The Top 10 Travel Discoveries for 2012?

Travel experts STA Travel have come up with their 2012 must-visit list, spanning Borneo to Buenos Aires. And some of the most popular timeshare destinations are also on the list, including New Zealand, Sydney and new South Wales and Thailand.

1. Vietnam

Next year Vietnam will be firmly on the travel radar with new direct flights from the UK into Ho Chi Minh or Hanoi. Ant Stone, STA’s travel blog editor said: “I’d recommend hopping on a tour of this country to make sure you see everything as there’s so much to pack in. From the chaos of Saigon to the imperial capital Hue to charming Hoi An. And as Bond film ‘Tomorrow Never Dies’ was filmed in mesmerising Halong Bay with its 3000 monolithic limestone islands up to 100m high, so start practicing Bond-esque wry eyebrow raises and cheesy chat-up lines now.”

2. Buenos Aires

Strictly Come Dancing fans will love the tango and it’s famous for football of course (you can’t stay long here without someone mentioning Diego Maradona) but there is a whole lot more to this fabulous city. It boasts stunning architecture and countryside and one of the craziest nightlife scenes in the world, however with clubs opening from 2am it’s not for the faint-hearted. “If the club scene isn’t your thing then fear not – Buenos Aires is of course home of tango. Grab a group of mates and join locals and tourists alike to gawp and frankly drool at the many tango shows,” added Stone.

3. Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka will continue to boom in 2012 despite its troubled past, thanks to affordable prices, a 2011 survey by the Post Office put it at the number one spot in its for value-for-money report. “Beautiful beaches, a rich culture and fabuous food – all at great prices, what more do you need,” said Stone.

4. Borneo

Borneo, probably not the first holiday destination that usually springs to mind but it is one of the last tropical destinations which hasn’t yet seen prices rise as tourists flock in – however this won’t last for long. Amazing wildlife and there are plenty of opportunities to go trekking through remote communities or perhaps climb south-east Asia’s tallest mountain Mount Kinabalu for those that like a challenge. Alternatively why not just chill out on some of the world’s most beautiful beaches from late morning until sunset.

5. New Zealand

New Zealand has had a tumultuous year in 2011- first the devastating earthquake, and then the high of hosting and winning the Rugby World Cup. Head down next year to get active in the world’s adrenaline capital: from bungee jumping to skiing to sky diving, there are thousands of ways to get a buzz in New Zealand. And next year there’s a small chance you’ll get ‘spotted’ to star in a Hollywood blockbuster as Peter Jackson returns to New Zealand to film the first of his two Hobbit movies. The scenery is absolutely spectacular.

6. Sydney & New South Wales

Movie mogul Baz Luhrmann is in Sydney and the surrounding New South Wales countrysidefilming his latest epic, a remake of the 1920s classic “The Great Gatsby” with the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan, at the moment (December 2011). “The film is due out at the end of December 2012 so head over to Sydney and its surrounds next year, take your camera, buy a cheap string of fake pearls for the 1920s vibe and create your own story,” said Stone.

7. Thailand

Absolute Resorts, based in Thailand, are now one of the best known names in the shared ownership industry – their luxury resorts are interior-designed and always in outstanding locations. Following the recent floods, most main tourist spots are completely safe, and 2012 looks like being a stellar one for this mesmerising country.

8. Peru

The Inca Trail and Macchu Picchu are top of the tourist list but after you’ve ticked those off, why not join one of the many treks into the Amazon to see some of the world’s greatest wildlife, accessing the Amazon from Peru is one of the best value and easiest ways, or see the country from the locals’ point of view with a home-stay on Lake Titicaca.

9. Cuba

Soak up the music and mojitos, cigars and big old American cars in Havana or simply head for its “urban” Havana beaches. “President Obama’s increasingly tolerant attitude towards Cuba could mean that the time-capsule feel of this fascinating nation might be coming to an end. So get over to Cuba sooner rather than later before the American government swoop in and give its crumbling charm a make-over, so go now and soak up the incredible atmosphere before it all changes”, said Stone.

10 Toronto

The Canadian city that doubles as New York in the movies, if you arrive and think you’ve seen this place before…you have! A cheaper location to film in than New York City or Chicago it attracts numerous film crews throughout the year. The city is home to the CN Tower, which may not be the tallest tower now but it is home to EdgeWalk, the world’s highest full-circle hands-free walk on a 1.5m wide ledge around the tower at 356m high – or 116 storeys. Stone said: “Couple this with great vintage shopping, quirky boutique hotels, parks and lakes to explore and you’ve got a great citybreak waiting to happen – which you can bet none of your mates of done before.” More civilised than New York and with its very own lake and “Beaches” neighbourhood, this is a definitely a city to add to your 2012 list! Snow-covered in winter, beautiful in the spring and autumn, but like New York, the mercury soars in summer…

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