It's almost 2020 and people have different priorities than before when it comes to choosing their dream destinations! You might not know it, but studies by companies like Booking.com are starting to reveal these changing attitudes.
It's time to update your bucket list! Don't base your travel goals on outdated ideas of which destinations are worthwhile. Always wanted to experience Hawaii? Maybe think again. Is Peru appealing to you? List item 17 might change your mind. Here's our full list of what to skip and what to actually go for in 2019.
Let's start with the destinations on no one's bucket list anymore...
25 Mandalay, Myanmar
Myanmar used to be an exotic and inviting international destination. It’s tropical, it’s culturally interesting, and it’s got some genuinely cool geographic features to explore. Unfortunately, it’s also now so unappealing that the UN advises travelers to avoid it entirely.
The UK government also advises against it, along with the Canadian government. So why are these official bodies warning against visiting this once-beautiful place? These days, Myanmar is just not safe. The crime levels there are off the charts, in ways that many people consider to be unethical. If you want a non-controversial holiday, just skip this destination until further notice.
24 Stonehenge, England
Stonehenge is undeniably interesting. It's a mysterious archaeological marvel that's over 4000 years old! That being said, the tourism built up around Stonehenge makes this attraction much less appealing in 2019. Not only do you have to pay excessive entry fees to see this monumental pile of rocks, but you're also subjected to a poorly-reviewed Stonehenge museum crowded with tourists.
If you want to see Stonehenge the 2019 way, you can frame it the background of a great selfie from England's (free to drive on) A303 Highway, or you can visit it as part of a unique event like the Summer Solstice Festival - if you can afford the ticket.
23 Himalayan Mountains, Bhutan
Think you want to visit the Himalayas? Think again. Unlike most places in the world these days, Bhutan doesn’t want your money. They don’t want travelers. They especially don’t want crowds of tourists. If you are truly desperate to visit the Himalayas in Bhutan, you need to pay a fee just for not being a local.
Bhutan’s tourism policy charges visitors $200 or $250 PER DAY depending on the time of year (with a $40 surcharge for groups of two or single travelers). That’s a lot of money that you WOULDN’T be charged for visiting the world’s other, equally awe-inspiring mountain ranges. Your wallet will thank you for erasing this place from your bucket list.
22 Dubrovnik, Croatia
Croatia is one of the most sought-after destinations for celebrities and savvy travelers alike. These pros know that Dubrovnik is not worth visiting anymore. They know of other hidden gems along the Croatian coastline and choose to visit them instead (or even charter their own yachts to experience Croatia by water).
Dubrovnik used to be a first-class destination, but tourists have overrun this city and made it less appealing than ever. The city has recognized this problem and decided to cap the number of tourists at 4,000 daily. We'd rather go somewhere else along the Adriatic Sea.
21 Alaska, USA
Why Alaska? 2019 marks 60 years of Alaska being an official United State, and the projected amounts of American tourists coming to celebrate this are just too much to deal with. It's especially unappealing considering Alaska hasn't been an exciting new frontier to visit in about, well...60 years.
By this day and age we all know about America's most northern point, and know that we can experience the same chilly climate and rugged landscape in more interesting international places like Eastern Europe, Scandinavia, and even the always-pleasant Canadian territories. If Alaska somehow did find its way onto your bucket list, go ahead and replace it with one of these and call it a day.
20 Hawaii, USA
Just like Alaska, Hawaii is celebrating 60 years of statehood in 2019. As a vacation destination we think that Hawaii's glory days might have ended sometime within the last 60 years. It's still geographically spectacular - although some of its main volcanoes no longer erupt - but these days, it's just got a similar culture and climate to Florida. Why pay for a hotel in the middle of the Pacific Ocean when you can experience the same tropical American vibes (plus Disney World and Universal Studios) on America's mainland?
There are also so many other, CLEANER beaches to explore in more exotic destinations all around the world. Expand your horizons and take Hawaii off your to-do list for now.
19 Maya Bay, Thailand
Maya Bay was once a completely one-of-a-kind and worthwhile Thai holiday destination. Its natural beauty even drew Hollywood film production studios, who used it as a backdrop for the Leonardo DiCaprio film, The Beach. The film's success drew literally millions of visitors more than the small archipelago could accommodate. In 2018, it welcomed 2.5 million tourists, half a million more than it had welcomed the year before.
Now Maya Bay is drawing the line. It prohibits overnight stays and is closing for at least half of 2019 to clean up its nearly-destroyed beaches. We're not optimistic that it will get back to its former pristine state anytime soon.
18 Virunga National Park, West Africa
Virunga is Africa's oldest national park, and used to be THE place to go if you wanted to see and interact with gorillas. These days the gorillas are critically endangered, and their population is becoming smaller and smaller as poachers proliferate the region. Poaching is dangerous to travelers as well as to wildlife, as witnessing their illegal activity can make you a target yourself.
After several intense incidents, Virunga National Park closed to build up its safety measures. It expected to re-open in 2019, but it still has not reopened nor has it provided a clear answer to reporters about what safety measures it is taking to protect gorillas and humans alike. Better to visit a nice safe zoo.
17 Machu Picchu, Peru
UNESCO recommends that only 2,500 people per day visit this historic destination, but as early as 2016 it saw tourists in numbers of over 5,000 people a day stomping all over its landmarks. Peru has tried several tactics to stop tourists from ruining this once gorgeous site, but their efforts haven't been effective yet.
According to CNN, Peru has required foreigners to visit Machu Picchu with official tour guides since 2014. In 2017, Peru tried a new visiting slot procedure where tourists would get timed tours of the location in morning or evening sessions. Unfortunately, the site is reportedly still overcrowded on the regular. Skip it.
16 Las Vegas, Nevada
Las Vegas is iconic for a reason. There used to be no place in the world like it when it came to performing acts, showgirls, and opportunities for winning big. These days if you've ever been to a casino, you've basically already experienced Las Vegas vibes.
Overcrowding is a real issue on the Las Vegas Strip, and many of its hotel prices have gotten off the charts. It also doesn't really offer unique experiences to today's travelers, which the Booking.com report showed as one of their biggest reasons for traveling these days. We've all already seen enough pics of a smiling person in front of the 'Welcome to Las Vegas' sign. Next.
15 Santorini, Greece
Santorini is majorly hyped up. The Guardian reports that a million tourists visit the island every year and there can be as many as 57 flights a day in the summer. That's way too many for a little Greek Island to handle. Cruise ships are also responsible for bringing loads of tourists in (as many as 25,000 people a day, according to The Guardian). Do you really want to deal with all those people on your holiday?
If you're looking for stunning whitewashed buildings against a sparkling cyan seaside, almost any coastal town in Greece will do. Go off the beaten path a bit and we're sure you won't regret it. At least you'll get some space to breathe.
14 Niagara Falls, Canada
Of all the waterfalls in the world to see, you could be more original than Niagara. The waterfalls of Niagara Falls are undeniably gorgeous, but so many people have been there and done that ,you'd be better off going for a lesser-known waterfall in your 2019 Snapchat stories.
Besides issues with crowds and hokey tourist attractions, Niagara Falls has a whole lot of overpriced accommodations and experiences, plus the American/Canadian quality divide. If you're interested in a waterfall experience without all this, we've got you covered.
13 Pisa, Italy
Want to pretend you're holding up the Leaning Tower of Pisa as it tips over? Don't. Just don't. This relatively remote Italian destination isn't worth the trip if that's what you're going for. 2019 is about making new experiences, and this truly isn't one.
People also generally report being disappointed with their Pisa experiences, because the tower isn't actually as large or as tilted as they had hoped. It's just a small tower in a small Italian town. Why not go to Florence and see historic structures that are architecturally interesting on purpose? But you do you.
12 Paris, France
Paris may once have been the city of love. These days, if you're lucky, you might experience the city in all its old Hollywood glory. It's more likely, however, that you'll visit Paris on a day when millions of other people do and witness the destruction that millions of people have left behind them.
We're talking about litter and generally bad attitudes that discourage entire countries from visiting. The closer you get to the Eiffel Tower the more crowded you're likely to feel, and pictures in front of the Eiffel Tower are so ubiquitous that yours will probably have several posing strangers in the background behind you. Consider an understated French destination instead.
11 Ibiza, Spain
We bet you already know about this Mediterranean island's rowdy reputation. It's where early 2000s-era celebrities party with an international crowd. A crowd is exactly what you'll get if you go there. Thousands of people go to Ibiza specifically to get wild, and the island just can't handle it anymore.
Authorities have even moved the club curfew from 5 am to 3 am, but locals don't expect this to do much.
“If you release 5,000 people suddenly in the street at three in the morning, they will continue the party,” a local business owner told Diario de Ibiza. “They do not go to sleep. They mess about on the beach or the promenade.” We'd rather avoid the drama in 2019.
And here are the 10 destinations that are underrated...
10 Berlin, Germany
Berlin's long and storied history has led it to become the welcoming, vibrant, and culturally unique city it is today. Travelers these days appreciate not just its meaningful landmarks (remnants of the Berlin Wall and memorials) but also its uber-hip art scene.
The city is overflowing with unique museums and galleries that will make any Instagram feed pop. Take the city's Museum of Illusions, for example. Record yourself and your friends navigating tunnels made of spiraling lights. Walkthrough rooms designed to make you look tiny, massive, or completely upside down. This destination is worth its place on any modern bucket list.
9 Mae Chaem, Thailand
If you liked the idea of visiting gorillas in West Africa (number 18 on this list) we bet you'd like to meet some elephants in Thailand. Instead of riding them in the busy streets of Chiang Mai or Bangkok, consider volunteering to help preserve their health and safety at the Elephant Sanctuary in Mae Chaem.
You'll get to enjoy all of the heat and cultural charm of Thailand without the headache that crowded major cities bring, AND you get to make a difference. If you're a modern traveler, spending your holiday soaking up the sun among sweet endangered creatures might be just your cup of tea. Trips are available in one to four-week stays, and all-inclusive.
8 Valle Verzasca, Switzerland
There aren't many places around the Alps that have stayed pristine, but the hidden valley of Verzasca is one of them. Only travelers who have committed to finding off-the-beaten-path places have gotten to enjoy this lush green landscape tucked beneath silhouettes of mighty mountains and flowing with crisp, clean Swiss waters.
To experience the best of nature in a true hidden paradise, Valle Verzasca is your choice. Worlds away from the neon hustle and bustle of Niagara Falls, the quaint waterfalls of this remote riverbend are the perfect place to find your zen. Even if you're not an adventure tourism kind of person, you can enjoy the beauty of this location from your choice of nearby luxe hotel. Win-win!
7 Kwun Tong, Hong Kong
Hong Kong belongs on your bucket list, period. It did before and it does still in 2019, with a reputation for being insanely colorful, creative, and just plain fun. Kwun Tong specifically is home to rad new attractions that put old fashioned arcades to shame.
It's full of opportunities for you to be a moving part of inventive arcade-style games. Play air hockey with your own lungs providing the air. Cycle through a man-made typhoon and try your hand at 'human body ping pong.' They're like virtual reality games in actual reality if you get what we mean - perfect for making hilarious, unique memories with friends.
6 Inflatable Island, Philippines
If you're looking for a visually interesting place to visit, this is more than it. The Inflatable Island is made out of inflatable bouncy castles, ramps, games, and giant creatures - all set against the backdrop of the naturally spectacular Philippines.
Forget pictures of yourself floating in some hotel pool with a tacky flamingo inflatable. Go full out on the tacky factor! Own it with shots of yourself bouncing over mountains with the help of a larger than life unicorn floatie. This place is an amazing choice for anyone looking for the right mix of tropical relaxation and memorable fun. If that sounds like you, add this island to your bucket list ASAP.
5 Batu Caves, Malaysia
Looking for a place that opens your eyes to a new cultural way of life? The Batu cave temples in Malaysia are an amazingly unique place where locals gather to gain insight, perspective, and spiritual guidance for their own lives. The caves also welcome travelers, but most tourists tend to skip this destination.
What's so great about a bunch of prayer caves, they might wonder. Well for those in the know, the spectacle and spiritual resonance of this destination can not be understated. Pictures are welcome and turn our amazingly due to the rich and diverse color palette used throughout the space. It has to be seen (and felt) to be believed.
4 Playa Tortuga, Costa Rica
Visit the Costa Rican rainforest? Of course. Help endangered turtles to thrive in a harsh ecosystem? Yes, please. This is one destination that can be a relaxing holiday AND an opportunity to make a meaningful difference in the world. If you're passionate about wildlife and the environment, consider a holiday in Playa Tortuga.
Costa Rica is underrated when compared to how many people choose to visit Mexico or the Bahamas for their hot weather holidays, but that might change in the future. Costa Rica is undeniably stunning and more exotic than those more frequently visited destinations these days. Be unique and compassionate by volunteering in Costa Rica sometime.
3 New York City, USA
You might think that NYC is overhyped, overpopulated, and over-visited. You might think that everything there is to see has already been seen millions of times. Because it's still the city that never sleeps, however, there are still new and exciting things popping up all the time in New York City.
These new things totally align with what travelers are looking for these days in their bucket list destinations. If you want to volunteer your time or money, there are dozens of politically meaningful places to eat and experience Manhattan and its surrounding burrows. If you want totally unique and modern photo ops, pop up museums will meet that need. You just need to know where to go.
2 London, England
Like NYC, London England is constantly outdoing itself when it comes to its capacity for exceeding modern traveler expectations. Visit London for much more than the double-decker buses, phone booths, London Eye, Big Ben, and other iconic local landmarks. The London of today has so many unique and cutting-edge experiences to offer visitors of all kinds.
For example, if you love puppies as much as the Windsors love Corgis, London offers you an entire festival based around wiener dogs. It's got quirky pop up shops galore, including immersive mystery experiences and top culinary events. It will also always be a heaven for Harry Potter fans, of course.
1 Osaka, Japan
Japan has been on bucket lists for a lot of people for a long time, but don't underestimate its value in 2019! Just as people have continued to visit Japan in the thousands, Japan has continued to welcome them with clean infrastructure, polite attitudes towards visitors, and ever-changing attractions.
Some spots to look for in modern Japan are found in the uniquely vibrant city of Osaka. There you'll find Osaka Castle, Anime Street, and the Cup O' Noodles Ramen Museum, where you can experience this trendy dish in all its glory. These are just a TINY sampling of the fun and unique adventures you can have in this modern must-go destination. See for yourself!