With the wanderlust gene embedded into our DNA, we Singaporeans are hella staunch when it comes to travelling - so much so that a recent survey revealed that 40 per cent of locals are willing to break the piggy bank and splurge all their savings to fund their dream destination vacay.
Thanks to the advent of budget airlines, regional getaways –be it a shop, eat and repeat weekend in Hong Kong or a full-fledged fortnight in Korea – have become much more accessible. But high on every traveller’s bucket list is a multi-city sojourn to Europe, one replete with a ton of envy-inducing IG stories.
SADLY ENOUGH, due to you-know-what, none of us will be jetsetting anytime soon.
To satisfy your wanderlust amidst the pandemic, here are 10 places in Asia that look so much like Europe you can shamelessly geotag the actual location - once we're actually allowed to go there.
1. Where it looks like: Swiss Alps, Switzerland
Where it actually is: Khajjiar Lake, Himachal Pradesh, India
A lush, expansive green meadow set against recesses of cedar trees and smoky mountains, it’s not hard to see why Khajjiar Lake is hailed by both locals and tourists alike as mini Switzerland.
The panoramic views of the Lake are majestic all year round but come by during winter to catch sight of the snow-capped mountains - an unmistakable feature of the Swiss Alps.
On the activities front, adrenaline junkies can partake in paragliding while culture vultures can explore the small shopping plaza on site to get a closer insight into what life by the alps is like.
2. Where it looks like: Athens, Greece
Where it actually is: Fortune Island, Nasugbu, Philippines
Once slated to be transformed into a Greek-inspired luxury resort destination, construction even began on Fortune Island before developers noticed the inaccessibility to fresh water and had to abandon the project.
While the resort never came to be, some of its infrastructures did. You’ll find plenty of Grecian statues dotting the island, adding a whimsy and mystical charm to the island. But the landmark spot is undoubtedly on the cliff, where pillars reminiscent of the Parthenon in Athens lie.
As soon as you’re done with fooling Instagram you’re at the Acropolis of Athens, get into your swimsuit cliff dive, snorkel, or just simply frolic in the pristine waters and silky sands before the rest of the world gets wind on this!
3. Where it looks like: Harbour Island, Bahamas
Where it actually is: Pink Beach, Komodo Island, Indonesia
Aside from being the headquarters of the eponymous dragons, Komodo is also home to a ridiculously beautiful, made-for-Instagram pink beach.
And in case you’re wondering, this is all natural - the beach gets its blush from a microscopic organism that has a reddish-pink hue, along with crushed corals that have been washed ashore.
Against the bright green hills, the blue waters seem immaculately blue, and the clear shallow waters make it real a visual treat for those who swim and snorkel.
4. Where it looks like: Vienna, Austria
Where it actually is: Batanes, Philippines
The breathtaking views of Batanes need no fancy filters and you’d knock yourself for every second wasted staring at your phone. Due to the low population density, nature thrives in this area, making it a popular spot for those with a knack for natural landscapes.
The island has plenty of scenic spots, but for a truly breathtaking view, you’d wanna take a hike to the top of Vayang Rolling Hills. Overlooking gently curved undulating hills and vast oceans, go off the grid to marvel the picturesque landscape that gives the Windows wallpaper a run for its money.
5. Where it looks like: Amsterdam, Netherlands
Where it actually is: Huis Ten Bosch, Nagasaki, Japan
Don’t be too quick to write off this attraction just because it’s a theme park - this Dutch replica measures an impressive 152 hectares, which is about as many football fields put together, more than 3 times bigger than Vatican City.
There’s something for everyone here - a flower garden inspired from Amsterdam’s famed tulip garden, an adventure park and even a viewing tower that soars 80 metres above ground.
6. Where it looks like: Porto Portugal
Where it actually is: Fontainhas, Goa, India
By now, Goa’s status as a party city is pretty much an open secret with its spectacular beaches and stunning coastlines. But unknown to many is Fontainhas, a district in Panjim that celebrates the country’s Latin history.
Portuguese influence splashes across Fontainhas, the most distinct being the brightly coloured houses and winding lanes lined with massive Bougainvillea bushes.
By night, yellow light and neon signs spill out from the windows of homes and pubs in the area, so stay past sundown, grab a beer at the throng of bars and revel in the Havana oh na na vibes.
7. Where it looks like: Paris, France
Where it actually is: Tianducheng, Hangzhou, China
China’s probably the last place that comes to mind when you think of anything French but along the outskirts of Hangzhou lies Tianducheng (Sky City), a residential community that transplants a romantic slice of Paris to Asia.
There, you will find sights common French towns - renaissance architecture, artfully lawned parterre gardens and elaborate fountains.
But the gag of it all is the exact replicas of the Eiffel Tower and Champ Élysée, because what’s a trip to the City of Love without a corny picture by these iconic landmarks?
8. Where it looks like: Crema, Italy
Where it actually is: Primo Piazza, Khao Yai, Thailand
Not all lazy summers are made the same and I can’t be the only one who was swept by the idyllic beauty of Crema, Italy after watching Call Me By Your Name.
Located unexpectedly in Khao Yai is Primo Piazza, a Tuscan-inspired farm that transports you to the Italian countryside. Unwind from the afternoon at one of the cafes in the pavilion - a facade complete with exposed brick walls and earth-toned architecture that has become synonymous with the bucolic locale.
But what’s a farm without animals? Home to a flock of sheep, donkeys and alpacas, you get to feed these furry friends and get up close to take a selfie for just 100baht (S$4).
9. Where it looks like: Santorini, Greece
Where it actually is: Santorini Park, Hua Hin, Thailand
From its name, Santorini Park makes no effort in hiding the destination it’s trying to emulate. Large cobblestone floors, white architecture with cyan accents and enigmatic alleys make up the aesthetic of the dream destination and you’ll find all of that here at the resort-cum-amusement park.
It isn’t just bells and whistles though, the resort comes a string of amenities, ranging from quaint cafes and boutique retail outlets for the leisure traveller to a totally legit entertainment park that houses a G-MAX reverse bungee and water theme park for the adventure-oriented.
10. Where it looks like: Cheshire, England
Where it actually is: Thames Valley, Khao Yai, Thailand
Find resolve from Thailand’s bustle when you check-in to Thames Valley. Unlike its namesake, however, this themed resort takes inspiration from the English countryside, providing luxury amenities amidst rustic ambience.
For much needed R&R, head to the hotel’s spa for a deep tissue massage, before dining alfresco at the resort’s resto-cum-tea room that’s modelled after a vintage manor.
This article was first published in Wonderwall.sg.