These places are extra special this year

  • By Dannon Har
  • | Jan 05, 2018

The more one travels, the more one knows how little they have traveled. Even though 2018 has fewer long weekends compared to last year, that’s not gonna stop us from jetting off to places near and far to explore more of this world. Here are some places you’ll wanna prioritize visiting this year as there’s something significant going on there, or simply because you’d want to check it out before it becomes a tourist spot.

Asunción, Paraguay

Now that Singapore passport holders no longer need a visa to enter Paraguay, this is as good a time as any to visit the landlocked South American nation of Paraguay. Start from it’s capital of Asunción. You’ll be hard-pressed to find any guides to this place, but that’s the beauty of it. Plus, the place is relatively easy on the wallet so feel free to be adventurous with food and drink and venture further afield to see some of the country’s natural sights.

Bintulu, Malaysia

While most think of Kuching first when heading to Sarawak, the industrious town of Bintulu should now be on your radar. As of the last week of 2017, AirAsia has begun four-weekly direct flights from Singapore to Bintulu Airport, making it more accessible than ever. In less than two hours, you’ll be able to land in the East Malaysian town for a quick getaway filled with affordable street eats at their daily pasar malam. Go during the Jul-Aug period and experience their week-long kite festival.

Broome, Australia

Perth and Margaret River may be Western Australia’s top places to visit, but way up north is the resort township of Broome that holds much to discover for intrepid travelers. It’s a great year to go as Silkair will be operating four direct return flights there in June (yes just four for now), cutting travel times from over 10 hours through a transfer in Perth to less than four hours. Be sure to laze on the pristine Cable Beach, check out dinosaur footprints, and of course, feast on craft beers and the freshest foods.

Dakar, Senegal

If you’ve never been on the African continent and safaris aren’t your thing, a trip to Dakar is in order. The newly opened Blaise Diagne International Airport is the perfect gateway for both city explorers heading to Dakar, as well as partygoers heading to the beach resorts. The booming music and nightlife scene here (featuring upbeat mbalax tunes) make for great nights spent dancing away.

Gangneung, South Korea

Anytime’s a good time to visit Seoul. But this year is perfect for a trip to Gangneung as well. The site of the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, Gangneung city is expected to welcome over a million people during the games in February. New high-speed rail lines linking Seoul to Gangneung have recently begun operations that have cut travel times from the capital to the eastern Korean city to just slightly over two hours. Plan ahead as most hotels and Airbnbs in Gangneung are likely at full occupancy already.

Mexico City, Mexico

From the rubble of last year’s earthquakes has risen a new wave of shops, restaurants and bars that are helping to revitalize the city. While it was already buzzing before, this is great news for urban explorers eager to have a taste of Mexican cuisine like never before, enjoy drinks among locals at a cantina, and also to experience historic cultural areas in a new light. The city has also been chosen to be 2018’s World Design Capital in recognition of its use of smart urban design.

Mergui, Myanmar

We’ve already touted much about this place since last year, and we’re still at it because good things are worth sharing again. The Mergui archipelago is probably the best hidden gem in Southeast Asia right now and is a great alternative to the Maldives. Enjoy the pristine beaches and quiet resorts while they’re still a challenge to get to (you’ll need a special pass and transport), and before the throngs arrive here once the infrastructure is in place.

Nusa Lembongan, Indonesia

Speaking of hidden gems, the quaint island of Nusa Lembongan just off Bali is one such place. Once you’re tired of the hustle at the overcrowded mainland, hop on a boat and rest easy at Nusa Lembongan’s peaceful resorts and beaches. Head for Dream Beach, one of the more quiet ones on the island, that’s perfect for snorkeling, diving and surfing on the clear blue waters. The island can also be done as a day trip from Bali.

Patagonia, Argentina and Chile

This remote corner of the planet may already be on your list, and it’s little wonder why. The region is a natural wonderland filled with lakes, glaciers and peaks, and encompasses travel through two countries divided by the Andes Mountains. It’s one of the best places to escape the bustle of city life and see flora and fauna at their finest. It takes lots of planning and time to go, but it’s well worth the effort.

Salalah, Oman

Among those who have already traveled much, Oman is the next smart place to be. Ranked one of the safest countries in the world (above Singapore, in fact), Oman has a lot to offer, and we’re not just talking about its capital Muscat. South of the country is Salalah, a small but relaxing destination that offers amazing beach views of the Arabian Sea. Stay at Hilton or Crowne Plaza hotels for a luxurious experience, or head over during the second half of the year and check out the soon-to-open Shaza Hotel and Resort.

Tokyo, Japan

You’ve already been to Tokyo, but in case you haven’t, this is the final (for real this time) year that the famed Tsukiji Fish Market will be in operation at its current location. You have until October to visit the world’s largest fish market in its current form before it gets relocated further east to Toyosu. Plus, it’s only two years before Tokyo 2020, and there’s much to experience already as the city goes into overdrive in anticipation for the global event.

Valletta, Malta

Malta is great to visit year-round, and especially so this year as its capital of Valletta has been designated as the European Capital of Culture for 2018, ensuring that the city will be a hive of cultural activity. There will be lots going on, but make sure to find time to enjoy Maltese cuisine (like rabbit stew) that is heavily influenced by Sicilian food, take in beautiful sea views by the harbour, and stroll along the many pedestrian streets.

Yekaterinburg, Russia

Russia’s the place to be this year to experience football fever like never before. And while there’ll be 11 Russian cities hosting the FIFA World Cup 2018 come Jun 14-Jul 15, the city of Yekaterinburg (Russia’s fourth largest) will be an interesting alternative to travel to besides Moscow and St. Petersburg. It sits on the border of Europe and Asia and is a haven for cultural aficionados to check out. You can also include it as a pitstop as part of a Trans-Siberian Railway trip.

BONUS
If you’re like us, you’ll know it’s the experience and not the destination that counts. There are many travel services these days that help create that once-in-a-lifetime trip you won’t soon forget, and you don’t even need to travel far if you so wish. Try these ones.


Inside a bubble tent. Credit: Black Tomato

Blink

We all know about glamping, but Blink, a service provided by luxury travel agency Black Tomato, takes it one step further by making it a completely bespoke adventure. Simply let their advisors know the kind of glamping you want—canvas lodges alongside pristine fjords, bubble tents perched on a cliff, yurts in the middle of a desert, or whatever it is you want—and leave the rest to them.

Anywhr

The big idea behind Anywhr is this: spontaneity. You don’t choose where to go. Instead, decide on the kind of travel you wanna do—Adventure, Getaway, or Experience—and leave the rest to the Anywhr team to handle. Simply show up at the airport on the day you’re supposed to travel and open the physical mail package sent to you earlier. Inside you’ll find all you need, including local currency for your destination. Did we also mention Anywhr’s founded by Singaporeans?