If 2017 was all about gorgeous landscapes, bucket list trips, the world's best beaches and traveling closer to home, 2018 is all about thinking outside the box for a great escape. The world is officially rethinking luxury travel, with people looking to explore the world now more than ever. Leave your presumptions about certain parts of the world at home and get your passports ready–these are the 18 top places to travel in 2018.
Why to go: For a country slightly smaller than California, Japan offers a wealth of wildly different travel experiences. From the hectic rush of Tokyo’s neon-lit streets to the zen of the temples in Kyoto, tiered pagoda castles scattered across the hillside, the snow-capped mountains of Hokkaido, and steamy natural hot springs, the contrasts of Japan will draw you back over and over again.
What to do: Japanese culture takes precision very seriously, so you can expect everything you partake of to be executed with care and skill, whether it’s a spa-like, laser-focused haircut at one Japan’s renowned salons (we like Watanabe Hair Dressing), or the finest sushi in the world: try Sushi Bar Yasuda, where acclaimed sushi chef Naomichi Yasuda serves flat-out life-affirming nigiri. Take the time to explore these extremes with a few days in Tokyo. Start by heading to the famous, frenetic Tsukiji Market, where most of the city’s top sushi chefs source their fish each morning. Then, enjoy a six-drink cocktail tasting menu at Gen Yamamoto, one of the most exciting and experimental cocktail bars in a city known for its high-end drinking scene. Take the bullet train down to Kyoto, about 300 miles to the southwest but a world away from the towering skyscrapers. More slow-paced and traditional, Kyoto is best known for its shrines and temples, including the stunning vermilion gateways of the Fushimi Inari Taisha and the sprawling forests of the Enryaku-ji complex that are like taking a walk back in time.
Pro tip: Sakura, or cherry blossom season, when huge swaths of the country are carpeted in delicate pink flowers from the short-blooming cherry trees, typically runs for a week or two in late March to early April and is one of the most popular times for tourism. While the blossoms are exceptional, if you’re looking to avoid the crowds, this window is best avoided.