2024 will be your year of travel. We can feel it.

Whether it’s the tranquil surroundings of Okinawa, the tropical vibes of New Caledonia, the vibrant streets of Kaoshiung, or the snow-capped skyline of Warsaw, there’s truly so much to see in the world. Since we’re still early into the year, you’ll have plenty of time planning your itinerary for these stunning places.  Here are 10 destinations to get you started!

Asia & Oceania

1. Bhubaneswar (India)

For the first destination, we look into the far-flung, beautiful city of Bhubaneswar. The capital of the Indian state of Odisha, Bhubaneswar is a city rich in history, culture, and spirituality. First conceived and built in 1946, Bhubaneswar was designed by German architect Otto Königsberger, who, back then, brought a modern sheen before the country gained independence the very next year.

Despite that, you can find several historic landmarks in the city. For instance, the Lingaraja Temple, an ancient Hindu temple that dates back centuries—its architecture sports stunning, intricate carvings that also spell out religious scripture. 

Despite being at a height of 55 metres, its unique build will make you believe it’s several times taller in person. When you’re on the way to Lingaraja, you’ll also get to stroll through the walkway of Bindu Sagar, a sacred pond with a uniquely soothing atmosphere.

Other spots that are worth your visit include the Udayagiri and Khandagiri Caves, which provide a deep-dive (literally) into Buddhist art and architecture, and the Nandankanan Zoological Park, the home to a variety of wildlife, including the elusive, endangered white tiger. Towards the city, there’s also the handicrafts village of Ekamra Haat, the Regional Science Centre, and the artefact-filled Odisha State Museum.

2. Hangzhou (China)

Hangzhou Hangzhou

Discover the enchanting West Lake in Hangzhou, China, where traditional tea houses, scenic gardens, and timeless pagodas create an idyllic escape. A perfect blend of nature and history.

In China, there are so many cities worth visiting, being the fourth largest country in the world. However, we’d like to take a closer look at Hangzhou, a city that never lacks in awe-inspiring scenery, a rich cultural heritage, and buildings that hold history on its walls.

To start, there’s the West Lake, known locally as Xi Hu. The West Lake is the most iconic attraction in the city, which features landscapes as picturesque as paintings, traditional pagodas, and temples that date back centuries. Its vast and beautiful lakeside is where you can stroll along and take pictures—or opt for a leisurely boat cruise.

On the southern shore of West Lake lies the Leifeng Pagoda, which will give you a nice panoramic perspective of the entire lake, along with its surrounding area—for example, Jingci Temple, or even the wider city of Hangzhou. 

The pagoda itself is steeped in folklore, centering a love story between a mortal man and a white snake spirit. For extra immersion, watch the 1993 Hong Kong film Green Snake as preparation—it stars the lovely duo of Maggie Cheung and Joey Wong as snake spirits looking to find meaning and connection in the earthly realm.

Other spots you can’t miss while you’re in Hangzhou include its numerous tea plantations, which export the unique Longjing tea, along with the Hefang Street market, the Hangzhou National Silk Museum, and the Xixi National Wetland Park.

3. Wuxi (China)

Wuxi Wuxi

Wuxi, a city where modernity meets tradition along the shores of Taihu Lake. Explore ancient temples, lush gardens, and a burgeoning arts scene in this hidden gem of Jiangsu.

We mentioned just how vast China is. That’s why we couldn’t continue this list without featuring one more Chinese city: this time, it’s Wuxi.

Unlike Hangzhou, which feels deeply rooted in its own tranquil rhythm, Wuxi is a pristine mix of tradition and modernity. At Wuxi, you can find one of the largest Buddha statues in the world, measuring at a monolithic 88 metres. It’s surrounded by the Grand Buddha Scenic Area, which houses beautiful gardens and temples for you to explore.

Other cultural landmarks include the Nanchan Temple, which was built during the historic Tang Dynasty, along with Huishan Ancient Town, which boasts well-preserved architecture that dates back centuries, and its Plum Garden, known locally as Mei Yuan. You’ll find the best glimpse into the city’s history and culture here.

However, we also mentioned that Wuxi offers a seamless balance of modern development, and one of it is the Three Kingdoms City—it’s originally the vast and grandiose set of the classic television series Romance of the Three Kingdoms, which itself is based on the Chinese literature staple. Now, it’s an immersive theme park experience of its own, where you can step into life once lived in ancient China.

4. Okinawa (Japan)

Okinawa Okinawa

Escape to Okinawa's island paradise, where pristine beaches, vibrant culture, and a unique fusion of tradition and innovation promise an unforgettable Japanese getaway.

Travellers from Singapore and all over the world have come to embrace Japan for its shining metropolitan city in Tokyo, along with the peaceful villages of Osaka and Hokkaido. When it comes to beach getaways, however, none in the country can come close to Okinawa.

There’s so much you can do in Okinawa, even if you’re not intending to lounge by its sparkling waters. It has one of the largest aquariums in the world with the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium, which has a massive tank where you can spot whale sharks, giant mantas, snake sea cucumbers, golden hinds, and a vast number of other ocean wildlife. It also has outdoor dolphin shows!

And that’s just the start. There’s also Okinawa World, a theme park which boasts traditional architecture and attractions—there’s a special focus on snakes here, so don’t miss the snake museum and the Habu snake show. 

There’s the Shikinaen Royal Garden, which used to be part of residential grounds of the Ryukyu royal family in the 15th century. For some history lessons, there’s the Okinawa Prefectural Peace Memorial Museum, where you can learn about the island’s experience through World War II—how its local population lived through wartime, and how it laid the stage for the Battle of Okinawa. 

And before you head off for your next adventure, be sure to buy some souvenirs in the form of pottery and ceramics at Yachimun Street!

5. Kaohsiung (Taiwan)

Kaohsiung Kaohsiung

Embrace the warmth of Southern Taiwan in Kaohsiung, a city of art, culture, and delectable street food. Explore its vibrant markets, lush parks, and iconic waterfront.

Compared to its capital of Taipei City, Kaohsiung, situated in the south of Taiwan, boasts a more laid-back atmosphere, offering travellers a tranquil and distinct Southern Taiwanese charm.

Like its other cities, Kaohsiung features several temples and pagodas that will wow you in person. At the Lotus Pond, which itself is known for its vast lotus-filled pond, features temples that include the Dragon and Tiger Pagodas. 

They’re best known for their colourful and intricate designs.Visitors can enter through a dragon mouth and end their visit by exiting through the tiger’s mouth - this rite of passage is traditionally known as a way to acquire good luck and fortune.

When it comes to museums, you can explore both the ancient and modern: first, with the Fo Guang Shan Buddha Museum, which will be a nice pilgrimage for Buddhists and an eye-opening experience for those who don’t practise the religion. Meanwhile, the Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts features some of the more contemporary artworks that local artists have to offer. 

Be sure to take advantage of its more central landmarks as well: like the Tuntex Sky Tower, which was once the tallest building in Taiwan, and the Liuhe Night Market, where you can dig into local cuisine, shop for souvenirs, and interact with locals.

Europe

6. Brussels (Belgium)

Brussels Brussels

Step into the heart of Europe in Brussels, where historic grandeur meets modern vibrancy. From the iconic Atomium to the historic Grand Place, indulge in the city's rich cultural tapestry.

Now, here’s where we go to places where landscapes transform and temperatures lower—Europe.

We’ll start with Brussels, the capital of Belgium. Once the ruling grounds of Belgian royalty, Brussels is now a vibrant and pastoral city full of life, with exquisite concrete and natural greenery in equal measure. 

The central square of Brussels, known as the Grand Place (or Grote Markt in Dutch, Belgium’s national language), is where you can find yourself surrounded by opulent guildhalls and the King’s House. You can then head over to the Royal Palace of Brussels, now vacant and welcomes locals and tourists alike for a day-long visit. Trust us: you’ll spend a good long while gawking at its unbelievable interiors of magnificent rooms adorned with lavish tapestries, elegant furniture, and impressive chandeliers.

Brussels is a land of rich culture, but you won’t find a shortage of simple humour here. Its iconic statue, the Manneken Pis, has become a symbol of the city’s embrace of fun and silliness. We won’t say more—you’ll find out once you see it, because you can’t miss it. 

Adding to that, you can visit the Belgian Comic Strip Center, which is home to historic treasures of comic icons like Tintin and the Smurfs—both national treasures in Belgium. The Mont des Arts district will also give you access to the Royal Library of Belgium, the National Archives of Belgium, and a public garden where you can bask in the sunset once dusk arrives.

Sightseeing is fun, but you know what’s better? Tasting! Belgium is a master when it comes to chocolate and beer—local pubs and chocolate shops abound with rich flavours and newfound delights for your tastebuds. 

7. Warsaw (Poland)

Warsaw Warsaw

Warsaw, a city of resilience and revival. Uncover the history of Poland's capital through its reconstructed Old Town, impressive palaces, and burgeoning arts scene.

In Central Europe lies Poland, a country with an incredible history in the continent. The best place to start your Polish journey is in Warsaw.

Warsaw is where you’ll get to jump into the vibrant energy of the country, and you can start by wandering through its Old Town, which is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its cobblestone streets cover through the Market Square, along with historic landmarks that you can spot a mile away.

One of them is the Royal Castle, which was unveiled in the 17th century and played residence to several generations of Polish monarchs. Its opulence is only matched by the Wilanów Palace, which boasts intricate and ancient Baroque-era design, along with a collection of royal artefacts and classic Polish art. In the city centre also lies Hala Koszyki, a street food market where you can dig into Polish cuisine.

Just like some of the cities on this list, Warsaw has its own history with World War II, and the Warsaw Uprising Museum will lead you through decades of local resistance and strife as you learn about the indomitable Polish spirit through exhibitions and multimedia attractions.

One of Poland’s historical figures is music composer Fryderyk Chopin, and there’s a museum dedicated to the man and his huge body of work. His music is often performed there, while you can read through documents and manuscripts retrieved from his personal archives.

In the evening, you must make it a point to stroll through the Vistula River Promenade, where you can take in the city’s landscapes and visit the endless list of events that take place there. For something a little more edgy, the Praga District is where the city’s alternative arts and culture communities gather.

8. New Caledonia (France)

New Caledonia New Caledonia

Embark on a South Pacific adventure to New Caledonia, where turquoise lagoons, diverse landscapes, and French-inspired cuisine create a perfect blend of relaxation and exploration.

While not a city per se, New Caledonia is an islandic territory of France located in the South Pacific. For your Europe itinerary, this will be a place for true sun-kissed leisure.

Its beautiful sandy beaches line the coast, such as Anse Vata, Baie des Citrons, and Kuto Beach, the latter located on the Isle of Pines. New Caledonia offers coral reefs in its UNESCO-listed lagoon, known as one of the biggest in the world. This is where your snorkelling adventures in Europe can truly begin.

At the Isle of Pines, located within New Caledonia, you can visit its natural landmark known as the Column of Kanumera. The island has a capital city in Nouméa, where you can take your time to visit its local museum, stroll along the waterfront, and immerse yourself in both French and Melanesian cultures. 

Speaking of which, those are not the only two local cultures worth exploring: there’s also the local Kanak culture, which is best represented at the Jean-Marie Tjibaou Cultural Centre. You can learn more about its people through its architectural work and indigenous art.

If you’re looking to take a break from the usual travel itinerary, you can spend a day or two camping at the Blue River Provincial Park, which possesses lush forests and diverse flora. Here, you can even hike through hills and take part in horseback riding.

North America

9. Vancouver (Canada)

Vancouver Vancouver

Discover the harmonious blend of urban sophistication and natural wonders in Vancouver, where the cityscape meets the Pacific Ocean, offering a perfect gateway to outdoor adventures and diverse cultural experiences.

Nestled between the Pacific Ocean and the Coastal Mountains, Vancouver is a gem that offers unparalleled escape for every traveller. The city boasts both a vibrant cityscape, as well as lush green spaces and rustic nature. One of the key highlights is Stanley Park, an urban oasis that spans 1,000 acres and will captivate you with its scenic seawalls, sandy beaches, and dense forests. A leisurely bike ride along the park's seawall offers breathtaking views of the city skyline and mountains, providing an immersive escape into nature within the heart of the city. There’s also Grouse Mountain, which stands as a year-round playground for adventure seekers. In winter, the mountain transforms into a winter wonderland with skiing and snowboarding, while summer welcomes hikers to traverse its scenic trails and embrace breathtaking views of the city below.

Nature lovers should not miss a visit to the VanDusen Botanical Garden - a botanical wonderland featuring a diverse collection of plants from around the globe. Wander through themed gardens, including a hedge maze and a fragrance garden, providing a sensory journey in the heart of the city. Queen Elizabeth Park, another horticultural gem, showcases meticulously manicured landscapes, vibrant floral displays, and the iconic Quarry Garden, offering a serene retreat within Vancouver's urban landscape.

For the culinary enthusiast, Vancouver is a gastronomic paradise with diverse offerings. From the bustling Granville Island Public Market, where local artisans showcase fresh produce and delectable treats, to the historic district of Gastown, home to innovative restaurants and quaint cafes, the city caters to every palate. Granville Island's eclectic atmosphere extends beyond the market, inviting you to explore artisan shops, galleries, and live performances at the Granville Island Theatre.

Middle East

10. Riyadh (Saudi Arabia)

Riyadh Riyadh

Experience the dynamic energy of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia's capital, where modern skyscrapers coexist with ancient traditions. Discover the rich history and futuristic allure of this Middle Eastern gem.

Taking a breather away from Europe, we’ll end this list with a continent already brimming with delights: the Middle East.

Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia, is best known as the best entry point into the soaring continent. To get a grasp of the size of Riyadh itself, you’ll do no better than heading up the Kingdom Centre Tower—its observation deck gives you a true panoramic view of the city, at a stunning 302 metres high up above.

Of course, this is where you’ll get to note just some of the many places you can visit in this city. We recommend starting at its National Museum, where you’ll get to dig into the country’s history and culture—it also proudly showcases archeological discoveries about the heritage of the continent, or the Arabian Peninsula as it’s known to scholars.

From there, be sure to take your time through other landmarks like the Masmak Fortress, which was famously built out of clay and mudbrick, along with Diriyah, a UNESCO-listed site that shows you how its people made a true city out of such materials—it has restored mud-brick buildings that might just open your mind to new possibilities when it comes to construction.

When it comes to shopping, be sure to mark down Al-Masmak Souq and Al-Zal Market, both traditional markets offering a treasure of local handicrafts, textiles and spices. Then, you can spot exotic animals unique to the region at the Riyadh Zoo, along with making a visit to the annual King Abdulaziz Camel festival, where you can find more camels than you can count with two hands.

It certainly sounds like a lot, so be sure to find a restful spot at the end of each day at the Wadi Hanifa, a beautiful valley where you can find numerous public parks and walking trails. A perfect brief escape from the city before you go back for more pleasure.

 

The cities we’ve listed are just a few of the countless places at your fingertips. The world is vast and unknowable to a lot of us on this little red dot. With each flight, though, the world becomes a more familiar place, and you’ll leave each city richer in knowledge and adventure. We hope this will help start your 2024 itinerary fresh. Happy travelling!

 

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