The Best Places to Travel in Asia Pacific in 2024
Published on: November 21st, 2023
Last modified: December 1st, 2023
Asia Pacific is an absolutely enormous area, stretching from the snow-capped peaks of Nepal and the white-sand beaches of Vietnam, to Australia and its distinctive islands and culture. Plus, some places that may not be on most travellers’ radar, like the remote mountains of Bhutan, lush rainforests of Laos, seasonal delights of South Korea and the hiking trails of Sri Lanka.
In 2024 we suggest diverging from the usual tourist itineraries to explore the emerging destinations of this diverse area. Many countries in Asia Pacific are experiencing rapid growth in luxury travel options, with brand new tourism initiatives and an increased focus on sustainable travel.
We’ve been closely following new luxury train journeys through Malaysia and Vietnam, a recently launched cruise down the Mekong River and the long-awaited reopening of one of our favourite lodges in Australia.
Our travel designers have been scoping out the region and reporting back with all kinds of new and exciting recommendations. With this in mind, we’ve put together a list of the best places to visit in Asia Pacific in 2024. It’s time to get inspired for your next adventure – and we’re here to help you plan the trip of a lifetime.
When you think of Nepal, you might immediately picture the legendary Mount Everest – and we don’t blame you. The world’s highest mountain is reason enough to visit, not to mention the staggering Himalayan peaks and dramatic valleys that surround it. If you’re looking for epic hikes and outdoor adventures, Nepal is hard to beat. But it also has plenty more to offer.
Head to the Annapurna region to find the recently opened Shinta Mani Mustang: a mountain oasis designed to make the most of its scenic location while highlighting local culture through its decor and cuisine. The nearby Nilgiri Himal comprises three towering mountains that are framed by floor-to-ceiling windows throughout this exceptional lodge.
In recent years, Nepal has centred the tourism industry as a tool for promoting social equity. The government has also designated 2023–2033 as the ‘Tourism Decade’ in an effort to focus even more attention on developing its infrastructure and promoting lesser-known destinations, as well as environmentally responsible travel to protect its natural resources.
All of this bodes well for a 2024 trip to Nepal. Our travel designers suggest taking some time to explore Kathmandu’s sacred sites and spirited streets rather than just passing through. They also recommend visiting the national parks of Chitwan (in the south) and Bardia (in the west) for the chance to see endangered species like the one-horned rhinoceros and Bengal tiger.
Vietnam has long been a favourite destination for food-focused travellers: think phở (a tasty, fragrant broth with rice noodles), bánh mì (fresh baguettes stuffed with sausage, cilantro and pickled vegetables) and the famous Vietnamese coffee sweetened with condensed milk. But the country’s cuisine is only one aspect of its rich culture and multifaceted history, which you can learn all about in dynamic cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh.
Of course, Vietnam is also renowned for its natural beauty. Its thousands of islands feature undulating green hills, terraced rice paddies, turquoise bays and some of the best beaches in Asia. In 2024, we suggest going beyond the usual tourist destinations to areas like Bai Tu Long Bay (an alternative to the popular Halong Bay) and the peaceful Ninh Binh province.
In the Binh Dinh province you’ll find the picture-perfect coastal city of Quy Nhon. In 2024 it’ll be easier to reach Quy Nhon in complete comfort, thanks to the brand new Vietage luxury railway carriage. The Vietage transforms the six-hour journey between Hoi An and Quy Nhon into an exquisite experience with gourmet dining and drinks, private booths and room for just 12 travellers on board.
As you glide through central Vietnam, don’t forget to look out the window to spot the countless ancient ruins and historical landmarks that speckle its serene landscapes. On either end of the journey you can enjoy opulent hotels like the Anantara Hoi An Resort and Quy Nhon Villas. If you’re visiting Vietnam in 2024, this is a fantastic way to get off the beaten track.
Known as the ‘Land of the Thunder Dragon’ – thanks to the fierce thunderstorms that often descend upon its valleys – Bhutan is one of the most remote and fascinating countries on the Indian Subcontinent. If you haven’t yet experienced the isolated wonders of this landlocked Buddhist kingdom, 2024 is the perfect time to make it happen.
One reason is the recently opened Punakha River Lodge, an all-inclusive property tucked into the rice paddies and verdant forests of the Punakha valley. From here you can set out on exhilarating hikes and kayaking excursions, or relax with a hot stone bath in the traditional spa. This is the perfect place to discover Bhutan’s unique culture while immersed in its wilderness.
Beyond its incredibly well-preserved culture, untouched landscapes and rare wildlife, Bhutan is also known for its trailblazing sustainable development efforts. The country aims to become carbon neutral by 2025, and will only welcome a maximum of 200,000 visitors per year from 2023 onward. It also charges a daily tourist tax, which goes straight towards investments in electric transport, infrastructure, environmental protection and cultural conservation.
In other words, planning a trip to Bhutan in 2024 means you’ll contribute to the positive impact on the country and you’ll be among the lucky ones who get to visit it during the year. If you’re already convinced and simply wondering when to go, consider travelling to Bhutan in November to catch one of its elaborate cultural festivals.
At the southern end of the Asia Pacific region you’ll find Australia – a vast, wild land where distinctive culture, sophisticated cities such as Sydney, Melbourne and Victoria, and the untamed nature of the Outback coexist. This is the kind of bucket-list destination that every traveller has to experience at least once. And since it’s quite a long way away for most, it’s essential to make every bit of your trip count.
Luckily, Australia is bursting with world-class accommodation to help you make the most of your time here. We’re looking forward to checking out the newly reopened Southern Ocean Lodge, which has been completely rebuilt after wildfires destroyed it in 2020. Exciting upgrades include the enormous Ocean Pavilion and the new-and-improved Southern Spa. If you’re looking for a romantic honeymoon destination for 2024, this place should be at the top of your list.
Southern Ocean Lodge is set on Kangaroo Island, a remote escape full of thriving fauna and flora. On the opposite side of Australia you’ll find an equally undisturbed region: the Top End in the Northern Territory, featuring sweeping canyons and savannahs. We recommend touring Kakadu National Park with Lords Safaris and getting completely off the grid at Bamurru Plains.
Laos is one of the least-visited countries in all of Southeast Asia. If you’re looking for smaller cities, less-crowded historical sites, understated beauty and authentic cultural encounters, it’s the perfect place to travel in 2024. Our travel designer Charlie recently returned from here with plenty of tips to help you plan the ideal trip.
Although Laos is landlocked, the mighty Mekong River runs straight through it. You can explore some of the country’s most isolated areas aboard the Heritage Line Anouvong, a new boutique ship decked out in an nostalgic French style. Book one of its lavish staterooms or suites for a relaxing and illuminating journey along the Mekong, including cultural demonstrations, fine dining, spa treatments and impeccable attention to detail.
Laos is ramping up efforts to attract visitors in 2024 by improving infrastructure, such as transport and tourism activities, particularly those in rural areas. These efforts will also aim to contribute to local communities and promote sustainable travel through education and conservation. The ‘Visit Laos Year 2024’ initiative will promote dozens of events throughout the country and welcome travellers with open arms.
Malaysia is a country of contrasts: between futuristic cityscapes in Kuala Lumpur and multicultural Penang with its intriguing mix of architecture, there’s ancient temples, volcanic islands and rural highlands, and a wide array of cultural legacies. This island nation was historically a crossroads for trade routes across Asia, and every group that passed through it left their mark – from the Portuguese and Persians to the Dutch and Chinese.
One of the best ways to witness all of the geographic and cultural diversity of Malaysia is to wend your way through the country on a luxury train. In February 2024, the Belmond Eastern & Oriental Express will relaunch with two new routes – the Essence of Malaysia and Wild Malaysia – which start and end in Singapore. After being out of operation for four years, the legendary railway will be in high demand, so make sure to book your spot early.
Travelling on the Belmond is a one-of-a-kind experience, combining classic luxury with an unequalled sense of adventure. Each of the new itineraries is designed to show you the very best of Malaysia, from the eclectic culture of Penang to the endangered wildlife of Taman Negara National Park. You can swim in the sparkling waters of Langkawi, take a Peranakan cooking class or learn about efforts to save the Malayan tiger – then return to your cosy cabin.
South Korea, the ‘Land of the Morning Calm’, is a captivating country with a wealth of history. We love the buzzing capital of Seoul, where sleek high-rises mingle with ancient temples; the seaside city of Busan with its bustling port; and the foodie paradise of Jeonju, where the famous bibimbap originates – plus endless villages, countryside, coastline and islands.
The 2023–24 ‘Visit Korea Year’ will entail plenty of special events across the country, including festivals, fireworks, concerts and more. Late 2024 will also see the opening of the Seoul Robot & AI Museum and new exhibitions at the Busan Museum of Art, highlighting the country’s firm focus on the future.
Cherry blossoms cover South Korea in a delicate pink blanket during March and April, and are no less spectacular than those of their well-known neighbour Japan. The same can be said for the glowing oranges and reds that cloak the country’s trees in October and November during the autumn leaves season. And if you’re choosing between the two countries, it’s worth noting that it’s much quieter in South Korea than in Japan at this time of year.
These seasonal displays of colour create a memorable backdrop for a romantic trip for two or honeymoon in 2024. And we highly recommend a stay at the Four Seasons Seoul at any time of year, no matter the occasion.
Sri Lanka is among our favourite up-and-coming destinations in Asia; for such a tiny country, it’s teeming with things to see and do. You can tour its world-famous tea plantations, spot elephants and leopards in national parks like Yala and Gal Oya, delve into traditional culture in Kandy and examine intricate archaeological sites in the Cultural Triangle.
Our travel designers recently visited Sri Lanka and came back gushing about Ceylon Tea Trails, a relaxing retreat in the heart of the tea country. They also loved Ulagalla, a boutique estate surrounded by tropical gardens. What’s more, our concierge Lauren is based full-time in Sri Lanka, and has a treasure trove of local insights and expertise to share.
As if all that weren’t reason enough to visit Sri Lanka in 2024, the country also recently inaugurated its first long-distance hiking route: the Pekoe Trail. If you want to maximise cultural immersion and minimise environmental impact, there’s no better way to do it than by traversing Sri Lanka on foot – whether you take on the whole route or pick and choose which parts to tackle. Make sure to stop along the way at refined lodges like Thotalagala to rest and recharge.
Where to Stay
Shinta Mani MustangLocated in the magnificent Annapurna region of Nepal, Shinta Mani Mustang features exquisite 29 suites, all with expansive floor-to-ceiling windows that frame mesmerising mountain views of the Nilgiri range. Renowned designer Bill Bensley has curated the decor of each suite, drawing inspiration from the vivid tapestry of Tibetan art and local imagery. At the Nilgiri Restaurant, indulge in dishes that embrace the seasonal flavours of the local community. The indoor dining area and outdoor patio offer exceptional views of the Nilgiri range, while the outdoor terrace transforms into the perfect vantage point for stargazing under the clear night sky, complemented by the comforting warmth of crackling fire pits. Aara Bar elevates the experience with a distinguished selection of handcrafted cocktails, imported whiskeys, an exquisite wine collection, as well as the opportunity to sample the local liquor known as aara, from which the bar takes its name. The spa and wellness program promises a realm of indulgent serenity, with personalised experiences meticulously tailored to cater to your specific needs.
Four Seasons SeoulLocated in the heart of Seoul, the Four Seasons is a luxury five-star hotel perfectly positioned to allow guests to soak up the energy of this vibrant city. The hotel decor is a mix of old and new. Its 317 rooms and suites combine classic Korean motifs with a clean, modern aesthetic. Floor-to-ceiling windows ensure rooms are filled with natual light, and offer incredible views out over the city towards the mountains in the distance. Eating and drinking at the hotel is a real treat, with seven restaurants and bars to choose from. Enjoy sushi and Japanese sharing plates at Kioku, Italian cuisine served straight from the open kitchen of Boccalino, Korean favourites at Maru, or Cantonese at the Michelin-starred Yu Yuan. Indulge in a treatment in the spa, unwind in the Korean sauna, work out in the gym or take a dip in the indoor swimming pool. There is also a golf simulator where five 3D screens display courses from around the world and state-of-the-art technology means you can analyse swing and posture without having to step foot outside.
Ceylon Tea TrailsThe Ceylon Tea Trails resort is the ideal place from which to explore this breathtaking part of Sri Lanka. Dating back to colonial times, five spacious bungalows feature antique furniture and exemplary, personalised service. With between four and six rooms, they are perfect for families and small groups. All of the 26 rooms and suites, which are named after tea planters who lived there, are elegantly outfitted in natural colours and materials, and make for a tranquil escape. Spend time out on the veranda in the fresh mountain air enjoying the views of Castlereagh Lake, the Bogawantalawa Valley and Dunkeld Estate; or curl up with a book in front of a fire. Take long, leisurely walks through the tea plantations learning all about the ancient process of making tea, enjoy a tempting spread of sweet treats on the lawns or have a light lunch at the pool side. Sri Lankan-inspired meals at Ceylon Tea Trails feature the freshest of seasonal produce with home grown vegetables, herbs and teas from the estate. Rates at Tea Trails are fully inclusive of meals and drinks. Make the most of the calming surroundings and start the day with an aromatic bath, or treat yourself to a selection of therapeutic spa treatments in your room. Get a healthy dose of fresh air and explore some of the walking and biking routes through the mountains, or enjoy a game of tennis or croquet.
Six Senses PunakhaThe Punakha Six Senses, affectionately known as the Flying Farmhouse sits high on the hillside, the raised building overlooking the valley, pine forests, streams and fluttering prayer flags below. This is a truly beautiful lodge that harnesses a rustic charm, echoing its rural surroundings. The main building of the hotel is built of sandstone, flagstone floors, grey tiled pitched roofs and wooden beams. Inside the contemporary design is simple yet welcoming. Large picture windows bring the outside, inside and the warm tones of the wood panelled walls and wooden furniture give a welcoming feeling. Architecturally there are some outstanding features within the lodge, including the elevated restaurant and curved heated swimming pool below, making the lodge standout as somewhere very special. Log burners are situated throughout the property, so although this valley is known for its warm climate, the chill of the night is kept at bay with the roaring of the fires. The lodge has 16 suites and 3 large villas, perfect for groups or families. All the rooms have outside terrace areas and the villas come with their own private pool and living spaces. The communal areas of the lodge include the living room and lounge and the exceptional Ari restaurant that serves up inspired cuisine, influenced by both international and Bhutanese flavours. The restaurant is situated indoors but there’s also an outside dining area where fires burn late into the night so that guests can spend the evenings under the stars. The Six Senses spa and wellness centre is a haven of rejuvenation and relaxation. There are three treatment rooms, a gym, two meditation huts and yoga facilities. The outside heated pool, curved and raised is a wonderful place to relax or enjoy some exercise with stunning views.
Silky OaksSilky Oaks is one of Australia’s most stunning riverside lodges, nestled in tropical North Queensland rainforest with a collection of treehouse suites immersing guests in the lush surroundings. The eco-retreat invites you to escape from everyday life and get back in touch with nature amongst the Daintree rainforest setting. The treehouses and suites blend organic wooden furnishings with contemporary design. Each room has a wide verandah with hammocks, breakfast with a view and deep baths to sink into at the end of the day. Dining at Silky Oaks is a memorable experience, with gourmet Australian cuisine served in the award-winning open-sided Treehouse Restaurant which is perched high above the rainforest and Mossman River. Guests can soak up the tranquil environment from the comfort of the spacious open lounge areas, bar, reading rooms or enter a state of dreamy bliss at the Healing Waters Spa. Guests can explore this diverse and dense rainforest by its many hiking trails, cruise down the river in a canoe, take out a bicycle to venture further afield, go goanna spotting, get zen with morning yoga or cool off in the scenic river. Alternatively, you can simply soak up the tranquil environment from the comfort of the spacious open lounge areas, bar, reading rooms or enter a state of dreamy bliss at the Healing Waters Spa.
La Residence Phou VaoWith pool, garden or mountain views, La Residence Phou Vao’s 34 spacious, zen-style suites are elegantly but simply furnished with polished rosewood and fresh linens. All suites offer a double bedroom, separate living area and a very high and attentive level of service throughout. The freshwater infinity swimming pool drops dramatically over a cliff edge overlooking the valley below with gold pagodas and shrines scattered across the hillside and views across to Luang Prabang (the hotel is 2 kilometres from the city centre). Set in lush gardens guests will enjoy the fragrance of flourishing bougainvillea, papyrus and frangipani trees. Meals can be taken al fresco in the gardens lit by the glow of lanterns and candles in the evening, or dine inside in sophisticated comfort on a blend of inventive Lao and French cuisine.