Travel Black Book With Allan Yip

Unspoilt charm all year round

Norway has much to offer - from mountains to fjords to colourful villages along the coastlines

Who: Mr Allan Yip, 48, vice-president of marketing, distribution and brands at Artyzen Hospitality Group, a company focused on developing innovative hotel brands, such as Artyzen Habitat and citizenM, across the world. The Singaporean is married with no children.

Favourite destination: Norway

Why: Norway is beautiful and has so much to offer, no matter which time of the year you go.

I love the long nights and snow activities during winter. For example, you get to experience snowmobiling and cross-country skiing.

If you go in the summer, the days are extra long, so you can take part in outdoor activities such as hiking, fishing and whale-watching until late.

There's so much raw, unspoilt natural wilderness, from mountains to fjords to small colourful villages along the coastlines.

Best place to stay

Hotel Continental in Oslo (Stortingsgata 24-26, 0117 Oslo), the capital of Norway, is in a great location - a five-minute walk from the National Gallery of Norway and a three-minute walk from the nearest tram station.

The hotel is charming, its staff are warm, friendly and professional and the beds are a dream to sleep in. The Scandinavians are the best at making beds as they use two duvets on each bed, which makes it extra comfortable.

Favourite restaurants

Restaurant Louise (Aker Brygge, Stranden 3, 0250 Oslo) serves delicious Scandinavian fare.

Its Norwegian scallops are a must-try - they are fresh, firm and meatier than the ones from Hokkaido.

There is a fried scallop dish (about $25), with celery, celery puree, herbs, flat bread and wild garlic pesto on scallop roe, that is great.

For dinner, head to Alex Sushi (Cort Adelers Gate 2, 0254 Oslo). The raw scallops, salmon and salmon roe at this casual-dining spot are fresh. A meal there costs about $60 a person. You should definitely make a reservation.

Must-try food items

Definitely the seafood and, in particular, the wild Norwegian salmon. Most of the salmon in Asia is farmed and I find that wild salmon meat is firmer and more muscular.

Norwegian king crab is also a must-try. The meat is firm, succulent and has a salty taste - perhaps because it is caught off the coast and is served without passing it through fresh water.

Cured rack of lamb (pinnekjott) is a traditional Norwegian meat dish that is usually eaten around Christmas time.

Unlike pan-fried lamb rack, the cured lamb tastes gamey and some may find its stronger flavour overwhelming. The meat is also tougher. Still, it is a traditional Norwegian dish that every visitor should try.

When I was in the city of Tromso, I ate reindeer tartare and reindeer burger at Restaurant Skirri (Kystens Mathus, Stortorget 1, 9008 Tromso). Reindeer meat is not as refined or full-flavoured as beef, but it is a must-try.

Best day trip

The Kirkenes Snowhotel in the north (Kirkenes Snowhotel, Sandnesdalen 14, 9910 Bjornevatn) looks like something out of a fairy tale because there are pretty cottages scattered amid the backdrop of white, snowy mountains.

There are also many things to do here - from going on snowmobile safaris and ice-fishing to snowshoe-hiking and husky excursions to see the Northern Lights.

Best way to experience local culture 

My wife and I took a cruise around the fjords and it was a great way to see the country's natural beauty and get to know locals at the same time. The sailors were knowledgeable about the history and geography of the area.

One of the highlights of this cruise was a stopover at Nordkapp, the North Cape, which is the northernmost point of Continental Europe. It is as far north as one can get to the North Pole by land.

We also found that the indigenous people of northern Norway are called the Sami and they are the original reindeer herders. 

Best hidden find

The small and peaceful fishing village of Kjollefjord at the top of the Norwegian coastline.

In the town, live cod and king crabs can be caught from the dock. My wife and I also saw how the locals air-dry cod in the cold.

It is a well-known place to catch the Northern Lights, as well as for snow activities such as snowmobiling and cross-country skiing.

Favourite shopping place

Birkelunden Marked, an antiques market in the Birkelunden park in Oslo.

Ideal length of stay  

At least seven days. The Norwegian coastline is long and the fjords are numerous. Seven days would give you a good feel of Oslo and a few cities up north such as Tromso and Kirkenes.

To appreciate the scenery and what the fjords have to offer, however, a two-week trip would be ideal.

Traveller's advice

Expect the trip to be costly, as Norway is one of the most expensive cities in Europe. The standard of living is high.

Norway uses the krone and as there are not many money changers in Singapore that carry it, make sure you sort out your cash early.

Must-get souvenir

Brunost cheese, also known as brown cheese, is unique to Norway and has been made there for centuries.

Traditionally made from the whey of goat's milk, the cheese is tan-coloured and has a slight caramel taste.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 08, 2017, with the headline 'Unspoilt charm all year round'. Print Edition | Subscribe