The best vs the even better
There's a lot of decisions to make before you travel. How do I get there, and what should I pack? How much cash do I bring? Will I take a risk on sweet-smelling street food on the first night or play it safe at that recommended restaurant?
But for 2022, there is probably only one decision that really matters: where are we going first?
With so many awesome spots to choose from, we’ve dedicated our latest issue to helping you make that first, very important choice.
We’ve pitted some of our favourite experiences and places against each other and officially crowned our top 10 destinations to visit in 2022.
Futaleufú River, Chile VS Zambezi River, Zambia
Ever since Meryl Streep dominated our screens in The River Wild, the world has been captivated by grade five rapids and the sport of whitewater rafting.
The Futaleufú River in northern Patagonia is a monster which angrily crosses the Chile-Argentina border. Its iconic ‘Terminator’ section is literal nightmare fuel, as the river gorge here drops as low as 1,700 metres beneath stunning glacial peaks. When we stack that up against the more acclaimed Zambezi River in Zambia and the torrent of water you’ll follow downstream from Victoria Falls, we’re equally petrified. The Zambezi is known to spit out rafts (and bodies) like they’re pieces of food caught between its metaphorical teeth (rocks!).
Unbeatable thrills, and a test for any river/adrenaline junkie.
San Francisco, USA VS Singapore
There's plenty to tell about a city from the paint on its walls...
San Francisco has been a hotbed for artists-in-residence and musicians for over 40-years. Galleries are littered around the city and one can get dizzy just trying to work out where to go first. From cartoon art, Asian art to the spectacular (free) photography exhibitions regularly on show at Pier 24.
Contrast this against a modern and thriving street art scene of Singapore. A simple stroll through Haji Lane or Little India will show you there’s much more to this city which is known for its law, order and cleanliness. You'll be left breathless by the murals and level of artistic talent on display
Perhaps it is the surprise factor that gets it the nod here, in a city more known for other things.
Million Dollar Point, Vanuatu VS Great Blue Hole, Belize
Breathtakingly beautiful, you also have to be brave to take on the Big Blue.
We're not usually one's to advocate visiting literal junkyards at get lost, but Million Dollar Point in Luganville, Vanuatu is much more of an underwater treasure trove. After the end of WWII, the US military dumped millions dollars worth of army equipment off a beach purely to spite the French and the British.
Diving the Great Blue Hole in Belize is also not for the inexperienced. The sheer depth and size of this magical dive site requires a calmness over both your buoyancy and nerves.
Great Blue Hole
One of the world's greatest natural wonders, and surely the one that requires the most nerve.
Tokashiku Beach, Japan VS Wainuiototo Bay, New Zealand
We get it, Bondi is cool. These are the best beaches still not discovered by the masses.
When you think of idyllic beaches, Japan is probably the last place that comes to mind. But the secret is starting to get out about Tokashiku's picturesque sandy shores in the southern Okinawa Archipelago. The smaller of the two main beaches on Tokashiki Island, this hidden spot is ideal for an afternoon of doing absolutely nothing with no one else around.
Then there’s New Chums Beach in Wainuiototo Bay on the Coromandel peninsula, New Zealand. One of the last undeveloped beaches in the country, its hard to choose a winner between two beaches so undiscovered and so untouched that you half expect a naked Tom Hanks from Castaway to pop over a ridge holding a Wilson volleyball.
Kayak, snorkel, dive or just do nothing... hard to go past Okinawa.
Perth to Esperance, Australia VS Icefields Parkway, Canada
Make like Jack Kerouac, and get on the road.
A new wave of roadtrippers took on this iconic stretch of Australian coastline during the pandemic and with good reason; the beaches, free-camping opportunities and potential wildlife encounters on this roadtrip are untamed and Insta-perfect.
But what Australia has in its beaches, Canada matches (and beats) with mountains. The famous Icefields Parkway is over 200 kilometres long and has regularly been dubbed by National Geographic as the ‘Drive of a Lifetime.’
Nowhere beats a Rocky Mountains road trip.
Kreuzberg, Germany VS Washington DC, USA
These are the places where a couple of drinks can turn into a week-long bender.
Cocktails, techno, few clothes and even fewer inhibitions is what you’ll find in Kreuzberg in Berlin. Wander (stumble) between countless secret bars to heaving discos filled with over-stimulated millennials and Gen Yers, or if you’re looking for late night munchies, you’ll find one of the best hamburgers you’ve ever eaten in the bowels of a public toilet (no pun intended).
Compare this with Washington DC, which isn't just the capital of the US, its also the most underrated party town in all of North America. There's something for everyone in the trendy neighbourhood of Dupoint Circle. From dive bars, to craft breweries and late night speakeasies frequented by shady congressmen and cashed up public servants.
Sliding under the radar no more — sliding into DC's many speakeasy bars is an epic night out.
Erta Ale, Ethiopia VS Fuego Volcano, Guatemala
Ferocious, fiery, frightening... phenomenal.
Visit the fire-breathing Volcán de Fuego outside Antigua, Guatemala by setting up at a nearby camp at sunset. Ready yourself for an evening of beers, local food and lava bursts on the horizon.
Alternatively, there is Erta Ale in Ethiopia, the world’s longest-existing lava lake. If you can handle a long 4WD through one of the most inhospitable areas on Earth, there’s another three hour hike before you can peer over the crater’s edge to witness this extraordinary spectacle. But you don’t want to stay at ground zero for very long, as the smell and heat of this volcano is oppressive.
Volcán de Fuego
Easier to get to AND you can enjoy it over a beer.
Silfra, Þingvellir National Park, Iceland VS Seward, Alaska, USA
Pretty cool. In fact, very cool.
Strapping yourself into a ‘dry suit’, an extraordinarily thick full-body suit with an extremely tight, slightly kinky neck strap and diving into water that sits constantly at around 2° Celsius mightn’t sound like everyone’s idea of a good time. But Silfra, the tiny gap between the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates, is the only place in the world where you can dive between two continents.
Swimming in crystal clear water, between two mighty underwater cliffs either side of you is a magical experience, and worth the cold, as is surfing in Alaska (if you manage to catch a few). Often described as the last frontier of surfing, there are more than solid waves and uncrowded lineups to be found near Seward, two hours south of Anchorage — just be confident in your wetsuit.
You can surf a lot of places, but there's only one Silfra.
Osaka, Japan VS Bangkok, Thailand
These are the worldwide kings of street food.
This matchup really is a clash of the titans when it comes to the best street food in the world. In fact, there’s some stalls in the streets of Bangkok that have earned themselves a Michelin Star — just let that sink in For a soi (street) that really comes alive at night with street delicacies, head to the Phaya Thai neighbourhood.
In Osaka, they love their street food here so much they use the word Kuidaore. Simply put, it means to eat oneself on the street into total ruin. Whether it's Takoyaki or Okonomiyaki, wear some bigger pants in Osaka. Grab yourself a Sapporo from the nearest Family Mart and strap yourself in.
Likely to divide opinion as much as any, but Osaka gets the nod... just.
Gulmarg Ski Resort, India VS Soho Basin, New Zealand
It's easy to be a powder snob when you’re a seasoned skier or snowboarder. You want three things: deep snow, daily fresh tracks and the option to tackle terrain others won't dare to ride.
Gulmarg sits on a high alpine table in the Pir Panjal mountain range of the Himalayas. With a range of accommodation and backcountry or heliskiing tours, India (and the wider Himalaya region) is the new frontier for winter ski and snowboard adventures.
Contrast this against the incredible Soho Basin in New Zealand. This private ski resort, hidden behind Cardrona, is a cat skiing adventure for experienced snow bunnies. And you don’t just come to Soho for the snow, because there’s also a private restaurant, bottomless bar and four-course lunch during the middle of your ski day.
As much for the crazy amount of fun to be had away from the mountain as for the epic shredding opportunities.
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