Are you ready for new travel adventures this year? Here are some trips to consider!
1. SOLAR ECLIPSE, INDONESIA
On March 9, parts of Indonesia will experience a total solar eclipse, including Ternate in the remote Maluku spice islands (up to 2 minutes and 44 seconds) and Palu in Sulawesi (about 2 minutes and 50 seconds). Indonesia is the only land crossed by the eclipse, according to Astro Trails (www.astro-trails.com), which runs eclipse tours.
Solar eclipse cruises will also originate in Singapore, such as an itinerary from Tropical Sails (www.tropicalsails.com) that has an eclipse sighting at sea, besides sojourns in Lombok and the Komodo islands. In Singapore, a partial eclipse will be visible. Eclipses occur every 18 months or so, usually in different parts of the world.
2. THE OTHER AFRICA
Where to start? Beyond its extraordinary safaris, Africa stuns with its isolated beaches, otherworldly vistas, pure starlight, ancient cultures and places that evoke that “I-never-knew” reaction from travellers.
A tiny sampling: Trek among weathered pinnacles and quiver trees in Namibia’s Fish River Canyon, the second largest river canyon after America’s Grand Canyon. Relax on Chaves Beach in Cape Verde. Gaze at the Southern Cross in the star-lit desert sky of Namibia.
Then there is the ice-capped equatorial mountain of Kilimanjaro in Tanzania; ancient churches in Lalibela, Ethiopia; and the Tanzanian island of Zanzibar with its African-Arab essence, bluest ocean and stylish resorts such as the Singapore-owned The Residence Zanzibar.
3. WELLNESS VACATIONS
The more stressful modern life becomes, the more wellness travel is rising as a travel trend. The Global Wellness Institute estimates that wellness tourism is expected to grow 8.3 per cent a year – twice the pace of international trips overall (4.1 per cent).
Wellness is a catch-all that encompasses multi- day walking holidays, spa vacations and even “welltality” when hotels, among them the Four Seasons group, create wellness experiences from guided scenic runs to outdoor yoga.
The Singapore-based Como group owns wellness brand Como Shambhala that hosts wellness retreats at its luxury properties worldwide.
4. RAIL JOURNEYS
While the Trans-Siberian rail trip across Russia is a journey of a lifetime, also think about other “cruise-on- wheels” choices.
Paveway Explorer Holidays and Country Holidays are among Singapore tour specialists that offer rail holidays. Examples are the private Tsar’s Gold Train that traverses Siberia and a Silk Route itinerary covering Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan.
There are also rides across Rajasthan in India, the Australia outback and Northern Spain.
5. ITALY’S SWEET LIFE
Italy is much loved for its luscious food and wine, luxury fashion brands, magnificent scenery, la dolce vita or the sweet life, and ancient civilisation inherent not only in the eternal city Rome but every other city.
Whether the traveller is motoring along the splendid Amalfi Coast, lingering in the wine towns of cypress-clad Tuscany, walking atop the cliffs of Cinque Terre or discovering hidden villages, Italy is an embarrassment of riches that rewards first-time and frequent visitors alike.
6. GEM-LIKE SRI LANKA
For the traveller with many passions, the beauty of Sri Lanka is that an impressive array of experiences is possible within the compact country.
Elephant safaris, whale watching, beach holidays, living an imagined colonial life in lush tea plantations, stylish stays in little boutique resorts in secret places, trekking on hills, canoeing on lakes – the country has these and much more.
Sri Lanka is hugely diverse – with different altitudes, landscapes and wildlife, for starters – so it is a little akin to travelling to half a dozen countries on a single trip.
7. POST-TRAUMA PLACES
Last year, calamity struck several popular destinations. Earthquakes afflicted Nepal and Mount Kinabalu, Paris endured not one but two terrorist attacks, Bangkok’s Erawan Shrine was bombed, currency trouble roiled Greece and Mers affected tourism in South Korea.
Singaporeans are known to be super cautious – and also wealthy enough to have a choice of destinations – so they tend to skip distressed destinations even when these places are already in recovery mode.
However, savvy travellers know that when a beloved destination is on the mend, especially if it is one with a strong tourism track record, they can score bargains. Attractions are also less crowded, locals are friendlier – and travellers play an uplifting role in traumatised countries by holidaying there.
Lee Siew Hua, The Straits Times, January 3, 2016