magazine | Travel | Destination Guides

22 Places That Are Seriously Trending for 2019 (& Where to Go Instead)

photo: Madeline Lu
New year, new travel list! We’ve started our travel bucket lists for 2019 by crossing off some of the places we found too crowded last year in search of the next 'it' destinations. If you feel like 2018 was the year of seeing and doing it all, this guide is for you. From cloud forests in Panama to Australia’s most underrated coast, here are 22 of our top trending travel destinations for the New Year. We’re even including a few places Stateside so you can keep your travel plans low-key to fit within your financial goals for the year.

Reporter: Alyssa Brown | Location: InterContinental Moorea Resort & Spa, Tahiti
1 / 22

Chengdu, China Instead of Hong Kong

Chengdu, China
There’s a giant panda breeding base in Chengdu, and to be honest, that’s reason enough to head to this less touristy part of China. In addition to visiting those cute furry animals, here you can taste your way through the country’s best eats. This region is considered to be the epicenter of Sichuan cuisine and has been recognized by UNESCO as one of the great gastronomy centers of the world.
2 / 22

Cat Ba Island, Vietnam Instead of Bali, Indonesia

Cat Ba Island, Vietnam
Bali is seriously trending for 2019. To escape the crowds, head on out to Northern Vietnam’s Cat Ba Island. There’s a section along the bay with plenty of hotel options, but it’s back in the jungles, caves and waterfalls of the island that the beauty of this place will overwhelm you.
3 / 22

Go on a Cruise Instead of Staying in a Hotel

Cruises aren’t just for your grandma or college-kid cousin these days. In fact, the new wave of cruises is majorly trending with the resort-setters. Head off on a luxury yacht with only your closest friends in tow, or join a music festival on the open seas. Get inspired with these 20 cool cruises → 
4 / 22

Porto, Portugal Instead of Lisbon

Porto, Portugal
With its rich combination of old world setting mixed with a very forward-thinking, arts-centric culture, Porto has been lighting up our Portugal trend radars quite a lot lately. Not only will you marvel at beautiful architecture in this city, but you’ll also eat some of the best meals you’ve had in ages and sip on the city’s signature Porto tonico.
5 / 22

Tahiti Instead of Tulum, Mexico

Tahiti, French Polynesia
Tulum has become such a hotspot in recent years that it’s become a bit overrun with tourists. Instead of heading to your favorite spot there another year in a row, head to Tahiti for a tropical vacation that’ll have you walking black-sand beaches, dipping into emerald lagoons and swimming under waterfalls.
6 / 22

Lofoten Islands, Norway Instead of Iceland

Lofoten Islands, Norway
We’ve long held a major love affair with Iceland, but the Lofoten Islands may be stealing our attention for 2019. The archipelago sits along the Norwegian Sea, far above the Arctic Circle, and offers incredible opportunities to spot the Northern Lights or kayak between the islands catching fish and gazing at wildlife like you’ve never seen before.
7 / 22

Panama Instead of Costa Rica

A debate that predates us, whether either of these vacation spots is better than the other may be entirely in the eye of the beholder. But, Panama boasts one of the largest rainforests in the Western Hemisphere and you can head out on a cloud forest safari here that’ll have you mingling with tropical birds, monkeys and sloths in no time at all. Stay at the overwater bungalows of Azul Paradise →
8 / 22

Namibia Instead of South Africa

If dramatic desert landscapes and sparsely populated regions of Sub-Saharan Africa are what you’re after, we’d say go for Namibia instead of South Africa. Here, you’ll find tons of safari options and the expansive Etosha National Park, where you can spend days spotting hundreds of wild animals gather to the park’s many water holes. Stay at Hoanib Valley Camp →
9 / 22
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Nassau, Bahamas Instead of Miami, Floridalearn more

Head to Miami and hop straight on a flight to Nassau for a stay at the new Rosewood Baha Mar. It’s still a tropical, beachy vacation but it’s set just along the edge of Cable Beach, and has the kind of elegance you’d expect from a spot that offers private villas, an incredible spa sanctuary and afternoon tea. Get the full guide to Nassau →
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10 / 22

Costa Palmas, Mexico Instead of San José del Cabo

Costa Palmas, Mexico
If you’re over the crowds in Cabo, head to a quiet, new luxury resort in Costa Palmas instead. There’s a brand new Amanvari resort in the works that’s set to open in 2020, and a Four Seasons that’ll be opening mid-2019. Think five-star dining, private, white sand beaches, plush suites and completely indulgent R&R.

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11 / 22

Singapore Instead of Thailand

Perhaps Singapore can thank the film squad of Crazy Rich Asians for the uptick in tourism that’s probably headed its way in 2019. The film beautifully captured some of the best of this modern city’s scenery and made it feel like a glamorous, larger than life metropolis.
12 / 22

The Turkish Rivieria Instead of The French Riviera

The French Riviera is always a great stop for glitz, glamour and celebrity spotting, but it’s the Turquoise Coast of southwest Turkey that sets the scene for some of the world’s most impressive archaeological ruins and golden cliffs that drop right down to the sand.

New Orleans Instead of Charleston

New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans really is unlike any other place in America. All styles of music permeate through not just the streets, but every aspect of local culture too. The new food scene continues to grow at a crazy, wild pace while old faithful spots like Galatoire’s and Arnaud’s maintain their legendary foothold. But the real kicker for why New Orleans is trending right now might just be all the new small businesses and beautiful boutique hotels setting up shop in this fan favorite Southern town.
14 / 22

Matera, Italy Instead of Cappadocia, Turkey

Matera, Italy
If you’ve loved the idea of hot air ballooning over Cappadocia, add hot air ballooning over Matera to your travel bucket list. This ancient limestone village in southern Italy is as impressive from above the ground as it is in the caves. Be sure to add a stay at Sextanio to your must-do list.
15 / 22

Toronto, Canada Instead of Chicago, Illinois

Toronto, Canada
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again. Skip Chi-Town and head to Toronto if you’re after a big-city vibe with super chill neighborhoods tucked in the midst. Toronto’s multi-cultural vibe lends well to amazing restaurants, street food, art galleries, markets, maker scene and so much more. Get the full guide to Toronto →

Portland, Maine Instead Montauk, New York

Portland, Maine
Skip the Montauk beaches with the masses this summer and instead head on up to Portland to experience a quintessential coastal New England town at its most charming. Locals love their town for its lovely parks, local art and Victorian architecture while visitors also flock to the harbor and great restaurants. Fun fact:Bon Appetit named Portland the top food destination of the year. 
17 / 22

Berkshires, Massachusetts Instead of Hudson Valley, New York

Berkshires, Massachusetts
The Hudson Valley is great for a quick getaway from NYC, but the Berkshires are still within a 3.5 hour drive and you’ll find plenty of woodland trails and beautiful river outlooks upon your arrival. Book in at the newly opened Tourists for a stay that’s reminiscent of an old roadside motor lodge but with all the modern comforts of super cozy digs and a (soon-to-open) restaurant with a James Beard award-winning chef at the helm.
18 / 22

Maule Valley, Chile Instead of Mendoza, Argentina

Maule Valley, Chile
Already checked Mendoza’s wine region off your travel list and loved it? Head to Chile’s Maule Valley for a similar terrain of rolling vineyards, complete with dramatic snow-covered mountain backdrops, and taste your way through full-bodied cabernets, old vine carignan and país for the ultimate experience.
19 / 22

Perth, Australia Instead of Brisbane & Byron Bay

Perth, WA, Australia
Byron Bay’s surf life is beautifully laid back, but skip the Instagram-obsessed crowds and head to Perth instead. The national parks, beautiful and quiet beaches, wildlife-filled islands, and wine region of Margaret River are all within a day’s drive of West Australia’s biggest city.
20 / 22

Buenos Aires, Argentina Instead of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Buenos Aires, Argentina
In Buenos Aires, you’ll be hanging in cool cafes and museums by day and speakeasy hopping by night. If you’re leaning toward a vacation that’s equal parts culture and party, it’s Buenos Aires for the win.
21 / 22

Doha, Qatar Instead of Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Doha, Qatar
If you want to experience some of the best of the Middle East’s culture, architecture and urban expanse, Doha is like the more approachable, down-to-earth cousin of Dubai. Here, you’re more likely to spend your days exploring local souks and cool museums rather than hanging in a bar that serves the world’s most expensive cocktail.
22 / 22

San Miguel de Allende, Mexico Instead of Mexico City

San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
According to Travel + Leisure, San Miguel de Allende is the best city in the world. So, yeah, skip your Mexico City plans and see what the Spanish-colonial city is all about. Between the artisan-filled markets, colorful cobblestone streets and the historic center being a UNESCO World Heritage site, it’s easy to see why San Miguel would be such a tourist haven.

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