The prestigious Lonely Planet travel guide this week unveiled the best destinations to visit in Asia in 2019. This is the third time that the publication surveys, based on the opinion of its experts on the continent.
The eclectic and vibrant Busan, in South Korea, was voted the number one destination. Uzbekistan, with its sophisticated architecture of ancient cities, came second, followed by Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam, which the publication said was “a metropolis that somehow gets more and cooler.”
“Asia is such a vast and diverse continent for anyone who dreams of adventure,” says Chris Zeiher, the Lonely Planet spokesperson for Asia and the Pacific.
Check below the chosen destinations and the reasons that make them special places to meet in 2019.
1 – Busan (Korea, South)
“An impressive confluence of landscapes, culture, and food. Such is Busan, a city that condenses an eclectic package of activities to please any traveler, “says the guide.
The city was named East Asian Culture City in 2018 and will be even more vibrant with interesting events exposing the country’s cultural heritage, from street art festivals to traditional dance shows.
2 – Uzbekistan
With its mosaic-clad mosques and exotic aura of the Silk Road, the country took important steps to open up to tourism, announcing visa-free schemes or online visas, new air routes and extensions in its high-speed rail network, which made access to ancient cities and precious architecture easier than ever.
3 – Ho Chi Minh (Viet Nam)
The metropolis of southern Vietnam is getting more and cooler. The old buildings are giving way to innovative thrift shops, cafes, and breweries. Street food is also one of the attractions of the city.
4 – Western Ghats (India)
Jungle, coffee plantations, tea, spices, and towering waterfalls are some of the attractions. These Rocky Mountains are listed by Unesco as one of the most biodiverse places in the world and house the neelakurinji flowers, which bloom only once every twelve years, and this year they will paint the mountains of purple between August and October
5 – Nagasaki (Japan)
For many, Nagasaki is synonymous with the atomic tragedy of 1945, but, remarkably, the city turned the catastrophe into a call for peace exemplified in the peaceful Nagasaki Peace Park and the Atomic Bomb Museum.
However, Nagasaki’s identity transcends this violent act. The new Foreign Trade Museum, housed in the oldest church in Japan, is one of the must-see attractions.
6 – Chiang Mai (Thailand)
The ancient capital of the Kingdom of Lanna seems to have come from the pages of a history book. There, visitors stroll through antique jewelry stalls that lie on old streets.
Alongside majestic golden chedis are cafés known for their artistic lattes, wall-graffiti restaurants that specialize in fusion and experimental cuisine, and the new and award-winning MAIIAM Museum of Contemporary Art. ”
7 – Lumbini (Nepal)
For decades, Lumbini was a place where travelers swiftly passed the road from India to Nepal, often unaware that they had passed a few yards from the birthplace of the Buddha.
The city has undergone a major transformation, with the construction of a new international airport and temples.
8 – Arugam Bay (Sri Lanka)
This seaside town on the east coast of Sri Lanka manages to maintain its calm as tourists flock to the ancient citadels and trail stations of the rest of the country. Barefoot surfers relax at the doors of vegan cafes.
9 – Sichuan (China)
Isolated villages, skyscrapers, giant pandas and a spicy kitchen, Sichuan is a microcosm of modern China.
One of the must-see tours is traveling on the first stretch of the Sichuan-Tibet train to visit villages stopped in time, or see the growth of breweries and boutique hotels in the city of Chegdu.
10 – Komodo National Park (Indonesia)
New connections made the park more accessible. In addition to seeing the famous Komodo dragon, visitors can hike to lookouts at the Padar, relax on the beaches in Kanawa or dive amid the coral diversity of corals.