Plan your long Chinese New Year break from Singapore with this awesome list of must-visit travel destinations in 2016
We love Chinese New Year for the time we get to spend with the family, the whole ritual of giving and receiving ang bao, the endless ballet of yummy dishes being served. On the other hand, we’re also excited about the upcoming public holidays travel to exotic destinations. Whether near or far, adventurous or relaxing, our favourite travel artisans, Lightfoot Travel, know just where to go for an unforgettable CNY. Where will you venture off to?
Can you hear the thumping of the drums approaching? That’s the Carnaval de Rio kicking off and you are instantly taken away by the energy, talented dancers and the hip-shaking ambiance of Brazil’s favourite yearly celebration. Watch as some of the country’s best samba schools compete for the coveted titled of Best Samba School and once you have danced through the entire weekend enjoy some down town on some of the most famed beaches in the world; Ipanema, Copacabana, Prainha Beach, and many more are calling out to you. Or how about trying out another of Brazil’s favourite activities: capoeira? Want to get off the beaten track and explore some of the country’s natural wonders? Prepare to be spoilt for choice: the vastness of the Amazon, the turquoise waters of Buzios, the lovely colonial town of Paraty, the thundering Iguassu Falls, the freshwater wetlands of the Pantanal… Didn’t we say you’d be spoilt for choice?
You may think that South Africa has nothing more than amazing wildlife to offer, but you would be wrong. Yes, the country is home to an incredible array of wildlife and it’s easy to spot The Big Five amidst lush vegetation, but South Africa has even more to offer for a tantalizing holiday. Cape Town is bustling with bucket-listed sites such as the towering Table Mountain, Kirstenbosch Gardens, famed Robben Island and Boulders Beach to name a few. Be sure to also take a road trip along the Garden Route, which stretches along the coast from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth – every moment is picture perfect – and refuel your batteries in the country’s winelands along the Western Cape, home to the oldest wine industry outside Europe.
Under 2 hours’ picturesque drive away from Vancouver lies Canada’s most beloved ski resort, Whistler, a fabulous and lively alternative to European skiing. Nestled between Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains, the skiable terrain is extremely vast and you will not tire of the endless options which are easily reachable thanks to the gondola that links both spectacular peaks. If you’re not an avid skier, don’t brush this option aside; Whistler has lots to offer for those that aren’t aficionados or want a little more diversity during their holiday. The apres and nightlife in Whistler is amongst the best you will find and filled with fun activities like fire and ice shows, bar hopping, tasting tours and more. During the day, trade in your skis for a bobsleigh ride, dog sledding, helicopter tours or even a relaxing day at the spa.
It’s easy to understand why Antarctica has been dubbed ‘Earth’s Last Frontier’: the raw beauty, abundant wilderness, other-worldly landscapes and dry climate make it like no place else on Earth. Follow in the trails of past explorers as you cross the daunting Drake Passage to make your way to hauntingly beautiful landscapes of the White Continent. There, frolicking penguins, curious seals, graceful whales and ever-scavenging albatross will be your new companions whilst you kayak through the Arctic waters and appreciate the glacial landscape. If you want to experience something few have attempted, brave the icy weather and jump into the waters of Deception Island, which are ‘warmed up’ by the surrounding volcanic crater.
Less than 8 hours away
Oman is as far away from the glitziness of Dubai as you can imagine. Au contraire, there are few places in the Middle East quite like Oman: spectacular mountains, coastal marvels and expansive deserts. You will not want for memorable activities whilst visiting Oman. Start off with a 4×4 mountain safari where you will see the country’s rugged peaks, spend a night in the desert and uncover traditional Bedouin lifestyle, revel in the beauty of the Musandam Peninsula aboard a dhow cruise – look out for dolphins too – and then relax by the beach and head underwater for some excellent, unspoilt diving.
October to November are actually peak periods to visit Nepal, but February is also a good option, particularly if you are looking to avoid some of the crowds. It’s the start of spring so days are longer, the weather is warming up (don’t though expect short-wearing kind of weather) and flowers are in bloom. Known for the towering Mount Everest, Nepal offers a dizzying array of trekking but is always a unique destination for wildlife spotting (the country has the second largest population of on-horned Rhino) and one of the most spiritual countries in the world. With the highest concentration of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Nepal offers the best of nature, wildlife and culture.
Sydney to Melbourne
Roughly 1,384 km separate Sydney and Melbourne: 1,384km of breathtaking coastline and fabulously deserted beaches, charming beachside towns, countless national parks to satiate your hunger for hiking, friendly encounters with the local wildlife and fresh seafood along the way. What’s not to love about a road trip from Sydney to Melbourne? A week is the perfect time to make the drive at a leisurely pace and stopping at the major sights on the way. If you are not pressed for time, prolong the adventure a little longer and make some time for hiking, abseiling and general adventure in the Blue Mountains outside of Sydney, and go on a helicopter ride over the famed 12 Apostles, less than 3 hours away from Melbourne.
Closer to home
With over 7,000 islands (many of which remain nameless) to choose from, the Philippines amaze by the sheer variety of landscapes and experiences you can come across. North of Manilla, venture to Baguio to visit tribal communities and trek through the famed rice-terraces of Banaue. South of the capital, you’ll admire Mayon, the country’s best-known volcano, then go trekking through Bulusan Volcano National Park’s lush rainforests where an abundance of waterfalls, hot springs and volcanic crater await. And if it is beaches you want, well then you’ve come to the right place! Panglao Island off Bohol has tantalizing beaches, Siargao Island home to the country’s best surfing spot and Palawan continuously tops best diving lists.
After many years of violent political climate, Cambodia has risen from its ashes and is unsurprisingly shaping itself to be one of South East Asia’s must-visit holiday destinations. The country’s most famed attraction, Angkor Wat, is just one of the many delights to be uncovered. Within vicinity of Siem Reap, lies one of the most intriguing lakes thanks to its reverse flow, the Tonle Sap. Venture off the beaten track to seldom visited, and authentic fishing villages of Kompong Kleang and Kompong Chnnang. The hustle and bustle of colonial Phnom Pehn will not fail in entertaining travellers with its buzzing dining scene and architecture. You will also have the chance to learn more about the hardships the country was put through whilst in the capital city – Tuol Sleng and the Killing Fields will educate you on the country’s turbulent past. And finally, for some R&R, Cambodia boasts some unspoilt and still undiscovered coastline.
South East Asia’s only landlocked country, Laos, has often been overlooked by travellers in favour of neighbouring Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia. Yet, the country has much to offer, and what it lacks in coastline, it more than makes up for it with its picturesque landscapes, laid-back vibe, uber friendly locals, French influence, hill-tribe villages and gilded temples. The mighty Mekong River flows through Laos and serves as the country’s lifeline and it’s a must-visit. As the country is still off the radar, it remains authentic and nothing epitomises this more than the giving of the alms that takes places every day. The three tier Kuang Si waterfalls just outside of Luang Prabang are more than worth the detour, and if you can’t get enough of beautiful nature, Si Phan Don (Four Thousand Islands) is bound to impress.
This article was brought to you by Lightfoot Travel, a Singapore-based luxury tour operator offering expert travel advice & inspiration, tailor-made itineraries & full booking services.