Picturing yourself on the ultimate gap year next year but overwhelmed by all of the options and bucket-list worthy destinations available? We’ve been there. To make life easier and ensure your gap year is full of new experiences, new cultures and life changing experiences, we've teamed up with our travel-savvy friends at Topdeck to pinpoint the destinations that are THE places to be in 2017.
From incredible floating villages to getting up close to adorable baby pandas, here are the top 10 spots to visit in 2017 that you simply cannot miss!
1. Bagan, Myanmar
Would anyone like to see a giant golden rock balancing on a cliff edge and a city of 4,000 pagodas? A trip to mysterious Myanmar, named as a must-see place to visit in 2017 by Lonely Planet, is like experiencing an untouched South East Asia in all it’s glory. Discover the captivating Inle Lake and its floating villages, and explore the magical temples of Bagan. There are so many ways to explore this ancient kingdom – by hot air balloon, horse and cart or hopping on a mountain bike to soak up the cultural feels.
2. Chengdu, China
Hey cuties! Say hello to baby pandas in Chengdu, the home of these endangered fluffy friends. Don’t miss The Panda Conservation Centre where you can get some of the best views of the bears. The research centre specialises in the care of baby pandas and has more than 50 adorable cubs lumbering about.
3. Cinque Terre, Italy
Imagine colourful houses surrounded by lush nature, glistening ocean and endless Italian food? Heaven is a place on earth and Cinque Terre on the Italian Riviera is where it’s at. These five cliff side fishing villages are World Heritage listed for a reason. Explore them with a gelato in hand. Pure bliss.
4. Great Wall of China, Beijing
Fancy exploring one of the ‘new’ Seven Wonders of the World? The legendary Great Wall of China is epic. Lace up your runners and hit the pavement on the Mutianyu Walk. The trail is easy to follow, so take it easy with plenty of Instagram pit-stops along the way - #viewsfordays. The best part? After your breathtaking hike, feel the adrenalin as you toboggan down.
5. Dubrovnik, Croatia
Game. Of. Thrones. Need we say more? Explore the city that inspired George R. R Martin’s King’s Landing, complete with a wall walk and secret bars (yep, sip your mojito and then take a quick dip in the glistening Adriatic without having to leave the bar!). This coastal city will light up your eyes with its gorgeous mix of orange roofs, white stone and blue seas.
6. Victoria Falls, Zambia
Hear the call of the wild? Hit the road on an adventure-packed expedition to Zambia. Spend your days gallivanting through the game reserves with the native animals, before following the mighty roar of the awe-inspiring Victoria Falls. Referred to as “the smoke that thunders”, this bad boy can be heard a whopping 40 kilometres away. If you are looking for a taste of life on the edge, take a trip during the drier months when you’ll be able to bathe in the Devil’s Pool, the world’s scariest infinity pool, right on the edge of the falls.
8. Tokyo, Japan
Home to geishas and robot bars, things tend to get a little bit weird and wacky in Japan and that’s exactly why people are going nuts for it. Enjoy some kitty-time in a cat café as you sip on your green matcha tea. Try karaoke with a twist – soaking in a hot tub with your friends as you belt out the hottest tunes and then take a stroll down Takeshita Street in Tokyo – the home of the Harajuku girl. These girls, made famous by singer Gwen Stefani, have turned this insanely busy street into their local hangout. Make sure you have your phone at the ready for a selfie with one of them, and don’t be shy, they’re used to it!
9. Marrakesh, Morocco
Get ready for your Pinterest dreams to come true. The colourful city of Marrakesh will sucker punch you with its sensory overload of scents, sights and sounds. Soak it all up – get your barter on through the maze of the Souks or sit back, relax and enjoy a traditional mint tea. Get ready to Moroccan roll, Marrakesh is pleasantly chaotic and full of life!
10. Grand Canyon, USA
You’ve seen the photos but nothing can quite prepare you for the sheer size of these jaw-dropping two billion year old rock formations. With this spot firmly cemented as one of the Seven Wonders of the World it’s no wonder people are speechless when they admire the scenic surroundings of the Canyon. It’s also just a few hours down Route 66 and you’ll find yourself along the infamous strip of Las Vegas… roulette anyone?
Feeling inspired? To explore more of the world’s best destinations or to plan your gap year adventure check out Topdeck.