Who says you have to wait until January to start planning your travels for the year ahead. Whether you've been craving a far-east experience or wanting to tap into a fascinating pop-culture experience entirely different from your everyday life - there are a few destinations we're quite excited about for the new year ahead.
Check them out below and then make sure you book that leave as a starting point to making your dream 2020 trip a reality.
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Why: Singapore is fascinating. And overwhelming. But mostly it’s exhilarating. Coming from a country like South Africa where wild, open spaces form such a naturally broad part of daily life, it struck me front and centre how this city-country, smarting for space, is so future-focused in its architecture and design. At 50kms long and just 28kms wide (quite literally my daily commute to work), they are rising higher and higher in their buildings but are ever mindful of the need for eco-spaces, green spaces - to ensure the very well-being of its people.
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How to get there: Singapore Airlines' passengers who are in Singapore for 24+ hours are eligible for a Singapore Stopover Holiday (SSH), including a one-night hotel stay, round-trip airport transfers, complimentary rides on the SIA Hop-on Bus & free admission to 15 attractions. All you have to do is book a “multi-city” trip to access this deal. Click here for more info.
Accommodation: Three new hotels – The Outpost Hotel Sentosa, Village Hotel at Sentosa and The Barracks Hotel – located within Sentosa’s heritage belt along Artillery Avenue have been developed by the Far East Organisation , but your options are plentiful from the Marina Bay Sands to the Capsule Pod at Changi Airport.
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Why: India is a cultural delight. While the country is vast, Mumbai, as a cosmopolitan metropolis is a good place to start. Earlier known as Bombay, it is the largest city in India and the capital of Maharashtra state. Mumbai is undoubtedly the commercial capital of India and is one of the predominant port cities in the country. Eclectic and cosmopolitan, this is epitomized through the presence of Bollywood within the city, the centre of the globally-influential Hindi film and TV industries.
How to get there: Via Seychelles Island with this combo flight option from only R5 190 - click here for more info (T&Cs apply).
Accommodation: Acajou Hotel, situated on Cote d'Or beach, it offers guests superior accommodation. Renowned as one of the eco-friendly hotel leaders in Seychelles, it is in close proximity of Anse Volbert Beach and Anse Takamaka.
If you're looking for styling accommodation (not included in flight deal as mentioned above) Hotel Fariyas in Mumbai is a luxurious business hotel in South Mumbai, located 26kms from Mumbai Airport. At Fariyas you are within a 5-minute walk from Gateway of India and Prince of Wales Museum and within 15 minutes of Rajabai Tower and St Thomas Cathedral. It is among the most prominent hotels of Mumbai situated very close to Causeway.
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Why: Thailand is likely South Africa’s favourite international beach break – and for good reason. A superb year-round destination offering something for every interest and budget, Thailand is a gem in Southeast Asia’s crown. For South Africans, the fact that the country is visa-free with easy flight access and affordable even for those travelling on the rand, only adds to its appeal. With culture, food and dreamy Instagram-perfect beaches, Phuket island is a popular choice, especially for the budget traveller.
Best way to get there: There are daily flights from Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban to Phuket International Airport (HKT), a 50-minute drive from town centre.
Accommodation: Double rooms start from R600 in a fairly central hotel. Do your research though and ask a travel expert for recommendations as the accommodation choices are overwhelming and often, not all is what it seems online.
The Sunset Beach Resort offers good value for money for the price conscious traveller. The 3 star hotel is situated on a quiet stretch of the beach in Patong, away from the buzz of the main strip but close enough to visit. This package from R9 470 per person sharing includes return flights from Joburg, 7 nights accommodation and breakfast daily.
READ: Quick guide to Thailand: Visa free travel for South Africans
Why: Bali is a dream 2020 holiday destination, no matter what time of the year you’re planning on visiting.
Kuta Beach, in the south of the island of Bali, Indonesia, is a tourist hotspot and surfer favourite. If you want to be in the centre of the action, with beaches, entertainment, shopping and nightlife on your doorstep, this is where you’re going to want to be.
How to get there: There are no direct flights to Bali but there are daily connecting flights to Ngurah Rai International Airport in Bali. Kuta Beach is about a 30 minute drive from the airport.
Accommodation: You can find accommodation from R400 and up per room per night, but again, be wary of something that looks to good to be true. Rather pay extra than risking your money on a substandard hotel that doesn’t live up to expectations.
The 3-star Dewi Sri Hotel is a good choice for budget travellers. It’s within walking distance of the beach and main shopping and nightlife areas.
Book a package that includes return flights from Johannesburg, 7 nights accommodation and breakfast daily.
Why: Vietnam is perhaps one of Southeast Asia’s trendiest countries to visit in 2020. Expect similar great weather, cuisine and culture as you would find in tourist favourite Thailand, but on the whole it’s a little bit less touristy. It’s a fascinating country that can be visited year-round with attractions and interests to suit every interest and budget.
How to get there: Fly from Johannesburg to Ho Chi Minh City – there are no direct flights.
Accommodation: Try an intrepid tour from R7 940 per person - click here for more info (including a local guide, 10 nights accommodation and on-trip transport) explores Hue by bicycle, the chance to bask on the beaches of Nha Trang, an overnight boat cruise in Halong Bay, an old town walking tour in Hoi An, exploring Ho Chi Minh City, and more.
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Why: For first-time visitors the city offers a wide range of tourist attractions with history that dates back to the Roman times – from the iconic Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, the London Eye to the Tower of London and the Houses of Parliament.
If architecture and history isn’t of interest to you, there are plenty of public parks that has its charm in every season – don’t miss the magical Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park during winter to and make sure you stroll through Hampstead Heath and the slightly smaller St James Park on a sunnier day.
The city also hosts some of the world’s best art collections in the Tate Modern, The National Portrait Gallery and the V&A museum. Well-known artists like Kandinsky, Caravaggio, Modigliani and Rembrandt van Rijn can be seen in these museums, and best of all, most of these museums offer free entry.
If you’re travelling with kids make sure to add Madame Tussauds, the London Zoo and the Sea Life London Aquarium to your daytime activities.
How to get there: Return flights from Joburg starting at R9 482 per person flight and hotel included.
Accommodation: The best hotels in London are not limited to central areas, each neighbourhood offers a choice of options ranging from cheap and budget hotels to luxury accommodation.
Budget options might have a less convenient location from the main tourist attractions in the city, but with efficient public transport it will probably only affect your travelling time to and from these tourist attractions.
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Why: A cruise on the Bosphorus offers great views of both the European and Asian shores. You’ll see century old palaces and mansions galore, and there is even a romantic sunset cruise in the summer months. If you take a cruise or ferry to the Asian part of Istanbul, spend some time in Kadikoy to experience a whole different atmosphere, a mix of architecture, and authentic culture, food and markets.
Istanbul is also the original home of the tulip, and you can see beautiful displays at the Sultanahmet Park and Emirgan Park if you’re visiting between March and May. For some Turkish-style pampering, be sure to go for a hammam, with sauna, steam, full body wash, and massage at one of the city’s many Turkish baths.
How to get there: Budget options starting from R 8783 for 5 nights per person flight and hotel included.
Accommodation: If you are looking for accommodation in Istanbul, you’ll soon discover that the city's variety is reflected in its range of hotels and rooms. From former palaces to small-scale boutiques, hostels to private apartments or villas, accommodation in Istanbul offers something for everyone. The best area to stay will depend on what you hope to enjoy on your trip. If you are interested in the Old City, history and architecture, opt for the Sultanahmet area, which is in the heart of the oldest part of Istanbul.
Taksim is another popular area, known for luxury hotel names such as Hilton and Hyatt. For nightlife and bars, the Golden Horn or Galata areas are best. The lively Beyoglu district, which is close enough to all of the Istanbul attractions, also has great street food, local shops and good nightlife – opt for an Airbnb in the Cihangir neighbourhood and you’ll find yourself amongst artists, musicians, young Turks and expats.
Why: Namibia may be a desert country, but its richness lies within its natural attractions, both landscape and of the animal kingdom, as well as its vivid cultures.With some of the highest dunes in the world, you can take on the wilderness with a tent under hot sunsets, or feel the breeze of quiet stretches of beaches that go on for miles, without seeing another person.You can also hike the second-largest canyon in the world, or you can visit a traditional Himba village where you can learn more about their daily lives and their traditional craftsmanship.
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Hot get there: Flights range from R4 100. Self drive advisable once you are there with road trip from Windhoek up to Etosha, Swakopmund, Luderitz, and hot air baloon ride over death mans valley.
Accommodation: South African-based hotel chain is expanding its footprint into this neighbouring favourite. BON Hotels will be taking over the management of two hotels in Rundu and Walvis Bay from the well-known Theart family. The group already has its own wholly-owned BON hotel in Swakopmund since 2014, and these two new properties are a great addition to their Namibian network.
QUICK GUIDE TO NAMIBIA: Visa-free travel for South Africans
*Compiled by Selene Brophy
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