In a day or two, December will be upon us and after which, we could begin to count in the days leading up to the new year. Being Singaporeans, we are pretty fortunate to come from one of the most affluent countries in the world. This allows many of us to actually travel the world. I am thoroughly fortunate myself to have seen a fair bit of the world and here are my top 3 favourite places that I would recommend visiting.
1. Banff/Jasper National Park, Alberta.
The names may not ring a bell to many but if you were to head to google images, you might recognize a picture or two from a travel magazine or the infamous National Geographic magazine. Banff and Jasper are both located in the province of Alberta in Canada. They are both National Parks of which there are many in Canada.
For us Singaporeans we can’t escape the fact that we are all city-dwellers. Born and bred that way. If you want a complete change from towering CBD buildings, HDB flats and condos, Banff/Jasper are probably one of the most scenic places you could ask for. Now mind you, I’ve seen my fair share of ‘scenic places’ but a visit to Banff this past July completely puts Banff and Jasper at the top of my list for ‘must-sees before you die’.
Honestly, breaking out a thesaurus to describe the sheer beauty of these 2 National Parks does not come close at all to taking in the view with your own eyes. The absolute vastness of the coniferous trees lining the pristine mountain ranges of The Rockies stretching for miles on end in front of you coupled with the tranquility of the turquoise lakes is simply breathtaking. Summer is an awesome time to go but remember it is high-peak season and will be packed with tourists. Winter is another great time to visit for those of you willing to bear well below sub-zero temperatures. However, winter offers a completely different view. A winter wonderland I might say.
If you are planning on checking out Canada, please do yourself a favour and make a trip to Banff/Jasper and of course, don’t leave home without your camera.
2. Santorini, Greece
When people think Greece, images of towering beams and temples of Gods and Goddesses might pop into mind. If you are planning a trip to Athens to check out the main attractions, be sure to make a trip to one of the surrounding Greek Islands. Mykonos is probably one of the more well known Greek Island but is obviously filled with tourists. A very similar island is the island of Santorini located south of the Aegean Sea.
Santorini is actually what remains of an enormous volcanic explosion. Good times to visit are between June to Sept where the weather gets hot but still is dry, as opposed to the hot humid weather that one finds in Singapore. If you are looking for that classic blue and white look commonly associated with Greek buildings, you would be happy to know that Santorini is filled with such buildings. Offering gorgeous views overlooking the volcanic caldera as well as spectacular sunsets, you can easily rent a smart car to check out the entire island or rent an ATV and do it the down and dirty way!
The fact that most of the accommodation is located on the slopes of the caldera (what’s left after the volcanic explosion) is what sets this island apart from regular beach resorts and heck, where else can you find gorgeous blue and white buildings overlooking the Aegean sea!
3. Kapalai, Sabah
Now who does not fancy a chill, relaxed beach resort kind of holiday? Not all holidays are about mad rushing to check out attractions and get in all the cheap shopping. Sometimes, a laid back holiday is called for especially after a long hard year of work. Firstly, I for one have not been to the likes of the Maldives or the Caribbean or the more famous Thai Islands such as the Phi Phi Islands. However, based on pictures from those locations, I would say Kapalai located in Eastern Sabah comes pretty close if not on par. Granted Kapalai is typically frequented by scuba divers but that should not stop you from spending a couple of days at this secluded resort built on stilts located over a reef pretty much in the middle of nowhere. It is fairly remote and requires a plane’s journey followed by a bus drive and then a speedboat to the resort.
However, that is the beauty of this place in my opinion. The seclusion coupled with the crystal clear waters right underneath your bedroom couldn’t be more tranquil. Having giant turtles surface for air right outside your own private balcony is something that must be experienced first hand. For those of you that dive, nearby Sipadan offers amazing diving opportunities such as the famous Sipadan Wall that drops 600m into the abyss. All in all, Kapalai offers an amazing view of the reef and marine life over which it sits and the peaceful serenity of the place would be a refreshing change for many.
Ready to Go?
There you have it, my Top 3 destinations to visit!
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Happy December holidays everyone!
(Images courtesy of Dr. Oon)