New Year, New Places: Your 2018 Travel Bucketlist

Whether you’re an adventure junkie looking for unconventional travel destinations, or you’re planning to follow the latest travel trends, IGNITE has got you covered. Check out these destinations and plan your dream trip for 2018!

  1. Hawaii

Tired of Bali and Phuket, and keen to try something new? Bargain hunters can now say ‘Aloha’ to Hawaiian beaches, volcanoes and waterfalls. Popular among Japanese and American holidaymakers, but still relatively off the beaten track for Malaysians, Hawaii is set to become the next ‘in’ thing for Malaysian travellers.

Aloha! Picture taken from: http://www.travelandleisure.com/travel-tips/do-you-need-passport-for-hawaii

Getting there is no issue either. AirAsia X launched flights from Kuala Lumpur to Hawaii via Osaka in June 2017, closely followed by Singapore’s low-cost carrier Scoot in Nov 2017, which flies from Singapore to Hawaii, also with a stopover in Osaka. Look out for promotions and score yourself a deal!

Yet, even with significantly lower airfares, a trip to Hawaii will inevitably be more expensive than a jaunt to any one of Southeast Asia’s excellent beaches. If you’re willing to forgo the bragging rights and do a short-haul trip, check out some of the many gems in the region, such as…

  1. Cambodia

2018 looks set to be a good year for Cambodian tourism. Just a two-hour flight away from Malaysia, Cambodia has it all. Think history, culture, natural landscapes and great beaches. Moreover, everything is cheap thanks to Cambodia’s lower living costs, so you can splurge guilt-free.

In addition to Cambodia’s famed Angkor Wat monument, which can be accessed from Siem Reap, the beautiful and laid-back capital Phnom Penh is rich with history and will not disappoint. Visitors should come for its ornate palaces, rustic temples and the notorious Khmer Rouge Killing Fields, and chill out at its riverside cafes and restaurants.

Moreover, Phnom Penh is becoming much more accessible to the Malaysian traveller. In 2017, Malindo Air and JC International Airlines (a Cambodian-Chinese venture) launched new flights from Kuala Lumpur to the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh. Another Cambodian airline, Bassaka Air, has plans to join the fray. However, be aware that Cambodian airlines have poor safety standards and known to go bankrupt without warning. But they do offer the availability of very cheap flights.

Cambodia is known mainly for its historical monuments rather than a beach destination. However, this is set to change rapidly. The idyllic Cambodian coastal town of Sihanoukville has been drawing in tourists and development in recent years. With AirAsia launching new flights to Sihanoukville, the up-and-coming beach destination will undoubtedly be on the radar for Malaysian travellers.

Island escape. Picture taken from: http://www.madmonkeyhostels.com/?h2o_backpacker_guide=must-see-attractions-sihanoukville

  1. Jambi

As new budget airline flights open up new destinations to hordes of tourists, known in Europe as the ‘Ryanair effect’, intrepid travellers will have to seek out more inaccessible locales for their fix of ‘exotic’ destinations. If you are one of them, why not head to Jambi, located in eastern Sumatra? With no international flights, and a fledgling tourism industry, you can get a feel of authentic Indonesia without being Indiana Jones.

You can find forest reserves and volcanoes near Jambi, just like in almost every Indonesian province. But what sets Jambi apart is the Muaro Jambi temple complex. Built by the Melayu Kingdom in the 11th to 13th century, the ancient Buddhist temple complex plays a pivotal role in Buddhist history as the place where Lama Atisha, one of the founders of Tibetan Buddhism, studied under the Sumatran master Lama Suvarndvipa. While the individual temples are small and nowhere as impressive as Borobodur, they are spread over a large area and still largely devoid of tourists.

Hoping to promote tourism, local authorities have funded a small museum and modest restoration efforts at the site. However, archaeological research is still sparse. Most of the ruins remain uncovered. Nevertheless, it is easy for independent travellers to get there. There are direct flights from Batam and Jakarta, and travellers have a variety of hotels in Jambi city to choose from. Moreover, the temple complex is just a short taxi or car ride away.

Muaro Jambi. Picture taken from: http://www.lihat.co.id/wisata/candi-muaro-jambi.html

  1. Xinjiang

Most travellers to China head to the coastal cities, or to the mountains in the southwest. But how about a trip to the wild west of China?

Xinjiang province is home to a large Uygur population today, and has historically been home to Turkic tribes and kingdoms. Knowing that, check out the grand 16,000 square metre Id Kah Mosque in Kashgar. There, 90 percent of the population is Uyghur Muslim.

There is also the Shaanxi Great Mosque in the state capital Urumqi. Although it resembles a Chinese temple, upon closer inspection one will be amazed to find that it is adorned with quranic verses. After that, hop on the high-speed rail from Urumqi to Turpan, home to the hottest desert in China but also its tallest minaret.

Id Kah Mosque, Kashgar. Picture taken from: https://www.halaltrip.com/other/blog/mosques-of-xinjiang/

 

Shaanxi Great Mosque, Urumqi. Picture taken from: https://www.halaltrip.com/other/blog/mosques-of-xinjiang/

 

Emin Minaret, Turpan. Picture taken from: https://www.halaltrip.com/other/blog/mosques-of-xinjiang/

  1. Antarctica

If these destinations aren’t exciting enough, how about joining UNMC Professor Andy Chan in Antarctica? You’ll have to ask him for directions, though.

Even during its current ‘summer’ season, travellers should prepare for temperatures below 0 °C (32 °F). Katabatic winds can even reach up to 100 km/h. With some research, adventure seekers can join guided expeditions. These involve hiking, snowshoeing, kayaking, mountaineering, and even camping out under the Southern Polar skies.

Written by Steve Teoh

 

A man travels the world over in search of what he needs, and returns home to find it. - George A. Moore

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