The 10 most exciting countries to visit next year, according to Lonely Planet

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Lonely Planet has released its Best in Travel 2016 list.

The travel company’s staff and community have trawled planet Earth looking for the most vibrant, exciting, and far-off destinations you should add to your itinerary next year.

The United States and Fiji made the list, as well as Australia, where the weak Australian dollar has assisted the country’s ranking.

Unfortunately, other reasons for visiting Australia include warnings that the Great Barrier Reef and Tasmanian forests could soon be altered, so you better see it while it’s there.

Check out the top 10 destinations below:


10. Fiji

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Flickr / Phil Gibbs

Fiji sits remotely in a small cluster of islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. The nearest land is Australia, 3,000 km away, meaning Fiji is the place to go if you’re desperate to escape the stress of everyday life.

The country’s international airport is also receiving a major upgrade, so what better time to visit than 2016?


9. Greenland

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Flickr/Henri Bourgeois-Costa

Greenland truly is an all-year-round winter wonderland. This icy nation is home to tundras, picturesque towns, and vast expanses of glacial landscapes. For a once in a lifetime experience, you can embark on a whale watching tour and see the surrounding ocean’s humpback whales and narwhals put on a show.

But if watching the Northern Lights dance in the night sky doesn’t sound like your thing, the country is also set to host the Arctic Winter Games next year.


8. Uruguay

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Dancers perform to candombe music played by a comparsa, an Uruguayan carnival band, during the second night of the Llamadas parade in Montevideo February 4, 2011.
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REUTERS/Andres Stapff

This small South American nation is a pocket of paradise. Whether you want to spend a day on one of its white sand beaches or exploring its perfectly preserved colonial towns, Uruguay’s culture is totally laid back. Even the president donates 90% of his salary to charity so that he can live the same lifestyle as the average Uruguayan.

With just 3 million tourists visiting a year, you’re best off experiencing it before those numbers explode.


7. Poland

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iStock / scanrail

Poland is unfairly overlooked as a tourist destination. Aside from its rich culture and WWII history, the country is also home to a number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the Salt Mines, Auschwitz-Birkenau, and Krakow’s Old Town.

The city of Wrocław is also preparing for its role as the European Capital of Culture in 2016, so next year is a great time to visit.


6. Australia

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Sydney has become a siren for travellers looking for somewhere to set up camp. The country is packed with iconic landmarks and otherworldly activities – from snorkelling in the Great Barrier Reef to traversing the Australian outback.

Unfortunately, other reasons for visiting Australia include warnings that the Great Barrier Reef and Tasmanian forests could soon be altered, so you better see it while it’s there.

As Lonely Planet points out, now is the perfect time to travel down-under as the Australian Dollar flattens out and petrol prices also start to slide.


5. Latvia

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Rundale Palace was built by Italian architect Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli between 1736 and 1740 as a summer residence for Duke Ernst Johann of Courland.
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REUTERS/Ints Kalnins

Latvia is a hidden trove of rustic charm. It’s got everything – from historic castles to its four national parks, each one as beautiful as the last. Rundale Palace, pictured above, is one of the most picturesque pieces of architecture in the country and wouldn’t look out of place in a fairytale.


4. Palau

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An aerial view of islands in Palau in this undated photo. Palau, a nation of sparsely populated Pacific islands surrounded by turquoise waters teeming with fish and giant clams, is so obscure most people must scour a map to find it.
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REUTERS/Jackson Henry

One of the lesser-known countries on the list, Palau is surrounded by clear teal waters teeming with ocean life. All of its waters have been turned into a sanctuary in a bid to protect its reputation as one of the best diving destinations on the planet.


3. United States

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The Grand Canyon
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Wikimedia Commons

The US has a bit of everything – from the snow-coated mountains of Utah to the beautifully barren landscape of the Nevada desert. If you want to see all of the US, you’ll have to put some serious travelling time aside.

According to Lonely Planet, the country’s National Park Service, which protects the country’s 59 national parks and historic landmarks, turns 100 years old next year.


2. Japan

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Shutterstock

As far from Western culture as you can get, Japan is steeped in ancient history and unparalleled scenery. Tokyo’s successful bid to host the 2020 Olympic Games has only heightened excitement in the small but proud nation.

Away from the liveliness of the capital, you can still explore the country’s historic pagoda temples, or if you’re feeling brave, see if you can conquer Mount Fuji.


1. Botswana

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Mombo Camp

Botswana topped the list of places to visit in 2016.

It was described by Lonely Planet as being “democratic, progressive, and enlightened,” with an inspirational journey from poverty to one of the continent’s most developed nations. Get close to nature in Chobe National Park or journey down the Okavango Delta by boat.