Singapore Tatler Best of Singapore
ROADS LESS TRAVELLED
Put these delightful and intriguing destinations on your travel list for 2019.
In today’s world of increasing connectivity, it can be a little hard for vacationers— especially urbanites who want exciting new experiences but aren’t keen on roughing it out—to truly get away and explore places that haven’t yet made the rounds online. So we’ve asked the experts to share some of the best places to visit that check all the necessary requirements.
REFRAME YOUR VIEW OF EUROPE
“Exclusive, out-of-reach areas are fewer and further between now, thanks to the Internet and modernisation, and sharing about them always presents a dilemma as we want to keep them untouched,” says Lim Hui-juan, co-founder and COO of Quotient Travelplanner. “However, while it is true that travellers are increasingly drawn to ‘ less touristy’ locations, many are unprepared to be out of their comfort zones for an entire holiday, which more remote locales inevitably demand.
“We bridge this by designing itineraries that include pampering touches— this usually means multi-destination trips— or destinations with unspoilt qualities that still support urbanites’ expectations. One example is the Faroe Islands: gorgeous, rugged landscapes, hardly any tourists, and perfect mobile connectivity. You can enjoy the empty vastness, take good long walks exploring peaks and waterfalls, meet the locals, and try wind-dried lamb or whale—all while being comfortably connected to the Internet. We also recommend road trips between Copenhagen and Oslo along Sweden’s west coast, or a villagehopping experience in the Catalonia or Languedoc-roussilon regions.”
Why travel with Quotient Travelplanner instead of other bespoke travel concierges? “We appeal to and attract clients who view holidays as more than just a trip to ‘get out there’ and ‘see or do something new’,” Lim says. “Our shared understanding of travel as a means to connect with the world and embark on a journey of discovery—both outward and inward—helps us help our clients plan meaningful, impactful journeys. They then return home energised and inspired to tackle existing and new challenges, whether by taking on a new approach at work or making a commitment to living more sustainably.”
EXPERIENCE WONDER IN ETHIOPIA AND ANTARCTICA
“Despite the world becoming much more accessible, there are still many unspoilt or untouched areas that we recommend travelling to,” says Chang Theng Hwee, CEO of Scott Dunn Asia, adding, “We have excellent relationships with our suppliers, who we work closely with to ensure each itinerary is completely tailormade to our guests’ preferences.”
Sharing his take on destinations that elicit wonder and awe, Chang says: “A personal favourite of mine is Antarctica. An extraordinary wilderness of ice sheets, glaciers, and barren desserts that have formed over millennia, it’s home to huge penguin colonies, seabirds, and seals. The scenery changes constantly here, and the 24-hour daylight in summer affords endless opportunities to capture it all on camera if you’re a keen photographer. An expedition cruise to this remarkable place is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and would combine well with Argentina or Chile as part of a truly epic itinerary.
“Another unique destination is Ethiopia, a country that has developed its own unique religion, calendar, and language. With a fascinating variety of ethnic groups and tribespeople to visit and learn about, and stunning landscapes that include the Simien Mountains and Bale Mountains National Park, discovering the treasures of this unspoilt corner of Africa is an intrepid traveller’s dream.
“Travel to Ethiopia in January and coincide with the annual Timkat ceremony, one of the most important festivals in the Ethiopian Orthodox calandar—you can witness this part of their unique culture with the rugged beauty of some of Africa’s finest mountain scenery as a fitting backdrop.”
RESPONSIBLE LUXURY IN RWANDA
Rwanda is currently a hotspot, notes Lim Hui Ting, co-founder and director of travel design at Uniq Luxe. However, that doesn’t mean it’s crowded—the government seems keen to keep tourism in the country more or less exclusive to the well-heeled set, partly in a bid to ensure that the booming economy doesn’t irrevocably damage the country’s ecology and wildlife.
What might a Uniq Luxe itinerary there look like? “Arrive at dawn in Kigali, Africa’s cleanest city ( plastic bags are banned in this country). Via a scenic helicopter flight to One&only Nyungwe House, you’ll come to see why Rwanda is known as the Land of a Thousand Hills. Viewed from within a tea plantation ringed by ancient rainforests, the surreal sight of sunlight illuminating the morning mist will stay with you forever. From here, you can enjoy a challenging ranger-led hike into Nyungwe Forest, hacking a path through the bush in search of wild chimpanzees, or pick the more leisurely Canopy Walk for wonderful bird’s- eye views.
“The highlight of the trip would be gorilla trekking at Volcanoes National Park. Only 96 permits are issued daily, to limit the animals’ exposure to humans. And while your guides will ensure you keep a seven-metre distance from the gorillas, it is not uncommon for the curious apes to approach awestruck visitors for a better look themselves.
“A perfect way to end a trip would then be a stay at the stunning Bisate Lodge, whose ultra-luxurious villas’ unusual design allows them to blend beautifully into its natural surrounds. The property’s commitment to sustainability has garnered several conservation awards since its opening in 2017.”