SIBERIA, RUSSIA

Siberia, a Russian territory that covers nearly a 10th of the planet’s land surface, appears to be all silver birch forests and far horizons. But as I discover during my Trans-Siberian train journey, it contains colossal cities with wintry names such as Novosibirsk and Kazan, their beauty and culture rivalling St Petersburg and Moscow.

Oil barons also have homes in this region awash with petro-dollars. Its cities, though remote, will be among the 11 in Russia hosting the 2018 Fifa World Cup. Why it appeals: Siberia is culturally exciting and a hot spot for travellers who love adventure and luxury.

SOLOMON-ISLANDS

SOLOMON ISLANDS

Unseen by much of the world, the Solomon Islands is a fascinating collection of more than 900 islands in the South Pacific. Its natural scenery and indigenous cultures are matched by its bloody history during World War II and the place remains strewn with war wreckage.

During my visit, I have snorkelled over an American hellcat fighter and reeled in a metre-long Spanish mackerel that my resort turns into sashimi a couple of hours later.

In the villages, I encounter panpipe players and a festival where whole fish are cooked on hot stones and shared. Why it appeals: With crystalline seas, war memories and South Pacific cultures, this destination is still a secret in a Google-mapped world.

LUBANG-ISLAND

LUBANG ISLAND, THE PHILIPPINES

Just 130km south-west of Manila, half-forgotten Lubang Island is best known as the jungle hideout of enigmatic Japanese war straggler Hiroo Onoda, who did not surrender for 29 years after World War II ended. Only in 1974 did he surrender, still in his uniform and bearing a samurai sword. Before that, he had killed villagers and skirmished with police forces.

I trek in the jungle where he hid and explore the secluded seascapes and waterfalls of the island.

Lubang, so close to Singapore, is far-flung in spirit. From figuring a way to travel there to untangling the many Onoda narratives proffered by islanders – he is evil incarnate or an idealistic warrior or anything in between – Lubang symbolises pure adventure.

Why it appeals: The intriguing island fuses history and beauty in South-east Asia, a fascinating region often under-visited by Singaporeans.

IGUANA

GALAPAGOS, ECUADOR

Without predators, wild creatures have lost their fear of humans in the equatorial Galapagos islands, which lie 1,000km west of the Ecuador coast.

A tiny finch flits next to me, then almost lands on my shoulder. Sea lions gambol around when I snorkel. Some of these 19 Pacific isles have black volcanic beaches or misty highlands where giant tortoises lurk. The mega-diversity here is also true of the larger Ecuador experience.

Why it appeals: There is an Edenic innocence in the volcanic archipelago that helped inspire evolutionist Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection.

SICHUAN

SICHUAN, CHINA

West of leisurely Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan, are some of the remotest and wildest parts of China that extend into Tibet. Here, the Tibetan plateau rolls up into the Himalayas.

On my 1,000km road trip, I stay in a Tibetan hamlet in Jiaju that overlooks an exquisite valley, spy Red Army relics and yak herds, and trek to ancient watchtowers.

Once, I pass misty, bamboo-clad mountains where pandas dwell and it is like driving inside a Chinese landscape painting.

Why it appeals: Trips to this Tibetan realm are rigorous, with unpredictable road and weather conditions, but the starkly beautiful place is a less-known side of China.