The beauty and spectacle of nature never ceases to awe and inspire. As the world is finally coming back alive and travel is fully operating again, there’s no better time than now to start making your getaway plans for 2023. Here are some stunning experiences our writers from around the world recommend for you to explore in 2023 to reconnect with nature.
Be a responsible steward of nature and protect wildlife
Location: Chiang Mai, Thailand
It’s 2023 – it’s time to embrace a regenerative approach to tourism, to be more mindful of our impact on the places that we visit and to actively protect wildlife and the environment. Don’t be the tourist who still rides elephants; help them thrive instead. In October of 2022, the Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai was bestowed the Best Animal Welfare Award at the Responsible Thailand Awards 2022 from the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT). This animal rescue sanctuary and rehabilitation center first came up in 1996 and now has over 100 elephants in their care, as well as other rescued animals such as buffaloes, dogs, cats, horses, goats and birds.
The sanctuary lets visitors feed and observe these majestic giants playing, feeding, bathing and interacting in their natural surroundings. The chance to wander alongside these humungous creatures amid a beautiful jungle scenery can be a very relaxing, educational and deeply meaningful experience. Volunteer at the park where you can actively participate in the animals’ healing and conservation. When you do visit, stay the night, as the park’s accommodations have just gotten a post-Covid renovation.
Behold the top of the world
Location: Kathmandu, Nepal
Could this be the year you embark on an Everest quest? Not yet? Perhaps seeing the world’s highest peak, whose Nepali name is Sagarmatha, might inspire the adventure of a lifetime. But the magnificent mountain isn’t the only main draw. With its many UNESCO listed medieval darbar squares adorned with gilded temples, signature Newari architecture, and stupas, juxtaposed against a dreamy backdrop of the majestic Himalayas, the city of Kathmandu is a repository of bygones and mystic beauty.
If the daunting sea of humans, congested alleys and crowded marketplaces get too overwhelming, a short trip out of the city provides unbeatable experiences. You’ll be rewarded with a panoramic view of snow capped peaks, terraced paddy fields and misty valleys nestled between the mountains. Ride or drive around 15 km west of Kathmandu to reach Thankot village. From here, get into a 2.5 km ride on a cable car, and traverse through lush wilderness to Chandragiri hillock.
At 2,547 metres above sea-level, the view tower at Chandragiri Hill offers an unobstructed 180-degree view of the snow-capped Himalayas — from the Annapurna ranges to Mt.Everest, while a dip in the infinity pool at its namesake resort leaves one awe-struck. While here, pay obeisance to the Hindu god Shiva at the nearby Bhaleshwor Mahadev temple, and get to know its interesting Hindu legend and Nepali architecture from the temple’s affable priest.
If you’re on a lookout for other places to view Everest, drive 28 km east towards Nagarkot village. Perched on a hillock, it’s a little further from Bhaktapur city, a UNESCO world heritage site. Or even better, travel in luxury and stay at Hotel Everest View — the world’s highest placed hotel at 13,000 ft that offers a spectacular 360-degree view of the Himalayan range, including the Everest. The hotel arranges for helicopter rides from Kathmandu at a price. —Meenakshi J