Be the first, avoid the crowds: the world's next big attractions

Travel is like fashion - one day a destination is in, the next day it's out. New places become popular while others slowly fade. It's happening constantly.

Travellers are always looking for new destinations, the places that seem a little edgy now, but will be run of the mill in a few years' time. These are some that are on the rise.

The next Angkor Wat: Bagan, Myanmar

There was a time when barely anyone had been to Angkor Wat in Cambodia. Now, it's the wallpaper on your mum's Facebook page. Check it out in five years' time though - I can guarantee that that photo will have changed to one of Bagan, the stunning complex of more than 2200 Buddhist temples and pagodas in central Myanmar. A dawn balloon flight over there should be on everyone's bucket list. And pretty soon it will be.

The next Whistler: Hakuba

It used to be that all the hardcore ski bums would spend spring saving their dough to get to the holy grail of northern hemisphere snow sports: Whistler. It's not called "Whistralia" for nothing. Now, however, the Aussies are looking closer to home, first making their base in Niseko, Japan, and pretty soon they will be heading slightly further south, to Hakuba, on Honshu, which has similarly amazing snow and cheap lift passes. Get there before everyone else does.  

The next Vang Vieng: Pai, Thailand

Once it was Koh Pha-Ngan, but then the party island got too popular. Next, backpackers looking for that sleepy, beautiful south-east Asian paradise set up camp in Vang Vieng, Laos, until that was overrun and ruined as well. Now, the hippies are packing up their drums and fisherman pants and heading to Pai, a rural town in northern Thailand that will soon be the biggest hit on the banana pancake trail.

The next American food: Peruvian

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Australian pub food seems to focus on whichever destination has captured the imagination of the time. For a while there you couldn't swing a schooner without hitting a plate full of pulled-pork tacos. Right now we're replicating the burgers and sliders of the USA. What's next? Wait for Peruvian food to hit. Ceviche and a pisco sour - sounds like a pretty good order to me.

The next Prague: Mostar

Those looking for a relatively untouched slice of Eastern Europe that has a sometimes troubled history but exciting future need not go to Prague anymore - it's got more drunk guys on buck's weekends than it does Gothic spires. Instead, wait for everyone to start talking about Mostar, the war-torn but beautiful town on the Neretva River in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Right now it feels adventurous. But that won't always be the case.  

The next "London Thing": Thailand

The classic rite-of-passage destination for young Aussies and Kiwis has always been London, but now, given the popularity of taking a gap year in cheap, party-heavy south-east Asia, Thailand could just become the new thing. You don't get the access to Europe and it's not as easy to get by just speaking English, but when the beer is this cheap, who cares?

The next New York: Berlin

New Yorkers tend to think they live in the centre of the universe, and when you're there, it's hard to argue with them. However, across the pond in Berlin, there's a similar sensation, the feeling that you're in the middle of something exciting, something important. With its multi-cultural population and hipster appeal, Berlin is the thinking traveller's NYC.

The next Buenos Aires: Lima

There's the great food, which I've mentioned before - two of the world's 20 best restaurants are just a few blocks away from each other in Lima. But suburbs like Barranco and Miraflores in the Peruvian capital have plenty of the flavour that make Buenos Aires so great: a little edgy, but great bars and restaurants patronised by a trendy Latino crowd.

The next Trans-Siberian: the Trans-Asia Express

While the Trans-Siberian train trip will always be worthy of a bucket list inclusion, those seeking something different will soon be talking about the Trans-Asia Express, a three-day train ride from Ankara in Turkey to Tehran in Iran. It's just as adventurous, and just as eye-opening - and none of your friends have done it yet.

The next New Zealand: Tasmania

Australians love New Zealand - the scenery is incredible, the people are friendly, the food and wine is great and it's all relatively inexpensive. The same can be said, however, for our own "south island": Tasmania. Tassie's got great walks around mountains, top-class wineries, a burgeoning foodie culture, and MONA. About the only thing it's missing are a few hobbits.

Where do you think will be the most popular new destinations for travellers?

Email: b.groundwater@fairfaxmedia.com.au

Instagram: instagram.com/bengroundwater

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