Make 2023 a year for going beyond the norm! What other way to do this than by discovering new destinations outside Southeast Asia — where you’ll find hidden wonders, untouched landscapes, captivating cultures, and delicious food you’ve never tasted before?
Not sure where to start? We've got you covered with these four unique destinations — all of which let you embrace the exhilarating unknown
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We’ll start with Morocco, a natural paradise with deserts, beaches, and mountains! Take your time exploring bustling medinas (an old town or historical centre) with its winding streets and vibrant souks (an open-air market), and immerse yourself in the colourful tapestry of Moroccan craftsmanship and local goods.
In 12 days, you’ll see everything this diverse nation has to offer across its cities, from the colourful sights of Marrakesh to the coastal gems of Casablanca.
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The country’s architecture tells of a history dating back to 788AD, and this is reflected all over Marrakesh, otherwise known as the Red City.
You’ll see the famous Koutoubia, as well as the houses and walls of the city made from beaten clay and bricks. The stuccos, paintings, and mosaics of Bahia Palace are worth a visit, along with Menara Gardens and Majorelle Gardens to marvel at the city’s vibrant landscapes.
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Head up the Tizi n'Tichka mountain pass towards the city of Ouarzazate, known as the gateway to the Sahara Desert. Here, find the mud-brick village of Aït Benhaddou and the red-earth palace of Taourirt Kasbah.
Just under three hours away are the 300-metre-tall Todra Gorges of Tinghir. Then, experience the Sahara Desert in all its glory along the dunes of Merzouga in Erfoud with a four-wheel-drive and camel ride tour at sunset.
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Arrive at Fez, Morocco’s second largest city often known as the cultural capital. Activity thrives at the historical epicentre of Fes el Bali, with the Bou Inania Madrasa and Al Quaraouiyine institutions and the Bab Boujloud city gate as key points of interest.
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In the Rif Mountains lies a city that is in itself an attraction: Chefchaouen. The Blue City blossoms with striking, blue-washed buildings along steep cobbled lanes, and is perfect for getting lost in. Snap photos, meet locals, visit bazaars, and head up to the Spanish Mosque for a panorama of the city.
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Along the coast of Casablanca sits the enormous Hassan II Mosque, the country’s largest mosque. Soak in the activity of Mohammed V Square; and stand here to notice the French colonial and European art deco architectural influences surrounding you.
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Of course, with any unique destination comes the opportunity to try local cuisine. The cuisine borrows influences from Mediterranean and Andalusian food, with strong savoury, sweet, and sour flavours featuring preserved lemon and spices.
Think aromatic stews cooked in an earthenware pot known as a tagine, couscous, shakshuka, kebabs, a variety of bread and flatbread, as well as beef, goat, mutton, lamb, chicken, and fish dishes.
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Start at the street food stalls of Marrakesh’s Jemaa el-Fnaa Square and Casablanca’s Old Medina Market to sample everything under one roof.
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Then, discover the unique offerings of each city. Fes is famous for its traditional harira soup, a tomato-based lentil and chickpea egg soup. Sitting on the coast, Rabat has many seafood joints from fancy restaurants to marketplaces where the produce is as fresh as possible.
No culinary experience comes as close to capturing everything Moroccan as Marrakesh’s Chez Ali does. Here, your dinner will be accompanied by a splendid display of Arabian nights, belly dancing, and folklore.
If you’re Interested in what you’ve read so far, it’s time to experience these places for yourself hassle-free with EU Holidays and enjoy savings exclusively with UOB Cards!
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Next, the countries of the Middle East remain relatively unexplored for many, one of which is the archaeological wonders and ancient relics of Jordan. Spend four days exploring world-famous sites in Madaba, Petra, and more.
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One of the 7 Wonders of the World, Petra towers with its ancient sandstone mountains, passages, and gorges that mark the impressive civilisation of the Nabataean Arabs from 4th-century BC. Enter the ancient city through the soaring gorge of The Siq, a dramatic feature that takes 30 minutes to walk through. Then, arrive at Petra’s most distinguished temple, The Treasury.
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Start at the historic centre of Madaba, fittingly known as the “City of Mosaics” with the city’s Byzantine and Umayyad mosaics. Of course, the famous 6th-century Mosaic Map of Jerusalem and the Holy Land can be found on the floor of St George's Greek Orthodox Church. Then, walk up Mount Nebo, a 700-metre-tall ridge where, according to Biblical history, Moses was got a view of the Promised Land before he passed away.
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In southern Jordan lies Wadi Rum, a desert filled with unique rock formations, valleys, gorges, sand dunes, and natural archways. Hop on a four-wheel-drive sunset tour of the desert, then stay overnight at the foot of the mountains as a blanket of stars shimmer overhead.
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Before crossing the border into your next unique destination, Israel, stop at the Dead Sea. Situated at the lowest point on earth, this fascinating salt lake is best experienced by floating in it — effortlessly.
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Due to its location, Jordanian food sees culinary influences from North Africa, the Middle East, Persia, and the Mediterranean. Bread, lamb, olives, yoghurt, tahini, and mint feature greatly. Signature dishes include mansaf (lamb yoghurt dish with rice), maqluba (an upside-down dish of meat, rice, and vegetables), and musakhan (baked roasted chicken with saffron and pine nuts).
Ready to experience majestic landscapes and delectable food? Enjoy everything Jordan has to offer on a hassle-free holiday with EU Holidays and enjoy savings exclusively with UOB Cards!!
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Home to some of the world’s holiest sites and three major religions, Israel stands with structures dedicated to Christians, Muslims, and Jews alike. These can be explored in five to six days, and will bring you from the bustling cities of Jerusalem to the scenic Masada National Park.
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In one city like Jerusalem, you can admire the glistening Dome of the Rock, walk along the Western Wall, and wander through the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
While in the historical Olc City region of Jerusalem, one should also take a captivating stroll along the Via Dolorosa, a historic processional route that represents the path that Jesus would have taken on his way to his crucifixion. As you explore this path, you’ll find iconic landmarks, ancient streets steeped in history, and a spiritual ambience that has lasted throughout the ages.
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Biblically significant cities like Bethlehem (south of Jerusalem) feature the famous 6th-century Church of the Nativity. In the old city of Nazareth, you’ll find The Church of the Annunciation, regarded as the site of the house of the Virgin Mary.
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Immaculate lawns and trees, 19 terraces, and 1,500 steps leading up Mount Carmel makeup Haifa’s Baha’i Gardens. Regarded as an architectural marvel, this garden is definitely one of the most spectacular sights in the country.
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Likewise, Israel’s cuisine features the same flavours, influences, and signature dishes as Jordan’s. Sample the best of Israeli food at Jerusalem’s Mahane Yehuda Market and Acre’s Acre Market.
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Hop on a leisurely boat ride in the Sea of Galilee and tuck into a satisfying lunch of St. Peter’s Fish (a type of tilapia) found at restaurants surrounding the lake. Naturally, you’ll find the national dish of falafel, sfenj, the Israeli version of a doughnut, and other staples like shawarma, knafeh, and bourekas all over the country.
Looking to add stunning architecture and natural sights to your Instagram feed? Enjoy everything Israel has to offer on a hassle-free holiday with EU Holidays and enjoy savings exclusively with UOB Cards!
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Finally, are you looking to experience the true magic of Christmas this year-end season? Home to saunas, snow-covered landscapes, reindeer, and the Santa Claus Village, Finland has all the makings for a wintry escape you’ll never forget.
To really immerse yourself up here, spend anywhere from 10–12 days soaking in the chilly Nordic weather of places like Saariseklä, Rovaniemi, and more.
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Start 250 kilometres above the Arctic Circle at Saariseklä, a resort village near the trails and ski areas of Urho Kekkonen National Park. In the day, meet friendly huskies and take off on an exciting husky safari race through layers of snow. Come nightfall, ride a snowmobile chasing the Northern Lights, and capture the spellbinding sight if luck’s on your side.
The cherry on top to your time here? Spending the night at Kakslauttanen Kelo Glass Igloo while the Northern Lights and starry sky glisten above you.
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Since you’re already in the Arctic, why not truly experience it by going Arctic ice floating? This guided activity lets you lie in the Arctic Sea, an experience that will surely challenge the adventurous side of you. But if you prefer to stay dry, there’s always an icebreaker cruise (available from mid-December onwards) to look forward to.
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Sitting on the Arctic Circle is Rovaniemi, known worldwide as the official home of Santa Claus! Make a half-day visit to Santa Claus Village and send home a postcard, snap a photo with Santa Claus, and get your official reindeer driving licence after your reindeer ride. Surely, these will form mementos that’ll delight your inner kid.
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When in Finland, you certainly can’t miss out on the capital city of Helsinki. The light-coloured granite buildings of museums, cathedrals, and state buildings house the city’s innovative art and cultural happenings. Stand at the oldest part of the city, Senate Square, and catch sight of Helsinki's most famous sites: Helsinki Cathedral, Sibelius Monument, and Temppeliaukio Church.
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Finnish cuisine has mastered the combination of both traditional country fare and gourmet cuisine. Fish and meat (usually pork, beef, or reindeer) feature heavily, along with wholemeal products (rye, barley, oats), berries, milk, and potatoes.
Warm up with salmon or pea soup, two staple dishes for Finnish families all-year-round. Reindeer and Karelian stews are popular Finnish dishes as well, as well as casseroles, pies, and sweet porridge.
Experience a chilly Nordic winter wonderland on a hassle-free holiday with EU Holidays and enjoy savings exclusively with UOB Cards!
As we’ll admit that planning holidays to unexplored, unique destinations can be tedious, why not consider a travel partner like EU Holidays? With experience planning tours to off-the-beaten path destinations like these, EU Holidays will provide everything, from all-in-one packages including flights, accommodations, and food to privately-led tours to popular attractions.
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