As more countries lift their restrictions and welcome back tourists, most of us are itching to get away and the next important question is: where do we go? If you’re looking for a restorative holiday, also known as “slow travel” then we have a few suggestions.
Bukchon Binkwan, South Korea
Rakkojae Hanok Collection has opened Bukchon Binkwan, a new urban sanctum that boasts the most pristine views in Bukchon Hanok Village. Opened in partnership with the Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG), the name Bukchon Binkwan translates to “a house in Bukchon to host honored guests”.
Perched atop a hill in the centre of Seoul’s most iconic neighbourhood known for its picturesque display of Joseon Dynasty architecture and way of life, guests can enjoy the tranquil environment and rejuvenate their wellbeing in mind, body and soul as they seek respite from the hustle and bustle of urban life.
The hanok (traditional Korean house) was originally built in the 1920s by Sekwon Jung, who is credited with the development of the Bukchon Hanok Village and the modernization of hanok architecture. The hanok’s central courtyard is a symbolism of harmony as it is where ground, nature and sky meet.
One can enjoy the unique display of traditional Joseon Dynasty architecture and culture juxtaposed with contemporary city life in Seoul at Bukchon Binkwan. It is both a luxury boutique hotel and a cultural centre for visitors keen to experience the spiritual harmony of tradition and modern beauty coexisting together.
While the upper floor of the hotel is a private sanctum for guests of its five exclusive hanok-style traditional Korean guestrooms that have each been carefully designed to reflect the natural beauty of its surrounding, The Living Room Korean Tea House is located on the ground floor of the hotel and is open to public visitors who wish to enjoy handmade Korean herbal teas based on oriental herbology.
Located beside Bukchon Binkwan is Rakkojae Culture Lounge – a modern-day ‘sarangbang’, where in Joseon times, was a reception room that aristocrats would use to welcome distinguished guests to their homes. Visitors can experience Korea’s proud cultural values in a space that features a melange of centuries old traditional antiques and works of ceramic art. The culture lounge also offers a private tea ceremony experience that can be booked in advance where participants will learn about the elaborate art of tea appreciation. Under the guidance of a professional tea master, guests will learn more about the beauty of Korean culture and take the opportunity to slow down and appreciate being in the present moment.
Bukchon Binkwan is located around the corner from Gahoe-dong alleyway, a popular photo spot in the Bukchon Hanok Village.
Address: 10 Bukchonro11ga-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul
For more information, please visit http://rkj.co.kr/en/
Indigenous-inspired wellness experiences, Australia
Couple enjoying Talaroo Hot Springs
Australia’s rich and diverse culture offers some of the world’s most outstanding indigenous tourism experiences that are life-changing, transformative and immersive. Practiced for tens of thousands of years, Aboriginal cultures have long mastered the ancient art of wellness, a trend we have perceived as modern. Indigenous healers have nurtured the physical, emotional, and social wellbeing of their people through food, massage, bush medicines and ceremony. As the Director of Lirrwi Tourism, Dhangal Gurruwiwi, says: “If spirit is healed, the body will heal”.
Discover enriching indigenous tourism experiences that brings together an inspirational combination of culture and personal healing:
- Talaroo Hot Springs, QLD: Visitors can experience the hospitality of the Ewamian Traditional Owners at this unique North Queensland geological wonder. Experience exclusive guided tours of the spectacular landscape or sink into the healing waters of the hot springs – geothermal mineral waters have long been prized for health and healing as it soothes the mind and body.
- Wilpena Pound Resort, SA: Wilpena Pound Resort, located in the heart of the Flinders Ranges on Adnyamathanha Country, is the perfect base to explore the vast and spectacular ancient outback landscape. Visitors can look forward to a one-of-a-kind experience of the destination, from guided Aboriginal cultural walks, camping under the stars and scenic flights.
- Dale Tilbrook Experiences, WA: Located at The Swan Valley region, Mandoon Estate offers visitors a chance to indulge traditional bush food while learning about local indigenous food and culture from a Noongar Elder, Dale Tilbrook.
- Sails in the Desert hotel, NT: Indulge in a five-star luxurious outback holiday experience at Uluru run by Aboriginal-owned Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia. Soak in Uluru’s raw natural beauty, immerse in Indigenous art at the stunning Mulgara Gallery, delight in Indigenous-inspired cuisine or relax with one of the sumptuous treatments.
- Spa Kinara, NT: Set among the spinifex and the red sand of the outback, Spa Kinara is a cool, calm retreat reflecting the clever design of a traditional Aboriginal shelter, or wiltja. Kinara means ‘moon’ in Pitjantjatjara, and offers a spiritually grounding, revitalising connection between the traditional country and the vast blue-domed sky that cloaks the landscape.
Australia is home to the oldest living culture on Earth. Indigenous tourism offers a true connection to the land and sea and a new way of experiencing it – one that is life changing, transformative and immersive. We want to let travellers experience the authenticity of the region and form meaningful connections with the places they visit, and our many Indigenous experiences are an incredible place to start.”
– Brent Anderson, Regional General Manager, South & South Eat Asia (SSEA), Tourism Australia
Winter activities, New Zealand
As temperatures begin to soar in sunny Singapore, New Zealand is the perfect getaway to experience a wintery wonderland. Being in the southern hemisphere, New Zealand’s temperatures are cool and refreshing this time around and its borders have reopened just in time to welcome Singaporeans.
As temperatures begin to drop to 1.5 – 15.5 degrees celsius across the country, the mountainous areas of New Zealand begin to peak with snowcaps. The further south you go, the colder it gets – temperatures are significantly lower in Queenstown than in Auckland!
From the snowy peaks of the North Island to the wide-open terrains of the South Island, there is a winter activity in store for everyone in New Zealand.
Bust out your snow gear
The hilly mountainous regions of Central Plateau, Canterbury and Central Otago are blanketed with white snow as ski enthusiasts zip through the various ski tracks on offer. The New Zealand ski season typically kicks off in the South Island from mid to late June and finishes in October, while the North Island season starts and finishes a little later. The South Island is home to Queenstown and Wanaka, which are a haven for snow lovers. Some of the most picturesque regions to ski in these parts include The Remarkables, Coronet Peak, Cardrona, Treble Cone and Snow Farm. These attractions cater to skiers at every level, including Olympic-sized super pipes, state-of-the-art chairlifts, cruising groomed runs, big mountain style and breathtaking views. The Central North Island is home to Mt. Ruapehu, New Zealand’s largest commercial ski field. Skiers can experience Whakapapa and Tūroa – two of the largest skiing areas in New Zealand which boast some of the country’s longest ski runs with spectacular views. For more family-friendly activities, sledding at Whakapapa’s Happy Valley Snow Park or tobogganing down the slopes of Mount Hutt and Cardrona is the perfect way to engage the kids in the spectacular outdoors. Other fun activities include long walks in the deep snow called snowshoeing, thrilling snowmobiling rides and dog sledding.
Marvel at a spectacular starlit sky
The starry skies of New Zealand are one of the most spectacular sights during the winter months. With constellations and shooting stars dotting the skies; most of New Zealand has no light pollution and is home to some of the most accessible observatories in the world. Covering much of the Aoraki/Mount Cook Mackenzie region, the Dark Sky Reserve has been labelled as one of the best stargazing sites on the planet. Big Sky Stargazing at the foot of Mount Cook or Dark Sky Project are just some of the tours available at Tekapo’s Mount John Observatory. Here, you’ll be treated to professional telescopes and knowledgeable, passionate guides for an unforgettable stargazing experience.
New Zealand during the winter months is also treated to a symphony of colours that is the Aurora Australis. The Southern Lights are seen mainly in the southern half of the South Island, in and around Lake Tekapo, Dunedin, Queenstown, Southland and Stewart Island. July or August are the perfect months maximise your chances to view the spectacle.
Stretch your legs with a scenic hike
The North Island boasts one of the most scenic hiking trails during the winter season. The marvellous Tongariro Alpine Crossing is a 19.4km medium level hike across a spectacular volcanic landscape. Speckled with crystal clear turquoise crater lakes, alpine meadows, high volcanic peaks and stunning 360-degree views of the central plateau in this world-renowned hike, this experience is perfect for enthusiasts looking to stretch their hiking needs. Blue Lake Track at Rotorua is an easier hiking path, perfect for leisurely strolling with the family and little ones. This easy walking loop circles Rotorua’s beautiful picturesque Blue Lake, taking in pristine beaches, native bush and the exotic conifers of Whakarewarewa Forest.
Take a dip in the hot pools
Contrasting with the cold weather, New Zealand is also home to impressive, naturally-heated hot springs. After a long day of skiing and winter sports, a long soak overlooking spectacular mountain views is the perfect way to relax your weary muscles. Soak in Hanmer Springs, known for its mineral-rich hot pools that are surrounded by gorgeous gardens and alpine visits. An experience at the Hot Tubs Omarama leaves you gazing at a clear starlit sky while enjoying the warmth of the hot springs.
Eat your way through Hawke’s Bay
During the winter months, Hawkes Bay is the perfect destination to sample delicious citrus fruits and hearty vegetables. Visit Havelock North farmer’s market for some of the most delicious locally grown produce. For foodie enthusiasts, Hawkes Bay also boasts an array of excellent food and wine. Delicious Hawke’s Bay apples and pears are harvested in autumn and foraging for truffles and mushrooms is a highlight during the winter months and loads of fun to involve the children.
For a more adult-friendly gathering during winter month of June, Hawke’s Bay locals come together to celebrate their beloved produce in the annual Winter Food and Wine Classic event (F.A.W.C). Restaurants, food trucks and eateries set the bar high, serving gourmet cuisine brilliantly prepared by established chefs using seasonal produce. Breweries, cideries and wineries come together under one roof to tickle your tastebuds with superb liquid creations.
Do good while you travel, Various Destinations
Besides restoring your mental health and simply taking a break, you can make your holiday more meaningful by making is restorative in other ways – Environmental Protection, Marine Conservation and Community Engagement. Started by Marriott International, the Good Travel with Marriott Bonvoy™ is a program that offers meaningful travel across Asia Pacific. The program now spans close to 100 hotels across the Marriott Bonvoy portfolio in Asia Pacific and offers guests the opportunity to forge first-hand connections with local communities and the environment during their stay.
Each experience connects guests with local experts and NGOs at the destinations they visit, while promoting and deepening cultural understanding. Experiences range from planting mangrove seeds in the forests of Langkawi to restore the wetland, to joining a temple preservation in India to mitigate the destructive effects of sandstorms on its façade, and caring for fish species in Qiandao Lake in China to help improve water quality.
To learn more, please visit https://marriottbonvoyasia.com/goodtravel.
Charcoal sauna at sea
The first two of six ships within this cutting-edge class will feature the cruise industry’s first charcoal sauna at sea as well as a two-story cascading indoor spa waterfall. The Cruise Line has also incorporated several guest favourites including thermal experiences and hot-stone loungers.
Derived from Japanese and Korean wellness practices, the charcoal sauna uses a radiant heat system with an outer charcoal layer to reach temperatures between 86-122 degrees Fahrenheit. Guests can recline into relaxation as the sauna helps boost circulation and metabolism while also removing toxins from the body. The sauna also effectively treats muscle stiffness and tension, including relief from backache, headache, and arthritis, by promoting the deep release of connective tissue and muscles.
For more information about the Company’s award-winning 17-ship fleet and worldwide itineraries, or to book a cruise, please contact a travel professional, call NCL Hong Kong at +852 800 901 951 or visit www.ncl.com.
Images: Bukchon Binkwan, Envato, Marriott International, Norwegian Prima, Tourism Australia