Where to go in 2018: trending destinations for trips from the GCC

South Korea, Georgia and Djibouti are just some of the currently popular places that enjoy direct flights from the UAE

Lonely Planet's Best in Travel 2018. Lonely Planet
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The travel media company Lonely Planet has published its book Best in Travel 2018, which makes recommendations on timely and trending trips we can all think about taking in the year ahead. Most are direct routes from the UAE.

South Korea, an eight-hour flight away with Emirates, Etihad or Korean Air, is topical because of the upcoming Winter Olympics.

A gondola in the Phoenix Park ski area near Pyeongchang, South Korea. Ski Safari

It also cites the new Seoullo 7017, "a new high-line park with cafes, bars and libraries along a disused elevated highway," as a reason to spend time in the capital Seoul. Portugal (Emirates flies direct to Lisbon) is also worth a visit because of "a spate of artfully designed museums" and the development of the country's food scene (seven new restaurants received Michelin stars in 2017).

Djibouti (a four-hour flight away with Flydubai) is recommended for its extraordinary landscapes including Lake Assal, the lowest point on the African continent. Malta, recommended for its beautiful capital Valletta, which is a European Capital of Culture for 2018, is reachable on an eight-hour flight with Emirates, which stops en-route for just over an hour in Larnaca, Cyprus.

Georgia, which in 2018 marks 100 years of independence from Russia, is recommended because of the combination of activities which are now possible on one trip, from exploring Tbilisi's old town and modern architecture to the mountains and valleys of the high Caucasus to the Black Sea resort of Batumi, as well as its food. Flydubai flies direct to Tbilisi, Batumi and Kutaisi in 3.5 hours.

Flydubai started flights to the Black Sea city of Batumi, Georgia, in summer 2017. Flydubai

Also on Lonely Planet's radar for 2018 is Mauritius, a 6.5 hour direct flight from the UAE with Emirates. 2018 marks 50 years of independence for the Indian Ocean country, which offers both beach and active holidays and a multicultural history and atmosphere.

South Africa, a nine hour flight from the UAE with both Etihad and Emirates, is recommended because "the country's many attractions will be bolstered by 'Nelson Mandela Centenary 2018: Be the Legacy', an official programme of events – some sporting, some educational, others devoted to the arts." Along with favourable exchange rates and the country's famous safari and food scene, make it a great time to visit.

Last but not least, China, which has just announced visa-free travel for UAE nationals and has relaxed its visa policy for those on stopovers in the country, is also recommended because of the opening of several new high-speed rail tracks, the opening of the Shanghai Tower, with the world's highest observation deck, and the opening of the Design Society in Shenzen. There are now direct Etihad and Emirates routes into various Chinese cities, with a flying time from seven hours.


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