true staples like London, Paris, and Rome will be enchanted by Tallinn. Estonia’s capital city looks as if it were plucked from the pages of a fairytale, effortlessly blending both the old and the new. Stroll past towering gothic architecture along the cobblestoned streets of Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site dating back to the 13th century, which is lined with picturesque cafés and boutiques. This year happens to mark Tallinn’s 100th anniversary of its original independence declaration from the Russian Empire, so visitors can expect plenty of celebrations throughout 2018. Needless to say, this Baltic beauty will be worth checking out in the months ahead.
Luang Prabang, Laos
In a world constantly on the move, Luang Prabang offers a refreshing respite, proving that the art of slow travel is still alive and well. More tranquil than its neighbors like Vietnam and Cambodia, Luang Prabang sits cozily in a valley where the Mekong and Nam Khan rivers meet. Here, French-colonial architecture stands side-by-side with ornate Buddhist temples and an assemblage of new luxury hotels and resorts. The upcoming Rosewood Luang Prabang (slated to open its doors midyear) is already making headlines for its tantalizing pavilion-style villas and luxury tents. Nearby Vientiane’s Wattay International Airport is also completing a terminal expansion to accommodate more global visitors than ever before, perfectly positioning this lush oasis to become Southeast Asia’s next rising star.
Once considered a sleepy surf town in central Chile, the city of Pichilemu is proving to offer much more beyond its expansive dark sand beaches and idyllic surfing conditions. For example, visual artists such as Macarena Irarrazaval, Beatriz Hagel, and Florencia Onetto are elevating Pichilemu as an up-and-coming art destination for locals and tourists alike. Culinary innovators like Gustavo Moreno Marquez and Javiera Valenzuela Concha of Raíces Lab are also catching the eye of gastronomes by creating sustainable menus from locally-foraged ingredients. But to partake in Pichilemu’s surfing legacy, book a stay at Hotel Alaia in Punta de Lobos where you can take lessons from a pro and hang loose in their superb surf-themed oceanfront suites.
Palmetto Bluff, South Carolina
The Carolinas are undeniably having a moment, with cultural hubs like Asheville and Charleston drawing attention from travelers around the globe. But this year, South Carolina’s Lowcountry is on the rise, with Palmetto Bluff taking center stage. Steeped in history, rich biodiversity, and 32 miles of quiet coastline, this destination is considered by locals to be one of the best-kept secrets in the South. For true Southern hospitality, check into Montage Palmetto Bluff, where you can spend your days on their Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course, at the Palmetto Bluff Shooting Club, or on an offshore fishing excursion. Its romantic laidback luxury will make any visitor feel right at home.
This story originally appeared on Esquire.com.
* Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.