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There’s no denying that Singaporeans love to travel. With the country being in an ideal spot where travellers can fly with ease, it’s no wonder the appetite to explore unique destinations has grown.

And as the new year emerges, so have some cities across the globe. Based on its booking statistics, ZUJI Singapore has curated a list of popular upcoming destinations for everyone to travel to new frontiers in the coming year.

Reykjavík, Iceland

It may be a mouthful trying to pronounce its name, but it’ll be worth your while learning how to. Named after its natural geysers and geothermal springs, this city boasts sweeping breath-taking natural landscapes and a lagoon with water that never dips below a comfortable 37°C. Even in the metropolitan city itself, you won’t be hard pressed finding lush greenery with the famous Öskjuhlíd, a dreamy woodland area perfect for a picnic.

We all know that Iceland is renowned for its gorgeous otherworldly phenomena, and experiencing the Aurora Borealis is something magical indeed – one the locals themselves are thoroughly fond of. Being so close to the Arctic Circle also has its quirks though, as residents experience only four hours of daylight on its shortest day, and sleep under a fairly-lit sky almost all day in the summer. If you’re an animal lover, it’s good to note that there is a colony of about 30,000 puffins just off the coast of the city!

Photo: Flickr/Greg Kruk

Amidst all of this, Reykjavik is a city full of character, with a booming contemporary art scene, and let’s not forget, filming locations for the hugely popular TV series – Game of Thrones. It’s easy to see why Reykjavik is slowly becoming one of 2017’s top emerging destinations for travellers, with ZUJI seeing almost a ten-fold growth in sales* over the past year.

Kuching, Sarawak

A little closer to home and climbing the ranks amongst popular destinations is Sarawak’s capital, Kuching. Similar to the Malay word for cat, “kucing”, there are many theories behind how the city earned its name. From a possible trading port, a small river and a local fruit (“mata kucing”), the mystery remains unsolved to date. Nevertheless, cats are largely a part of this city’s tourism with statues all across town.

This melting pot of cultures houses a blend of modern buildings and old-world charm, with influences from a variety of races and religions. Take a stroll along its Sarawak River, and you’ll find food and handicraft vendors dotting the waterfront with sprawling views of old heritage landmarks such as The Astana, a formidable white palace built in 1870. Another blast from the past across the river is Fort Margherita, an old fort that used to guard the river from pirates.

The waterfront party comes to life at night with entertainment to suit everyone. Jetty-hop on local boats for a view of the riverbanks, relax by the fountains and check out the open-air theatre, or have a taste of local delicacies – kolo mee and Sarawak laksa are one of the few favourites.

ZUJI data indicates a 130 per cent increase* in travel to Kuching, and with flights just under two hours from Singapore, we can see why it’s becoming so popular.

Helsinki, Finland

What’s not to love about this city surrounded by sea? This Finnish capital’s archipelago consists of over 300 islands, with residents often island-hopping to the nearby Pihlajasaari island in the sunny days of summer.

Helsinki was awarded World Design Capital in 2012 and it’s easy to see why – characterised by its Nordic minimalism, the design scene captivates the arts enthusiasts with thriving boutiques and galleries in the intriguing backstreets known as the Design District.

As much as it feels new, Helsinki still seduces you with its quirky, old-world charm, weaving its spell with charming art-nouveau buildings, Finnish heritage museums and old food establishments that have been there since the 1930s.

If you’re ever bored of the numerous wild cuddly rabbits that roam the city parks (yes, you read it right!), hop onto the tram or train and sample the famous Scandinavian fare and coffee around the area. To round off the experience, pop over to Suomenlinna – an 18th century UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the biggest sea fortresses in the world that you wouldn’t want to miss. Travellers have increasingly shown interest in this city, with almost triple growth in sales*.

 

Known as the “Island of the Gods”, Jeju is synonymous with volcanic landscapes, frequent rains, idyllic beaches, and majestic waterfalls. Since its creation approximately two million year ago by volcanic eruptions, the island is one of the new seven wonders of nature and has steadily climbed to the top list of destinations with a 129 per cent increase in travel sales over a year*.

Its star icon is Hallasan, a dormant volcano and the highest mountain in South Korea. With a crater lake at the summit and a Gwaneumsa Temple nearby as some of the national park’s highlights, a hike up Hallasan is well worth it.

An interesting quirk for female travellers: because Jeju is an island, fishing is no doubt a longstanding tradition and ‘mermaids’ often provide the catch. Traditionally called “haenyo”, which means female divers, this ancient tradition involves women holding their breaths as they dive 20 metres deep to harvest sea produce without any diving gear. Talk about skills!

Another quirky trait which you wouldn’t expect out of Jeju is its outrageous theme park – Jeju Loveland. Dedicated to all things taboo, this theme park showcases statues locked in ecstatic embrace and somewhat interesting positions for all to see. Perfect for a honeymoon, since many newlyweds from Korea and Japan flock to Jeju after their nuptials.

With 2017 fast approaching and a great calendar list of long weekends, let’s leave no stone unturned with all these fantastic destinations to explore.

*All the stats provided are based on departure bookings made on ZUJI Singapore platform, with YoY comparison between Jan – Oct 2015 and Jan – Oct 2016.

 

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