The Top Travel Destinations for the New Year (Part Two)
Booked your first five flights yet? Well, we have five more spots to add to the list to round out our 2019 Top 10 Travel Destinations. Ancient meets modern and adrenaline meets meditation in these unique stops so grab the kids or a sitter and get packing!
It might be South America's smallest country, but it should really be at the top of your travel list this year. With stunning historic architecture, a budding wine industry, and a two-month party (that's right, they have a hand in Carnaval as well), this is a spot that you better dedicate at least a week to exploring. Our favorite cities are Punta Del Este, La Pedrera, and Cabo Polonio, but anywhere you end up will be unforgettable.
What To Do
Being wedged between Brazil and Argentina, Uruguay is a good launching point to discover other South American destinations. In fact, you can hop on a ferry and take a day trip over to Buenos Aires, and add another country to your been-there-done-that list.
If you end up in Uruguay's capital city of Montevideo, your visit won't be complete without partaking in one of its favorite activities: dancing the tango. All you have to do is pick from one of the many milongas, and dance the night away. Bonus points if you find one that offers tango classes before — there's something about strolling in with at least the feeling like you know what you're doing that will make it all the better.
Coastal countries mean coastal adventures, so you have to make your way to Punta del Diablo and explore it by land and by sea. Okay, maybe you don't have to do both, but the surfing and hiking opportunities here will bring you to some of the most gorgeous views, so pick one and make it a day affair.
Where To Stay
- Cabaña Navajuá - This holiday home has three bedrooms, so whether you're making this a girls' trip for the books or you want the whole family to make some memories, this will be a good place to settle. There's even a kitchen, so you don't have to plan restaurant outings for every meal.
- Hotel Atlantico by Tay Hotels - Found right near the Punta del Este harbor, this hotel gives you easy access to many different shops and cafés (and the local lighthouse, for one of the most quaint settings you can imagine).
- Hotel F&F - If the views of the sea aren't enough for you, the pool will be the perfect finishing touch for an unforgettable getaway.
What To Eat
When fried dough is involved, you really can't go wrong. Head to clemete in Montevideo for some empanadas. And grab some sangria to complete the meal, of course.
For an experience like no other, Escaramuza in Cordón mixes in a garden terrace and a bookstore for the perfect way to spend an entire afternoon (or three).
What To Pack
With bigger cities and a lot of exploring to do, you'll want to find the ideal mix of comfort and chic style. The Jemme Dress will give you a bit of edge, and can easily be worn with sandals during the day or with heels for a night out.
Or even better, just slip on the Javi Mules to bring a wild twist to your wardrobe while still keeping you comfortable all day with the short heel.
Ancient temples meet urban cities in this Southeast Asian nation. It's officially titled the Kingdom of Cambodia, and once you spend some time there, you'll understand why. Make sure you do your research before you go, though — you'll have to get a visa to enter the country, which you may be able to get on arrival but make sure you have all of the necessary preparations.
What To Do
Any Cambodian travel guide will have the Temples of Angkor at the top of the list, but for good reason. This ancient site has some of the most intricate temples, being considered "Heaven on Earth," an honor that is very fitting. This sacred site culminates in Angkor Wat, one of largest religious buildings the world has ever seen.
Even with bustling cities and historic feats, somehow Cambodia rounds out the trifecta with tropical oases. The southern islands of Cambodia have something for every traveler —you can cozy in for a day on a hammock with your favorite book or take your day to the skies by zip lining through the forest at High Point Adventure Park.
Where To Stay
- Sokha Beach Resort - With a private beach surrounded by gardens, this family-friendly resort has everything you need for your trip: a holistic spa, activities for the whole family, and an array of restaurants.
- White Boutique Hotel - Movie nights and music on the beach are just a couple of the treats that this beach sanctuary has to offer. And once you consider the private beach and outdoor pool, you'll be sold.
- Holiday Villa Nataya - Both city and ocean views make this hotel the perfect place to retreat after a long day out and about. Plus, the kids pool will mean that your travel-savvy littles will have a good place to get out that extra energy while you can lay low.
What To Eat
Enjoy Cambodian flavors with the beautiful beach atmosphere at The Secret Garden Bar & Restaurant.
Cocktails and burgers might not be on your Cambodian to-do list, but they should be now. The Joint in Sihanoukville is a place you'll be dying to make the long journey back to, so enjoy with caution.
Cocktails are best when served on vacation, and even better when served at a rooftop bar. Hit up Rock Bar for ocean views and tasty sips like you've never experienced before.
What to Pack
With a culture that is more on the conservative side, make sure that your style is a bit more covered. Long skirts and flowy pants will be the perfect go-to option. We packed The Best Pants for that gorgeous color and breezy fit. You can also dress things up a bit more with the Sharon Midi Skirt for a dressier dinner out.
It's also recommended to keep your shoulders covered, especially if you're looking to visit the temples in Angkor Wat.
8. Sri Lanka
With the gorgeous mix of ancient ruins, abundant wildlife, a tropical location, and cheap prices, Sri Lanka is one of our favorites on the list of unexpected travel destinations. It'll hit all of your adventure needs, but getting around is more of a slow process, forcing you to take it easy and settle in. One memory that all visitors come back with: the friendliness of the locals.
For being a relatively small country, Sri Lanka also stands out because it has a surprisingly high eight Unesco World Heritage Sites, with little travel time required between each one.
What To Do
You can't skip out on the ruins of Anuradhapura — here you'll see ancient pools, temples, and mound-shaped meditation buildings. You can get quiet here and find your center, or rent a bike to make sure you make your way around to see all of the dagobas.
We're firm believers that hiking is the best way to fully soak in all of the beauty a place has to offer, and luckily Sri Lanka doesn't leave us empty-handed in this arena. The 9.5km round-trip hike takes you on a journey through Horton Plains to its stark escarpment at World's End, and then back. It will only take you about three hours (and isn't too strenuous), but make sure to bring some layers because the weather can change by the minute. If you are wanting more of an immersive experience, you can even get a volunteer guide to lead the way.
Get more in-tune with nature by visiting the Uda Walawe National Park. You'll be able to see elephants, crocodiles, wild buffalo, and maybe even a leopard if you look closely enough. Admission also gets you get a park guide to take you around, so you won't miss anything. If you've been dreaming of seeing roaming elephants, here you go.
You almost can't even imagine a more perfect beach than Tangalla — white sand, bright turquoise water, and palm trees, of course. Laze around all day, and when you need a change of pace, there are restaurants located right on the sand. Just make sure you grab a coconut to sip from for the perfect scene straight from a dream.
Where To Stay
- The Lakeside at Nuwarawewa - Stay here for a location focused on seeing all of your Sri Lanka to-dos, while keeping things serene with the spa, pool, and garden.
- Wilpattu Tree House - Your childhood goals of dreaming under the stars in your treehouse will come true at this unique hotel. From here, you'll have an easy time reaching the city center, although you may find it hard to leave your haven in the trees.
- Galle Face Hotel - If you're looking for luxury, this historic hotel will be ideal. It is located along the Indian Ocean (stay in the South Wing for views of the sea), with a private beach, hot tub, and steam room for the more relaxed of travelers.
What To Eat
After walking around in the sun, finding solace in an air-conditioned hideaway will be just what you need. Church Street Social offers a mixture of options from sandwiches to Moroccan lamb tagine. You can also grab a quick drink at the adjoining bar before your meal.
If you're looking for a boozy beverage, you won't find it at the Sanctuary at Tissawewa, but what you will find is a delicious four-course dinner (or a variety of other bites) and a unique colonial atmosphere.
While dining out overlooking at the sea, you'd be crazy to not order fresh seafood. Elita Restaurant has some of the best seafood, and brings views of the lighthouse and harbor.
What to Pack
While you're near the beach and on busy tourist streets, keep things casual and comfortable, like with the Sirena Shorts. These have a bit of a longer cut to keep with the customs, and the pattern will add such a fun pop to all of your photos.
When night falls, you might find yourself more on the chilly side, so we packed the Raquel Cardigan as an easy layering piece that can be worn with anything from a maxi dress to the Sirena Shorts and a plain tee.
We're all about that skin protection, so make sure you carry the Montana Stahl hat with you as an easy accessory that brings effortless style to any outfit.
The Marrakech that vaguely exists in your imagination, namely bright colors, is just a small slice of the wonderful experience you'll have in this Moroccan city. If you're looking for unparalleled shopping, architecture, and culture, you'll find more than enough to fill your time here.
What To Do
If a mall met a maze, you'd end up with something like Medina's souqs. The main markets are Souq Semmarine and Souq El Kebir, which you have to see for the experience of it all, but if you're actually trying to bring home some goods, smaller souqs will have the best deals for you. Make a day out of it and let yourself just get lost — with so many different things to see, there's no use getting stressed about following a specific route.
For those who have an affinity for fashion, Yves Saint Laurent is not just a brand, but a man who made an impact on the world. And when someone with that talent gifts an entire garden to a city, you have to pay it a visit. Jardin Majorelle features an electric-blue villa and gorgeous garden full of greenery (300 different plant species, in fact). Once you've explored the flora, stop at the art deco studio and then finish the day with the Musée Yves Saint Laurent.
You know how we said that Marrakech was as colorful as you imagined it? Well, we weren't lying. Not only does the Bahia Palace have gorgeous woven-silk panels and stained glass windows, but you'll also be mesmerized by simply staring at the colors on the exterior.
Where To Stay
Hotel & Ryad Art Place Marrakech - Situated in the heart of Medina, you'll love being able to retreat back to your temporary home whenever you need a moment of tranquility. And tranquil, it is. Even with its central location, they somehow managed to squeeze in a pool, so you and the kids will be able to splash (and lounge) whenever needed.
Dar Sofil - If you're looking to stay close to all of your vacation to-dos, this hotel right in Marrakech will be an easy choice. It will give you a comfortable place to call home while you're gone, while still bringing a Moroccan touch with the architecture. Once you see that outdoor pool, you'll be wanting to extend your trip another week (or two).
Le Palais Rhoul and Spa - Located outside of the city, here you'll find a more tranquil hideaway from the hustle of the city. With two outdoor pools, you'll love being able to take a dip to cool off from the burning sun (and the kids will have a blast splashing around). And don't miss out on the massage treatments — after a few long days out, you'll be looking for some time to take it easy.
What To Eat
The best part about a trip to Morocco? Moroccan food, hands down. Stop by Al Fassia for all of favorites you could need — tagine and couscous dishes may sound basic and straightforward, but they'll be anything but plain.
Okay, we weren't planning on suggesting an Italian restaurant while in Morocco, but once we discovered Limoni, we knew we had to spread the word. Found in a quiet neighborhood, this will be a fun little escape from the city to find your zen. That is, if your zen is a camel burger (but don't worry, they have all of your Italian faves as well).
After a day full of the most shopping you'll probably ever experience, treat yourself to a leg rest at Terrasse des Epices. It's found on the roof of the Souk Cherifa and brings in everything from Moroccan food to cheeseburgers, meaning even the pickiest of littles will find a delicious way to refuel.
What To Pack
Marrakech gets hot — like really hot — so we made sure to bring the Tabitha Maxi Dress to keep things breezy while also keeping respectful of the conservative culture.
We also couldn't pass up adding these Cabana Pants to our suitcase since they can be worn with so many different tops without taking up valuable luggage space. The first lesson of effortless travel is versatility, folks!
Found about halfway between Hawaii and New Zealand, the main islands of Samoa have come about due to volcanoes erupting, so the terrain is about as unique as you could imagine. Of course, along the coast, the beaches feature soft sand and gorgeous bright blue water. However, as you move inland, the setting quickly changes to jungles, waterfalls, and volcanic mountains. Not to worry though, none of the volcanoes are active.
What To Do
Being a group of islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, you can't miss out on all of the great surfing. Our favorite feature of Samoan waves? They tend to be uncrowded, so whether you're just trying your hand at catching the waves or you're a bit more experienced, the pressure's off. Plus, the ocean temperature hovers around 80-degrees Fahrenheit, on average. There are some tips and tricks to having a successful surf in Samoa, so we would definitely recommend getting a guide from Manoa Tours (and taking lessons) to make sure you're staying safe and also finding the best spots.
When beaching sounds too bland but you aren't up for a big surf day, snorkeling is the perfect in-between activity. For the most gorgeous reef, the island of Upolu is always a great choice. Start at Lalomanu beach and just make your way into the water. Keep an eye out, and you might even spot a sea turtle (our personal favorite snorkel sightings).
If you make your way to the capital city of Samoa, Apia, you have to take a trip to Marketi Fou. It's a 24-hour market full of anything you could need for a day of shopping: food, coconut-shell jewelry, sarongs, and a drinking coconut for the ideal tropical refreshment.
Where To Stay
- Tanoa Tusitala Hotel - This hotel is just a short walk from the city center, but with pools (including one for the kids), tennis courts, and gardens, you can find some mid-trip solace by spending a day just exploring the grounds. If you were hoping for large high-end resorts, Samoa doesn't have any, but this will give you that luxurious feel while still keeping with the culture of the islands.
- Saletoga Sands Resort and Spa - It's right on the ocean, but with only 25 rooms, you won't ever feel like you're stuck on an overcrowded beach. We're all about bringing adventure to our travel, and with canoes, snorkeling, fishing, diving, and other water sports, there will be no lack of thrills on your trip. The kids will also have a blast splashing around the pool or hanging out at the kids club.
- Le Vasa Resort - If you're going to a tropical country, there's no reason you should skip out on a water-front villa or bungalow. This small resort is more secluded, making it the perfect home for you to really find your inner peace. It's the farthest on this list from the city center, but if a beach-centered trip is what you were looking for, that won't be too much of an issue. You can kayak, pedal boat, bike, snorkel, and even visit their private island. We still recommend at least one day that you head to the city, but with shuttle and taxi services, that'll be easy.
What To Eat
Mi Amor in Apia is one of our favorites for their creative fusion of classic Samoan flavors and international dishes, with taro tacos, smoked BBQ, and even vegan options. Although we still can't stop dreaming of those taro fries.
Vegans rejoice: Krush in Apia is here to become your new favorite spot. They're technically a juice bar, but with crepes, burrito bowls, soup, and meatless burgers, we wouldn't be surprised if this is your daily lunch stop.
What To Pack
Sun and sea mean one thing: swimsuits for days! Make sure you have one for every occasion with all of our favorite suits. We brought both one-piece swimsuits for when we are wanting to bring bolder vibes to our day and some mix-and-match bikini tops and bottoms.
Just slip the Bowie Tie Dress from Stillwater on top of your swimsuit-of-the-day for a breezy look ready to head to the beach (or grab a quick snack between swims).