New year, new start, new travel plans! Here’s our pick on the 18 places you need to visit in 2016!
This is one destination you can visit right at the start of 2016 because it’s the peak of Winter – aka ski season! Feast your eyes on blankets of powder snow and perhaps pick up a snow sport or two!
#HHWT tip: Check out our guide on Muslim-friendly Japanese eateries in Hokkaido!
2. Spain – Cordoba
Learn about the rich history behind the city that’s considered to be the spiritual heart of Islamic Spain. Visit the most important Islamic monument in the West – the Great Mosque, and immerse yourself in the Spanish art and culture of Cordoba!
#HHWT tip: Don’t forget to visit Granada and Seville too while you’re in Spain!
Credit: David Spender
Istanbul – a city that’s both ancient and modern. Straddling Europe and Asia across the beautiful Bosphorus Strait and a history going back to 300 thousand years before, get ready to experience a myriad of cultures in this city. Of course, a trip to Istanbul isn’t complete without visiting the famous Sultan Ahmed Cami Mosque (aka the Blue Mosque)! Did you know this 400-year-old Mosque is one of only two mosques in Turkey with six minarets?
#HHWT tip: Make a side trip to Cappadocia for a hot air balloon flight at sunrise! Trust us, the view is breath-taking.
If catching the northern lights has always been on your bucket list, 2016 is the year for you to make it a reality! After next year, they’re expected to appear less frequently in the next decade so start saving up, 2016 is the year to see the aurora borealis in all its beauty.
World-class museums and galleries, gorgeous parks (perfect for a picnic), vibrant theatre scene on West End, shopping (you’ll love Primark!), street markets, afternoon tea, football stadiums… We’ve lost count of the number of reasons why London should be on your bucket list! There’s just something about London Town that is so unlike any other city in the world.
#HHWT tip: If you’ve been putting off your trip to London because you’re afraid of the costs but don’t worry, here’s how you can tackle London on a budget!
6. Jeju Island
Escape the bustling city life and explore the natural wonders of Jeju! Take a hike up Mount Halla (the tallest mountain in South Korea), explore Manjanggul cave, one of the finest lava tunnels in the world, take strolls by the beach and ooh and ahh at the gorgeous waterfalls. Oh, leave your fancy shoes behind, you’ll need your trusty walking shoes to explore the wonders of Jeju!
7. Hong Kong
If you love cities, Hong Kong is your ideal destination for a short getaway! With great shopping, night markets, family-friendly attractions, delicious food, you can be assured there’s something for everyone. Plus, Hong Kong Disneyland (the only Disney park with halal-certified dining options) is celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2016 with new attractions and a brand new production. Besides, you’ll find the best halal dim sum in the land of dim sum, of course. YUM.
Credit: Jean-Marie Hullot
Looking for an exotic getaway? How about a secluded island in the middle of the Indian Ocean just northeast of Madagascar? Seychelles is definitely our pick if you’re looking for a country that’s not swarming with tourists and yet has amazing views.
Even if you’ve visited Tokyo before, there’s no reason not to plan another trip to the capital of Japan. After all, you can never get enough of Japan, right? Do make a trip earlier in the year, especially if you would like to visit Tsukiji Fish Market as the market will be relocating to the new site at Toyosu in November 2016. This calls for a trip to Tokyo during the cherry blossom period, perhaps? 😛
If you love wildlife, Botswana is made for you. It’s one of the best safari destinations in Africa, thanks to the natural wildlife that it’s blessed with.
While the crowd is heading to Cape Town, visit Botswana instead! The country also celebrates its 50th year of independence in 2016, so there’s really no better time!
11. Abu Dhabi
With the Louvre opening in Abu Dhabi next year, you should definitely be marking the capital of UAE down for 2016. Yes, THAT same Louvre that houses the Mona Lisa in Paris! Not to mention that the Guggenheim Museum will also be opening in the near future, you can be sure of an truly artistic experience when you visit the city! (Plus you get to try loads of yummy international halal chains like Shake Shack too :P)
With the Australian dollar at an all-time low, 2016 is the best year yet to head Down Under. And by that, we mean Melbourne! Amazing coffee, fresh picks at farmer’s markets, shops in little hideouts with quirky trinkets… It’s perfect for a city getaway!
With a total of NINE UNESCO World Heritage sites, Morocco is amazingly diverse and a vibrant city to immerse yourself in the local culture. If you have to choose a city in Morocco, head to Meknes, instead of the more popular Merrakesh. Aptly named the Versailles of Morocco, the harmonious blending of the Islamic and European styles of the 17th century Maghreb are still evident today.
You may have heard your friends going on and on about the braised beef noodles that Taiwan is most famous for. And where better to try it than in Taipei?! (Yes, it’s halal of course) Not to mention that if you’re on a budget trip, Taipei’s definitely the place to experience Chinese culture!
#HHWT Tip: 2016 might also be the last year that the New Year fireworks display will be held at the Taipei 101 building.
15. San Francisco
Say ‘Hi’ to the friendly sea lions lounging at Fisherman’s Wharf, ride the iconic cable cars, visit the most famous bridge in the world – Golden Gate Bridge. There’re tons to do in San Francisco and we absolutely love how the city manages to give off a suburban vibe despite being one of the iconic cities in United States. So if you’re planning to visit California, perhaps forgo Los Angeles/Los Vegas and visit the Bay area instead!
P.S. Considering we have both Tokyo and San Francisco on the list, we really wish San Fransokyo (ala Big Hero 6) was a real place 😛
16. Koh Samui
When we say Thailand, you may think Bangkok, Phuket or Pattaya. We say skip these places and head straight to Koh Samui! Although this island is no longer a secret, Koh Samui has still retained its chic little style. Visit the more remote beaches and be prepared for a truly relaxing getaway!
If you’ve never stepped foot in China, Xi’an is the best place to start. Not only do you get to experience one of China’s culturally rich city, it’s also the heart of Islam in China! And yes, you can easily find halal Chinese food around Xi’an. In case you need more convincing, here are five reasons why Xi’an absolutely has to be on your bucket list.
We could come up with a whole list of reasons why you should visit Singapore but really, there’s only one that matters – because it’s where the #HHWT team is at 😛 (And well, we do have amazing food too!)