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5 PLACES TO VISIT THIS YEAR-END HOLIDAY

Forget predictable travel destinations and boring itineraries. Discerning adventurers today are not easily impressed by the usual sights they come across, nor are they charmed by the ubiquitous shopping malls in big (and sometimes small) cities.

To rekindle the exhilaration of travel, pursue an unexpected activity in a familiar city, or venture to somewhere completely unknown. From wildlife, history to gastronomy, redefine your idea of travel with these five destinations.

 

1. WEREWOLVES IN ROMANIA

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Think The Vampire Diaries, True Blood, and Teen Wolf. Those werewolves you’ve seen on the TV shows could be as real as you imagine them to be. The Romanians have a longstanding uneasy relationship with wolves, and even though few wolf attacks have been verified, the locals still take precautions against these fearsome predators (fire deters wolves). If you’re brave or curious enough to seek out these grey wolves, Romania, besides its enigmatic landscapes, may just be the place for you. More info here.

 

2. ANCIENT RUINS IN DELHI, INDIA

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Delhi is a city awash in ancient ruins. It is colourful, vibrant, unbelievably busy, and is home to Qutb Minar Complex, the world’s tallest minaret (an Islamic religious architecture). Built in the early 13th century, this compound consists of Indo-Muslim art and two mosques, one of which is the oldest in northern India. The Qutb Festival of Indian classical music and dance takes place every November/December, adding a musical touch to this atmospheric complex. More info here.

 

3. ROASTED BEANS IN HAMBURG, GERMANY

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If you think Hamburg is just another city in Germany, think again. This port city in northern Germany has been trading coffee beans for centuries, and the Hamburgers know their coffee better than anyone else, thanks to their richly caffeinated history. Explore Hamburg’s coffee heritage in the Speicherstadt district, home to a seven-storey red-brick warehouse (a UNESCO World Heritage Site). Visit the Burg Coffee Museum near The Ameron, where you’ll find an extensive collection of coffee paraphernalia including stylish coffee cups, ceramic coffee grinders and a large suitcase with a complete coffee service used by travelling commercial salesmen. More info here.

 

4. THE TRUE ZEN IN KYOTO, JAPAN

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Too often have we given in to our time-sucking smartphones, delving into social media’s endless pit. Sometimes we need to recharge ourselves instead of these little devices. Spend a week at the Kyoto International Zendo, a traditional Japanese Zen centre where guests are welcome to practise zazen – the art of seated meditation – in one of its characteristic wooden buildings set just outside of Kyoto. Don’t expect luxury – these sessions come with simple meals and daily wake-up calls at 4.50am. What you’ll get at the end of the trip is a clearer mind and a better sense of tranquility. More info here.

 

5. SNAKE CHARMERS IN MARRAKESH, MOROCCO

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From dawn to dusk, Marrakesh’s main square basks in a reverie that reflects the idiosyncrasy of this city. Juice sellers roll their fruit carts to secure some of the best spots in the area, Henna tattoo artists hawk their services, herbalists display a spectacle of potions, and snake charmers summon skinny snakes from rattan baskets. Have a sip of mint tea at one of its many stalls, watch street performers show off their juggling skills, or lose yourself in a maze of souqs, where tourists bargain for the best prices for carpets and babouches(Moroccan leather slippers). Most importantly, indulge yourself in a hearty fare of the finest local cuisine – fine meats cooked in tagines, and skewers of spiced, grilled meats and sausages. More info here.

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