The New York Times just ran their top 45 pick for where to travel in 2012. Below we have taken a summary of the places so you can catch up quickly on each of their picks including a handful of mezmorizing shots. Included is a link back to the original post which is well worth a read as not only does it go into detail on every place but they have slide shows for destinations so you can also be visually enticed.
#1: Panama: Given that its been 12 years since Panama regained control of its canal, the country has had time to shape itself and its economy is now booming. Cranes stalk the skyline of the capital,Panama City, where high-rises sprout one after the next and immigrants arrive daily from around the world. Among those who have landed en masse in recent years are American expatriates and investors, who have banked on Panamanian real estate by building hotels and buying retirement homes.
#2: Helsinki Finland: Copenhagen’s culinary awakening and Stockholm’s trend-setting fashion may have ignited the world’s current infatuation with Nordic culture; now Helsinki is poised for the spotlight. The International Council of Societies of Industrial Design has designated it the World Design Capital for 2012.
#3: Myanmar: Back on the tourist map after being off-limits for years, which is no surprise given its renowned cultural treasures, world-class boutique hotels and deserted beaches.
#4. London: London is preparing for the pomp and circumstance of the Olympic Games and the Diamond Jubilee celebration of the Queen’s 60th year on the throne. New stadiums, public spaces and shopping centers are emerging on the city’s eastern edge; a 137-room Waldorf Astoria has opened on a 400-acre estate near Heathrow Airport. Of course you should go to shop as well although the dollar/pound exchange rate remains in favor of the Brits though the Euro is doing much better.
#5. Oakland, California: This one surprised me. They begin by talking about the tensions which have cooled since “violence erupted at the recent Occupy Oakland protests, but the city’s revitalized night-life scene has continued to smolder.” And then dive into the historic Fox Theater, which reopened in 2009 and quickly cemented its status as one of the Bay Area’s top music venues, drawing acts like Wilco and the Decemberists. The latter is true and I like hanging out there but was just surprised it made a top 45 list given all the locals in the world one could discover.
#6. Tokyo: the thought of traveling to Tokyo will most likely make some people nervous. I was thinking of going this past year myself and decided to put it off for a bit. Though the city is about 180 miles from the Fukushima Daiichi power plant, the site of the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl — and the State Department recommends travelers avoid only the area directly around the disaster site — Tokyo has suffered as well, a problem of perception as much as reality. But they argue that it’s a great time to visit because of the decrease in tourism and business travel.
#7. Tanzania: Between Mount Kilimanjaro, and lesser known places like Gibb’s Farm, a small lodge from which guests can hike to the Ngorongoro Crater area, a prime destination for big game viewing, the place is full of nature havens. In addition, the opening of exclusive safari reserves like the Singita Grumeti and the upscale camps managed by Nomad Tanzaniaand Chem Chem are evidence that the country’s tourist infrastructure is becoming more sophisticated, perhaps even catching up to Kenya’s.
#8. Chilean Patagonia: With its mix of snowy peaks, pristine rain forest and network of virgin national parks,Chile is emerging as one of the world’s adventure hot spots and now has a spate of rugged luxury lodges in which adventure-seekers can stay. Puma Lodge, a glass-and-wood design showcase about an hour and a half south ofSantiago, features heli-skiing through miles of untouched powder, and outside of Patagonia’s Torres del Paine Park, the brand-new Tierra Patagonia offers activities like horseback riding over the steppes and boat outings on a glacial lake (while also offering creature comforts like a spa and a heated indoor pool).
#9. Lhasa Tibet: In Lhasa, this is news: not only is operating an upscale hotel at nearly 12,000 feet above sea level no small feat, but real-estate developments here are, almost by default, also culturally loaded. The majestic, 162-room St. Regis Lhasa Resort has been in full operation since May. In 2010, a charming Tibetan-owned villa called the Lingtsang reopened as a boutique hotel with opulent, colorful woodwork and courtyard verandas. And coming soon are the sprawling InterContinental Resort Lhasa Paradise and the 284-room Shangri-La, both scheduled to open in 2013.
#10. Havana Cuba: The only thing that lies between Americans and the sultry streets of Havana these days is the Florida Straits, since the Obama administration has widened the kind of travel allowed. A growing list of organizations have licenses to operate trips to Cuba, includingNational Geographic Expeditions, Austin-Lehman and the Center for Cuban Studies. There are also more flights from more American cities: Fort Lauderdale and Tamparecently joined New York, Miami and Los Angeles on the list, and Chicago will be added this year.
And beyond the above list, there’s 35 others that they recommend be on your wish and must do list for 2012 and beyond. The entire list includes the following: Helsinki Finland, Panama, Chilean Patagonia, Lhasa Tibet, Havana Cuba, Tokyo, Tanzania, Myanmar, London, Moscow, Glasgow, Puebla Mexico, San Diego, Chiloe Island Chile, Jordan, Crans-Montana Switzerland, Monpellier France, Nosara Costa Rica, South Korea, Lodz Poland, Dalarna Sweden, Portovenere Italy, Halong Bay Vietnam, Florence Italy, St. Vincent, Moganshan China, Birmingham England, Kerala India, Peraty Brazil, Koh Rong Cambodia, Vienna Austria, Chattanooga Tennessee, Antarctica, Dakhla Morocco, Maldives, Malacca Malaysia, The Algarve (Portugal), Wales, Tahoe California, Uganda, Ukraine, Dubrovnik Croatia, and the Doniminican Republic. Oh yeah, and space. Yes, space was really one of the 45. For the original piece and the in-depth review including slide shows, go here.
Above right photo: Monganshan China. Above left photo: Chiloe Island, Chile. Lower upper right: Halong Bay, Vietnam. Below: Paraty Brazil.
Monganshan China photo credit: Daniel Groshong for The New York Times
Paraty Brazil photo credit: Andre Vieira for The New York Times
Tanzania photo credit: Chris Jackson/Getty Images
Morocco photo credit: Tomas Van Houtryve for The New York Times
Myanmar photo credit: Justin Mott for The New York Times Justin Mott
Panama photo credit: Meridith Kohut for The New York Times
Chiloe Island Chile photo credit: Tomas Munita for The New York Times
Hilong Bay Vietnam photo credit: Justin Mott for The New York Times