- One of the world’s modern cities, Seoul is brimming with energy and sophistication with the faces of Korea’s celebrities mostly male are found in humongous billboards, lighted neon street signs and convenient store beverages. But the old and historical sites are celebrated and very much alive in temples and during festivals. Aside from fashionistas, foodies are also welcome and will be delighted to find pockets of restaurants offering Korean dishes prepared in traditional ways. If you’d like to wander off the city during winter, ski resorts are only one to four hours away with the efficient public railway system including a trip to seaside town of Busan or fly to Jeju Island for more outdoor wonderful experiences and challenges.
- For whatever reason, KL has always something interesting to offer for every visitor. From luxury hotels, leisure resorts, sports events and shops to flea markets, theme parks and cultural attractions, the city never ran out ideas to delight tourists. With ongoing constructions to improve mass transport system, KL is hosting the grandest events and festivals in 2015 with acrobat flying contest, international shoe festival, bird race, kite fest, and many more already lined up. Local carriers offer daily flights between Manila and Kuala Lumpur.
- If you dislike long flights and the hassles of plotting the perfect cost-efficient itinerary, go for a quick getaway to Penang, Malaysia where you can start the adventure the moment you step out of the plane. Food is the main attraction — and it’s cheap!, beach and bar are accessible and if you’re looking for some spiritual journey, the Temple of Supreme Bliss or the Kek Lok Si Temple which is located atop a hillside offers quiet, peaceful and awesome view of the island. The place is so huge yet homey and warm, even the massive gardens, statues and trees are hauntingly beautiful. If it’s your first time in Penang, a tour around George Town’s quaint streets of museums, colonial-era structures, temples, mosques and churches including street artworks should not be missed and the place is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- Marching penguins, endless shopping and gastronomic delights are just some of the attractions of Melbourne, Australia. Philip Island is a must-visit place for family trips that lead to a funky experience with penguins and koalas. Those who’d like to drive along the coastline should not miss the scenic Great Ocean Road while the shoppers and foodies must gather at Queen Victoria Market. Touring the city via tram for free is the best way to see Melbourne’s popular attractions such as Flinders Street, Victoria Market, Harbour Esplanade and Docklands Drive. St. Kilda Beach is also a major stop not only for those who’d like to get wet but for those who find pleasure in people watching, jogging or just basking in the sun. Flights to Melbourne via AirAsia are available from Manila, Philippines and Kuala Lumpur.
- Imagine cruising along lagoons and lakes on a houseboat surrounded by vast tea plantations, lush green mountains with colonial houses and architectures. Such cinematic attractions come alive in Kochi, a charming South Indian city that holds an interesting mixture of British, Holland, Portuguese, Chines, Arab and Jewish influences. From Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 (klia2) take an AirAsia flight to Kochi and head over to this beautiful place that offers refreshing seaside attractions and natural wonders.
Top 5 Must-Do’s include: a trip to Kerala Backwaters where rented houseboats takes you on a blissful glide; get your hands dirty and wet by trying the local Chinese fishing net called Cheena vala; explore Munnar Hills where panoramic view of tea and spice plantations, waterfalls and mountains greets you; Fort Kochi brings back the old charm of the place including houses with unusual attractions and to complete the experience, catch the nightly shows at Kerala Kathakali Centre and learn about Indian myths and legends. Recommended travel is between September to February when the weather is breezy and comfortable for long walks and trekking.
Kota Kinabalu, Sabah Malaysia
I just had to include the destination which I found personally most inspiring this year. And the great news is that, it is only roughly 2 hrs away from Manila and the air fares are super affordable! If you aim for a peaceful and laid back trip with loads of water and nature activities, then Kota Kinabalu is the place to be!
Be sure to visit the Mari Mari Heritage Village, spend a day or two and experience the Coral Flyer (Island to Island Zipline – from Gaya Island to Sapi Island) and go Sea walking at Sapi Island to meet Nemo! For food lovers, visiting the night market and Gaya Street Sunday market is always worth the trip! The Sarawak Laksa is worth the try!
* Special thanks to Jenny Bugarin for her wonderful recommendations!