The Matta Fair is back, offering plenty of destinations to suit various interests and budgets. Here are three of the top draws:
It’s easy to see why Turkey is known as “Europe’s best destination”. It is well known for its delicious cuisine, exotic attractions, unique celebrations, latest fashions and warm hospitality. Straddling west Asia and south-east Europe, Turkey has the best of both worlds, and is home to some of the most delectable fare. There’s manti, a mouth-watering lamb- or beef-filled dumpling; menemen, a breakfast omelette filled with roasted onions, peppers and tomatoes; kebabs; kahvesi (Turkish coffee); and Turkish sweets like baklava and lokum (Turkish Delight), just to name some.
Turkey also boasts many top attractions, especially its 15 Unesco World Heritage sites, including the latest to be listed this year: Diyarbakir Fortress and Hevsel Gardens, and Ephesus.
Visitors can also enjoy exciting yearly international music and film festivals, a cross-continent swimming race, a tulip festival and the Sugar Festival.
As an upcoming fashion capital, the Mediterranean nation also has much to offer fashion aficionados. Songul Cabaci, a promising young Turkish designer, recently showcased her Spring/Summer 2015 collection for the first time at the Kuala Lumpur Fashion Week Ready To Wear 2015. Besides fashion, Turkey can be a shopper’s paradise with items like Turkish Delight; carpets and kilim (rugs), pottery and ceramics; and even unique mementos like the “evil eye” – a charm said to ward off evil.
At the heart of it all is the warm hospitality of the Turkish people who believe that all visitors are God’s guests. Homes are open to visitors all day, and hosts often welcome guests with cups of Turkish tea because drinking tea together is a gesture of friendship.
Autumn In My Heart, the popular Korean television drama, has inspired travellers to visit South Korea during the fall season, and this is one of the best times to experience the scenic beauty of the “land of the morning calm”.
The perfect place to capture the crimson beauty of the season is Naejangsan, a national park in Jeolla-do province. Naejangsan, which means “many secrets” and “mountain” in the Korean language, is home to Dodeok Falls and Geumseon Falls, as well as the Baekyangsa and Naejangsa temples.
Take the scenic route through the Autumn Foliage Tunnel that leads to the Naejangsa Temple, and enjoy the reflection of the Ssanggyeru Pavilion and Baekhakbong Peak at the pond in front of Baegyangsa Temple.
Another interesting place to visit is Mt Maisan in Jinan-gun, Jeollabuk-do, with its “father”, “mother” and “son” peaks, birthed from an ancient legend. Mysterious pagodas with towers that look as sharp as nails perch sturdily atop the mountain.
Jeonju Hanok Village, in the city of Jeonju, has over 800 traditional Korean hanok houses. Unlike the rest of the city, Hanok Maeul (village) retains its traditional charm.
Gamcheon Cultural Village or Taegukdo Village, with its vivid paints, quaint art installations and cheerful wall murals, is a must-see when you visit Busan.
The brightly coloured terrace houses spread across the face of a hill overlooking the sea has earned it the nickname “Santorini of the East”.
Jeju, the “honeymoon island”, is best seen on a self-drive tour. Take the scenic 1132 Ilju Road, along which you will see villages, oreum (hilly landscapes caused by volcanic activity) in Songdang, and the windy road between Aewol and Jeoji.
For cycling enthusiasts, the Sun Moon Lake in Taichung, Taiwan, is a top travel destination. It has been chosen by CNNGO as one of the best cycling routes in the world. Located in the heart of Taiwan, in the Natou County, the turquoise waters of Sun Moon Lake have long charmed both local and international visitors. It is a three-hour bicycle ride around Taiwan’s largest freshwater lake, where visitors can enjoy the scenery and experience Thao aboriginal culture. Come!Bikeday offers many activities for cycling enthusiasts at the location.
Another highlight is the Cherry Blossom Festival at the nearby Formosan Aboriginal Cultural Village. Held in February, it includes a series of events centred around thousands of mountain cherry trees. Concerts, cultural performances and light shows are part of the festivities.
Another popular spot is Taiwan’s Taroko National Park with the stunning 19km Taroko Gorge, featured in the cycling movie To The Fore. Just a short drive from Hualien, it also offers attractions like trekking trails, whitewater rafting and pristine beaches.
Travellers can take the Sun Moon Lake Ropeway, which is a scenic gondola cable car service that connects Sun Moon Lake with the Formosa Aboriginal Culture Village theme park.