As it turns out, you don’t have to fly too far to experience an unforgettable getaway whether it’s with your family, with your friends, or a solo soul searching trip of your own. Below, we list seven of the top travel destinations in Asia that should be on your radar this 2019.
1. Sri Lanka
Hailed as the best country to visit in 2019 by top travel website Lonely Planet, Sri Lanka holds no shortage of luxurious nature and rare wildlife. In fact, now pegged as an African Safari alternative, the small island nation’s foreign arrivals shot up to almost 15% last year. Top tourist attractions include the Sigiriya rock fortress and palace a.k.a Lion’s Rock, for visitors fond of climbing ancient ruins. You can also gear up for a leopard encounter at the Yala National Park, where elephants, aquatic birds, and other elusive creatures are also sure to be milling about.
2. Shenzhen, China
If you're searching for more places to visit while in Hong Kong, Shenzhen’s just a train ride away, with a few travel formalities included, of course. Where HK is a paradise spot for milk tea lovers and sneaker heads, Shenzhen is home to tech enthusiasts, giving Silicon Valley a run for its money. Huaqiangbei street, in particular, is the place to be for an all-around gadget shopping experience with over 20 shopping malls to get lost in.
On the other hand, non-techies can look forward to the city’s other attractions such as Window of the World, a prime tourist hotspot housing 48 hectares of miniature replicas of some of the most popular attractions around the globe. Just imagine hopping from the Eiffel Tower, to Buckingham Palace, to Mount Fuji, and then the Taj Mahal in just a matter of minutes. Another signature spot to visit, my personal favorite, Book City. Said to be the largest book store in the world, Shenzhen’s Book City is a bibliophile’s wonderland with over three million books stacked in its shelves. Plus, they even have a 24-hour book bar for those rare novels you just can’t be bothered to put down. What a dream!
There’s a lot more to Indonesia than simply attaining a sun kissed Bali glow. Dubbed by Lonely Planet as the seventh best country to visit for 2019, the country is a must-see for both adventure seekers and those yearning for a silent retreat from their busy schedules. If you’re looking for a thrilling experience, and some much needed exercise, you can opt for a three-day mountain biking tour offered in both Bali and Yogyakarta. Wind down after at the famed Borobudur Temple, also known as the biggest Buddhist sanctuary in the world. Animal lovers can also marvel at Indonesia’s exotic creatures at the Komodo National Park and the Tanjung Puting National Park. I mean, who wouldn’t want to see some doe-eyed orangutans? They’re adorable!
Food and drink lovers, Singapore’s sure to be the next country on your bucket list. The Lion’s City will have you enjoying Michelin star rated meals and restaurants, like the Famous Sungei Road Trishaw Laksa, and 85 Bedok North Fried Oyster, at the surprisingly affordable price of five Singapore dollars and below! Once you’ve satiated your appetite, you can then take a walk around the vibrant district of Little India, and visit Sri Veeramakaliamman (a handful, I know) to witness the beauty of a hundred colorful statues making up the temple’s roof, or see the 15-meter tall Buddha at The Sakya Muni Buddha Gaya Temple. For an IG-worthy tourist spot reco, drop by Gardens by the Bay, a lush nature park home to the Flower Dome, which happens to be known as the largest glass greenhouse in the world.
As far as affordable tropical vacations go, the Maldives is your best bet. Skip the uber expensive resorts and spend your trip at guesthouses offering half the price of luxury stops, while maintaining the full Maldivian cultural experience. The growing Maldives guesthouse scene for travelers’ clocks in at around US $90 per night with meals and other island activities to boot. Speaking of water-based activities, the archipelago is perfect for those searching for a prime snorkeling and diving experience, especially when done in the majestically clear blue waters of Ari Atoll a.k.a. one of Asia’s top diving sites.
If you’re looking for a little soul searching of your own, the untouched mountainous lands of Kyrgyzstan is an ideal destination. Lonely Planet’s fifth best country to visit for 2019, the country’s growing popularity among hikers and backpackers took root from the World Nomad Games held in Cholpon-Ata where at least 37 ethnic sports from Central Asia were played. Beginner hikers can enjoy the breathtaking trekking route in Altyn Arashan whose impressive views are similar to that of the Swiss Alps. Other hiking spots to conquer include the red cliffs of Djeti Oguz, and the tourist friendly peaks in Ala Archa National Park.
With the recent openings of five-star resorts left and right, like the Alila Villas Koh Russey and the Six Senses Krabey Island last year, Cambodia continues to up its game as a true island luxury destination. Tourists looking to catch the surf and soak up the sun beneath impressive white-sand beaches need to look no further than this gorgeous tropical country. Although if you’re more for site-seeing rather than lounging at beaches all day, a few must-sees include the Silver Pagoda inside the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh, and the ruins of Banteay Srei in Siem Reap. Which takes us to the obvious unmissable tourist hotspot: the glorious Angkor Wat, one of the largest religious monuments in the world. A hot tip: If you can wake up for it, locals suggest watching the sunrise from the Angkor Wat’s towers for a unique cathartic experience.
While Taipei's bustling nightlife, neck craning skyscrapers, and vibrant selection of scrumptuous street eats are probably the first ones to ring a bell when Taiwan is mentioned, the country has a lot more to offer than just getting to sit at the highest Starbucks in the world. A few fresh nature alternatives? Hike up the cloud-ringed mountains of Alishan National Scenic Area, or marvel at the Golden Waterfall in Jinguashi. No, the falls don't spout out real gold, but its coppery appearance is still a site to see. Another scenic spot you can't miss is the Yin Yang Sea aptly cold as such due to its peculiar blue and yellow coloring. For romantics at heart take a trip to Shifen Old street, located just hours away from Taipei, and live out your Tangled dreams by releasing a lantern into the sky. Make sure your calligraphry written wish counts!