- 2019 -
6 up-and-coming destinations voted by travel influencers as the next hot thing in travel on the continent of Asia.
Warning: side effects of this list may include sudden bouts of wanderlust.
Get your passports ready because we're announcing the six top emerging travel destinations in Asia for 2019.
We asked some of the world's top travel bloggers, vloggers, and influencers to help select the top destinations around the world from dozens of nominations by tourism boards. And we are ready to officially announce that the six winning destinations in Asia are, in a world, incredible. Just check out the list below and see if you can resist the urge to book plane tickets.
Which of these destinations was voted by our readers as #1 in Asia for 2019? Go check out our readers' picks for the best travel destinations of 2019 to find out!
Winner of Our 2019 Judges' Award
Sri Lanka has been poised on the edge of tourism popularity for a few years now, and 2019 might finally be the year it pops. In fact, it was just named the #1 country in the world to travel to in 2019 by Lonely Planet. And, honestly, it's hard to disagree with that assessment. From dreamy surf coasts to quiet jungle retreats, to incredible wildlife and history, Sri Lanka has all the makings of one of the greatest travel destinations on the planet. And with two very distinct rainy seasons on each side of the island, there's always somewhere that's "in season," meaning there's no bad time to visit. Just hurry up and get there before everyone else does.
~ Judge's Take ~
"Sri Lanka is a mesmerizing and magical place with something for everyone, and enough diversity to keep a trip interesting. It has stunning beaches, is a haven for budget travelers, has flavorful food, and there are oodles of heritage, wildlife, and incredible landscapes just waiting to be hiked."
Beautiful doesn't begin to describe it
Perhaps the most underrated destination in the Middle East (which, yes, we include within our Asia awards), there are incredible places to visit in Oman for every type of traveler. From taking a 4 x 4 over majestic rolling sand dunes, to relaxing at a high-end resort on a pristine beach, to wildlife safaris, you're likely to be surprised by the incredible array of activities on offer in Oman. Its capital Muscat may lack the pomp and circumstance of flashier Middle Eastern cities (Muscat has a skyscraper ban), but it's a charming place to experience Arabian culture. Oh, and if you visit during late summer, you can witness the spectacle of tens of thousands of turtles hatching and make their brave first run towards the ocean.
~ Judge's Take ~
"Oman appeals to me because of all the different activities that you can do there in just one visit. Safaris, dune buggies and beaches all in one trip? Count me in!"
Asia's secret gem
A hidden gem of truly unspoiled beauty, Bhutan plans to keep it that way. The country is famous for severely restricting tourism in an effort to preserve its remote and uncommercialized status. But if you're up for the challenge, Bhutan offers one of the most incredible travel experiences on the planet. You'll find a rich and unrivaled culture not quite like anything else on this globe, bursting at the seams with tradition, color, and art. And the countryside of Bhutan is nothing short of spectacular: picture colorful prayer flags strewn across hundreds of stupas dotting verdant green landscapes and impressive sheer mountains. Traveling to Bhutan isn't for everyone. But that's exactly why it's so special.
Only the adventurous need apply
Still very much off the tourist map, and not all that different than the majestic place described by Marco Polo, Mongolia has all the makings of a great adventure travel destination. Sleep in a yurt, or under the stars. Explore Buddhist temples, witness a nomadic festival, or see the Gobi desert on the back of a camel. And don't forget about the budding food scene in the capital Ulaanbaatar. Whatever you do, get here fast: Mongolia won't remain such an undiscovered treasure forever.
~ Judge's Take ~
"Mongolia is all about nomadic life, and as a nomadic traveler I felt a connection to their culture. Their culture has become more modern, but when you go there you'll still feel as if you have went back in time 25 years."
~ Judges' Take ~
"Mongolia is hands down one of the most incredible places we've ever visited. The landscapes across the Gobi Dessert will blow your mind. As gay travelers we are particularly interested in the progression of LGBTQ laws across Asia [and] love places like Mongolia and India who have not only legalized homosexuality, but have active gay scenes."
Step back in time
You'll feel like you're stepping back in time when you arrive in the ancient village Hampi, a UNESCO World Heritage Site packed with so many incredible historic temples, shrines, and forts that we'd fill this entire page if we tried to name them all. Plus, the landscapes here are positively surreal and something that can only be fully appreciated in person. Hampi makes for a perfect getaway for many reasons beyond its incredible history, however. Relax on the aptly-named Hippie Island, swim under waterfalls or in secret lagoons, or just while away the afternoon in a chique cafe. Whatever you do, you're sure to be left wondering how this place isn't on everyone's list yet.
~ Judge's Take ~
"India is one of those places that's always surprising and can so easily captivate you as a traveler. And honestly: there's nowhere in the world quite like Hampi. Its Flintstones-like scenery and laid-back atmosphere stands in stark contract to other places in India, yet it still feels as magical as anywhere else—just maybe a bit more beautiful."
Japan's best-kept secret
Nope, that's not Mt. Fuji, we swear. But Niseko's Mt. Yotei certainly bears a striking resemblance to Japan's most famous symbol. Perhaps that's fitting, as this tiny village on the northern island of Hokkaido offers a sampling of the best that Japan has to offer: cherry blossoms in the spring, unspoiled nature in the summer, and white powdery slopes in the winter. Ski buffs will be particularly enthused to discover the world-acclaimed ski-in-ski-out offerings of Niseko United, four interconnected resorts that boast an impressive array of trails with truly unbelievable views of the surrounding winter wonderland. But no matter what season you visit in, you're sure to be left wondering why Niseko isn't a household name everywhere (yet).
There you have it: the six top emerging destinations in Asia for 2019. Want more? Go check out the winners for every continent.
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Nate Hake has traveled to 65+ countries across six continents around the world and blogs about his travels at TravelLemming.com. He is from Denver, Colorado, recently concluded a six month stint living in Mexico, and is now currently traveling in Thailand.