Lonely Planet have announced the Top Ten Must-Visit Countries for 2019
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Every year, travel experts Lonely Planet put together their must-visit destinations for the coming year, giving us all some serious holiday envy, as well as a new target to aim for next summer.
This year they've done it again, with a healthy mix of well-known countries, and some places we genuinely had to look up on Wikipedia.
We've listed the top ten below, including Lonely Planet's reasons for choosing some of the lesser known places, on top of the why the Number One Destination took the take spot.
9. São Tomé and Príncipe
Intrepid explorers have always searched out places to boldly go where no one has gone before. This is a rare chance for you to visit a place few other travellers have even heard of. The two-island nation of São Tomé & Príncipe – found floating in the Gulf of Guinea – is now calling. Don't make the mistake of ignoring it. Surreal landscapes climb dramatically to the heavens, tropical waters kiss its empty beaches and jungles consume everything from colonial sugar, cocoa, and coffee plantations to sobering relics of the island’s past role in the slave trade. And whether trekking through the forests, climbing the mountains or snorkelling in the waters offshore, you’ll discover many untold treasures here.
Kyrgyzstan’s moment on the world tourism stage seems to have come following huge buzz from the 2018 World Nomad Games, Central Asia’s competition dedicated to its traditional (and quirky) regional sports. The time to visit has never been better – more than 2700km of newly marked trekking routes; a countrywide push of community-run tour products; a revamped national highway system cutting transit times immensely; and a simplified e-visa programme for those not on the list of 60+ visa-free countries – but do it now: Kyrgyzstan is quickly becoming an in-the-know favourite for independent travellers seeking unspoilt natural beauty.
1. Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is decidedly having its moment in the equatorial sun and change is coming swiftly. Already notable to intrepid travellers for its mix of religions and cultures, its timeless temples, its rich and accessible wildlife, its growing surf scene and its people who defy all odds by their welcome and friendliness after decades of civil conflict, this is a country revived. There’s now more than ever for families, adrenaline junkies, eco-tourists, wellness seekers and foodies of all budgets. Even the north and east, including areas previously off limits, difficult to reach or lacking in services, deliver new discoveries.