Get set for adventure next year with our top five must-see destinations (and what to pack)
Following the release of blockbuster megahit Crazy Rich Asians, Singapore is finally emerging as a destination in its own right as opposed to just a stopover city. This petite island nation gained independence from Malaysia in 1965 and worked hard to quickly establish itself as one of Southeast Asia’s most prosperous countries. Singapore is a melting pot of cultures and contradictions; where futuristic high-rises sit alongside ancient temples and early morning tai chi sessions make way for cutting-edge light shows at the UNESCO World Heritage listed Singapore Botanic Gardens. But aside from its many attractions, it’s dining that should be top of your to-do list, with Singapore’s intoxicating mix of inexpensive hawker food (street fare) and world-class Michelin-starred restaurants.
Where to stay
Early 2019 sees the much-anticipated reopening of the Raffles Hotel, Asia’s oldest hotel and the birthplace of the Singapore Sling. Luxury hotel group Six Senses, meanwhile, has just opened two outposts in the city in neighbouring renovated buildings. But to truly live the Crazy Rich Asians lifestyle, check into the five-star behemoth that is the Marina Bay Sands hotel and take in the city 200m above ground level from the impossibly glamorous SkyPark and infinity pool. Selfie sticks at the ready…
What to pack
Keep it chic with the new Oxblood Centenary case and matching bowling bag
LA PAZ, BOLIVIA
La Paz was named ‘South America’s coolest city’ by Travel + Leisure and you’ll certainly be hard pressed to find anywhere quite as jaw-droppingly unique and intense as Bolivia’s high-altitude capital. Surrounded by the Andes and standing at 3,600m above sea level, La Paz is dizzying in every sense. It’s where colourful local culture thrives among a mishmash of historic and modern architecture with a backdrop of hipster food joints, an edgy art scene and hedonistic nightlife. La Paz is also a great base to explore Bolivia’s incredible natural biodiversity and epic landscapes. The famous salt flats (Salar de Uyuni) should be high on your bucket list but are a good eight hours’ drive from La Paz, so a closer option is the Valle de la Luna (Moon Valley), situated just 10km away, which is home to equally otherworldly geological formations. And for the ultimate white-knuckle ride, buckle up and drive out of La Paz along the infamous Yungas Road, AKA ‘death road’ for an adventure that’s certainly not for the faint hearted.
Where to stay
La Paz has seen an influx of designer boutique hotels open in recent years. Leading the way is the five-star Atix, which showcases traditional local gastronomy, culture and art in a contemporary setting. And if you’re visiting the salt flats, combine sightseeing with five-star luxury with a stay under the stars in one of Cox & Kings’ eco-friendly airstream caravans.
NUSA PENIDA, BALI, INDONESIA
By now it feels like the whole world and its mother have been to Bali – but those in the know are eschewing the mainland for the island of Nusa Penida, the largest of the three islands located off the southeast coast of Bali. This is where to come to discover true, unspoilt natural beauty and secluded beaches. Nusa Penida is also an official sanctuary of Bali’s endangered native bird life. The cliff tops overlooking the white shores of Kelingking Beach (which resembles the head of a T-Rex) is one of the most popular spots on the island and certainly one for the ‘gram.
Where to stay
There’s a refreshing lack of five-star establishments on this island paradise. But, perched in the hilltops with infinity pool views across the lush landscape and sea, the Semabu Hills Hotel is a welcome slice of secluded luxury.
What to pack
Match those endless blue skies and sea with the Cruise collection
The Telegraph describes Uzbekistan as ‘the most fascinating country you’ve never been to’, and travelling to this esoteric Central Asian country has become a whole lot easier thanks to the government relaxing visa laws earlier this summer. It may not be the capital but Samarkand, Uzbekistan’s second-largest city, has the exotic allure of being one of the main stops along the ancient Silk Road and one of the oldest cities of Central Asia. Samarkand made the UNESCO World Heritage list in 2001, making it a must for both history and architecture lovers. Sometimes known as the ‘Rome of the East’, modern-day Samarkand is split into the old city, which dates back to Medieval times, and the more built up Soviet half. The city is home to some of the finest monuments of Central Asian architecture, with the jewel in the city’s crown being the magnificent Registan square, with a trio of towering madrasahs – the oldest surviving buildings of their kind in the world.
Where to stay
Thanks to an impressive high-speed train system, Samarkand is easily accessed from the capital city of Tashkent. If you plan on staying a couple of nights, check into the 4-star DiliMah Premium Luxury, which is perfectly positioned to enjoy all the sights and attractions.
Lonely Planet has named Sri Lanka its top country to visit in 2019. With its verdant landscapes and centuries-old temples, Sri Lanka has been quietly popular among nomadic backpackers for years. But an influx of high-end resorts coupled with improved transport links, an emerging surf scene and ‘unmissable experiences’ has seen tourism positively boom. Sri Lanka is full of natural and archaeological wonders – and given its diminutive size, everything is relatively accessible and doable in a short space of time. Don’t miss the Abhayagiri Vihāra monastery – the ‘Golden Capital’ of ancient Sri Lanka and one of the world’s most revered Buddhist shrines – and Sigiriya (AKA Lion’s Rock), a historic fortress formed from an extinct volcano that’s often referred to as the ‘Eighth Wonder of the World.’
Where to stay
Last year saw the opening of the five-star Shangri-La Colombo, a luxury 500-room complex in the heart of the capital’s business district. But many of Sri Lanka’s shiny new openings take advantage of the country’s abundant natural beauty and wildlife. Santani is a minimalist, eco-friendly wellness retreat set among lush-green forest and paddy fields. And, for an even more immersive experience, the Wild Coast Tented Lodge is a collection of 28 ultra high-end pods scattered at the edge of Yala National Park. With wild, pristine beaches on your doorstep and the chance to spot elephants, leopards and sloth bears on guided safaris, this is getting back to nature at its very best.