Where should you be exploring in the new year? No ideas yet? Don’t worry, I’m here to provide you with some hints and top tips for the top 10 countries to visit in 2017.
1. United Kingdom
This entry is sure to confuse many of you, however due to Brexit and the Great British currency crash, a trip to the U.K is now more affordable than ever for International visitors. I bet you are thinking that the U.K isn’t a very adventurous destination? Well, time to think again, there’s many off-the-beaten track places to see in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
- When to visit: April or August/September
- Top Tip: Don’t just visit London!
- Must see destination: Whitby, Shetland Islands, Tenby or Derry
As of 1st April 2017 (no it’s not an April fools joke), you’ll be able to enter Uzbekistan without applying for a visa in advance. This is a huge step forward for the Central Asian nation famous for its red-tape visa rules and bureaucracy, I’m in no doubt that it should kick-start a spike in tourist arrivals and an interest in the fascinating history of the Silk Road. I’m hoping to squeeze a trip to Uzbekistan into 2017, anyone else with me?
- When to visit: March or September
- Top tip: Try the train from Tashkent to Samarkand or Bukhara
- Must see destination: Samarkand
3. North Korea
What I hear you say! Why on earth would you visit the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK)? Well, I’d say that with Donald Trump soon to be in charge of the White House you’d better get here pretty sharply.
If you like being ushered around and having no freedom to do anything on your then North Korea is for you! However, you’ll get to see one of the most isolated countries on the planet and have a completely unique experience, I’m really intrigued but sadly haven’t yet been able to venture here. The country is attempting to open up by creating International marathons, golf tournaments and event a ski resort to attract investment and foreign tourists…all in the name of cold, hard cash.
- When to visit: April – July
- Top tip: Fly with Air Koryo to experience the world’s only 1 star airline
- Must see destination: Pyongyang
I’m finally going to be visiting Georgia in 2017 and I can’t wait! As a country on the far edge of Europe, this place has a huge amount to offer including some of the best scenery, food and wine in the region. Georgia lies along the eastern edge of the Black Sea in the heart of the beautiful Caucasus Mountains, if you really feel like stepping off-the-beaten track then you should visit Georgia’s two breakaway regions, South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
- When to visit: Best in Summer but if you like skiing visit in Winter
- Top tip: Georgian wine is some of the best in the world, try it!
- Must see destination: Gori (home of Stalin)
A unique blend of French and Middle Eastern influences, Senegal has never truly shined when it comes to its tourist market. However, this is a tragic shame as there’s fascinating beaches, tasty food to sample and even some of the most unique wildlife to see in its tropical forests.
- When to visit: November to May
- Top tip: Learn to deal with the constant pestering
- Must see destination: Casamance Delta region
If the fact that you can visit not only a cat cafe doesn’t tempt you enough, how about an owl cafe?! I’m sold, when can we go?
Sadly for me it’s unlikely that I’ll visit in 2017, but with a country that’s as uniquely modern as it is historical, Japan has a huge amount to offer a travel geek like me. I have a list as long as my arm of things I’d like to see or do here including travelling on the Bullet train, standing in the middle of Tokyo at rush hour and feeling the buzz whilst discovering a traditional Japan in the streets of Kyoto.
What you waiting for?! Don your kimono and wooden shoes, grab a samurai and discover the quirky, unique nature of Japan.
- When to visit: Any time but March is a good time to see the cherry blossom
- Top tip: Buy a railway pass to travel around this amazing country by train
- Must see destination: Kyoto
Most visitors to North Africa wouldn’t consider Mauritania as a place to visit, however you’d be surprised at how easy it is. I’ve discovered that the country recently relaxed their visa rules and you can now receive a visa on arrival, what better excuse do I need?! Although there isn’t many major tourist sites to see, the country is really unique and is just waiting to be explored. Make sure you check out the world’s longest train and the vast Sahara desert.
- When to visit: December to March
- Top tip: Take an adventure of a lifetime on the world’s longest train
- Must see destination: Adrar
A country steeped in history and said to be the birthplace of Christianity, Armenia is slowly starting to appeal to Western tourists and open itself up. Armenia is another country that I’ll be getting to visit in 2017, flying into the capital Yerevan will be an experience in itself as I don’t expect any luxury, but the beauty of adventure travel is I may be pleasantly surprised.
- When to visit: May – September
- Top tip: Don’t mention anything about Azerbaijan, the country’s are both still at war
- Must see destination: Dilijan (a.k.a Little Switzerland)
Regularly featuring in many must-see lists, India surprisingly doesn’t receive as many visitors as you might think. Only 7.5m arrived in 2014, that might sound a lot but given that over 1 billion people live here, India certainly has a long way to go before it reaches its full potential. Even though I’ve included it as one of my top countries to visit, I’ve not had the best experience having recently tried to apply for an Indian visa but unfortunately due to the awful system I was unable to pay and therefore missed out on gaining an e-visa.
- When to visit: December to May to avoid monsoon seasons
- Top tip: Prepare yourself for an assault on every one of your senses, expect the unexpected
- Must see destination: Darjeeling
Fast becoming one of Africa’s must-see destinations, Mozambique is somewhere that I’ve had on my must-see list for several years now that the horrendous war is over and the country is finding its feet. Whether you’re interested in seeing incredible beaches, tea plantations and even rare wildlife such as rhinos and giraffes. Unfortunately I won’t make it there this year, but if you visit I’d love to hear your stories.
- When to visit: August to October for seeing Humpback whales or November/December for the key bird watching season
- Top tip: Visit now before everyone else discovers the natural beauty of Mozambique
- Must see destination: Quirimbas Islands
If you’d like to discover more photographs and information from any of my trips please feel free to ask me any questions. You can visit my Facebook page and please don’t forget to ‘Like’ Travel Geek UK.