Lonely Planet recently announced its Best In Asia Pacific list of destinations for 2019, naming Australia’s Margaret River & Southern Western Australia, as the Number One destination for the year ahead.
“Take one look at Meelup Beach and you’ll wonder where it’s been all your life: the West Australian bush parts to reveal ocean the hue of a Bombay Sapphire bottle, which is typical of the coastline stretching from Margaret River to the state’s south.
Beyond the sand, some of the country’s slickest wineries, breweries and restaurants lie between tracts of tall-tree forest and kangaroo-dotted farmland.”
This is the global travel media company and guidebook brand’s fourth annual list of the region’s 10 best destinations to visit.
The list has been expanded this year to include Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific.
Lonely Planet media spokesperson for the region Chris Zeiher said: “Asia Pacific has it all. Its food delights the senses, its forests and seas teem with life, and its cities fizz with culture and creativity. Our experts have explored this vast region’s highlands, islands and everything in between to find the best places to visit this year.”
The rest of the destinations are:
2. Shikoku, Japan
“This somewhat off-the-beaten-path haven is finally being discovered by non-Japanese visitors, with an increasing number of international flights winging into the main cities of Takamatsu and Matsuyama.”
3. Bay of Islands & Northland, New Zealand
“Northland is the cradle of the country’s culture and history – both for the indigenous Maori people and for the European settlers who followed them. The two formally came together with the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in the Bay of Islands, and 2020 sees the 180th anniversary of that key nation-building event.”
“Singapore was one of the brightest stars in the 2018 movie blockbuster Crazy Rich Asians, and the Lion City is hipper and hotter than ever. 2019 offers a chance to participate in the city’s bicentennial, but also to celebrate more than 700 years of Singapore’s rich, diverse history.”
5. The Cook Islands
“A visit to the Cook Islands, 15 tiny islets, far-flung over a swathe of the deep-blue, breezy Pacific Ocean, is bound to rejuvenate even the most jaded. And locals on the main island, Rarotonga, are welcoming visitors off an increasing number of international flights to their Polynesian paradise.”
6. Central Vietnam
“Hue’s vibrant cuisine showcases the city’s imperial legacy, while south in Hoi An’s storied laneways, local dishes include fragrant cao lau noodles. Seafood stars in nearby Danang, and the city alongside the Han River is becoming one of Vietnam’s most exciting urban destinations.”
“From solar-powered resorts that serve locally-harvested food to coral reef restoration projects and limited plastic usage, this vulnerable island nation has moved headlong into eco-tourism. Oct 10, 2020, will mark the island nation’s 50th year of independence, called ‘Fiji Day’.”
8. Palawan, Philippines
“These are the heady days when new air routes and upgraded roads make it easier than ever to explore the dramatic seascapes and wildlife-laden jungles of the slender 400km-long main island (also called Palawan) before it inevitably becomes more developed.”
9. Beijing, China
“Beijing is changing fast as the new decade approaches. In a bid to battle the smog, an eco-friendly bike-sharing scheme has launched, and the rapidly expanding subway is expected to reduce traffic congestion. High-speed links will soon race passengers to the extraordinary, Zaha Hadid-designed, starfish-shaped Beijing Daxing International, the world’s largest airport, which is slated to open later this year.”
“The skyline of Phnom Penh is on the up, bringing sky bars and designer dining; the Southern Islands are generating a beach buzz thanks to new boutique and luxury resorts; colonial-era vestiges are under restoration in Battambang and Kampot; and in remote areas like Koh Kong and Mondulkiri, wildlife spotting is drawing visitors off-the-beaten track. New airlines are making connections between Siem Reap and the South Coast smoother, with hydrofoils whisking people to the islands.”
To celebrate this year’s Best in Asia Pacific, Lonely Planet is giving visitors to lonelyplanet.com/best-in-asia-pacific the chance to win a tour of their choice to explore the region with small group adventure specialist G Adventures. Prizes include a US$5,000 (RM20,690) voucher from G Adventures to spend on your favourite Asia Pacific destination and US$4,000 (RM16,552) to spend on two return flights. – Compiled by Ming Teoh