The City Swaps to Make For Your 2020 Holidays

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On the look out for ideas for family holidays in 2020? To kick off a new decade of travel, why not get out of your comfort zone and swap those perennially popular hotspots, such as Bangkok, Rome and Tokyo (which, to be frank, are suffering from over-tourism anyway), with destinations that you may not have ever considered.

That’s right, instead of heading to those destinations you always hear about from family and friends, or perhaps have already been to, why not turn your attention to those places that promise similar experiences – just without the huge numbers of other travellers. It could be as simple as picking a new island within the same country, a city in a neighbouring country, or a location that only tacks on a few extra hours’ flying. Who knows, you might just stumble upon your new favourite holiday location.

Here are some ideas for potential city swaps to make for your 2020 holidays, but don’t stop at just this list – there is a whole world of possibilities!

Swap Denpasar for Lombok

Don’t be surprised if you start hearing Lombok referred to as ‘the new Bali’. This island paradise is the complete antithesis to Denpasar and its surrounds. There’s a distinct lack of Bintang singlets, overcrowded nightclubs and cheap markets stalls; instead you’ll find some of the best waves in Indonesia, awesome boutique-style accommodation and a much more laid-back vibe. If you’re stuck on where to travel in 2020 and need some inspiration, look no further than Lombok.

Lombok. Credit: egkk privat | CC BY-ND 2.0

Swap London for Cardiff

Love London but hate the long queues and crowds of other tourists that descend upon the city every year? Then why not consider Cardiff. This hidden gem of the UK, also the capital of Wales, has everything that makes London great – a thriving arts and cultural scene, world-class sporting events and top-notch dining – but far fewer of the aforementioned detractors. And with more green space per capita than any other UK city, a CBD you can cycle through in 15 minutes and considerably cheaper prices, Cardiff really does have it all.

Swap Singapore for Colombo

The similarities between Singapore and Colombo are uncanny: both major port cities, both a melting pot of cultures and religions, and both incredibly fascinating places to visit. But where Singapore is all glitz, glam and overt wealth, there’s still a small-city charm to Sri Lanka’s capital that’s impossible to resist. With a vibrant foodie scene, colourful history and unique attractions, now is the time to experience the best of Colombo.

Colombo. Credit: Amila Tennakoon | CC BY 2.0

Swap Phuket for Koh Kood

With gorgeous beaches, wonderful accommodation options and lovely, welcoming people, it’s no fluke that Phuket is one of the world’s most beloved holiday destinations. But it also happens to be positively teeming with tourists. So if you find yourself wondering, “Where should I go in Thailand that’s similar to Phuket, but quieter?”, we’ve got the answer: Koh Kood. Reminiscent of the Phuket of old, this pristine island, just 40 kilometres off the mainland, boasts lush jungle-blanketed mountains, cute fishing villages and some of the most beautiful stretches of sand you’ll ever lay eyes on.

Koh Kood. Credit: Serge Derout | CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Swap Bangkok for Siem Reap

Where Bangkok is loud and in-your-face, Siem Reap is far calmer and still a little rough around the edges. Rather than fighting hour-long traffic jams just to see anything like you would in the Thai capital, Siem Reap is a super easy place to get around. It also rivals Bangkok in terms of cultural and historic attractions, and is the gateway to Angkor Wat. And while the nightlife isn’t quite on par with Bangkok’s (what city is though?), there’s still plenty of cool places to enjoy a sundowner of an afternoon.

Siem Reap. Credit: Simply_Happy | CC BY-NC 2.0

Swap Tokyo for Fukoka

Ask anyone what country is top of their ‘where should I travel to in 2020’ list and chances are they’ll say Japan. The Land of the Rising Sun has never been more popular for Aussies, but if the bright lights and craziness of Tokyo sounds overwhelming, why not consider Fukuoka? A two-hour flight from Tokyo to Kyushu Island is Fukuoka, a city that is still chock-full of quirky bars and ramen restaurants, bustling shopping strips and the latest Japanese gadgets. But it’s also far less busy than the capital, and significantly cheaper.

Fukoka. Credit: Einheit 00 | CC BY 2.0

Swap Los Angeles for San Diego

At first glance, LA and San Diego seem pretty similar. Both can lay claim to year-round sunshine (just in case you were wondering where to travel during the US winter), and both have gorgeous beaches, great hiking trails and amazing dining clout. But San Diego also has better air quality than LA, a far superior public transport system, a more welcoming vibe and a slew of emerging local breweries and wineries. Consider San Diego to be LA’s cooler younger sibling.

San Diego. Credit: Vanessa Vancour | CC BY 2.0

Swap Manila for Busan

Just a four-hour flight from the modern metropolis that is Manila, South Korea’s seriously underrated Busan is a surprising holiday alternative. From relaxing hot springs to impressive beaches, majestic mountains to markets overflowing with fresh seafood, plus enough events to fill your calendar for a year, it could very well be one of Asia’s best-kept secrets. And with none of Manila’s congestion, chaotic energy or overcrowding problems, Busan is hard to beat.

Gwan-an-ri Beach, Busan. Credit: Daniel Lee | CC BY-ND 2.0

Swap Ho Chi Minh City for Luang Prabang

Now is the time to visit Luang Prabang, before it inevitably turns into the Laos version of Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City. For the moment though, it’s still a captivating mosaic of traditional and French-inspired architecture, fusion cuisine and an array of natural wonders. There’s also a relaxed, sleepy vibe to Luang Prabang that many of Southeast Asia’s major cities – Ho Chi Minh included – have lost, and despite a few boutique hotels popping up, mass commercialisation has been evaded so far. The popular dry season runs from October to April, and it’s absolutely somewhere to go in July/August to avoid crowds in other parts of Asia.

Luang Prabang. Credit: Mark Lehmkuhler | CC BY-ND 2.0

Swap Kuala Lumpur for Taipei

If you thought Kuala Lumpur was a foodie’s paradise, wait until you visit Taipei. The Taiwanese city matches Kuala Lumpur in skyscrapers, night markets and temples, but with a blend of Chinese, Japanese, Southeast Asian and even American influences, it has developed its own eccentric culture that’s unlike anywhere else. Dining out is still cheap, bargains abound at the epic shopping malls and markets, there’s an excellent public transport system and you can find some truly authentic experiences.

Taipei. Credit: Steffen Flor | CC BY-SA 2.0

Swap Venice for Annecy

Venice is one of the European poster children for over-tourism. But if you’re still dreaming of getting lost in a labyrinth of canals, and are also trying to figure out how to avoid crowds in Italy, here’s your answer: head to Annecy. Considered the ‘Venice of France’, Annecy is a gorgeous medieval town sprinkled with historic canals, pastel-coloured houses and beautiful gardens. So when you’re figuring out your Northern Hemisphere summer plans and aren’t sure where to go in Europe in June 2020, be sure to pop Annecy on your itinerary.

Annecy. Credit: Vee-BY | CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Swap Amsterdam for Bruges

It’s not quite number one on the unofficial list of cities to avoid in Europe, but the influx of tourists that pour into Amsterdam has seen the popular destination reach breaking point. It’s so bad that visitors are being urged to travel elsewhere, and one country sticks out. The land of beer and chocolate is a delightful alternative, with the fairytale-esque city of Bruges a highlight. Home to canals, cathedrals and cobblestones, it’s just as magical as Amsterdam, only with lower visitor numbers. With Bruges now on your radar, there’s no need to ponder, “Where should I go in Belgium?” any longer.

Eager to lock in your 2020 holidays to one of these destinations? Book cheap flights with Webjet, and also find the perfect hotel at the same time. Those looking to put some extra saving money in their side-pocket can look to Webjet’s holiday packages to combine their flights and accommodation at great-value savings.

Hero: Taipei. Credit: Heikki Holstila | CC BY-ND 2.0

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