Hello everyone, and happy new year! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and New Year’s Eve, and are ready for an epic 2017! (I can’t believe we’re already 7 days into January… where did the holidays go?)
I’ve been thinking about how to start this year and what my first post of the year should be, and I thought – what better way to kick off the new year than by talking about my plans for 2017 and where I’ll be travelling in the next couple of months!
I don’t normally plan my holidays this far in advance, but things will be a bit different this year. At the risk of sounding cliché and very, very cheesy, 2017 will be THE year of change for me. After working in the same role for about 3 years, I’ve decided to take a short break from the 9 to 5 world for a little while (only for about two or three months), and enjoy a bit of time off abroad before looking for a new opportunity somewhere else, as well as finally moving into London and finding a new flat. And although I’m happy here in the UK (for now), I didn’t want to rush into another job before taking some time off and exploring what the world has to offer.
So, in almost exactly two months’ time, I’ll pack my bags and head off to Asia for a two-month adventure, before flying back to the UK and starting afresh. And although I haven’t planned my whole trip yet and the last week or two still need to be finalised, I thought I’d give you a heads up as to where I’ll be headed this year, and what places I’ll be writing about (mostly) on the blog!
First stop, Hong Kong
Throughout the past couple of years, I’ve spent most of my weekends and annual leave exploring the UK and Europe, so I thought it was time to venture a bit further away this time – especially since I have a lot more time on my hands now. So, at the beginning of March, I’ll pack my bags and jet off to my first destination: Hong Kong.
I’ve always been charmed by Hong Kong’s versatility, but there were so many other places on my bucket list that I somehow never made it there… until now. And after reading about other travellers’ adventures and must-see spots in HKG (a lot of which I didn’t even know about), I’m itching to go now. I’ll be spending 5 days in the city, and although I’m flying there on my own, my friend Adam will be joining me from Budapest for the first two legs of my journey.
After spending the first 5 days in Hong Kong, we’ll be heading to Japan for two (TWO!) weeks. To say I’m excited would be an understatement! We’ll spend the first 4 days in Tokyo, before moving on to Kyoto, Osaka, Nara, and Hiroshima. After visiting Hiroshima, we’ll make our way back to Tokyo, as Adam’s flying home the following morning. Since it’s his third time visiting Japan and I’ve never been before, I decided to stay on for another 3 days and try to see everything we didn’t have time for in the first 4 days.
After Tokyo, I’m off to Taiwan for 10 days – on my own this time. To be honest, Taiwan hasn’t really been on my radar until I properly started planning my trip a month or two ago, but as soon as I started looking into it, I completely fell in love. Based on what I’ve seen and heard, it doesn’t seem overly touristy, and it seems to have the right balance between bustling city life and gorgeous countryside – which is exactly what I’m looking for. I’ve been a city girl all my life, but I love hiking and being outdoors and having these things right on my doorstep. So the fact that Taipei (a massive city) is a stone’s throw away from so many hiking trails, mountains, national parks, and hot springs is literally my idea of heaven.
And since there’s quite a few things to see and do in Taipei itself as well, I wanted to give myself enough time to explore what the city has to offer, but have a couple of days dedicated just for hiking and more outdoorsy stuff. So, I’ll be spending 7 days in Taipei and its surrounding areas, before taking the train further east to the city of Hualien.
Hualien is another place I wasn’t aware of, but went straight onto my “to-visit” list as soon as I first heard about it. Although the city itself doesn’t seem huge, there are plenty of opportunities for hiking in the nearby mountains and national parks, so it’ll be the perfect end to my Taiwanese adventures. I haven’t really finalised my plans yet, but I’m definitely hoping to visit Taroko Gorge and hike the Zhuilu Old Trail!
Unfortunately, you have to get some permits to visit these national parks, and the process confuses the hell out of me (apparently, you need a Taiwanese person to be your emergency contact, so applying from abroad, without already knowing anyone there, is a bit tricky) but I’ll make it happen. I’m not leaving until I’ve hiked that trail, damn it.
After taking the train back to Taipei, I’ll catch a flight to Singapore, where I’ll be spending the next 4 days. Just like Taiwan, Singapore is a place I just know I’m going to love – and I’ve never even been there! (Do you ever get this feeling?) The food sounds amazing, and I can’t wait to finally visit the iconic Gardens by the Bay! I may or may not take a short ferry trip over to Indonesia while I’m there, depening on how much time I’ll have – we’ll see. I absolutely cannot wait!
Next up is Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s capital – a place I’ve heard lots of great things about. Even though I booked most of my other flights and know how long I’ll stay in each place, I haven’t quite figured out how long to stay in KL or where to go next. Based on what I’ve seen so far, I think 3 or 4 days should be enough, but I might have to do a bit more research and see what else there is to see and do here. The Batu Caves are definitely on my list, and I’m still debating whether I should make a detour to Langkawi before I leave. Any suggestions?
I’m also not quite sure what my last destination(s) will be before I head back to the UK. At this point, I’m not really tempted by going the typical South East Asia backpacking route, so I might give Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia a miss, and maybe see South Korea or China instead. Seoul is one option, with a side trip to the island of Jeju (another place I’ve just discovered and fell in love with), or possibly Shanghai… I don’t know. It’s going to be another couple of weeks’ worth of research and planning, but I’ll keep you posted!
Will I see you there?
I’ll be travelling solo for the majority of my trip, so if any of you are around (or live in these countries) and would like to meet up, grab a cup of coffee, or go on an adventure together, give me a shout! I always love meeting locals and other travellers when I’m in a new country, so wave if you’re interested!
If you are, here’s my itinerary and where I’ll be in March and April:
- 11 – 16 March: Hong Kong
- 16 – 30 March: Japan
- 31 March – 6 April: Taipei, Taiwan
- 6 – 9 April: Hualien, Taiwan
- 9 – 14 April: Singapore
- 14 – 19 April: Kuala Lumpur
If you can’t make it but you’ve been to one of these places before and have some tips / ideas / hidden gems to share or you’ve written a blog post about them, let me know and send me a link in the comments below! I’m constantly adding to my list of things to see and do, so any recommendations would be welcome!
So, these are my plans for 2017 so far. How about you? Do you have any trips planned for this year?