Unforgettable road trips

by By Hafiz Rasid (hrasid@sph.com.sg)
published on 21 June 2016

Take the wheel

For your next getaway, get behind the wheels and explore these top 5 self-drive holiday destinations. 

Looking for a flexible holiday itinerary to enjoy at your own pace? Join the increasing number of Singaporean travellers that opt for a self-drive holiday. Self-drive holidays allow the travellers to the chance to embrace freedom and spend more time exploring hidden gems they discovered along their trip.

Most local tour agencies here offer customisable itineraries and even self-drive routes to simplify the travel experience abroad.

 Feeling adventurous? Go on a road trip overseas with your loved ones to these destinations known for their well-connected road network and beautiful attractions.

From onsen to the ocean

Japan has no shortage of natural attractions, but for travellers looking to explore the less touristy side Japan should consider Kyushu.

As the country’s third-largest island, Kyushu has an expansive areas that makes it perfect for a self-drive holiday. Make a trip to the volcanic mountains and dramatic calderas in Aso-Kuju National Park a highlight of your trip.

Take a break from a day of hiking and make a stop at Yufuin, one of Japan’s best-known onsen town. Destress and detoxify your body with a warm soak in its natural springs with a view of the town’s mountainscape.

Drive up to the Gokase River and hop on board for a boat cruise down the magnificent Takachiho Gorge, with beautiful sights of cascading waterfalls and blossoming mountain cherry trees.

For those travelling with the family, drop by the Ocean Dome. The quirky indoor waterpark is designed to emulate the perfect sunny beach weather all-year round. Sun worshippers can have a fun time swimming in its clear blue water, white sands and consistent warm temperature without being disrupted by unpredictable weather, sand fleas and harmful UV rays.

Chasing the Northern Lights

Fans of the popular television series Game of Thrones will attest to the beauty of Iceland’s otherworldly glacial landscapes.

Fans of the show will want to add a set tour to the itinerary. The popular tour takes fans to the various locations that were used as backdrops for several key scenes in the series.

Even if you are not a fan of the show, Iceland has plenty to offer when it comes to natural attractions.

Looking for a breathtaking selfie? Stop by the Jokulsarlon, a large glacial lake in Vatnajokull National Park famous for its large floating icebergs and majestic glaciers.

Stroll through the otherworldly black sand beaches and unique rock formations at Reynisdrangar. Get up close with a variety of icebergs that resemble massive chunks of glass.

At the city of Reykjavik, arrange for a Northern Lights spotting tour, where you will be taken to a guided search to witness the breath-taking swirl of colours across the northern night sky.

Journey to the Middle Earth

Rolling hills, untouched wilderness and friendly faces are some of the reasons why self-drives holiday are becoming popular in New Zealand.

Add the Tongariro National Park to your self-drive itinerary. New Zealand’s oldest national park provides plenty of activities for nature lovers.

Should you feel adventurous, go on a one-day trek that takes you from one side of the mountain to the other, stopping at the peak for a spectacular view of the Emerald Lakes and Central Crater.

At Rotorua, known for bubbling mud pools and hot springs, dip in the mineral-rich mud pools for a rejuvenating, all-natural spa session.

Those going on a self-drive holiday with children may enjoy the chance to go on a magical trip to Middle Earth in New Zealand.

Make your way to Matamata, a rural town located at the base of the Kaimai Ranges. Its lush greeneries and untouched natural attractions were made famous as the backdrop for the Hobbiton in the Lord of the Rings series.

Romancing Andalucia

Known as the birthplace of numerous famous Spanish traditions such as festivals, siestas, bullfights and tapas, Andalucia is a land of beauty steeped in history and culture.

A must-visit is the spectacular Alhambra Palace in Granada. The former Moorish fortress stands today as a Unesco World Heritage Site. Walk in the footsteps of royals that lived in the palace, and tour the palace’s summer gardens, courtyards and various rooms.

Then take a drive around Albaicin, a medieval quarter in Granada, and stop by the Plaza de San Nicolas to marvel at the cityscape and watch the local flamenco artists practise their moves.

Check out the various guided walking tours in Seville, where you will get to explore the city’s colourful historical attractions such as the Maria Luisa Park. Walk down its narrow streets and explore hidden gems before taking a relaxing boat cruise up the Rio Guadalquivir.

Go on a heritage trail

Not all self-drive holidays are an exploration of a destination’s natural attractions. Those looking to explore places near urban comforts can plan an itinerary of heritage and cultural sites to explore by car and foot.

Quebec offers plenty of places to visits and activities to do for cultural travellers. At Montreal, learn of its religious and military history through a city tour to its various landmarks such as the Cathedral-Basilica of Notre-Dame de Quebec, Musee de la civilisation, and Musee du Fort.

Visit Old Quebec City, a historic neighbourhood and a Unesco World heritage site. Take a break from behind the wheel and get on a horse-drawn carriage ride for a romantic tour of the historic district.

Foodies will appreciate the diverse culinary landscape of the province. Quebec’s melting pot of various cultures resulted in a wide-range of cuisines and unique dishes such as its signature Poutine, a messy pile of fries, gravy and cheese curds.