Top 10 Emerging Destinations for Indian Travellers

Travel is one of life’s greatest pleasures and it’s nice to know that there’s still so much of the world to discover. If you’re looking for fresh ideas on where to visit next, get inspired by the top 10 emerging destinations as searched for by India in the past 12 months.

Emerging Destinations 2020YoY Growth %Change in rank
1stPhuket, Thailand139% ↑ 16
2ndMalé, Maldives76% ↑ 9
3rdIstanbul, Turkey34% ↑ 4
4thNairobi, Kenya33% ↑ 12
5thHo Chi Minh City, Vietnam12% ↑ 6
6thHanoi, Vietnam12% ↑ 6
7thSeoul, Korea11% ↑ 4
8thBudapest, Hungary11% ↑ 6
9thKathmandu, Nepal4% ↑ 2
10thZurich, Switzerland2% ↑ 3

#1 Phuket

YoY growth in Bookings: 138%
Current ranking: #12 (↑16)

Phuket is now the Thailand hub for GoAir (LCC) airlines with flights from 8 cities. Phuket offers easy connectivity to other isles in Thailand like Phi Phi, Krabi, Ko Pha Nang. It’s the perfect destination if you would like a short break.

For its magnificent beaches like Patong, Kata, and Karon, are great for island boat tours, diving, and snorkeling.  

Most popular: November to April
Least crowded: Mid-May to October

Ao Yon Beach is pristine and unspoiled… bordering a small sleepy village. It overlooks a small cove that most yachts and boats anchor, and it’s a pleasant place to relax.

–  Big Buddha in Chalong. This giant 45m tall Buddha statue atop the Nakkerd Hills overlooking Chalong, Kata, and Rawai. Enjoy the solitude and 360-degree panoramas of the island, town and beaches. 

–  Phuket’s night markets offer fascinating souvenirs at reasonable prices. Make the most of your weekend escape and try local street food while watching street performances.

–  Phuket FantaSea Show. See elephants on stage, trapeze artists, and pyrotechnics come together in a Las Vegas-style show that is based on Thai myths, fantasy, and humour.

#2 Malé

YoY growth in Bookings: 76%
Current ranking: #16 (↑9)

Malé in the Maldives is one of the top diving and snorkeling destinations in the world. Its proximity to India means fantastic airfare deals with direct flights from metro cities a breeze.

COMO Cocoa Island, coral reefs, water villas, alcohol-free cafes and restaurants, lively markets, and shops.

Most popular: December to March
Least crowded: Early May to late September

Addu Atoll in the Indian Ocean is a great spot for diving, swimming with fishes and checking out the coral reef (from a distance).

–  Visit the Old Friday Mosque. This coral stone edifice made in 1656 is a good place to visit in Malé. Check the magnificent mosque intricately decorated with several Quranic scriptures carved into pillars.

–  Cross the China-Maldives Friendship Bridge.  This engineering marvel connects Malé to the airport isle of Hulhule, but what’s unique is that it’s built over open seas. Do check if the bridge is operational before visiting.

#3 Istanbul

YoY growth in Bookings : 34%
Current ranking: #14 (↑4)

Jumping five spots this year, Istanbul has become a popular stopover destination when travelling to Europe from India. It’s the go-to for Corporate MICE travels and destination weddings in India. There is an increase in Indigo flights thanks to its partnership with Turkish airlines.

Hot-air balloons in Cappadocia, rich culture, the magnificent Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, fantastic food and stunning panoramas.

Most popular: Late May to September
Least crowded: Mid-November to mid-December & early January through mid-March

Tucked away from the tourist’s gazing eye is the Tophane District. This formally gritty neighbourhood is now home to bohemian cafes, independent galleries, boutique shops and the edgiest street art.

–  Visit the Hagia Sophia Museum. This Byzantine era mosque turned museum is a must-visit for its architecture. Walk up the spiral staircase to reach the gallery and explore the stunning mosaics. 

– Take the Bosphorus Cruise. Here’s your chance to see the whole city from both the Asian and European shores, ancient palaces, and villas bordering the waterway. Enjoy the suspension bridge, the Black sea, and a wonderful sunset.

#4 Nairobi

YoY growth in Bookings : 33%
Current ranking: #40 (↑12)

Nairobi is popular for its green spaces, eco-tourism, and its unparalleled natural beauty. Vacations in Nairobi are all about living with nature, enjoying natural wonders, wildlife and more. 

Animals! Take your pick from many attractions like the popular Giraffe Manor: a hotel where you can feed the long-necked creatures from your window.

Most popular: July and August
Most affordable: September and October
Least crowded: March to May

At Kitengela, you can explore a sculpture park in the desert that also doubles up as shade.

–  You have to check out the Nairobi National Park. On the southern outskirts of Nairobi, this national park is the smallest in Africa but is home to rich wildlife. Its also called Kifaru Ark, named after the rhinoceros in the sanctuary. 

– Take a stroll in the Maasai Markets and refine your bargaining skills. They take place in various parts of the city, selling African knick-knacks from bags, leather goods, jewellery, wood carvings, and clothes. Beware of touts trying to sell you a better deal.

#5 Ho Chi Minh City

YoY growth in Bookings : 12%
Current ranking: #32 (↑6)

Jumping up six notches up, the increase in number of flights from both Indigo and VietJet to Ho Chi Minh has increased its popularity. If you’d like a short break, why not head over to Vietnam?

Quirky shops named after family members, late-night pedicures and manicures, and scooter tours at the war museum.

Most popular: January to April, November to December 
Least crowded: May to October

The Secret Weapons Cellar in District 3. Tran Van Lai dug this hidden cellar beneath his home on Nguyen Dinh Chieu Street in 1967 to store explosives and weapons.

– Explore the narrow Cu Chi Tunnels. Soldiers once used these tunnels to move undetected during the war. You can take a guided tour, get a pic of burnt tanks or crawl through the reinforced tunnels as the soldiers did. 

– Visit the Jade Emperor Pagoda. One of the sacred temples in Ho Chi Minh, admire the elaborate design, etchings, sculptures of Gods and Goddesses and Chinese creatures.

#6 Hanoi

YoY growth in Bookings: 12%
Current ranking: #60 (↑6)

Hanoi is becoming increasingly well connected to the rest of the world with budget and full service carriers. Travellers are heading to the city’s
backstreet cafés to slurp bowls of pho made globally famous by the visit of President Obama.

Hanoi is a foodie’s dream destination with virtually every street corner blessed with a stall serving up delicious snacks or super potent coffee washed down with a chaser of green tea. Further afield, a short drive will bring you to the dreamy seascapes around world-famous UNESCO site Halong Bay.

Most popular month: November to April
Most affordable: May to October
Least crowded: May to October

Hanoi’s Mosaic Wall is a hidden gem that rewards visitors with its incredibly long (6km) ceramic mural depicting key events in the city’s history and built to celebrate the millennial anniversary of Hanoi.

– Visit Hoa Lo Prison, also known as the Hanoi Hilton during the war with the Americans, for a gritty look into prison life during the war.

– Walk around Hoan Kiem Lake and the dizzying streets of the Old Quarter

– Spend a day cruising the stunningly beautiful and dreamy emerald seascapes of Halong Bay.

#7 Seoul

YoY growth in Bookings: 11%
Current ranking: #28 (↑4)

Seoul has become the place to head to for avid fans of K-pop, K-beauty, and K-culture. The Korean wave influence began with popular web series that many Indians watch and follow. 

The famous Gyeongbokgung palace, cultural and artistic venues like the Museum of Art. 

Most popular: April to May
Least crowded: September to November

Mountain Ansan Jarak-gil. Trail a 7km elevated wooden deck the rings the Ansan mountain, passing through tall tree forests and panoramic points.

– Visit the Gyeongbokgung Palace. The chief royal palace of the Joseon Dynasty, it is in north Seoul. The grandest building in the city, it’s the best example of Korean architecture. 

– Take a walk in Bukchon Hanok Village. To get a glimpse of Seoul’s history visit the Bukchon Hanok village. This ancient village keeps a 600-year-old settlement that tells you more about Joseon traditions and architecture.

#8 Budapest

YoY growth in Bookings : 11%
Current ranking: #68 (↑6)

Moving up six spots from last year, Budapest is quickly becoming the place Indians want to explore. With its unique youthful vibe, a global classical music scene and fantastic nightlife, you can visit Budapest for a slow and unhurried holiday.

The ancient and natural thermal springs, the mighty River the Danube, medicinal waters, eclectic nightlife, shopping venues, and delicious local food.

Most popular: June to August
Least crowded: March to May

Vajdahunyad Castle made using cardboard and wood on an artificial island in the centre of Budapest before it built in stone in 1904.

– Visit Heroes Square. Pronounced Hosök tere, the square marks the end of Andrássy Avenue. The iconic memorial has illustrations of the Seven Magyar Chieftains, who led the Hungarians from Central Asia to the Carpathian Basin.

– Drop by Margaret Island. Visit this isle on the Danube, which is home to parklands and other recreational facilities. Have fun with pedal carts, self-powered vehicles, enjoy golf, and more.

#9 Kathmandu

YoY growth in Bookings: 4%
Current ranking: #22 (↑2)

Moving up two spots, Kathmandu is a joy for all the senses. When you arrive, you’ll see the amazing temples, smell the enticing local dishes and hear the bustle of a busy day. This is a place of pure beauty so enjoy every minute.

Nepal is home to Mount Everest, the world’s highest mountain peak. Kathmandu has the country’s busiest international airport and is the obvious entry point into the country. 

Most popular: October to December
Least crowded: March to Mid-June

Got a dental problem? Kathmandu is home to the Toothache Tree. Nailing a coin to this timber stump rids you of all tooth troubles.

– Book a scenic flight around Mount Everest

– Get up early and watch the monks at Boudhanath Stupa

– Take the cable car up Chandragiri Hills and enjoy a snack while admiring the view of the Himalayas.

#10 Zurich

YoY growth in Bookings: 2%
Current ranking: #33 (↑3)

Zurich is the largest city in Switzerland and the most affluent city in Europe. With its magnificent snow peak scenery of the Alps, sparkling waters of Lake Zurich, the historic churches and internationally renowned fashion brands, it’s no wonder the city has become a popular location to visit among travellers.

Zurich has been ranked the world’s number one city to live in. It’s also one of the famous world financial centers, has more than 50 museums, 20 libraries, 100 art galleries, as well as a concert hall and an opera house. It is a city with a strong cultural atmosphere.

Zurich has a pleasant temperature throughout the year. With its own beautiful scenery in spring, summer, autumn and winter, it’s suitable for travellers to visit all year round.  Generally, the best time to explore Zurich is during the warmer weather from June to September as it’s most suitable for outdoor activities.

Take a day trip out to Mount Titlis to visit the actual spots where ‘Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge’ was filmed. There’s even a cardboard cutout of Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol there that makes for a great photo opportunity. You can also book a Bollywood tour to visit the locations where your favourite films were made.

– The best way to enjoy the relaxing view of Zurich is to take a ferry ride to Lake Zurich. You can also visit Schaffhausen, which is a 50-minute drive from Zurich to visit the Rhine and the largest Rhine Falls in Europe.  If you want to enjoy the magnificent view of the waterfall, be sure to take a sightseeing boat to see it up close.

– Shopping! While in Zurich, how can you miss the opportunity to buy a Swiss-made watch? The total length of Bahnhofstrasse, a popular shopping stretch, is 1.4 km, starting from Zurich Central Station in the north and down to the tram and pedestrian zone in Lake Zurich. 

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Back to Travel Trends 2020

Based on proprietary data extracted from Skyscanner Travel Insights, analysing millions of data points in India, comparing YoY differences in bookings (redirects made on the Skyscanner platform, e.g.: when a traveller selects a flight option with a partner on the Skyscanner booking panel) between the time periods October 2018 to September 2019, and October 2017 to September 2018