Although the former Soviet republic might seem remote, Uzbekistan once sat at the very center of the world. In the first millennium, no traveler could pass from Asia to Europe without stopping in the Silk Road strongholds of Bukhara and Samarkand, and as a result these cities evolved into rich cultural centers. For intrepid travelers, today’s Uzbekistan is a promised land: a Muslim-majority nation that’s both safe and affordable, with few tourists and an abundance of well-preserved mosques and harems. And since the death of authoritarian president Islam Karimov last year, the new regime has taken steps toward reform that have given both Uzbeks and the international community reason for optimism. Improving relations with Iran could soon bring a rail link to the Persian Gulf, and in 2016, the Afrosiyob high-speed-train line began connecting the country’s major cities. Meanwhile, Uzbekistan should benefit from the so-called Iron Silk Road, or Trans-Asian Railway — a Chinese-funded network of routes knitting together Beijing and Europe — once a segment connecting the country through Kyrgyzstan is completed. Book a customized journey with Exeter International, which specializes in the region. —Heidi Mitchell
In addition to more than 100,000 artifacts, including pieces currently stored in the vaults of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, the new museum will sport a Modernist design courtesy of Heneghan Peng Architects. Chosen from more than 1,550 design proposals from architects in 82 countries, the final building will echo both the geography of the plateau on which it rests as well as the Pyramids themselves. When the museum partially opens in 2018, visitors in the immense atrium can soak in the majestic sight of both the Pyramid of Menkaure and the Great Pyramid of Khufu from a floor-to-ceiling glass wall. —Diana Hubbell
Landlocked Laos might be quieter than Southeast Asian neighbors like Vietnam and Thailand, but 2018 could transform the country into the region’s next hot spot. Wattay International Airport, in the capital of Vientiane, is set to complete a terminal expansion to accommodate more international links next year, but the biggest changes are foot in the UNESCO World Heritage–inscribed town of Luang Prabang, in central Laos. This serene riverside spot lures travelers to its golden Buddhist temples, French-colonial architecture, hiking trails, nearby elephant sanctuaries — and now, glamorous new digs. Last year, the design-forward Azerai opened inside a century-old French-colonial building that was formerly an officer’s quarters. The debut concept from Aman Resorts founder Adrian Zecha has airy, light wood interiors that nod to local culture in their use of batik textiles and Laotian artwork. There’s also an 80-foot swimming pool in a tree-shaded central courtyard. The upcoming Rosewood Luang Prabang aims to be a destination in itself. Opening in mid 2018, this highly anticipated resort will feature pavilion-style villas, luxury tents, and a spa that seems to float above the jungle. —Kate Springer
In September 2009, JetBlue made changes to its TrueBlue program. In the new program, members receive three points for every dollar spent toward a flight, excluding taxes and fees, plus an additional three points for every dollar spent on a flight if booked online directly on the JetBlue.com website. Additional points are awarded if the member uses the Barclay's issued JetBlue Mastercard credit card to purchase the flight. The price of flights in points depend on the fare of the flight in U.S. dollars. The new program launched on November 9, 2009.
Of all the islands that make up Italy’s Aeolian archipelago, Salina is arguably the most alluring: it is not yet a celebrity haven like its neighbor Stromboli, where Giorgio Armani, Domenico Dolce, and Stefano Gabbana have homes; and it’s not yet overrun with the luxury yachts of affluent soccer players like nearby Panarea. That the isle has stayed blissfully unspoiled for this long eludes those who know of its imposing natural beauty — steep mountains blanketed in blossoming trees and wildflowers, small villages speckled with olive and lemon groves, fig trees, and miles of terraced Malvasia vineyards. The Relais & Châteaux property Capofaro Malvasia & Resort is one of Salina’s finest places to check in to, thanks to its secluded location, private beach, Tasca d’Almerita wines, and restaurant spotlighting local flavors (think wild fennel, orange, and caper leaves). Once you’ve settled in, skip on over to the town of Lingua to watch the sun set on the Marina Garibaldi, and order the best almond granita of your life at the Da Alfredo waterfront café. —Rocky Casale
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