There are only a few more days left to ring in the New Year and if that is not incentive enough to go hunting for exotic travel destinations, consider that 2011 was the Year of Travel according to industry experts.
Travel advisors at Virtuoso, a leading luxury travel network in the Americas, the Caribbean, Australia and New Zealand, suggest the top seven destinations that ought to be visited in 2012.
Their latest list features some less-traveled to destinations, including one that is split in two by the Equator!
Do check these places before planning your holiday next year:
Jordan offers any traveler a perfect mix of leisure and history; a reason perhaps why advisors recommend the place. The country is full of medieval castles, large deserts and dramatic mountains. In addition, it also lets you discover the Dead Sea area, the ancient city of Petra and Aqaba. Jordan's famed historical draws include the spot on the banks of the Jordan River where, according to tradition, Jesus Christ was baptized.
2. Thailand and Laos
The north of Thailand remains relatively unaffected from the severity of flooding the rest of the country suffered from. According to Virtuoso, Thailand is the ideal exotic destination across much of Southeast Asia. Thailand and Laos offer startling contrasts, from mountainous regions with hill-tribes, little towns with lively markets and densely populated cities like Bangkok, a Virtuoso statement declares.
The lesser known island of Tasmania is just two-hour flight from Sydney and happens to be an amazing destination. Landscapes and adventure spots are the forte of Tasmania which, because of its relatively remote location and the currents that flow in from the Southern Ocean, boasts of some of the world's most pristine coastal and inland waters, the experts at Virtuoso declare.
Ireland is not an unknown or rarely-traveled-to destination. However, the country's impossibly verdant landscape attracts international visitors by the score and there is no reason why the island country should not be on your list in 2012. Travel advisors explain that it has an edge over a few other hotspots because it is an English-peaking destination, where locals are hospitable and warm. However, for 2012 particularly, advisors suggest London as an alternative, given the fact that the 2012 Olympic Games will be held there.
5. Republic of Congo
The experts seem to have picked some truly unique places for 2012. The French-speaking Republic of Congo sits in the western region of central Africa and is split almost exactly in half by the Equator. Popular excursion include wildlife safaris and trekking, to best experience the country's heavily forested regions and its remarkable population of wild gorillas.
An improved security system and a significantly reduced crime rate have made Colombia one of the advisors' top choices. The country offers a range of natural and ancient attractions, including coffee plantations, dense jungles, snow-capped mountains, beaches, the capital Bogota, the UNESCO World Heritage city Cartagena and the Lost City of the Tayrona - fifth-century ruins.
With 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics to be held in Brazil, the country is all set to bask in the surge in tourism. The country's sunny beaches, culinary scene and nightlife culture are among the best in the world say Virtuoso advisors.