Lifestyle

Where to travel in 2024, from Melbourne to Malta, Utah to Udaipur, according to Expedia, Lonely Planet, American Express Travel and more – and where to avoid

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It’s that time of year again. Guidebook publishers, travel companies and online influencers have all been busy compiling their lists of must-see destinations for 2024.

Old favourites await rediscovery, up-and-coming hotspots vie with “undiscovered gems” and “sustainable havens” for inclusion, and, according to at least one industry player, some tourist attractions should be avoided altogether.

Forbes

In its 24 Best Places to Travel in 2024, global media brand Forbes leads with the gorgeous Italian island of Sardinia on account of its stunning beaches, history as a Mediterranean crossroads and seafood-influenced culinary traditions.

Skiers in Niseko, Hokkaido. The Japanese ski resort is recommended by Forbes and American Express Travel as a travel destination in 2024. Photo: Shutterstock
Vietnam’s Ha Long Bay is recommended by Forbes as a place to see in 2024 but Fodor’s says to give it a miss because of overtourism. Photo: Shutterstock
Renowned for its reliable snowfall, the Japanese ski resort of Niseko makes the cut as an alternative to more familiar European and North American winter sports venues and Forbes reckons the emerald waters and limestone pinnacles of Ha Long Bay, Vietnam, will enjoy a bumper 2024 as well.

National Geographic

San Leo medieval castle in Emilia-Romagna. The Italian region is recommended by National Geographic. Photo: Shutterstock
National Geographic’s Cool List 2024 gives the Albanian Alps a nod for their challenging hiking trails amid jagged karst peaks. Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region is also recommended – three stages of the 111th Tour de France will roll through the vineyard-cloaked landscapes next summer.

Fodor’s

Guidebook publisher Fodor’s produces an annual Go List that includes Philippine diving paradise Coron (translucent seas, World War II shipwrecks and talcum powder sands). And with its fusion of cultures, cuisines, British colonial architecture and Chinese shophouses, George Town, the capital of Penang, Malaysia, merits a mention. World Heritage site? It goes without saying.

Fodor’s also compiles a No List of holiday spots that are suffering from overtourism.

Venice, Italy, is out for 2024, as locals aren’t convinced a planned €5 (HK$43) tourist tax will discourage enough people from visiting. Athens is blacklisted, too. The Greek capital hopes its timed-entry system will ease congestion although the daily cap of 20,000 sightseers sounds like a lot.
A scuba diver in Coron, in the Philippines, recommended by Fodor’s. Photo: Shutterstock
Ha Long Bay appears in the No List as regulations aimed at curbing marine pollution ( discarded plastic water bottles and leaked diesel from ageing fishing vessels and tourists boats) are poorly enforced. Forbes says “go” but Fodor’s says “no”. What’s a tourist to do?

Condé Nast Traveller

A shopping centre in Accra. The Ghanaian capital is recommended by Condé Nast Traveller. Photo: Shutterstock
Archers on horseback during the opening ceremony for the Naadam summer festival in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. The country is on Condé Nast Traveller’s list of 24 Best Places to Go in 2024. Photo: Shutterstock
In its 24 Best Places to Go in 2024, Condé Nast Traveller begins with Accra, the capital of Ghana, which, according to the global mass media company, is Africa’s capital of cool. There’s also room for Mongolia, famed for its Naadam summer festival, Mongol (car) Rally and horse trekking adventures through the Gobi Desert.

American Express Travel

American Express Travel has produced a countdown of trending holiday spots for the year ahead and joins Forbes in giving the powdery pistes of Niseko a plug.

Where will hotel room rates rise the most in 2024? Report sheds some light

The company likes the look of Udaipur, India, too. The City of Lakes, which appeared in the 1983 James Bond film Octopussy, is touted as an alternative to Agra and the Taj Mahal. And when it comes to Indian Ocean rivals, Amex plumps for the Seychelles as a substitute for the Maldives.

Expedia

On the subject of travel alternatives, Expedia, Instagram and TikTok users are doing their bit to lessen the effects of overtourism by devising destination dupes. These are places that have as much to offer as their more illustrious doppelgängers, minus the hype, the high prices and the hordes.

The White Lotus effect: how TV drama is influencing where we go on holiday

Expedia also predicts a 2024 boom in set-jetting: travelling to locations popularised in television shows and films. Thailand (White Lotus 3) makes the list, as do Malta (Gladiator 2), South Korea ( Squid Game) and the Florida Keys (Bad Monkey).
The online booking site tracked a whopping 160 per cent increase in searches for Richmond upon Thames, the swanky London suburb that appears in sports comedy drama Ted Lasso.

Travel + Leisure

Travel + Leisure editors have come up with no fewer than 50 Best Places to Travel in 2024. The suggestions are divided into categories ranging from “cultural immersion” to “beach vibes” and “adventurous travellers”.

Tallinn makes the grade in the former – the walled old town in Estonia’s capital city is one of the best-preserved examples of medieval architecture in the world. The island of Dominica is lauded for its sandy stretches of shoreline (Pirates of the Caribbean scenes were filmed on Hampstead Beach) and the lifestyle magazine raves about the jaw-dropping Himalayan and Karakoram mountain ranges of northern Pakistan.
The twin towers of Viru Gate in the old town of Tallinn, Estonia. Photo: Shutterstock

Lonely Planet

Among numerous themes for the year ahead, Lonely Planet showcases sustainable travel.

Keeping it green there’s “10 best sleeper-train journeys to take in Europe” along with “Thailand’s top 6 train journeys”, the shortest of which is the 80km hop from Thonburi to Samut Songkhram on the Mahachai Line, the longest the Eastern & Oriental Express runs from Bangkok to Singapore.

The Puffing Billy steam train in Victoria, Australia is recommended by Lonely Planet. Photo: Shutterstock

In addition, the guidebook publisher encourages us to consider “day trips from Melbourne without a car”, which sounds eco-friendly until you discover the coal-devouring Puffing Billy steam engine is one of the recommendations.

More ominous is Lonely Planet’s “How to get around Fiji whatever your budget”, which advises us to splash out on a helicopter charter or private plane transfers.

I can think of more sustainable ways to explore Fiji although, sailing aside, there aren’t many carbon-minimal methods of reaching the remote South Pacific paradise in the first place.

Frommer’s

In its Best Places to Go in 2024 run-down, multimedia company Frommer’s gets the ball rolling with the Andalusian city of Seville, which aims to be carbon neutral by 2030. Be sure to avoid “the frying pan of Spain” in the summer months, when temperatures are furnace like, though.

Scattered over a vast area of Pacific Ocean, the Cook Islands receive plaudits (“Think Hawaii, but 90 years ago”). True, the weather is as hot and sticky as Seville, but fortunately, the (mainly empty) beaches in this part of Polynesia provide an inviting way of keeping cool.

Aitutaki Lagoon in the Cook Islands, recommended by Frommer’s for its mainly empty beaches. Photo: Shutterstock

Tim’s picks

I’ll finish with a few 2024 recommendations of my own.

We’ve seen that destination dupes offer a less trodden path where tourists are fewer in number, locals aren’t as frazzled and the travellers’ holy grail of “authenticity” is a given.



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