Asia Hotspots: Where to Travel in 2023
After the difficulties of the pandemic era, the world started moving again in 2022. And with virtually all of the region’s countries — with the notable exception of China — now open with little in the way of restrictions, the year ahead looks likely to see a full flowering of experiential travel.
WHERE TO TRAVEL IN 2023
After the difficulties of the last two years, the world started moving again in 2022. Virtually all of the region’s countries — with the notable exception of China — are now open with little in the way of restrictions, and the year ahead looks likely to see a full flowering of experiential travel. Indeed, tourism in Asia is hitting a sweet spot as visitors rediscover the wonders of the region with renewed appreciation. Here’s a selection of some of our favorite destinations that should be top of mind when making travel plans.
JAPANLake Towada, Tohoku, in Autumn
One of the most eagerly anticipated country openings of 2022 was Japan. And with the country’s brand of accessible exoticism continuing to delight both first-time visitors and Japan addicts alike, the year ahead looks like a bumper year for visits. A huge factor in Japan’s appeal is its sheer variety. Pulsating cities supply plenty of sensory stimuli, but their neon-lit pace is offset by a plethora of natural splendor. For those who see culinary discovery as a top priority for any trip, exquisite regional specialties can be found in the length and breadth of the archipelago. The Aman Japan Culinary Journey is a deep dive into the very best of Japanese gastronomy and departs next May. Delving into Japan’s rich culture and fascinating history is also a must for visitors. A new trekking route of note is the Michinoku Coastal Trail, which extends 1000km along the Tokohu coast in northeast Honshu and was devised to help revitalize communities devastated by the 2011 Tsunami.READ MORE
SAUDI ARABIAThe canyons of Al Ula courtesy of Habitas Al Ula
Few destinations in the world are getting more publicity than Saudi Arabia, which is gearing up for a busy year in 2023. Largely unfamiliar to tourists until recently, the desert Kingdom is home to numerous wonders. Travel hotspots in the nation range from ancient sites such as Diriyah and the ruins of Al Ula to the pristine islands dotted in the Red Sea near the towns of Umluj and Al Wajh and the mountainous south where summer rainstorms bring greenery to dramatic mountain viewpoints and local men wear fragrant crowns of flowers in their hair. Popular activities include hiking and touring the historic village of Rijal Alma. Among the sites worth visiting in northwestern Saudi Arabia is Wadi Tayib Ism, a narrow valley between two cliffs where residents believe Moses landed when he crossed over the sea from Egypt. The area also boasts excellent Red Sea diving.READ MORE
THE SPICE ISLANDSSailing in Indonesia aboard a private schooner Indonesia’s Maluku Islands may be legendary, but they get a fraction of the footfall of some of the archipelago’s other highlights. The region is a little-visited tropical paradise that seems almost too good to be true. With flexibility and patience, you can explore pristine reefs, stroll empty stretches of powdery white sand and climb perfectly formed volcanoes. The perfect way to explore the area is by way of a luxury cruise which takes in highlights such as the Benteng Wantrouw, a Dutch fortress built in the 17th century, the town of Sanana with its historic Portuguese fortress, and Bacan Island, with its gorgeous coral reefs. READ MORE
KYRGYZSTANA traditional Kok Boru match
The modern world may have encroached elsewhere in Central Asia but nomadic traditions die hard in Kyrgyzstan. Towering mountains and associated quirks including glaciers, gorges, valleys, and lakes such as Issyk Kul dominate over 90% of the country. Visitors can sample experiences such as hunting with eagles or cheering from the sidelines as a game of kok boru sees mounted riders wrestle one another for the corpse of a headless goat. Other countries in Central Asia are equally fascinating. The scenery along the Pamir Highway in Tajikistan is legendary for its epic scope. Uzbekistan, meanwhile, is remarkable for its trio of historic cities Samarkand, Bukhara, and Khiva.READ MORE
KOREAChef Byoung Jin Kim, Gaon (3 Michelin-starred restaurant in Seoul)
Korea may be relatively small but it has impressive cultural reach. A strong sense of national pride can be detected in everything from the country’s unique cuisine to its influential fashion, cosmetics, tech, and music. These often-contrasting elements make for a heady brew. Culinary voyagers are falling hard for the nation’s punchy gastronomy while fine-dining lovers are well catered for in Seoul’s array of Michelin-starred venues such as Gaon, La Yeon, Mosu, and Jungsik. Other highlights of Korea include its beauty treatments, which are reckoned to be among the world’s best, and its options for hiking in outdoor locations like Bukhansan National Park.READ MORE
THE CAUCASUSGergeti Trinity Church, Kazbegi, Georgia
Sandwiched by the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, the three countries comprising the Caucasus are a travel fantasy come to life. Located at a crossroads between Europe and Asia, Armenia, Georgia, and Azerbaijan offer a spellbinding array of experiences that span ancient history, stunning scenery, and forays into viticulture, gastronomy, and hip urban culture. Although they are very different in character and feel, the three countries share a compact footprint on the world map. The tight geography makes the area relatively easy to travel around, making it simple to combine the entire trio.READ MORE
ASIA IS OPENYou can travel to any of these destinations right now. Armenia
Papua New Guinea
UAE (Dubai and Abu Dhabi)
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