If the COVID-19 outbreak has taught us something, it's definitely the fact that travel means a lot to us, and we're pretty sure many of you feel the same way too. Since we had to shelve our travel plans for two years, it's time for revenge travel.
That's why we've come up with this list of 10 ultimate things to check off your travel bucket list. There's no better time, which experience are you ticking off your list this year?
1. Cherry blossoms viewing in Japan
Ask anyone who's seen cherry blossoms in Japan and they'll tell you that it's an experience unlike any other. The various pink hues, the hanami culture (Japanese custom of viewing cherry blossoms in full bloom) and the atmosphere of cherry blossom festivals make it an experience not to be missed.
Whether you're admiring sakura in Tokyo's gorgeous parks, Kyoto's famous Philosopher's path or heading out to Mt Fuji, every experience will be unique in its own way. Our writer, Gracia sums up her feelings in this article after her cherry blossom experience.
If you need more reasons to add this to your bucket list, here are 10 stunning photos of cherry blossoms in Japan!
2. Skydiving in New Zealand
A travel bucket list would not be complete without skydiving! If you're a thrill-seeker and you're constantly looking for activities with an adrenaline rush, you have to add this to your bucket list.
With its incredible scenery, New Zealand is one of the popular places to skydive. The HHWT team did their tandem skydive with Skydive Auckland (it's the highest skydive in New Zealand!). But there also other locations where you can skydive like the Bay of Islands, Queenstown, Taupo and more.
Most people would think skydiving is not for the faint-hearted but that's not entirely true. Our writer, Cheng Sim, is afraid of heights but she took a leap of faith and lived to tell the tale.
If you've always wanted to skydive but don't know where to start, this is the best time! Start researching and narrowing down the places for your skydive. If New Zealand's not your cup of tea, perhaps Dubai's Palm Jumeirah, the Swiss Alps or the Grand Canyon will suit you better? And of course, you'd have to save up for your trip too; prepare at least USD200-600 for your skydive adventure!
P.S. If you're looking for somewhere nearer to home, check out the Tandem Skydive in Langkawi.
3. Try bungy-jumping
If skydiving is already on your list, you'd want to bungy-jump too! Think of it as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that you won't want to miss!
Credit: Tourism New Zealand
One of the best spots to bungy-jump in the world is the Nevis River Valley in Queenstown, New Zealand. Queenstown is known as the adventure capital of the world and besides bungy-jumping, you can also challenge yourself to a swing, catapult or even zipride. Sounds like a dream for adventure-seekers!
While we didn't manage to bungy-jump in Queenstown, we checked it off our bucket list at the AJ Hackett Bungy Auckland. We were all nervous and while it was scary, it was a fun kind of scary. Not to mention that the staff were super encouraging too, which really helped.
So, if you're planning to do this heart-thumping experience in future, we recommend taking this time to research in advance and start saving up for it. Other places you'd want to consider for your bungy-jump are the Niouc Bridge in Switzerland, Macao Tower or the Europabrucke Bridge in Austria.
4. See the Northern Lights in Iceland
Seeing the Northern Lights is an otherwordly experience. You might have seen pictures of this spectacularly breathtaking phenomenon (also called Aurora Borealis) or heard your friends tell their experience with the magnificent dancing lights. So, it's time to start dreaming of the moment where you can see this ethereal phenomenon with your very own eyes!
For the most epic adventure with the Northern Lights, Iceland is your best bet. The land of ice and fire lives up to its reputation with volcanoes, glaciers, geothermal pools, and alien-like landscapes. With the gorgeous display of lights, your trip will most probably be a life-changing experience.
But planning a trip to see the Northern Lights in Iceland can be a tricky affair. Late September to late March is the best time to visit, simply because it gets dark as early as 6PM, giving you longer hours of fully dark nights. December is also the darkest month, which might increase your chances of seeing the lights more vibrantly. That's why we've compiled all these tips and more with our ultimate guide to Iceland's Northern Lights.
P.S. In case you need more inspiration for your future trip, check out this 12D11N Muslim-friendly Iceland itinerary by our contributors, Nazry and Haiza!
5. Take a hot-air balloon ride over Cappadocia
Mention Cappadocia and images of hot-air balloons rising above Turkey's picturesque Goreme Valley comes to mind. Besides the splendid mosques of Istanbul and the thermal pools of Pamukkale, the hot-air balloon ride is one of the must-do things in Turkey!
But planning your hot-air balloon ride takes careful thought and consideration. There are about 25 hot-air balloon operators and prices range from EUR150-250 (RM690 - 1150 0r SGD230 - 380). Choosing which season to visit Cappadocia also plays a part in the weather and whether or not you'll be able to take the hot-air balloon. Our all-in-one guide to Cappadocia will help you figure all these out.
If you're wondering what the experience feels like, one of our writers went on this adventure and told us why it's one of his best travel moments. It's not just the hot-air balloon experience that's a draw for travellers in Cappadocia - the region in Central Turkey is teeming with nature and culture. There are other wonders to discover like the natural limestone formations at the Goreme Open Air Museum, caves and more.
P.S. Dreaming about your Turkey adventure? Check out our 6D5N Turkey itinerary for what to see, eat and do!
6. Paragliding in Switzerland
Dreamy snow-capped mountains, endless hills and picturesque lakes - Switzerland's dramatic landscape is a sight to behold. The country is consistently ranked high on bucket list destinations, and we can understand why!
It doesn't matter if you choose to visit in summer when the hills are greener than green, and the flowers are blooming with colour or in winter when a blanket of snow turns the landscape into a winter wonderland. While there are definitely many bucket list activities you'd want to do in Switzerland, paragliding is one way to take in all the scenic views.
P.S. Start saving up for your dream Swiss vacay with our 8D7N Muslim-friendly Swiss itinerary (under RM5000!)
The best part is that you can choose from a range of stunning spots for your paragliding adventure. For a mix of the old town feel and nature, Interlaken, Zurich or Geneva will be the best choices. If you want to see a glimpse of the alps, Lauterbrunnen and Grindelwald are perfect paragliding spots. But before you plan your paragliding adventure in Switzerland, you'd want to read about my experience on paragliding in Lauterbrunnen and useful tips!
7. Admire the Eiffel Tower
The Eiffel Tower needs no introduction. It's the symbol of Paris, the City of Love and you must have seen it in books, movies or perhaps Emily In Paris? Not to mention that this iconic monument draws 7 million visitors a year!
Even if you're not a romantic at heart, there's something about this magnificent tower that will take your breath away. Whether you choose to admire it during the day or catch its shimmering lights at night, you'll be treated to two very different experiences.
#HHWT Tip: We recommend heading up to the top of the tower to catch a bird's eye view of Paris!
Another thing you'd want to do is to take as many pictures as you can with the Eiffel Tower. Wondering where the best spots are? Our co-founder, Suzana visited the Eiffel three times and she told us all the tips for taking the best photos!
P.S. While you're there, do beware of pickpockets. Check out our article on the common scams and useful tips to stay safe in Paris.
8. Stay in an overwater villa in the Maldives
When you think of clear, emerald blue waters and white sandy beaches, the Maldives would surely come to mind. Now, what's the best way to soak in all the beach vibes? Stay in an overwater villa, of course!
If you're planning a trip to the Maldives, chances are it's for a special occasion (like your honeymoon or wedding anniversary). So, why not splurge a little more for an overwater villa? You'll have the open sea at your doorstep, so you can jump in anytime!
P.S. Check out these 8 cost-saving tips to enjoy the Maldives without breaking the bank!
Whether you're going for luxury villas or looking for more affordable options, you can find them in the Maldives. For a luxurious getaway, we recommend Hilton Maldives Amingiri, Conrad Maldives Rangali Island, or Fairmont Maldives Sirru Fen Fushi. But do keep in mind that the price per night will cost more than SGD1200 (RM3634/IDR13.5m). For more affordable options, Kandima Maldives will be perfect (around SGD500/RM1515/IDR5.6m). One important tip is to visit the Maldives during the low season (May-Oct) so you'll get cheaper rates for accommodation!
#HHWT Tip: To enjoy more savings on your luxury accommodations, we recommend booking through Luxury Escapes. They have some really good deals!
9. Visit an African safari
There's nothing more unique than spending some time with African wildlife. Not only will you see wild animals in their natural habitat, you'll also get to enjoy some of the most spectacular scenery and spend some time in nature.
Here's your chance to catch lions, zebras, giraffes, elephants, leopards and many other animals in action. Some of the animal species that you'll see are also endangered. So, by visiting the safaris, you'll also contribute to the conservation of the parks and animal habitats.
Not sure where to start? South Africa is probably the most accessible country from Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia, and you can research the safaris surrounding Kruger National Park or the Sabi Sands Game Reserve. For adventurous travellers, you can look up the Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya or the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. There are also various safaris that you can go on, ranging from luxury to mobile/overland or even river cruises and self-drive options!
10. See two of Islam's holiest sites
Yes, we've saved the best for last! Nothing is more life-changing than going on the Hajj (pilgrimage). After all, it's one of the five pillars of Islam and to see two of Islam's holiest sites, Masjidil Haram and Masjid Nabawi, is definitely bucket-list worthy!
P.S. Here's why going for Umrah is perfect for young married couples!
We're sure that the pandemic has strengthened the resolve of many Muslims to visit the two Holy Mosques. While fulfilling the Islamic pillar of Hajj might take more years to prepare for (financially, logistically and mentally), setting your intentions to perform your umrah as your next major trip is a great idea at this point in time! If it's your first time, you'd want to read these 12 tips first.
P.S. Planning to go Umrah with your kids in the future? Check out these 20 essential tips!
We hope these 10 things have inspired you to create a travel bucket list for yourself and dream about your next adventure!