Top 10 places to travel to post-covid
Basking by the waterfront, Cavtat is beloved by tourists for its white-sand beaches and crystal clear sea. Upon arrival, you have the choice of lodging in white mason villas and apartments with many having beautiful panoramic views of the entire sea front. Popular activities you can do there include enjoying a nice mid-day swim or scuba diving out in the blue waters; For those who simply want to enjoy the sea without getting yourself wet however, rent out boats were you can cruise along the ripples and be secluded with your lover or friends out in the serene. Want to just take a nice stroll instead? There is a 7km promenade of pine trees stretching out across the water. Lining along are numerous bars and restaurants like the La Boheme for its lovely seaside view and Ankora for its wine and cocktails.
But if one does get tired from the extravagance around, seek for the heart of this city in its rich historical sites. Cavtat was founded by the Greeks in the 6th century BC under the name of ‘Epidaurus’. It became Roman colony in 228 BC and lastly became part of the Republic of Ragusa in the 15th century. This millennium-long history shows itself in popular sites like the Rector’s palace, which was built in its Gothic style, but it also harmoniously combines Renaissance and Baroque elements. Similarly there are other sites like the church of St. Nikola and the Franciscan monastery as well, worth a look for some notable early Renaissance paintings and a wonderful Bukovac canvas depicting the Madonna and Child gazing at Cavtat at dusk. Visiting the countryside of the city can let you experience the culture of Dubrovnik like the Homeland Museum in the village Čilipi well-known for their embroideries and the fortress Sokol which towers high above the mountains and possesses iron-clad fortifications.
Nepal has been described to be a paradise on earth, with cultures and traditions that has withstood millenniums. There are many temples and monuments all over Nepal that are holy and have their own importance such as the Pashupatinath temple in the capital of Kathmandu, one of the most sacred Hindu shrines in the world. It is believed to have been built as early as 400AD and it is where you can experience the cremation of the deceased and holy baths that devotees take in the river Bagmati. Next to it is also a small forest where one can spot deers and monkeys protected in the enclosure. Another prominent place includes the Bhaktapur Durbar Square with the Lions Gate, Golden Gate, Statue of King Bhupatindra Malla, and numerous art galleries showcasing the histories of time.
If you prefer to connect with mother nature as well, visits to Pokhara like the Phewa Lake would leave you awe-struck -- A beautiful lake with mountain peaks as its backdrop and the Barahi temple that rests itself in the middle of the lake. Take a boat from the shores and paddle to the temple and see the reflections of Mt. Machhapuchhre and Annapurna painted across the waters. Or be dwarfed by the Davis Fall with the sheer power of the gushing torrents as the sunlight reflects beautiful colours off of it. The Chitwan national park is also famous for its rustic countryside vibes with spectacular views like the gorges of Narayani and the farmland of Dhadhing. Other activities that you can do is to visit the elephant safari or take a stroll through its jungle walk as the sun falls and cast a piercing red through the treetops. Lastly let’s not forget about the adventurers out there who want to challenge themselves. The Everest base camp trek is where you push and reward yourself with the spectacular view of Mount Everest and the beautiful reaches of the Himalayas. The trekking is anchored by guides with decades of experience and with fine tunings of allowing you to slowly acclimatize through the trek easily. For the first time, feast yourself to magnificent glaciers like the mighty Khumbu glacier or take a quiet breather through the Sherpa villages and monasteries that meditate on the mountain edge.
The Giza pyramid complex is one of the greatest architectural mysteries of human civilization and is no doubt one of the most well-known sight-seeing sites (and an extremely photogenic one). However some people do not know that these iconic marvels can be seen in an entirely new perspective as well with the spectacular sound and light show at night. While one can appreciate the scale of structure normally, it is only when its shadow stretches and blends into the night sky can we appreciate a new sense of scale and history of these monoliths. Other historical marvels include the Alexandria library, that houses a planetarium, three museums and a laboratory and also the Citadel of Qaytbay which was built on the site of the ancient pharaohs of Alexandria.
However if you want to enjoy the desert, then travel with the camels that hitch you on their backs and lose themselves across the mesmeric sand dunes. You can even find guides that will give you an overnight tour where one can even meditate under the starry night while feeling the soft sand crumble beneath your fingers. You can have a change of pace and cruise along the nile river or even embark on a thrilling hot air balloon ride where one can see Giza in all of its glory. Lastly, for those that prefer the city nights as well, Topaz bazaar and the Papyrus museum are where you can buy hieroglyphics or trinkets with exquisite craftsmanship as gifts to your loved ones at home.
Saariselka is a winter wonderland that is just waiting for you right now. The first snowflakes usually fall in October-November and continue all the way to May, which means that the snowfall has accumulated the most from now to May and it is the most beautiful time to travel there now. With thick snow naturally means skiing and playgrounds like the Saariselka ski and sport resort allows not only lessons for beginners to learn but also difficult courses for more daring professionals. Speaking of drifting through the snow, reindeer sledge safaris and Husky safaris allows you dash through the icy carpet with the help of our adorable companions. See them up close, feed them and even learn about their cultural significance as you share a cup of hot drink by the side.
Visit the Amethyst mines where you can hear fascinating stories for anyone interested in mineralogy and even pick your own beautiful gem for you to bring back home. Or enjoy some relaxing ice fishing where you can chill with your friends and families, with hot beverages provided that can allow you to catch a breather in your exciting trip. After a long day, take a rest in the cozy Igloo villages where one can gaze upon the starry night as one can feel like a true nomad or they can enjoy the more traditional cabins with saunas that can help keep you warm. Lastly, being in Saariselka is all about discovering the secrets of the land, and one of the most famous adventures travellers like to partake in is the Aurora hunt. Be taken through the snowy landscape as you disembark from your forest camps in search of the mystical northern lights. The experience guides will know the best places and hill tops to seek these surreal phenomena and assure you that even if you do miss these lights, you will be awarded with a moon-lit wonderland sprawling across the horizons. And for the chance that you do, it will surely be a sight that will send chills down your spine
Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
One of the seven natural wonders of the world, the mammoth of waterfalls lie in Zimbabwe -- The Victoria Falls. As the torrential water plummets into a seeming abyss, one can witness rainbows and even at night time, ‘moonbows’, night rainbows as created by the lunar rays reflecting off of the rising mist. At the Victoria falls lie one of the most “dangerous” spots on Earth as well called the “Devil’s Pool” where one can swim to a shallow pool of water right at the edge of the falls! Luckily, there are guides that will ensure your safety, allowing you to take seemingly death-defying selfies with the rainbow as your backdrop. If you want, you can even take a deeper look into the abyss by helicopter as well.
However, Victoria Falls is not the only attraction to look forward to. Elephant's Walk Shopping and Artist Village is a vibrant mix of local artists, retailers, artisan studios, all working within the cool tropical garden courtyard. See silver-smiths use the art of lost wax casting, or be intrigued by the taxidermist before exploring the organic herb garden where one can learn about the traditional herbs used by the locals. You can even enjoy a freshly brewed Zimbabwean style coffee and snack. Visit the Snake Park and Crocodile Park where you can see and even hold some of our reptilian friends. Observe more wildlife in their natural habitats in the Siduli hides where you can watch elephants, warthogs and guinea fowls just to name a few
Lastly, if one wants to get their blood pumping, dare yourself to swing across the 108 meter deep Zambezi gorge, and conquer your demons as you do White-Water-Rafting along white water rapids in your raft boat. Not to say the least, there are canoeing, kayaking and various other water sports that are enticing any thrill-seeker who chooses to face the currents.
Gansu can be said to be where the world’s four civilisations met -- China, India, Greece and Islam. It cradles villages in the vast deserts to monasteries high up on the Tibetan mountains. Dun Huang is one such place, famous for its grottoes and frescoes. Enter the Mogao caves located on the silk road. It preserves one of the largest and most richly endowed Buddist art collections from as old as 1600 years ago. The unique artistic style of Dunhuang art is not only the amalgamation of Han Chinese artistic styles, but also a complex weaving of cultures from ancient Indian and Gandharan customs and also the inspirations of the Tibetans and the Turks. Travel down the Mingsha mountains as well with sand dunes that can “sing”; When one slides down the sand, a sound akin to traditional chinese instruments is said to echo through the valleys. The crescent spring is also an oasis found in the middle of the desert shaped like a crescent moon, a miracle renown for never drying up in the shifting sand.
Zhangye shows diverse natural views varying from snow mountains to forests, grasslands, wetlands and deserts. It is also one of the filming locations of Disney’s Mulan, where Mulan is riding across a colorful mountain ridge of Zhangye Danxia National Geological Park. It is also home to the Dafo temple, meaning Giant Buddha Temple, with a monumental Buddha statue said to be 34.5 meters long and 7.5 meters wide. Tourists visit there as they find peace in the calm expression of the Buddha.
Lastly, vast grasslands, national nature reserves and Tibetan temples lie in the province of Gannan. There, you can experience Tibetan culture and enjoy the typical Tibetan plateau scenery. The Labrang Monastery is home to the largest number of monks outside of Tibet Autonomous Region. It has the longest corridor of prayer wheels over the world, with over 1,700 scripture wheels. You can also have a special local meal consisting of a bowl of milk tea, boiled mutton and highland barley wine. Langmu Temple is also a tranquil town where Tibetans, Hui Muslims, and Han Chinese live peacefully together.
Preserving natural reserves, waterfront villages, hot springs and the freshest seafood in the country is Hokkaido. Sitting on the island right off Japan, it is one of the best places to travel to even for their own locals. Noboribetsu is its famous hot spring resort, housing many ryokans with its own open air baths for one to stave off your fatigue. It is also famous for its hiking trails where at the end, it rewards your hard work with natural hot springs like the Oyunumagawa natural foot bath. The bear park and the marine park are also places where you can meet and even take a nice photo with our rare arctic friends.
Sapporo is also one of the highlights of Hokkaido as well, boasting one of the most beautiful mountain top city-scapes you can ever see on Mt. Moiwa. Simply take the ropeway up and enjoy the city lights sprawl beneath the moon light. Take a stroll at Maruyama park as well which leaves something new to be discovered for all four seasons; The blooming cherry trees during spring, the cascading red and gold maple leaves during autumn and lastly the wintry snow carpets glistening during the winter. And lastly for those city-dwellers, enter Susukino, one of Japan’s largest red-light districts, and indulge in restaurants, bars and hotels as much as you want
Furano is not a site to be missed as well. It cultivates myriads of flower blossoms colouring the vast fields like a striped canvas. It holds the ningle terraces which seems like a fairy tale coming to life. Lastly, it houses the Garden of Wind which seemed like a frame coming alive from a Ghibli movie.
Chiang Mai, Thailand
The temple ‘Wat Phra That Doi Suthep’ is Chiang Mai’s most famous temple, and also the most sacred temple in northern Thailand. Learn the story of Buddha and his followers who has been painted on gorgeous murals across the temple walls and pray to the large buddha statues resting on top of golden altars with dragon carvings. One can reach the temple by hiking up the mountain or hopping into a songthaew, a red truck. The view on top is equally as sacred as well, with its sunsets as tranquil as the monks overlooking the city.
Doi Pui has some of the most beautiful waterfalls but one of its hottest attractions for Doi Pui must be Hmong Tribal Village. Learn about the history of the various ethnicities that have settled in the Thai mountains in past generations. You can even dress up in their silver-embroidered dresses and purchase their hand-woven textiles, handmade jewelry and tea. Stop for lunch at one of the small restaurants overlooking the beautiful gardens below and order a hot bowl of khao soi as well, Chiang Mai's most famous dish. Doi Inthanon, known as “the roof of Thailand”, is the highest peak in Thailand. Trek and hike up the mountains for its waterfalls and hill tribe villages and witness magnificent sunrise and sunsets that colour the mountain clouds. There are also two beautiful pagodas built in honor of King Bhumibol Adulyadej and Queen Sirikit, making the mountain a sacred resting ground.
But if one is tired from their journey, Chiang Mai Gate Market has some of the best street food in Chiang Mai. Every night, vendors set up at the Chiang Mai Gate and sell everything from pad kra pow, a spicy meat and basil dish, to the perfect dessert of fresh mango sticky rice topped with coconut milk. Or laze away under the Thai sun at Huay Tung Tao. Surrounded by pastoral hills and a sedated lake, you can even rent a hut on the lake for the equivalent of a few dollars and a huge tube to lounge on in the water with the fresh fish drifting through the wind from the local kitchens.
Singapore’s is a small city state that has prospered rapidly since the second world war. See a small malay village transform into a minted city state through shopping paradises like Orchard Road and Clarke Quay, with fine dining and high-end brands. Enjoy the beautiful city-scape atop of the famous Marina Bay sands. Or briefly enter the pastoral paradise, Gardens by the bay, and wander into the cloud Forest Dome to see the world’s tallest indoor waterfall and also the Supertree Grove to witness futuristic, tree-like flowers.
Though Singapore’s may seem like a playground only for silk-stocking tourists, you can also enjoy the same kind of bustle in their smaller but more culturally-enriched districts. Deservingly named a ‘melty pot’, Singapore has many ethnicities with their own ethnic streets. Once an enclave for Singapore’s Chinese immigrant population, Chinatown is a unique blend of chinese traditions and modern influences with its historic temples and medicinal halls sitting alongside bold new bars and lifestyle shops. This age-old precinct is also home to myriad different cultures and is the only Chinatown in the world to boast a Buddhist temple, a mosque and a Hindu temple along a single street. It is also a great place for foodies. Lovers of culinary invention should visit A Noodle Story, an innovative hawker stall at Amoy Street Food Centre which blends the unique Singapore taste with its Ramen dishes. Little India is the same with their mix of Hindu and Chinese temples, mosques and churches. Visit the Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple, one of Singapore’s oldest Hindu temples and a distinctive landmark in the heart of Little India. You can visit Jothi Store & Flower Shop which has an impressive five full floors of ethnic products, from jasmine garlands to Indian cosmetics.
One of the most unique paradises in Singapore is its sister island, just a short boat ride away. Pulau Ubin, which in malay means "Granite Island," a peaceful, rustic area where tourists can enjoy the pastoral forests and diverse wildlife. It used to be a quarry town with a rich historical background, but now has been transformed to a public hotspot for trekking and biking enthusiasts to explore the beautiful nature reserves brimming with animals like monkeys and birds. The island is also home to the Chek Jawa Wetlands, which contain a coral reef teeming with sea life.
The last place on this list can be described as the last great wilderness -- A place free of anything man-made. With tourists visiting even the most quiet peaks of mountains, Antarctica will soon become a place where even buildings will be constructed and its ecosystems endangered. But as for now, that is still not the time. As for now, travel to the icy paradise is still coming out of its infancy stage and the travel industries there are very careful in conserving the environment, till the point where its travellers must even wash their boots before landing to prevent a pathological invasion. It is now when the lands are still pristine, brimming with wide expanses of life should we try to catch a glimpse of that wilderness.
Home to the kings of the icebergs, the penguins, out of 17 species only 2 solely exist at Antartica; The Emperor Penguins and the Adelie Penguins. With up to 250,000 of them gathering in one breeding area, there is no shortage of our non-feathered friends to observe in their natural habitat. Its life under the sea has no shortage of amazing critters as well. From crabs, an albino octopus, and even new fish species still being discovered by researchers, maybe you yourself can accidentally witness a new alien species come to life. It is also home to the most unique mammals on planet earth. Watch whales and dolphins perform magnificent dances in the sea or seals which simply bask in the 24 hour sun as they rest ashore.
There are no short of activities as well. One can even partake in polar kayaking. Paddle through the frozen desert just for a chance to come face to face with our mammal friends. One can even ski through the snowy expanse now with the help of your guides. Or camp in tents in the chilly winter. Without a doubt, it is a place where you can challenge yourself to do things you can never do anywhere else.