Everyone aspires to see the world, but that’s easier said than done for multitudes of reasons — one of it being the extensive planning it takes to experience a place in its prime time.
To reduce some of that legwork, we’ve corralled a list of lesser-known destinations from all corners of the world. Each is assigned with a month of the year after taking factors such as climate, cultural offerings and timely happenings into consideration. Bookmark this: your travel bucket list for the next 12 months has just arrived.
(Images from left to right)
January: Gunma, Japan
Nothing says winter wonderland like being surrounded by pristine, powdery snow. Avoid the overcrowded ski resorts at Hokkaido’s Niseko Village and opt for the Gunma Prefecture instead. The region boasts 20 ski grounds with a diverse range of slopes, all of which are closely located to some of the nation’s best hot springs. Don’t miss the Kusatsu Onsen, a renowned resort that dates back to the Edo period.
February: Mazatlán, Mexico
Many flock to Mexico for sandy beaches and never-ending parties, but at Mazatlán, these merits come with a side of culture. In Old Mazatlán, the city’s epicenter for art and history, cafés galleries and bookstores are preserved in their original 19th century glory. With a robust fishing industry, the town is also a heaven for seafood lovers. Book your trip in February to catch the Mazatlán Carnival, a week-long fiesta of parades, fireworks and over-the-top pageantry.
March: Dubai, United Arab Emirates
A city synonymous with excess, Dubai’s multitudes of sights and activity offerings are unlike any other place. Sunshine lingers for longer hours of the day in March, and nightlife hotspots such as Nasimi Beach Parties and Nikki Beach Parties are back to full speed, throwing extravagant bashes attended by big name DJs and celebrities. Sports fans should plan their journey at the beginning of the month to catch the best players in the world at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, ending on March 4. Artistic souls will not want to miss Art Dubai, the leading art fair on the continent.
April: Gyeongju, South Korea
Japan may be known for cherry blossoms in the spring, but these flowers are equally mesmerising in Korea that time of year. In April, a floral oasis takes over Gyeongju —the ancient capital famously known as “the museum with no walls” — making its centuries-old pagodas and palaces even more breathtaking. Stop by the lakeside part of the Bomun Tourist Complex, where the pink blooms are accompanied by live performances of Gugak, traditional Korean music.
May: Mendoza, Argentina
A prime area for Argentinian wine production, the name Mendoza should sound familiar to oenophiles. There’s no better way to experience the province than a vineyard tour in the autumn, which falls around May. Sipping Mendoza’s famous Malbec reds will be all the more enjoyable with the snow-capped Andes in the backdrop. Also prolific is the region’s olive oil production, and the city of Maipú has wineries and olivícolas aplenty for you to explore.
June: Cologne, Germany
Berlin, Paris and London may be on the top of everyone’s list for European city breaks, but this metropolis in Western Germany has plenty to offer — without hordes of tourists. With 36 museums and over 100 galleries, Cologne is a requisite stop for any culture vulture. The magnificent skyline of Rhine River — with the seven decade-old Cologne Cathedral standing tall amongst modern skyscrapers — will captivate visitors near and far.
July: Calvi, Corsica
This French island has packed a diverse range of natural wonders in its relatively small parameters — and it’s just three-quarters the size of Hong Kong. Adrenaline junkies will love the tumbling waves and snorkeling activities at the glorious beaches punctuating the coastline at Calvi, an enchanting seaside town facing the French Riviera. Prepared to be stunned by the history and quaint European charm everywhere you go, from the majestic Citadel to the quaint cobbled streets.
August: Sidi Bou Said, Tunisia
Following a gruesome terrorist attack at Sousse in 2015, many have grown weary of visiting Tunisia. However, don’t rule out the North African country in its entirety yet: the government has been making strides in fortifying its border security and there are still plenty of phenomenal gems awaiting discovery.
Take Sidi Bou Said, a scenic town planted on a steep cliff overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. With houses painted in nothing other than ivory and aqua colours, the small town possesses a startling beauty that’s uniquely photogenic. A popular artist’s enclave, you’ll find plenty of local crafts and artworks on its cobbled streets. Kick back at the charming Hotel Dar Said, a luxury hotel converted from an affluent merchant’s home in the 19th century. August is the driest and warmest month for the nation, making your dip in the sea all the more enjoyable.
September: Istria, Croatia
With more than 1,000 islands, Croatia’s many treasures are tucked within these tiny, scattered bits of land. The shining star amongst these archipelagos is without a doubt Istria, a charming seaside destination that has enjoyed considerable culinary prestige. Travel guidebooks have lauded the island as one of the best olive oil regions in the world — second only to Tuscany. The biggest draw to Istria, however, is the abundance of truffles. Sign up for a truffle hunting tour, where a local family and trained dog will take you deep into forest, in search for the gourmet mushroom. September and October are the months where the prized white truffle are most likely to turn up.
October: Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA
There’s nowhere else quite like Sante Fe. A unique cultural hybrid of Native American heritage and Spanish influences, the city is renowned for its Pueblo-style architecture. However, these mud brick structures are far from the only thing that offer boundless artistic inspiration: The imaginative storybook-came-true installations at Meow Wolf, the eye-opening works at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum and gallery tours at the Canyon Road Arts District are just a few sights art fanatics can’t miss. For some truly stunning visuals to commemorate your trip, visit in October to catch the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, where hundreds of hot air balloons take flight amidst the dessert, just an hour’s drive away.
November: Goa, India
Forget Phuket and Bali — Goa is the beach destination for leaving your troubles behind. Formerly occupied by Portugal, the state is in no shortage of incredible colonial architecture, many of which has been converted to high end resorts and guesthouses. The shores of this laid-back destination is lined with sandy beaches fit for different personalities, from the hippy Anjuna Beach to the peaceful Mandrem. Get the most out of your trip to Goa by going in November, just before the tourist visits spike in December.
December: Tasmania, Australia
Escape the winter chills by heading down under to Tasmania, a pocket of nature tucked at the edge of the world. The unspoiled beauty on the island manifests itself in an array of magnificent sceneries, from the shorelines of River Derwent — which sparkle at night due to bioluminescence — to the stupendous cliffs at the Tasman Peninsula. Frolic amongst the endless lavender fields at Bridestowe Estate, in full bloom during December. Another reason to go at the end of the year? It’s simply thrilling to be one of the first places to welcome the new year.
Original article written by Venus Wong for Hong Kong Tatler