Fall Forward: Autumn Destinations to Warm the Soul
The song might have it that Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year. But for many, it’s fall that takes the crown. It’s a season that conjures up vivid images of crackling leaves, auburn skies, and natural beauty. And some of the best classic fall landscapes on the planet can be found in east Asia where Korean, Japan, China, and Taiwan are bathed in mellow hues.
AUTUMN DESTINATIONS TO WARM THE SOUL
The song might have it that Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year. But for many, it’s fall that takes the crown. It’s a season that conjures up vivid images of crackling leaves, auburn skies, and natural beauty. And some of the best classic fall landscapes on the planet can be found in east Asia where Korean, Japan, China, and Taiwan are bathed in mellow hues. Fall is also a great time to experience other, less typical, autumn landscapes. Tropical beauty awaits in Southeast Asia, while the Himalayas offer great trekking and vibrant festivals. With the year progressing rapidly, it’s time to put some fall plans in place.
HIMALAYAN HEIGHTSParo Tshechu
Bhutan experiences cooler temperatures and clearer skies during autumn, which spans from September to November. With a mild and dry climate, it is an ideal time to explore Bhutan's mountain trails through trekking and biking. And the changing light emphasizes the Himalayan summits, including some of the world's tallest unclimbed peaks. In November, the return of Bhutan’s beloved bird is celebrated with an exuberant festival of song and dance at Gangtey Goemba. Life in the Kingdom moves to the rhythm of such celebrations, with every monastery and temple holding at least one festival, or tsechu, every year. The most memorable include the events in Paro and Thimphu, which attract thousands of costumed revelers and are easily accessible from Amankora Paro Lodge and Amankora Thimphu Lodge. Alternatively, make for Nepal where perfect conditions enhance some of the world’s most celebrated hiking circuits.
El Nido, Palawan
In Southeast Asia, autumn reveals itself in a multitude of shades. Venturing further across Southeast Asia, autumn unveils tropical splendor in the Philippines, where you can revel in the beauty of the region without the usual crowds. Thailand becomes an inviting destination, offering pleasant weather, lower prices, and ample space to explore renowned locales like Bangkok, Phuket, and the Gulf islands. In Bali, the conclusion of the high season brings a quieter ambiance to cherished spots like Ubud and Seminyak, allowing you to savor the island's treasures at a leisurely pace. If you yearn for the quintessential autumn experience, look no further than north Vietnam. As temperatures cool down from their summer peak, the landscapes transform into mesmerizing vistas. Mountainous regions like Sapa and Ha Giang showcase magnificent fields adorned in shades of green and gold during the rice harvesting season. Traditional villages brim with a celebratory atmosphere, inviting you to join in the festivities.
CHANGING OF THE COLORS IN EAST ASIAGyeongbokgung Palace, Seoul
For a fall experience steeped in wonder, east Asia emerges as the undisputed champion. Korea weaves a magical tapestry during autumn. As nature dons its rich autumnal palette, hiking becomes an exceptional way to immerse oneself in the surroundings. Seoraksan National Park and Naejangsan National Park (Main image) offer stunning landscapes, where winding paths lead you through a mesmerizing carpet of deep red and yellow leaves, creating an otherworldly ambiance. Japan, too, boasts some of the world's most breathtaking autumn vistas, captivating travelers with their beauty. Particularly in Kyoto, where you can immerse yourself in the vibrant hues of Komyo-Ji Temple and Tofukuji Temple, or explore the enchanting Arashiyama district, where temples, shrines, and the iconic Bamboo Grove are adorned with an abundance of fall foliage. Fall tones are equally spectacular elsewhere in east Asia. Top spots in China include Daocheng Yading Nature Reserve in Sichuan Province. Taiwan’s beautiful east coast, meanwhile, is at its best at this time of year.
RAISE A TOAST TO HARVEST SEASON IN GEORGIAGrape harvest in Kakheti
Situated at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, Georgia boasts not only rich cultural traditions but also awe-inspiring landscapes that dazzle during the fall season. Georgia comes alive during autumn when the Kakheti region, considered the heart of Georgian wine culture, celebrates grape harvesting with the vibrant Rtveli festival. Georgia is known as the cradle of wine and has viticultural traditions that can be traced back to 6000 BC. Accordingly, Rtveli is one of the most eagerly anticipated and joyously celebrated calendar events in the country. It’s about more than just drinking wine — although adults won’t be short of opportunities to savor a glass or two. It also marks the process of picking grapes, processing them into juice, and starting the fermentation process to make wine.
SAMPLE SRI LANKA’S CULTURAL HIGHLIGHTSSigiriya "rock fortress"
Sri Lanka’s so-called Cultural Triangle is a treasure trove of ruins, rocks, and wildlife. Stretching between Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, and Dambulla, it offers historic and religious sites, cave temples, and the iconic Sigiriya Rock. The latter rises 300m from the northern plain. Archeological, literary, religious, and cultural evidence holds that it was a long-standing Buddhist monastery occupied by monks and ascetics as early as the 3rd Century BC. The same plains from which Sigiriya rises also play host to Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa — crucibles of early Sinhalese civilization. After immersing in heritage, end your Sri Lanka odyssey on a beach on either the country’s idyllic east coast or its sun-kissed southern reaches where choice resorts include Cape Weligama and Amanwella and Amangalla.
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