1. Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia
Best for a road trip with snap-happy buddies, Salar de Uyuni in southwest Bolivia is the world’s largest salt flat, with the reflective sheen of its surface making it look like the world’s largest “mirror” to boot.
Fun fact: It was once part of a prehistoric salt lake, Lago Minchin, which has since evaporated into the wide white wilderness you see now. Prepare your Coca-Cola bottles and dinosaur figurines for a quirky #flatlay because the extraordinary flatness of the landscape is the perfect backdrop for lots of imaginative optical illusion fun! Wander across the vast landscape of glistening white salt, rock formations and cacti and if you’re lucky, you might even catch sight of flamingos and camel-like vicuña in the vicinity.
Image: I-Ting Chan
2. The Sacred Valley, Peru
Visiting Machu Picchu for an alternative romantic getaway? You don’t want to miss the scenic ruins at The Sacred Valley either. Situated in the Peruvian Andes near Cusco, this valley was the central hub of the pre-Columbian Inca civilisation. Today, the archaeological hotspot remains a major agricultural site thanks to fertile soil and a generous water supply.
While you’re in the valley, do visit the Maras salt pools and the Moray concentric circles. The latter is particularly interesting – it’s an ingeniously designed ancient greenhouse with each tier boasting a slightly different temperature. And yes, the view is as pristine and breathtaking as you would expect.
Image: I-Ting Chan
3. Ha Long Bay, Vietnam
If you’re looking to surprise your parents with an overnight cruise for their next wedding anniversary without breaking the bank, check out the picturesque Ha Long Bay! A surprisingly underrated UNESCO World Heritage Site that’s also been christened one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature, the glorious scenery makes for the perfect respite from the hustle and bustle of our urbane lifestyle. Bonus: Some of the cruises offer cool on-board activities such as night squid fishing. Or skip the big ships and brave the elements in a kayak to discover hidden grottos and caves.
4. Mount Rinjani, Indonesia
Tired of being glued to the screen all day every day? Plan an adventure away with your office girlfriends the next long weekend. Mount Rinjani owns the distinction for being the second highest volcano in Indonesia and among the most active in the world, but training for the physically demanding two-day journey would be worth your while – the view supposedly rivals that of the vistas seen in The Lord of the Rings films. Now, I’m no J.R.R. Tolkien fan myself, but even I think it looks otherworldly in the most spectacular fashion possible. Oh, one more thing. The volcano is also situated in Lombok, so you might just manage to squeeze in some downtime on the beach before facing the drudgery of work come Monday.
5. Mayfield Lavender Farm, United Kingdom
Planning a vacation to the UK now that the pound has plunged post-Brexit? Accessible by public transport and located less than 15 miles from Central London is the family-run Mayfield Lavender Farm. The relaxing scent of the purple fields will do wonders to calm your nerves and get you into the holiday spirit. “Scent-sations” aside, you’ll also get to enjoy lavender scones and ice-cream, and browse for souvenir-friendly trinkets in the form of home fragrances and body products. Blooming season begins at the end of June until late August, so it’s best to start planning, stat.
Want to start local instead? Read our story on surprisingly unexplored places in Singapore to get in touch with nature! For more adventures, check out our travel section.