Again and again, Asia will challenge you to awaken your sense of adventure!

ASIA

HIGHLIGHTS

 

SOUTH ASIA

CHINA

China is a seductive destination. Forbidden City, Giant Pandas, The Bund, Terracotta Warriors, Beijing, bamboo rafting on the Li River in Guangxi Province, Temple of Heaven, Hangzhou, piquant cuisine, archaeological treasures that instill an overwhelming

sense of wonder.  Imagine stepping back one thousand years as you stroll through a village with ancestral halls erected in 600 AD. They are not only intact, but remain in use today.

 

By foot, raft, car or bicycle, a stay in Guangxi Province amidst limestone monoliths is a must.  Then spend a morning making tofu from soaked, locally grown and harvested

soybeans with the very family that provides this daily staple for the entire village.  

 

Hiking to the summit of Huangshan’s Yellow Mountain will be rewarded as the shifting mists lift to reveal its legendary breadth.

 

Innovative cuisine can be enjoyed even in the most remote locations – a local Tea House, a Chinese junk punting along West Lake, or in Sichuan where the experience will lead you to spice markets in search of uniquely piquant ingredients.

Again and again, China will seduce your senses!

 

VIETNAM

Vietnamese people – from Hanoi to Hoi An to Halong Bay to Saigon – radiate warmth and joy in welcoming Americans. These generous citizens have moved on and they invite their guests to do the same. Begin with the legendary Hotel Metropole in the middle of modern Hanoi’s Old French Quarter. You will be stirred beyond your imagination.

Head south through Danang for Vietnam’s most beautiful beaches and the village of Hoi An for a step back in time to 400 AD, not to mention the best tailors in all of Vietnam!  An overnight cruise on Halong Bay – navigating between serene limestone monoliths and past floating villages and colorful fishing boats – is paradise. You might even dangle your own rod off the back of the Junk Boat to try your luck at catching squid!

 

THAILAND

Travel the klongs of Bangkok’s Chao Phraya River aboard a colorful long-tail to visit the awe inspiring Reclining Buddha and Royal Palace. Swing by Jim Thompson House to savor the beautiful silks, as well as a hint of intrigue surrounding this alleged CIA provocateur.  Then end your day with a perfectly chilled martini at Mandarin Oriental’s famed Bamboo Bar. Do make time to enjoy a morning culinary lesson at the famed Blue Elephant. If you are really lucky you may wind up side-by-side the likes of Hester Blumenthal, as this is where all great chefs come to learn the art of Thai cuisine.

 

Recharge in a tented camp in the exotic Golden Triangle bordering Myanmar and Laos to the north or bask in the joy of elephant care in one among many elephant conservation sanctuaries that dot this fertile land.

 

Further south, Andaman Sea’s serene coastline from Phuket to Krabi can easily lure one into a do-nothing-at-all state of mind. Still, I suggest a late morning sail to an uninhabited island for a private beach picnic and an afternoon of exploring the underwater caves. Thailand never leaves us wanting anything more than a longer stay!

Start your journey...

 

JAPAN

Tokyo offers much more than a city experience. Its unique surroundings span traditional arts, gardens and cuisines as well as the countercultural worlds of music and fashion. Visit Harujuko, Rapongi and Shibuya districts for a lively, hip fashion culture. Then head to Ginza and Toyama for high end shopping.

Stroll tranquil Meiji Jingu Shrine in the morning, break for a tea house lunch and then go on to Kaminari Gate for a truly traditional Japanese garden experience.

 

Tokyo is the perfect jumping off point for Kyoto, Hiroshima, Nara, Kobe, Hokkaido, Sapporo and Osaka by plane or bullet train.  Japan makes exploring its culture a breeze!

 

CAMBODIA

Begin your Cambodian journey in Phnom Penh exploring markets and museums depicting its tumultuous history followed by a brilliant culinary experience and conversation with the locals and a bottle or two of Cambodia Lager.

 

Next? Embark on a relaxing, self-indulgent Mekong river boat for a four day sail up to Siem Reap. On the way you might stop to bicycle to local farms and ceramics houses, and yes, more culinary experiences as the intimate ship wends its way up to Cambodia’s penultimate archeological sites in Siem Reap, Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom and many more recently uncovered temples, capitals and canals answer historians questions about Khumer life and the culture of gods and deities as long ago as 1000 years. A two day stay in this magnificent four-hundred square kilometer UNESCO site is not long enough!

 

SINGAPORE

When I lived in Singapore in 1995, it was entirely safe for my son and his 11 year old friends to head down to Orchard Road for an afternoon movie followed by a bite to eat by themselves from our place on Grange Road.  But this? This Singapore 2018 is an astounding measure of progress in a wondrously forward-thinking fashion. The attention to eco-sustainability alongside style, design and superbly functioning infrastructure makes Singapore one of my favorite destinations en route to anywhere in Asia or the Pacific Rim.

 

However, if you think Singapore is all bling and hype, do not miss the most amazing zoo in the world, as well as the Night Safari. Here we have fun for children of all ages! Not to mention the truly memorable Singapore Slings (to contradict Mr Bourdain) to be enjoyed in the courtyards at Raffles, outstandingly Michelin starred cuisine and food halls, as well as first rate tailors.  Changi has been rated the world’s number one airport in the world again and again. So, what’s stopping you from hopping on the new nonstop Singapore Air flight from the US to experience all this unimaginably stylish, eco-sustainability for yourselves?

 

HONG KONG

Lorem ipsum dolor amet umami lumbersexual iceland williamsburg cornhole master cleanse coloring book asymmetrical helvetica nulla vaporware enim.

 

TYPEWRITER: truffaut cronut skateboard vinyl raclette. Single-origin coffee normcore drinking vinegar small batch sunt affogato venmo mixtape cold-pressed four loko. Excepteur selfies forage ut pok pok.

HONG KONG & SHANGHAI

Hong kong was still under British lease from the Chinese when I first visited in the ‘90’s.  When I returned a decade later the skyscrapers had multiplied and gotten taller, high-end art galleries – both established and newly emerging – dotted the laneways, more tailors than I recalled, and a fantastic wine culture had been cultivated!  The race track was still an event not to be missed. Macau was different in that there were now more casinos that were not wholly Chinese owned, but thankfully, the Old Portuguese culture and architecture had been preserved. After all, the Portuguese were the original settlers in the 1500’s.  Go, and then take the high speed train to the mainland! Let Hong Kong be your first port of entry in China.

 

Shanghai is a feast of evolving skylines and a vastly innovative fashion, culinary and art scene.  The old jewish quarter, the French Concession and even the original and ever present headquarters of the communist party lay in close proximity to one another.  The Bund is wildly creative while the tidy Pudong side of the Huangpu River houses the high rolling financial district. No matter where you plant your suitcase, you will not tire of Shanghai and its infectious history.  

TIBET

Lhasa may be my magnetic north. Flying into Tibet with the Himalayas framing the horizon is a stunning vista.

Be prepared to walk, hike and climb. Open your senses to experience 1600 years of serenity. The 14th Dalai Lama may live in exile, but buddhism and generosity of spirit are alive and well in Tibet!

You will return again and again.

TIBET

Lhasa may be my magnetic north. Flying into Tibet with the Himalayas framing the horizon is a stunning vista.

Be prepared to walk, hike and climb. Open your senses to experience 1600 years of serenity. The 14th Dalai Lama may live in exile, but buddhism and generosity of spirit are alive and well in Tibet!

You will return again and again.

 
 

INDIA

India is pure magnificence.  It has been said that India assaults the senses. It does.  Colors, sounds, fragrances, architecture, spices, pigmented silks and the wealth of two hundred thousand years of history.

 

Einstein said that the Indians “...taught us to count, without which no worthwhile scientific discovery could have been made.” Mahatma Gandhi said,” “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” That is how I felt in my first week in India (way back when) exploring the Kerala coastline by slipping through the backwaters on a simple houseboat with friends.  It hasn’t left me. Maybe you will experience the same sensations on a land safari in Ranthambore hoping to spy Bengal tigers, or in Jaipur - the Pink City – where the world’s serious gemologists flock to vendor after vendor for gemstones that will inspire their designs.  Or perhaps in the foreground of the legendary Taj Mahal or trekking your way through the Assam tea plantations in the Himalayan foothills where you just might glimpse the Great one horned rhino.

 

Rhinos and tigers aside, the magic of India lies in her longevity, wellness, diversity and generosity. Namesté.

 

SRI LANKA

Smack dab in the middle of Sri Lanka stands Sigiriya, the meticulously preserved ruins of a 5th century capital. This UNESCO World Heritage Site stands atop a plateau at 200 meters and is accessible only by foot.

 

I suggest a two night stay in Sri Lanka’s Cultural Triangle to really experience this jewel in their crown. Whether your druthers are a romantic getaway in a truly comfortable colonial tea picker’s bungalow, a unique safari lodge with cocoon rooms on the edge of leopard rich Yala National Park or a wellness stay to rival any revitalizing destination in the world, Sri Lanka should be on everyone’s “experience the world” list.

Susan Quillin

©SQ-Travel by Design, LLC 2018

sq@sq-travelbydesign.com
t. 518 212 7648

An independent affiliate of Travel Experts, Inc., a Virtuoso agency