With the start of 2013 lurking just around the corner, it's time to draw up your list of travel resolutions. Where to go?
Any place can make for a great travel experience, but because of political changes, natural phenomena or other events, these 10 places are particularly hot this year.
Click through to see our picks.
Any discussion of 2013's travel hot spots inevitably includes Myanmar, where the military junta loosened its grip recently to finally allow for elections. A widespread travel boycott of the country was called off. If that wasn't enough to lure travelers, President Obama's historic visit in November may have helped sealed the deal.
The country has plenty to offer travelers, including a verdant landscape, the welcoming Buddhist culture and temples. Tour companies are reporting major upticks in the number of clients booking trips, including Abercrombie & Kent, which saw a 90 percent increase in tour bookings between 2011 and 2012.
The consumer research firm Euromonitor has predicted American tourism to Myanmar will increase more than 70 percent by 2016.
Amsterdam will be the epicenter of an epic year of anniversaries in 2013. A calendar full of celebrations and events includes the 400th anniversary of Amsterdam's iconic Canal Ring, which has earned the city its nickname, "Venice of the North."
The new year also marks the 175th birthday of the Netherland's most famous zoo, the Artis Royal Zoo, home to 900 species of animals. The city's beloved Rijksmuseum also reopens in Spring 2013, after years of renovation, and will showcase some 800 years of Dutch history in its newly restored halls.
The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and Concertgebouw concert hall are celebrating their 125th anniversary. Finally, art lovers will gather to celebrate the 160th birthday of famed Dutch artist Vincent Van Gogh, as well as the 40th anniversary of the popular Van Gogh Museum, which is reopening following renovations.
U.S. Gulf Coast
After the devastating 2010 BP oil spill, concerns that the Gulf Coast faced irreparable damage thwarted tourism to the region. Thankfully, the area has been recovering, and once again travelers are flocking to the warm, tranquil waters and sandy, white coastline.
Visitors can take their pick of the region's spoils — from Florida's windswept sand dunes and quirky beach towns to Mississippi's casinos and Louisiana's Cajun-Creole cuisine.
As sights of beach volleyball games and kids frolicking in the Gulf's turquoise water become common in beach towns like Pensacola Beach, Fla., and Gulf Shores, Ala., it's clear the so-called "Redneck Riviera" has regained its status as a popular, family-friendly beach vacation spot.
A trip to see the colored, dancing light display of the northern lights, or aurora borealis, could be the highlight of a lifetime. The lights, caused when solar storms eject charged, colliding particles into the atmosphere, peak cyclically every 11 years. Experts expect the lights will reach their next apex between now and April 2013, prompting star-gazing travelers to book trips to see the display.
Greenland may be one of the more remote regions where travelers can see the lights, but the town of Kangerlussuaq (home to the country's primary airport) makes it relatively convenient for travelers. The city's northern location and clear skies have positioned it as one of the best places in the world to spot the aurora.
If you're planning an idyllic island vacation for 2013, bypass Fiji's increasingly developed shores for the relatively untouched Solomon Islands before they, too, see a boom in ultra-luxe resorts. Blanketed by jungles and lined with white-sand beaches, the Solomons remain relatively untouched, with dramatic volcanoes and mountains to boot.
Beneath the cerulean waters lie vibrant coral rings and the wrecks of World War II-era ships and planes, making the islands a popular diving destination.
Though more tourism operators are beginning to recognize the islands' allure, getting here can be circuitous; with no direct flight to the island's only international airport, domestic flights or boat rides are often necessary to reach your final destination.
Christchurch, New Zealand
Following the horrific earthquakes that destroyed parts of Christchurch in 2010 and 2011, the city has worked tirelessly to bounce back as an urban enclave nestled amidst New Zealand's rural charms.
Though some of the earthquake's damage proved too severe to fix — the city's iconic Anglican cathedral will have to be demolished — other popular tourist destinations are thriving, including the Botanical Gardens and the Canterbury Museum, known for its exhibits of Maori arts and history.
The Avon River remains a favorite spot to go "punting," or be rowed along the river in small boats typically manned by local students. Travelers can also mingle with the locals at Re:START, a pop-up shopping center where a number of Christchurch's retailers, bars and cafes have been relocated, including Scorpio Books and the Revival bar.
With a burgeoning dining scene, the growth of culinary schools and innovative young chefs, it's inevitable Lima would wind its way into the forefront of favorite foodie travel destinations. Peruvian cuisine benefits from the influences of cultures as varied as the ancient Incas, Spanish colonizers, and more recently, Asian and African immigrants.
Favored food and drink include the ubiquitous ceviche and pisco sours, and Lima restaurants such as Chez Wong have helped the traditional cuisine reach new heights. In fact, the restaurant recently garnered the attention of publications like Restaurant magazine, which named it one of the world's "50 Best Restaurants," and the British newspaper The Observer, which ranked its ceviche as one of the world's "50 Best Dishes."
Visitors can also experience Lima's tastes and traditions on a culinary tour, such as the ones hosted by Capital Culinaria Lima Gourmet Tours, which offers a variety of options that include tastings and cooking instruction.
In recent years, the German hot spot was Berlin, an affordable, edgy center for the avant-garde arts set. Today that torch is being passed to Leipzig, a low-cost Berlin alternative conveniently filled with old, abandoned factory spaces primed for conversion into creative hubs.
One former industrial complex, the Spinnerei, has been developed into a sprawling compound of artists' studios, galleries and performance spaces. Each night, the complex and its environs morph into an informal arts crawl and outdoor party. The city also enjoys an eclectic after-dark scene, with hot spots that include Conne Island, a grafitti-covered former squat house turned electronica, punk, ska and hip-hop venue.
Ecuador has a lot to offer the jaded traveler: jagged snow-capped volcanic peaks and looming Andes mountains, verdant jungles and centuries-old cities. Visitors find a country teeming with budget-friendly accommodations, food and activities, as well as warm and welcoming locals.
If there had been any downside to travel in Ecuador, it was a lack of transportation options, a worry that should be lifted in 2013 as the country unveils its revamped railway network. New lines will link Quito to Guayaquil, a bustling modern enclave with a funky arts scene.
Other notable routes will connect the Nariz del Diablo (Devil's Nose) peak with the 19,000-foot Cotopaxi volcano, creating the world's steepest stretch of railway.
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Tucked between China and Russia, Mongolia seems at first glance to remain magically untouched by time; travelers here are confronted by a vast, wild landscape where nomadic living is still very much the norm and horses outnumber people.
A closer look at this land of dramatic mountains, lakes and gorges reveals growing towns like Ulaanbaatar, relatively teeming with traffic, Internet cafes and vegetarian restaurants.
Today, travel to the country has been made easier with the opening of an entry point at China's Bulgan/Takashiken border, and a number of tour operators, like G Adventures, have begun offering packages to the country.
Adventure travelers can experience Mongolia through long-distance horse trekking, cycling or hiking tours, and by camping with nomadic families in traditional gers, or yurts.