10 lesser-known holiday spots Singaporeans are headed to in 2019

The Croatian city of Dubrovnik shot up in popularity rankings after the hit series Game of Thrones used it as a key filming location.
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Sick of visiting Tokyo, Bangkok and KL?

How about trying an up-and-coming destination instead?

In its recent APAC Travel Trends Report 2018 published on Dec 5, flight aggregator Skyscanner collected data on searches by 1,006 Singapore respondents to find out which cities were 2019’s upcoming destinations for travellers.

While these emerging destination cities are not as popular as Singaporeans’ all-time favorite trips, they showed the highest year-on-year search growth on the site, Skyscanner said.

Here’s which spots made the list:


#1: Berlin, Germany

With its central location in Europe, Berlin has seen “huge upswings in popularity”, Booking.com said, adding that the city is now considered one of Europe’s “coolest” capitals.

A top attraction for visitors is of course the Berlin Wall Memorial, which features a 1.3-kilometer stretch of the Berlin Wall, which was erected during the Cold War to separate East and West Berlin. It is now covered in graffiti.

 

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Other popular spots are Markthalle Neun, which hosts street food events every week, and Templehof Airport, which was once a symbol of Nazi power but is now home to cafes and bars. Visitors can even cycle on the deserted runways.

 

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#2: Moscow, Russia

Russia’s capital got a massive boost in popularity after hosting the 2018 World Cup.

Among the top sights to see are the Kremlin – home of Russian President Vladimir Putin – and Red Square, which sits beside the world-famous St Basil’s Cathedral.

 

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A quirky destination is Bolotny Island, which houses an artists’ enclave and the Red October Chocolate Factory, which once made chocolates for millions of Soviet children. It now houses cafes, bars and galleries.

 

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#3: Kuching, Malaysia

Located close to Singapore, Kuching boasts boat cruises along the Santubong River at dusk, giving visitors the chance to spot crocodiles, proboscis monkeys and the critically-endangered Irrawaddy river dolphin.

Day trips to the Sarawak Cultural Village and Semmengoh Wildlife Centre are also popular among nature and culture lovers.

 

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#4: Athens, Greece

Though further from Singapore, this destination has grown in popularity thanks to direct flights on budget airlines, Booking.com said, adding that Athens was “emerging as a popular choice for a great value European holiday”.

Its top attractions include the The Acropolis, the Ancient Agora and the Temple of Olympian Zeus – all built by the Athenians to venerate the gods of ancient Greece.

 

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Other top activities include hiking along the Menalon Trail, which is located in the hills of Arcadia, or swimming in the spring-fed, mineral-rich waters of Lake Vouliagmeni.

 

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#5: Bacolod, Philippines

This Filipino city got its newfound popularity thanks to Negros Island, which houses the Danjugan Island Marine Reserve. The famous snorkeling spot boasts pristine beaches, crystal-clear water and the very Instagrammable Manjuyod Sandbar.

 

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Nature lovers head to Bacolod’s Balinsasayao Twin Lakes National Park to trek in its virgin rainforest, while photographers flock to the The Ruins, an attractive-looking abandoned mansion.

 

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#6: Hiroshima, Japan

Hiroshima is expected to be “hugely popular” in 2019 thanks to direct flights on budget airline SilkAir, Booking.com said.

Top sights include the Peace Memorial Park and the Atomic Bomb Dome, which remember the city’s atomic bombing in World War II, as well as the most-Instagrammed spot in Hiroshima – the famous tori gate of Itsukushima Shrine.

 

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A popular side trip for visitors is to Okunoshima  – an island inhabited with hundreds of wild rabbits.

 

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#7: Jinjiang, China

While “industrial” Jinjiang isn’t popular with tourists, many use its airport as an access point to surrounding cities, such as Quanzhou, Skyscanner said, while other visitors opt to see the quaint coastal towns of Xunpu and Chongwu.

Quanzhou, once a stop along the Silk Road trading route, boasts the ancient Lingshan Muslim Cemetery, said to be home to two of prophet Mohamed’s disciples.

 

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#8: Padang, Indonesia

Similar to other cities on this list, Padang’s boost in popularity was thanks to the introduction of direct flights on budget airlines, Booking.com said.

From Padang, nature lovers can climb Bukit Tinggi and see Lake Maninjau, a volcanic crater lake.

 

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Beach lovers can also take a boat from Padang to get to Bungus Bay, a seaside area in the Indian Ocean with quiet islands to escape to.


#9: Dubrovnik, Croatia

Thanks to being the location for King’s Landing in the hit series Game of Thrones, this Croatian city has seen a surge in tourists looking to see its medieval architecture, shimmering sea views and baroque churches for themselves.

 

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Popular activities for fans of the series include walking on the city walls and taking a day trip to the lushly-forested Lokrum Island to hunt down a replica Iron Throne.

 

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Read also: I went on a $47 Game of Thrones tour in Northern Ireland – here’s what it’s like


#10: Ulaanbataar, Mongolia

More and more travellers are realising that Mongolia’s capital is not a “far-flung, ulu city” but a nightlife hub, Booking.com said.

A cultural must-see is the the Chojin Lama Temple Museum, while those looking to experience traditional Mongolian life typically visit Gobi Gurvansaikhan National Park, which lets tourists stay in a ger (a traditional hut) in the countryside.

 

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