The efficient way to plan a trip is to analyze about what you actually love to do and when actually you need a break—not just any other destination you have yet to check off from travel list. With these top key points in consideration, we did a case study within our network and global correspondents to deliver two dozen inspiring spots that will be particularly marvelous this coming year.
Among them are far-flung places you may have never considered, such as the nomadic villages of Kyrgyzstan, the archaeological ruins deep in Guatemala, and the pristine landscapes of Lombok, Indonesia. There are also sleepy beach towns getting glammed up by posh hotels, or classic cities revitalized by hot restaurants and fresh cultural institutions. And if you’re looking for a chance to commune with the great outdoors or go on an animal adventure, we’ve got those, too.
In interactive graphs accompanying each destination, you’ll find exclusive, week-by-week hotel pricing data from Google and intel from our most trusted travel experts. Tap or hover over them, and you’ll get specific insights for each spot.
All that’s left is for you to pick your favorite. Bon voyage!
It’s a logistical challenge to hit this destination’s nomadic villages, picturesque mosques, and Brutalist architecture on one luxury trip. But Steppes Travel, which has led vacations in Kyrgyzstan since the ’90s, now offers en suite yurts along the mystical shores of Song Kol Lake and helicopter service to sidestep bumpy back roads to see the country’s three 23,000-foot-plus mountains. Voygr, another high-end adventure operator, offers your best chance at sighting a snow leopard with guided walks in the Tien Shan mountain range. And for the easiest (and plushest) CliffsNotes introduction, Golden Eagle Luxury Trains will inaugurate its Republics of the Silk Road route in the spring.When to Visit Kyrgyzstan 👆Luxury hotel average priceBest time to goOkay timeWorst timeJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecJan0200400600$800December 30$80 per nightWorst timeSource: Google Search luxury hotel prices from 2019.
When to go: May through September is favorable. June to August might be the hottest months, but they’re also when nomads are most active grazing their herds in the alpine meadows, and it’s when the National Horse Games and falconry festivals take place.
When not to go: November through March. Winters here are harsh, with lots of snow and hard frost rendering the country’s spectacular lakes and mountains inaccessible.
Whom to call: Jarrod Kyte of Steppes Travel
January 2, 2020, 7:00 AMPHOTOGRAPHER: MINDY TAN FOR BLOOMBERG BUSINESSWEEK
The Great Barrier Reef is in a precarious state, but eco-friendly ways to see it are flourishing. In April artist and activist Jason deCaires Taylor will unveil his Museum of Underwater Art, a multisite installation that includes a greenhouse on the ocean floor and a sculpture of a young girl that changes color as a harbinger of climate change. Local outfit Cruise Whitsundays just opened Reefsuites, Australia’s first underwater accommodations, built under a floating platform. For daytrips, the private Hamilton Island resort choppers guests to a wind- and solar-powered pontoon near the previously inaccessible Heart Reef lagoon. Divers often pit-stop in Brisbane, which will soon accept flights from San Francisco and Chicago. The workaday state capital is suddenly cool with a 50,000-square-foot exhibition space, a craft brewery, and an art-inspired hotel called the Fantauzzo lining its formerly derelict shipping port. A Rosewood and Ritz-Carlton are on the way, too.
When to go: June through early September offers both prime humpback whale watching and excellent scuba diving weather. But really, you’ll enjoy any outdoor activities during the dry months of May through November.
When not to go: December marks the start of rainy season, with the worst months February and March. Expect heavy tropical rains, humidity, and the possibility of cyclones.
Whom to call: Cassandra Bookholder of Camelback Odyssey Travel
Hotels on the Hawaiian Islands are getting ever more serious about the health factor that luxury travelers increasingly crave. Auberge Resorts’ reboot of Mauna Lani—one of the oldest and most beloved hotels on the Big Island—will open in January with a sports program designed by surf legends Gabby and Laird Hamilton. It’ll focus not on cutbacks and foam climbs, but on breathing—a hot trend. The new Halepuna Waikiki resort, an extension of the popular Halekulani, includes qigong and tandem yoga in its lineup of daily fitness classes. And on the tiny island of Lanai, where Four Seasons already runs a best-in-class resort founded by Oracle billionaire Larry Ellison, the same company just opened its first Sensei Retreat, a 96-room, all-inclusive getaway with a high-tech spa and farm-to-table restaurant by Nobu Matsuhisa.
When to go: Insiders book trips in May, late September, early October, and the first week of December. These are narrow windows when prices and weather are equally favorable. November can also be worth considering. It’s one of the quietest months on the island, but it comes with a higher risk of rain.
When not to go: The holiday season (from Christmas to the New Year), isn’t just expensive: Most resorts require seven- to 10-night stays, and you need to book a year in advance. And if it’s peaceful honeymoon vibes you’re after, steer clear of spring break and summer vacations.
Whom to call: Jay Johnson of Coastline Travel
Even if you’re one of the 20 million visitors that made it the world’s most visited city in 2018, for the fourth year running, chances are you’d return to find the Thai capital reborn. IconSiam, a $1.8 billion shopping complex, has revitalized the Chao Phraya River’s western bank with an indoor floating market, a fancy bistro by Alain Ducasse, and an illuminated fountain as long as the Empire State Building is tall. On the other shore, the 143-year-old, newly renovated Mandarin Oriental has two glitzy neighbors: the Capella Bangkok, with its Mauro Colagreco restaurant, and the Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok, with a pool large enough to host yoga classes on stand-up paddleboards. Add the observation deck atop Thailand’s second tallest building, the King Power Mahanakhon, and a fleet of electric ferries that will zip passengers to the Grand Palace by summer, and you’ll find Bangkok more alluring than ever.
When to go: The Thai capital is best when it’s not sweltering, from November through February.
When not to go: You’ll get the stickiest weather from March to June. That’s far worse than the short but intense bursts of rain that ward off tourists (and drive down prices) from July to October.
Whom to call: Lesa Clarkson of ATJ
Ancient history never looked so fresh. When the Grand Egyptian Museum finally opens in the fall, the entire collection of precious objects from the Upper and Lower kingdoms will be showcased together for the first time with the respect it deserves—in a half-billion-dollar space near the Giza pyramids. It’s one of several improvements that will help the Egyptian government continue the upward trend of post-revolution tourism, which grossed an all-time-high of $12.5 billion in the year ending in June 2019. More forthcoming draws include renovated historic Jewish synagogues such as the 116-year-old Sha’ar Hashamayim and a sumptuous St. Regis by Michael Graves Architecture & Design. Book through Abercrombie & Kent, and you’ll have access to flexible flights on private jets to get around the country—a relief from EgyptAir’s strict early morning schedules.
When to go: The shoulder season months of March, April, October, and November offer cool weather and thin crowds. Ramadan, from late April into May, is especially interesting in Cairo, where restaurants stay open, alcohol is allowed, and locals celebrate well past midnight.
When not to go: From May to September, Saharan weather is even more punishing than you’d think.
Whom to call: Rami Girgis of Abercrombie & Kent