The Travel Bucket List: 18 Countries Millennials Want to Visit in 2016

UPDATED May 3, 2016

Every Filipino millennial we know dreams of visiting Europe, but our survey shows a Eurotrip is not the only journey that is on their bucket list this year.

We’ve asked 273 Filipino millennials born 1977 to 1998 to understand what destinations young local travelers seek to explore this year.

The result is a combination of popular answers and emerging destinations that we’ve not expected.

Yes, Filipino millennials want to go to France, U.S., and Brazil, but they’re also dreaming of nearby Asian destinations like Japan and South Korea and beyond the traditional ones, towards volcanic islands in the Atlantic Ocean, the land of the Kiwis, and home of the Incas.

After crunching the numbers, here are the Top 18:

1. Japan

Mt. Fuji 5th Station in autumn. Photo credit: Workalife

More than 15% of all answers referred to either Japan or a Japanese city like Tokyo and Osaka. The desire is a result of several factors: better destination awareness thanks to blogs and word of mouth combined with relaxed visa policy, weak Yen, cheap flights, and easier access to Fukuoka, Nagoya, Osaka, Narita (Tokyo), and Haneda (Tokyo) from Manila or Cebu. READ: Ways to enjoy cheap travel in Tokyo

Last year, the number of Filipinos traveling to Japan grew by 46%, according to data from the Japan Tourism Organization.


2. United States of America

View from the Mandarin Hotel
Columbus Circle, Midtown West, Manhattan. Photo credit: Marley White/NYCGo

Millennials identified 13 destinations they want to go to in the U.S., from Disneyland in California to Washington D.C. The most popular is still New York, which ranks second with London in the survey’s city ranking. Last year, the Big Apple has become more accessible from Manila with the introduction of direct connections by Philippine Airlines.


3. France

Vineyard in Chianti in Tuscay. Photo credit: Francesco Sgroi/Wikimedia Commons

With France and its destinations covering nearly 10% of answers, the appeal of a romantic getaway in Paris, Tuscany, or the country in general is still high despite recent unfortunate events. Paris itself is the most sought after city based on the survey, beating London, New York, and Rome.


4. South Korea

Gyeongbokgung Palace in Seoul. Photo credit: Aien Branzuela

With the popularity of Hallyu (Korean Wave) and more than a million Koreans traveling to the Philippines each year, it’s no wonder why Filipinos have naturally become curious about the country host of the 2018 Winter Olympics.

South Korea’s tourism agency has recently embarked on a campaign to promote medical tourism to Filipinos.


5. United Kingdom

London, England
Photo credit: Visit Britain

In 2014, there were 64.2% more Filipino travelers to the U.K. than the previous year, spending around 22 days and £895 per person, according to Visit Britain. The most popular time to travel were April to June and October to December, while holiday, business, and VFR (visit family and friends) drive travel to the U.K. (Update: Preliminary data from Visit Britain, however, shows a fall in arrivals in January-September 2015.)


6. Italy

Trevi Fountain in Rome. Photo credit: DAVI ILIFF/Wikimedia Commons

As the country with the most number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites (50), Italy is desired by travelers for its architecture, culture, food, natural scenery, and la dolce vita.


7. Maldives

anantara kihavah maldives aerial view
Anantara Kihavah Villas resort standing on Baa Atoll in Maldvies. Photo credit: Anantara

Although some would say the Philippines has equally beautiful seas and beaches, that doesn’t stop Filipino millennials from dreaming of a Maldivian vacation. In fact, according to Maldives’ tourism ministry, the number of Filipino travelers to this country rose by 77.8% in 2014 compared to the previous year!

Maldives has a unique recall to the luxury and aspirational travel market so much so that at least one high-end resort in Palawan brands itself “Maldives-inspired”.

And 2016 may just be the perfect time to visit this country of 26 atolls. With an economy driven mainly by tourism, the government declared this year as Visit Maldives 2016 to attract 1.5 million (high-paying) travelers.


8. Greece

Zakynthos Island in the Ionian Sea. Photo credit: Visit Greece

Millennials are lured by the promise of a picturesque morning in Santorini or a walk back in time at the Acropolis. But could there another reason, say, traveling to show solidarity?

As Greece struggles to pay off its debts, tourists have been encouraged to travel to Greece to help the economy. It could be a win-win situation for budget travelers, too, as prices have gone down, although there are some precautions to keep in mind.


9. Australia

Four Mile Beach, Port Douglas in Queensland. See more of Australia here. Photo credit: Tourism and Events Queensland

Australia mounted successful publicity campaigns over the past years that left a mark on millennials around the globe. One of these was The Best Jobs in the World, a competition whose winners were recruited by Tourism Australia to travel-related jobs like taste master, park ranger, and lifestyle photographer.

In 2014, Cebu Pacific introduced a budget option between Manila and Sydney, improving accessibility to the Land Down Under. In fact, the number of Filipino visitors to Australia in 2015 increased by 19%, says Tourism Australia.


10. New Zealand

Hobbiton in Matamata, New Zealand. Photo credit: Sara Orme/Tourism New Zealand

In December 2015, Philippine Airlines introduced flights between the Philippines and Middle-earth (New Zealand, rather) via Cairns, Australia.

Although seen as an expensive destination, New Zealand is actually a hot spot for millennials, with 22% of tourists aged between 18 and 29 years old, says Tourism New Zealand.


11. Peru

Machu Picchu. Photo credit: Ministerio de Comercio Exterior y Turismo

While Peru is popular for Macchu Picchu and Nazca Lines, the South American country is slowly rising as a culinary destination. Last year, it hosted a global conference on culinary tourism pretty much like the Spanish-led Madrid Fusion in Manila. Peruvian cuisine is also getting its fair share of followers among foodies in Manila.


12. Brazil

Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Photo credit: Bisonlux/Wikimedia Commons
Rio de Janeiro will have the world’s attention this year as it hosts the Olympic and Paralympic Summer Games. Beyond Rio, other destinations like Sao Paulo, Foz du Iguacu (near Iguazu Falls), and Salvador are popular options as well for tourists.


13. Canada

Cycling on Bow Valley Parkway in Banff Naitonal Park, Alberta, Canada.
Cycling on Bow Valley Parkway in Banff Naitonal Park, Alberta, Canada. Photo credit: Paul Zizka/Destination Canada

Despite the picturesque views of Canadian landscape, the number of Filipinos traveling to Canada has actually declined. In January-September 2015, Filipino visits shrank by 12.9% than the same period in 2014, according to Destination Canada.


14. Germany

Old town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber. Photo credit: Rothenburg Tourismus Service

Like much of Europe, Germany is gifted with rich heritage and culture seen across cities and the countryside. It is home to several popular amusement parks as well, including Europa-Park, featuring country-themed sections of rides and attractions similar to the old Nayong Pilipino concept; Lego Deutscheland; and the Autostadt, Volkswagen’s automotive park.


15. Singapore

The newly opened National Gallery in Singapore. Photo credit: National Gallery Singapore

For a city-state slightly bigger than Metro Manila, Singapore continues to add attractions and activities to the delight of return tourists. These include the new National Gallery and the 328-hectare eco-resort Funtasy Island, which, though technically within Indonesian territory, is just 30 minutes away by ferry from Harbour Front.


16. Spain

The rocky islands Illa des Bosc and Sa Conillera in Ibiza off the coast of Spain. Photo credit: Xescu Prats

Last year, the World Economic Forum announced Spain as the most competitive tourism destination in the world, dethroning Switzerland.

Spain is actively promoting its destinations to millennials, highlighting a broad range of activities such as parties in Ibiza, culinary journey in Basque, and biking along the pilgrim’s route to Compostela de Santiago.


17. Thailand

Phu Chi Fa is a national park in northern Thailand near Chiang Rai, famous for this view. Photo credit: Tourism Authority of Thailand

Thailand continues to be a popular destination for Filipinos especially millennials who can relatively afford the trip and combine Thailand in a Southeast Asian tour that include Myanmar and Cambodia.

Emerging destinations in Thailand include Kanchanaburi, Prachuap Khiri Khan especially Hua Hin, and Saraburi, says the founders of the online travel portal, TakeMeTour.


18. Iceland

Aurora Borealis over Iceland. Photo credit: Promote Iceland

If you’ve watched the movie The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, chances are high that Iceland has found its way into your bucket list.

This island where fire, ice, and 329,000 people coexist over a land slightly smaller than Luzon is the off-the-beaten track that today’s young travelers yearn for.

To reach Iceland, find a plane to Europe and connect to a flight to Reykjavik from hubs like Amsterdam and London.

Happy traveling!

READ NEXT: Filipinos made 4.7 million trips in 2015. Where did they go to?

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