18 Unusual Yet Safe Destinations Singaporeans Have Never Heard Of
Okay, so these destinations aren't that unusual.
In fact, many around the world might already have visited these 18 destinations.
Many people, except Singaporeans, that is.
Alright, maybe I'm exaggerating here. Some Singaporeans would be familiar with these destinations, but most, I dare say, are not.
To their (Singaporeans) credit though, I guess Singaporeans are gradually developing an interest in less common destinations. If I'm right, this should prove a pretty helpful post in shedding new light on travel destination ideas for Singaporeans (since majority of them are 10 years behind the times).
"Safe" is the keyword Singaporeans plan their trip around. "Safe", is followed by the keywords "popular, Instagramable, and finally, affordable", because expenses apparently aren't a concern for Singaporeans (Go holiday must enjoy! Spend lah!).
So Singaporeans, check out these 18 "Safe", yet "Unusual" destinations. That'll give you some ideas for your next trip!
18. The Okavango Delta, Botswana
Africa's most famous "wetlands" (or swamp) offers a safari experience like no other. A trip to the Okavango isn't simply about the typical safari "game drive" experience. Game drives are available for sure, but in Botswana, they play second fiddle behind "Boating Safaris" and "Houseboat Safaris", both available in either the Okavango or Chobe National Park, also in Botswanna.
For a true Okavango experience, you'll need to explore the swamp via Mokoro (canoe). Imagine being in a canoe, with Hippos and elephants just meters away from you. When we were there, we even had the experience of a crocodile swimming right beside our Mokoro, twice!
Why is it safe? Well, Botswana is one of the safest African countries to visit. Just don't jump in for a swim and you'll be fine.
17. The Arabian Desert, Bahrain
Bahrain's key attraction (besides the F1 Grand Prix), is the Tree of Life.
In the middle of the Arabian Desert (1 hours drive from the capital, Manama), still growing and standing tall, is a tree. Water is non existent in this desert. No plants can survive. In place of water and nutrients in the ground is oil. Oil that has made Bahrain the rich nation that is.
Defying science and all forms of logic though, one tree continues to grow. A tree that has baffled scientists, a tree that people all over the world come to visit. Searching for the meaning of life? You might just find it at this tree; The Tree of Life
16. Zanzibar, Tanzania
Yes, I know. Australia's beaches are supposed to be the best, and the water in the Maldives are supposed to be the bluest. These statements are true, but only to Singaporeans, those still vacationing like a frog still trapped in a well at least.
Enter Zanzibar; Africa's premier beach destination, where sand is as fine as flour, and its crystal clear waters mirror the permanently blue sky. Throw in the freshest seafood in the African content at dirt cheap prices and there you have it; Paradise. Have a week to spare? Add in a safari game drive into your itinerary at the world famous Serengeti on the Tanzanian mainland. Now that's a vacation worth planing.
The Maldives? Now where's that?
15. The Ararat Plains, Armenia
Christians, I've found you your next travel destination; and no, I'm not referring to Israel.
I'm talking about Armenia, the FIRST Christian country in the world (in case you didn't realize, Israel is Jewish). A trip to Armenia is "likely" about monasteries, churches, and well, that's about it (I'm kidding, there's more to Armenia than just churches).
Make your way to the Ararat Plains and visit the monastery of Khor Virap, Armenia's equivalent of the Statue of Liberty. From there, you'll have a view of Mt Ararat, the supposed final resting point of Noah's Ark.
14. Gobustan National Park, Azerbaijan
Ah - what - ba jan???
"I can't pronounce the name. It must be dangerous!" (Typical Singaporean Logic)
The Gobustan National Park is famous for two things. One, Rock Art by the primitive men who used cave walls as their "diary", their many drawings depicting life in early civilizations. Two, Mud Volcanoes, the highlight of everyone's Azerbaijan trip.
The "mud lava" (if it's called that) is cold though, and is really troublesome to remove. My pair of Crocs got stuck in it so bad that it gave way when I tried to "rescue them" (so much for the quality of Crocs). That's about the most dangerous thing there is in this country though; mud.
13. Tanna Island,Vanuatu
The only time Singaporeans might have come across the country Vanuatu, was probably when "Survivor Vanuatu" was screening. What's interesting in this pacific island country though?
Well, nothing much except a volcano, black sand beaches, white sand beaches, amazingly blue water, underwater caves, deep sea fishing, ship wreck diving, scuba diving, hot springs, tribal village experiences and.........is that enough?
12. Transnistria, Moldova
Moldova is the least visited country in Europe. Supported by the Russians, Transnistria is a break away state of Moldova. With Soviet propaganda lining the streets, a trip to Transnistria is a trip back in time to the good old Soviet days, the country hasn't really progressed since then (neither have prices, which is good).
A true Soviet experience not really your thing? Head to the "real Moldova" to enjoy some of the worlds best wines. I have yet to try any French/Spanish/Australian/Italian/American wine anywhere as good as Moldovan wine. And no, you can't get Moldovan wine in Singapore, I've tried.
11. Brest, Belarus
Belarus is know as Europe's Last Dictatorship. Don't let that put you off though (we're already living in a quasi - dictatorship anyway). The country is cleaner than Singapore, rules are stricter than Singapore's, unemployment is lower than Singapore's, and most of all, it's way cheaper than Singapore.
The "Hero" monument in Brest fortress is the largest statue you (Singaporeans) never knew. It was built to commemorate the fallen Red Army soldiers who put on a heroic resistance against their German aggressors back in WWII.
Like Transistria, a trip to Belarus is a trip back to the days of the USSR. Russian Visa too expensive? Visit Belarus, the Visa is free.
10. Chefchaouen, Morocco
Now THIS, some Singaporeans would have heard of. Chefchaouen, also known as the "Santorini of Africa", is one of the destinations on the rise in many Singaporeans travel plans. Mark my words, in 5 years, Morocco will be the next "Iceland".
The city is a maze of blue and white. A visit to Chefchaouen guarantees your camera filled with so many blue and white photos, you won't know which to upload on Instagram. Enjoy Moroccan Mint Tea, smoke "Hash" (easily available throughout the city) or even go trekking in the surrounding mountain range.
Have you read: Chefchaouen - Africa's Answer To Santorini
9. La Vella, Andorra
Many Singaporeans visit Barcelona. Many Singaporeans shop in Barcelona. But few know, that the "Shopping Capital of Europe" is just 3 hours away. Andorra is Southern Europe's Duty Free Shopping have. Lowe is cheap here, so is Mango, Zara, and a whole list of mid to high end brands.
When you're done shopping, head to Caldea Thermal Spa (Europe's largest spa) to unwind. To top it off, enjoy skiing down Andorra's Prynees mountain range. Shopping, Spas, Skiing. It's like a mini Switzerland! Now, that ought to get Singaporeans moving!
8. Aiya Napa, Cyprus
Sex, booze, beach, repeat.
The closest Singaporeans get to a real beach party atmosphere is Zouk Out (boring). Aiya Napa (together with Spain's Ibiza), Cyprus, is the premier sex/party/drinking/beach destination of the Mediterranean.
Partying not your cup of tea? 20mins drive away from Aiya Napa is Cape Greco National Park where beautiful views and nice walking trails await you. Cyprus is small enough that you can comfortably experience all its wonders in a week. And yes, there's more than just sex, parties, and beaches.
7. Kazbegi, Georgia
Amazing scenery, great food, cheap prices, and probably the best wine in the world (Georgia is also known as the "Birthplace of Wine"); Georgia offers the best value among all the European travel destinations.
Drive along the Georgian Military Highway to get to the Kazbegi region and be rewarded with magnificent views of the Caucasus mountain range. In Kazbegi, a whole host of activities await you. Explore medieval buildings, Caves and gorges. Not your kind of thing? Just chill with a good wine, enjoy the scenery, waterfalls and even bird-watching. In Georgia, just spend without worries, money is the least of your concerns as day tours cost anywhere from just $25 USD to $50 USD.
6. Cape Maclear, Malawi
Doing absolutely nothing is the key activity here at Cape Maclear, Malawi.
They call it a lake, but it's actually more like a sea. Laze around the beach, go on walking tours and observe the fisherman at work. Take a boat ride out on the lake, fish, feed the eagles, scuba dive, snorkel, and when your done with all that? It's back to doing nothing.
Just you, a good book, perhaps a beer, and the lake.
5. Semonkong, Lesotho
Nicknamed "The Kingdom in the Sky", Lesotho,with a base altitude of 1400m, has the highest low point of any country in the world. Maletsunyane Falls is the country's biggest attraction. Other activities in Semongkong include trekking, horse riding and waterfall abseiling.
Lesotho has a very different vibe from the rest of Africa. No one is in a rush, no touts to bother you, no one's asking you for money, and most of all it's safe. Spend a couple of nights in Semonkong Lodge, and go on pub crawls around the local bars. It's happening when you want it to be, and peaceful when you need it to be.
4. Lake Ohrid, Macedonia
Lake Ohrid is known as "The Jewel of the Balkans", and rightly so. The only lakes in the Balkan Peninsular comparable to Ohrid are perhaps Croatia's Plitvice or Slovenia's Lake Bled (both of which I am not recommending because they are already flooded with tourists, many of who are Singaporeans).
Ohrid is more than just a beautiful lake. It also has a National Park, and a circuit of impressive archeological sites, churches and fortresses; every single one of them worth your while. Take a boat ride out on the lake for $5 Euros (for the whole boat) and have a sumptuous fish dinner fresh from the lake for under $10 Euros. And if it's any comfort to Singaporeans, Macedonia is one the cheapest countries in Europe to travel to.
Have you read: The Jewel of the Balkans
3. Siauliai, Lithuania
Catholics, where are you? Here's where you need to be. The Hill of Crosses is one of the worlds top pilgrimage sites for Catholics the world over. Under massive persecution by USSR, Lithuanian Catholics resisted by defiantly placing a cross at on this particular hill. For every Cross that was torn down by the Soviets, many more sprung up.
Not a Catholic? That's fine. Of the 3 Baltic countries, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania; this country is the most worthy of your tourist dollar. No, not because it's the cheapest. But because it's Singaporean free (mostly at least).
Have you read: The Hill Of Crosses - Eerie Or Holy? You Be The Judge
2. Livingstone, Zambia
Should I go to Zambia or Zimbabwe? That seems to be the question people always wonder when planing a trip to this part of the world. Visit Zimbabwe for the best view of the Victoria falls, but visit Zambia to actually be IN the falls.
Livingstone is the typical starting point for all travelers hoping to attempt the Devil's Pool. As far as infinity pools are concerned, this is THE real deal (not the one at MBS). Popular (it pops of on bucket list listicals often enough) and Instagramable, this "attraction" ticks all the boxes in what Singaporeans look for on holiday. Surprisingly though, it's pretty safe; as long as you can swim.
Have you read: Visiting The Devil's Pool? I Suggest You Read This First.
1. Chernobyl, Ukraine
I know, I can hear it already. Chernobyl? Site of the world's greatest nuclear disaster?
Safe? You've got to be kidding!
The truth is, it's actually pretty safe. Radiation is now at a safe enough level as long as there's you don't spend too much time in the zone and also if you don't do silly things like biting into a chocolate bar that's dropped on the ground (no 3 second rule here). Stick to basic commonsense and you won't turn into the X - Men.
In April 1986, there was an explosion in the Chernobyl Nuclear Rector. Radiation had spread as far as Sweden. After news of the radiation leak broke, a massive evacuation took place. The townspeople were told to pack light and leave everything because they'd be back in a few days; they never returned.
Chernobyl today is as close as it gets to the "The Walking Dead". If you're a fan of that TV series, you really shouldn't miss Chernobyl.
Have you read: My Trip To The Most Radioactive Place On Earth; Chernobyl