Best places to visit in 2015
From old tourist favourites hosting big events and countries celebrating anniversaries to emerging hot spots, here are the travel destinations that should be on your radar in the coming year. From great bargains to exciting new experiences and attractions, these are the best places to add to your bucket list. So where are you going in 2015?
Held between 14 February and 29 March in Australia and New Zealand, the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup is expected to draw a large number of fans to the two countries with attractive airfares and packages. Australia will host 26 games across seven cities, with the finals being held at Melbourne. It’s a good excuse to explore the subcontinent’s hip cities, and its diverse architectural and natural wonders, ranging from the Great Barrier Reed to the Sydney Opera House. India’s matches will be held in major cities such as Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth.
With its surreal landscape of lakes, waterfalls, green hills and pristine beaches, New Zealand deserves a visit just for its natural splendour. The ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 offers even bigger reasons to head to the co-hosting country. The match venues are Auckland, Wellington, Hamilton, Naper, Nelson, Dunedin and Christchurch, most in close proximity to wonders such Lake Taupo, Milford Sound and Abel Tasman National Park. Tip: The gorgeous beaches, valleys and forests of the Coromandel peninsula (pictured) are just a short drive away from Auckland, the venue of the India vs Zimbabwe match.
Just a hop, skip and jump away, India’s neighbouring country is often overlooked but offers great value for money. Since the end of the civil war, numerous new areas are now opening up to travellers. From hilltop forts and colourful temples to tea plantations and pristine beaches, it has a plethora of landscapes waiting to be explored. Don’t forget to look up the country’s diverse wildlife, including birds, leopards, elephants and bears, at the Yala National Park and the recently-reopened Wilpattu National Park.
Ever since Myanmar’s government began encouraging tourism a few years ago, the country has seen a steady stream of visitors. This is the right time to discover its diverse ethnic groups and traditional ways of life before the advent of globalisation. Marvel over the golden pagodas, visit a traditional teahouse, and slurp over the aromatic dishes. Your most memorable experience is likely to be a hot air balloon ride over the 3000-odd ancient temples and pagodas at Bagan (pictured), a UNESCO World Heritage Site that rivals the grandeur of Angkor Wat. Myanmar is also blessed with ample natural beauty: beautiful and unspoiled beaches dot its 2000-km-long coastline, the Irrawaddy River flows across the length of the country, while the Inle Lake is lined with floating villages and gardens.
As the host of the FIFA World Cup this year and the Summer Olympics in 2016, Brazil has been in tourist limelight over the past few years. 2015 is a great time to snag a bargain before the influx of crowds at the Olympics next year. Improvements in airports, railways and roads have also made it easier to explore the country’s diverse landscapes, ranging from the Amazon to the Iguazu Falls. With a host of new shops, hotels and restaurants, visitors will also be spoilt for choice unlike ever before.
In 2015, Singapore celebrates 50 years of independence from Britain with year-round celebrations. Expect fireworks, parades, shows, rallies and more reasons to visit the Lion City. In the build-up to the Golden Jubilee, several new attractions have been unveiled in the last few years: the Singapore Sports Hub which will host the 2015 ASEAN Games, Singapore Zoo’s River Safari, Gardens by the Bay and the waterfront entertainment and dining complex Marina Bay Sands. In 2015, Singapore’s National Gallery, a massive centre of modern and contemporary visual art, will be inaugurated in the Civic District, along with Jubilee Walk, a new walkway connecting it to Marina Bay. With a string of new hotels like Wangz, The Patina Capitol Singapore and Sofitel So Singapore, the city is only set to become more stylish.
There’s no better year to explore Vietnam’s historic cities and scenic landscapes than 2015, the 40th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War. Your choices range from old favourites such as Halong Bay (pictured), and the colonial cities of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City; to offbeat ones such as bicycling along the rice paddies of Mekong River Delta and the dramatic scenery at the Dong Van Karst Plateau Geopark. Don’t forget to sample the country’s flavourful street food and visit its floating markets. The best time to visit is between November and March.
There are many reasons to visit this country in southern Africa, which celebrates its 25th anniversary of independence in 2015. The Namib Sand Sea, a coastal desert skirting the Atlantic Ocean is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with unending sand dunes, meandering river streams, an atmosphere shrouded with fog and rich wildlife. A year-round safari destination, Namibia has been lauded for its conservation efforts, with parks such as the Desert Rhino Camp and Okonjima Game Reserve offering exceptional wildlife experiences.
Famous for being the world’s fashion capital, this Italian city is hosting a mammoth international fair called the Expo 15 for eight months starting May 2015. Focusing on food and nutrition, the Expo promises to be every gourmand’s dream come true with exotic food stalls and tastings, lectures and discussions. Spread over an area of one million sq m, the fairgrounds are designed like a classical Roman metropolis surrounded by a canal. With participants from over 140 countries, the fair is expected to draw approximately 20 million visitors. La Scala, the city’s famous opera house will stay open throughout the Expo, with daily performances by stars such as Zubin Mehta. New institutions like the Museo delle Culture and the Fondazione Prada arts centre will also open their doors to the public.
There’s more to Paris than Eiffel Tower. Even as the City of Light debated about building its first skyscraper in four decades, winds of change were blowing with the reopening of the Picasso Museum; the inauguration of a grand concert hall called Philharmonie de Paris and the mint museum, the Musee de La Monnaie de Paris; and new buildings such as the Fondation Louis Vuitton and Fondation Jerome Sedouz-Pathe. The city’s also got a bunch of new or revamped luxury hotels: the Ritz, Hotel de Crillon, and the Plaza Athenee.