Had enough of this harsh winter? Longing for some warmth and adventure? Well, pack your bags and ready your passports.
Whether you’re looking for a cultural encounter, a tropical paradise or a winter wonderland (sans polar vortex), here are some must-see destinations across Asia.
Japan is best known for its state-of-the-art technology, exquisite food and polite people, but during March and April, the island nation lends itself to the breathtaking season of sakura (cherry blossoms). This time of year is so revered that locals even have a term for the custom of basking in the presence of these blush-colored blooms: hanami.
For a home base during the height of hanami, check into The Prince Gallery Tokyo Kioicho, A Luxury Collection Hotel — one of the newest additions to the city’s hospitality scene. Located in the upscale Kioicho district, this Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star stay keeps the cherry blossoms on grand display with oversized windows in every room and a 36th-floor lobby overlooking the neighborhood’s tree-lined streets.
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Southeast Asia is blessed with pristine beaches, making for a sun-filled retreat from winter’s chill.
Roughly two hours from Ho Chi Minh City lies Vietnam’s first oceanfront integrated luxury resort, The Grand Ho Tram Strip. You’ll want for nothing at this 541-room property, where you’ll find a casino, a championship golf course, three pools, a night club and 11 food and beverage outlets serving Cantonese cuisine, Vietnam-style coffee and French fusion fare.
But you’ll likely end up spending most of your time on the sand.
The culmination of Chinese New Year celebrations, Spring Lantern Festival falls on February 19 this year. A day typically spent with loved ones, the holiday has garnered the informal title of “Chinese Valentine’s Day,” and Hong Kong’s colorful décor and festive atmosphere certainly fan the romantic flames.
Take in the vibrant sights (lanterns lining the streets, flower markets in bloom and tons of tourists) before retreating to a relaxing respite at Forbes Travel Guide Recommended L’hotel élan. With its off-the-beaten-path location in the quiet Kowloon neighborhood, the 254-room property soothes with its modern and minimalist Japanese feel.
This riverfront city may just be the kind of charm you’re looking for: it’s busy but not chaotic, warm but not sweltering and nostalgic yet modern.
The Peninsula Shanghai demonstrates how a growing city pays homage to its history while embracing the changing times. Art deco architecture and décor harks back to Shanghai’s golden age, while each of the Five-Star property’s plush guest rooms is equipped with all the modern comforts you might need — a handy bedside control panel makes opening the blinds as easy as ordering room service.
Experience all the sumptuous extras (a duo of Five-Star restaurants and a Five-Star spa) at this historic hotel when you take advantage of its Winter Online Exclusive Offer. Book before February 28 to receive a complimentary upgrade (hello, river-view room),
flexible check-in and checkout times and gratis breakfast for two.
South Korea has made itself one of the most sought-after destinations in Asia, and not just because of K-pop. Winter here is serene and scenic, but come April, the capital blooms with the Yeouido Spring Flower Festival.
Celebrations abound along a mile-long tunnel of cherry blossoms on Yeouiseo-ro Road. In fact, the entire street is filled with performers, stalls and cultural shows. The best way to take in the sights is with a lovely picnic along the waterfront or from a Hangang River cruise.
Near the city center stands The Shilla Seoul, the capital’s oldest luxury hotel. Though the property is historic, it’s by no means old-fashioned. Now owned by tech giant Samsung, this precious piece of South Korean history houses top-of-the-line technology (55-inch smart TVs come standard) — though the fantastic views of Namsan Mountain and the city skyline are equally as impressive.
There’s nothing like a cute animal video to lift your spirits, especially when you’re snowed in. But in Chengdu, you can enjoy a firsthand experience with those furry friends when you visit the world-renowned Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding.
The stylish Niccolo Chengdu offers a Panda Discovery package that includes two tickets to the observatory and an array of other perks, like breakfast, afternoon tea and a stuffed panda to commemorate your adventure.
While you’re here, savor Sichuan cuisine, the region’s culinary specialty, at the hotel’s contemporary Chinese restaurant Yue Hin.
Thanks to its sub-tropical climate, Okinawa has gained a reputation as the “Hawaii of Japan,” making it a winter escape for locals and visitors. Its mild temperatures mean that the island is home to the country’s earliest-blooming cherry blossoms, on display from mid-January through late February — take it all in during the Naha Sakura Festival until February 24.
If you’re searching for a tranquil respite from the crowds, check into The Ritz-Carlton, Okinawa. With a Zen-like spa, numerous sea-view terraces to lounge on and calming music resonating through the hallways, this 97-room beachfront oasis will easily carry you into spring.