100 Places to go in Asia
We mark our milestone 100th issue with a grand tour of inspiring islands, hotels and 'hoods, restaurants, rail trips and adventures.
Published on Jul 4, 2016
In the following below, you'll find a few, like Phu Quoc in Vietnam, that also appeared in our first magazine, and others, such as the St. Regis Langkawi, making their world debuts. These trips will have you planning countless future vacations—because the hardest thing about picking 100 awesome places in Asia isn't in compiling the list but in culling it.
1. BURMA BOATING YACHT CHAPTERS (burmaboating.com). From their port in the pristine Mergui Archipelago, where they run regular cruises, the fleet can sail you anywhere from the Andaman Sea to the Java Sea in relaxed luxury.
Courtesy of Burma Boating.
Expand your aural horizons at some of the many music fests around the region.
2. WONDERFRUIT (wonderfruitfestival.com). Chonburi, Thailand. December 15-18. Arts, sustainable living and music pumping til past dawn.
Wonderfruit Festival. Courtesy of Wonderfruit.
3. ADELAIDE (adelaidefestivalcentre.com.au). A slew of festivals throughout the year showcasing art forms from cabaret to guitar.
4. RAINFOREST WORLD MUSIC FESTIVAL (rwmf.com). Kuching, Malaysia. August 5-7. The best traditional musicians from the far reaches of the globe.
5. FUJI ROCK (fujirock-eng.com). Yuzawa, Japan. July 22-24. All the big names, presented Coachella-style, minus the pretentions, plus hot springs.
6. Shed Harried Hong Kong in beautiful, beachy, leafy SAI KUNG.
Courtesy of Hotel Baraquda.
8. YARRA VALLEY WINE TOUR: Pretty, premium, fuss-free vineyards just an hour east of Melbourne.
9. SRI LANKA: Hotel Hopping
Sri Lanka's still-untrammeled landscape, welcoming culture and small size make it seem purpose-built for boutiques, which are appearing all around the island, and are ever-more accessible thanks to improved infrastructure. Plan your own hop among these hotels Owl and the Pussycat, Tri and Anantara. Or let multi-property Jetwing or Celyon Tea Trails shuttle you around Sri Lanka.
Tri in Sri Lanka. Courtesy of Tri.
Roll down the rivers and into the hearts of diverse cultures on these gold-standard cruises.
Aqua Mekong. By Tony Law.
AMAZING AIRLINE LOUNGES
Earning premium status on these airlines could be worth it just for their five-star signature lounges.
Qantas First Lounge, Sydney. Courtesy of Qantas.
BALI BEACH CLUBS
Courtesy of Nikki Beach Bali.
The ultimate luxury? Getting away from everything and everyone on an island paradise you can call your own. Whether they've got lavish amenities like Laucala's private submarine or over-the-top eco-ethos embodied by The Brando's seawater air conditioning system, these resorts indulge 110% of your wildest castaway dreams.
18. AROVEDA BY AKARYN, Cambodia (akaryn.com)
19. BALESIN, Philippines (balesin.com)
20. BASK GILI MENO, Indonesia (baskgilimeno.com)
21. THE BRANDO, French Polynesia (thebrando.com)
22. LAUCALA, Fiji (laucala.com)
Courtesy of The Brando.
Courtesy of Six Senses Zighy Bay.
FOUR FAVORITE HOTELS
We are simply sweet on these perfect-in-every-way accommodations.
24. ANANTARA KIHAVAH MALDIVES VILLAS, Cambodia (kihavah-maldives.anantara.com)
By Pornsak Na Nakorn.
25. CAPELLA SINGAPORE (capellahotels.com/singapore)
Courtesy of Capella.
26. THE RITZ-CARLTON, KYOTO (ritzcarlton.com/kyoto)
Courtesy of Ritz-Carlton Kyoto.
27. FOUR SEASONS TENTED CAMP GOLDEN TRIANGLE, IN CHIANG RAI (fourseasons.com/goldentriangle)
Courtesy of Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle.
28. SETOUCHI TRIENNALE INTERNATIONAL ART FESTIVAL (setouchi-artfest.jp/en). Kagawa, Japan.
THREE HAUTE CHINESE MEALS
Courtesy of Four Seasons Hong Kong.
AUCKLAND WINE REGIONS
Head to the top of the New Zealand's North Island for stunning sea-view terroirs that birth beautiful Cabernets and awardwinning Syrahs.
33. WAIHEKE ISLAND
35. WEST AUCKLAND
Courtesy of Matakana Style.
THE ASHLEY SUTTON TOUR
Make your way across Bangkok through the eyes of the city's most in-demand spacial designer, avant-garde Aussie Ash Sutton… Then head up to Tokyo, where he's opened his nightlife outpost.
36. A.R SUTTON & CO. ENGINEERS SIAM (Park Lane, Ekkamai)
Courtesy of A.R Sutton & Co. Engineers Siam.
Maggie Choo's. By Richard McLeish.
The Iron Fairies, Bangkok. 27Begin.com.
42. Thailand's longest canopy walkway, among the treetops of QUEEN SIRIKIT BOTANICAL GARDEN
in Chiang Mai. (qsbg.org).
43. TUSI UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITES
Archaeological sites of non-Han tribal chieftains in southwest China date back to the 13th century. Relics, a necropolis, forts and manors containing family trees and other documents have been found in an area that still preserves the traditions and folklore of several old ethnic groups.
44. VANG VIENG HOT-AIR BALLOONING.
From the figure-eight-Ferris-wheel-fronted Studio City Macau movie-themed extravaganza to Karl Lagerfeld's great expectations of a design hotel in the works, the accommodations options are dizzying.
The Ferris-wheel-fronted Studio City Macau. Courtesy of Studio City Macau.
Bali's beaches are great, but its lush interior is a wonderful world of its own, with white-water rafting, terraced rice fields, and traditional crafts and culture. A plethora of new openings helps you see the sea of green in style.
Courtesy of Ubud Hanging Gardens.
DATE NIGHT IN KL
47. NEROVIVO (nerovivo.com), for an extensive menu of some of Asia's best Italian, to linger over in the cozy, convivial restaurant or out on the rustic, romantic patio.
48. HEXA (+60 3 5888 7221), for mixologist Kelvin Lee's veering-on-crazy cocktail concoctions with ingredients such as tobiko and Chinese bacon.
49. GILLMAN BARRACKS in Singapore, for contemporary art and cocktails.
By Christopher Kucway.
51. The orangutan preschool rehab in Kepatang, WEST BORNEO (internationalanimalrescue.org).
Courtesy of International Animal Rescue.
52. WEST LAKE, HANGZHOU.
53. NGAPALI BEACH, BURMA.
Courtesy of Ngapali Bay Villas & Spa.
54. ELIZABETH QUAY
Urban renewal hits Perth with a vengance, reincorporating the Swan River into the cityscape with a complex of hotels, eateries, event and community spaces, and a water park.
Courtesy of Elizabeth Quay.
Hoteliers and hipsters, restaurateurs and urban revivalists are thrusting Vietnam's southern city to the cultural and culinary forefront.
The Racha Room. By Morgan Ommer.
57. Diving in the MALDIVES.
58. Skiing in KASHMIR.
HISTORIC AREA: ONE OF THE EARLIEST KINGDOMS ON THE KOREAN PENINSULA. Temples, royal tombs and fortresses dating from 18 BC to 660 AD comprise a UNESCO World Heritage site in mountainous, midwestern Korea.
©Baekje Historic Areas Nomination Office.
60. SULAWESI, Indonesia.
61. PEKALONGAN, Central Java, Indonesia's batik capital where the designs are eye-poppingly lively due to old Dutch influence.
62. Fall foliage leaf-peeping in KOREA.
Courtesy of Korea National Park Service.
63. LANGKAWI, for the glam St. Regis.
Courtesy of St. Regis Langkawi.
64. KAIKOURA, New Zealand, to get your sea-life on. Spot whales from a private plane, and swim in the open ocean with wild dolphins.
65. PAPUA NEW GUINEA.
Toxins and troubles, be gone, at these centers for self-love and serenity.
66. ANANDA IN THE HIMALAYAS Uttarakhand, India (anandaspa.com)
67. KAMALAYA RETREAT Koh Samui, Thailand (kamalaya.com)
68. THE FARM AT SAN BENITO Lipa, Philippines (thefarmatsanbenito.com)
Courtesy of Ananda in the Himalayas.
Riding the rails hasn't been this glamourous since the gilded age. Don't forget to pack your trux.
69. SEVEN STARS IN KYUSHU Japan (cruisetrain-sevenstars.com)
Seven Stars in Kyushu. By Aaron Joel Santos.
70. GREAT SOUTHERN RAIL Australia (greatsouthernrail.com.au)
Courtesy of Great Southern Rail.
71. EASTERN & ORIENTAL EXPRESS Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia (belmond.com)
Courtesy of Eastern & Oriental Express.
72. THE GOLDEN CHARIOT Southern India (goldenchariottrain.com)
Courtesy of Golden Chariot Train.
THREE MEALS IN MANILA
Prepare your appetite and your instagram for drool-worthy dining in the Philippines capital.
73. THE BELLE & DRAGON New gastropub (+63 2 720 8700)
74. MECHA UMA Modern omakase (mechauma.ph)
75. BLACK BIRD Gilded Sunday brunch (+63 2 828 4888)
Courtesy of Mecha Uma.
76. BURKHAN KHALDUN, Genghis Khan's birthplace and burial ground in Mongolia.
Burkhan Khaldun. By Marc Chafiian.
HOT SINGAPORE 'HOODS
Two lively melting pots of bohemians and old-times.
77. TIONG BAHRU
The city's first housing estate has evolved into a still-authentic area where mah-jongg-playing seniors share space with flat whitesipping hipsters.
78. KEONG SAIK
The Kodachrome shophouses of Chinatown's former gangster-run red-light district teem with the city's trendiest bars, bistros, cafés and hotels.
40 Hands in Tiong Bahru. Courtesy of 40 Hands.
AUSSIE CRUISE PORTS
Pop in at these five ports of call off north and east Australia, sailing cruise ships to where few tourists have gone before. Get acquainted with their aboriginal and Polynesian cultures, and visit habitats of rare animals like olive ridley turtles and saltwater crocs.
Silversea ports (silversea.com)
Azmara ports (azamaraclubcruises.com)
84. CHENGDU AND THE RESEARCH BASE OF GIANT PANDA BREEDING
The largest city in western China is seeing a major boom in both baby pandas and hotels.
By Christopher Kucway.
86. THE BUND, FOR BARS WITH VIEWS over Shanghai. Some of the best scenes are at Glam and Shen (+86 21 6316 9119).
87. NEW ZEALAND CYCLING ROUTE: ride top to bottom of both islands (nzcycletrail.com).
88. PHNOM PENH is experiencing a renaissance of mod restaurateurs and expecting a posh Rosewood hotel.
89. SURFING SOUTHERN TAIWAN.
90. Sip your way through Seoul on a SOJU TOUR (gastrotourseoul.com).
Just the right times to bask in six fantastic places.
91. ARASHIYAM in Kyoto at 8 a.m., to revel in the morning glory of the majestic bamboo forest before the pesky tour buses arrive to ruin your Zen.
92. LIMEWOOD in Repulse Bay, Hong Kong at 12 p.m. Sunday, for a leisurely fusion-food beachy brunch where you're sure to run into half of your pals in the city.
Courtesy of Limewood.
93. THE BAYON TEMPLE of Angkor at 2 p.m., after a sleep or swim through the hottest sun, but early enough to snag a selfie in solitude with an iconic giant stone face.
The Bayon Temple. By Christopher Kucway.
94. RORY'S BEACH BAR—or, honestly, any sandy spot on west coast Phu Quoc—at 5:30 p.m. It's the only place for a coastal sunset in Vietnam.
By Morgan Ommer.
95. THONGLOR, the neighborhood surrounding Sukhumvit Soi 55 in Bangkok at 10 p.m. Friday, for high-end but low-key nightlife fun including the The Commons.
96. MALACCA STRAIT at 2 a.m., when, on a sail between Langkawi and Penang, waves glittering with bioluminescent plankton break on the bow of your boat and the stars light up the sky.
97. MANDARIN ORIENTAL HONG KONG (mandarinoriental.com/hongkong), with three Michelin-starred restaurants: Pierre, Mandarin Grill + Bar, and Man Wah.
98. A beaut in the Bay of Bengal, JALAKARA (jalakara.info) villa-resort opens up Havelock Island in the Andamans.
99. SOFITEL METROPOLE HANOI (sofitel.com/hanoi-legend), one of Asia's prettiest grande dames, with certainly its tastiest croque monsieur.
100. SOI NANA IN CHINATOWN, BANGKOK
A slew of artsy galleries, bars, rooftops and small businesses (places like Cho Why, Tep Bar, 23 Bar & Gallery, and El Chiringuito, pictured) has turned this little neighborhood of old shophouses into a cool-kids block party. Old local families that still dominate the population keep the place grounded.
Soi Nana in Chinatown. By Christian Hogue.
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- It List 2016