It’s time to treat yourself! Check out our specially curated selection of bespoke experiences hand-picked from across the globe and create exquisite memories to last a lifetime.
BY PUNITA MALHOTRA
ENCOUNTERING ICY ROYALTY
Antarctica, South Pole
Head to the pristine and snowy landscapes of the South Pole for a thrilling odyssey with Emperor penguins. Guided by professionals, this wildlife safari to the southernmost point on the planet starts off with a flight over vast expanses of water and the thousands of icebergs that make up the continent of Antarctica. Once here, you’ll encounter a frozen tundra blanketed with busy colonies of thousands of adult penguins and their fluffy chicks, all flapping, waddling, squealing, or gliding underwater. Engaging presentations by polar experts will allow you to uncover the secrets of this remote land, as you learn about its varied wildlife, history, glaciology, and geology. Active adventurists can pump up the adrenaline with a hike on a sparkling glacier or a session of sea kayaking. Or simply enjoy a deliciously warm feast prepared by the tour organisers. Trust us, you’ll have built up quite the appetite! Whatever you choose, the wonders never cease in this
Try it with: White Desert (white-desert.com); Quark Expeditions (quarkexpeditions.com).
IGNITING IRRESISTIBLE CRAVINGS
From the mystique of Machu Picchu to the heritage of Cusco, Peru tempts the intrepid traveller with layer upon delicious layer of history, culture, and gastronomy. Bite into the vibrant tapestry of the country’s culinary heritage by enrolling in a private cooking extravaganza headed by professional chefs. The appetising escapade begins with a trip to the local market to discover, taste, and purchase an incredibly diverse range of Andean spices, fruits, and vegetables. Next, head back to the kitchen to learn quintessential Peruvian cooking techniques handed down over generations. You’re sure to be cooking up a storm as you prepare traditional staples like ceviche, causa limeña (potato and chicken/tuna casserole), aromatic stews, and more, along with wine tastings and pairings. Finally, it’s time to savour your creations as you gather with fellow adventurers and your instructor for a communal feast. Enveloped by fragrant aromas and explosive flavours, get ready to bond over shared stories to remember
Try it at: Taste of Peru (taste-of-peru.com); Lima Tasty Tours (limatastytours.com).
SERENADING SENSUAL BLISS
Istanbul and surrounding cities, Turkey
The pursuit of well-being is a timeless tradition in this historic land, home to some of the world’s oldest spas and thermal baths. And you’re sure to be spoilt for choice with opulent experiences that seamlessly blend ancient traditions with modern luxury. Immerse into the indulgence with a two-hour hammam session in Istanbul with an experienced masseuse, surrounded by the refrains of classical music and aromatic fragrances. Then, journey to the other-worldly landscapes of Cappadocia to slip into the healing embrace of hot springs and natural baths. The tryst with rejuvenation continues in the white-calcite terraced pools of Pamukkale and the ancient spa of Hierapolis. Reimagine idyll as you surrender to a therapeutic massage on the deck of a private yacht gliding along the Turquoise Coast. All you can do when it’s all done is sigh blissfully and pledge to return.
Try it with: Zicasso (zicasso.com).
CAPTURING ETHEREAL FRAMES
Siem Reap, Cambodia
Embark on a riveting photography odyssey through the ancient wonders of the iconic Angkor Wat. The tour starts early morning, as the first rays of the sun cast a golden hue over this UNESCO World Heritage site. The best part? You’ll be able to capture amazing shots of these radiant vistas and more through the day with the help of a seasoned photographer. The visual treat continues at the tree enveloped ruins of Ta Prohm temple, the dramatic Preah Khan temple, the richly decorated Bayon temple, and the watery expanse of the Tonlé Sap Lake, dotted with floating houses. Take your photography skills to another level with special tips and techniques regarding composition, camera settings and angles, exposure control, utilising the interplay of light and shadows, and even shoot a time-lapse video to weave a tapestry of stunning imagery. Talk about a picture being worth a thousand words!
Try it with: Angkor Photography Tours (angkorphotographytours.com); Nathan Horton Photography (nathanhortonphotography.com).
CRAFTING FRAGRANT DESIRES
Nestled along the Ganges River, the ‘Perfume Capital of India’ is brimming with the aroma of a rich heritage. Enter its lanes to embark on an olfactory adventure that blends ancient traditions with modern magic. How? By creating an exotic fragrance that expresses your unique personality. Make your way to a perfumery retreat and stroll through gardens of seasonal blooms—roses, lavender, jasmine, sandalwood, and more—to witness the delicate flower-plucking process. The immersive experience continues in the distillery, where you are introduced to the process of scent-making. Finally, head to the perfume bar, where you can choose from almost 500 ingredients as you sniff, mix, and prepare your own signature scent under the guidance of skilled perfumers. The multi-sensorial tryst ends with a seven-course fragrance and flavour pairing degustation menu. Sweet jasmine, sensual oud, or earthy petrichor… what will it be?
Try it with: Perfume Tourism by Indian Naturals (perfumetourism.com).
DESIGNING SPARKLING DREAMS
In this home of the Renaissance, where the Arno River flows past the majestic Duomo, the air is crisp with the essence of Italian artistry. Take advantage of the aesthetic inspiration all around you by signing up for one of Florence’s most exclusive experiences on offer—a special jewellery-making workshop. Join a skilled Italian artisan at an atelier and craft a one-of-a-kind ornament from scratch. As you dive into Tuscany’s goldsmith tradition, working with precious metals or semi-precious stones, you’ll learn the techniques involved in the process. Whether you’re repurposing old jewellery, designing your wedding ring, or fashioning a statement piece, you’ll come away with a treasure that echoes your spirit. Your only dilemma will be to choose between muted matte or glossy shine.
Try it with: Artviva (artviva.com); Linfa Studio Gallery (linfastudiogallery.com).
PAINTING PICTURESQUE DAYS
The ‘City of Light’ has been a perennial muse for creative brilliance and cultural richness. And what better way to absorb its artistic tapestry than on a private tour of its most remarkable treasures accompanied by an art historian. You’re sure to appreciate the exclusive touch with tailor-made access to two of the metropolis’ most important museums—the Louvre and Musée d’Orsay. Spend time understanding influential works from various eras, including Ancient Greece, the Renaissance, Neoclassicism, and Romanticism. The carefully curated tour includes an up-close encounter with Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, Michelangelo’s Slave sculptures, and more. And, brush up on your art knowledge with engaging chats and anecdotes about inspiring masterpieces. Perfect for memories as vibrant as strokes on a canvas.
Try it with: Liv Tours (livtours.com).