Thursday, May 19, 2011

Checking Out Asia's Coolest Cities

Asia's coolest cities can be found scattered across South Korea, China, and Japan, and it's an experience of a lifetime to find what each country's hidden gems are all about. Mixing up luxe-minded travel with off-the-expected-path exploration provides a fulfilling vacation experience for any adventurous traveler.

Sagada, Philippines
Sagada is famous for its abundance of natural beauty, and if you want to experience what it's best known for, you should definitely stick to an out-of-town experience. The center of the city isn't known for its gorgeous layout, but the outskirts are a bonanza of caves, gardens, and rolling hills. Tourists now range from backpackers to luxe seekers like yourself.

Things to Do
*Watch the golden sunset of Sagada.
*Visit Echo Valley, which reverberates like you wouldn't believe. Try the tunnels via the underground river, which lead back to town.
*Pick up Sagada oranges to test their juicy sweetness--they come highly recommended by visitors.

Places to Stay in the Philippines
The Peninsula Manila: Located in the heart of Manila, the Peninsula Manila provides an exquisite lodging opportunity for business and pleasure travelers alike.

Kagoshima, Japan
The highlight of Kagoshima is the volcano towering over water and land. Peaceful looking, and yet a constant reminder of the power the earth hides beneath its crust, it's actually accessible by ferry. Mountains and gardens provide an opportunity to explore hidden-away spots in one of Japan's smaller cities.

Things to Do
*Take a ferry to the smoking volcano.
*Head to the mountains, located 6 miles from the city.
*Visit the Kagoshima Zoo.

Places to Stay in Japan
Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo: Plenty of amenities and a contemporary setting make the Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo a great choice for the traveler in Japan.

Grand Hyatt Tokyo: Situated in the lively district of Roppongi, the Grand Hyatt Tokyo is considered one of the very best hotels in the city. Modern decor and fantastic gastronomic reviews make the Grand Hyatt Tokyo a marvelous city to explore.

Mandarin Hotel Oriental Tokyo: If you have a flair for the dramatic, then the Mandarin Hotel Oriental Tokyo is the luxury lodging to book. The lobby alone is breathtaking, surrounded by glass and voted the best in the world by first-class travelers.

Cerulean Tower Tokyu Hotel: This is the tallest landmark in Shibuya, with a clean approach to modern banquet halls and accommodations for business travelers.

Daegu, Korea
This South Korea city is a special destination for a select group of travelers. It's tiny, but that's part of the appeal. There aren't just interesting things to do during the day, but there are cool spots for nightlife as well. A small place can certainly pack a punch if you go to the right spot...

“With the Geumho River and Sincheon Stream running through the city, Daegu is a basin surrounded by mountains.”

Things to Do
*Eat a large Korean-style barbecue meal.
*Try Norebang, which is similar to Japanese karaoke.
*Head to the Daegu Tower for one of the best view of the city.

Places to Stay in Korea
Grand Hyatt Seoul: Think that the South Korean capital city is crowded? You'll enjoy the break from the bustle at the Grand Hyatt Seoul, which is located right on Mount Namsan on a stunning 18 acres of land.

Chengdu China
Chengdu has captivated more than its fair share of tourists, thanks to its positioning as the gateway to panda breeding centers. A city that's perfect for foodies, Chegdu isn't only a good place to eat and drink, but an excellent place to center oneself before exploring the rest of China--a "breather city," if you will.

Things to Do
*Visit the Research Base of Giant Panda breeding.
*Stroll down Jinli, a pedestrian street, to take in the sites.
*Take the kids to Happy Valley, an amusement and theme park.

Places to Stay in China
Grand Hyatt Shanghai: Floor-to-ceiling windows allow you one of the most breathtaking views of the skyline you ever thought possible. Art Deco decor appeals to the luxury lover in everyone.

Four Seasons Hotel Macao: Five swimming pools and a private spa suite should take your mind off things at the Four Seasons Hotel Macao.

Four Seasons Hotel Hangzhou: This chic and contemporary hotel combines ancient tradition, a lakeside village appearance, and the ultimate luxury additions for a true guest experience.

Island Shangri-La, Hong Kong: 56 floors high, the Island Shangri-La feature 34 stunning suites and 531 guest rooms.

Of all the places to travel, Asia is still one of the most mysterious destinations. It's a challenge to get to some of the smaller towns in China, Japan, and Korea, but the feeling of discovering a little-known source of tranquility and mystery is one of the things luxe-minded travelers crave.

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