Hi-tech help, star-struck places to dine in Bangkok and the Winter Olympics might feature on your map next year
SEEKING FRESH ideas for the next holiday trip? You can check what’s coming up for travels and which are the emerging destinations in 2018. Here are our predications that might help make your vacation planning easier.BUCKET LISTThis might be the year to make that dream true for travelers who have a “bucket list” of must-see destinations in mind. Staying overnight in a five-star beachfront villa or gazing at the Borealis phenomena in the Arctic or Antarctic are not out of reach.“We found that more than half of millennials surveyed (54 per cent) would rather complete their bucket lists with partners than anyone else, followed by their parents,” Jessica Chuang of Hotels.com said to The Nation.Paris remains among the top five destinations for Thai travellers, who spend their time soaking up the art and the romantic environs./AFP“They’d like to take a road trip with friends or family through small towns rather than following main travel routes (39 per cent), try local street foods (also 39 per cent), and move abroad for a year to work or study (31 per cent).”Paris and London remain among the top five destinations for Thai travellers, while staying overnight in a treehouse or an underwater hotel is a must-do item before they die.GO LOCALA good way to experience the local life is to live like a resident. In the coming year, the Tourism Authority of Thailand is introducing some of 159 charming communities in five areas – Chiang Rai, Buri Ram, Ang Thong, Trat and Phang Nga.“The Creative Tourism campaign will bring more income to villages around the country,” says Sujitra Jongchansitto, deputy governor for tourism products and business of TAT.“The word ‘product’ doesn’t mean only a commodity – it also refers to a way of life. We add value to communities by helping villagers develop landscapes and activities such as workshops on rice farming and silk weaving to welcome tourists, both Thai and foreign. Meanwhile we aim to maintain the ways of rural life and our cultural heritage.”One locale is Ban Sanuan Nok in Buri Ram, a peaceful village ready to share its sericulture and weaving wonders with homestay guests.There, the day begins at 5.30, when offerings are prepared for monks. During the day visitors can go on eco-cultural sightseeing tours of the village. Residents conduct interesting workshops on how to weave silk, how to cook authentic Isaan delicacies and how to craft animal-shaped coconut dolls and hardwood bells like those that clatter around buffalo necks.GO IT ALONEWith advanced technology, people can take inspiration for their holiday from social media and travel bloggers, but not everyone has time to draft their own itinerary and look for accommodations.Now, private tours with more flexible, customised activities are becoming an option for middle-class travellers. They can select the destinations, dates and activities to fit their lifestyle.“People today prefer to customise their own holiday trips rather than buying a package tour that gives them only a few minutes for sightseeing,” says Natthapol Limtrakul, whose Friend Tell Pro Facebook page has almost 800,000 followers.“Meanwhile, Thais are paying more attention to photography and want to get beautiful pictures as keepsakes. All this has inspired bloggers to provide customised services for private groups – for people who have money but no time to arrange their schedule and hotel bookings.”Wonder Wander arranges customised photography tours with professionals. Wonder Wander is gaining popularity with both rookie and veteran travellers who are keen on photography. You just choose your dream destination and join a small group – no more than 16 people. All programmes are flexible, but the idea is to get out and photograph breathtaking scenes under the guidance of professionals, who share their tips.POP CULTUREBased on 128 million guest reviews and surveys of 19,000 travellers in 26 countries, Booking.com has determined that television shows, movies, sports and social media are having an increasingly significant sway in travel planning.Reading blogs and watching YouTuber recommendations will spark ideas for four in ten travellers, and on-screen locations from television, film or music videos will win over 36 per cent of travellers in the coming year.London capitalises on popculture trends, such as seeing the locations where TV series “Sherlock” is filmed./EPA-EFE The top TV-show locations travellers want to visit in 2018 are Croatia, Spain and Iceland, inspired by “Game of Thrones” (29 per cent); London, as seen in “Sherlock” and “The Crown” (21 per cent and 13 per cent, respectively); New York and Manhattan from “Billions” (13 per cent); and Los Angeles as viewed in “Entourage” (10 per cent).Meanwhile Hotel.com also notices that users search for accommodations at destinations seen in movies or music videos. Las Vegas drew attention from travellers when the Oscar-winning “La La Land” began screening in theatres, and 45 per cent of travellers have flocked to Puerto Rico since the hit song “Despacito” topped the charts.VISA-FREE EASYVisa exemptions are a powerful magnet in drawing travellers. Taiwan, for example, became one of most popular holiday gateways in 2017 for Thais, and will continue that success in the next year with its wealth of nature, history and culture on view.Recognised as the land of golden pagodas, Myanmar is a beloved destination for Buddhist pilgrims with its beautiful architecture and sacred ceremonies conveying luck and success.In 2018 Japan will take advantage of this trend by introducing flights to Sapporo on Air Asia, while NokScoot is also increasing flights to Japan.Taiwan’s visa exemptions lure Thais to explore the island’s rich culture. “We’ve seen a strong destination-search increase from 2015 to 2017 after the Taiwan government relaxed its visa in August 2016,” says Jessica Chuang at Hotel.com.“Our most recent data this year shows that Japan has remained a top destination for Thais every year since 2015. One possible reason is the visa-free policy for Thai tourists.”KOREA BECKONSBeyond its array of K-pop idols and settings for romantic TV series, South Korea will be a hub for professional athletes as its first Winter Olympic Games take place in the ski resort of Pyeongchang from February 9 to 25.A South Korean ski resort will host the Winter Olympics./EPA-EFE The Games will feature 102 events in 15 exciting sports, including four new disciplines – big-air snowboarding, mixed-doubles curling, mass-start speed skating and mixed-team alpine skiing.Visitors can take a ring-side seat to witness the sportsmen showing their skills in jumping and skiing on snow dunes and gliding around the skating rinks. TUMMY TOURSApart from sampling tantalizing street food in Yaowarat, travellers in Bangkok now have a new mission – trying all the Michelin-star kitchens.The inaugural Michelin Guide Bangkok awarded 14 restaurants a star each, emphasizing the quality of local cuisine. Jay Fai is famous for Thai-style crabmeat omelets, Gaggan, Le Normandie and Mezzaluna all earned two stars for their excellent cuisine.