Any traditional Chinese person will vouch that the Chinese zodiac signs are responsible for affecting personalities and predicting destinies. It is traditionally believed that the 12 zodiac signs influence all aspects of life – including travel.
Feng shui master Yap Boh Chu says if the direction is auspicious and the timing is right, one can gain positive energy when pursuing wanderlust. “At the very least, one will be very relaxed and everything will go smoothly,” adds the man from Yap Cheng Hai Academy in Kuala Lumpur.
On the outlook of the travel industry in the Year Of The Dog, Yap remains pragmatic. “Travel (industry) this year will be average only because, in general, the economy is not so bright,” he offers.
However, Yap notes there are destinations each zodiac can travel to for a boost of auspicious luck. “Some destinations are auspicious (to those born under certain signs) as it is in the auspicious direction of that sign,” he says.
We take a look at some of the destinations specially curated for Malaysians (assuming you’re travelling from Malaysia) based on the Chinese zodiac signs for the Year Of The Dog.
RAT – China
It might seem an obvious choice to list China here to go along with the Chinese New Year vibe. But according to Yap, the country is actually one of the most auspicious places to visit for Malaysians born in the Year Of The Rat.
Being home to one of the world’s oldest continuous civilisations means that China oozes personality. From the Great Wall to the Forbidden City and Tiannanmen Square to Summer Palace, there’s certainly no shortage of history to soak in.
Its vast size translates to multiple trips (or an extended stay) to explore striking cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu and Xi’an. Elsewhere, places like the Yellow Mountains in Huangshan and Li River in Guilin mesmerise with nature’s beauty.
Other auspicious destinations: Taiwan, Japan, South Korea
OX – Australia
According to Yap, the entire Australian continent is a lucky destination for Malaysians born in the Year Of The Ox to travel to.
For some marvellous architecture, head to Sydney to see the Harbour Bridge and Opera House. Meanwhile, Melbourne hosts colourful street art and a thriving food and coffee scene.
Move away from the cities and you will find that there’s plenty of natural splendours to take in. The Great Barrier Reef, Twelve Apostles and Remarkable Rocks are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Mother Nature’s gifts.
Other auspicious destinations: China, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand and Bali and Java Island in Indonesia
TIGER – Fiji
As an archipelago of more than 300 islands, you can bet the laidback lifestyle here will tame even the most restless soul born in the Year Of The Tiger.
Fiji beckons with palm-lined beaches, rugged landscape and crystal clear lagoons populated by beautiful coral reefs. If anything, it’s all about living the island life in this country in the South Pacific.
But while beaches and island hopping are absolute must-dos, there are plenty of other sights and activities to while away your time here. The Sri Siva Subramaniya Swami Temple offers a glimpse of traditional Dravidian architecture while the Suva Municipal Market is where you can find local produce that are cheaper than those found at supermarkets.
Other auspicious destinations: Borneo (Sabah, Sarawak, Brunei and Kalimantan), California in the US, Central America
RABBIT, HORSE, GOAT & MONKEY – Sumatra
Blessed with stunning sceneries and untamed wilderness, Sumatra is an auspicious travel pick for Malaysians belonging to the aforementioned four Chinese zodiac signs.
Those with an adventurous streak will surely enjoy the plethora of volcanic attractions here. Hike up to the top of Mount Sibayak in the north of Berastagi to enjoy a stroll around a volcanic crater. The sight of tents are a norm as some locals usually camp out to watch the sunrise from the top of the volcano. If you’d prefer something a little less dormant, then Mount Sinabung to the southwest of Berastagi should entice.
For something a little cooler, the remote island of Mentawai is home to some of the best waves in Indonesia. Elsewhere, the countryside around Batusangkar hosts pacu jawi, which is a traditional bull racing event. Lastly, don’t leave Sumatra until you have tried their nasi padang.
Other auspicious destination: South Africa
DRAGON – Europe
The possibility is endless when it comes to places to tour in Europe. From catching an opera in Austria to eating paella in Spain and sipping afternoon tea in Britain to hiking in Norway, those born in the Year Of The Dragon are practically spoilt for choice.
One of the best ways to tour the continent would be by rail. Some scenic routes are the Rauma Line (from Dombås to Åndalsnes in Norway), Bergen Line (between Oslo and Bergen in Norway) and Bernini Express (between Switzerland and Italy).
Rather not be stuck in a train? Then take a canal tour in Amsterdam or sail around the Greek Isles.
Other auspicious destinations: Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan)
SNAKE – New Zealand
Mention New Zealand and images of magnificent landscapes and expansive national parks come to mind. And of course, dairy farms with lots of cows.
New Zealand is jam-packed with things to do: From dolphin-watching in Akaroa to a guided tour of the Hobbiton Movie Set in Matamata and checking out glow worms in Waitomo to a sunset kayak tour across Auckland’s harbour.
But not to be missed is also the rich and proud Maori culture in Rotorua, the cultural heart of the country. Cap off your holiday by taking a road trip long the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail for some nice bubbly.
Other auspicious destinations: Australia
ROOSTER – Japan
The timeless appeal of Japan comes courtesy of its splendid tradition and culture. Above all, its people’s mild mannerism and etiquette make for a very memorable visit.
If it’s a slice of modernity you’re after, cities such as Tokyo and Osaka are the personification of futuristic architecture. For a touch of majestic history, Japan’s many shrines and castles will take you back in time.
Otherwise, visit Japan to sample some of the most delectable sushi and sashimi. What’s for certain is the country will bring good luck for Malaysians born under the Rooster sign.
Other auspicious destinations: China, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Bali, Java Island
DOG – California
Hollywood glamour and Disneyland probably top the bucket list at the mention of California. But there’s certainly more to the Golden State in the US than movie stars and Mickey Mouse.
National parks such as Yosemite, Redwood and Joshua Tree deserve a special mention for displaying majestic American wilderness. The city of San Francisco meanwhile, will wow visitors with the Golden Gate Bridge and Pier 39.
If all else fails, head to Los Angeles and immerse yourself in the lifestyles of the A-listers. If you’re lucky, you might even bump into a celebrity while shopping at Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills.
Other auspicious destinations: Jakarta in Indonesia, Borneo, Central America
PIG – Central America
Perhaps best known for its splendid showcase of the ancient Mayan civilisation, Central America is also where you can find tropical wildlife, surfing towns and red hot volcanoes.
First time visitors might want to check out the ancient citadel of Tikal in Guatemala. Photographers, meanwhile, will get a kick out of traversing the Hummingbird Highway in Belize that offers postcard-perfect sceneries.
Elsewhere, Bay Islands in Honduras and Panama City will showcase the contrasting sides to Latin American tourism with their laidback vibe and cosmopolitan architecture respectively.
Other auspicious destinations: Borneo, California, Sumatra, South Africa