EXPLOREMY LIBRARY
National Geographic Traveler

BEST TRIPS 2020

CULTURE

IF YOU LIKE

ANCIENT TRADITIONS

VISIT

GUIZHOU PROVINCE, CHINA

26.6386° N, 106.6438° E (NG MAPS (ALL GLOBES))

WHY GO NOW

Step into villages mostly untouched by time

Historically one of China’s most isolated and undiscovered provinces, southwestern Guizhou is gaining global notice as a cloud computing and big-data center. The mountainous region’s plentiful water and cool climate are draws for Apple, Huawei, and other tech powerhouses that have established or are building facilities in the provincial capital, Guiyang.

This buzz around bytes has improved access to the entire province, including the traditional villages of ethnic minority groups, such as the Bouyei, Dong, and Miao. In eastern Guizhou’s indigenous villages, in particular, days unfold at a slow pace and people continue farming and textile traditions—such as spinning, embroidery, and batik—practiced since the sixth century.

On guided tours (by appointment) of Dimen Dong Cultural Eco-Museum, a self-sufficient community encompassing several villages, visitors likely will hear Dong folk singing, recognized as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2009, or see master artisans demonstrating traditional Dong folk crafts, such as papermaking and handloom weaving.

WHEN TO GO

APR-MAY

HOW TO GO

The Guiyang–Guangzhou High-Speed Railway connects the megacity of Guangzhou (northwest of Hong Kong) with Guizhou province, including station stops in ethnic regions.

Women of the Longhorn Miao tribe in Guizhou province wear elaborate headdresses of linen and wool on special occasions. (STEFANO CESTARI (WOMEN))

ADVENTURE

IF YOU LIKE

SCENIC DRIVES

VISIT

WALES WAY UNITED KINGDOM

53.2802° N, 3.791° W

WHY GO NOW

Follow far-reaching routes that get the blood pumping

Three new, fully mapped national touring routes, collectively called the Wales Way, showcase the best of this legend-filled land. At 185 miles, the Cambrian Way is the longest of the three roads, snaking north to south along the backbone of Wales. Sandwiched between mountains and sea, the Coastal Way is a sweeping 180-mile journey around Cardigan Bay on the country’s west coast. The castle-rich North Wales Way follows a centuries-old trading route 75 miles from northeastern Queensferry to the Isle of Anglesey.

Each driving itinerary is a gateway to wider outdoor adventures. Hike in Edmund Hillary’s footsteps on Mount Snowdon; inland surf at Adventure Parc Snowdonia; or go coasteering (a new adventure sport that combines rock climbing, cliff jumping, snorkeling, and more) on the Pembrokeshire coast.

WHEN TO GO

MAY-JUN

HOW TO GO

Dragon Tours offers private and group itineraries tailored to participants’ interests. Owner/guide Mike Davies holds a graduate degree in medieval Welsh history and can help trace clients’ Welsh ancestors. dragon-tours.com

NATURE

IF YOU LIKE

BLUE LAGOONS

VISIT

MALDIVES

4.1773° N, 73.5102° E

WHY GO NOW

Explore forward-thinking islands on the front lines of climate change

The first nation to champion the need to address climate change in the United Nations General Assembly, in 1987, the Maldives is an environmental protection trailblazer. For the idyllic, 1,200-island archipelago in the Indian Ocean, forward-thinking sustainability initiatives—such as the effort to be carbon neutral by 2020—are a matter of survival. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, much of the Maldives—which is the lowest-lying country on the planet (average elevation: five feet) and whose territory is about 99 percent water—could disappear in decades due to rising sea levels caused by global warming.

The 540-square-mile UNESCO Baa Atoll Biosphere Reserve helps protect the Maldives’ fragile coral reefs, which support a high diversity of coral, fish, and bird species, as well as sea turtles, whale sharks, and other marine life. Visitors can promote reef health by joining in ocean-bed cleaning efforts or coral gardening programs organized by resorts.

WHEN TO GO

FEB-MAR

HOW TO GO

Environmental protection practices are common at many of the Maldives’ resorts, including Soneva Fushi, which recycles 90 percent of its waste; Soneva Jani, built entirely with sustainable materials; and St. Regis Maldives Vommuli, which helps regenerate reefs.

The Maldives is home to one of the largest known populations of reef mantas in the world.
Puebla’s 17th-century Chapel of the Rosary is covered in gold leaf.

CITIES

IF YOU LIKE

GILDED OPULENCE

VISIT

PUEBLA MEXICO

19.0465° N, 98.1983° W

WHY GO NOW

Because baroque is back!

Built by the Spanish in 1531, Mexico’s fourth-largest city is a bastion of baroque architecture. Puebla’s 100-block city center, a UNESCO World Heritage site, teems with ornate 17th- and 18th-century buildings. Many are adorned with Talavera tiles: brightly painted clay mini-masterpieces blending Puebla’s indigenous and European colonial influences. Few match the opulence of the Church of Santo Domingo’s Capilla del Rosario (above), which is bathed in 23-karat gold leaf. With the goal of celebrating this art movement, the International Museum of the Baroque opened in 2016. The following year a 7.1-magnitude earthquake shook the building but didn’t deter it from its mission. The post-quake period has seen infrastructure upgrades and new hotels throughout the city. Yet Puebla remains rooted in tradition. “Puebla is not an international tourist destination,” says Antonio Prado, director of the Spanish Institute of Puebla. “So you actually get to experience an authentic Mexican city.”

WHEN TO GO

YEAR-ROUND

HOW TO GO

Begin an individual Spanish-language immersion program (1 to 16 weeks) any Monday of the year at the Spanish Institute of Puebla. sipuebla.com

ADVENTURE

IF YOU LIKE

EPIC MOUNTAINS

VISIT

GROSSGLOCKNER HIGH ALPINE ROAD AUSTRIA

47.0827° N, 12.8425° E

WHY GO NOW

Drive to views once accessible only to mountaineers

Designed to maximize scenic views, the serpentine Grossglockner High Alpine Road is a testament to the value of taking the long way home. Completed in 1935, the mountain-pass toll road packs 36 hairpin curves in its 29-mile route through Hohe Tauern National Park, one of central Europe’s largest protected natural areas. The touring route allows motorists to experience pristine high alpine settings previously accessible only to mountaineers.

The road, named for Austria’s highest peak, 12,460-foot Grossglockner, runs north to south across the provinces of Salzburg, Tyrol, and Carintha, from Fusch to Heilgenblut. Intended for savoring, not speeding, the route features multiple scenic overlooks and trailheads. Enjoy a leisurely lunch accompanied by views of 37 peaks and 19 glaciers at the historic Edelweisshütte inn, built in 1935.

WHEN TO GO

JUN-SEP

HOW TO GO

Get discounted toll fees and help protect the high-alpine environment by renting an electric car. The road has charging stations at the beginning and end, and boasts Austria’s highest e-charging station. grossglockner.at/gg/en/index

The view from Lipan Point is worth the short detour off the main drive along the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park. (ADAM SCHALLAU)

NATURE

IF YOU LIKE

AMERICAN ICONS

VISIT

GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK, UNITED STATES

36.055° N, 112.1224° W

WHY GO NOW

See a geological wonderland eons in the making

“The grandeur of the canyon confers dignity on every form of life that touches it,” wrote famed environmentalist Edward Abbey in the inaugural issue of Traveler, in 1984. Since its designation as a national park—the Grand Canyon celebrated its centennial in 2019—this natural wonder in northwest Arizona has dazzled visitors with its immense scale (277 miles long, up to 18 miles wide, and a mile deep) and breathtakingly stratified geology that dates back to 1.8 billion years ago. The explorer John Wesley Powell, one of National Geographic’s founders, called the canyon “the most sublime spectacle on Earth.” Experienced hikers love the Nankoweap Trail, a dramatic North Rim-to-river route. But all views are unforgettable, from both rims down to the Colorado River. Learn more in the National Geographic Atlas of National Parks.

WHEN TO GO

SEP-OCT

HOW TO GO

National Geographic offers several trips that visit U.S. parks, including the “Grand Canyon, Bryce, and Zion National Parks Family Expedition.“ natgeoexpeditions.com/explore

ADAM AZIM (MANTAS), UNIVERSAL IMAGES GROUP/GETTY IMAGES (CHAPEL)