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Bucket List Places You Need To See In The Next Decade

05/04/2015 04:18 pm ET | Updated May 15, 2015

"Where do you see yourself in the next 10 years?" What if instead of a dreaded job interview question, this was asked as a travel challenge? Suddenly the whole world opens up.

You had better start thinking, because the world will look very different in the next decade than it does today. For travelers, this means the time to explore is now. The brave and the curious are seeking out previously unexplored or closed-off destinations. The trend-hungry are prioritizing upcoming hotspots, and as the environment changes rapidly, nature-lovers are rushing to places threatened by rising sea levels and pollution.

Before our world's landscape changes even more, here are the destinations that should go straight to the top of your bucket list in the next decade.

  • The Philippines
    Saiko3p
    According to the Southeast Asian country's department of tourism, 2015 is the year to visit the Philippines. If enough people catch on to its diverse beauty, the untouched quality of this 7,107- island nation would of course change very quickly. Chaz Requina of Philippines-based travel magazine GRID told The Huffington Post that his island of choice at the moment is Siargao. It has pristine beaches and is known as the surfing capital of the Philippines. Requina also recommends Palawan, "not only the cleanest island but by far the most magical," and Bohol, which is "remote" but "easily accessible," has "amazing beaches everywhere," and "the friendliest people."
  • Macedonia
    © IMAGES & STORIES / ALAMY
    The New York Times says Macedonia is the next big Balkan destination, and it's easy to see why. Skopje, the capital city, is said to be "weird and wonderful." Three-million-year-old Lake Ohrid, which is shared by Albania, too, is picturesque with its stunning sunsets. And centuries-old churches and monasteries will transport visitors back in time.
  • Elqui Valley, Chile
    © KENT NANCOLLAS / ALAMY
    Known for its clear skies, the Elqui Valley has long been known for its unmatched star-gazing. A verdant, 100-mile stretch of pisco-producing vineyards in the middle of the Andes mountains, the valley itself sounds as dreamlike as its views of the cosmos. The New York Times advises travelers to visit the enchanting valley soon, however, as light pollution from increasing tourist development is already clouding the famously clear night sky.
  • Great Barrier Reef
    TUGODI
    The Great Barrier Reef, one of the world's seven natural wonders, is in danger. The Washington Post reports leading scientists say it could become "irreparably damaged in the coming decades due to traumas caused by both nature and humans." Warming waters cause coral bleaching, and on-land development and pollution, as well as the development of more shipping ports, are significantly dirtying the waters. Go see this natural wonder -- a string of about 3,000 individual coral reefs off the coast of Queensland, Australia -- before time runs out.
  • Taos, New Mexico
    PETER PTSCHELINZEW/GETTY IMAGES
    Taos Ski Valley in New Mexico is so much more than just a ski mountain. Rugged and remote, Taos is famous for its breathtaking scenery and the "legendary light" that has inspired artists like Georgia O'Keeffe. Taos has always had a sort of mystique about it. In 2013, billionaire Louis Bacon bought the mountain from its founders the Blake family, promising this lovably weathered mountain would get a "much-needed shot in the arm," as The New York Times put it. This year, a chair lift opened to Kachina Peak, which had previously only been accessible by a hike. Thirty-five acres of new tree skiing opened, too, and the village's ski lodge also got an upgrade. Ski Taos in the next 10 years to take advantage of these new developments, and also to experience the unique charm of the place while it lasts.
  • Malawi
    © ARIADNE VAN ZANDBERGEN / ALAMY
    While Malawi is not currently as well-traveled as other African tourist magnets like Tanzania and Botswana, that could change soon. Referred to as "the warm heart of Africa," Malawi is known for its friendly and hospitable people. Sparkling Lake Malawi, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is one of the biggest lakes in the world, and Gogobot listed it as one of the top emerging travel hotspots in 2015. Malawi also boasts a number of national parks and wildlife preserves that are attracting more tourists. The Majete Wildlife Reserve has made a major comeback push with a successful lion reintroduction program and the addition of some 2,500 animals from 13 species including elephant, black rhino, and leopard.
  • Bolivia
    Hauke Schrder/DPA
    Bolivia, which owned the fastest-growing economy in South America last year, is seeing a turnaround that's sure to lure travelers. It's home to "cultures and languages that could disappear within our lifetime," Lonely Planet warns, so the time to go really is now. Bolivia also happens to be one of the world's up-and-coming food destinations. Claus Meyer, acclaimed chef and co-founder of Copenhagen's famed Noma restaurant, opened Gustu in La Paz in the spring of 2013, and the biodiversity in the country provides a huge range of fruits and vegetables -- there are 1,200 varieties of potatoes alone in Bolivia. Whether you're exploring Salar de Uyuni, the largest salt flat in the world, Lake Titicaca's Isla del Sol, or are eating at what might become the "best restaurant in the world," you'll find something incredible in Bolivia.
  • Maldives
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    For the "lowest lying country in the world" built precariously on a coral reef, climate change is an urgent problem. Rising sea levels threaten the Maldives' very existence, while warming and increasingly acidic waters are killing the reefs below, The Guardian reports. Fourteen islands have already been abandoned due to "massive erosion by the sea," The Sydney Morning Herald reports. Sadly, the loss of this nation, made up of more than 1,200 islands, seems not to be a matter of if but when. While it's not cheap to reach, if you're looking to visit the Maldives, it's probably best to go sooner rather than later.
  • Mongolia
    REDCHOPSTICKS
    Described as "one of the last unspoiled travel destinations," Mongolia will only see more and more tourists over the next decade. In the last 10 years, tourism and its economic impact increased dramatically in the country, and with growing infrastructure for travelers, that trend is sure to continue. Go now to see the epic grasslands, famous nomadic culture, stunning sand dunes and towering mountains while this incredible country is still relatively unexplored.
  • Koh Rong and Koh Rong Samloem, Cambodia
    © HEMIS / ALAMY
    These two islands off the coast of Cambodia have been described as what the beaches of Thailand were like 20 years ago. Koh Rong boasts slightly more activity than the slightly smaller, quieter Koh Rong Samloem, but both are utterly serene and beautiful. Calm, clear water laps lazily on idyllic white sand beaches, and there's not much else to do but kick back and enjoy the sun, sand and waves. Word will get out -- it always does. So get to these islands before they become overrun with tourists.

So, where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Correction: This post previously listed Koh Rong and Koh Rong Samloem as islands in Thailand, when in fact they are in Cambodia.

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