December 18, 2012 | By Tim Johnson, MSN Travel
Top 10 must-see places of 2013

National Geographic Traveler’s destination recommendations for 2013.

Great Bear Rainforest in Canada; Marseille, France; and Beale Street at night in Memphis, Tennessee. (© Paul Nicklen/National Geographic; Ed Kashi, VII/National Geographic; Getty Images)
  • Great Bear Rainforest in Canada; Marseille, France; and Beale Street at night in Memphis, Tennessee. (© Paul Nicklen/National Geographic; Ed Kashi, VII/National Geographic; Getty Images)
  • "Russia needs its paradise,” Prince Grigory Potemkin, Catherine the Great’s general, wrote in 1782 urging the annexation of Crimea, and no wonder. (© Caro/Alamy)
  • On a once derelict jetty, opposite the stone ramparts of 17th century Fort St. Jean, a new glass-and-steel building shimmers behind a lacy spider’s-web facade of finely cast concrete. Poised between lapis sea and Marseille’s sun-drenched hills, the National Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilizations (MuCEM) stands at the entrance to the Vieux-Port, the city’s historic heart. And when it opens in May 2013, MuCEM will be a bold symbol of Marseille’s re-emergence as a flourishing pan-Mediterranean hub. (© Ed Kashi, VII/National Geographic)
  • Sometimes you can see both the forest and the trees. The Great Bear Rainforest, the planet’s largest intact coastal temperate rain forest, is an untamed strip of land stretching 402 kilometres (250 miles) along British Columbia’s coast that harbors extensive tracts of giant hemlock, Sitka spruce, and red cedar. The mighty trees rise high above a moist and ferny forest floor patrolled by coastal wolves, minks, Canada’s largest grizzly bears, and rare white Kermode spirit bears. (© Paul Nicklen/National Geographic)
  • One of Kyoto poet Buson’s most famous haikus reads: “On the one-ton temple bell a moon-moth, folded into sleep, sits still.” If Japan is the temple bell, Kyoto is the moth — tranquil, delicate, intricate, and wildly mysterious, centuries after the first outsider was drawn to its woodsy hilltop Shinto shrines and rarefied Buddhist temples. The city is about to get an influx of luxury hotels, making room for more tourists, but for now a golden-hour walk along the Kamo riverbank still reveals the gentleness and gracefulness of Japan’s ancient capital, as does a self-guided tour of the two-kilometre canal-side Philosopher’s Path in the Higashiyama neighborhood. (© Justin Guariglia/National Geographic)
  • Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda. The country, once the cornerstone of Africa’s Grand Tour, is today bypassed by most visitors. The nation and its people have been brutalized by dictators, battered by warlords, and negatively portrayed by viral videos. Safarigoers line up in next-door Kenya and Tanzania, with only a few coming to Uganda to see the famed mountain gorillas. (© Joel Sartore/National Geographic)
  • Raja Ampat has been dubbed the Amazon of the Oceans. Is that hyperbole? Not really. There are single reefs here containing more species than the entire Caribbean. A mini-archipelago of rainforest-clad islands, cays, mangroves, and pearlescent beaches off the coast of West Papua, Indonesia, this marine frontier brims with life. Expect close encounters with recent discoveries such as Raja Ampat’s walking shark and pygmy seahorse, along with more familiar creatures — manta rays, leatherback turtles, and bumphead parrotfish. Not to mention three-quarters of all known coral species. (© Daniela Dirscherl/Getty Images)
  • Aspy Bay in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. (© Getty Images)
Paul Nicklen/National Geographic; Ed Kashi, VII/National Geographic; Getty ImagesShow Thumbnails
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If anyone knows the world, it’s National Geographic. For more than a century, this distinguished magazine has been taking readers all over the globe, introducing them to wild and wonderful adventures. And for the past two years, National Geographic Traveler has brought together a crack team of explorers, editors, contributors and staff to hand-pick their “Best of the World”—an exclusive list of must-see destinations.

“It’s a celebration of the most intriguing under-the-radar, on-the-rise, or over-the-top places to see in the coming year,” says contributing editor George Stone. He adds that the 2013 list is truly special. Here’s our selection of the very best of the NatGeo’s Best Trips 2013.

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