Are you planning a trip to Asia this year but do not know which destination to choose? Our authors Lonely Planet have explored for you the most exhilarating cities of the continent, crossed the sweltering jungles and swam in the marvelous waters in search of the most inescapable places . The choice was difficult … Their top 10 consists of classics to rediscover, areas teeming with entertainment and far-off destinations you’ve probably never heard of. Anyway, this list will help you make your choice.
1. Hokkaido, Japan
If the legendary powder snow of Hokkaido makes its fame, it blinds the visitors who forget that the most northern island of Japan overflows of charm summer as winter. Its wild mountains invite to hiking, biking or motorcycling; mountain villages are home to onsen (thermal springs) and icy waters full of exceptional seafood – crabs, sea urchins and scallops in particular.
Since this year, Hokkaido has been served by the new Shinkansen (TGV) connecting the port of Hakodate (in the south) to Tokyo , accessible in unlimited with the Japan Rail Pass. The line will soon be extended to the dynamic Sapporo, the provincial capital that will host next year’s Asian Winter Games.
2. Shanghai, China
What is the center of the world today? Without doubt, Shanghai , whose 24 million inhabitants know better than anyone how to have a good time. They indulge in ballroom dancing in the parks, enjoy delicate infusions in centuries-old teahouses or vinegar dumplings. Join them! The numerous cocktail bars and microbreweries that flourished among neon-lit skyscrapers testify to the international atmosphere of the city.
But Shanghai has not lost its soul: the streets lined with shikumen swarm with life, while along the Bund rise majestic Art Deco buildings. This year is marked by the arrival of the first Disney Park in Mainland China and the end of the construction of the highly anticipated Shanghai Tower, the world’s second tallest tower.
3. Jeonju, South Korea
At the heart of Jeonju lies one of the best preserved traditional villages in Korea . There are hundreds of wooden houses with graceful curved eaves, home to fascinating museums, tea houses and craftsmen’s workshops. However, if you tell a Korean that you are leaving for Jeonju, he will certainly boast of the place’s gastronomy rather than its architecture. Long established in Korea, the culinary reputation of the city has finally transcended borders, and UNESCO promoted it City of Gastronomy in 2012. The cradle of the most famous Korean dish, the bibimbap – rice and vegetables topped with soy sprouts, mung bean jelly and beef tartare – is now attracting a younger crowd with its fast-growing street food.
4. Con Dao Islands, Vietnam
The Con Dao Islands have shifted from darkness to light: after decades of hosting a sordid galleon, this archipelago has become one of the most popular destinations in emerging Asia. It became a national park in 1984, and is home to coral gardens, some of the most beautiful diving spots in Vietnam , tropical rainforests filled with animals that appeal to hikers, and a coastline dotted with beautiful white sand coves. Several crazy cafe-bars have opened in the historic village of Con Son to satisfy the ever-growing globe-trotters, while the luxurious Six Senses resort is now popular with the international jet-set.
Served by more flights from Ho Chi Minh City , the Con Dao Islands are the perfect place to enjoy fresh seafood, flush out an idyllic beach and play Robinson.
5. Hong Kong, China
A skilful blend of culture, cuisine and consumerism, the city of a thousand skyscrapers continues to seduce. Hong Kongis now showcasing its natural heritage, particularly its World Heritage Geopark, which stretches north-east over 50 km2. In addition to the ferry connection to the village of Lai Chi Wo, a bus has been shuttling since May 2016 between the village of Sai Kung and the ancient geological formations. Formerly almost abandoned, the village is experiencing a real revival and villagers come back to offer nature tours and cooking classes.
Meanwhile, in the heart of the urban jungle, artists give color to old neighborhoods such as Sham Shui Po, and high-end restaurants like Fish School andKin’s Kitchen are turning to local products, on the eve of the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to China.
6. Ipoh, Malaysia
Although little known, this culinary Mecca of Malaysia has taken the pace since a few refined cafes appeared in the old city. Ipoh owes its renewal to the supernatural Sekeping Kong Heng , a conceptual hotel with glass attics and rooftop rooms with no walls. Artistic cafes like Roquette, Burps & Giggles and Everyday Lifeshop have settled nearby, among the old-fashioned kedai kopi (cafes) and elegant colonial buildings. However, gourmets still favor the classics: Lou Wong’s crunchy soy bean chicken and Funny Mountain’s tau fu fah (tofu cake).
Several wild escapades await you in the surroundings. Including bird watching by bike in the Kinta Nature Park, whitewater rafting near Gopeng or temples perched on the cliffs and the fragrant Gaharu Tea Valley. The revival of Ipoh will certainly attract new visitors.