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Top 20 Travel Experiences in 2020

Kayak tour

Open Your World in 2020 with our top travel experiences from all around the globe. Here at Flight Centre, we've consulted our industry contacts and tapped into the collective know-how of our travel experts to bring you our top travel experiences for the upcoming year and beyond, in no particular order – they’re all amazing. Be inspired to see more of the world through these incredible experiences in 2020.

  1. Switzerland by train
  2. Go glamping in Kimberley
  3. Witness Thailand's floating pagodas
  4. Sail on a state-of-the-art ship
  5.  Venture to Antarctica
  6.  Be a guest at an Indian Wedding
  7.  Check out New York's newest neighbourhood
  8.  Blend your own wine at d'Arenberg Cube
  9.  Dive the Great Barrier Reef
  10.  Stand on the edge of Pulpit Rock, Norway
  11.  Kayak with Orcas in Canada
  12.  Beach yourself in Boracay
  13.  Be wowed by restaurants in Bali
  14.  Go caving amid the Mayan Ruins of Belize
  15.  Stargaze the largest dark sky reserve
  16.  Watch sunrise over Angkor Wat
  17.  Safari in Sri Lanka
  18.  Witness the beauty of Yosemite National Park
  19.  Learn local traditions in Japan
  20.  Trace the Silk Road route

 

Switzerland by train

Switzerland by train

Switzerland by Train

This small mountainous country is usually associated with chocolate, banking, knives and watches. This is a place for the organised, the efficient and the finer things in life. Yet, from the fertile valleys of the north across the Alps to the Mediterranean south, the spectacular scenery really is something special. There’s no better way to explore than by rail. Imagine sitting with a glass of wine, informative commentary on your headset and uninterrupted views as you glide through villages and valleys over mountain passes and blue lakes.

Glamping in Kimberley

Glamping in Kimberley

Go Glamping in Kimberley

The landscape is awash with colour – the bright-red dirt of the road framed by sparse, green foliage and the vivid blue sky.

It’s dry and dusty in this part of the Kimberley in June but the landscape is awash with colour – the bright-red dirt of the road framed by sparse, green foliage and the vivid blue sky. You can drive along the famous Gibb River Road, bumpy and shaky in parts, adding to the 4WD experience. Just 200m off the Gibb, an oasis awaits: Bell Gorge Wilderness Lodge. It’s more glamping than camping, you'll find your luxury tented cabin to be spacious with a fully equipped ensuite. In the late afternoon, make time to settle into deck chairs with a drink to enjoy the sunset over the King Leopold escarpment.

Thailand's Pagodas

Thailand's Pagodas

See Thailand's Floating Pagodas

The otherworldly white pagodas seem to hover mystically from their perch high on the mist-shrouded peaks

Though their origins may look supernatural, the floating pagodas of the Wat Chaloem Phra Kiat temple, in Lampang Province, northern Thailand, started life via the very hike you’ll do to reach the breathtaking heights at which they sit. In an awe-inspiring display of devotion, a much-loved monk led a team of around 50, who carried every piece of the temple to the mountain top, working each day for two years, completing the incredible project around 13 years ago.

Celebrity Apex

Celebrity Apex

Set Sail on a State-of-the-Art Ship

A new ship is set to revolutionise the ocean-going experience in 2020.

Celebrity Apex (launching in April) is the second ship to launch in Celebrity Cruises’ Edge series fleet with a raft of innovative design and visionary spaces. While the exterior is certainly eye-catching, the interiors are just as stylish and modern with outdoor plunge pools for the two-storey Edge Villas. If that wasn’t fantastical enough, the Magic Carpet is the world’s first cantilevered platform that can move decks and up to a height of 13 storeys for a new perspective on cruising.

Antarctica

Antarctica

Venture To Antarctica

The seventh continent enthrals visitors with its sparkling icebergs, glaciers and wildlife and Antarctica is now more accessible than ever. Two new, state-of-the-art expedition ships are due to set sail to the Antarctic Peninsula in 2020 with each voyage carrying around 100 passengers. Aurora Expedition’s The Greg Mortimer and Lindblad Expedition’s National Geographic Endurance boast cutting-edge nautical and safety features, while providing a luxurious and relaxing onboard cruise experience. Adventurous guests can enjoy shore excursions or chill out on board with activities such as yoga.

Indian Wedding

Indian Wedding

Be a Guest at an Indian Wedding

Imagine being surrounded by a riotous flurry of multicoloured decorations, elaborate silk saris in rainbow hues and catchy uplifting music as you’re swept up in the joyous celebration of a multi-day Indian wedding ceremony.

Wendy Wu Tours can organise a private tour that invites you to join in a couple’s nuptial festivities in India to celebrate the commitment, religion, tradition and union of families. The details – hennaed hands and feet, flower garlands, intricate gold jewellery, exquisite Indian sweets and the significance of wedding rituals – seal the deal on a trip that offers an intimate look at Hindu customs rarely experienced by outsiders.

Hudson Yards

Hudson Yards

Check Out New York's Newest Neighbourhood

Now open, Hudson Yards in Manhattan’s Far West Side is definitely buzzworthy.

New York City’s newest neighbourhood was built from the ground up atop an open-air railyard. The mixed-use district is poised as the cultural centre of one of the world’s most dynamic cities with shops, dining and innovative art and design as well as green spaces. To visit the city’s newest neighbourhood, jump on the 7 subway line, which lands you directly in the heart of the area. Attractions include the Vessel, Thomas Heatherwick’s structure of connected staircases between the buildings of Hudson Yards, or there’s the seven-storey, shopping mall like no other retail in Manhattan.

Wine blending in d’Arenberg Cube

Wine blending in d’Arenberg Cube

Blend Your Own Wine at the d'Arenberg Cube

Striking and modern in contrast to the rural backdrop of South Australia’s McLaren Vale wine region, the d’Arenberg Cube demands your attention.

The structure is reminiscent of an oversized, unsolved Rubik’s Cube, reflecting the complexity of creating the perfect drop. Each level, a playground for the senses, is an attraction within itself at the award-winning, experiential venue. On the top level, the Blending Bench allows you play winemaker; tasting, mixing and bottling your own blend of grapes that ripened on the vines below. Name your blend and play sommelier at the next dinner party.

Diving the Great Barrier Reef

Diving the Great Barrier Reef

Diving the Great Barrier Reef

Under the water, it’s a whole new world...

Taking a helicopter to the Great Barrier Reef, the view from the air is absolutely stunning. Flying over coral reefs with the ocean below glistening in 50 shades of blue, green and turquoise makes you realise flying is definitely a ‘wow’ way to arrive to Heron Island in the southern Great Barrier Reef. The diversity of marine life and the colours of the reef and its inhabitants are astounding. On my first dive I swam amid hundreds of reef fish, multiple species of rays and a sea floor dotted with coral in many shades and colours.

Pulpit Rock, Norway

Pulpit Rock, Norway

Stand on the Edge of Pulpit Rock, Norway

Want breathtaking views, literally?

Pulpit Rock is a sheer cliff that towers 604m over the Lysefjord in southwestern Norway and one of the area’s most famous natural attractions. The 8km round-trip trail starts with a steep climb, followed by a gentle walk along a mountainside before another steep rise up natural stone stairs. After a series of smaller ascents and descents, we’re at a wooden walkway on the side of the cliff before the final leg of the trail up a smooth rock surface. Natural paths zigzag along the cliff face before a sheer drop down the fjord. Just up ahead is Pulpit Rock.

Orca Whales in Canada

Orca Whales in Canada

Kayak with Orcas in Canada

Vancouver Island is one of the best places to witness orcas in the wild.

Seated in the kayak, I can see a murmuring on the surface of the water, bubbles surfacing and ripples forming into small waves. They’re here. A slight bump on the underside of the kayak is the first greeting we receive from an orca (also called a killer whale). Breaching beside us, a formal hello is delivered in the form of a water spout showering me in cold water from the Pacific Ocean. Vancouver Island is one of the best places to witness orcas in the wild and Johnstone Strait, between Vancouver Island and mainland British Columbia, is home to the largest resident pod in the world.

Boracay

Boracay

Beach Yourself in Boracay

White-sand, blue-water beach of tropical island dreams...

Until Boracay closed to tourism in 2018 for rehabilitation, the island was one of the Philippines’ top tourist draws, famous for its 4km-long White Beach – the white-sand, blue-water beach of tropical island dreams. Reopening in October, 2018 with a daily visitor limit, travellers now need to have proof of accommodation on the island in order to board the boat from Kalino to Boracay. White Beach has lost none of its lustre, the sandy stretch is still a popular spot with bars and restaurants along the beachfront and boutiques and local markets for souvenirs. There’s a lively atmosphere and the beach itself is back to its pristine best.

Bali food

Bali food

Be Wowed by the Restaurant Scene in Bali

Exploring the culinary landscape Bali is hungry, but rewarding work.

A host of esteemed international chefs has traded big cities for beach views, transforming Bali into a modern foodie mecca. With menus dishing up everything from Mediterranean to Mexican, Asian fusion, modern Australian and experimental fine dining, the more than 20 million tourists who grace Bali’s shores annually are spoilt for choice. Dedicated foodies can indulge in a burgeoning dining scene that’s equal parts sophisticated and adventurous. Venues such as Sardine take inspiration from local flavours in refined Balinese fusion dishes, while Italian Osteria Da Maria will have guests trading Bintangs for burrata and bolognaise. So, bring your appetite!

Mayan Ruins Belize

Mayan Ruins Belize

Go Caving Amid Mayan Ruins in Belize

It’s not easy to get to, but as with most things, the more difficult the challenge, the greater the reward.

Deep in the Belizean jungle, it’s an hour’s ride from San Ignacio and another hour’s light trek on paths and through three rivers just to reach the Actun Tunichil Muknal cave (ATM cave). It’s humid with smatterings of light rain, there’s been a snake sighting and all we can hear are howler monkeys in the trees above us. How, we wonder, did the intrepid archaeologist who discovered the ATM cave in 1989 after more than 1,000 years of them being ‘lost’ even get here?

Stargazing in New Zealand

Stargazing in New Zealand

Stargaze the Largest Dark Sky Reserve in the World

The clarity of the cold night is endless...

On a chilly evening in September, I left the warmth of my accommodation at Lake Tekapo in New Zealand to travel to the brand-new Dark Sky Project Base on the lakefront, ready to stargaze the Southern skies. The Crater Experience at Cowan’s Private Observatory is a five-minute bus ride from the base and it’s soon evident why the South Island region of Aoraki Mackenzie has earned its reputation as the world’s largest gold-standard International Dark Sky Reserve. With the clarity of the cold night and limitless sky, constellations and galaxies can be observed with the naked eye as well as through the powerful 14-inch optical telescope. This is an experience not to be missed.

Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat

Watch the Sunrise Over Angkor Wat

The darkness lifts, the sky slowly turns orange and the grand temple reveals itself little by little.

We arrive to Angkor Wat in total darkness, unable to see anything beyond what our phone torches illuminate. We follow a guide to the base of the temple, which is a looming black silhouette in the pre-dawn light. Rather than jostle with the crowd at one of the famous reflection pools, we travel a little further around its edge and find a quiet place to sit on the grass. The darkness lifts, the sky slowly turns orange and the grand temple reveals itself little by little. The sun finally breaks over the central tower, rays flooding the grounds of the ancient temple, illuminating everything in the most glorious golden glow. It's a view you'll not forget in a hurry.

Sri Lanka Safari

Sri Lanka Safari

 

 

Safari in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is where you’ll find some of the densest concentrations of leopards and elephants in the world.

Flip the script on the traditional safari experience by going wild in Sri Lanka where you’ll find some of the densest concentrations of leopards and elephants in the world. While Sri Lanka’s north is a lush tropical jungle filled with Asian elephants and sloth bears, in the southeast part of the teardrop-shaped isle the terrain is open and scrubby – similar to the classic African savannah. Yala National Park is a 130,000ha nature reserve of grasslands, forests and lagoons that’s home to 44 mammal species and 215 types of bird. Its most famous, and famously elusive, resident is the Sri Lankan leopard.

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park

Witness the Beauty of Yosemite National Park

Situated in the Sierra Nevada range in California, it’s one of North America's most breathtaking national parks.

Yosemite National Park is definitely one of the US national parks you’ve heard about, welcoming 4.2 million visitors annually, mainly from June to August, to an area that’s the around the same size as the ACT. Situated in the Sierra Nevada range in California, it’s about a four-hour drive east from San Francisco, or a 4.5-hour drive south from South Lake Tahoe on the Nevada border. Exiting Wawona Tunnel – boom, out of the darkness, there it is – the breathtaking moment when Yosemite Valley is revealed: El Capitan and Bridalveil Fall in the foreground framed by Half Dome at the rear.

Japan

Japan

Learn Local Traditions in Japan

Japan is an enigma – a thoroughly modern society rooted in traditions and handicrafts that date back thousands of years

Some traditional rituals and historic practices are known outside Japan, such as tea ceremonies, martial arts practice, shodo (the art of calligraphy), origami and ikebana (floral arrangement), but to learn more about these centuries-old rituals and crafts, I travel to Kyoto. From the bamboo walls of the teahouses and the glowing lanterns of the Yasaka Shrine to the bustle of the main street of Hanami-Koji, experiencing Kyoto’s ancient streets by night is an essential part of visiting Japan’s city of tradition.

Silk Road

Silk Road

Trace the Silk Road Route

The ancient Silk Road trade route weaves its way from China to Turkey on the Mediterranean Sea through the Central Asia steppe, passing through the fascinating countries known collectively as the ‘Stans – Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan

According to Intrepid Travel, these ‘undertouristed’ nations have some of the world's lowest tourism density ratios, so you’re guaranteed an authentic experience. We do as the locals do and travel mainly by train. The communal style of travel allows us to meet fellow travellers and locals – while not a lot of English is spoken, we have great conversations with just the odd word, plenty of hand signals and smiles.

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Written by Emily Rose Cater

Having studied Journalism, Film & Media at university, Emily spent the first three years of her career writing for fashion titles, before finding her niche in travel writing. Emily has been lucky enough to travel the world for both work and pleasure, with favourite destinations being Borneo, Sri Lanka and The Philippines. When she's not travelling, Emily loves to binge-watch crime documentaries, go for a hike, or (attempt) to bake.

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