It’s that time of the year again to look back at old reflections and start planning for the year ahead. 2015 was beyond awesome cause I was travelling almost every month! (Click on the destination for more)
- Dec: Iceland & Korea
- Nov: Koh Samui
- Oct: Yoga in India
- Sep: Queensland, Australia
- Aug: Bangkok, Thailand
- Jun-Jul: In SG cause of Dance practice
- May: Central & Western Turkey
- Apr: Queensland, Australia
- Mar: Phu Quoc, Vietnam
- Feb: In SG for Chinese New Year
- Jan: Digital Nomad stint at Phuket, Thailand
If 2015 was the year where I made travel part and parcel of my life, 2016 will be the one for creating better content and travelling to more exotic places.
Here’s a look at the top 5 places on my travel bucket list.
(1) Okinawa, Japan
Apparently Japan has a secret. Call me sua-ku (or country bumpkin), but I’ve only recently discovered Okinawa as a hidden gem! Most of us are familiar with Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, and Hokkaido, but little did I know that there is such a beautiful group of islands at Okinawa.
Situated in the South China Sea between mainland Japan and Taiwan, Okinawa is kind of like Japan but not really. It has all the things you love about Japan – amazing food, courteous people, rich culture, and breathtaking sceneries. But it doesn’t have the crowds and craziness of the other popular cities.
Imagine enjoying the cherry blossoms in a more relaxed environment, away from the throngs of other tourists. It seems more authentic. Okinawa also kind of combines the best of both worlds with it’s laid back island atmosphere and Japanese hospitality.
I really like this series of videos by Okinawa’s tourism board as I can resonate with the whole idea of quitting your job to travel authentically and find yourself.
How can one not be interested to visit the happiest place on earth? While that particular happiness index study can be debated till the end of time, one thing for sure is that Bhutan is a pretty exclusive country. There’s a strict rein on tourism, with limited visas and fixed fees for tourists. It isn’t exactly a budget destination, but I guess that keeps the rowdy tourists away.
With a carbon neutral pledge, and laws to keep 60% of the country forested, Bhutan is probably the most environmentally friendly developing nations. They even banned plastic bags! I’m guessing one can enjoy views of stunning Buddhist monasteries amidst backdrops of pristine Himalayan peaks.
Oh yes and I heard that Bhutanese food is spicy too. Just the way my tummy likes it. :P
(3) North Korea
As one of the world’s most mysterious nations, North Korea is one of those places that you hear a lot about on the media but hardly have a chance to visit. Now on its 3rd hereditary ruler, its interesting how things are still going after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Philippines is the only Southeast Asian country that I’ve yet to visit. For some reason, I’ve never had the opportunity to take a trip there.
With more than 7000 islands, many are still pretty untouched. One thing I really want is to go diving at one of their many world class dive sites. While there is plenty of controversy surrounding some of their tourism practices (like the hand feeding of Whale Sharks), it would be a shame to skip the country just because of those.
I’ve heard that filipinos are one of the most friendly bunch of people too. Lots of music and dancing. Plus there will hardly be any language barrier as most people speak english!
Cliff jumping at Ariel’s Point, Boracay. Credit: Keith Mui
After spending 12 days hunting for the Northern Lights in Iceland, I realised that a much better place would be Norway as the weather conditions are generally better. But more than just the aurora borealis, Norway is another outdoor paradise with plenty of fjords and hikes to explore. I can already imagine myself kayaking through the scenic fjords slowly. In summer, I’ll probably be able to hike non stop thanks to the midnight sun too.
There is a very good design/art culture in Tromsø which should be interesting as well.
It’s pretty expensive though, so time to start saving up! I wonder if there is a budget way to travel the Scandinavian countries.
What are some of your travel bucket list destinations for this year? Do share them below! Would love to see your itineraries if you’ve been to any of the places above too.