Where to go next: 2020’s hottest holiday hotspots

Whether you are looking for a holiday filled with adventure, wellness, luxury, gourmet delights or the perfect family trip – these are the top destinations for 2020.

  • Sarah Reid
  • December 2019

Up-and-coming destinations, secret spots and fresh new takes on beloved cities, these are the trending places to visit in 2020. However you want to holiday, we have you covered.

Desaru Coast, Malaysia

Less than two hours drive from Singapore (or about four hours from Kuala Lumpur), the Desaru beach resort area in Johor has been undergoing major development to emerge as the ultimate family destination. The new integrated resort is not only home to the Adventure Waterpark, hosting one of the biggest wave pools in the world, but is also seeing a slew of new luxury hotel openings – including the Anantara Desaru Coast Resort & Villas, which is set to welcome guests in December 2019, and in 2020, the One&Only Desaru Coast. Plus, there’s two Ernie Els-designed golf courses and dining and shopping options at the Riverside complex – all nestled along 17 kilometres of coast facing the South China Sea.

Best for: A beach resort holiday with kids

desarucoast.com

Rusutsu, Japan

So you’ve been there in Sapporo and done that in Niseko? This is Japan’s next big ski destination. About 30 minutes’ drive from Niseko, the Hokkaido island resort – known for its excellent off-piste terrain – has been busy modernising its facilities, including launching a heli-skiing operation. What’s more, Rusutsu Resort has just opened a luxurious new public-access onsen, perfect for an après-ski soak.

Best for: A ski holiday

hokkaido-rusutsu.com

 With great runs and après-ski scene, Rusutsu is Japan's hottest ski destination.

Paparoa Track, New Zealand

Winding through the stunning alpine meadows, dramatic limestone karst landscapes and lush rainforests of the South Island’s Paparoa Range, New Zealand’s 10th Great Walk opened in November 2019, making it this summer’s hottest new hike. The 55km Paparoa Track is designed to be tackled on foot over three days, though you can also mountain bike the trail, a three-and-a-half-hour drive northwest of Christchurch, in two.

Best for: Nature lovers

doc.govt.nz opens in new window

The South Island’s Paparoa Range is a must-visit for hikers.

Perth, Australia

If there’s one culture spot you visit in 2020, make it the New Museum for Western Australia. A AUD $428 million project, the striking museum in the heart of the Perth Cultural Centre will feature nearly 6000 square metres of galleries. Designed to share the stories of people and place, with lots of interactive fun for kids, it’s set to become a must visit on a family trip to WA. Together with a whole host of new hotels and restaurants opening in recent months, the Western Australia capital is coming into its own.

Best for: An Australian family holiday

museum.wa.gov.au/new-museum

Perth's New Museum is adding serious cultural credentials to the city.​​

Tokyo, Japan

The 32nd Summer Olympic Games kick off in Japan’s capital in July, with new events for 2020 including surfing and skateboarding – along with a Japanese national favourite, karate – making it an event kids are bound to love. Even if you don’t snag tickets, city-wide “Live Sites” will offer spectators the chance to watch the Games in real time on giant screens. From April to September, you can also deep-dive into Japanese culture at the Tokyo 2020 Nippon Festival.

Best for: Sports lovers

tokyo2020.org

Coral Coast, Fiji

Fiji offers some of the best snorkelling and scuba diving in the Pacific and you can now make your underwater adventures count by signing up for a spot of coral gardening – the process of growing young corals in a protected nursery – while you’re at it. More than half-a-dozen resorts (and counting) across the country now offer coral gardening lessons and the opportunity to plant a piece of coral yourself. On the main island Viti Levu’s Coral Coast, get in on the action at the likes of the Outrigger Fiji Beach Resort and the Intercontinental Fiji Golf Resort & Spa.

Best for: An eco-friendly island escape

The Intercontinental Resort & Spa in Fiji now offers guests coral gardening lessons.

Seoul, South Korea

Learn the art of mindfulness from masters of the craft – we’re talking about Korean Buddhist monks. Thanks to the Templestay program, you can get a taste of their daily ritual by spending the night at one of more than 30 monasteries around the country (including seven in Seoul). Get ready to chant, meditate, dine and sip tea alongside resident monks. Not only will you gain a rare insight into Korean Buddhism, the experience might even change your perspective on life.

Best for: A spiritual holiday

Lombok, Indonesia

Bali might be Indonesia’s wellness HQ, but neighbouring Lombok is fast emerging as a chill-out base among travellers looking for a less crowded alternative. Taking bookings from March 2020, ultra-luxe The Legian Sire is due to open on the palm-fringed beaches of north Lombok lorded over by Mount Rinjani. A 15-minute boat ride away on Gili Meno, you’ll be able to indulge in rooftop yoga at Bask Villa Resort when it opens in 2020, while serious yogis should check out the new Flowers & Fire Yoga Garden Resort on nearby Gili Air island.

Best for: Wellness seekers

 The Legian Sire is situated on the palm-fringed beaches of north Lombok.​

Waikiki, Hawaii

You might go to this beach hotspot for the trendy buzz but stay for the immersive new wellness offerings. Whether it’s the Plant Your Intentions package incorporating astrology and “dreamboarding” (creating a visual representation of aspirations for the coming year) at Alohilani Resort Waikiki Beach or the Well-Rested program promoting better sleep at Ritz-Carlton Residences Waikiki Beach, Hawaii is taking wellness to the next level. Nowhere more so than at new wellbeing-focused boutique Hotel Renew – which offers a wellness concierge, “Hawaiian Healing” yoga and traditional wellbeing activities. You’ll never settle for a standard lomi lomi massage again.

Best for: New age wellness

Waitaki, New Zealand

Still something of a secret even in New Zealand, the South Island’s Waitaki Wine Region, just north of the famed Central Otago area, has been quietly making some of the nation’s best drops. Find out what the fuss is about by signing up for a cellar door tour with Waitaki Wine Tours. Or plan your own road trip, being sure to stop in at River-T Estate Wines, which has the largest selection of Waitaki Valley wine in the world, to pick up a few bottles of superb pinot noir – the region’s signature drop.

Best for: Wine lovers

Pick up a few bottles of superb pinot noir at River-T Estate Wines.​

The Tweed, Australia

With Husk, a brand-new rum and gin distillery, Farm & Co, a fantastic new farm gate café, and top chefs moving here in droves (including Matt Kemp, who heads up local restaurant Osteria Casuarina), the Tweed Valley is Australia’s food destination du jour. With murmurs of more developments in 2020, it’s the perfect time to taste your way around the region (be sure to schedule lunch at Byron Bay chef Ben Devlin’s Pipit restaurant in Pottsville) while it’s still blissfully sleepy.

Best for: Foodies

Yangon, Myanmar

One of Asia’s most underrated cuisines, the food of Myanmar is finally having its moment. With many of downtown Yangon’s crumbling heritage buildings now being transformed into hip cafés, bars and restaurants, the city is positioning itself to become Southeast Asia’s next culinary capital. Start the day with a great coffee (and perhaps a bowl of fish soup known as mohinga, a classic Myanmar breakfast staple) at Rangoon Tea House and stop into revived heritage hotel The Strand for a happy hour cocktail before tucking into fine Japanese cuisine at Gekko. Unexpected? Yes. Delicious? Most definitely!

Best for: A culinary adventure

Foodies will love the fine Japanese cuisine at Gekko in Myanmar.​

Reefsuites Whitsundays, Australia

The recently-opened Reefsuites is Australia’s first underwater hotel. The two suites at the revamped Reefworld pontoon, moored 40 nautical miles from the Whitsunday coast, offer a front-row seat to the Great Barrier Reef goings-on (there’s even a window in the loo so you can spot turtles while you brush your teeth). Combine with a stay at one of the recently reopened Whitsundays resorts for the ultimate island escape.

Best for: Water babies

+61 (0)7 4846 7000, cruisewhitsundays.com

Uluru, Australia

With climbing Australia’s most famous monolith happily now banned, this is the time to appreciate Uluru in its natural glory. Learn about its significance to the Anangu, its traditional owners, on the free daily Mala walk and sip sparkling wine as sun sets over Uluru following a cultural tour with SEIT Outback Australia. Plus, British artist Bruce Munro’s epic Field of Light installation has been extended indefinitely. While Sails in the Desert hotel is scheduled for a facelift in 2020, to truly splash out in style, book in at the luxurious Longitude 131.

Best for: A bucket-list outback holiday

Visitors to Uluru can learn about its cultural significance on the free daily Mala walk.​

East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia

If you’re keen to eyeball Indonesia’s famous dragons without contributing to over-tourism (there is a newly imposed US$1000 fee to visit Komodo Island), book a luxury liveaboard trip. Abercrombie & Kent’s new Hidden Indonesia: Bali to Komodo itinerary, which visits lizard-watching spots beyond Komodo as well as some of the region’s best secluded beaches and dive sites, is one of the best in the business, but there are other luxury options too.

Best for: Going off grid