New year, new adventures – Trips you have to take in 2018
HAPPY New Year! As the ball drops for 2018, it's time to look to the future and start thinking about your path ahead. For us here at Travel Wire Asia, that means planning our next adventure.
Just as in any other year, the intrepid traveler is spoiled for choice with a boundless collection of exciting new peaks to hike, trails to beat, and beaches to explore. But over the next twelve months, there are some destinations that will hold a particular significance, making 2018 the best year yet to visit.
Here are our top picks for this year's most notable adventures:
Why go now: One of the world's most iconic buildings is getting a makeover.
Sydney's famed Opera House is set for some changes as its caretakers seek to fix sound problems that have dogged the celebrated music hall since its opening over 40 years ago.
Don't worry, the prominent white sails will remain untouched, but the insides are in need of an overhaul. The concert hall has always been too big for orchestral concerts with musicians unable to hear fellow musicians across the stage and complaints of time delays.
The US$154 million upgrade kicked off in August 2016 and will include state-of-the-art acoustics, a hangout-friendly foyer, and the renovated Joan Sutherland Theater, which reopened in December and welcomes back the Australian Ballet in April. Developers are also making the venue more wheel-chair friendly and accessible to all travelers - and about time too.
Seoraksan National Park, South Korea
Why go now: Combine mountain hikes with cheering on your Olympic team
Seoraksan National Park in the far north-easterly reaches of South Korea has long been a favorite of the more intrepid visitors to the peninsula.
Known for its striking rocky landscape, the hiking trails in the outer reaches of Seoraksan transport you up through the rugged pine forests to the national park's jagged peaks. Along the way, hikers are treated to waterfalls, such as Biryong Falls, and stunning formations like the "face of Seoraksan" - Ulsanbawi Rock formation - and Geumgang Cave.
The park is in Gangwon province, home to PyeongChang and host of this year's Winter Olympics, making February 2018 the perfect time to get your hike on and cheer on your national team on the slopes.
The Great Wall of China
Why go now: The Great Wall Marathon reaches its 20th race
Considered one of the world's most challenging marathons, the Great Wall Marathon reaches 20 in May this year and the arduous challenge, breathtaking views and all-consuming history have lost none of their charm over the years.
Runners of the strenuous Great Wall course are rewarded with breathtaking views of the rolling hills of Tianjin Province and the magnificent architecture of the fortress walls and historic sites that litter the raceway. As the route leads participants through the lower valley and into the villages, onlookers are there to cheer you on to the finishing line.
If you're not up to the full 26.2 mile (42km) slog, they also do a half marathon and a 5.5 mile (8.8km) non-competitive Fun Run so no one misses out on this memorable running track.
Why go now: Get in there before the sea ice is gone
Sea ice levels in Antarctica dropped to a record low in 2017, but experts are still puzzling exactly why. While 2017 was a record low for sea ice coverage - falling to the lowest since satellite observations began in 1979 - just three years earlier saw a record high.
The unpredictable ice levels are making it increasingly difficult for tour operators to plan trips to the world's seventh continent, so get in there now while you still can. Travel season is during the Antarctic summer from November until the end of March.
Trips run from both Australia and New Zealand and can take seven days to reach Antarctica, with a few stops along the way. The staggering beauty of this isolated and rugged terrain is a once in a lifetime experience that's not to be missed.
Yarlung Valley, Tibet
Why go now: Tibet's oldest palace reopens to the public
Yungbulakang Palace, thought to be the oldest of its kind in the Tibetan Autonomous region, is currently undergoing a US$1.5 million renovation to ensure it is around for many years to come.
Perched atop the remote mountains of the stunning Yarlung Valley, the palace is situated 192km southeast of Tibet's capital, Lhasa, and is believed to date back to the second century BC. Originally built for the first king of Tibet, Nyatri Tesnpo, Yungbulakang has been added to by various royals over the centuries making it a captivating destination for any history buffs.
Currently closed to visitors, the palace is expected to opens its doors to the public once more in April 2018.
Why go now: Mix international musical talent with the best of Malaysian natural beauty at the 20th anniversary Sarawak Rainforest World Music Festival.
Full of lush rainforest landscapes, breathtaking cave systems, rolling rivers and lost islands, Sarawak is one of South East Asia's best kept secrets. Take the opportunity to experience both the culture and the nature of this eastern Malaysian state with a trip to the 20th Sarawak Rainforest World Music Festival.
This annual gathering brings a diverse spectrum of performers and culture to the coastline of the Santubong Peninsula for three days of celebration. Learn about the indigenous tribes and explore the natural beauty of this striking remote region while meeting and listening to influential musicians from around the globe.