The World’s 50 Best Restaurants of 2015

Foodies Unite. The list of the world’s 50 Best Restaurants of 2015 was just released. It seems that Europe has dominated once again this year with a slew of restaurants from France, Spain and Italy rounding out the top 50. There were some newcomers to the list this year as well, including one from Russia and the United States. Read on to discover why these 50 restaurants were named the best in the world for 2015, and maybe book some dinner reservations at one of these hot spots on your next trip.

50. The French Laundry -Yountville, CA, USA

For more than two decades the French Laundry has been serving up delicious French-American inspired cuisine and shows no sign of slowing down. One unique claim to fame is that no ingredient is ever repeated twice on the same menu. Visitors should expect dishes such as oysters and pearls here.

Leonard Zhukovsky / Shutterstock.com
Leonard Zhukovsky / Shutterstock.com

49. Blue Hill at Stone Barns -Pocantico Hills, NY, USA

This is the first time this restaurant has been seen on this list but it certainly won’t be the last. With a farm to table outlook, this restaurant focuses on delivering locally sourced and grown food to diners. Diners won’t find any printed menus here; instead they are subject to a multi-taste menu which includes ever-changing dishes depending on the season.

Photo by: Blue Hill Farm
Photo by: Blue Hill Farm

48. Schloss Schauenstein -Furstenau, Switzerland

Romance meets exceptional cuisine here at this restaurant located in a castle in the Swiss Alps. Chef Andreas Caminada has been awarded three Michelin stars and is considered one of the best chefs in all of Europe. Modern French is the style of food and guests can expect simple and familiar ingredients bursting with aromas, textures and unbelievable flavor. The dining room with its grand marble floors and the extensive wine list make this an unforgettable experience.

Photo by: Andreas Caminada
Photo by: Andreas Caminada

47. Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée -Paris, France

Alain Ducasse has outdone himself once again with this sparkling dining room and unique menu based around healthy eating. The concept here is a menu based on a trilogy of fish, vegetables and cereal; produce that has been caught or grown in a sustainable and organic environment. The stainless steel shells that create the tables, the sparking chandelier and the first-class intriguing menu gets this restaurant an A+.

Photo by: YouTube/Alain Ducasse
Photo by: YouTube/Alain Ducasse

46. Restaurant André -Singapore

Although this restaurant is only five years old, it has taken Singapore and the world by storm with its incredible menu, dining area and uniqueness. Patrons can expect eight courses which reflect Chef André Chiang’s multi-culinary experience. The restaurant is located in a former shop house in China Town and features unusual art pieces and slick service.

Photo by: Foodcations
Photo by: Foodcations

45. Relae -Copenhagen, Denmark

This certified organic restaurant focuses less on elegant service and more on exceptional local food. Diners here will pour their own wine and help themselves to the cutlery in the table drawers. Don’t let that fool you though, the daily changing menu will entice and excite your palette. Using three or four ingredients Chef Christian Puglisi draws on his Italian background and combines that with a New Nordic style of food, creating dishes that look deceptively simple.

Photo by: Tumblr/Relae
Photo by: Tumblr/Relae

44. Maido -Lima, Peru

This restaurant is where you will find the perfect execution of Nikkei food, a blend of Peruvian-Japanese culture. A relatively simple looking restaurant, the focus is on the food here; offering a simple Japanese menu or a 15-course Nikkei menu. Patrons can sit up at the bar to watch the talented chefs’ work as they create dishes such as grilled octopus and confit of guinea pig with molle pepper.

Photo by: Maido
Photo by: Maido

43. Tickets -Barcelona, Spain

Tickets is not just a restaurant but a complete dining experience with high cuisine innovations combined with a fun and exciting atmosphere. This cinema-themed operation serves up an amazing combination of modern Spanish style cuisine blended with flavors from all over the world. Patrons here enjoy letting the staff pick their meals for them, in an atmosphere than can only be described as unique and amazing. It is no surprise this restaurant has made the list.

Photo by: Tickets
Photo by: Tickets

42. Boragó -Santiago, Chile

The emphasis here is sustainable and seasonal dining and with both the Pacific Ocean and the Andes at their fingertips; the local ingredients are never ending. Chef Rodolfo Guzmán is known as a pioneer of Chilean cuisine and can be known to switch up the menu halfway through the evening depending on the availability of local ingredients. Expect Chilean native ingredients combined with the European culinary skill, to create an unforgettable dining experience.

Photo by: Boragó
Photo by: Boragó

41. Maní -Sao Paulo, Brazil

This husband and wife team has done a brilliant job creating a homey, welcoming dining experience that is known for serving exceptional cuisine. Brazilian Born Rizzo Redondo recently won the title of World’ Best Female Chef and continues to create food based on her home roots, combined with her husband’s Spanish influence. Expect to see dishes that feature the catch of the day, foie gras and home-made flours and jams.

Photo by: Mani Manioca
Photo by: Mani Manioca

40. Per Se -New York City, USA

Since it opened in 2004, this restaurant has been on this list every single year and shows no sign of slowing down. The dining room with its impressive floor to glass windows overlooking Central Park sets the stage for an innovative and sophisticated menu. Seasonal American ingredients are often expressed in dishes that draw on French Cuisine, such as 100-day aged beef accompanied by tongue pirogi and borscht.

Photo by: Per Se
Photo by: Per Se

39. Quique Dacosta -Denia, Spain

Chef Quique Dacosta is truly one of the leaders of avant-garde cuisine in Spain and stays true to his roots, using only ingredients that are locally sourced within 75-km from the restaurant. Each dish is truly a work of art and incorporates a mirage of colors. The tasting menus vary in size but some have up to 30 dishes to try; giving patrons the experience of an unforgettable multi-sensory experience.

Photo by: Eye on Spain
Photo by: Eye on Spain

38. Amber -Hong Kong, China

The impressive wine list of over 1,100 wines and the elegant chandelier that features 4,320 bronze rods set the atmosphere for this exquisite French cuisine combined with Asian ingredients. Fish arrives daily and the chef Richard Ekkebus loves to combine the Pacific seafood with flavors from around the world. The finest meats, the finest wine pairings by an award-winning sommelier and a gorgeous atmosphere make Amber the place to be in Hong Kong.

Photo by: Amber
Photo by: Amber

37. Biko -Mexico City, Mexico

A trio of chefs from different backgrounds are creating innovative and fun foods with a big focus on creativity. By combining Spanish and Mexican flavors, this trio is breaking down culinary barriers and highlighting once forgotten ingredients. Visitors should expect dishes such as a cauliflower truffled soup topped with radish pickles and olive spheres or foie gras candy floss.

Photo by: Biko
Photo by: Biko

36. L’Astrance -Paris, France

This tiny Paris restaurant combines French cuisine with Far East flavors such as lemon grass, jasmine and daikon. There is no set menu here and diners simply choose the number of courses they want and the rest is up to chef Pascal Barbot and his team who send out surprise dishes. The wine list is all encompassing, the dining room is chic and modern and the experience is truly once-in-a-lifetime.

Photo by: European Trips
Photo by: European Trips

35. Quintonil -Mexico City, Mexico

With a strong commitment on reducing the ecological footprint of its food combined with a desire to create dishes based on fresh seasonal ingredients and forgotten herbs and grains; Quintonil is taking Mexico City by storm. This restaurant focuses on indigenous produce and aims to highlight fruit and vegetables on the menu, not just for their taste but for their nutritional value as well. Chef Jorge Vallejo makes his debut on the list this year but we guess it won’t be the last time.

Photo by: Quintonil
Photo by: Quintonil

34. Le Calandre -Rubano, Italy

Chef Max Alajmo became the youngest person ever to win three Michelin stars back in 2002 and has since evolved Le Calandre into an excellent restaurant serving modern Italian cuisine. Guests have the choice of three menus here; a classic menu, a more modern take and one that is in-between the two. Diners can expect a level of Italian dining that is hard to find anywhere else with dishes such as extra virgin olive oil risotto with capers, coffee and rose.

Photo by: Le Calandre
Photo by: Le Calandre

33. Aqua -Wolfsburg, Germany

The location itself makes this an unusual and interesting place to eat; Aqua is located on the edge of a theme park right next to the Volkswagen factory. Chef Sven Elverfeld inspires the reinvention of German peasant food in a modern and more global theme. This open-minded kitchen turns out dishes such as fresh local cheese with onion, vinegar and dark malted bread to yellow fin mackerel with guacamole, smoked corn foam and black quinoa.

Photo by: Aqua
Photo by: Aqua

32. Attica -Melbourne, Australia

The location might throw you for a loop as Attica is located deep within the suburbs of Southern Melbourne, but rest assured visitors to this restaurant are in for an unforgettable dining experience. Australian native ingredients are found more often than not on the plates and chef Ben Shewry isn’t afraid to experiment with new meats and spices. Along with the exceptional cuisine, expect a high entertainment factor with visits out to the garden and entertaining service staff.

Photo by: Visit Melbourne
Photo by: Visit Melbourne

31. Restaurant Frantzén -Stockholm, Sweden

Known all over the world for its modern Scandinavian cooking, this restaurant features an open kitchen, seasonal produce grown in its gardens and a bright but intimate dining room. Chef Björn Frantzén designs the flavorful menus with not just taste in mind but presentation as well. The well known signature dish ‘satio tempestas’ changes daily and can contain more than 40 different seasonal vegetables cooked in a variety of ways; all from the garden on-site.

Photo by: Flickr/Frantzen
Photo by: Flickr/Frantzen

30. Vendôme -Bergisch Gladbach, Germany

Pushing the boundaries on traditional German cuisine has ensured that this restaurant get its name well known throughout the world. Drawing on French, Asian and New Nordic influences, Chef Joachim Wissler creates innovative dishes such as a two-part suckling pig dish complete with green and yellow curry sauces. Polished service, views overlooking the bay and a wine list with over 900 choices round out this incredible experience.

Photo by: Vendome
Photo by: Vendome

29. Nihonryori RyuGin -Tokyo, Japan

This intimate 18-seat restaurant looks to present seasonal ingredients through a traditional multi-course Japanese style menu; while introducing new and modern ideas. Patrons can expect dishes with seven different kinds of Japanese fish, complimented by a French leaning wine list. Chef Seiji Yamamoto creates the daily menus based on what is available at the morning markets and has created his own line of teas to compliment the food.

Photo by: RyuGin
Photo by: RyuGin

28. The Test Kitchen -Cape Town, South Africa

Rather than just a restaurant, The Test Kitchen is truly an experience packed full of imagination and artistic flair. The menus are a combination of international techniques, flavors and ingredients and more often than not the meals are turned into works of art. The massive open kitchen allows diners to be part of the process so expect the unexpected when you visit The Test Kitchen.

Photo by: The Test Kitchen
Photo by: The Test Kitchen

27. Piazza Duomo -Alba, Italy

Alba is known all over the world for its truffles and elegant wines and chef Enrico Crippa certainly makes full use of the surrounding natural resources. The approach here is modern Italian mixed with an influence of world-wide flavors and classics are often paired with more daring choices such as olives made with minced veal. The luxurious seasonal white truffle menu is a favorite here and gives the chef an outlet to highlight the region’s most famous export.

Photo by: Piazza Duomo
Photo by: Piazza Duomo

26. Alinea -Chicago, USA

This small Chicago restaurant is not only known for its unconventional approach to food but for its restaurant experience that is like no other. From mood lighting that changes the colors of the walls to expertly trained staff that can read tables and customers unlike any other in the industry, to edible balloons; patrons here will be in a world of delight. This truly personal experience will unfold in front of your over several hours and can only be described as truly remarkable and unforgettable.

Photo by: Alinea
Photo by: Alinea

25. Fäviken -Jarpen, Sweden

It is the world’s most isolated restaurant; Fäviken can only serve 12 diners a night and is only open 34 weeks of the year. The multi-course menu focuses on ingredients that can be forged, hunted or farmed on the 24,000 acre hunting estate in which the restaurant is housed on. Traditional farmhouse cooking techniques are put into place to create irresistible flavors and unique dishes such as scallop cooked over burning juniper branches. The dining room with its slabs of meat and wolf skins create a most memorable dining experience.

Photo by: 90Plus.com
Photo by: 90Plus.com

24. Ultraviolet by Paul Pairet -Shanghai, China

A trip here is certainly unlike any other restaurant experience out there. Guests are driven to Ultraviolet in a mini bus as the location is one of the best kept secrets in this city. Only 10 diners at a time are welcomed into a room with white walls, a white table and 10 white chairs. What follows is a dining experience where each dish is eaten with a different soundtrack and the walls and table are transformed with pictures and film. The 10 course meal is full of delicate but flavorful interesting combinations of flavors.

Photo by: UltraViolet
Photo by: UltraViolet

23. White Rabbit -Moscow, Russia

This Alice in Wonderland themed restaurant features outstanding views of the historic center of Moscow, along with an exceptional menu featuring modern Russian dishes with international inspiration. Chef Valdimir Mukhin focuses on blending Russian produce with luxury ingredients producing meals such as rabbit mini cabbage rolls in foie gras sauce with potato crisps and truffle juice.

Photo by: White Rabbit
Photo by: White Rabbit

22. Nahm -Bangkok, Thailand

Although this restaurant is located in a hotel, there is nothing standard about this dining room. While Chef David Thompson is from Australia, he has taken the Thai world by storm and become an expert at this multi-faceted cuisine. Expect a wide range of traditional Thai cooking here and a tasting menu that will knock your socks off. Thompson loves to play with flavors and spice and most likely the main meal will include something of high spice level. It may not take you hours to complete a meal here but guests will leave feeling like they just ate one of the best meals of their lives.

Photo by: Como Hotels
Photo by: Como Hotels

21. Le Chateaubriand -Paris, France

This restaurant has been a leading force in the revolution of bistros in Paris. Gone are the days of white table cloths and overly expensive meals, they have been replaced by more relaxed atmospheres and excellent cuisine at affordable prices. The no frills dining room, the fixed menu written on the blackboards and the chef’s colorful history set the stage for a perfect dining experience. The food is a combination of French, Asian and Latin America and the lineup changes daily.

Photo by:  Marika Simon
Photo by:
Marika Simon

20. The Ledbury -London, UK

Although Chef Brett Graham originally hails from Newcastle Australia, you wouldn’t know it based on the menu that features the best of British produce along with local meats. The food here is refined, yet gutsy and the service impeccable which is why so many regulars appear to make this there favorite place to eat. One might even find out that the beautifully smoked venison on their plate was bagged by the chef himself.

Photo by: The Ledbury
Photo by: The Ledbury

19. Azurmendi -Larrabetzu, Spain

This dining experience starts when you arrive at the eco-friendly glass building and are immediately taken on a tour of the grounds, greenhouse and gardens. The open kitchen which leads to the dining room sets the stage for a memorable dinner. Chef Eneko Atxa loves to push boundaries and discover new innovative cooking techniques. Guest will experience food such as a truffled egg which is cooked inside out. Invigorating flavors, the utmost creativity and a passionate chef await visitors at Azurmendi.

Photo by: Azurmendi
Photo by: Azurmendi

18. Le Bernardin -New York City, USA

This restaurant was started in Paris in 1972, then it moved to New York in 1986 and has had the same famous head chef since 1994. Needless to say it has won numerous awards, been the favorite seafood restaurant of New York for decades and continues to amaze guests with its spectacular raw fish dishes. Traditional French cuisine meets skillful Japanese techniques in this example of extraordinary dining.

Photo by: Eric Ripert
Photo by: Eric Ripert

17. Arzak -San Sebastian, Spain

The father daughter team of Juan Mari Arzak and Elena Arzak Espina seem almost unstoppable in conquering the culinary world in this region that is full of creativity and fertility. Juan Mari Arzak is known for having pioneered modern Basque cuisine and they have combined local flavors with international sauces and compliments. Visitors here should expect a modern twist on all of their favorite local cuisine.

Photo by: Juan Mari Arzak
Photo by: Juan Mari Arzak

16. Pujol -Mexico City, Mexico

Pujol is consistently rated as one of the top 20 restaurants in the world and is known as the very best in Mexico. Determination to use native ingredients and modern cooking techniques create unusual flavors, while inventing new dishes and recreating the old has given this chef a leg up over others. The main focus here is the attention that is paid to making sure each and every last detail of a dish is perfect, and each flavor is exposed to its finest.

Photo by: Pujol
Photo by: Pujol

15. Steirereck -Vienna, Austria

Chef Heinz Reitbauer aims to create the very finest of contemporary Austrian cuisine in a relaxed, chic setting and he does so quite memorably. He is in fact known for his cutting edge techniques and using the finest ingredients from his hometown. Many of the ingredients actually come from his family’s own farmstead. Expect innovative dishes such as the freshwater Char cooked in beeswax with yellow carrot, pollen and sour cream.

Photo by: Steirereck
Photo by: Steirereck

14. Astrid y Gastón -Lima, Peru

This restaurant coexists with a bar, experimental herb garden and development kitchen in a deprived area of Lima but don’t let that stop you from visiting. Take a trip down memory lane with a menu that tells the story of each individual dish and how they relate to growing up in Peru. The dishes use ingredients from all over this rich diverse country and one certainly gets a taste of Peruvian history at this restaurant.

Photo by: Astrid y Gastón
Photo by: Astrid y Gastón

13. Asador Etxebarri -Atxonodo, Spain

Chefs flock from all over the world to see Chef Victor Arguinzoniz in action over his wood grill, as he is hailed as the founding father of creative barbecue in Europe. Ingredients here are simple and fresh, with many that have been grown, picked and butchered by the chef himself. Everything on the menu hits the wood grill and has the delicate taste of smoke throughout, creating a simple yet delicious and exceptional experience.

Photo by: Naoyuki Honda
Photo by: Naoyuki Honda

12. L’Arpège -Paris, France

This restaurant is taking vegetables to a whole new level and making them the forefront of an incredible menu. Think beetroot tartar instead of the traditional beef tartar and an emphasis on ingredients such as grapefruit, almonds and sweet peas. Considered a culinary genius, Chef Alain Passard creates sensational tasting food with a contemporary French feeling.

Photo by: Arpege
Photo by: Arpege

11. Mirazur -Menton, France

Perched on a hillside overlooking the sea with floor to ceiling glass windows, this restaurant is big on highlighting local seafood. Pairing that seafood with herbs, flowers, fruits and vegetables that are grown in the garden to create exceptional dishes is the primary approach here. Innovating cooking techniques, artfully presented plates and a combination of French, Italian and Argentinean flavors make this dining experience amazing.

Photo by: Mirazur
Photo by: Mirazur

10. Gaggan -Bangkok, Thailand

Progressive Indian is the style of food here in this downtown Bangkok restaurant. The approach taken by Chef Gaggan Anand is to take street dishes and deconstruct them, creating new innovative menu items without losing the flavors. This restaurant also features liquid nitrogen, smoke and dehydrated ingredients to give additional texture and flavor to its dishes, as well as adding a little bit of dinner theater.

Photo by: Gaggan
Photo by: Gaggan

9. D.O.M -Sao Paulo, Brazil

This is one of the most expensive restaurants in Brazil but considering that many of the ingredients come from deep within the interior of the Amazon, that’s no surprise. Chef Alex Atala is known for searching out new ingredients and bringing them back to his restaurant for diners to try. The dining room is formal, yet relaxed and the emphasis here is on reshaping Brazilian food and convincing others to use the natural resources that are so plentiful.

Photo by: Luis Balboa Coñoen
Photo by: Luis Balboa Coñoen

8. Narisawa -Tokyo, Japan

This restaurant is truly a representation of the chef, the landscape and his love for the natural world. Although Japanese products are the focal point here, there is a strong influence of French cooking. Known internationally for being one of the best restaurants in the world, Chef Yoshihiro Narisawa takes great pride in his thoughtfully constructed food and wine list. It may be in fact the best place to appreciate the wine making of Japan.

Photo by: Narisawa
Photo by: Narisawa

7. Dinner by Heston Blumenthal -London, UK

Less than five years old this restaurant has made leaps and bounds, becoming a restaurant that recreates British culinary history. Forgotten dishes are brought back to life and reinvented using modern cooking techniques and present day ingredients. The dining experience is not thwarted by theatrics or entertainment; instead they let the flavors speak for themselves.

Photo by: Dinner by Heston Blumenthal
Photo by: Dinner by Heston Blumenthal

6. Mugaritz -San Sebastian, Spain

This dining experience is more of a journey through food rather than just a sit down restaurant with set menus. Guests here will experience 24 individually tailored courses based on their dietary needs and wants. It is not just the flavors here that are important to Chef Andoni Luis Aduriz but the smells and textures he provides in his dishes. Edible cutlery and centerpieces along with the breathtaking scenery from the small wooden dining room will only make the experience that much more unique.

Photo by: Mugaritz
Photo by: Mugaritz

5. Eleven Madison Park -New York City, USA

Walking into this restaurant one might think that it appears quite grand, formal and perhaps a bit stuffy but one would be wrong. It is indeed playful and interactive from the service to the food itself. Co-owners Daniel Humm and Will Guidara have done a remarkable job in running both the back and front of house in the best ways possible, thus creating an unforgettable dining experience. Tasting menu’s frequently feature New York’s agricultural bounty but this duo has been known to tailor dishes specific to each guest individually.

Photo by: Fresh Local and Best
Photo by: Fresh Local and Best

4. Central -Lima, Peru

This is a whole new dining experience as the chefs take guests on a vertical tour of Peru through food.  The tasting menu features ingredients sourced at various altitudes, starting from 25 meters below to 4,200 meters above sea level. Diners are faced with ingredients found and tasted nowhere else in the world as well as being treated to food grown in the urban gardens onsite. There is a true sense of dedication here to discovering new local ingredients and how to best use them in the dishes.

Photo by: Central
Photo by: Central

3. Noma -Copenhagen, Denmark

Noma has been open since 2003 and is hailed as one of the most influential restaurants of the century, and thus it is no surprise to see it at the top of this list. The focus here is creating dishes based on what’s in season and playing with techniques such as pickling and fermenting. The cuisine style appears to be more of an interpretation of Nordic food and Chef René Redzepi and his teams are known for their ability to assimilate culinary cultures other than their own.

Photo by: Wikipedia
Photo by: Wikipedia

2. Osteria Francescana -Modena, Italy

At 20 years old, this restaurant and its chef have nailed down impeccable service and food. Chef Massimo Bottura is internationally known around the world but remains true to his Italian roots in his cooking. The menu is loaded with Italian classics such as risotto cooked with veal jus, along with many classics that have a unique twist. Local, seasonal ingredients are used, the wine program is impeccable and the atmosphere sets the stage for a perfect dining experience.

Osteria Francescana
Photo by: Bucketlist Blog

1. El Celler de Can Roca -Girona, Spain

The trio of the Roca brothers who collectively run this restaurant have certainly not forgotten their humble roots. The dining experience in the glass-walled dining room complete with an innovative menu, delicious wine pairings and a soothing atmosphere makes this the number one restaurant in the world this year. Add in the fact that this team does everything to educate and inspire the team they lead through unusual initiatives, including a restaurant tour in 2014 across the Southern United States and Latin America; and it is easy to understand why they are number one.

Photo by: El Celler de Can Roca
Photo by: El Celler de Can Roca

The 12 Best Places to Celebrate Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year is an important traditional Chinese holiday; also known as the Spring Festival and is celebrated all over the world. The most unique attribute of this holiday is that no country celebrates it quite the same way. Cities with significant Chinese populations tend to celebrate the biggest and visitors from all over the world come to celebrate along with them. From places that offer over three weeks of celebrations to cities with extreme computer controlled fireworks displays; Chinese New Year should be celebrated in style. Elaborate parades line the streets offering a glimpse into the world of performers, musicians, marching bands and the infamous Golden Dragon. Some of the best places to celebrate the Chinese New Year are actually located outside China and you may be surprised at our top twelve list of the best places to ring in the New Year. Break out the red lanterns, delicious food and head to one of the best cities to ring in the Chinese New Year.

12. Singapore

The nation of Singapore is comprised primarily of Chinese, Indian, and Malaysian ethnic groups and when the Chinese New Year rolls around the entire country joins in the celebrations. The most fascinating part of the Chinese New Year in Singapore is the mixing of old and new traditions as well as the influence that comes from many different cultures. Since 1987 residents and visitors have been gathering at the River Hongbao for the liveliest of festivals. From giant lanterns to traditional song and dance to spreads of exotic delicacies to spectacular firework displays, this event celebrates everything Chinese.

Another major event in Singapore held to ring in the Chinese New Year is the Chingay Parade; a street and float parade held downtown. It remains the largest street and float parade in Asia and dancing dragons, stilt walkers and traditional lion walkers are just a small part of it. Magic shows, acrobats and samba parties fill the streets with animated joy and people gather from all over the world to experience this once in a lifetime opportunity. Head to Chinatown when you are not busy taking in parades and festivals to experience authentic cuisine and pay respect in one of the many temples.

Chinese New Year Singapore

11. Sydney, Australia

What started as a small community event to celebrate the Chinese New Year has now turned into one of the biggest celebrations of the Lunar Year in the world and is considered one of the biggest celebrated events in Australia. The celebrations primarily happen in Chinatown where performers, markets and street stalls all set up. The dragon boat races are a huge part of this city’s celebrations; they happen on Cockle Bay and visitors are invited to get up close and personal with these intricately carved boats that are an important part of the Chinese history.

The twilight parade is the signature event in Sydney with its sensational display of lights and color. Observers will watch as colorful floats, huge floating lanterns, projections and community performers make their way down the streets. Numerous events throughout the city include karaoke competitions, martial art demonstrations, dancing dragons and lions and many other cultural activities that take place during this month-long celebration. Sydney has truly embraced this celebration and made it its own and is one of our favorite places to ring in the Chinese New Year.

Photo By: Hamilton Lund; Destination NSW
Photo By: Hamilton Lund; Destination NSW

10. New York City

New York tends to celebrate everything in grand style so it is no surprise that this is one of the best cities to celebrate the Chinese New Year. For those wanting big flashy parades, extreme entertainment and great food New York is the place to be. For the more traditional approach the Museum of Chinese in America offers many events including walking tours of Chinatown and a family festival. Other events include the popular Chinese New Year Concert put on by the New York Philharmonic featuring amazing composers and musicians.

New York offers not one parade, not two but three separate parades and several days full of celebrations. The Firecracker Ceremony kicks off the start of the New Year in Manhattan where dancing lions and dragons, drummers and dance troupes take to the streets of Chinatown in the annual ceremony and parade. The Lunar New Year Parade takes place in Flushing, Queens; home to the largest Chinese population in the city and offers steel drummers, firecrackers and dancers. Finally the Chinatown Lunar New Year Parade and Festival is the grand parade which includes giant lanterns, elaborate floats, marching bands, acrobats and more. Whether you are looking for old or new traditions, New York is the perfect city to celebrate.

mandritoiu / Shutterstock.com
mandritoiu / Shutterstock.com

9. San Francisco, California

San Francisco boasts one the oldest and largest parades and festivals of the Chinese New Year outside Asia, and is the largest Asian cultural event in North America. In the 1860’s San Fran Chinatown was booming and residents were eager to share their love of celebration with those residents who had never experienced it. From that moment on, San Francisco has embraced this celebration and is truly a magical place to be during this time of the year.

The illuminated night parade remains one of the few nighttime parades in the United States and has been named one of the world’s top ten parades. Gorgeous floats, elaborate designs, specialty costumes, stilt walkers, exploding firecrackers, marching drumming bands, and acrobats will all move their way down the streets of the city. At the end comes the infamous 268 foot Golden Dragon which requires over 100 men and women to hold up.  This celebration has gained so much attention that the United States based airline, Southwest Airlines is now the official sponsor of the parade. How is that for celebrating in style?

Kobby Dagan / Shutterstock.com
Kobby Dagan / Shutterstock.com

8. Vancouver, British Columbia

For a multicultural city like Vancouver, celebrating the Chinese New Year spreads across the city. The Chinese population of Vancouver is not just centered in historic Chinatown but also in Richmond. Both areas of the city offer up their own unique twist on the celebrations. The annual parade features intricate floats, marching bands, police teams, dancing dragons and lions and many dance troupes. Vancouver loves to put a quirky twist on the celebrations with its annual Gung Haggis Fat Choy Dinner, a 10-course banquet saluting Chinese New Year and offering unusual cuisine.

You won’t find a historic Chinatown in Richmond; instead you will find massive shopping centers that look more like modern-day Beijing. These shopping centers feature flower markets and other cultural events. Richmond boasts the 2nd largest temple in North America and visitors are encouraged to receive a blessing from the Buddhist temple. With hundreds of Asian restaurants throughout Richmond and Vancouver there is no shortage of authentic food and many offer New Year specials and delicacies you won’t find any other time of the year. Vancouver is truly an authentic place to ring in the New Year with over 20% of its population speaking one of the Chinese dialects as their first language!

Chinese New Year Vancouver

7. Los Angeles, California

Los Angeles is home to some of the largest Chinese New Year celebrations across the country and this city just doesn’t stop at one annual parade. Of course there is an amazing annual parade with its outstanding floats, drummers, lion dancers and dance troupes that march down the streets in Chinatown. The midnight temple celebration kicks off the festivities where visitors can receive a blessing and light off hundreds of firecrackers. The shopping centers also take part with Chinese-themed décor, traditional dragon dancers and a towering New Year Wish Tree.

Universal Studios Hollywood celebrates the Chinese New Year in style with themed décor, characters dressed in traditional Chinese attire and a Mandarin version of the studio tour. Disneyland California has also jumped on board the celebrations and is decked out in lanterns and banners wishing visitors a Happy New Year, along with a variety of authentic Chinese musicians and dancers. Not to be outdone by Disney; Chinatown offers a scavenger hunt throughout the area along with free festivals throughout numerous parks.

Jose Gil / Shutterstock.com
Jose Gil / Shutterstock.com

6. Las Vegas, Nevada

Celebrate Chinese New Year in the desert when you head to Las Vegas; home to lively entertainment every moment of every day. The Chinese New Year beckons visitors to invite more luck into their lives and what better place to do that than Vegas. Every year the hotels and resorts transform themselves into displays of extravagant themed décor. Restaurants throughout the city offer traditional Chinese cuisine that may help you bring that extra bit of luck to your future.

Throughout the city there are numerous events and locations to celebrate. Chinatown Plaza offers the traditional lion and dragon dancers along with many vendors offering food and items for sale. Vegas puts its own unique spin on the celebrations with its Miss Asian American Pacific Islander USA pageant, complete with fashion show, talent competition and interviews. There is plenty of live music happening at the Fremont Street Experience, put on by the Chinese New Year in the Desert festival. This three-day festival also offers cultural performances, and an annual parade. Las Vegas is an incredible city to visit any time of the year but if you are here during the Chinese New Year prepare to be even more amazed.

Kobby Dagan / Shutterstock.com
Kobby Dagan / Shutterstock.com

5. Paris, France

Paris isn’t the first city you think of when thinking about celebrating the Chinese New Year but this magical romantic city turns into a city of celebration during the festivities. The large and thriving French-Chinese community turn the streets into a haven for parades and festivities. People from all backgrounds and tourists alike crowd the streets to watch this spectacular display of elaborate decorations, floats, dancers dressed as lions and dragons and firecracker displays.

Paris isn’t just about flashy parades and elaborate decorations though. Hidden away from the tourists and unsuspecting residents are two Buddhist temples located in the 13th district. Here families from Chinese, Vietnamese and Cambodia come to pay their respects and welcome in the New Year. Visitors throughout certain areas of Paris will be treated to demonstrations of Chinese arts and crafts, cooking and traditional dance and music. Paris is often referred to as the city of lights and when the paper lanterns are glowing red and the twinkling lights from the elaborate decorations are strung high in the air; you’ll see it really live up to that name!

VitaminCo / Shutterstock.com
VitaminCo / Shutterstock.com

4. London, England

London England takes pride in boasting that it holds the world’s largest celebration of the Chinese New Year outside of Asia. This city holds a one-day festival jammed packed with activities including an annual parade, performances and traditional crafts and food. There are three main areas in the city which hold these festivities; Trafalgar Square, Chinatown and Shaftesbury Avenue. Each unique in the specific activities and events they offer; visitors will have a hard time choosing which to do.

Chinatown offers the best of the best in terms of traditional food so visitors during the Chinese New Year should go ahead and book as early as possible to secure a table at one of the fabulous restaurants. Chinatown gets decked out in the most fabulous of decorations with lucky red lanterns and banners. Chinese dance groups and performers can be found set up on the many stages throughout. London may be a newcomer to the Chinese New Year scene but each year is becoming bigger and better and we cannot wait to see what happens next year.

Thomas Owen Jenkins / Shutterstock.com
Thomas Owen Jenkins / Shutterstock.com

3. Beijing, China

The mother of all Chinese New Year celebrations happens in Beijing China. Although the city is packed full of carnival like activities, festivals, firecrackers and parades here in Beijing they put a special emphasis on family and historical tradition. Families work hard at the end of the year to prepare their household for the celebration by decorating and cleaning, and use the first two days of the festival to visit with family. A lot of time is devoted to prayer and honoring their ancestors. Don’t worry if you are not with a family during the Chinese New Year in this city though; there are plenty of fun things to do and ways to celebrate.

Visitors will want to partake in a temple fair where cultural activities represent the traditional customs of Beijing. Chinese folk art, lion and dragon dancers and authentic food stalls will all be a part of the fairs. One of the most popular events to attend is the Reenactment of the Qing-Style Sacred Ceremony at the Ditan Temple Fair. Athletic competitions and demonstrations are held in numerous parks and invite visitors to take part and observe. The Longqing Ice and Snow Festival is a fairly new addition to the celebration of Chinese New Year and is home to incredible ice sculptures. Truly the mother of all celebrations; the time to visit Beijing is the time of the Chinese New Year.

testing / Shutterstock.com
testing / Shutterstock.com

2. Bangkok, Thailand

Thailand’s biggest celebration of the Chinese New Year takes place in Bangkok; home of the largest Chinatown in Thailand. There are normally three days of celebrations in this city with most of the excitement happening on the actual New Year day; and most Chinese taking the day off work to celebrate. Opening the festivities is the Thai Princess and she can be seen throughout the celebrations partaking in the fun. During the day temples are full of visitors and the parades start to fill the streets around noon. Expect plenty of dancers, floats, lanterns and drummers taking part in these parades.

Nighttime brings a different feeling to the city when the red lanterns get lit and light the sky up in a beautiful shade of red. The nighttime parade is a hit with its long dragon that is lit up with LED lights and brought to life. A main stage near the Chinatown Gate offers shows with acrobats spinning high in the air and musicians playing all night. The temples surrounding the area are usually decorated and lit up and provide a place of refuge from the busy streets; many are often full of beautiful flowers. make sure you remember your camera for this trip!

topten22photo / Shutterstock.com
topten22photo / Shutterstock.com

1. Hong Kong, China

One of the most popular destinations to celebrate Chinese New Year visitors should expect the city to be brimming with people, entertainment and fun. The territories biggest annual celebration mixes old traditions, practices and beliefs with new customs from the younger generations. This colorful festival promises amazing fireworks, parades and festive markets selling traditional food and blooms. The red lanterns light up the city making it even more magical than one can imagine. For the visitors hoping to gain some good fortune, the horse-racing track gets all done up in decorations and red lanterns and even offers a lion dance on the third day of celebrations.

There are two main events that cannot be missed; the first being the amazing computer controlled fireworks display that takes place over Victoria Harbor.  The second celebration is the infamous night parade that travels along the streets of Tsim Sha Tsuji. The parade is made up of illuminated floats, performance artists and dancers. Hong Kong Disney climbs aboard the celebration train every year offering Chinese New Year events and attractions at the park; you will even find Mickey Mouse dressed in traditional Chinese attire. What better place to spend a Chinese New Year than in Hong Kong surrounded by authenticity, color and traditional practices.

Chinese New Year Hong Kong

The 10 Most Thrilling Skywalks Around the World

One of the most common fears worldwide is a fear of heights. Known as “acrophobia”, the fear of heights is ranked as the 5th biggest phobia by LiveScience.com. But, where there are fears, there are those who want to conquer those fears. A lot of risk takers are finding ways to safely stare massive heights in the face using skywalks around the world. For instance, the now famous CN Tower EdgeWalk has done wonders for the site’s tourism, allowing participants to go to the top of the highest structure in North America, where a massive population looks like ants below them. If you come across one of these aerial adventures on your travels, consider it a must do…you may get those shaky legs and your palms might get clammy but it’s sure to be a once in a life-time kind of experience.

10. The Willis Tower – Chicago

Once known as the Sears Tower, The Ledge (a series of glass bays) is part of the structure that was opened in 1974. The Skydeck protrudes out 4.3 feet meaning visitors are able to stand high above (103 floors to be exact) Wacker Drive. Over 1 million tourists grace The Ledge annually, and with Chicago having a magnificent skyline, this makes the ascent of the Willis Tower a special one.

Sears Tower Chicago

9. OCBC Skyway, Supertree Grove – Singapore

The Supertree’s of Singapore are one of the most remarkable attractions found in the country. The trees rise 80 to 165 feet above the ground, and serve as massive vertical gardens. During the day, the large canopies provide shelter from the sun, and at night they are converted to provide an entertaining light show. The OCBC Skyway provides travelers a chance to get up close to the trees, suspended 72 feet in the air.

OCBC Skyway Singapore

8. Skywalk on Tianmen Mountain – Zhangjiajie, Hunan, China

This remote skywalk is 800 miles from Shanghai, 4,700 feet up in the mountains. Despite the spectacular views high up in the peaks, the search for workers willing to clean the glass floor has been unsuccessful, meaning visitors are required to wear sock boots while up on the skywalk. The floor hugs the side of the mountain, providing breathtaking scenery.

Glass Skywalk Tianmen Mountain China

7. Top of Tyrol – Austria

The mountains in Austria are already a spectacular sight to take in, but stepping out onto the steel floor at Stubai Glacier means visitors can see through to 10,500 feet below, a frightening realization. From the platform which juts out 30 feet from the rocks of the glacier, tourists can see Italy from where they are standing. While this platform is seldom open in the winter, yoga and meditation can be seen atop the summit during the summer months. Despite this being more of a platform than a skywalk, the views are still just as thrilling.

Top of Tyrol Austria

6. Grand Canyon’s Sky Walk – Arizona

This skywalk was built in 2007 and is a modern and spectacular way to take in what is already a hotspot on any traveler’s cross-country trek through America. Built in a horseshoe shape, the Canyon’s sky walk takes the tourist out into the gap of the Grand Canyon itself, overseeing the Colorado River, and the open mouth of the world-famous natural wonder.

jabiru / Shutterstock.com
jabiru / Shutterstock.com

5. SkyPoint Climb – Australia

In a land known best for its barren outback terrain, one would be forgiven for thinking Australia wouldn’t be home to a breathtaking skywalk. Skypoint Climb over the Q1 building sets the record straight with a thrilling skywalk the overlooks Australia’s gorgeous Gold Coast. Visitors can take in an incredible view of the waves as they roll onto the golden sandy beaches, and of the tropical mountains below. While there may be some more famous climbs down under, the SkyPoint Climb is the highest external building climb in the country.

ChameleonsEye / Shutterstock.com
ChameleonsEye / Shutterstock.com

4. SkyWalk – Auckland, New Zealand

The SkyWalk in Auckland, the largest urban area in New Zealand, offers a thrilling walk on a narrow outdoor walkway around the top of the city’s famous Sky Tower. Situated 630 feet above the ground, this skywalk is daring as it is but guests who would rather a bit more intense experience can try the SkyJump. For those brave enough to try, don’t just walk around the tallest building in New Zealand, hurl yourself off it! Jumpers reach speeds up to 85 km per hour as they plummet toward the ground.

Skywalk Auckland
ChameleonsEye / Shutterstock.com

3. Glacier Skywalk – Alberta

A brand new attraction in the Rocky Mountains of Canada, the Glacier Skywalk is located on the Icefields Parkway near the border of picturesque Banff and Jasper National Parks. The views of the mountains and glaciers are truly unforgettable, enhanced even more so by the glass-bottom platform that is suspended over 720 feet in the air over the valley below. The whole 1 hour experience is told in an interpretive story-telling format, allowing guests to really connect with the natural world around them.

Leonard Zhukovsky / Shutterstock.com
Leonard Zhukovsky / Shutterstock.com

2. Skywalk X – Macau, China

Situated on a narrow outdoor walkway, some 765 feet in the sky, Skywalk X provides a view from above in Macau, China. If being that high up in the air isn’t enough, there are no handrails to hold on to as visitors are supported by a harness alone. For those who want to push the boundaries of bravery, guests are allowed to sit on the edge or lean over, with night time providing an even more breathtaking experience.

Macau Tower

1. EdgeWalk CN Tower – Toronto

The first glass floor of its kind can be attributed to the CN Tower in Toronto Canada, but that wasn’t enough. 13 storeys above that floor (for a total of 126) at 1,465 ft., walk around the entire circumference of the CN tower on the EdgeWalk. This is the world’s highest hands-free walk, and participants can even go home with their own video of the experience, as well as take a peak into the Rogers Centre to see how the Toronto Blue Jays baseball team are doing that night.

Photo by: Sergiu Dumitriu
Photo by: Sergiu Dumitriu

The 13 Best Sports Stadiums Outside of North America

Even though North America is home to some great sports venues, a number of countries throughout the world have very unique and original designs that home some of their most cherished sports teams. Some are nearly brand new, some are bordering on holy sites to team fans, and some are just plain cool to see, but each stadium provides the spectator with a truly one-of-a-kind experience.  Here are some of the best stadiums that given the chance, you should definitely check out on your travels:

13. The Float@Marina Bay (Singapore)

Located in Singapore, The Float@Marina Bay is the largest floating stage in the world. Made entirely of steel, the platform can sustain a total weight the equivalent of: 9,000 people, 200 tons of stage equipment and three 30-ton military vehicles. The stadium has a capacity of 30,000 and hosts a number of events including soccer, concerts and exhibitions. Try to get there soon, though. The Float@Marina Bay will see a decrease in use once the new National Stadium is finished construction.

joyfull / Shutterstock.com
joyfull / Shutterstock.com

12. Stadio Giuseppe Meazza (Italy)

The stadium known as the “San Siro” is located in the San Siro district of Milan, Italy and is the home of famous soccer clubs A.C. Milan and F.C. Internazionale Milano. Though the capacity is somewhat less than its peak, the San Siro still boasts a capacity of over 80,000. The stadium is set to host the final of the 2016 UEFA Champion’s League, and has seen a number of renovations over the years after first opening in 1926. However, the stadium is set to see a decline in use in the near future, as Internazionale have plans to move out of the stadium into their own venue.

Photo by: Bjørn Giesenbauer
Photo by: Bjørn Giesenbauer

11. First National Bank Stadium (Johannesburg)

Host to the 2010 World Cup final, the stadium is officially named the First National Bank Stadium, or FNB Stadium but is more effectively nicknamed “The Calabash” (in reference to an African pot, similar in appearance) or simply “Soccer City”. The stadium saw a number of major renovations take place in the buildup to the World Cup final. With a capacity over 90,000 Soccer City is the largest stadium in the continent of Africa. The venue was also the site of the first speech given by Nelson Mandela upon his release from prison in 1990, and was where his memorial service was held. Currently, the stadium is the home of the South African national soccer and rugby teams, as well as club soccer team Kaizer Chiefs.

Photo by: Rebecca Gill
Photo by: Rebecca Gill

10. Ericsson Globe (Sweden)

Stockholm’s Ericsson Globe Arena is the largest hemispherical building in the world, and required more than 2 years worth of construction before it was finished. Shaped like a giant golf ball, the stadium has a diameter of 361 feet, and a height of 279 feet. Seating capacity is just over 16,000 for concerts and shows, and just under 14,000 for ice hockey. The Ericsson Globe is one of the most instantly identifiable stadiums in the world due to its unique shape, and even provides visitors with the chance to travel up an inclined elevator to the top of the arena, providing a great view overlooking all of Stockholm.

Nadezhda1906 / Shutterstock.com
Nadezhda1906 / Shutterstock.com

9. Azadi Stadium (Iran)

Officially ranked as the fifth largest soccer stadium in the world, Azadi Stadium in Tehran, Iran has had a record attendance of 128,000 for a match between the Iranian and Australian national soccer teams. Located in the west of Tehran, the stadium provides easy access for the majority of the cities inhabitants. Though it has a simple concrete bowl style design, the sheer size of this behemoth is amazing. The stadium is home to a pair of soccer clubs, and remains the home for the national squad.

almonfoto / Shutterstock.com
almonfoto / Shutterstock.com

8. AAMI Park (Australia)

More casually referred to as, Melbourne Rectangular Stadium is certainly one of the most unique design concepts for a stadium. Having just opened in 2010, the stadium still has a new feel in comparison to most. Boasting a capacity that is just over a modest 30,000 the stadium is home to a number of Melbourne’s soccer and rugby clubs. The “Bioframe” design features a geodesic dome roof that provides cover to most of the seats, but still allows for natural light to shrine onto the pitch.

Photo by: AsianFC
Photo by: AsianFC

7. Stade Roland Garros (France)

Roland Garros is arguably the most identifiable tennis venue in the world. The famous complex hosts the French Open that is played annually around the end of May or beginning of June. The stadium is named after French hero Roland Garros, inventor of the forward-firing aircraft machine gun, and first pilot referred to as an “ace” during World War I. The complex contains 20 courts, and even a Tenniseum, a museum dedicated to the history of tennis. The Court Phillipe Chatrier is the largest court, and is instantly identifiable to sports fans for its distinct red-clay playing surface.

Olga Besnard / Shutterstock.com
Olga Besnard / Shutterstock.com

6. Old Trafford (England)

Nicknamed by English soccer legend Sir Bobby Charlton the “Theatre of Dreams” is the second largest soccer stadium in the United Kingdom after Wembley Stadium. Old Trafford has been home to one of the most famous teams in the world, Manchester United F.C. and has served as the team’s home ground since 1910. Current capacity at Old Trafford is north of 75,000 and is expected to see some further renovations in the coming years as the stadium continues to be refurbished to keep up-to-date with the most modern of venues.

mrmichaelangelo / Shutterstock.com
mrmichaelangelo / Shutterstock.com

5. Allianz Arena (Germany)

Home to one of the world’s finest soccer clubs FC Bayern Munich, the Allianz Arena was the first in the world to feature a color-changeable exterior, as the stadium also hosts a second Munich soccer club as well as the 2014 World Cup Champion German national team. The stadium was constructed to host the 2006 World Cup final and is one of the most instantly recognizable in all of Europe. Around 70,000 soccer-mad German fans pack the venue every time Bayern Munich or the German national team takes the pitch, providing for a fantastic atmosphere.

Photo by: Stewart
Photo by: Stewart

4. National Stadium (Taiwan)

The largest stadium in Taiwan, this venue is truly of world-class design. Completed in 2009, the National Stadium is used mostly for soccer matches with a capacity of 55,000 spectators. Not only is the stadium defined by its dragon-like design, but also the exterior is covered in solar panels that provide nearly 100% of the power for the facility, the first in the world to do so.

Sean Hsu / Shutterstock.com
Sean Hsu / Shutterstock.com

3. Santiago Bernabeu Stadium (Spain)

The Santiago Bernabeu Stadium is a very special place in sports. Even the most casual of soccer fan across the globe has heard of Real Madrid, the giant club that calls the Bernabeu home. Not only does the team feature some of the finest talent in the world, but more than 80,000 screaming fans routinely take in matches in the capital of soccer obsessed Spain. Plans for a redevelopment are underway to increase that capacity up to 88,000 in the near future as the stadium, which opened in 1944 looks to bring in some more modern additions to enhance the spectating experience.

Santiago Bernabeu Stadium

2. Estádio Alberto J. Armando (Argentina)

Situated in the La Boca district of the Argentinian capital of Buenos Aires, this stadium is nicknamed “La Bombonera” or the “Chocolate Box” in English, because of its unique “flat” stand on one side, surrounded by three steep stands on the other sides. This very unusual shape allows for 49,000 fans to fill the stadium for home games for famous Argentinian soccer club Boca Juniors. The shape allows the venue to have excellent acoustics, which makes the stadium an extremely intimidating place to play for visitors. More work is being done on the stadium, taking the atmosphere to the next level while providing more features to supporters.

Jess Kraft / Shutterstock.com
Jess Kraft / Shutterstock.com

1. Estádio Municipal de Braga (Portugal)

Though it only has a capacity just over 30,000 the Estádio Municipal de Braga is unforgettable. Opened in 2003 and home to Portuguese soccer club Sporting Clube de Braga, the stadium was carved from a quarry overlooking the city. Behind the goal at one end, spectators and players alike get a magnificent view of the rock walls surrounding the stadium with the city sprawling in the distance. To get around the stadium, fans travel through a plaza built beneath the surface. The stadium has received critical acclaim for its architectural design, and is approved by UEFA for use at the highest levels of club soccer.

Photo by: Leon
Photo by: Leon

Underrated Escapes: Singapore

Singapore, a city-state in Southeast Asia is a mix of old and new.  Modern skyscrapers, a sophisticated travel system, mouth-watering food, world class shopping, a diverse and colorful blend of Chinese, Malay, and Indian culture, a tropical climate, safe, clean streets, low crime, and a happening nightlife scene makes Singapore a place to add to your bucket list.  Often overlooked on a traveler’s trip to Asia thanks to its squeaky clean reputation, Singapore, although on the rise had been highly underrated as a top travel destination, and here is why:

City Overview

A small island country with a sizeable population of almost 6 million, Singapore is very densely populated.  Although crowded on paper, Singapore boasts lots of green space – more than 50% of the country is greenery – giving it the nickname the Garden City.  The island nation is warm year-round so tourism is pretty steady.  To avoid paying through the roof, skip Singapore during national holidays and big events like the Singapore Grand Prix in September (unless that’s your jam), and avoid the rainy season from November to January.  July through October offers the lowest tourist traffic but also comes with hazy weather and low air quality.  The city has very strict drug laws, so make sure you bring prescriptions for any medicine you have with you.

Singapore city

Getting Around

Getting around Singapore is easy.  The extensive public transit system and cheap taxis mean that you can easily get to and from wherever you need to go.  Use online tools to help you figure out your route or estimate your taxi fare.  If you’re planning to be in Singapore for an extended period of time, check out the EZ-link or Nets Flash Pay card to get yourself discounted fare.  If you plan on checking out the main tourist attractions of Singapore, consider getting the Singapore Tourist Pass to get some discounts!  The MRT and LRT are the main components of the public transit system – the buses are slower and harder to use.  Singapore is pretty pedestrian friendly, but avoid jaywalking since it’s illegal!

Lana Smirnova / Shutterstock.com
Lana Smirnova / Shutterstock.com

Arts and Culture

Singapore is taking huge leaps to move beyond its boring reputation by branching out in the world of art and culture.  Check out the Esplanade theater in Marina Bay to see what’s happening when you’re in town and catch the Singapore Arts Festival if you are visiting in the summer.  As far as museums go, you must stop by the Asian Civilizations Museum, The Arts House, Red Dot Design Museum, The Changi Chapel and Museum, the ArtScience Museum, 8Q SAM, and the Peranakan Museum.  When the sun sets, walk down to the water and enjoy the Wonder Full Light and Water Show with lights choreographed to music for an unforgettable experience.

joyfull / Shutterstock.com
joyfull / Shutterstock.com

Music

While you may not have guess this, Singapore actually has a great music scene.  Hit The Esplanade, the beautiful venue for the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, for a one of a kind show at the high tech concert hall.  Check the concert listings at the National Stadium to see if you can catch a show when you are in town.  For live music, check out top bands at Timbre at The Substation, rock ‘n’ roll at Crazy Elephant Bar, local music at the Hood Bar and Café, and jazz bands at Blu Jaz Café (if you’re there on the second Wednesday night of the month, you can also try out your best jokes and try to get some laughs as a stand-up comic).

joyfull / Shutterstock.com
joyfull / Shutterstock.com

Sports and Recreation

Head to the Night Safari for a unique zoo adventure – this night zoo uses special lighting to give you a glimpse into the world of nocturnal animals.  After spending a day on your feet exploring the city, grab a fish pedicure to leave your feet refreshed.  If you are inspired by all the food you are eating, take a cooking class so you can replicate your favorite dishes at home and impress your friends and family!  As far as sports goes, nothing beats the annual Grand Prix Season in Singapore which takes place each September if cars are your thing.  Otherwise, you can try to catch a soccer game at the brand new National Stadium.

Fish pedicure

Food and Drink

Singapore is a food lover’s heaven and draws upon its Indian, Chinese, and Malay heritage to produce complex, delectable dishes.  Head to one of Singapore’s many hawker centers (huge congregations of food stalls) for some cheap (around 2 – 5$) and clean eats (each stall must have a health certificate).  Try Maxwell Food Centre in Chinatown, Bukit Timah Market, Tiong Bahru Market, and Makansutra Glottons to name a few.  Definitely try Hainanese chicken rice, laksa, char kway teow and chilli crab.  For fancier dining, visit Restaurant André (among the top 50 restaurants in the world) then grab dessert at 2am:dessertbar. Make sure you swing by Raffles Hotel to try the original Singapore Sling cocktail, and grab some local Tiger beer or try a new local microbrew.

joyfull / Shutterstock.com
joyfull / Shutterstock.com

Attractions

With so much to see and do, Singapore can be overwhelming – get your bearings with a 200 meter bird’s eye view of the city at Marina Bay Sands SkyPark. To further get a feel for the city, join a walking tour, and then make sure you visit the Singapore Botanic Gardens, the Waterfront Promenade, and the Kranji War Memorial.  Take advantage of the coastline and head to the beach or the nearby Sentosa Island where you can relax in the sun or try your hand at water sports.  If you can’t beat the heat, go to Wild Wild Wet Water Park for a day of refreshing excitement.  If you’re feeling lucky, try your hand at gambling at Marina Bay Sands or Resorts World Sentosa casinos.

Orchid garden, Singapore botanic garden

Nightlife

Alcohol is widely available but very expensive thanks to taxes upon non-scrupulous pastimes, so check prices before you buy and try to catch happy hour for deals.  Friday and Saturday are the biggest nights out, Sunday is typically gay night, Wednesday or Thursday is ladies’ night, and Monday and Tuesday are quiet.  If you want to get a taste of the local nightlife scene, grab your new travel buds and hit the nearest karaoke spot (big chains are K-Box and Party World) and rent a room.  For clubs, head to Zouk, Attica, the Butter Factory, Club Kyo, or Home Club.  For a more relaxed night, visit the British pub The Yard, the microbrewery LeVel33, and The Good Beer Company – a beer stall in Chinatown hawker center.

Ronnie Chua / Shutterstock.com
Ronnie Chua / Shutterstock.com

Accommodations

Whatever your budget, you can find a great place to stay in this city.  For high end luxury hotels, consider Raffles, Conrad Centennial Singapore, or The Ritz-Carlton for a deluxe experience.  For mid-level, try The Forest by Wangz, AMOY, or The Quincy Hotel for a little more bang for your buck.  If you’re saving money or looking for a way to meet other travelers, there are many hostels to fit your needs, mostly found in Little India, Chinatown and Clarke Quay.  Best bets are Quarters Hostel, River City Inn, Travellers Inn, Wink Hostel, and extra cheap (but still great!) options are Happy Snail, Rucksack Inn @ Lavender Street, and Tresor Tavern.

Iryna Rasko / Shutterstock.com
Iryna Rasko / Shutterstock.com

Shopping

Shopping is a national pastime with a huge array of competitive options and deals galore.  Try to visit during the Great Singapore Sale (usually held in June or July) where shopping centers offer crazy deals and promotions.  Swing by Chinatown to grab some souvenirs at the Little Drom Store, and if you’re lucky you’ll catch MAAD Pyjamas – the monthly art and design flea market.  Visit Millennia Walk to see new Singapore fashion designers, stop by the boutiques in Orchard Central, and experience shopping the way the locals do it at a TANGS store.  Tiong Bahru has some great bookstores, Funan DigitaLife Mall or Sim Lim Square have all your tech needs covered, and ION Orchard mall carries all the fancy brands you could hope for.

Tupungato / Shutterstock.com
Tupungato / Shutterstock.com

Natural Beauty

Called the Garden City for a reason, you must explore the beautiful green spaces in the city when you visit Singapore.  Visit Merlion Park, National Orchid Garden, the Cloud Forest, Gardens by the Bay, take a walk on the MacRitchie Nature Trail or in the Southern Ridges, and visit the Flower Dome to see flowers from all over the world.  If you’re feeling adventurous, swing from tree to tree at Forest Adventure, visit the local beaches, or take it one step further and go island hopping and explore the seas for an afternoon (or a week!) to take in the beautiful marine scenery and soak up the sun.

Gardens by the Bay

Lonely Planet’s Top 10 Countries to Visit in 2015

As 2014 has started to wind down, no doubt many of us are already looking ahead and planning those vacations for the coming year. If you’ve been having trouble deciding just where you want to cross off your travel bucket list next, check out this list of the top countries to visit in 2015 as per Lonely Planet’s new guidebook; ‘Best in Travel 2015’. All countries were reportedly chosen for their “topicality, unique experiences and ‘wow’ factor”.

10. Morocco

Lonely Planet describes Morocco as one of the most diverse countries in Africa and we agree with this choice given the countries array of ancient cities, vast dessert landscapes and rough coastline. With 9 UNESCO World Heritage listings, the history in this country is rich and opportunities for exploration are endless.

Marrakesh, Morocco

9. St Lucia

While most noted for its abundance of luxury beach resorts, St Lucia has so much more to offer outside the obvious (not that being waited on hand and foot in paradise is a bad thing). While beaches are definitely the top attraction of this Caribbean island, there’s also amazing rainforest adventures to be had along with unique markets, bazaars and tiny beach towns to be explored.

St. Lucia

8. The Philippines

Lonely Planet states that the placement of The Philippines in this list is long overdue. With beautiful white sand beaches, picturesque coastlines and enchanting coral reefs it’s much more of a vacation destination that you might think. The country is also known for its love of food, music and street festivals creating an almost carnival like atmosphere.

El Nido bay and Cadlao island, Philippines

7. Serbia

While many European destinations are notoriously pricey, Serbia makes the top 10 for its amazing value for money and was called one of “Europe’s best kept secrets” by the travel guide. The countries ‘Exit Festival’ was also just named ‘Best Major European Festival’ at the European Festival Awards. The nightclubs in Belgrade are also said to rival those of major party meccas like Ibiza and Berlin. Now is this time to check out this value destination because now that word is out, the crowds will be coming.

Saint Sava temple, Belgrade Serbia

6. Republic of Congo

Quite possibly the biggest surprise on this list, the Republic of Congo comes in 6th place, ahead of some clear vacation favorites like St. Lucia. Along the reasons for this are improved tourism infrastructure, better roads and new safari attractions with chances to see gorillas and elephants in the wild. This country is also packed with dense barely touched rainforest making it a nature lover’s dream destination.

shutterstock_173629688

5. Ireland

Coming in 5th in this group, Ireland can almost certainly look forward to a boost in tourism in 2015 as a result of this ranking. The influential guidebook calls Ireland “stunningly scenic” and “the real deal”. It’s true, as the traditions of music, dance, beer, whiskey and food are firmly rooted and just waiting for enthusiastic travelers to come experience.

Kylemore Abbey, Ireland

4. Nicaragua

With a resurgence of travel to Central America in recent years it’s no surprise to see one of these Latin American Gems on this list. Nicaragua, once best known for its political turmoil and civil unrest has come a long way to become a recognized tourist destination. Along with wild jungle landscapes, you’ll find vibrant cities and some amazing food. The country has also become a premier destination for eco-tourism, one of the hottest trends in the industry.

Conception Volcano, Nicaragua

3. Lithuania

Another one of Europe’s hidden gems, Lithuania comes in number 3 on the Lonely Planet rankings for being a “rebellious, quirky and vibrant” country. Located on the majestic Baltic Sea the country is full of history, scenery, and mystery. With other popular European tourist destinations becoming increasingly more crowded, you can be sure you’re going to start hearing about Lithuania a lot more.

Vilnius, Lithuania

2. Namibia

Celebrating its 25th anniversary of independence in 2015, Namibia is the second African country to make this year’s list. While the Congo was recognized for its rugged wilderness, Namibia is being included for its progress in sustainable development. The country is even the first in Africa to include environmental protection in its constitution. With loss of habitat being a global theme, now is the time to support a country who takes the opposite stance.

Namibia

1. Singapore

Landing in first place and making its debut in the top 10 list, Singapore is clearly a travel destination on the rise. Influential factors for this choice were reportedly the many new developments within the country like a number of new luxury hotels, and attractions like the Singapore Sports Hub and the soon to open National Art Gallery. Increasing in popularity are also the countries high fashion scene and wide array of high end shopping centers. Couple these with the fact that in 2015 the country celebrates its 50th anniversary of independence and we agree that Singapore is a must visit for the coming year.

Singapore city at night