Living in Singapore means a lot of us are fortunate enough to see much of the surrounding region. In fact, we end up venturing to the same places, multiple times, doing similar things as we did each time before. With so many unique sights, festivals, seasons and cultures, travelling around Asia should never be repetitive.
The next time you’re thinking about making your 10th holiday to Bali, why not tease your senses and check out one of these five other mesmerising events you have to see to believe.
1. Loi Krathong lantern festival
Where: Chiang Mai, Thailand
Want a mesmerizing experience? Veto the usual hikes, walks and temples that Chiang Mai has to offer, in favour for something a little different, and equally if not more breath-taking. Every year, after the rainy season in November, over 10,000 lanterns are lit up and sent soaring into the night sky above lakes, rivers and canals to pay respects to the goddess of water. Rafts are also filled with candles, incense and flowers before being pushed out onto the water.
On the banks of the water, events are held in celebration of the event, and night markets line the Ping river selling local delicacies, art and handicrafts.
2. Cherry blossoms
Where: Nagano, Japan
When: Mid to late April
There’s something magical and mysterious about canopies of sakura that they are only visible for two weeks each year. So you can only imagine how much more magical it must feel with 1500 bloomed cherry blossom trees as you wander through Takato Castle Ruins Park in the Nagano prefecture of Japan! As one of the three best locations to see the mesmerising sakura, travellers can live all their fairy-tale dreams at once. In addition to the blooms are the lakes and walls of the former castle grounds. Definitely a must-see if you’re one for extraordinary, rare sightings.
3. Holi Festival
Where: Utter Pradesh (near New Delhi), India
When: March, but timing can vary
If there’s one experience you’ll remember for a lifetime, it is travelling a little out of your comfort zone to Northern India around the Holi Festival – a celebration of good triumphing over evil. While the celebrations happen all over the majestic country, the northern states take it very seriously with celebrations of coloured chalk and paint splattering, lasting up to 16 days! Aside from ensuring your hotel has a very effective shower, make sure you take plenty of clothes to see you through the festivities which also include games and various shows. Definitely not your average holiday activity, but certainly one for the adventurist!
4. Harbin International Ice & Snow Sculpture Festival
Where: Harbin, China
If you’re someone that likes to escape the endless Asian summers for some cooler activities, then the annual Harbin International Ice & Snow Sculpture Festival is definitely a unique destination to add to your regional travel bucket list! As the largest of its kind in the world given the region’s arctic temperatures, rug up with your warmest coat and wander around full-sized buildings, animal and people sculptures made from blocks of ice that are taken directly from the Songhua River and snow from surrounding areas. When you visit, be sure to go at night when all of the sculptures are also lit with coloured lights, creating a kind of glowy wonderland, adding to the uniqueness of the experience.
Where: Kalibo, Philippines
If you’re someone that likes dancing on your travel adventures, then move and shake your way to Kalibo in the Philippines where you can swap your regular club-hopping adventures for something a little more cultural. Each January, the Ati-Atihan festival takes over Kalibo – an event originally celebrating the Malay refugees who fled Borneo and were allowed to settle in the area by the generous and darker-skinned Ati tribe. In celebration, residents paint their skin black and don colourful feather headdresses as they dance and play music in a series of parades. The whole event starts at dawn and lasts for three days, ending with a masquerade ball and a final procession. Travellers keen to take part shouldn’t miss this last parade which includes thousands of people marching, dancing and partying by torchlight! A sight you definitely have to see to believe!