Experts have predicted that leisure travel won’t be possible until at least 2022, which is a long way away. In the meantime, if you’ve got Netflix, you can go for some digital escapism in the form of foreign dramas (not just Korean!). Many of these acclaimed titles span a range of genres, from mystery to sci-fi and supernatural, so there’s something for everyone.
This supernatural series centres on two teenage siblings who moved to the picturesque Alpine town of Curon with their mother who grew up there. This 7-episode mystery is about the legend of a bell tower submerged in the town’s lake – those who hear the bells ring are doomed to die, replaced by a soulless doppelgänger of themselves.
This very complex time-travelling series spans 3 seasons, which gets progressively complicated as it goes along. What starts off as a search for a missing child in rural Germany turns into a mind-bending mystery that spans three generations. The series follows teenager Jonas as he travels back and forth in time in order to make sense of his past and future selves, and in the process, changes how each character is related to each other. Warning: the family tree is very complicated.
Set in the busy streets of Mexico City, Diablero is a supernatural series that follows the escapades of Elvis, a demon hunter who finds himself in the middle of a demon uprising involving his missing nephew. Together with a fallen priest, a demon medium, and his sister, they purge the city of demons one by one until they get to the main event. This light-hearted series has Buffy the Vampire Slayer vibes all over.
Ghost Bride (Malaysia)
The supernatural series is set in 1890s Malacca, against a backdrop of rich merchants and Chinese superstitions. A young woman named Li Lan is asked to become a ‘ghost bride’ for a wealthy family’s deceased son in order to save her family from financial ruin. However, she finds herself embroiled in the mysterious circumstances surrounding the murder of the deceased son, so she ventures into the afterlife in order to find answers with help from an enemy-turned-ally.
High Seas / Alta Mar (Spain)
You may have watched high profile series like Money Heist, but High Seas showcases a different side of Spain: it’s set in the glamorous 1940s in the golden age of cruises. The cruise ship Bárbara de Braganza is the setting for this Agatha Christie-style murder mystery that involves lots of colourful (and glamorous) characters, all with an agenda and motive. The plot keeps you going in circles, and keeps the mystery until the very end. Worth watching for the gorgeous costumes.
Innocence: Bangkok Love Story (Thailand)
Set in Bangkok’s bustling nightlife district of Silom, the story tells the tales of an eclectic group of characters – the teenage parkour enthusiast, a bawdy restaurateur, an office worker, and a fitness trainer – all looking for love. Watch it if you miss the Bangkok scene, and if you want to watch a lighthearted show that’s peppered with lines like “I’ll smack you with the pestle. Just you wait.”
Into the Night (Belgium)
A runaway success for its fast-paced editing, the premise of this series sounds silly at first – a group of random passengers have to avoid the sun so they fly around the world to avoid it – but towards the end, the explanation sort of makes sense. The cramped space of the airplane provides a lot of the tense drama, and the mixed cast of characters speaking different languages gives the series a dose of realism.
Midnight Diner (Japan)
If you miss Tokyo, then Midnight Diner will make you miss the city’s bright lights and cramped alleys. Set mainly in a tiny diner called Shinya Shokudo, the series actually expands on the stories of the eclectic range of diners – from a transvestite to a stripper – that come here to eat and reminisce about their day. What makes the show addictive is the nostalgic, mouthwatering food that the restaurateur prepares for his diners; the series truly feeds the heart and soul.
Queen Sono (South Africa)
Forget James Bond or Jason Bourne – Queen Sono breaks boundaries as not only the first series to feature a female spy, but she’s also the first South African spy. The fast-paced action series sees Queen in various sticky situations where she has to rely on her wits and combat skills. The 6 episodes devotes a lot of time to geopolitical debate, and is filmed across the continent with a diverse cast featuring multiple languages.
The Rain (Denmark)
Set in a dystopian Denmark after a devastating rain-borne virus kills of much of its population, two siblings – Rasmus and Simone – embark on an adventure to find their missing scientist father. Along the way, they meet a ragtag group of survivors led by Martin, and they journey to find the source of the problem – only to find more surprises that make escaping the virus seem like the least of their problems.
This crime series is set in the Polish city of Łódź, and centres around a young woman named Ola, a full-time Uber driver who inadvertently joins a ragtag online band of amateur sleuths who work on unsolved cases. Tapping into the strengths of these individuals – ranging from a tech geek to a pair of popular influencer sisters – they help Ola and policeman Michal solve crimes.