Here is the mostly dull NYT list. Here is my personal list of recommendations for you, noting I have not been to all of the below, but I am in contact with many travelers and paw through a good deal of information:
1. Pakistan, and Pakistani Kashmir. Finally it is safe, and in some way it is easier to negotiate than India. The best dairy products I have eaten in my life, and probably it is the most populous country you have not yet seen, or maybe Nigeria, but that makes the list too. Islamabad is nicer than any city in India, and watch the painter trucks on the nearby highway.
2. Eastern Bali. Still mostly unspoilt, the perfect mix of exoticism and comfort. This island is much, much more than Elizabeth Gilbert, yoga, and hippie candles.
3. Lalibela, Ethiopia. Has some of my favorite churches, beautiful vistas and super-peaceful, and the high altitude of Lalibela and Addis means you don’t have to take anti-malarials. I know a good guide there, here are my Lalibela posts. the central bank forecasts 10.8% growth for the country for next year, so Lalibela is likely to change rapidly.
4. Lagos, Nigeria. A bit dangerous, but immense fun, wonderful music every night, and not nearly as bad as you might be thinking. Africa’s most dynamic city by far and a new modern civilization in the works. Here are my earlier Lagos posts, including travel tips.
5. Odisha [Orissa], India. Sometimes called India’s most underrated cuisine, that is enough reason to go and so now it is on my list for myself.
6. Sumatra, Indonesia. Surely a good place to understand the evolution of Islam, and supposedly to be Indonesia’s best food. I hope to get there soon. First-rate textiles and lake views, I hear.
7. Warsaw, Poland. No, not a fascist country (though objectionable in some regards), and rapidly becoming the center of opportunity for eastern Europe and a major player in the European Union. First-rate food and dishes you won’t get elsewhere, at least nothing close to comparable quality. Nice for walking, don’t expect too many intact old buildings, but isn’t it thrilling to see a major part of Europe growing at four percent?
8. Baku, Azerbaijan. The world’s best seaside promenade, and wonderful textiles and food, in the Iranian direction, here are my travel notes. Feels exotic, yet safe and orderly as well.
9. Macedonia, or anywhere off the beaten track in the former Yugoslavia. Then think about the history and politics of where you are at, and then think about it some more.
10. Quito, Ecuador. One of the world’s loveliest cities, including the church, wonderful potatoes and corn for vegetarians too. There are some iPhone snatchers, but overall safe to visit. Very good day trips as well, including to the “Indian market” at Otavalo and volcano Cotopaxi.