Dream(y) destinations: What’s on Team TD’s 2023 wishlist?

It’s time to take notes. Our editors are always dreaming of new travel destinations, and this time, they are telling you where to go!

New year 2023
Where will 2023 see us travelling? Image: Shutterstock/MaxxStudio.

We, at TravelDine, are used to adding fresh experiences and untouched destinations to our bucket lists. Spending hours scrolling Instagram, pinning breathtaking pictures of unexplored beaches, majestic mountains, and hidden gems around the world is a part of the daily job, and we are all for it. Not to forget, being located in India, we are always spoilt for choice with the most tempting getaways right at our doorstep. We have it easy, yes. And now, we wish to help inspire your travel bucket list as well. Wanna know where our editors are dreaming of travelling to, in India and abroad, this year? Read on!

Marzban Patel

Founder & CEO, Mediascope Representation India LLP

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Holiday me up! Our co-founders, Marzban and wife Anita, in Goa.

Having turned senior in the COVID era, realisation has set in that every destination I travel to on holiday now, must truly count. Age adds filters too — no extreme adventures, no binging, no forgetting to pack a medicine chest, no swimming with crocodiles, no scaling the Everest or any mountain, hill, or valley! Solid advantage — land at an Indian airport off a long-haul flight before a mile-long immigration queue? No problem. Stride up to the Senior Citizens’ counter, a red carpet awaits!

In the year of 2023, the hip new way to go is — clean, green, sustainable, low carbon footprint, veganism, impossible foods, cannabis, zero cholesterol, Coke Zero, 0.0 Heineken, Ariel Chardonnay, and so on… the only exception being Single Malts, because I say so!

I am planning many trips but the ones I will definitely make are:

Amalfi Coast, Italy

Amalfi coast
The Amalfi Coast dazzles with its hidden grottos, craggy cliffs, and shimmering bays. Image: Shutterstock/Balate Dorin.

Fresh air, great tan, posh hospitality, ode to gastronomy, fabulous wines, fashionable, and stylish, just like the Italians intended it to be.

Goa, India

The secluded Sinquerim Beach in Goa. Image: Shutterstock/ImagesofIndia.

It’s four hours door-to-door from crazy Mumbai to lazy Sinquerim. Has the most fabulous choice of taverns and bars with an even wider choice of local brew and live music, the best chefs from India cooking just for you, and because it’s so susegad!

Deepali Nandwani

Editor-in-Chief, TravelDine

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Pretty poised! Deepali revels in the vintage vibe at the Rambagh Palace Hotel in Jaipur.

Exploring the unexplored in Greece

Olympus, greece
The Olympus Mountain is home to many Greek gods and Zeus’ throne. Image: Shutterstock/frantic00.

Why do I want to travel to Greece, one of the most visited destinations in the world? It is a question I am often asked. Here are a few facts about Greece that may leave you astounded. The country is home to thousands of islands, and when it comes to scenic beauty and those blue-domed roofs, Santorini is not the one on my list. Not when you have Kasos, the southernmost island in the Aegean Sea, an indigo blue landscape like no other — from the ocean to the windows, and a rugged windswept beauty. Or Ithaca, for that matter, once home to legendary Greek king Odysseus, and now known for its unending rows of pine trees. 

Here is another astounding fact: Almost 80 per cent of the Greek landscape is dominated by steep mountains. At one end of Greece are the peaks of Varnountas and Grammos, and at the other, the Pindos range and the legendary Olympus. Would you believe this when all the images we see are of beaches and Santorini? My dream is to explore Olympus, the highest mountain in Greece, thought to be home to the gods and Zeus’s throne, and the great archaeological park of Dion at the foothills of the mountain. 

Meeting the big cats of the Sundarbans

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Ready for a thrilling encounter with the Royal Bengal tiger in Sunderbans? Image: Shutterstock/AKSHAY NIMBALKAR.

Even as I write, news comes in about a new initiative of sustainable shrimp cultivation that may help restore Sunderbans’ mangroves, which were being laid bare by unsustainable aquaculture. Then, there is this other news about the West Bengal government laying 1,100 traps to count the tigers, the most famous residents of Sunderbans. This mangrove forest in the delta, formed by the confluence of three mighty rivers — Ganga, Brahmaputra, and Meghna, which flows through the low-lying islands of the Bay of Bengal — is a highly complex world.

Think of a network of tidal waterways, mudflats, small islands, mangrove forests, and at the apex of it all, the mighty Bengal tiger, besides a host of other species. There are two defining images of Sunderbans for me. One, which I stumbled across 10 years ago, of a boat making its way through an estuary at Sunderbans Biosphere Reserve, surrounded by lush forests and snaking through a waterway that went from narrow to wide-mouthed just a short sail away.

And the second, the more defining, was that of a tiger emerging from a refreshing swim through the tidal waters of Sunderbans, his (or her — I have no way of knowing!) coat glistening under the bright Bengal sun. Sundarbans tigers can swim at an estimated speed of 13 kms/hour, climb trees, drink salty water, and hunt in daylight. 

Beat that!

I desire to see the only tigers in the world who spend much of their life swimming through tidal waters, as they dive to catch fish or maybe ferret out a crab from its hiding place under the sand. Oh, did I mention, Sunderbans’ tigers are also the only ones who eat crabs?

Priya Pathiyan

Deputy Editor – Travel & Hotels

New year 2023
Priya’s setting her sights on her next vacay while she’s luxuriating in the wild at Kaav in Kabini.

Cambodia, here I (finally) come!

The ancient Angkor Wat Temple in Siem Reap. Image: Shutterstock/Perfect Lazybones.

Now that I have finally coloured my hair purple, perhaps it’s also time for me to hitchhike to Cambodia as I wanted to do as a rookie reporter! To explore the temple of Angkor Wat — once forgotten and claimed by the jungle but now recognised as the world’s largest, relax on the pristine Koh Rong Samloem beach, and to sample fish amok, pork belly samlor korkor, and maybe some red tree ants? Although I’m fulfilling my 20s travel fantasies, I’d love to make them luxe — escaping to my private island retreat at Song Saa or glamping in the Cardamom mountains.

Tharangambadi — a tranquil dream

Tharangambadi is certainly Tamil Nadu’s best-kept secret. Image: Shutterstock/Noel Prashanth.

I’ve always been fascinated by tranquil Tranquebar, now known as Tharangambadi (meaning ‘place of the singing waves’), in Tamil Nadu. It was part of the Thanjavur kingdom, and had a sizeable Indo-Portuguese population, before it became Denmark’s first trading outpost in India. Temples dating back to the 14th century, the Danish Fort Dansborg built in the mid-1600s, the Zion Church, colonial houses, and the Tamil architecture on a freshly restored Goldsmith’s Street… there’s so much I want to see here, besides lounging by the vastness of the moody Bay of Bengal on the east.

Vernika Awal

Deputy Editor – Food & Drinks

Vernika awal
Always happier in the hills, Vernika poses before the breathtaking backdrop of Nanda Devi and Trishul peaks at Binsar Forest Reserve.

Some ‘cool’ off time in Svalbard

Northern Lights as seen in Svalbard, Norway. Image: Shutterstock/ginger_polina_bublik.

This extreme Norwegian archipelago is one of the northernmost settlements of humankind, but its extreme temperature and permanent winters mean that the place doesn’t ever attract very high settlement. Nevertheless, Svalbard ranks right at the top of fantastical destinations that you must see, to believe. Svalbard is primarily famous for gorgeous sightings of the Northern Lights, its resident polar bears, and the midnight sun. It is here that I’d love to spend one of my milestones of the year — while Svalbard can involve a rather rigorous flight to get there, what you see is beyond spellbinding.

A memorable week in Kashmir

A slice of paradise, anyone? Image: Shutterstock/ImagesofIndia.

Even though I’ve never been to Kashmir, I’ve had this profound feeling of having been familiar with it. From the beauty of its flower beds to the mountains standing tall despite all the history and the incredible romance, my destination of the year for 2023, when it comes to travel within India, has to be Kashmir. I have always cherished a spirit for the hills, having grown up in quaint, quiet hill towns — and while I’ve always vacationed in the hills, Kashmir has somehow remained off the list. 2023 is the year when I plan to add India’s crown to my travel pins.

Abha Srivastava

Deputy Editor, Desk

Dream destination
Abha loving the weather in Cologne.

A trip back in time in Vietnam

Vietnam is a story steeped in dark history and unmatchable beauty. Image: Shutterstock/Bucha Natallia.

There’s history and beauty; tumult and harmony. After having read reams about the Vietnam War, there’s a sense of enquiry, an inquisitiveness (as voyeuristic as it may be), about actually stepping foot on the soil that has witnessed so much meaningless bloodshed and upheaval and has yet stood its ground. From last century’s turmoil to this century’s bustling Vietnam, it is a fascinating region that is still attached to its roots and offers culture and adventure in equal measure… This is a treat I need to witness, at least once in my life. And, of course, where else would I go but Vietnam to feast on authentic pho noodle soup and a vast variety of seafood?

A rendezvous in Nagaland

Discover Nagaland, the ‘wild east’, through its tribal communities. Image: Shutterstock/David Evison.

It is the call of the unknown. A deep desire to experience a way of life that I have, till date, only seen on screen (so can’t vouch for its authenticity). From the valley of flowers of the East — Dzukou Valley, to Mokokchung for the Ao Naga tribe, everything that portrays the traditional Naga way of life is on my bottomless bucket list. As a culture, there’s very little I know about one of the Seven Sisters, so that needs to be remedied. And as gustatory destination, Nagaland speaks my language with heaps of non-vegetarian food, of every variety, to make me book the next flight out to this hidden gem.

Sushmita Srivastav

Senior Features Editor – Travel & Hotels

Sushmita srivastav
Forever a beach bum! Sushmita enjoying some downtime in Koh Samui, Thailand.

Realising the long-standing Turkish dream

You can’t picture the Cappadocia skyline without countless hot-air balloons floating around! Image: Shutterstock/Valerija Polakovska.

As long as I can recall, I have been obsessed with the lunarscape panoramas of Cappadocia that seem to be pulled straight out of a whimsical fairy-tale. Picture this: you are soaring high above the stark Anatolian plains in a hot-air balloon, as honeycombed hills, cavern architecture, and towering boulders slowly pass by, while you witness the golden sun melt into the dusky pink of the accordion-rigged valleys. What’s not to love?

But Cappadocia isn’t the only reason why Turkey tops my wishlist. The ancient ruins of Ephesus, the glimmering Mediterranean and Aegean coastlines, the iconic Bosphorus in Istanbul sitting astride the East and the West, the restored Ottoman houses of Anatalya, the hammams, the eclectic cuisine, the fascinating history… Turkey is the stuff of my psychedelic daydreams that I wish to make come true soon.

A laidback, leisure trip to Lakshadweep

The untouched waters of Lakshadweep call for a deep dive! Image: Shutterstock/Chainarong Phrammanee.

‘Mountains or beaches’ has never been a tough choice to make. For cliched as it may sound, my idea of a perfect vacation remains to be idling on a beach — with waves rolling over my sandy toes or the salty air messing with my hair as I lay on a hammock with my favourite cocktail and a book. Simple, lazy, blissful.

But why Lakshadweep, you ask? Because the secluded beaches of this tropical archipelago are still somewhat, well, secluded. Out of a string of 36 palm-covered atolls, only 10 are inhabited with local life remaining highly traditional. If I had a laidback week or two to spare, I’d spend a few days onboard the Cordelia Cruise first, and then, take a deep dive (quite literally) into warm waters, pristine lagoons, and unspoilt corals of the Laccadive Sea by going for a PADI-certified scuba diving course on Kalpeni Island!

Pratishtha Rana

Assistant Editor – Food & Drink

Pratishtha rana
Pratishtha enjoying the best rooftop view of Udaipur’s glittering skyline at Baro Masi, Udai Kothi.

Living the Egyptian way of life

The Pyramids of Giza in Egypt never fail to amaze. Image: Shutterstock/givaga.

There are some countries touched by a certain cosmopolitan air, while there are some locations that are still perfectly draped with its ancient history. Egypt is one such destination that holds curious historical and civilisation cues that I’d like to discover.

From absorbing the mammoth presence of The Pyramids of Giza, sauntering the streets of Cairo and Khan El Khalili Market that has been in the heart of the city since the 14th century to cruising the Nile and visiting the ancient city of Abydos (a few hours drive from Cairo) known for the oldest temples and cemeteries of the first-dynasty kings — a few days can prove worthwhile in the land of Pharaohs, especially when teamed with repeat portions of its traditional teas, drinks and the binge-worthy street food like koshary, shawarma, hawawshi, and more. Of course, more shall be spilled when I finally do travel to Egypt!

Puducherry: Art is calling!

A glimpse of the colourful French quarter in Puducherry. Image: Courtesy pixy.org.

Thanks to my father’s service in the Indian Army, I’ve been lucky to live in several cities in India and closely engage with the people and their culture. But there are a few places I’m yet to go to. One is Puducherry, which I believe will aptly quench the art and design fiend in me — from its French colonial edifices and many local art boutiques to the cool, aesthetic cafes that the traveller in me would want to explore. Add to it a bike ride to see all that Auroville has to offer, and a few days of unwinding would spell bliss, I’m sure.

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