ONE month into the New Year and some of us are already thinking about taking a break from the rat race.
Unfortunately, with all the shifting and flux going in the world today, it might not be as simple as packing your bags and jetting off to some cool locale.
Trump’s America is a bit too hot to handle at the moment and Europe is a little too moody and foreboding for holidaymaking. The usual suspects like Tokyo, Hong Kong, and Bangkok are going to be jam-packed with tourists to be any fun. And if you are packing a breast pump best to steer clear of Germany too. Where else does that leave us?
So here are 9 alternative destinations to quench your wanderlust.
CITY FUN – Essaouira, Morocco
There is a lot more in the dessert than just sand! While the fanny-packed and sun-screened hordes are piling into Marrakesh, you can escape to Essaouira instead. You get all the Morocco essentials — the old city, market squares, great food, and brilliant colours — but with the added bonuses of a nice little beach and fewer pesky tourists (As opposed to the cultured tourist that you are!).
The medina (old city) is a must see to take in the history of the city, and so are the 18th century forts that line many parts of the coast. The beach, with cool breezes from the Atlantic, offers up a host of waterfront activities like kite surfing and windsurfing.
There are wineries to visit and also the local fish market for seafood enthusiasts. Music fans also have the Gnaoua World Music Festival to look out for from 29 June to 1 July 2017.
GREAT OUTDOORS – Komodo National Park, Indonesia
As the name implies, the fearsome Komodo dragon is the king of this natural reserve that spans three major islands (and numerous smaller ones). Shed your urban trappings and take a trek on the wild side and check out the vibrant flora and fauna at this reserve. You may want to watch out for the Komodo dragon especially if it’s looking hungry.
Once you are done exploring on land, strap on your scuba gear and dive into the seas. The pristine waters around the islands offer a host of breath-taking sights for those who venture below the shimmering surface. The beautiful marine environment is home to turtles, whales, manta rays, tuna, and even sharks. Alternatively you can setoff on a kayak expedition from the islands’ beautiful white and pink beaches.
PARTY! – Tel Aviv, Israel
Ibiza is a bit too Euro-trash and Las Vegas is as fake as Trump’s rug. Those “in the know” however, compare unassuming Tel Aviv to the likes of Barcelona and Cancun.
Daytime offers beachside lounging with refreshing umbrella drinks, sun tanning, and beautiful bods. But the city really lets its hair down once the sun sets and all the party animals come out to prowl.
There is a vibrant bar scene in the Namal district and in and around Ben Yahuda Street, an array of dance, electronic, and rock clubs also pop up all over the city, constantly vying to outdo each other with more thumping beats and frantic dancing you can handle in one night. The trendy live music scene also offers anything from pop to reggae from music festivals to small gigs. There are also day long beach parties that start in the afternoon and rage on into the wee hours of the morning. Don’t forget the sunscreen and keep the hangover remedies close by.
If you fly the rainbow flag, the liberal city’s Pride Parade is a must. One of the largest in the world, the week long celebration attracts crowds more than 200, 000 strong and is an experience even if you don’t swing that way. Stand up for the right to love and show your support!
WATERWAYS – Pandaw River Expedition
Sail into the rivers of Burma, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos to discover nature and a more indigenous Asia. Forget the shopping malls, food streets, and other usual fare from these neighbouring nations and discover their rural backwaters.
Find out more about it HERE.
SLOPES – Mzaar, Lebanon
Surprise, surprise — there is snow in the Middle East too! Mzaar is the region’s largest ski resort and its slopes can rival any in France and Italy. There are more than 40 hills that run 80km long for you to carve up on skis or on a snowboard. There are also cross-country trails and many are friendly enough even for beginners.
And Beirut is an hour away, and offers other tourism opportunities as well.
Be warned, a trip to Lebanon may raise a few eyebrows at US customs if you are heading there!
INTO THE UNKOWN – North Korea
A trip to the secretive and reclusive North Korea may lack the glitz and glamour of most holiday locales but it’s definitely worth the effort just for the story and for the comfort of knowing you’re being watched!
Hero worship, fake cities, alternate history museums, and the curiosity that is the North Korean populace are just some of the “attractions”.
Read our own yarn about it HERE.
CULTURE TRAIL – Machu Picchu, Peru
The Lost City of the Incas is regarded as one of the great wonders of the world, and is often on bucket lists. Hit the Inca Trail to the great ruins of Machu Picchu to take in the splendour of a world long lost to the history books.
Hidden in the Andes, historians believe that the Inca abandoned the ancient city in the 1500s. Prominent features include the Sun Gate that leads into the ruins from the Inca Trail, the Temple of the Sun — a technical and architectural marvel even today, and the Inti Watana — an ancient sundial or calendar. Lastly, The Temple of the Sun and the Room of Three Windows are believed to be the main ceremonial features at the site.
While there, it is also a good idea to pop by the city of Cusco, which was once the capital of the Inca empire and Choquequirao, another archaeological site, in the Sacred Valley of the Incas.
SMOKING HOT – Havana, Cuba
Since the embargo was lifted a couple of years ago, Cuba is slowly becoming a fashionable getaway for trendsetting travellers.
Fascinating architecture, a kaleidoscope of colours, and an equally vibrant people and culture are just some of the things that await the intrepid traveller. The streets are filled with art, music, and dancing and invite you to partake at every turn.
Enjoy the food and drink but also remember to experience the old world charms of the city, since there are very few new world attractions.
Read more about what Havana has to offer HERE.
THE OTHER PYRAMIDS – Teotihuacan, Mexico
The City of the Gods is home to not only one of Mesoamerica’s largest and most significant archaeological sites but it’s also a place of great magic and arcane knowledge. Legends suggest that the gods of eons past gathered here to map the destiny of man.
More than 2000 years old, the origins and history of this UNESCO Heritage site remains unclear but historians believe that it was inhabited by a number of indigenous American cultures until the 8th century.
The majestic pyramids that line the Avenue of the Dead at Teotihuacan are the main attraction — The Temple of the Sun is the largest and the smaller Temple of the Moon sits in the middle. The most sacred to the ancient Mesoamerican religion, however, is the Citadel that was once a temple to serpent god Quetzalcoatl.
If you do not find mystical knowledge walking through the site, remember to pop into the Teotihuacan Museum to check out the significant artefacts unearthed in the area over the years.