Hokkaido Tops Lonely Planet’s First “Best in Asia” List

Hokkaido - July 13th, 2016
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The travel media company best known for its weighty guidebooks has ranked Japan’s northernmost prefecture as its number one destination to see in Asia for the next 12 months.

This year is the first for the new Top 10 list, and its destinations range from the often snowy lands of Hokkaido to the tropical beaches of Thailand, with plenty of variety in between. Like all lists of this ilk, there are bound to be some disagreements, but arguing is one of the things that the internet is for! Let us know if you think the folks at Lonely Planet is missing something from their ranking, which follows below, along with some comments from Lonely Planet’s writers.

1. Hokkaido, Japan

“Hokkaido’s perfect powder snow put it on the international map, but it has also blinded visitors to the year-round charms of Japan’s northernmost island. Hokkaido has become a lot more accessible this year thanks to the new bullet train linking its southern port city, Hakodate, to Tokyo.”

2. Shanghai, China

“Looking for the center of the universe right now? It’s surely Shanghai. This year’s a big one, with the first Disney resort in mainland China opening here, as well as the completion of the long-awaited Shanghai Tower, the world’s second tallest building.”

3. Jeonju, South Korea

“Having long flown under the radar as the country’s top foodie destination, Jeonju has finally started to make mouths water further afield. The birthplace of Korea’s most famous dish, bibimbap, now lures a younger crowd thanks to its fast-emerging street food scene.”

4. Con Dao Islands, Vietnam

“This archipelago now ranks among Asia’s hottest emerging destinations. With improved flight connections from Ho Chi Minh City, there is no better place right now to feast on fresh seafood, explore in search of a perfect beach and revel in a castaway vibe.”

Con Dao Islands (Image: Shutterstock)

Con Dao Islands (Image: Shutterstock)

5. Hong Kong, China

“Hong Kong is focusing on its natural heritage – specifically, the UNESCO-designated geopark, a 50-sq km region to the northeast. A shuttle bus between the geopark’s Sai Kung town and its ancient rock formations debuted this May, hard on the heels of a ferry service to Lai Chi Wo Village.”

6. Ipoh, Malaysia

“Malaysia’s lesser-known food capital has new flair thanks to a crop of boutique cafes that have sprung up in its historic quarter. At the heart of Ipoh’s renaissance is otherworldly concept hotel Sekeping Kong Heng.”

7. Pemuteran, Indonesia

“A double bay of beaches near Menjangan … don’t wait until everybody arrives; catch the buzz now from this alluring mix of art-filled resorts, inventive new restaurants and the mellowest vibe around.”

8. Trang Islands, Thailand

“Trang Islands pack the same knockout punch as their more famous Andaman Coast neighbors; all they lack are the crowds. Go, now – while these sleepy islands bask in untouched splendor.”

9. Meghalaya, India

“Opportunities for hiking, climbing, caving and rafting abound. After decades off the tourist map, people are starting to notice this backwater. Meghalaya won’t stay this quiet for long; go before thrill seekers storm the Khasi Hills.”

meghalaya

Meghalaya (Image: Shutterstock)

10. Taitung, Taiwan

“Taitung is Taiwan’s secret wild card. This cradle of indigenous culture is the place to party after harvest with music festivals and sweet millet wine. Or take advantage of this rural county’s superb whale watching, stargazing and cycling.” [Lonely Planet admits that the damage caused by the recent typhoon may put a damper on any immediate plans there, and warns intrepid travelers to check advisories issued by the Taiwanese government.]

Feet getting a little itchy? You can check out Lonely Planet’s “Best in Asia 2016” list to read more, and for a chance to win a trip for two to Hokkaido.

Image: The Four Season Garden in Biei, Hokkaido (Shutterstock)