Should you stay or should you go — we reveal the top 10 best countries to travel to during this coronavirus era, based on Bloomberg’s COVID-19 Resilience Ranking.
Recently, Bloomberg published an article about the best and worst places to be when global vaccinations take off based on their COVID-19 Resilience Ranking. That got us thinking… Out of the best-ranked countries to visit after vaccination, which country would we be hitting up first?
Disclaimer: Singapore is number 2 on this list. At this point, I just want to add that we feel blessed to be living in a country that vaccination resources for its citizens, and we hope that the global roll-out of COVID-19 vaccinations will happen soon.
Still, this article is our way of searching for a silver lining in an otherwise sobering and dreary global reality. Travel might be a while away, but we’re dreaming in the wait! If you’re interested to know what the to-dos are on our travel list, based on the top-ranked COVID-19 resilient countries in the world, keep reading!
TLDR: Bloomberg’s COVID-19 Resilience Ranking
Bloomberg took quite a few things into account when coming up with their resilience scores. There were two main factors considered: COVID-19 status in the country, and quality of life.
The former encompassed things like positive test rates while the latter covered lockdown severity, community mobility, etc.
That said, Bloomberg noted that under-detection and errors in countries’ data must be considered in this COVID-19 Resilience ranking. This ranking should then be used to understand if a country is adapting well to COVID-19, but not strictly as a guide to the safest places to travel.
So, Where To After COVID-19 Vaccinations?
Writer’s note: It was extremely difficult choosing just one feature image per place. To fully encapsulate each country in a single shot— I mean, how do you choose between the lantern-lit alleyways, bustling road-crossings and temple-studded hills to represent what Japan is?
1. New Zealand
Ah yes, Middle Earth. Where mountains lounge beside dazzling blue lakes, and herds of sheep graze on rolling hills that cliff off into stone beaches lapped up by crashing waves. Whether you decide to jump off underground waterfalls in Waitomo Glowworm Caves, do the Hooker Valley Track at Aoraki Mount Cook National Park, frolic through the lavender fields by Lake Tekapo, or chill with a good cup of coffee in Queenstown — if an adventure is what you seek, New Zealand is the place for you.
COVID-19 Resilience Ranking: 78/100
Population with COVID-19 Vaccination: 0.3%
My perception of Australia has evolved through the years. In my teens, it was a wildlife wonderland — wombats at Perth’s Caversham Wildlife Park, koalas at Melbourne’s Moonlit Sanctuary Wildlife Conservation Park, and of course, Tasmanian devils at Tasmania’s Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary. In my twenties, however, my travel wishlist took a gastronomical turn. Apart from their fantastic brunch and coffee scene, I spent my time exploring some hidden wine gems like Yarra Valley’s Yileena Park and Margaret River’s Victory Point Wines, as well as a bunch of local craft beer breweries — Boatrocker Brewers & Distillers, Moon Dog World as well as the famed brewer of Old Money, Stockade Brew Co. Whether it’s zoology or gastronomy or even that good ol’ Kmart shopping spree you’re after — Australia’s the place to be.
COVID-19 Resilience Ranking: 73.9/100
Population with COVID-19 Vaccination: 0.6%
Instant noodles, floating lanterns, rom-com dramas and Alishan. The birthplace of bubble tea caters to all kinds of travellers — especially if you’re a foodie. There are a ton of night markets (Shilin Night Market, Raohe Night Market, Jiufen Old Street, etc) over the island you could visit to get your fill of unique xiao chis such as the notorious stinky tofu, popular Hot Star fried chicken chop, Pig’s blood cake, Ah Lan Hakka Glutinous Rice Cake and Grandma Lai’s Taro Balls (PSA: Speaking of award-winning taro pastries, find legendary pastry chef Ah-Tsung-Shih’s goodies online in the meanwhile!). Walk off that food baby with a couple of beautiful Taiwanese hikes in Taroko National Park (the ones on my list are Qingshui Cliff and Mount Hehuan).
COVID-19 Resilience Ranking: 73.5/100
Population with COVID-19 Vaccination: 0.1%
Exotic yet sacred, Israel has been on the top of my travel bucket list for a while now. Not just for its unique and historical landmarks, but its bustling culinary scene as well. The perfect itinerary would include a day or two in Tel Aviv to eat, and of course, visit the ancient port of Jaffa. However, you might wish to reserve the bulk of your days for the Negev Desert, where you can hike the Red Canyon and visit Timna Park. Fans of water activities, why not go for a swim in the Dead Sea, have dinner by the Sea of Galilee and perhaps save a dive or two for the Gulf of Aqaba.
COVID-19 Resilience Ranking: 71.4/100
Population with COVID-19 Vaccination: 54.1%
5. South Korea
The home of K-POP, cosmetics and increasingly well-shot horror movies, South Korea is the place to be if you’re looking for an exciting, enigmatic city destination. Fuelled by a healthy dose of kimchi, jjajangmyeon and army stew, sweat it off on a hike up to Seoul Tower for an Instagrammable photo opp of the city. Of course, while you’re there, no visit is complete without visiting the heavily guarded Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) between the North and the South. If cities aren’t for you — skip out to Boseong for sprawling green tea plantations, walk up UNESCO site Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak in Jeju Island, or camp out amongst the rock formations of Juwangsan National Park.
COVID-19 Resilience Ranking: 69.7/100
Population with COVID-19 Vaccination: 0.7%
China is huge yet familiar, modern yet rich with history, a vibrant business hub (Taobao!) yet home to some of the earth’s most breathtaking landscapes. Needless to say, there’s absolutely no way for me to squeeze all my must-dos into one paragraph. But let me try.
Start with a trek up Yunnan’s Tiger Leaping Gorge for Lord of the Ring-eque vibes, followed by an exhilarating raft ride through the Shangri-la Grand Canyon on Ganggu River. Dubbed the “Oriental Alps”, the formidable yet enchanting Siguniangshan (Four Sisters Mountain) is another must-see when in the Sichuan Province of China — psst, it’s also home to China’s prized possessions, giant pandas! Last but not least, if you can bear the 200km trek from Lijiang, you’ll find the beautiful Lugu Lake seated near the foot of the Himalayas. If nature isn’t quite your thing, skip all that and head on East to Shanghai. Bustling cocktail bar scene? Check (out: Speak Low). Trendy shopping streets? Check (out: Tianzifang Art District). Parisian cafe vibes? Check (out: Wukang Lu French Concession).
COVID-19 Resilience Ranking: 68.4/100
Population with COVID-19 Vaccination: 2.7%
A place where the old and new works together in perfect tandem, the Land of the Rising Sun is probably one of the most popular destinations on this list. And what’s not to love? From their washrooms to their cities and especially their food — there’s a certain charm about the Japanese culture. Despite the occasional language barrier, Japan wins in all other factors. Up north, you have Hokkaido which is blessed with blue lakes, snowy mountains, volcanic hot springs and quaint fishing ports. Down south, there’s the almost dystopian Tokyo with robot cafes, neon lights and world-class restaurants. A little further east sits the Kansai province. Kyoto’s rich with bamboo forests, Shinto shrines and towns paved with cobblestone paths, while Osaka has IMO the best Japanese food scene and a pretty neat aquarium.
COVID-19 Resilience Ranking: 68/100
Population with COVID-19 Vaccination: 0.3%
The nearest destination to Singapore on this list is the Land of Smiles — as well as the friendliest for budget travellers. Great for city-goers and beach bums alike, Thailand has perfected the art of organised chaos. On land, tuk-tuks dodge through Bangkok’s bustling traffic unscathed, while grinning boaters weave their longtail boats effortlessly through the mess of giant cruisers docked near Phuket’s shore. However, if you wish to avoid the usual touristy spots and you’ve got a bike license, why not go on a motorcycle tour of the infamous Mae Hong Son Loop! Known far and wide for its 1,865 bends, you’ll journey through hill tribe villages, bohemian towns, up to Thailand’s highest peak and down to the valley city of Mae Hong Son. Fellow adrenaline junkies, head down to Krabi’s Railay Beach if you’re interested in having a taste of deep water soloing — scale-up gorgeous limestone walls and fall straight into the Andaman Sea thereafter!
COVID-19 Resilience Ranking: 67/100
Population with COVID-19 Vaccination: 0.1%
Yes yes, there’s ‘European’s best train journey’ from Oslo to Bergen, Preikestolen aka Pulpit Rock in Stavanger, the 12-hour hike up to Trolltunga and of course, the Northern Lights in Tromsø come winter. However, there’s lots more to Norway than those usual, albeit beautiful activities. For example, #didyouknow you could surf in the Arctic? Not limited to seasons, beginners and pros alike flock down to Unstad Beach in Lofoten to catch those icy blue waves all year round. Alternatively, visit Hjørundfjord aka ‘Royal Route’, a stunning body of water surrounded by the alpine forests of the Sunnmøre Alps.
COVID-19 Resilience Ranking: 66.6/100
Population with COVID-19 Vaccination: 7.2%
10. United Arab Emirates (UAE)
Made up of seven emirates, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) consists of Abu Dhabi, Dubai, the smallest of the lot Ajman, up-and-coming Fujairah, every adventurer’s paradise Ras al Khaimah, the historically-rich Sharjah and Umm al Quwain. Come for Dubai’s flashy skyscrapers (re: Burj Khalifa and Burj Al Arab), enchanting souqs — but don’t forget to have a go at kayaking on the Hatta dam, surrounded by the jagged ridges of Hajar Mountains. For the ultimate souvenir, have a peek at Abu Dhabi’s Carpet Souq where traders from all over the Middle East gather to sell and buy rugs. Museum-goers might also be interested in Louvre Abu Dhabi, a gorgeous building that perfectly juxtaposes its surroundings with its clean white facade and surrounding blue waters.
COVID-19 Resilience Ranking: 66.4/100
Population with COVID-19 Vaccination: 34.8%
Buckle up, Buttercup!
Now that you’ve got a little taste of what each country has to offer, you’re ready and free to plan your trip based on what travel inspo you’ve gleaned from this write-up. While it might still be a while before we are take-off, keep tabs on our page for regular updates on the travel situation.
Guides to Resuming International Travel:
#1: Which Country Can I Travel to Now?
#2: Which Airlines Are Resuming Flights?
#3: Future of Air Travel After COVID-19
#4: When Can We Travel Again: 2023 Forecast
#5: Immunity Passports to Resume Travel
#6: Can Singaporeans Travel to Brunei & New Zealand?
#7: How Airlines Are Wooing You Back Onboard
#8: Post-COVID-19 Travel Habits
#9: How Tech & AI Are Helping to Reignite Tourism
#10: Singapore-Hong Kong Travel Bubble Guide
#11: Everything You Need To Know About Singapore’s COVID-19 Vaccinations
#12: Travel Corridor vs Travel Bubble: Everything To Know About Flying
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