18 Bucket List Experiences To Enjoy After The Coronavirus Saga Is Over
Phew, it’s tough getting used to this.
For me, for you, for a whole lot of us whose highlight of the year revolved around that one or two vacations we could take.
As you know, “The Girl” and I used to travel four times a year, and now everything has come to complete standstill. Airports are closed, governments the world over are restricting entry to tourists, and frankly, even if they weren’t, the world just isn’t as safe a place to travel these days with this virus everywhere.
But whatever you call this, “Wuhan Virus/Covid 19/Coronavirus” or what have you, it will be over; eventually. And this means, all of us should continue to dream, to make plans, and we shouldn’t let our travel dreams die.
So, where are you travelling to once this nightmare is over?
If you haven’t got an idea yet, perhaps “The Girl” and I can help.
In this post, we’ll share 18 “Post Coronavirus Travel Experiences” that we think will generate powerful memories that you’ll hold with you for a good many years. We've personally experienced these, so yes, we know what we're talking about.
There's something in this list for everyone, regardless whether you're a family with kids, a backpacker, a luxury traveler, or a thrill seeker, so read on.
1. [Camping In Central Asia]
(Lake Kaindy, Kazakhstan)
Central Asia is home to some of the world’s most beautiful and diverse scenery. From alpine mountains to flat grasslands, Central Asia offers a diverse camping experience.
Before this, I wasn’t much of a “camping guy”. But I can attest, it was truly a surreal experience huddling over a campfire, enjoying hot food, cold beers, and bonding over great conversations with a roof of stars overhead.
(Song Kul Lake, Kyrgyzstan)
We recommend exploring Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan via a self-drive. Camping isn’t rocket science. Easy to assemble tents are available at the Decathlon store for S$30. Just add in a portable stove, a sleeping bag, and commonsense items and you’re good to go.
In Kyrgyzstan, you won’t even need tents. Enjoy a yurt stay, ride horses, and enjoy fish freshly caught from the lake.
One thing you’ll have to get used to though, the absence of WIFI.
For more on Central Asia, check out this post;
2. [Embark On A Star Wars Treasure Hunt]
Don’t you dare call yourself a “Star Wars” fan if you don’t know that fictional planet the show was based on was inspired from Tunisia.
The country is plastered with the actual “Star Wars” filming locations and sets. In fact, while “Star Wars” was filmed across a few countries, majority of the sites are in Tunisia.
Rent a car, plot the locations of the various “Star Wars” sites on your map, and have fun on a “Road-Trip/ Treasury Hunt” for some of the most iconic film locations in the history of Cinema.
Not a “Star Wars” fan? No worries, we aren’t either. In fact, I fell asleep watching one of the movies.
Tunisia has so much more to it than “Star Wars”. Think of it as a mix between Morocco and Greece. Let’s put it this way, while both those countries offer their own magical experiences, Tunisia is on this list and both Morocco and Greece are excluded. That says a lot. For more information on the rest of Tunisia, check this post out.
3. [Take A Chance At Becoming One Of The X-Men]
Ever wished you had powers just like the X-Men? Here’s your chance.
Guess where the most radioactive place in the world is? It’s your best chance of turning yourself into a mutant so you can be one of the X-Men, or Fantastic Four, whichever you prefer.
But jokes aside, while Chernobyl, Ukraine is still the worlds most radioactive tourist destination, the radiation is at safe levels, so long as you don’t touch what you’re not supposed to.
Stepping into Chernobyl was one of the most unreal experiences I’ve felt. It’s a place with history I’d read about. The town of Pripyat was abandoned in 1986 because of an explosion in the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, which caused a radiation leak the equivalent of 400 Hiroshima’s. Families were forced to evacuate, leaving their life behind.
I visited Chernobyl on a day tour from Kiev (a tour is compulsory). As the guide shared stories of each spot we were at, I found myself imagining what life was like back then. It was like time had stopped in this part of Ukraine.
I highly recommend this experience.
For more on visiting Chernobyl, this post should prove helpful;
4. [Enjoy The World’s Best Wine]
If you think the world’s best wine is produced in France, Italy, or even South Africa, you’re far away from being a labeled a wine connoisseur. Abandon those wine tasting sessions and stop pretending to swirl your wine like you know what your doing, because you don’t.
The best, and I mean the best wine in the world is found in Moldova and Georgia. In fact, Georgia is the “Birthplace of wine”. So, if you’re a “wine guy” but you’ve never heard of Moldovan or Georgian wine, you might want to find a new hobby.
Wines from both these countries are so good, I practically had a bottle to myself at every meal. Even better, the wine costs next to nothing. Moldova is Europe’s poorest country, and you can get a bottle of good wine at the supermarket for 2 Euros, or from 8 Euros at a fancy restaurant.
(Left: Kazebegi, Georgia. Right: Tiraspol, capital of Transnistria, a breakaway state of Moldova)
And if you’re wondering what else there is besides wine? Let’s just say when it comes to beauty, Georgia is Switzerland’s equal, with a slight edge over it. And why is that? Well, just imagine this; Switzerland’s beauty at South East Asian prices.
Georgia, I would go as far to say would rank among the Top 10 Countries “The Girl” and I have ever visited.
5. [Be Star Of Your Own “Narco’s TV Show”]
(The streets of Comuna 13, on of the most "supposedly dangerous" areas of Medellin, Colombia)
Everyone who watches Netflix has heard of Narcos, probably the most successful “drug cartel series” of all time that resulted in a whole host of imitation movies and TV shows.
Why not visit Colombia, walk along the “favelas” (the poor part of town), imagining that you are Pablo Escobar of the Medellin Cartel and experience the Netflix hit TV series with you in it? You’ll experience it in Colombia.
(The colorful town of Guatape, Colombia)
Yes, we highly recommend a visit to Colombia. Don’t believe what you see on TV. If you don’t believe that the “Power Rangers” exist, you really should take Narcos with a pinch of salt.
Colombia is safe, it’s beautiful, offers amazing food, and ranks among one of the most amazing countries we’ve visited.
And if you’re planning to not go because “you travel with your wife/girlfriend”, let’s just say Colombia ranks in “The Girl’s” list of Top 10 countries. Last I checked, she’s your usual office lady, just like your wife/girlfriend.
6. [Step Back Into Time With A Cigar]
You don’t have to be a smoker to enjoy this experience. Cigars are nothing like cigarettes, and besides, in Cuba where part of the experience besides its retro vibe is puffing on cigars while enjoying a Cuba Libra (Rum & Coke), why wouldn’t you?
Here, you enjoy the experience of horse riding through the lush green tobacco valleys of Cuba. You’ll then head off to a farm to learn how to roll and enjoy a cigar.
Even if that is not for you, Cuba is perhaps one of the world’s most Instagram-able tourist destinations, suitable for the typical Singaporean. Fall in love with its retro vibes, ride in a classic convertible, and drink all sorts of alcoholic beverages from only $1 USD per cocktail.
Without us promoting the country, Cuba is already on the “bucket list” of a good many people. Trouble is, it falls into same situation as safari’s, everyone says they want to go, but many almost never end up visiting. Which is a real waste.
But Cuba isn’t a simple destination to visit, despite whatever you see on Instagram. So if you’re planning to visit Cuba, I highly suggest you check out this post to prepare yourself before you do.
7. [Journey to the World’s Largest Lava Lake]
I know, I probably shouldn’t waste time recommending this, because I know, probably very few of your, or even none of you will considering visiting the Democratic Republic of Congo.
But I can’t help recommending this, at least for those of you who enjoy tracking and have an adventurous bone in your body, because this experience is simply out of this world.
Don’t compare this with trekking in Nepal, I’ve done that, twice, and that doesn’t compare. And no offence, but Indonesia’s Mt Rinjani, is just a tourist volcano compared to the DRC’s Mount Nyiragongo, the only place in the world where you can come close to an actual lava lake. When I say lava lake, I mean boiling spewing lava in an active volcano.
(The lava lake of Nyiragongo Volcano in the Democratic Republic of Congo)
On this trek, you’ll have to be escorted by armed guards or park rangers. It’s compulsory as rebel forces have a strange habit of kidnapping tourists in the area. From the base of the mountain, if you’re a fast walker, it’s a tough 6 – 7 hour hike straight up to the summit, where you’ll stay in “cabanas” just 30m from the edge of the volcano’s crater.
A night at the Nyiragongo crater lake will probably be the most memorable night in your life. It’s a pure adrenaline rush from start to end as you stare at the ceiling of stars above you, the lake of lava below you, while you reminisce about the tough hike you pushed yourself through in the day, while having a nagging feeling at the back of your mind if your going to be kidnapped by rebel forces or if the volcano is going to erupt.
For more information on trekking in the DRC, check this post out;
8. [Visit The World’s Newest Tourist Destination]
(Al Wahbah Crater, Saudi Arabia)
Since forever, the only people permitted to enter this unknown desert “Kingdom” have been business travellers, Muslims on their pilgrimage, visitors attending the odd event, and domestic workers that the rich Saudi’s hired in to do the jobs they don’t want to do.
This country is the last frontier. It is without doubt, the worlds least explored country by "tourists" (simply because they have never been opened to tourists till now).
For more information on Saudi Arabia, this link should be helpful:
In short, The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is an interesting place to visit, and I would most certainly recommend it as a vacation destination. Its attractions are certainly breath-taking, and some of them, like the Edge of the World, the Tombs of Madain Salih and the Al Wahba Crater are up there with the very best I’ve ever seen. I was truly impressed, and in awe of the wonders of the "Kingdom’s" treasure chest.
As I type this, Saudi Arabia is in the midst of gearing up for a full fledged tourism launch by end 2020. When that happens, and commercialized hotels and theme parks start sprouting out beside their wonders like overgrown mushrooms, Saudi Arabia may well lose its charm. So quickly, visit this “Desert Kingdom”, before this turns into the next Bali.
9. [Bathe In The Devil’s Own Bathtub]
At the edge of the Victoria falls, where the mighty Zambezi river ends, is a small rock pool, roughly 15m wide, an oasis of calm amidst the thunderous sound of the river crashing over the falls. Swim too far to your right, over you go. Swim too slowly, and the current carries you toward the rushing rapids of the Zambezi, sweeping you right over the edge.
This is the “Devils Pool”, in the African country of Zambia. It will probably rank among one of the most exhilarating swims you will ever attempt in life.
It’s exhilarating, yet surprisingly safe. You don’t have to be a good swimmer to experience the “Devils” pool, you just have to know how to swim. The “guide” is compulsory, and he’ll be looking out for you.
So long as you don’t do silly stuff like walk on the edge for a selfie, you’ll be alright. They’ll have a designated photo taker so you won’t need to put your own life at risk taking selfies.
For more information on the "Devils Pool", this link should be helpful:
10. [Sun, Sand & Sea]
The sun, sand & sea are pretty good cure for anyone diagnosed with severe boredom stemming from staying at home for overly long periods. And where better than Zanzibar, Tanzania, home to probably the world’s most beautiful yet among the cheapest beach vacation destinations.
Pictures say a thousand words, and to add on, here is a link to a full article I dedicated just on Zanzibar.
Forget the Maldives with its overpriced water bungalows. Zanzibar offers whiter sand, bluer water, fresher and cheaper seafood, and, it’s a way more engaging travel destination then any other beach destination out there.
Simply put, a vacation to Zanzibar is not simply a typical beach vacation. Just a couple of hours away on the mainland of Tanzania, you can add on a 3 day Safari tour to your trip for an interesting blend of safari + beach sort of vacation.
11. [Cruise Along The River Nile]
The River Nile is the longest river in the world, stretching over 6,500km across 11 different countries.
While you can experience the “Nile” in any of those 11 countries, the most “popular” part to experience it is without a doubt, from the “Egyptian leg” of the river.
The “Nile” cruise is one of the more popular tours in Egypt. You can easily rent a felucca (our choice) for a day if you’re short of time but still want to enjoy the experience of cruising along the Nile, or you could do a 3 days or longer luxury cruise liner for the full Nile experience.
I’ve had my share of “cruises or boat experiences”, and I will say, a cruise along the Nile ranks right up there with the very best of them.
Imagine enjoying a wine or a beer on the deck of the boat watching the local Egyptians go about their lives by the sandy shores of Egypt. As you sail by, magnificent ancient temples pop up; and for those ancient sites that catch you fancy, you simply disembark, explore those sites on a day trip, and head back to your cabin thereafter.
Please, don’t even compare this to a typical luxury cruise. That would be a real insult to the joys of cruising along the “River Nile”
12. [Have A Therapeutic Soak In A Volcano]
El Totumo Mud Volcano is Colombia’s smallest volcano; and according to locals, it used to spew lava until a local priest decided that this volcano was the work of the devil, sprinkling holy water on it, and thereby turning El Totumo into a “Mud Volcano”.
Some say El Totumo is a “rite of passage” for all who visit Cartagena, Colombia. Some say this is the most ridiculous tourist trap ever. At a cost of 15 USD, I didn’t really bother which one it was.
The mud in El Totumo is supposed to have therapeutic elements in it. To be honest, therapeutic or not, I have no idea. But soaking in El Totumo was an unreal experience I’d never felt before. It was strangely comforting. I felt weightless, and for 30mins, I was in “zero gravity world”.
I’ve done my fair share of “once in a lifetime” stuff, and though this is nothing exhilarating, El Totumo, in a weird way, is something special.
13. [A True River Safari]
(The Okavango Delta, Botswana by Mokoro)
Yes, I’m sure you’ve been on the attraction we call the “River Safari” in Singapore. You may even have gone to the touristy Kruger National Park in South Africa for a “real safari”. While these are good experiences for whatever their worth, here’s one experience that beats them all; an actual “River Safari”.
A vacation to Zimbabwe or Botswana will see you enjoy a luxury houseboat safari, where you can enjoy wine and food as you spot animals bathing or having a drink by the water. In fact, watering holes are where the action usually is. It’s way more comfortable then being stuck in a 4x4 for hours in a day.
(Sunset Cruise, animal spotting in the Zambezi River, Zimbabwe)
Botswana is the premier “River Safari” destination in Africa. The Okavango Delta is Africa’s most famous swamp. The thrill of making your way through the water channels surrounded by high grass, crocodiles swimming inches away from you, and hippos potential flipping over your Mokoro (canoe) is as exciting as a safari could possibly get.
The houseboat safari is suitable for families or couples, and we’d highly recommend it. River safari’s in general are way more fun than the typical safari tours.
14. [Ascend To Heaven Via “Heaven’s Ladder”]
China is a vast country and the Yunan region is one of China’s most scenic. On one of our many trips to China, “The Girl” and I flew into Kunming, made our way to Dali, Lijiang, and finally Shangrila to witness its beauty.
China, especially Yunan is usually popular for the basic sightseeing tours. However, in between these touristy regions filled with tour buses and old pensioners on their sightseeing tours is a pretty exciting activity known as the “Heaven’s Ladder” in an area called “Tiger Leaping Gorge”.
In this region, you’ll be trekking along a beautiful gorge. There are “teahouses” along the way as well as proper restaurants and inns where you can get a proper meal and rest after a long day of trekking.
Along the trek is a vertical ladder from the bottom to the top of the gorge that seemingly leads into the “Heavens”. There are no ropes, no safety gear, and admittedly, it is rather rickety at parts. All you’ll have to do is let go, or slip, and then, you’ll truly be in heaven, depending on your beliefs of course.
But jokes aside, it is rather exhilarating thing to do after months of being confined to your home.
For more on China's incredibly scenic region of Yunan, check this post out:
15. [Do Nothing In The Most Laidback Place On Earth Malawi]
Okay, I get it. You’ve already had absolutely nothing to do over past couple of months being cooped up at home. Why would you travel halfway around the world to yet another destination just to do nothing?
The thing is, “doing nothing” in Malawi is exactly what you need after the whole virus saga is over. How long as it been since you last caught up with your friends and family? I don’t know about you, but after months of watching Netflix and playing games to pass the time, the last thing I want now is any "technology related" activity. And that’s the beauty of Malawi.
Chilling by Cape Mclear, Lake Malawi with friends and family is exactly what we all need after this. Fishing by the lake, feeding the eagles, trekking around the natural reserves, and BBQing the catch of the day over a campfire and beers is the perfect way to catch up on all those lost months.
And yes, there are hotels and bars around the lake, which is so huge, its more like a sea. And while you’re at it, you can even go on a safari, or check out the local African villages to have an idea on their way of life, and perhaps, you may look back and realize, that compared to them, you had it good during your country’s “Lockdown”.
16. [The Road-Trip Of Your Life]
The Middle East is one of the best road trip destinations any driving enthusiast can ever hope to traverse. There’s just something magical about driving through sand dunes along a seemingly never-ending road.
But specifically, the country in the Middle East best suited for such an epic “Road Trip” is Oman. Driving in Oman is like being the fictional Disney show “Aladdin”. We all read about “Aladdin” or “Sinbad the Sailor” as a kid, so now that we all have the means to, why not visit the land we read about?
Oman is by far, the most “Safely Fascinating” country in the entire Middle East. There are many amazing countries in the Middle East like Yemen or Syria. But if you want safety thrown in the mix together with amazing, it can only be Oman.
A “Road Trip” here is not just about deserts. You have wonderful waterholes to bathe in, mountains to trek, souks to shop at, magnificent mosques to admire. Oman has everything.
And yes, Oman would find it’s way into A Girl And A Bald Traveller’s list of Top 10 Destinations in the world. That’s just how much we recommend it.
For more on Oman, check this post out:
(My Wife & I Did A 7 Day Road Trip In Oman. It Was Incredible, & Cost Just S$1.5k SGD! (Airfare Inclusive!))
17. [Time To Go Wild]
Going on a safari in Africa is something many people say is on their bucket list, but somehow, is always passed over in favor of trips to Paris, London, and the like. It’s sort of like how people like to say they always wanted a tattoo, but somehow, it never got done.
So, after the virus is over, and considering after all that we’ve been through, we should appreciate life a little more than pre virus days. Perhaps it’s time to finally experience what we’ve been always said we’d wanted to do, instead of kicking the can down the road.
And going on safari is enjoyable experience one can have with the family. You get to see animals in their natural habitat, you get to compete against one another to see who can spot the “Big 5” first, before unwinding at the end of the day over a campfire talking and enjoying a good African BBQ dinner. It makes a perfect family vacation.
“The Girl” and I have gone on a good number of safari’s, and we recommend spending not more than 3 days 2 nights on any one safari outing, because while it is fun, it can get stale after prolonged drives and animal sightings.
But that said, it’s a great experience for the family, for couples, for backpackers, and regardless of your budget, there’s something for everyone.
Fortunately, I happen to be unabashedly, an expert when it comes to safaris. So check out these 2 posts before you plan your next safari vacation:
18. [Flying Without Wings]
Ah, the pure exhilaration of falling through the clouds, yet with the added comfort that the “instructor” behind you in a tandem sky dive probably wants to stay alive just as much as you do.Sky diving is the perfect way to shake off those “stay home blues” and make you feel alive again.
From the second you hand over your money, to donning the “suit”, to the safety briefing, next stepping into plane, before finally arriving at the most heart thumping moment of all; waiting for your turn.
Many countries offer a “Sky Diving” experience, so it’s all about finding a company you feel you can trust your life with, yet at a reasonable price. Considering the AUD is now weaker than our SGD, and Australian sky diving companies having a stellar reputation for safety, we would recommend a heading over to Australia for such an experience.
And yes, Australia is relatively close to Singapore and offers so much more than simply skydiving. It’s without doubt, the most “fun country” to visit in Oceania. I’m sorry New Zealand.