TODAY'S PAPER

Lonely Planet's top countries to visit in 2018

Before you book your next vacation, you may want to check out Lonely Planet's Best in Travel series, featuring the top countries to visit in 2018.

From wildlife-watching in South Africa to snorkeling the crystal waters of Mauritius, here are the top 10 countries to add to your travel bucket list.

10. South Africa

Highlights: South Africa is one of the most renowned safari destinations in the world. Some reserves such as Kruger National Park and Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, allow travelers to get up close and personal with some of the planets most exotic animals on guided drives and walking tours. If you consider yourself an adrenaline junkie, some must-try activities while visiting the country are bungee jumping from the Garden Route bridge or surfing the Eastern Cape coast.

When to visit: If you're looking to spot exotic wildlife, April to May and September to October are prime times for animal-watching with cooler weather conditions.

9. China

Highlights: Travel to China and explore Beijing's imperial palace, The Forbidden City, which has been upgraded within the past few years, allowing four restricted halls to be open to the public. If you're a thrill seeker who isn't afraid of heights, check out the 128-story skyscraper Shanghai Tower, which has the world's highest observation deck, and take in the breathtaking views of the country.

When to visit: The country's high season is from May to August, when visitors will experience rain downpours and crowds at Chinese hot spots. Expect warmer days in spring, and cooler temperatures in autumn.

8. Mauritius

Highlights: Mauritius, an Indian Ocean island nation, is a picture-perfect paradise and a must-visit spot for lovers of the sea, where visitors can kitesurf, reef dive and enjoy a lagoon cruise.

When to visit: Mauritius high season is from December to February, the peak season for diving and snorkelling. Prices for diving are lower in October, November March and April. 

advertisement

7. Georgia

Highlights: Georgia is a country filled with rich tradition and culture. According to Lonely Planet, Georgia claims to be the birthplace of wine and airport immigration officials often welcome visitors with a bottle of red wine when they arrive.

When to visit: The warm and sunny seasons are from mid-May to early July and early September to mid-October. During this time visitors can hike in the Great Caucasus and enjoy the wine harvest in Kakheti.

6. Malta

Highlights: Expect to enjoy modern and ancient wonders while exploring Malta. From prehistoric temples and St. Paul's Cathedral to international film festivals, there is plenty to discover and keep entertained while visiting.

When to visit: Malta's high season is June to August, when travelers can expect booked hotels and busy beaches. Despite temperatures reaching up to 95 degrees, this is the season for music festivals and village feast days.

5. New Zealand

Highlights: Being one with nature is easy to accomplish when visiting New Zealand. The 9 Great Walks of New Zealand, are a set of hiking tracks perfect for the adventurer looking to enjoy the wilderness. Hikers can experience the ultimate escape strolling down the beach, canoeing or mountain biking.

When to visit: The ideal time to travel to New Zealand is March through April, when the ocean temperature is warm and the weather is not too hot. High season is from December to February, when travelers can expect busy beaches, festivals and sporting events. If you want to beat the crowds, low season is May to August, when beaches and restaurants are less crowded and it's a great time to ski the Southern Alps.

4. Djibouti

Highlights:For those looking to marvel at Mother Nature, Djibouti, on the Horn of Africa, is the place for you, filled with extinct volcanoes, scenic canyons and beautiful beaches. The Gulf of Tadjoura is a must-visit spot great for diving and whale-shark watching.

When to visit:The coolest months to visit are November to January, perfect for outdoor activities. If you're a lover of the ocean, Whale sharks are known to make an annual visit during this time.

3. Portugal

Highlights: Foodie's rejoice because Portuguese chefs are causing quite a buzz in the culinary world, receiving much praise for their rich and delicious dishes. Besides exploring the food scene, travelers may want to check out the microbreweries and waste the day away at a countryside vineyard.

When to visit: Mild weather days from April to June and September to November are perfect for hikes and outdoor activities. For travelers looking for fun and entertainment, vibrant festivals take place in June. Portugal's high season is July and August, when travelers can expect warmer ocean temperatures and heat waves.

2. South Korea

Highlights: Seoul, the capital city has become a futuristic landmark with movie-like landscapes. South Korea will be hosting the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, which is even more reason to make a trip.

When to visit: November to April are the ideal months for skiing. High season in South Korea is from June to September, when visitors can expect heat waves and a heavy rain season. In the spring, travelers are in for a treat when the country is filled with beautiful blossoms.

1. Chile

Highlights: Chile is experiencing an exciting time in 2018, marking 200 years of independence. Stretching from deserts to the incredible views of Patagonia, the country is covered with vibrant cities and plenty to do. Look in awe at the colorful murals that decorate the seaport city of Valparaíso or kayak through Patagonia, no matter what experience you decide to conquer, Chile is a must-visit destination to include on your bucket list.

When to visit: Best time to visit a ski resort is June to August and for the vino connoisseur, wine festivals in March are a must on your trip to Chile.