Planning To Escape Manila’s Summer? Here Are The 5 Hottest Destinations You Need To Book Now
Where will you be this summer 2019? We’ve asked seasoned travel agents Sylvia Tupasi-Gomez of Corporate International Travel and Tours, and Bob Yamut of Travelheights, Inc. to recommend 5 destinations which they suggest Filipinos should start putting in their summer bucket list. What we got is an exciting mix that allows you to temporarily escape the pounding heat in the country anytime from March to May.
1. Dubrovnik, Croatia
Croatia, including neighboring countries in the Balkan Peninsula such Montenegro and Bulgaria, is now on the radar of many Filipinos. Dubrovnik, also called the Pearl of the Adriatic, is where you want to go to experience city, sea, sky and storied places. Run your palms across the 13th century medieval walls at Old Town, or enjoy it from the top while on a cable car ride to Mount Srd which offers stunning views of the Adriatic sea and the romantic terra cotta roofs of the houses below.
If you have the luxury of time, trace your way to the spots where Game of Thrones have been shot, starting from the cobbled Dominican Monastery all the way to the island of Lokrum where the GoT Centre that features the Iron Throne is located. While there, you can kayak around Lokrum or you can catch an Uber boat for half-day trips to Hvar or Split and take in that blue Adriatic beauty. For some gastronomic experience, grab freshly baked bread and cheese in Stradum, go wine tasting in Peljesac Peninsula, or get a taste of those sublime Croatian oysters at the famous Mali Ston Bay.
While it is accessible via its capital Amman, Jordan is best explored before or after a tour of historical Israel. Jordan is a safe and often underrated country but thanks to a congenial and reciprocal relationship with Israel since 1994, the country is now part of many Holyland packages that include Egypt in the circuit. Jordan and Israel’s coasts mirror each other and share the same biblical bodies of water: the Red Sea, the Dead Sea and the Jordan River. These waters are accessible from either country and exploring them on the Jordan side can mean less crowds for any tourist. Amman is the take off point for a visit to the 4th century BC archeological city of Petra, one of the seven wonders of the world and the very symbol of Jordan.
From Petra, it is possible to visit another landmark, Wadi Rum, in the city of Jerash. This preserved desert expanse is best explored on a 4x4 jeep but best to stop to share a cup of mint tea with the Bedouins or, better yet, trace the footsteps of Lawrence of Arabia in a landscape that has hardly changed since he first set foot here. End your trip with a swim in the Dead Sea, the lowest point on earth, then relax the rest of the days at any of the 5-Star hotels in the area. March to May is the perfect time to be visiting.
3. Reykjavik, Iceland
Once a country we just admired on the pages of National Geographic, it is now a fairly popular destination for Filipinos who’ve done most of the European tourist circuit. Between March and April, there is a good chance you can catch the Northern Lights. Guides will tell you they are best seen where there is less light-pollution. This, however, will require you to go to the outskirts of the Reykjavik such as Oskjuhlid or the Seltjarnarnes Peninsula. Days will also be longer around this time and tourists will be lesser—compared to the summer months from June to August— which means you can have more pleasant strolls around the capital of Reyjavik to take in the beauty of the city pond as well as the lakeside city parks of Hallargarour and Hljomskalagarour.
However, before all these stops, what will likely be first on your itinerary is a swim in the geothermal waters of the Blue Lagoon since it is only an hour away from the Reyjavik-Keflavik international airport. But if you’re willing to go much farther, there’s another, more laidback, nature bath found north east of the country, the Myvatn geothermal area. It just might be best to make this swim the last but not the least on your trip to this fascinating country.
4. Hokkaido, Japan
Japan is one of those countries you go back to again and again and again. You just don’t simply love it, you become a fan of it if there is ever such a thing as idolizing a country. If you have the power to resist returning to Tokyo or Kyoto for the nth time, try Hokkaido this time. For one, the cherry blossoms bloom much later here than in any other part of Japan, usually late April. There are more than a dozen parks to enjoy this pink wonderland and topping the list in Mastsumae park where there are 10,000 of them in 250 of varieties. Onsens are also a treat in this part of Japan. There are hot springs located in high-end hotels in Sapporo or you may opt to soak outdoors where you can have lake views and lush greeneries such as those located in Lake Shikotsu in the western part of Hokkaido.
Being the coldest part of Japan, ramen here is deemed more special and vary according to place. In Sapporo, Ramen shops are concentrated in Ramen Alley in Susukino and Ramen Kyowakoku located on ESTA mall where you can have a bowl that is distinctly of this region. We have not gotten to the seafood yet but with the rich marine life in the area, you are sure to get topnotch quality here.
5. Santiago de Compostela, Spain
Much closer to Lisbon, than it is to Barcelona, a trip to Santiago de Compostela is a good stopover if you ever find yourself in Portugal. This Galician commune gives you a rich and authentic taste of old world charm, history, art, and religion. It is renowned as a pilgrimage site because of the famous Shrine of St. James the Great where many pilgrims end their 790-kilometer journey that starts in Camino de Santiago. When in Santiago de Compostela, walk its cobbled streets and navigate your way through cathedrals, convents, and monasteries that feature Gothic, Romanesque and Neoclassical architecture. For art, visit the Eugenio Granell Foundation museum where you will find the works of Granell, considered the last Spanish surrealist painter along with those of Miro. End each walking day with Galician cuisine which is best known for its seafood particularly octopus, clams, and mussels.
Photographs from Daiichi Coulour Inc.
This article was originally published in Metro Magazine on March 2018. Changes have been made for Metro.Style