Check out Travel Channel's picks for the hottest destinations in 2010.
Thailand is home to many affordable attractions, including jungle treks, ancient temples, flour-soft beaches and an entire island of ravers. While 2010 saw civil unrest in Bangkok, the effect on tourists was minimal, if not advantageous, as businesses tried to woo tourists with discounts. New direct flights into the Trat Islands near Cambodia, and several new resort developments, opened up this once inaccessible area.
In the last few years, Marrakech has seen an explosion of small Riads or boutique hotels around the ancient city, catering to niche markets, including luxe, gay and family travelers. In November La Mamounia, the grand dame of Marrakech hotels, reopened after a five-year, $176-million redesign by Parisian designer Jacques Garcia.
South Africa took advantage of the 2010 World Cup to build new stadiums, hotels and safari lodges. Cape Town, already famous for spectacular beaches, upscale nightlife and food, added several new hotels, including the Taj Cape Town. Luxe travelers can splurge on a safari trip to Richard Branson's Cliff Lodge, a new luxury hotel at Ulusaba, the billionaire's private game reserve.
Vancouver was host to many winter-sports enthusiasts during February's Olympic festivities. The city and surrounding areas had a ton to offer fans of the Winter Games as well as regular travelers. There's world-class skiing at Whistler-Blackcomb, one of the best destination ski resorts in the world. At nearby Ucluetet on Nanaimo Island, the new Wild Pacific Trail follows a rugged shoreline. Kayakers love the area for beauty and a chance to spot gray whales during their annual migration.
Los Angeles is a hot spot for art and museum hounds. The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) celebrated its 30th birthday in 2010 with special exhibitions. The Los Angeles County Museum of Art unveiled a Renzo Piano-designed addition to its campus. Several prominent galleries have opened outposts in LA.
The dramatic collapse of Iceland's economy over the last couple of years has been a boon for budget travelers in 2010. The value of the kroner plunged against numerous currencies, and the once expensive destination became much more affordable.
Once a shunned country for travelers, Colombia is Latin America's affordable, new hot spot. The capital of Bogota has been slowly transforming since the late 1990s, adding bike paths, a new bus system and sidewalk cafes. The coastal city of Caragena experienced a renaissance, sprouting stylish new boutique hotels and spas. JetBlue's new nonstop daily service to Bogota from Orlando made a trip here even more affordable.
Bike paths line Copenhagen's streets where locals and tourists ride the free bikes available around the city center. The Danish capital also boasts new cultural buildings ' an opera house, library and concert hall ' as well as a booming arts district. A public bath is the newest addition to the harbor district, the city's burgeoning summertime center.
Las Vegas was hit hard by US economic woes as business travel and group bookings evaporated, so hotels went into overdrive to attract budget-conscious travelers with discounts and deals galore. On the other end of the spectrum, several developers amped up the luxury despite the downturn, including MGM's massive resort complex, CityCenter.
Savvy travelers knew that 2010 was the year to see the town's once-every-decade performance of the Passion Play. More than 2,000 actors, singers, instrumentalists and technicians, all residents of the village, brought the story of Jesus of Nazareth to life in an extraordinary community event. The Oberammergau Passion Play was first performed in 1634.