Hong Kong distinguishes itself from its Chinese brethren like Shanghai and Beijing with its vibrant, multifaceted culture and stunning cityscape. This British-Chinese hybrid astounds visitors with its striking juxtaposition of dense skyscrapers and lush landscapes. From sandy beaches to rugby pitches, there’s more fresh air than most travelers suspect. And, of course, as a world-class metropolis, Hong Kong boasts numerous urban diversions, such as culinary hot spots and museums. After visiting Hong Kong, the only question you might be asking is: “Why didn’t I get here sooner?”
The scenic beauty of the Maldives is something to behold, something you can’t quite understand until you’re there in person. The island nation of the Maldives is popular with honeymooners looking for seclusion and adventurers looking to explore the depths of the sea on a scuba diving and snorkeling excursion. Travelers seeking relaxation can unwind at one of the island spas and all visitors should certainly spend a day exploring the Maldivian capital of Male’. Located between the Arabian and Laccadive seas, roughly 500 miles southwest of Sri Lanka, the Maldives is about as isolated as you can get – and that’s just another one of its many allures.
“Animated” is perhaps the best word to describe Tokyo. Crazy about its anime, Japan’s mega city is constantly buzzing with movement – feet clacking down sidewalks, cars zooming along streets, subway trains humming below ground, ships cruising in and out. This is a city that feeds on motion and progress. But when you want to stop in Tokyo, the city will certainly make it worth your while. The tech-savvy locals may whizz past the monuments and urban parks daily (except during the cherry blossom season when everyone floods the green space), but, we assure you, the museums and historical sites are world-class. Here, there are photos to be taken, sushi to be eaten and a lot of shopping to be done.
Ancient temples and modern shopping malls comprise Thailand’s capital, and Buddhist monks and regulars of Patpong (Bangkok’s red light district) share the city’s streets. The contrast can result in an exhilarating yet chaotic setting. With that said, Bangkok’s dynamic environment requires a lot of energy. Consistently hot weather and persistent crowds take their toll on unprepared visitors. Yes, the city seems to boil over with everything from humidity to humanity, but it’s this exotic overabundance that charms travellers. Here, you’ll find the world’s largest open-air market, a world-class aquarium housed in an eight-level shopping mall, a 150-foot golden Buddha statue and so much more. It’s a city of vast surprises, so savour its delightful incongruity.
Pure white sands, aquamarine waters and limestone cliffs await travellers who visit Thailand’s southwestern island of Phuket. Surrounded by the Andaman Sea and about an hour by plane from Bangkok, this island is a little piece of paradise, which comes with a relatively low price tag for everything from its accommodations to spa treatments and boat tours. But along with its tropical appeal, Phuket beckons to travellers wanting to experience its flavourful cuisine (think: lemongrass, lime leaves, chillies) and its rich culture, heavily influenced by its reigning religion: Buddhism.
After you’ve gotten your fill of Phuket, Chiang Mai is the next go-to destination in Thailand. Chiang Mai definitely has a bustle to it, but the destination also offers a much-needed reprieve thanks to its surrounding mountains. Things to do here include tours of breathtaking temples, adventures in the rainforest and a visit to the Elephant Nature Park.
If you only had time to go to one beach in Thailand, make it Railay Beach. Located in the Krabi province, Railay features glistening white sands and is surrounded by leafy, limestone rock formations that jut out beautifully from the sea. As if the beach couldn’t get more alluring, you’re only able to reach it by boat. Daytrips from the nearby Ao Nang Beach are popular tours among travellers.
Hanoi is perfect for first-time travellers to Vietnam. The country’s capital offers plenty in the way of history, culture, shopping, dining and natural splendour. Start your day off with a Vietnamese coffee then head to Hanoi’s Old Quarter for a visit to Dong Xuan, the city’s largest market. After that, visit one of the city’s many temples, including the ancient Temple of Literature.
Ho Chi Minh City is equal parts overwhelming and exhilarating. Here, mopeds whiz by at all hours of the day, cafes take up entire sidewalks and street food vendors serve up delectable local fare despite the year-round heat and humidity. The best thing to do? Take this all in with gusto by walking through and embracing the unique chaos.
The word “Bali” conjures daydreams of the most fantastical landscape: towering volcanoes wrapped in a deep green canopy, sandy shores that fade into turquoise waters and curving coastlines crowned with staggered pagodas. You’ll be amazed at how many different types of visitors revel in this paradise. The ordinary traveller simply stays at the palatial oceanfront resort and indulges in luxurious spa treatments, decadent cuisine and lazy sunbathing. But the historian will find his or her delights at the island’s many temples while the adventurer will discover new paths up an active volcano in Kintamani. Plus, the town of Kuta boasts more riotous pleasures for those inclined to late nights. Bali is a dream come true, so wake up and book your ticket.
The city maintains a remarkable balance of green space and skyscrapers, in addition to sustaining substantial ethnic enclaves like Little India and Chinatown. This motley group of cultures has brought to this former British colony something special – a common mindset. Singaporeans are determined and patriotic; they are proud of what they have achieved (just look at Marina Bay and you might get jealous). But while their skyline accumulates monumental peaks and troughs, Singaporeans have not forgotten about their past or the importance of their natural surroundings. This tiny nation with its massive city embodies a cosmopolitan aggregation in a manner that few others can.
Cherry blossom petals caught on a breeze, the burble of a water fountain permeating the silence of a peaceful rock garden, a pair of elegantly dressed geisha flitting between wooden tea houses Kyoto has thrived as a hub for Japanese culture, art and education. Given the city’s respect for its history, it’s not surprising that millions of people visit Kyoto each year for a snapshot of imperial Japan. Centuries-old Shinto shrines and pagodas share the city with the headquarters of companies like Nintendo and electronics manufacturer Kyocera. Kyoto’s blend of ancient and contemporary makes it a vibrant city that certainly isn’t stuck in the past. But if it’s the past you seek, Kyoto will bring your imaginings to life.
Known for its delectable night markets and historical attractions, Taiwan’s capital is a must-see for all those travelling to Asia. Can’t-miss attractions here include a ride to the top of the ultramodern Taipei 101 tower, the National Palace, where you’ll find artifacts from the Forbidden City, and the tasty Shilin Night Market.
The city is characterised by stunning architecture, vibrant culture and a thriving economy. Seoul may seem like it’s blazing into the future, but South Koreans still hold fast to their rich heritage. Tucked between vast shopping districts and lively nightlife zones are relics of Seoul’s history, windows into an old Seoul before the towers of concrete and steel. Gyeongbok Palace – the oldest and largest of five Joseon Dynasty palaces in the city – stands on manicured grounds just minutes from downtown. Nearby, Bukchon Village’s wooden, one-story homes sit in sharp contrast to the surrounding high-rises. Miraculously, Seoul’s past and present do not clash; rather, they play off one another. This harmonious blend of old and new is the key to Seoul’s allure and a central tenet of the city’s identity.
This national park is so loved and respected, its image is featured on China’s paper currency. Guilin and Lijiang River National Park is located in the Guangxi region of China, northwest of Hong Kong. The Lijiang River runs about 52 miles from Guilin to Yangshuo, passing towering green karsts (eroded limestone) along the way. The best way to take in the scenery is by boat – though it’s a long ride.