100 best places on Earth for 2020

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Helen Fanthorpe has traveled plenty — attempting to salsa in Cuba and visibly awestruck by the Taj Majal in India — so her bucket list is especially well-thought out.

Fanthorpe, who oversees the annual Rough Guide to the 100 Best Places on Earth, gets to spend her days thinking about where to tell people to travel for the annual list.

This year, she and her team turned the 2020 list into a photo-driven book, released in the United Kingdom on September 1 and in the United States on October 1.

“People always want to know the next hot destination,” said Fanthorpe, who’s based in London. She called out to Rough Guide experts inside and outside the company to recommend “brilliant places for 2020, places that would be big news in 2020, just opened up, up and coming, back on the tourist map and places that are completely unmissable and timeless.”

She also wanted a mix of type of destinations, including cities and countries, natural, landscapes and wildlife, ruins, paying homage to famous places worth visiting.

Tokyo, Japan

“Tokyo — and Japan more generally — might be top of my bucket list, and I’m actually planning a trip there in autumn 2020. Tokyo is at once the home of cutting-edge technologies, glassy skyscrapers, alien robot shows, pulsating nightlife and fresh sushi, serene gardens and Buddhist shrines. There’s always something newer, brasher, weirder in Tokyo. I can’t wait to go and experience the city for myself. I suspect it’s like nowhere else on Earth.”

Yellowstone National Park, United States

“Steaming pools of blue edged by green, yellow, orange and brown, thundering waterfalls and spewing geysers — the classic images of volcanic Yellowstone are enough to catapult it on to most bucket lists! I love wildlife and dramatic landscapes, so Yellowstone has got it all. Seeing grizzly bears, buffalo and horned elk in their natural habitat would be incredible.”

Genghis Khan Equestrian Statue, Mongolia

“I have a couple of friends who’ve traveled the Trans-Siberian Railway. I’ve never done a train journey of that length myself, but I think it’s a really atmospheric way to travel — and it’s also better for the environment. One friend stopped to visit the Genghis Khan Equestrian Statue in Mongolia. This is one of the more bizarre spots in the book — this vast, 44-meter hulk of steel in the middle of the Mongolian steppe. It sparked my imagination because the landmark feels totally incongruous with its surroundings, but is also a testament to how important Genghis Khan still is for the Mongolian people.”

Easter Island

“Easter Island feels like a totally justified ‘once-in-a-lifetime-experience’ sort of place to me. It’s remote (more than 2,000 kilometers from the nearest inhabited island) with nearly 900 moai statues scattered along the coastline. The thought of these hulks of rock — carved into human form centuries ago, probably to honor ancestors — surrounded by nothing but grass and the ocean sounds like such an awesome sight.”

Lahaul and Spiti, India

“Striking, icy and remote, the scenery here is breathtakingly beautiful. Being right next to Tibet, the area’s benefited from Tibetan influence, too. I traveled around India for several months about a decade ago, and totally fell in love with the country. I also think there’s something enticing about an area that has just become more accessible. Why go skiing with the masses in France or Italy when you could go skiing in virgin Lahaul-Spiti?”

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