Hello and Happy New Year Clever Travel Companion fans!
We're here to wish you a very happy new year for 2016 and we hope you will find yourself somewhere new and exciting, somewhere you've never been before and that it changes your life for the better! There's plenty to be excited about for 2016, the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro for one, NASA also plans to land on Jupiter so expect it to appear on a few travel guides for 2017 along with a new space lightyears membership card from Virgin.. The more likely out of atmosphere destination will be the Russian "Space Hotel" that's due to launch. However, of course even more exciting than that will be Clever Travel Companion's new products! I hear space is terrible these days for pickpocketing, and we have a number of new products in development to add to the range so watch this space! (no pun intended, pickpocket proof space suits?? Ideas anyone?). On a serious note, 2015 has been a great year for us at CTC and 2016 looks to be even more exciting!
The team has been all over the globe this year, from The Philippines to Sweden and the US, Bali and Thailand, Mexico, India, Australia and Russia and even Dubai, the UAE and Bahrain thrown in for good measure. Its been a great year but of course we don't plan on stopping there. Below are our top picks for 2016, some we will be visiting, others we plan too. Take a look -
1. Kotor, Montenegro
When people think of Montenegro, their first thoughts probably jump to the former socialist republic of Yugoslavia and the not so pleasant history surrounding the region, which might put some potential travelers off - BIG mistake. Montenegro is one of the most beautiful, less traveled countries in Europe and Kotor, a city hemmed in by dramatic, tall mountains and perched on a fjord-like bay is one of the best places to visit. Often dubbed the "mini-Dubrovnik", it's a progressive, beautifully scenic city, where many come to sample the regions delicious cheeses, coffee and bakeries. Unlike its Croatian comparison however, Kotor is yet to be graced by the hordes of Cruise Liner tourists and remains a somewhat undiscovered gem that we feel should make it onto our 2016 list.
2. Palau, Western Pacific
The republic of Palau, located to the west of The Philippines and around 1000kms from Manila is a picture perfect group of 250 small islands, with only 8 of those inhabited. Palau is the image that appears in your mind when someone mentions "island paradise" and unfortunately no picture truly does it justice (it would take a decent size memory card just to get a shot of each island). The entire regions marine life is a protected sanctuary meaning that it has some of the most thriving wildlife in the world and has been referred to as an "underwater Serengeti". The continued discovery of new species and ancient human civilizations has led Palau to be named a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it certainly makes our list of places to discover for 2016.
Greenland may seem like a slightly odd entry as many may find it to be "a lump of ice miles from anything" and in some respects, they may be right. However, in a world where every person has there entire life and social relationships accessible 24/7 from their pocket, Greenland becomes a bit of an enigma, a rarity if you will. With the lowest population density in the world and network coverage so minimal sat phones are the norm, it's a place to detach from the world and experience the REAL world. In Greenland you will find Glaciers the size of cities, you can sail alongside whales in their natural habitat, watch the northern lights brighten up the midnight sky or even take a husky sled through the snow. If you really want to "get away from it all", then seriously, try Greenland out. I know I will be.
4. Punta del Este, Uruguay
Situated on the Southeast Atlantic coast of Uruguay, Punta del Este is popular with tourists and expats alike due to its glamorous edge that also boasts a thriving nightlife and entertainment scene and beaches to rival Cancun or the Caribbean. Often called the St. Tropez of South America, its known for its glamour but if that's not your thing you could always take an adventure horseback through the surrounding plains with a legitimate cowboy. People love what Punta Del Este and Uruguay has to offer and we would encourage you to certainly check it out.
5. Khao Lak, Thailand
You're probably thinking "Oh no, more Thailand" and you'd be right, it seems it has been done to death and being a favourite for backpackers, isn't particularly anything new nowadays and unfortunately, a lot of areas in Thailand have become "tourist destinations". Having said that however, there is a reason it is a favourite with travelers. It boasts an exceptionally unique culture and landscape with some of the most breathtaking and also "WTF" sights you will ever come across. If you can find a place where original Thailand is still alive, you've found a life changing experience. This time around, I'm recommending Khao Lak - situated on the lower Andaman coast of Thailand it is a region known to travelers and tourists but rarely traversed meaning you will find places to stay, comforts and guides etc.. but you will also be left to your own devices for the majority of your stay. There are magnificent national parks, beautiful beaches and undiscovered natural ares to explore by boat or on foot. If you're going to visit Thailand, don't leave until you've been somewhere like Khao Lak, then make your judgements based on what the tourists don't see.
Well there you have it! Our guide to Clever Travel in 2016, we'll be visiting as many of these as possible and hope you will do the same. More guides will be coming up in future so please watch this space. We'd also love to hear your stories! If you've been anywhere you can recommend or if you've tried out your CTC wear anywhere, we'd be delighted to hear from you! Just shoot an email over to email@example.com as she's the daydreamer who wants to read about travel tips!
Thanks for reading!