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Epic trips from Singapore: Unforgettable destinations to visit this year

With the New Year upon us, it’s time to start thinking about where to go in 2015. The gurus at bespoke luxury tour operator Lightfoot Travel have compiled a shortlist of their favourite destinations for this year, which we hope will help you to narrow it down!

What a grand view!
What a grand view!

Turkey

Turkey wins our Best All-Around Award for its unbeatable combination of food, culture, nature and beach. Istanbul spans the continents of Europe and Asia, and is a real cosmopolitan city, rich in culture. The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Cappadocia features striking terrain, cave hotels and underground cities, and is great for outdoor activities. The Turkish Riviera is an incredible summer destination; a popular activity is setting sail on locally built schooners, darting in and out of the harbours that line the 1,000km coastline, dropping anchor at secluded beaches and remote coves, and coming ashore for walks amongst the lush forests and streams that lace the coast.

Where to Stay:
Families: The Kempinski Hotel Barbaros Bay features a kids’ club, a children’s restaurant, babysitting services and a range of fun activities.
Couples: Cappadocia’s Museum Hotel is built into a restored cave and features incredible architecture. It’s exclusive and very boutique, with a stunning infinity pool.

Visiting Machu Picchu is like stepping into a whole other realm
Visiting Machu Picchu is like stepping into a whole other realm

 Peru

There are three things that stand out to us when it comes to Peru: remarkable ruins, the mighty Amazon and mouth-watering food. The Incan ruins of Machu Picchu are rightly considered the most renowned of South America’s archaeological sites, a place that no photograph can prepare you for. The Amazon provides an amazing jungle experience with indigenous species such as howler monkeys and giant river otters, and local Indian guides explain how they use regional plants in their daily life. Last but not least, Peru is the gastronomic capital of South America, and no holiday is complete without feasting on the freshest of seafood ceviche “cooked” in lime, or the notorious roasted cuy (guinea pig!).

Where to Stay:
Families: Sol & Luna in the Sacred Valley is great for families, with its easy access to markets, Inca ruins, cultural activities, rafting and hiking.
Couples: Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel is the perfect base for visits to Machu Picchu, set in a cloud forest full of hummingbirds and orchids.

Nothing like fresh air on a mountain trek
Nothing like fresh air on a mountain trek

Nepal

A direct flight from Singapore, Nepal is ideal for adventurous travellers hungry for the great outdoors. Bustling capital Kathmandu is steeped in culture and serves as the stepping-off point for expeditions into the surrounding mountains and national parks. A Himalayan nation, Nepal’s mountainous north contains eight of the world’s ten highest peaks, with countless trekking circuits that are breath-taking (quite literally, at these altitudes!). In contrast, you’ll find an abundance of wildlife in the national parks, making for a unique trekking-safari combo.

Where to Stay:
Families: Tiger Tops Karnali Lodge in Bardia National Park provides a fantastic safari experience with eight friendly elephants on site and its own organic farm.
Couples: We particularly love the new Dwarika’s Shangri-La Village Resort, located an hour outside Kathmandu. The beautifully decorated rooms have their own rooftop terraces, and the mountain views from the infinity pool are spectacular.

Perfect waters for snorkelling
Perfect waters for snorkelling

Fiji

Fiji combines stunning, coral-filled ocean with lush tropical mountains, and is home to some of the friendliest people in the world. From the ever-present cries of “Bula!” and the greeting parties that invariably break into song and ukulele-playing, you know you have come to a warm and welcoming place. The islands offer a ton of different watersports, from diving and snorkelling to kayaking and jet-skiing, and it’s a great option for families and couples alike. With regular flights to Nadi via Sydney, Fiji is a perfect alternative for those looking for something different from nearby beach destinations such as Bali or Phuket.

Where to Stay:
Families: Vomo Island is a short boat ride from the capital and features a fantastic kids’ club and brand new PADI School with swanky dive gear. We love family walks up the hill behind the property for a different perspective of the island.
Couples: Set on its own private horseshoe-shaped island, Matangi Island Resort has 12 ocean-facing villas in rustic Fijian style. Make sure to book one of the three treehouse villas for a truly magical experience.

Dunes as far as the eye can see
Dunes as far as the eye can see

 Namibia

Arguably Africa’s most diverse country, a classic Namibia itinerary incorporates desert, coastline, mountains and classic safari wildlife. There are allegedly the world’s tallest dunes in Sossusvlei; the fabled Skeleton Coast where the Atlantic crashes into the Namib; wonderful scenery, desert-adapted wildlife and ancient rock art in mountainous Damaraland; and big game congregating around waterholes en masse in wildlife-rich Etosha. Furthermore, Namibia is extremely family-friendly, with no malaria issues and activities ranging from dolphin-watching and kayaking with seals in Swakopmund to getting up close and personal with cheetahs at the renowned Okonjima Reserve.

Where to Stay:
Families: Okonjima Bush Suite is the perfect way for families to interact with wild cheetahs and other big cats. Intimate and luxurious, it has a private pool, a range of inclusive wildlife-related activities and a personal host and chef for the family.
Couples: Serra Cafema, in remote Northern Namibia, definitely has the wow factor. Surrounded by rugged mountains, gushing rivers and sweeping valleys, this terrain has been covered by very few humans.
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