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Southeast asia

january 2018 Where and How to Travel this year:

Ultimate Escapes


Saigon Phuket Singapore Kuala Lumpur Iceland San Francisco

Our guide to the world’s most popular city

Singapore S$7.90 / Hong Kong HK$43 Thailand THB175 / Indonesia IDR50,000 Malaysia MYR18 / Vietnam VND85,000 Macau MOP44 / Philippines PHP240 Burma MMK35 / Cambodia KHR22,000 Brunei BND7.90 / Laos LAK52,000



vote now!

For your favorite hotels, resorts, cities, airlines, cruise lines and destinations you love—in the only truly global travel survey that matters.

We trust you. We trust your judgement. That’s why we want you to rate our global travel experiences for us, in the Travel+Leisure World’s Best Awards, now through March 5, 2018. These awards are recognized as travel’s highest honor, so it’s time to give back to those hotels, resorts, cities, airlines, cruise lines and destinations you love the most.

Readers of all global editions of Travel+Leisure will participate in the awards, so this is your chance for Southeast Asia’s voice to be heard. So visit and tell us exactly what you think. The full global results will be published in our August issue.


Dear Travel+Leisure Southeast Asia readers,


ON THE COVER Red Sky bar, above ever-changing Bangkok. Photographed by Chanok Thammarakkit.

features 70

City Heights: Our Ultimate Tour of Bangkok The Thai capital is a great place to visit because it’s a great place to live. Let our resident experts guide you through their favorite neighborhoods. Photographed by Chanok Thammarakkit

c l o c k w i s e F R O M t o p LE F T: a m b r o i s e t É z E n a s ; c o u r t e s y o f b l u e l a g o o n i c e l a n d ; c h a n o k t h a mm a r a k k i t; J a k e S ta n g e l


82 102 94 70

A Place in Time With its cave paintings and culinary delights, Jeff Gordinier finds that the Dordogne, in southwestern France, is a portal into human history. Photographed by Ambroise Tézenas


Snow Daze Though many of Colorado’s ski towns have become retreats for the super rich, Telluride remains true to its frontier roots, David Amsden discovers its charms. Photographed by Jake Stangel


Travel Guide: Iceland All you need to know for an adventure-filled getaway in the Land of Fire and Ice.

t r a v e l a n d l e i s u r e a s i a . c o m  /   j a n u a r y 2 0 1 8


In Every Issue 

T+L Digital 6 Editor’s Note 8 Contributors 10 The Conversation 14 Deals 66 Wish You Were Here 106


possible to get away from it all on the popular Thai island.

boutique for nostalgic fashion

42 Shop with Soul A flagship

brand Nala brings a blow of retrochic to the heart of Malaysia’s futuristic capital.

busiest city, fresh downtown

44 Saigon Straight Up In Vietnam’s drinking options, including modern speakeasies and ambitious beerhouses, have transformed the way locals hit the bar.

Bali remains is as seductive as

47 Natural Awakening Up in Ubud,

17 Where (and How) to Travel in

ever—just a little more upscale.

An adventure-seeker and a

50 When Travel Opposites Attract cautious vacationer navigate love and compromise.

better time to explore flavors

52 Worldly Pleasures There’s no from other cultures as a young breed of chefs and bartenders in Singapore focus on cross-border dining and drinking experiences.

fully kitted couples’ massage

59 En Suite Spas From onsens to suites, more hotels are bringing the spa into your room. Plus The newest innovation in flotation therapy hits Penang, and a look at the latest trends in wellness.

the Bay Area are looking across

the Pacific for inspiration, reinterpreting Japanese flavors, culture and hospitality with a distinctly Californian flair.

january 2018 / t r av el andleisure asia .com


2018 Travel today is about collecting experiences—and returning from each journey feeling transformed as a new person. We’ve got 42 trips guaranteed to change your life.


55 Japan in San Fran Creatives in






F R O M LE F T: Em i ly S l a d e / c o u r t e s y o f a b e r c r o m i b i e & k e n t; k i t y e n g c h a n ; m o r g a n o mm e r ; R a q u e l V e n a n c i o / c o u r t e s y o f o n s e n

resort on Phuket proves it’s still

37 In the Details A new Rosewood

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t+l digital


The booming THAI Beach town with something for all Whether you’re craving a soothing spa retreat or a family-friendly getaway, Hua Hin is a coastal dream.

Where to Drink Cr aft Beer in Beijing The Chinese capital is awash with exceptional small-batch brews using local ingredients in innovative ways. It’s time for a bar crawl.

Hanoi’s Newfound Sense of Cool Contemporary art, trippy music festivals, craft suds and third-wave coffee shops have made the Vietnamese capital a progressive hot spot.

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january 2018 / t r av el andleisure asia .com


fr o m l e f t: T h a n e t k a e w d u a n g d e e ; c o u r t e s y o f Gr e at L e a p b r e w i n g ; M o r g a n Omm e r

this month on tr avel

Why winter is the perfect time to visit Kyoto; Australian chef Clayton Wells is shaking up Singapore; Southeast Asian jewelry designers to watch; the best of 2017; the latest travel deals and more.


january 2018

s far as questions go, it’s a great one: if you had to fly for just one meal, what would it be? It’s queries like these that make my day stop and my stomach grumble. And, it’s part of our start to the year in the form of where you should travel in 2018 (page 17). This year we’re offering more than just a list of destinations, instead suggesting themes for your trips during the next 12 months, ideas that hopefully will make your journeys more enjoyable. Around Asia, there’s never a shortage of new travel experiences and 2018 is already off to a quick start. In this issue, we take an in-depth look at what ever-changing Bangkok has to offer visitors—and what better guides than those who live here? For “City Heights: Our Ultimate Tour of Bangkok” (page 70), we asked five of our contributors to show you around the latest and greatest of their own neighborhoods. From newly annointed Michelin-starred restaurants to gritty local dives to under-the-radar cultural gems, their revelations will make you feel like a local on each visit. Further south, new on the resort scene is the Rosewood Phuket (“In the Details,” page 37) an intuitive, comfortable getaway that I was able to visit just as it opened. It’s unlike anywhere else I’ve come across in Thailand, yet in my head I’m still formulating exactly why. Maybe I’m a bit hazy as an after-effect of something I do too rarely, namely a two-and-a-half hour spell at the resort’s wellness center. If that soothes you where it aches, then check out our section on spa trends (Upgrade, page 59) around Asia. Can things get any more indulgent than having personal treatments right in your hotel room? Whether it’s an en suite onsen or massage gazebo, a number of resorts are investing in spas at, well, your fingertips. There’s also a roundup of wellness trends to keep yout fit and healthy. I can’t think of a better way to start a new year of travels.



j a n u a r y 2 0 1 8 / t r av e l a n d l e i s u r e a s i a . c o m

From my travels Too many of us overlook the obvious places to visit where we live. That was my thinking when inviting Hong Kong– based friends for a birthday meal at Amber in the Landmark Mandarin Oriental (; doubles from HK$5,185). They had never enjoyed Richard Ekkebus’s innovative menu, though every meal I’ve had at the restaurant has been memorable. Time slowed as our Saturday afternoon lunch extended to three hours. With wine pairings, my wild buri, Spanish octopus (above) and Wagyu beef courses all added up to a delicious meal and, at HK$1,038, quite affordable for a special occasion. My friends thought so too, booking another lunch on our way out. Call it Hong Kong’s love of food. Now I’ve just found out that, in April, the Four Seasons Hong Kong (; doubles from HK$4,400) will open Sushi Saito, the first address outside Japan for Tokyo’s three-Michelin star resto. So, I’m searching through my mobile phone for friends with an April birthday as an excuse to splurge in Hong Kong again. Sik fan mei ah?

fr o m l e f t: Irfa n S a m a r t d e e ; c h r i s t o p h e r k u c way ( 2 )

editor’s note

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Grace Ma

Marco Ferrarese

“Worldly Pleasures” and “En Suite Spas” Pages 52 and 59 — “Collaborative dinners and pop-ups and restaurants advocating sharing plates and sustainable grub beget excited chatters nowadays,” Ma says of Singapore dining. This year, she’s excited for the “hilarious supper-club musical Diva To the Death at The Monti starting in February, and kappo-style Japanese fine dining Esora.” But she takes her spa ritual abroad: “The best treatments I had this past year were at Amanemu and the soonto-be-opened Auriga Spa at Capella Shanghai that made my congested airways feel a lot better straight away.” Instagram: @littlehappyideas.

“Shop with Soul” and “Thinking Outside the Tank” Pages 42 and 63 — “Frankly, Malaysia doesn’t shine in fashion,” says the Penang-based writer who meets designer Lisette Scheers this month. “But Nala draws from Malayan/ Malaysian motifs, spinning simple, beautiful patterns and styles that any woman can wear and look gorgeous.” He also takes a spin in a float tank: “I really enjoyed being with my thoughts, developing new ideas. I sketched the plots of many novels I will never write, made travel plans, and even made up my mind on some important decisions. I got out reinvigorated, yet profoundly calm.” Twitter @monkeyrockworld.



Nicky Short

Connla Stokes

“City Heights: Our Ultimate Tour of Bangkok” Page 70 — Short guides us through her Bangkok neighborhood. The highlights of lower Sukhumvit? “Let’s go to Peppina for Aperol spritzes and pizza piled high with burrata. We’ll pop to Q&A for martinis and, when we’re too noisy, to Havana for a good twirl and some Negronis.” She also likes the re-emerging river-side of town. “Charoen Krung is managing to get decidedly trendy without losing its old-town character,” she says. Next up? “Word is that Aesop’s—a badly needed Greek spot coming soon to Sala Daeng—is going to let you smash plates. Huzzah!” Twitter: @nickyscribble.

“Saigon Straight Up” Page 44 — “Saigon has long been home to a high-end scene and a vibrant street-side culture, but far too little variety in the middle,” Stokes says. “The last few years has brought diversity. There’s East & West, for an end-of-day beer, or the rooftop of Rogue. For wine or cocktails with a group, Layla is lively and happy hour is generous. I love taking visitors to Snuff box, in a dilapidated apartment block. Another favorite is Old Compass Cafe, which hosts cultural events and intimate music shows, but they also have a small library of books on Vietnam and the Mekong area.” Instagram: @connla_ stokes_saigon.   

W r i t er




W r i t er

W r i t er

fr o m t o p : c o u r t e s y o f g r a c e m a ; k i t y e n g c h a n ; a l i c i a wa r n e r ; c o u r t e s y o f c o n n l a s t r o k e s


january 2018


W r i t er



editor-in-chief art director Deput y editor Features editor senior DEsigner

Christopher Kucway Wannapha Nawayon Jeninne Lee-St. John Eloise Basuki Chotika Sopitarchasak

Regul ar contributors / photogr aphers Cedric Arnold, Kit Yeng Chan, Marco Ferrarese, Duncan Forgan, Lauryn Ishak, Mark Lean, Grace Ma, Ian Lloyd Neubauer, Morgan Ommer, Aaron Joel Santos, Stephanie Zubiri chairman president publishing director publishER digital media manager TRAFFIC MANAGER / deputy DIGITAL media manager sales director business de velopment managers chief financial officer production manager circul ation assistant

J.S. Uberoi Egasith Chotpakditrakul Rasina Uberoi-Bajaj Robert Fernhout Pichayanee Kitsanayothin Varin Kongmeng Joey Kukielka Leigha Proctor Tim Rasenberger Gaurav Kumar Kanda Thanakornwongskul Yupadee Saebea

TR AVEL+LEISURE (USA) Editor-in-Chief Senior Vice President / Publishing Director Publisher

Nathan Lump Steven DeLuca Joseph Messer

TIME INC. INTERNATIONAL LICENSING & DEVELOPMENT ( Senior Director, Business De velopment E xecutive Editor / International

Jennifer Savage Jack Livings

TIME INC. Chief E xecutive Officer Chief Content Officer

Joseph Ripp Norman Pearlstine

tr avel+leisure southeast asia Vol. 12, Issue 1 Travel+Leisure Southeast Asia is published monthly by Media Transasia Limited, 1603, 16/F, Island Place Tower, 510 King’s Road, North Point, Hong Kong. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage or retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the Publisher. Produced and distributed by Media Transasia Thailand Ltd., 14th Floor, Ocean Tower II, 75/8 Soi Sukhumvit 19, Sukhumvit Road, Klongtoeynue, Wattana, Bangkok 10110, Thailand. Tel: 66-2/204-2370. Printed by Comform Co., Ltd. (66-2/368-2942–7). Color separation by Classic Scan Co., Ltd. (66-2/291-7575). While the editors do their utmost to verify information published, they do not accept responsibility for its absolute accuracy. This edition is published by permission of Time Inc. Affluent Media Group 1271 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020 Tel. 1-212/522-1212 Online: Reproduction in whole or in part without consent of the copyright owner is prohibited. subscriptions Enquiries: ADVERTISING offices General enquiries: Singapore: 65/9029 0749; Japan: Shinano Co., Ltd. 81-3/3584-6420; Korea: YJP & Valued Media Co., Ltd. 82-2/3789-6888;


Exceptionally Lavish Accommodations

abundance of excellent dining choices in a world-class setting is designed to bring you a true gastronomic feast.

Okada Manila gives you access to a world of luxurious hospitality. With 993 exquisitely spacious rooms offering views of either the Manila Bay or The Fountain, the suites and villas create a profound sense of deep relaxation, underlined by the integrated resort’s own brand of exemplary service featuring the unique blend of Japanese hospitality (magokoro and omotenashi) and Filipino warmth.

To complete guests’ experience, retail shops housed inside the arched-glass kilometer-long Crystal Corridor feature other food and beverage outlets and specialty local and international brands.

Extraordinary Dining and Shopping Destination The 44-hectare integrated resort is home to dozens of signature restaurants and dining options. Its brigade of revered international chefs offer multicultural cuisines emphasizing a full spectrum of flavors—from savory Asian fare, with its ultra-fresh ingredients and bold inventive takes on traditional recipes, to the flavorful offerings of European cuisine, the

An Iconic Centerpiece The Fountain at Okada Manila is a sight to behold. Designed and developed by WET, the same team behind other globally renowned water features in Las Vegas and Dubai, The Fountain is a unique venue for special events and concerts and open 365 days a year. A first in the Philippines and as expansive as 50 Olympic-sized swimming pools, it is the world’s largest multicolor dancing fountain, with more than 700 high-power water jets, 23 hifi speakers, and hundreds of colorful lights performing in sync to the tune of pop music hits or classical pieces. Every night, you and your loved ones can take the front seat to a spectacular show, free.

New Seaside Boulevard, Entertainment City, Philippines

Cove Manila A unique, high-energy, themed entertainment venue, Cove Manila is among the integrated resort’s iconic landmarks. Set to be the premier entertainment destination in Asia, it bears the excitement and thrill of Las Vegas and Ibiza day parties and nightlife. Establishing itself as one of the most expensive and largest clubs in the region, Cove Manila is enclosed in a column-free glass dome encompassing 9,000 sqm of space and capacity for up to 5,000 guests. Within Cove Manila, you’ll discover the most advanced video and lighting technologies, as well as top-of-the-line audio from Tony Andrews’ Funktion-One sound system, a six-ring kinetic chandelier, 29 luxuriously appointed cabanas, private pools, world-class five-star service, and much more! To cap it all off, Cove Manila will feature world-renowned international DJs. These elements come together to complete a day-to-night experience unparalleled in any other entertainment venue.

Visit your roots

Take a digital detox

“My mother wants us all to go visit her late father’s home village in Toishan, China, before all our distant relatives who are still there die off. I’d like to help her get back to the place her dad left 90 years ago.”

“I’m addicted to Instagram—I’m that annoying person who won’t let you eat until I’ve taken a picture of the food. This year I’d like to disconnect more when I travel, and see the sights in real time rather than through my phone screen.” — Eloise Basuki, Features Editor

— Jeninne Lee-St. John, Deput y Editor

Mix business with pleasure “Most of my trips are for business and can be pretty predictable. I’d like to try and make time to explore further afield after my meetings: a day trip to the New Territories in Hong Kong, or a weekend in Bintan while in Singapore.”

Tackle the to-go list “I want to travel to places I keep putting off, like Kanazawa, Japan, or the Dolomites in the Italian Alps. Though a secondary problem is my list—I won’t call it a bucket list—is quite long.” — Christopher

To celebrate a bright new year, we’re sharing some of our readers’ most colorful snaps.

As you start planning the year’s adventures, it’s the perfect opportunity to reflect on your 2017 trips and think about how you might do things differently. We at T+L travel a lot, but there’s always room for improvement (Must. Pack. Less. Must. Book. Earlier.). So, as we ring in the New Year, here’s how some of the T+L team plans to travel better in 2018.


the conversation

Rainbow façades in Singapore’s Little India. By @go4theglobe.

Floral kimonos in Miyajima, Japan. By @charm.wu.

A sunny Burmese field. By @kimamyanmar.

Kucway, Editor-In-

— robert fernhout,



Parts Unknown “I’m going to places that none of you have heard of. And I’m not going to tell you where they are! I want to discover new places to travel. When I go to Japan, I always go to Tokyo or Osaka. I want to go to places that are undiscovered.” — Chotik a Sopitarchasak, Senior Designer


j a n u a r y 2 0 1 8   /  t r a v e l a n d l e i s u r e a s i a . c o m

A lantern-lit laneway in Hoi An’s old town. By @milesofsmiles._. Share an Instagram photo by using the #TLAsia hashtag, and it may be featured in an upcoming issue. Follow @travelandleisureasia

Stay in our Egg-lectic space this Easter! Seminyak truly comes to life this March and Easter is the perfect time to visit. Discover the joys of Bali with an ‘egg-lectic’ Easter holiday at Asia Pacific’s best new beach hotel with stylish contemporary design, Hotel Indigo Bali Seminyak Beach. Experience a memorable Easter break with our special activities, such as Easter Eve Dinner, Seminyak Easter Social’s Sunday Brunch and Balinese Egg Paintings. Take advantage of our attractive offers and promotions with Best Price Guaranteed on: @hotelindigobali Jalan Camplung Tanduk No. 10, Seminyak, Bali 80361 - Indonesia

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w her e (a nd how) to tr avel in 2018

Em i ly S l a d e / c o u rt esy o f a b e r c r o m b i e & k e n t

Exploring the ancient tombs of Deir el-Bahar in Luxor, Egypt.

Travel today isn’t just about checking off a destination and moving on to the next one. It’s about collecting experiences—and returning from each journey feeling transformed as a new person. We’ve come up with 42 trips to inspire an adventurous new year. >> t r a v e l a n d l e i s u r e a s i a . c o m  / j a n u a r y 2 0 1 8


w her e to tr av el in 2018

plunge deep into an animal kingdom


Kicker Rock, a popular snorkeling and diving spot off the island of San Cristóbal, in the Galápagos.

The sun was settling into the Pacific, and they were dancing on the beach. Two blue-footed boobies. These are seabirds that can fold themselves into missiles and corkscrew into the ocean at 95 kilometers per hour. But right now, they were two meters away and slowly high-stepping toward each other on their outsize webbed, very blue feet. One, presumably the male, offered his sweetheart a twig. “Did you see that?” I murmured. “Him giving her the twig?” “Always works for me,” my wife, Kim, replied. Shortly after touching down on Baltra Island, we boarded our cruise ship, the Celebrity Xperience, and had barely unpacked before sailing off to see the wildlife. At this first stop, the tiny island of North Seymour, we saw magnificent frigate birds— that’s their name, Fregata magnificens—soaring close overhead on black and angled wings 2½ meters across, like remnants of the age of pterodactyls. No sooner had I set foot on a trail inland than I had to step between a yellow land iguana and a seagull,


J a n u a r y 2 0 1 8   /  t r a v e l a n d l e i s u r e a s i a . c o m

and then around two sea lions. Each opened an eye, rubbed its back into the sand, and went back to sleep. It was like walking through that painting by Henri Rousseau, The Dream— remember the nude in the forest with the lions and birds? The peace that reigned, the innocence. We hadn’t been in the Galápagos a day, and already this was the strangest and wildest place I’d ever seen. An archipelago of volcanic islands and numerous tiny islets, the Galápagos are on almost every nature lover’s must-visit list for good reason: they have a higher concentration of endemic animals and plants than almost anywhere else on the planet. The islands’ short distance from

*Prices throughout are listed in U.S. dollars.


On a cruise around the Galápagos Islands, Pet er H e l l er encounters the archipelago’s diverse native species—and walks away humbled by their beaut y.

the Ecuadoran coast allowed some species to be swept from the mainland and evolve in relative isolation. With very few land predators around, they adapted to be pretty fearless. To protect the wildlife, the Ecuadoran government has designated 97 percent of the archipelago a national park. To really explore the Galápagos, go by sea. We chose to sail with Celebrity Cruises, which just added two retrofitted ships— the 48-passenger Xperience and the 16-passenger Xploration—to its Galápagos fleet. I’ll admit that I love cruises. The right kind of voyage, on a small expedition ship, gives access to wild places

A large Galápagos shark , three meters in length , cruised by us that can’t be reached any other way. The Xperience was outfitted for adventure, with snorkeling gear, kayaks, and inflatable Zodiacs for landings. And the itinerary was rigorous: we all did two excursions a day, either hikes or snorkels led by a registered Galápagos guide, with a break for lunch on the ship. Once in a while we saw another small expedition ship at anchor, but usually we were all alone. It didn’t hurt that the cabins were smartly designed, the galley served delicious meals like grilled lobster and papaya salad, and there was a hot tub on the highest deck. But for us, the best part was getting off the ship and into the water. On day four, as we sailed toward Floreana Island, the sea got rough. The Zodiac plowed through the swell while our lead naturalist, Gustavo Barva, told us the story of early settlers, a handful of eccentric Germans who disembarked in 1929. It was


A land iguana on Santa Cruz Island.

a story of love, betrayal, poison and murder, and he had us on the edge of our bouncing seats. Just offshore, the captain cut the engine, and Kim and I climbed into a double sea kayak. She set a strong pace, and we headed for a maze of rocky black islets, the spray hitting our faces. In the calmer sand shallows, the water was aquamarine. The swells surged through channels between outcroppings like a gushing stream, and we rode them, sluicing through the gaps. Bright red Sally Lightfoot crabs scuttled on rocks the color of coal. Again, we got the sense of being in a painting where the colors, the wildness, could not be entirely real. And then we saw the pair of sea lion pups. They broke from wrestling on a shallow bar and swam after us. They were so tenacious we laughed out loud. They stared at us with huge, dark, wet eyes, wondering why we were making a ruckus. They seemed to be begging us to get out of the stupid boat and play for real. We did eventually get out of the boat, to snorkel in the waters of Post Office Bay. Kim tapped me as we floated along: a pair of green sea turtles were feeding along the bottom. She stretched out her arms, and the larger one rose to the surface just under her chest, nearly brushing her with its shell. I almost stopped breathing. But I didn’t have much time to recover. A large Galápagos shark, three meters in length, with a scythe tail and a dead eye, cruised by us at something like a fourmeter distance. It arced around us. My heart started to pound, and just as I began to wonder how this particular encounter might end, a brown blur glided between us and the predator: a huge female sea lion. As she passed, she looked right at us, and we thought we could read her expression: I’ve got this. She did. She circled us twice and chased off the shark. The next day, we rose at 5:30 and ate a big breakfast of made-to-order omelettes and strong Ecuadoran coffee. The ship anchored off the largest island in the archipelago, Isabela, and we set out on Zodiacs for the sheltered waters of Elizabeth Bay. On the rocks, marine iguanas sunned themselves in a mass of sinuous tails and claws. This species— the only oceangoing iguana in the world—evolved from land iguanas that once lived in the forests of Ecuador. These iguanas dive for algae. Weird. Weirder still was the flightless cormorant whose wings evolved to stubs because there were no predators to fly away from.

t r a v e l a n d l e i s u r e a s i a . c o m  / j a n u a r y 2 0 1 8


w her e to tr av el in 2018

Wild, unspoiled Bartolomé Island.

A mother and baby orangutan in Borneo.

+ 4 more wildlife-focused trips

( Real ) close

encounters around the world


J a n u a r y 2 0 1 8   /  t r a v e l a n d l e i s u r e a s i a . c o m

2 Big Cats in India Prowl three national parks (including Kanha, the inspiration for Kipling’s The Jungle Book) in search of lions, leopards and Bengal tigers on a 14-day adventure with Abercrombie & Kent. Between jeep safaris and game viewings, there’ll be time to relax in a mix of luxury tented suites and jungle properties. abercrombiekent. com; 14-day tours from $8,995 per person.

3 Humpback Whales in Ningaloo Reef From August through October at Sal Salis, a rusticluxe lodge in Western Australia’s Ningaloo region, you can go offshore to swim with the humpback whales that migrate to this wild area. Your swimming companions will likely include whale sharks, manta rays and dugongs.; doubles from $750 per person, allinclusive; $550 for whale swim. 4 Emperor Penguins at the South Pole On Natural World Safaris’ 11-day cruise to Antarctica, you’ll fly by helicopter to visit a colony of more than 6,000 birds. Remarkably, these meter-tall penguins aren’t afraid of humans, so it’s easy to get close. naturalworldsafaris. com; from $9,238.

fr o m l e f t : CALLIE GIOVANNA ; c o u rt esy o f r e m ot e l a n d s

It’s one reason we travel, I guess. To experience the wholly unfamiliar. And I have traveled a lot. But I have never been in a place that unfolded with such surprising juxtapositions: penguins next to iguanas, dancing boobies by nesting frigates, playful sea lions swimming past relaxed turtles. Our Zodiac pushed on and slipped slowly through narrow channels among the mangrove trees—who knew mangrove trees could be red, and grow to nine meters tall?—and we saw a sea lion sleeping across a branch above the water like a leopard. In our week of cruising from island to island, we would also be dazzled by high headlands covered in pink carpetweed where boobies with red feet sat on white eggs. And estuaries where pink flamingos moved to the slow cadences of the tide. And albatross that, during their mating dance, clacked their bills together like castanets. In the Bolivar Channel, after an evening of seeing minke whales blow all around the ship, we climbed up to a railing forward of the bridge. The ship was headed straight toward a rising half-moon. Over the horizon on our left lay the Southern Cross. Above and to our right were the Big Dipper and the North Star—the northern and southern constellations were spread under one sky. Of course: we were almost on the equator. Kim and I leaned shoulder to shoulder. On the wind, and in the sea, it seemed that beauty breathed all around us, and we stayed out until the moon dropped into the waves.; seven-night Galápagos cruises from $4,499.

1 Endangered Apes in Borneo Watch baby orangutans being fed in the Kota Kinabalu rehabilitation center, cruise Kinabatangan River while trying to spy proboscis monkeys, and swim among the island’s pristine aquatic life on the 12-day Classic Borneo tour with Remote Lands.; 12-day tours from $7,100 per person.


luxe langkawi

COU RTESY O F t h e r i t z - ca r lto n l a n g k aw i

A s the lush Malaysian island emerges from its long slumber, j e n i n n e l e e-st. joh n f inds we’re all overdue for a v isit to the U NESCO Geopark .

The Ritz-Carlton Langkawi’s spa hovers over the Andaman Sea.

Despite Langkawi’s 500 million years of truly awesome geological history, some believe that a curse seven generations ago has held more power over the future of this island, which has in many ways been left behind in the Southeast Asia tourism boom. A major problem: the lack of direct flights from regional hubs. But now that Langkawi has three superstar hotels, coinciding with the end of those seven generations, any curses—transport or otherwise—seem likely to be lifted. Debuting just three months ago, The Ritz-Carlton Langkawi (; doubles from $590) feels organic, like it sprouted from the place, snuggled in a rainforest so full of life that inquisitive monkeys swing down onto your porch to peer into your room. The secluded beach houses a collection of pool villas and is book-ended by two inviting pools. They’ve also got the only haute-Cantonese restaurant on the isle, and it’s delicious. At the polar opposite of the design spectrum is the new St. Regis Langkawi (; doubles from $700), a grand hotel dripping in all the urbane opulence you’d expect from the brand (penthouses; champagne-sabering) but on a bay into which juts its three overwater bungalows. Toast the electric pink sunset at whitewashed beachhouserestaurant Kayu Puti, then head inside for a tasting menu as bright as the Bill Bensley–designed interiors. Bensley also has his Technicolor fingerprints all over the freshly revamped Four Seasons Langkawi (; doubles from $800), which looks like an Arabian palace rendered by Pixar. The team of in-house naturalists is headed by garrulous Adi Abdullah, a local environmentalist who really seems like he can talk to animals. From the resort’s enviably long beach, you can spy a couple of Thai islands in the distance, reminding you to be grateful the rest of the all-to-close world hasn’t yet discovered this prehistoric paradise.

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w her e to tr av el in 2018 A camel ride near the Great Pyramid of Giza.


broaden your kids’ horizons

Travel is a powerf ul tool, one that can shape and open young minds—as H e i di M i tch e l l discovers, especially in a challenging place like Eg y pt.

Everyone told me not to take my three kids to Egypt. A friend from Pakistan said I was bananas. A half-Egyptian colleague confided she wouldn’t be visiting her paternal grandparents for… ever. My mother begged me to go anywhere else. (“But, please, honey, at least register with the embassy.”) Foolish? Perhaps. Defiant? Yes. Even with terror attacks and unrest in the Middle East dominating the news cycle, I was determined to see Egypt, a place I had dreamed of visiting since I first spied King Tut’s funerary mask at the Met as a four-yearold. For more than a decade, I’ve dragged my kids to every major Egyptian museum exhibition in Chicago, New York, and London. On road trips we listened to corny recordings of the myths of Osiris and Ra (“You rise, you rise…. You are the king of gods!”). The Puffin Classics Tales of Ancient Egypt never gathered dust on our bookshelves. And those kids, now 14, 12 and 8—they shared my dream. In a moment when our country seemed to turn its back on the Muslim world, “as soon as possible” felt like the best time to further my children’s understanding of other cultures. They, like my husband and I, were unwilling to accept fear as an


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excuse to write off a place that so occupied their imaginations. And so, gifted with two weeks of spring break and a burning belief that what was happening in Egypt couldn’t possibly be worse than what was unfolding at home, my family resolved to seize the moment. We would take a leap of faith: that our tour operator, Abercrombie & Kent, would keep us safe on our custom, eight-day odyssey, which combined a four-day river cruise on the Nile with four days in the Cairo area. That we wouldn’t be seen as ugly Americans, but as enthusiastic ambassadors. And that our kids would appreciate seeing their Ancient Egypt classroom studies IRL. As our vessel, the Sanctuary Sun Boat IV, departed Luxor bound for Aswan, I confess I felt an unwarranted sense of pride for having taken my family to Egypt despite, well, infinite reasons not to. In port, at least a dozen other tourist boats withered with disuse. Even on that first afternoon, as barren rocky hills rose in the distance, security never crossed my mind. My kids read Agatha Christie’s Death on the Nile while my husband and I marveled at how silly it seemed to worry even a little. Children on the shore waved to us, we waved back, and life sailed on. Outside Luxor, at the Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut, which is dedicated to a female pharaoh who lived in the 15th century B.C., we raced up the ramps to the Osiride columns—alone. The walls were decorated with elaborate scenes of courtly life, the 3,500-year-old paint vivid and seemingly fresh. In the Valley of the Kings, our tour guide, Ehab, noted that just a few years ago, 10,000 people would wait in line in the blistering heat to enter three of the 63 tombs of their choosing. Not today. There were perhaps 50 other travelers, which meant we could linger,

Ancient heiroglyphs on the Temple of Philae.

fr o m l e f t : Em i ly S l a d e / c o u rt esy o f a b e r c r o m b i e & k e n t ( 2 ) ; S u z a n n e T e n g / c o u rt esy o f a b e r c r o m b i e & k e n t

The grand Hypostyle Hall in the Luxor Temple is even more commanding at night.

often undisturbed, in Ramses III’s tomb and take time to decipher the hieroglyphs with a ruler translator we’d purchased in a gift shop. On our second evening, we visited the Temple of Luxor at sunset, the lights at the feet of several gigantic statues of Ramses II illuminating the cloudless night. As the call to prayer filled the sky, how could anyone be afraid? The kids played hide-and-seek among the pillars, and I asked them over dinner if they felt unsafe. They looked at me like I was bananas, just as my Pakistani friend had. In and around Cairo, the kids were able to get away from us for a bit. In the souk, they roamed freely and bargained for perfumes, knives, and scarabs, while we parents drank strong coffee in a café. When we visited the Great Pyramid of Giza, just outside the city, we walked through metal detectors to gain access and were greeted at the entrance by dozens of Egyptian schoolgirls. They asked to take a photo with my teenage son, and we all laughed at his crimson blush. This became a running joke, as it kept happening: brave girls at the Sphinx requesting photos; girls at Memphis, the ruins of a city south of Cairo, wanting selfies with him; girls near the entrance to the Egyptian Museum back in the city, pleading for one more shot. Teenagers everywhere, it turns out, all speak the same language of giggles and insouciance. On the last day of our trip, our city guide, Wael, took us off-piste to Dahshûr, about 24 kilometers south of Cairo, where the pharaoh Snefru erected the Bent Pyramid nearly 5,000 years ago. The police stopped our group before eventually letting us pass onto the barren road that leads to the 45-meter-tall pyramid, though there was no need: we were the only humans in any direction all the way to the horizon. When we finally had to leave, we each instinctively pocketed a small stone. Maybe our keepsakes were once part of the early attempt at the pyramid behind us, or maybe engineers from five millennia ago cast them aside. Our rocks are now safe at home, in Chicago. We survived Egypt just fine, but fear and division persist. So what are we supposed to do? Prepare for the apocalypse and hoard SpaghettiOs? How about, instead, recognizing that we’re more likely to be hit by a falling object than become a victim of a random act of terror. My kids, and the land of Moses, taught me that the antidote to fear is travel. Their developing minds have few prejudices, and the more exposure we give them to people around the world, the more empathetic they will become. And teach us to become.; 10-day Signature Egypt & the Nile trips from $5,395.

+3 more trips for fa milie s

the world as their classroom

1 Under the Sea, Great Barrier Reef, Australia Just a 45-minute ferry ride from Cairns, Green Island is a 6,000-year-old coral cay along the Great Barrier Reef, where underwater explorers can swim among diverse coral and colorful marine life. Great Adventures’ day tour includes snorkeling or a glass-bottom boat ride, with access to an ecowalk through the cay’s protected rainforest. greatadventures.; full day tour for two adults and two children from $226. 2 Unearthing the Terracotta Warriors, Xian, China A must-visit for any budding archaeologists, the 8,000 sculptures discovered in this ancient tomb are as detailed as they are majestic; each soldier has a unique facial expression

hand-carved by the Qin Dynasty craftsmen. A guide is recommended if you have young ones in tow—they’ll help you navigate the crowds and provide insightful information along the way. 3 Walk Hellfire Pass, Kanchanaburi, Thailand A sobering break from rafting on the River Kwai and waterfall treks in the nearby national park, this Thai-Australian memorial museum honors the 90,000 Asian laborers and 16,000 foreign POWs who died building the Thailand–Burma Railway (also known as the Death Railway) during World War II. Grab a free audio guide and walk the 600-meter Konyu Cutting, where prisoners worked 18 hours a day cutting through solid rock to make the track.

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w her e to tr av el in 2018 A bird’s-eye view of the Bligh Waters, one of Fiji’s richest dive sites.

Fiji Forward


After the cyclones of 2015, which caused severe damage across Fiji, the tranquil and resilient South Pacific islands are rebounding with significant investments, property upgrades and conservation programs that will foster a new era of sustainable tourism and help maintain the acrchipelago’s pristine coral and mangrove habitats. New properties include the affordable Marriott Resort Momi Bay ( with 22 overwater bure (bungalows) and located just 45 minutes drive from Nadi International Airport, and the Kokomo (, a lush and leafy 56-hectare private island on the pristine Great Astrolabe Reef and best accessed by helicopter or seaplane.


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Existing resorts upped their game to draw in conservation-minded divers and nature enthusiasts. The über-exclusive private-island resort of Laucala (laucala. com), owned by Redbull founder Dietrich Mateschitz and home to spacious villas tricked out with teak tubs and chilled Bollinger a la discretion, is planting vanilla vines and continues to expand its hydroponics farms and Wagyu cattle breeding programs. Nanuku (nanuku., a 26-villa Auberge Property near Pacific Harbour on the main island, is developing three new villas for multigenerational families, and made some substantial nods to conservation in 2017 by banning singleuse plastics like straws and shampoo bottles, and introduced coral nurseries and mangrove restoration projects using plastic bottles to grow seedlings. As for transport, in spring 2018, Lindblad Expeditions/National Geographic ( launch a series of cruises to the South Pacific including stops in Fiji’s lesser-visited islands like Taveuni and Beqa. Fiji Airways ( has upgraded its fleet with a redesigned business-class cabin and a new lounge at Nadi International Airport. It inaugurated a new non-stop flight to Nadi from San Francisco in autumn 2017 and launches new direct flights to Japan in 2018.

C h a n e y K wa k . o p p o s i t e : c h r i sto p h e r ku cway

With lu xe new openings, impressive env ironmental initiatives and, as ever, pristine beaches, the South Pacif ic beckons a dam h. gr aham this year.


See exactly where your dinner comes from In urban centers and remote outposts near and far, there are new ways to eat (and drink) your way to a deeper understanding of your meal.

Sure, crossing a remarkable restaurant off your bucket list is satisfying. But many people are looking for more than a good meal: they want to forage for ingredients, understand how those ingredients are connected to the land, sea and community, and take part in the creation of their dishes. Join Chinese food expert and cookbook author Fuchsia Dunlop on a 13-day grazing trip of a lifetime on her Gastronomic Tour of China with Wild China (; 13-day tour from $7,390, see website for dates and details). You’ll join a noodle-making lesson in Beijing, before eating your way though Xi’an, Chengdu and Shanghai, and finishing in Hangzhou to pick tea leaves with a Longjing green tea farmer. There’s also a 10-day Yunnan-focused epicurean tour with Dunlop, and a seven-day tour with company founder Mei Zhang that explores Dali. For those looking to expand their boozing knowledge, The Sool Company (; tours from $30 per person) in Seoul hosts tours that visit some of the city’s master brewers of makgeolli, a beloved local rice wine. Guided through the alleys behind Insadong and Gyeongbokgung Palace, you’ll get an

+ 5 More Culinary Trips


A delicate starter at Amber, Hong Kong: wild buri tartare.

insider tasting of some of the city’s best brews and dine together with a master brewer and his wife. Market tours are a sensory way to learn about local ingredients unavailable at home and experience authentic street life. Taste of Hoi An (; tours from $70 per person) lead a walking tour to meet market vendors and taste more than 40 food and drinks from local street stalls. In Hong Kong, venture to the New Territories with a market tour of Tai Po by Hong Kong Foodies (hongkong; tours from $116 per person). Among this bustling marketplace you’ll visit six family-run eateries to try roast goose, Chinese candies, and, for those with a strong stomach, snake soup. — ELOISE BASUKI

1 Den, Tokyo Zaiyu Hasegawa is Japan’s rising star, a master at playfully weaving international flavors into a kaiseki menu. His “Dentucky” fried chicken, stuffed with sticky rice, served in a red and white KFCstyle box, is a cult dish among globetrotting chefs.; tasting menus from $136. 2 Brae, Birregurra, Australia Dan Hunter, Australia’s buzziest young-gun chef, is known for delicious, oddball inventions like oyster-infused ice cream and wild mushrooms with milk curd. His farm, restaurant and hotel 90 minutes from Melbourne make up a

pastoral fantasyland.; tasting menu $193. 3 Yang’s Fry Dumplings, Shanghai This fastfood is about the art of the slurp. The size of a small bao, they are filled with greens, pork or shrimp (the best), then fried. The outside is crisp, the inner skin chewy, the stuffing hot and juicy, very juicy. Many a seasoned Yang’s patron has taken too big a bite and sent soup all over herself or her shared-table neighbors. No regrets. locations throughout Shanghai; from $1.20 for four. 4 Amber, Hong Kong While their menu is getting a revamp this year,

Amber’s Weekend Wine Lunch—three courses paired with six labels—is an affordable way to dine in this great space. Chargrilled Cantabrian octopus with fermented bell peppers and pearl onions is a favorite. amberhongkong. com; Weekend Wine Lunch menu $133. 5 Gaggan, Bangkok A seat at Gaggan Anand’s newly minted two–Michelin starred restaurant is hard to come by. Theatrics are hypeworthy (“Lick it Up” by Kiss is played as you lick your plate clean), but the smart, complex and tasty menu speaks for itself. eatatgaggan. com; tasting menu $153.

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Ascending a via ferrata along the Conrad Glacier in British Columbia.


push your body to new heights

It ’s one thing to admire mountains from the ground. It ’s another entirely to climb to the top. Joh n Sca r pi nato joins the new breed of travelers eager to test their limits and accomplish amazing feats. Growing up in rural Illinois, I developed a passion for wide-open spaces, which can be hard to come by now that I live in New York City. Craving a physical challenge in a beautiful setting, I found Canadian outfitter CMH Heli-Skiing & Summer Adventures, which has been providing access to British Columbia’s peaks for more than 50 years. Though familiar with heli-skiing, I had never heard of helihiking, in which guests are zipped off to otherwise inaccessible trekking locations by helicopter. After viewing CMH’s images of raging glacial rivers and rugged mountain landscapes, I was sold. I flew to Calgary, Alberta, and drove about three hours west to CMH’s helipad near the small town of Parson, British Columbia. There I met the international, 34-person group with whom I would be eating, hiking, and sharing an isolated lodge for the next three days. It took three helicopter trips to get all of us to Bobbie Burns, one of two CMH properties that operate in the summer. Even with its 24 guest rooms, fireplace, and panoramic views of the Columbia Mountains, the lodge had the feeling of a friend’s country house.


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On our second day, the helicopter dropped us at a location deeper inside the mountain range, where we admired the two peaks of Nimbus Mountain. We were to climb both that day. This first took about four hours. Standing there, surrounded by snowcapped ridges, I felt invincible, until I saw what lay ahead— a 40-meter suspension bridge that led to the second summit. As we each crossed, the others shouted encouragement. Heights don’t generally bother me, but balancing almost a kilometer up in the air isn’t easy on anyone’s stomach. That night, a fellow hiker told me he had thrown in the towel halfway through last year’s climb. This year, after losing 20 kilograms, he finished. Another confided that soon after she’d last come to Bobbie Burns, her husband had passed away. This trip, 10 years later, made her feel that life had come full circle. Seeing how a meaningful experience can bring different people together left me refreshed and hopeful. And it was pretty satisfying to cross “climb a mountain” off my bucket list. canadianmountain; three-day trips from $2,673.

+ 3 more active trips

Adventures that make you Feel the burn

1 Go Snowcat Skiing in Japan Up

the thrill-factor of your ski vacation and venture to prime, untouched powder runs on the Karibayama mountain range on Hokkaido Backcountry Club’s Shimamaki Snowcats. Their two-day trip reaches peaks of up to 1,520 meters, with runs that descend 450 vertical meters through open alpine bowls and clusters of frosted birch trees. hokkaidobackcountry; two-day package from $1,300 per person.

2 Trek to Everest Base Camp Only a

few hundred people reach the summit of Mount Everest every

year. But hiking to the base camp? More accessible, and still pretty brag-worthy. The 17-day Adventure Consultants’ trip winds through the Khumbu Valley, where you’ll sleep in comfortable tents. adventureconsultants. com; from $10,900.

3 Taiwan on Two Wheels For a do-it-

yourself cycling getaway, head to Taipei. Cycling paths along the city’s river mean easy access all the way to the north coast and south to Bitan, where quieter roads climb into the mountains. At the end of the day, the bonus is always a great meal back in the capital.

tay lo r b u r k

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travel back in time


To glimpse the world as it was, generations ago, all you need to do is rethink your method of transportation. On a nostalgic train journey across Ireland, complete w ith formal dinners and lu x urious carriages, A n dr e w M a rt i n embraces the rhy thms and pleasures of a bygone era.

Beyond the windows of the gently swaying dining car, darkness descended. The heaviness of the rain and our speed were increasing at roughly the same rate—optimal conditions for cocktail hour on a luxury train. With an Irish gin and tonic in my hand, I watched the manager of the Belmond Grand Hibernian place a line of small electric lamps on the long table. As the author of a number of books about trains, I had hoped for just this kind of nod to railway history when I’d put this journey on my travel to-do list. Table lamps in the restaurant cars, often shaded in pink silk, were symbols of the trains de luxe of the late 1800s and 1900s, especially those of the Wagons-Lits company, whose sleepers—including the various Orient Expresses— carried stylish travelers across Europe until the 1970s. The Wagons-Lits carriages were midnight blue, as are those of the Grand Hibernian, but in other ways this new offering from high-end train operator Belmond strikes out on its own. The carriage interiors are modeled not on those of earlier trains but on notably immobile phenomena: the Georgian mansions of Dublin. Hence, wood paneling in the sleeping compartments,

tweed upholstery in the observation car, and an actual mantelpiece in one of the two dining cars. The train manager switched on the lights. “We always have the lamps on for the last night,” he said. This would be the final evening of six for those on the Grand Tour of Ireland itinerary; for me, it was the last of two, since I was on the shorter Taste of Ireland route. I had boarded on Saturday morning and eaten lunch as we headed north from Dublin, the train gliding above the silvery water of the Malahide Estuary under a misty Irish rain.


The Belmond Grand Hibernian as it glides through the Irish countryside.

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A sleeper compartment on board the Belmond Grand Hibernian, which takes design inspiration from the Georgian mansions of Dublin.

I imagined myself as one of the railway-borne statesmen who patrolled the Western Front I sat opposite an Austrian gentleman with a flower in his buttonhole, who explained that he had “experienced all the Belmond services” and had traveled on the company’s flagship, the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, 68 times. “It is actually a very convenient way to go from Innsbruck to Paris,” he said. The VSOE, by the way, is not to be confused with the old Orient Express beloved by Agatha Christie’s generation. That is now defunct, though a new feature film adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express, out this month with Kenneth Branagh starring, is a testament to the train’s enduring appeal. As dessert was served (Guinness-and-chocolate cake with wild-blackberry sorbet), we skirted the Irish Sea and the beaches of Balbriggan and Gormanston. By the time we crossed the viaduct over the river Boyne, I was sitting at the desk in my compartment, imagining myself one of the railway-borne statesmen—Ferdinand Foch, commander in chief of the Allies, perhaps—who patrolled the Western Front in converted Wagons-Lits dining cars during World War I. I contemplated a lie-down on the bed: not the planklike arrangement of so many sleeper cars, but a snowdrift of freshpressed white linen, topped by a plump embarrassment of


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pillows. Unlike the old Wagons-Lits, where washrooms were shared on even the most sumptuous trains, my cabin had its own en suite, with a shower clad in white tiles with beveled edges, like the ones in the Paris Métro. Sixty-five kilometers later, we crossed the border into Northern Ireland, where we stopped to visit the Titanic Belfast museum, which stands on the docks where the ship was built by the firm of Harland & Wolff. The exhibition is housed in a glass-and-aluminum-sided building that is designed to resemble a four-pronged star when viewed from above. The prongs are supposed to suggest the prow of the Titanic and are of the same height. “A lot of people think it’s meant to be the iceberg,” the coach driver confided. We were shown to a private function room for a reception of wine and canapés, which I consumed rather sheepishly while looking down on the Titanic slipway, where an outline of the ship appears, flanked by silhouettes of the toofew lifeboats. Later, I wandered through the exhibition in a melancholic reverie, which was deepened by the fact that, by a special concession, we Hibernians had the place to ourselves. Especially poignant was the low-lit floor devoted to images of the ship’s sinking, including the sheer wrongness of the ship with its hull perpendicular to the ocean, like a duck feeding beneath the water. The Grand Hibernian is the country’s first luxury sleeper train, though the island of Ireland is really too small for sleepers—they would fall off the edge before morning. So after heading south, to Eire once again, we slept berthed in pretty Dundalk Station. Stepping onto the platform, I discovered a small museum in a former waiting room, the door propped invitingly open. There was a photograph: Dundalk Station, September 6, 1957. It looked no different from Dundalk Station today. Dinner, which was widely acclaimed, began with Irish grouse offset with cauliflower purée and hazelnut sauce. Fillet of Atlantic turbot followed. Afterward, there was traditional Irish music in the observation car. I liked the players’ exuberant shouts of “D minor!” or “Key change!” It was like being in a pub in the Irish countryside, long after closing time. My guilty secret as an advocate of night trains is that I often find them sleepers in name only. I tend to lie awake,


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trying to rationalize the baffling movements of the train: the frustrating interludes of slow crawling, the provokingly long stops. Spending the night berthed at Dundalk Station, I discovered that the solution is to remain stationary but take in the railway atmosphere through the sound—dimly apprehended—of the occasional passing train. I slept as well on the Grand Hibernian as in a good hotel. The next morning, I ate breakfast as we rolled again past the beaches at Gormanston and Balbriggan, now brightly sunlit but still deserted. We returned to Dublin and began heading south, through 150 kilometers of the Emerald Isle, its famed 40 shades of green on full display—the reward for all that rainfall. The observation car was now a comfortable drawing room, with people reading the papers, drinking coffee, talking in an indolent, Sundayish way. We approached the elegant town of Waterford on the southern coast, running alongside the Suir River, whose dark blue water matched the color of our train exactly. We boarded a coach that took us through dense woodland to Curraghmore House, the slightly battered but extraordinarily beautiful home of the ninth Marquess of Waterford. His family has lived here for the past 847 years. The former butler to the eighth marquess conducted the least prim country-house tour I have ever been on. If I’d carried an umbrella, however sodden, I’m sure I could have hung it from the elephant’s trunk inside the front door, one of several hunting trophies I saw around the estate. After getting chilly as our guide explained the reason for the crack halfway up the staircase (the rakish third marquess had ridden a horse up it), I sat next to a roaring fire and gazed through the windows at the 1,000 hectares of formal gardens. We reboarded the coach for a guided tour of the factory where Waterford Crystal is made. For those passengers more interested in what was in the glass, a reception in the

factory shop followed—and the more champagne we drank, the more Waterford Crystal was sold. That evening, there was more live music in the observation car, and one of the waiters danced a jig, earning raucous applause from passengers who in some cases were only one glass of champagne away from joining in. We were now “stabled” at Bagenalstown, Carlow. As at Dundalk, the station was so quaint I wouldn’t have been surprised if a steam train had puffed past in the night. As we approached our terminus the next morning, most passengers were in the observation car. It is a tribute to the operators of the Grand Hibernian that the mood was one of outright dejection. “Oh no!” a woman exclaimed, as the platform slid alongside us. “Dublin!”; two-night trips from $3,570.

+ 3 m o r e g r e at t r a i n t r i p s

how to ride In style

1 The Maharajas’ E xpress, India

Itineraries from three to seven nights allow you to experience top destinations—Agra, Jaipur, Goa—in sophisticated surroundings. The butlers are attentive, and dinner in the two gracefully fitted restaurant cars is served on Limoges china. The 41-squaremeter, two-bedroom, two bathroom Presidential Suite is situated in its own carriage.; three-night trips from $3,850.

2 The Ghan, Australia Traveling

A waiter performs a jig in the train’s observation car.

almost 3,000 kilometers from Darwin in the north to Adelaide in the South, The Ghan offers a premium way to cross Australia’s rugged Red Centre, with stops in Nitmiluk (Katherine) Gorge, Alice Springs and the underground town Coober Pedy. Platinum Service

offers full-size private cabins with allinclusive five-course meals at the exclusive Platinum Club, where local fare and Australian wines are on the menu. greatsouthernrail.; three-night trips from $1,300.

3 Seven Stars, Japan The country

has always been ahead of the curve when it comes to train travel. But the Seven Stars, which does one- and three-night journeys around Kyushu, the southernmost main island, is on a new level. The vehicle has 14 artisan-furnished suites, featuring shoji screens, warm woods (the showers are lined with cypress) and wide windows to better take in the countryside, with its hot springs and volcanoes.; one-night trips from $3,005.

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take a Big BlowOut group trip


Traveling in groups of 10, 20, or more is off icially a phenomenon. A nd now more than ever, there are plent y of places that cater to a large crowd.

Gathering at Ani Villas Thailand’s beachfront infinity pool.

+ 3 more Exclusive trips

getting in ahead of the crowd A nighttime perspective of Beijing’s Temple of Heaven.


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1 Book a Private Island in the Philippines There’s

no need to battle for a patch of sand these days—book your own private island with a selection of paradisial options among the Philippine archipelago on Airbnb. Choose an ecological escape on Floral Island where you can help plant coral in their artificial reefs, or an all-inclusive trip on a tiny island near Coron with full use of their snorkeling gear, paddleboards and kayaks.

Chartering your own private catamaran is another option, and it doesn’t get more untouched than a sail through Burma’s remote Myeik Archipelago. Intrepid Travel (; from $1,911 per person) takes groups of up to eight for nine-day journeys on board their luxurious 14-meter vessel, where passengers can explore unspoiled beaches, meet the nomadic, seafaring Moken community, and snorkel, kayak and paddleboard right off the boat.

2 Get an Uninterrupted View of the Taj Mahal

Waking before dawn isn’t the only way to avoid crowds of tourists at India’s famed marble mausoleum. Hop across the Yamuna River to the Mehtab Bagh gardens, a centuries-old park that perfectly aligns with the Taj Mahal on the opposite bank. Come at dusk for a tranquil photo op without the barrage of selfie sticks. Entrance $3 per person.

3 Visit Beijing’s Temple of Heaven at Night This massive

World Heritage–listed complex, where emperors would purge their bodies and commune with the gods, is one of China’s holiest sites. It’s also one of the most visited, and, by day, it’s a zoo. But Guy Rubin of Imperial Tours can arrange for a private evening visit, with the complex lit by floodlights.; tours from $2,020 for five people.

fr o m to p : c l a i r e l e a h y ; c o u rt esy o f Im p e r i a l to u r s

Group travel has taken off. Whether it’s grandparents treating the whole gang to a cruise or old friends celebrating a milestone birthday, “togethering” getaways are purpose-built for reconnecting. But finding the right accommodations for large parties can be tricky. Happily, one brand has made that their entire mission: Ani Villas Thailand (; from $5,500 for six bedrooms in low season, all-inclusive) is a 10-suite estate on Koh Yao Noi that gives you a fully staffed resort all to yourself. They have other outposts in Sri Lanka and two Caribbean islands, all of which donate their proceeds to their affiliated art academies. The real brilliance is in the allencompassing price model: meals, drinks, laundry, activities and spa are built in, so splitting the bill is a breeze.


QUEENSTOWN peaks No longer just a w inter wonderland, ST UA RT WA LMSLEY f inds New Zealand ’s most active alpine tow n is ready to play all year round.

St ua rt Wa l m s l e y

Things tend to move pretty fast in Queenstown. This is only fitting in one of the adventure capitals of the world, but snow sports are now just the tip of the iceberg in what has become an all-seasons destination. Norwegian goldminers introduced skiing to the region during the 1860s, and this scenic spot has been New Zealand’s winter playground since the first rope tow was installed in 1947. The flow of international visitors has steadily increased ever since and, thanks largely to an explosion in the popularity of mountain biking, shoulder seasons are a thing of the past in the Southern Hemisphere’s biggest little town. Since the now 50-year-old Skyline gondola ( began allowing bikes and took the uphill out of downhill mountain biking, riders flock from all over the world for the

incredible quality and quantity of trails. Vertigo Bikes ( is your one-stop shop for all things pedal powered, and it’s only a five-minute trip to the gondola for your first run. Conveniently located on the ride is the best coffee in town at Bespoke Kitchen ( Named New Zealand Café of the Year in 2016, they also have you covered for some of the South Island’s healthiest and most innovative eats, a theme continued at newly opened Yonder (, a clean-living venture from the owners of Queenstown institution The World Bar ( Fresh on the hotel scene is QT Queenstown (; doubles from $357), offering views of Lake Wakatipu and New Zealand’s Southern Alps. QT’s quirky ethos fits seamlessly into the epic landscape it overlooks, while The Sherwood (; doubles from $195) hangs its hipster hat on local music programs, yoga and wellbeing workshops, and cooking with fresh produce from the kitchen garden.

A jet boat speeds past the iconic TSS Earnslaw steamer on Queenstown’s Lake Wakatipu.

t r a v e l a n d l e i s u r e a s i a . c o m  / j a n u a r y 2 0 1 8


w her e to tr av el in 2018

The spacious lounge in one of the tented retreats at Capella Ubud.

Lu x ury tented camps are quick ly becoming the hippest holiday sanctuaries, this year brings some of the w ildest openings, dreamed up by paradise-maker Bill Bensley.

The need to escape it all is an untamable beast. To satisfy a growing appetite for more remote and private refuges to truly relax, the rise of the tented camp is bringing big names to far off places, and Bangkok-based architect Bill Bensley is one of them. Bensley is responsible for designing three of this year’s most eagerly awaited camps in Asia: Capella Ubud in Bali (; doubles from $838), Rosewood Luang Prabang in Laos (; doubles from $700) and Shinta Mani Wild in Cambodia (; doubles from $1,800). Slated to launch in March, Capella Ubud’s 22 tented retreats are tucked among Ubud’s lush rainforest, cascading rice terraces and sacred Wos River. “By building tents that only touch the ground in a few points, we don’t have to alter the natural drainage patterns of the land, which means there is very little erosion and no siltation of the river,” Bensley says. Each of the one- and two-bedroom tents has its own unique design. “We have a tent dedicated to map-making, a captain’s tent, a Chinese trader’s tent, and there is a sick bay and apothecary, which is our spa, of course.” Labeled as Bensley’s most ambitious project to date, Shinta Mani Wild will open in the second half of 2018 in Cambodia’s Southern Cardamom National Park. Perched on the 800 hectares of logging land Bensley bought to protect, the luxury camp combines 16 custom-designed tents with his resolute perspective on conservation. “We’ve been working with the local communities to wean them from logging and hunting illegally. We employ the hunters as our rangers,” he says. Just a 10-minute drive from the unesco World Heritage city, the secluded Rosewood Luang Prabang will offer six luxury tents among its 22 accommodations when it opens next month. The design encourages guests to unwind among their natural surroundings, with open-air showers, tubs and living rooms. As Bensley says, “People have an increasing desire for authenticity, and connecting with nature and themselves.” — E.B. >>


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+ 3 More Tented Camps


1 Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle, Thailand Set on the

borders of Burma, Thailand and Laos, this elegant camp is also a Bensley creation, inspired by Chiang Rai’s hill-tribe villages. Each of the 15 tents is unique, and deluxe styles have private whirlpools.; doubles from $3,000.

2 Wild Coast Tented Lodge Yala, Sri Lanka Next to Yala

National Park, renowned for its dense leopard population, this tented camp is all about being close to nature. The 36 “cocoons” blend seamlessly into their surroundings, with

teak floors, canvas walls and jungle views. resplendentceylon. com; doubles from $499 per person, all-inclusive.

3 The Beige, Cambodia On 10

hectares of forest, there are only six residences at this Siem Reap camp. The modern, spacious tents are made from organic materials, have private terraces and come with an assistant and driver.; doubles from $355.

c o u rt esy o f Ca p e l l a U b u d


Beyond Glamping

w her e to tr av el in 2018

A blessing before the traditional Thai tattoo process.

The mist-covered temples of Bagan at sunrise.

Sometimes to truly see a cit y, you need a little insider insight. These tour sites connect you w ith natives for an authentic way to travel.

The advent of Airbnb’s Experiences ( cemented a new age of bespoke travel, one that bypasses the typical tourist trail and offers that ever-elusive unique trip. These intimate tours give travelers a chance to really connect with locals and explore a city from a resident’s point of view. Since January 2017, the travel website’s total weekly Experience attendees grew 20 times, and the platform now offers more than 3,100 tours in more than 40 cities, across 26 countries. Bangkok’s most popular Experience is not for the squeamish: visit a traditional Thai tattoo master to watch him hand-tap the ink into the skin of sak yant devotees with a frighteningly long needle, and even get your own. In Saigon, go beyond a morning coffee, with a tasting session hosted by a local who owns a coffee stall and will teach you how to traditionally prepare your coffee using the best Vietnamese beans. Experiences in the region are also available in Seoul, Osaka, Shanghai, Singapore, Sydney, Queenstown, Tokyo, Melbourne and Bali, and the company has set its sights on more parts of Asia in 2018. Another peer-to-peer travel site organizes similar tours with a community-minded ethos. Launched in 2014, Asia-based Backstreet Academy ( is focused on being a social enterprise, giving local artisans a chance to make extra income by teaching their crafts to travelers. Backstreet Academy’s exclusive tours are available across Southeast Asia: craft crossbows with hill tribe elders in Luang Prabang; make jewelry with legendary Yogyakarta silversmiths; or practice meditation with a Buddhist monk in Chiang Mai. — E.B.


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1 Step Back in Time in the Ancient Kingdom of Bagan

It’s one of the world’s great archaeological sites, but a self-guided tour of the vast Burmese ruins of Bagan can be a daunting experience with more than 2,000 temples at hand. Rebecca Mazzaro, a T+L A-List travel specialist from Asia Transpacific Journeys, can help organize a custom tour that includes a visit to an archaeological dig site and a private dinner atop a temple, or you can join a longer tour that explores further into this golden land.; custom Burma tours from $400 per person per day.

2 Listen to Survivor Stories at Hiroshima Peace Museum This

sprawling museum and park tells the history of the nuclear bomb that wiped out 90 percent of the city in 1945, and its outcome of human suffering and destruction. Remote Lands offer an itinerary

that tours the Hiroshima Prefecture and the memorial museum, and can also arrange for an A-bomb survivor to speak with guests on request. The main hall building will be under renovation until July 2018.; six-day tours to the Chukogu and Hiroshima prefectures from $13,500 per person.

3 Study the Art of Perfume-Making in Morocco Artisans of

Leisure, a T+L World’s Best tour operator, can arrange a visit with Abderrazzak Benchabane, one of the country’s most renowned perfume makers, as part of a five-day tour through the country. You’ll spend about an hour in a private Marrakesh workshop with Benchabane, who was a close friend of Yves Saint Laurent, as he explains the science behind mixing and matching oils. You’ll even get to concoct your own custom scent to take home with you.; from $5,970.

fr o m l e f t : c o u rt esy o f a i r b n b ; c o u rt esy o f As i a Tr a n s pac i f i c J o u r n e ys



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T r av el + l eisu r e

January 2018

Welcome to Phuket’s latest sanctuary.


In the Details P h oto C r e d i t T e e k ay

Is it still possible to get away from it all in ever-popular Phuket? A new Rosewood resort on the Thai island answers in the affirmative, and the bonus is that it feels like you’re staying at a good friend’s well-designed hideaway. Story and photogr aphs by Christopher Kucway.



/ debut /

the day after the Rosewood Phuket opened, I have to admit there’s a problem with my villa. Maybe I should have expected opening glitches, slight deviations from what should be, mild shocks to my resort-obsessed system. Yet, my concern is more, uh, personal. More than anything else, I simply want to lie down in this smartly designed space and catch up on my iPad issues of The New Yorker—I’m five weeks behind—but can’t decide whether to do this on the daybed by the window, the three-seat sofa, the comfortable wooden-and-rattan chair in the living room, the double sun lounger under an oversized umbrella by the pool or the sink-into-me outdoor sofa. I do know that I won’t collapse in the bed to read, nor will I slide into my private pool. Just yet. In the end, I leave the iPad in my villa and wander out to lunch. When showered in so much doubt, I can always eat. With 71 villas and pavilions, the Phuket property represents the first of a trio of Rosewood resorts opening in Asia during the coming months: Luang Prabang and Phnom Penh are next up for the luxe hotelier known for its attention to detail in its properties. Sure enough, walking into my villa, the feeling is of immediate comfort; pinpointing why that is isn’t as obvious. The vibe is of a well-appointed, contemporary beach house, a place borrowed from better-off friends for a few days. Both indoors and out, there’s a sense of flow: everything in its right place. And while Rosewood is aimed at the high-end traveler, there’s no sense of being overly posh.

As I check in on this,

This is the first resort designed by Melbourne’s BAR Studio, though the group also developed the Rosewood Beijing. Its Phuket work is purposefully residential, luxurious and low-key. “Rather than look towards historical Thai architectural precedents, we took our cue from the idea that Thailand is now a very worldly country,” explains design director Stewart Robertson, “so we reimagined Phuket as a weekender for Bangkok.” We escape to resorts to rejuvenate, to recharge and to rest, but is that even possible anymore in a getaway as popular as Phuket? “Privacy is very important to us,” explains the Rosewood Phuket’s easygoing managing director Andrew Turner, who has spent the better part of the past two years making sure the resort meets expectations. “Those wishing to hide away in their villa can do so easily, especially as all of our pavilions and villas have private ocean-facing garden terraces with infinity pools.” If I could go up in a drone, I would see that the Rosewood Phuket is laid out in staggered parallel layers of accommodation on a long, flat plot of beachfront well past—make that, out of earshot—the din of Patong. As Turner suggests, each of these rows is hidden from the next with dense foliage—including atop roofs—some of it native, some replanted, all lushly green. Nine pool villas right on the beach likely will be the most sought-after, though the rest fall into a can’t-go-wrong category. Beachside, bedrooms are separate from living and dining areas, and everything spills out into the outdoor deck and pool that steps off into a small garden, the beach and the ocean. Dip one toe in your private pool, the other isn’t far from the sea. Elsewhere along this secluded coastline, the resort’s restaurants and tiers of pools also meet at the beach. A stay at the Rosewood Phuket feels like you’re peeling back layers.

There’s an endless list of vantage points, both around the resort and in each villa. Each part is a freestanding piece of the puzzle all connected through the landscape: a Thai restaurant and the wellness center feel like entirely separate entities until you uncover the shortcuts to each. “We want our spaces to be better the tenth time you encounter them, rather than the first,” Robertson explains. Most first experience the comfort of the villa. Throughout the grounds is scattered local art, some of which will age with the climate. Every detail seems to lead to something else. The lush resort where much of the foliage hasn’t been tampered with, and includes several towering banyan trees, is designed to capture all the rainwater through a runoff that leads to a storage pond. Using rainwater and maintaining the

from top: Resort

staff sport clothing and jewelry from Thai design brand Pichita; a beetroot and chickpea salad at The Shack. Opposite,

clockwise from top left: Each of

the villas exudes comfort; lush greenery ties the resort together; pool or ocean?

t r a v e l a n d l e i s u r e a s i a . c o m  /   j a n u a r y 2 0 1 8


/ debut /

A healthy way to tool around the Rosewood.

surrounding nature also underline what you cannot see. Out in the emerald-green bay is a coral reef rejuvenation program that will take several years to mature. All of this leads to the obvious question: can a resort on an overly popular island really be environmentally friendly? Much is up to dedicated hotel design and practices, though the guests play their own role. The idea of capturing rainwater makes me stop to think about the amount of water I’m using as I shave in the morning. I realize I’ve developed a connection with the resort after a single night. Robertson calls this a transcendent moment in any stay. “Guests should not necessarily be able to point to what it is that made the experience so good, they should just feel that it was good. Not knowing somehow makes it feel even more magical,” he tells me. I also get that feeling at Ta Khai, one of a trio of food outlets that use herbs and vegetables grown

on-site. In the case of the 160-seat Thai restaurant with a separate entrance for outside diners, that means underfoot and around your table, which might be underneath the roof of an old barn or in a pavilion encircled with greenery. Ta Khai looks more like someone’s well-appointed garden for diners to enjoy their Phuket-specific dishes of yellow crab curry or slow-cooked pork. The indoor-outdoor Red Sauce offers a contemporary setting with unobstructed views out to the ocean. Aside from the menu, the only hint that this is an Italian eatery is the trio of chefs debating in the open kitchen next to the modern pizza oven. Come stai? One level down, poolside is The Shack, a stop for an array of seafood dishes and fresh salads. Moving forward, Turner says, the idea is to have restaurant menus that interconnect with the resort’s wellness center. The final jewel in the Rosewood Phuket crown is Asaya, a wellness area enveloped by gardens growing jasmine, gardenia, lemongrass and mint, all ingredients used with spa treatments. The garden doubles as a buffer between the outside world and the spa proper. A wellness atelier is the first stop, a chance for guests to concoct their own salt scrub. With red and sweet basil, kaffir lime, lemon balm and even Thai curry leaf, I’m not sure if this is a modern science lab or a well-stocked tropical kitchen. Put to work, I blend rosemary, sea salt and coconut with Asaya’s own massage oil, the only downside being that I begin to feel like I’ll turn into someone’s dinner. Amused Thai staff eye me suspiciously, looking a bit too famished for my liking. Two-and-ahalf hours later, after a salt scrub, oil massage and extended facial, that daybed back in my villa is looking ever more comfortable. I could get used to this.; villas from Bt28,900.


january 2018 / t r av el andleisure asia .com

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/ fashion /

from top: The Bangsar boutique is in an original kampung house; Lisette Scheers in Nala’s Copakebaya Bunga dress; Scheers hand-draws all of the patterns emblazoned on Nala’s bags, fabrics and accessories.

Shop with Soul A flagship for nostalgic fashion brand Nala brings a blow of retro-chic to the heart of Malaysia’s futuristic capital. By Marco Ferr arese Photogr aphed by Kit Yeng Chan

Fl anked with international fashion

outlets, hip cafés and stylish restaurants, the streets of Kuala Lumpur’s iconic Bangsar district don’t reveal many signs of the capital’s rich history. But below the surface, there are still entrepreneurs who can look backwards, finding inspiration in the city’s fading colonial past. Singapore-born Dutch designer and longterm KL resident Lisette Scheers is one of these idealists. From her evocative interiors that swathe food-and-beverage collective The Big Group’s trendiest Kuala Lumpur outlets to the rows of antique barber mirrors plastered on the wall of her own café, Dr.Inc (, Scheers says she is often influenced by Malaysia’s retro-vintage beauty. Her latest vision is the flagship boutique for her fashion brand, Nala Designs (, which opened last year. Shaded by high-rises, the store sits in a charming wooden Chinese house tucked away on a discreet back road just walking distance from transport-hub Bangsar LRT station. Named after her daughter and meaning “successful” in Swahili, the brand started in


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2012 as a limited edition stationery line to revive Scheers’s love for handwriting letters, and was inspired by the single-motif patterns of the Malay-Chinese Peranakan tradition. In just five years, Nala has quickly grown in scope and popularity thanks to the beauty of pastel-hued, kebaya-inspired designs and quality fabrics. Today, Scheers heads a small empire of limited-edition handbags, clothing, stationery, home décor and accessories that are as simple as they are exclusive. Each item has a hand-drawn pattern that takes inspiration from ancient Malay, Indian and Chinese illustrations, in particular tropical flowers and birds. While Nala has 16 stockists across Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, Japan and Europe, its Bangsar home is one more heritage brushstroke to really stand out against the capital’s suffocating glass and concrete. “A heritage house perfectly fits my brand’s vision,” Scheers says. “We want to preserve history; what better way to do it than setting up shop in an authentic kampung house?” A visit to this quaint white-and-green house feels like entering a secret world of neo-vintage, where everything is perfectly choreographed to bring Scheers’s unique vision and accessories to life. From the wooden floors to the thin room partitions and original ceiling fans, nothing has been re-fitted to step up with modernity. A wooden staircase leads onto a wide veranda where guests can sit with a coffee, before entering the mansion itself for a round of throwback shopping. “Clients love it,” Scheers says. “It puts a smile on everyone’s face. Walking through the house makes them happy and nostalgic. Old buildings are important to the brand, and inspire me.” Nala’s new line, “Thread over Heals,” inspired by old-day Peranakan embroidery, will be on sale in the Spring 2018 collection, adding the first series of wallets to the brand’s portfolio. Scheers is also developing a wallpaper collection with French brand Lé Papiers De Ninon, and has homewares and even carpets in the pipeline. “I opened the kampung house to show the public there is still original culture left beyond the condominium ghettos that are sprouting in every corner of the city,” she says. And thanks to Scheers, Bangsar now has a new way-backwhen temple to testify that in Kuala Lumpur not all heritage is sorely lost.

from top: Peranakan-inspired

shirtdresses; Nala’s wool twill scarves; the Baise a Ville reversible bag in the “Willow Lace” pattern, inspired by vintage Chinese plates; a table setting with Nala’s placemats at the kampung house.

t r a v e l a n d l e i s u r e a s i a . c o m  / j a n u a r y 2 0 1 8


/ after hours /

Saigon Straight Up In Vietnam’s busiest city, fresh downtown drinking options have transformed the way locals hit the bar. Connla Stokes hunkers down in the new modern speakeasies and ambitious beerhouses. Photogr aphed by Morgan Ommer

From left: Layla’s Licky Tiki Mai Tai is set ablaze; coowner Jay Moir.

Layla Eatery & Bar It’s easy to stumble past the nondescript entrance to Layla, and you might have your doubts as you ascend a staircase that leads through a shabby, decades-old apartment block. But, fear not, you’re on the right path. At this modern-industrial venue where drinking eclipses dining, you’ll be rubbing shoulders with a lively and eclectic crowd of locals and expats, who appreciate Layla’s unpretentious vibe and universal approach to alcohol consumption. “Our philosophy is pretty simple,” says Jay Moir, the inked Australian co-owner and mixologist-in-chief, as he whips up an order of bespoke martinis from a selection of his prized botanical gins and infused vodkas. “We want people to drink whatever they like, kick back and be themselves. Some customers come in cocktail dresses or suits, some come in shorts and sandals. At Layla, it’s come one, come all.” Privately, Moir has been known to confess that he has a soft spot for making theatrical cocktails (order his signature Licky Tiki Mai Tai—two kinds of Bacardi, orange curacao, orgeat syrup, lime


j a n u a r y 2 0 1 8   /  t r a v e l a n d l e i s u r e a s i a . c o m

juice, black walnut bitters and “a little fire fun with my absinthe spray”). But at Layla, there’s no judgment, whether you order a classic Negroni, one of several imported beers on tap, or a glass from the long wine list. Be warned, all the seats may be occupied by 9 p.m. Our advice: come early for happy hour (5 p.m. to 8 p.m.) and grab a pew by the far window overlooking the storied Dong Khoi street. andbarhcm; drinks for two from US$15.

from left: The

multi-level brewery and taproom; East West’s beers are inspired by Vietnamese flavors.

East West Brewing Company

to p : c o u rt esy o f e ast w est b r e w i n g c o m pa n y

The Alley Located on a laneway off central Pasteur Street, The Alley’s charming interior has the look and feel of a mellow French wine bar, but the focus is on the cocktails. The owner, Pham Tan, is the kind of barman who never forgets a face (or what you ordered last time). If you’re unsure of where to start, just tell him how you’re feeling. “I believe cocktails can be made to match a mood,” says Tan, a former Diageo brand ambassador, who earned his mixology stripes at Park Hyatts in Saigon and Abu Dhabi. Should you opt for one of The Alley’s signatures, you can expect a local touch: “For this month’s signature cocktail special, the Mekong Negroni, we use organic bitter melon–infused gin rather than actual bitters, and for the Mekong Delta, we use dried banana–infused bourbon, and serve it in a coconut shell,” says Tan. If the latter sounds gimmicky, bear with us. Behind each detail— from the décor to Tan’s concoctions—there is invariably a story, which he will happily share. “Growing up in the Delta, my family was so poor we had no bowls, so we ate rice out of coconut shells,” he says. “But, of course, it added flavor to our rice just as it does for this cocktail.” As well as offering a range of local craft beer, wine and a long shelf of aged single malts, The Alley also keeps its kitchen open until midnight. thealleysaigon; drinks for two from US$13.

from above: Pick your poison at The Alley; as well as creative cocktails, The Alley also does classics.

Since 2015, a host of excellent craft taprooms and independent breweries have lifted the city’s beer drinking scene, but none has made as big a splash as East West Brewing Company, a vast, upscale bar and kitchen with an in-house brewery in the heart of District 1. “Why East West?” asks Loc Truong, the VietnameseAmerican owner. “It’s who we are and everything we do. Each of our beers has been crafted by our brewers Sean Thommen from Portland and Trung Dau from Saigon.” He raises his glass of Far East IPA, an amber elixir with hints of citrus and gooseberry, and a pleasing, soft maltiness—truly an IPA made for tropical climes. In total, there are eight regular fixtures flowing from the taps with occasional seasonal brews added to the mix (try the pumpkin ale around October). For a full beer education, East West also offers brewery tours and classes where you can develop and bottle your own 100-liter barrel.; drinks for two from US$7; lunch and brewery tour US$44.

/ after hours / Snuffbox

from top: The Golden Woman, Snuffbox’s signature tipple; at the Art Deco– style bar.


Even with the aid of Google Maps, Snuffbox is another bar that can be tricky to find, but that only heightens the prohibitionperiod-fantasy that awaits. Furtively located in a run-down 1950s residential complex, in an oddly quiet part of town (the city’s original financial district, incidentally), first-time customers are always taken aback when they step into the louche, stylized interior (think “The Great Gatsby goes East”). “We have no dress code, but some customers love to dress up in 1920s or vintage outfits anyway,” says Thai Nhu Quynh, one of

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the bar’s four dexterous bartenders (let’s just say, they can handle a crowd with aplomb). “I find more and more customers don’t need a menu. It’s a speakeasy, after all,” Quynh adds. “Tell us what you like, and we’ll give you what you want.” Quynh’s preference, to drink and serve, is an Old Fashioned, but Snuffbox’s most popular cocktail is one of Quynh’s signature creations, the Golden Woman (gin, Galliano, elderflower syrup, thyme and lemon juice). “I wanted to make something very elegant, that’s flavorsome and feminine,” he says, “but men love to drink this cocktail, too.” Expect low-key live jazz, blues or ‘electronic swing’ on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights, and on Thursdays, customers can build their own cocktail with help from behind the bar. If it’s a keeper, you get to name it and they’ll add it to the menu (not, of course, that anyone needs one).; drinks for two from US$15.

/ on the rise / Rice terraces at Mandapa, A RitzCarlton Reserve.

Natural Awakening c o u rt esy o f m a n da pa , A R i t z - Ca r lto n R es e rv e

Some say Eat, Pray, Love ruined Ubud, the leafy town in inland Bali. The truth, finds Amelia Lester, is that the place is as seductive as ever—just a little more upscale.

biggest town, is often referred to as the Indonesian island’s green heart. The first thing you notice on the hour-long drive from the airport is how the foliage on the side of the road gets gradually wilder and denser until, as you reach the outskirts of Ubud, it becomes preposterously lush. For the past decade, Ubud has also been known, thanks to Eat, Pray, Love, as the place where Julia Roberts did a lot of yoga and fell for Javier Bardem. “Elizabeth Gilbert Ruined Bali,” Jezebel proclaimed in 2010, and it’s true that in the wake of Gilbert’s best-selling 2006 memoir and the movie based on it, you’ll spot many more tote bags emblazoned with inspirational sayings around town. But the vibe was far

Ubud, inland Bali’s

less pretentious than I had expected; instead, I found a laid-back, cosmopolitan place that reminded me of affluent retreats like the Hamptons. Ubud has in fact been a creative and spiritual hub for centuries, its recent fame actually reinvigorated its artistic traditions.

HIGH-END RETREATS When Gilbert arrived in Ubud in 2004, she stayed at a bungalow with a pool for US$10 a night. Backpackers today tend to prefer the nearby Gili Islands, where budget accommodations abound. There’s been a five-star option in Ubud since 1989, the year Amandari (; doubles from US$700) opened. For a long time, that property was

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/ on the rise /

the only game in town. In the past few years, though, it’s been joined by a Four Seasons (; doubles from US$426) and Mandapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve (; doubles from US$475). There’s also the wellness-focused COMO Shambhala Estate (comohotels. com; doubles from US$550) in the nearby countryside. The best places to stay manage to incorporate the charm of Ubud’s rural surroundings into their designs. Last year, Hoshinoya (; doubles from US$700) opened their first resort outside of Japan, overlooking Ubud’s Pakerisan River. Weaving through the property are sacred water canals, connections to Bali’s centuries-old water temple networks. While, despite being just five minutes from central Ubud, the villas and suites at The Udaya (; doubles from US$170) feel a world away surrounded by lush garden. Ubud’s charm continues to draw the big names, too, with rumors the Westin is set to finally open after years in development. But the haven we’re most excited about are the tented retreats at Capella Ubud (; doubles from US$838), opening in March. The 22 Bill Bensley–designed luxurious camps honor Ubud’s dense forest—no tree was cut during construction, preserving a hidden sanctuary among this growing town.


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fr o m l e f t : M a rt i n W est l a k e / c o u rt esy o f r o o m 4 d ess e rt ; c o u rt esy o f a m a n da r i


In Gilbert’s day, a hippie hangout called Naughty Nuri’s (; entrées US$3–$15) was the highlight of Ubud’s dining scene. This unpretentious warung, or eatery, serves a respectable chicken satay, and the place is still a fixture among the expat crowd (a seat at the front table on the right remains a sure sign you’ve made it in Ubud). But just as with accommodation, the scrappy backpacker favorites are now outnumbered by sleek upscale restaurants, and today a handful of ambitious chefs are setting a more sophisticated standard. Room4 Dessert ( is the leader of the pack. “Five years ago, Ubud was dominated by the vegan crowd,” owner Will Goldfarb says. “People realized they couldn’t eat raw every day.” Goldfarb was a Manhattan pastry chef who survived cancer, a New Yorker profile and a string of failed business ventures before opening his whimsical dessert bar here three years ago. His caramel-and-black-tea crème brûlée is sublime. Nearby Locavore (; tasting menus from US$53) was named the best restaurant in Indonesia by San Pellegrino & Acqua Panna in 2016 and 2017. Dutch-born Eelke Plasmeijer met Indonesian native Ray Adriansyah in Jakarta in 2008. The two chefs opened their bright, contemporary place in Ubud in 2013—a time when few restaurants in the town were showcasing local ingredients. The food is thoughtful, even conceptual. One of the tasting menu’s seven courses is a rice field on a plate, with grains surrounded by other elements of the ecosystem: snails, garlic, a duck egg, fern tips and wildflowers. It tasted green and grassy, and reminded me of the bike ride I had taken the previous day through the

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from far left: One of Room4Dessert’s tropical creations; soaking in the pool view at Amandari; Tonyraka exhibits work by Indonesia’s best modern artists; the entrance to Mandapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve.

unesco World Heritage–listed Jatiluwih rice terraces. I don’t know which was more exhilarating. Yet for all the hullabaloo about culinary innovation, there’s only one place longtime residents say is a must: Ibu Oka (2 Jalan Tegal Sari; 62-361/976-345; entrées US$2–$5), which since its opening in 2000 has been Ubud’s busiest restaurant. At 10:30 a.m., six suckling pigs are delivered to the open-air kitchen, having been spit-roasted for five hours. Shortly afterward, diners sit cross-legged on concrete devouring Bali’s signature dish, babi guling, until it’s gone. The whole process is repeated the next day, and every other day of the year.

A DYNAMIC CULTURAL SCENE Newcomers are often surprised by how hectic Ubud can be, with its day-trippers and moped traffic jams. The town gets even busier when waves of visitors arrive during festivals. Since 2003, the Ubud Writers & Readers Festival ( in October has become a fixture on the global literary calendar, in part for its mix of Asian and Western writers, from Vikram Seth and Amitav Ghosh to Junot Díaz and Lionel Shriver. The biggest of the festivals is BaliSpirit (, a Coachella in the forest for more than 7,000 yoga, dance and New Age– music devotees. One sound that is ubiquitous throughout Ubud is the lilting ring of temple handbells. Though Indonesia’s population is 87 percent Muslim, Bali is 84 percent Hindu, having been colonized by high-caste Javanese fleeing a 16th-century Islamic uprising. For hundreds

of years the Balinese have held on to their elaborate Hindu rituals and complex social hierarchy, including a royal family that still owns a palace, Puri Saren Agung, in the center of Ubud. Across the street is a large public temple, but what’s most striking about Hinduism in Bali is that every family has its own place of worship, typically in a courtyard. Villagers need them close at hand in order to make offerings of flowers, ferns, and food throughout the day, and to celebrate Hinduism’s frequent festivals, when the gods are believed to be physically present. There are also many places to see—and buy—unique and special things in Ubud, thanks to the painters and artisans who have flocked here for generations. The father of modern Balinese art, I Gusti Nyoman Lempad, lived close to Ubud and died in 1978 at the age, it’s believed, of 116. His energetic black-ink drawings depict Bali’s vast store of mythological subjects. Lempad’s creations are on display at Neka (, which is the island’s oldest gallery and a good starting point for exploring Bali’s art scene. Increasingly, though, Ubud is known in modern art spaces, like Tonyraka (, established in 1968; Sika (sika, which tends toward the avant-garde; and Komaneka (, which features the work of contemporary artists. The best-known of this newer generation is probably Made Wianta, who has exhibited at the Venice Biennale and often shows pieces at Tonyraka. Wianta’s oeuvre considers the darker chapters of Indonesian history. Treasure Islands is a series of maps inscribed on buffalo leather and studded with mirrors. It’s inspired by the 1667 Treaty of Breda, in which England and the Netherlands exchanged New Netherland, now known as New York, for an Indonesian island— establishing Holland’s colonial presence in the archipelago. As I perused the piece, it struck me that Elizabeth Gilbert was just the latest of a long line of artists inspired by this holistic bolt-hole in the hills.

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/ why we travel /

When Travel Opposites Attract She craved exotic adventures. He loved Disney theme parks. Was finding common ground even possible? BY DOREE SHAFRIR who is now my husband, I hadn’t been to a Disney theme park since I was 10. “Surprise me,” I’d told him after he asked where I wanted to go. When he told me he’d chosen Disneyland, I felt flattered that he’d so thoughtfully planned ahead—most L.A. guys can’t manage more than taking you to a new bar. It felt fun and romantic—if, to me at least, a tad ironic. We took selfies in front of Sleeping Beauty’s castle, he let me steer the Dumbo ride, I had my first Dole Whip. I figured it was a one-time thing. But it turned out that Matt had a season pass. He loved Disneyland. Disney World in Orlando was his favorite place to go on vacation. He was also smart and funny and had a job in late-night television. For me, the combination did not compute. As our relationship progressed, I struggled to comprehend Matt’s love of theme parks. I had always seen them as ersatz, overly commercial environments of manufactured fun. To him, they are the happiest places on earth. What did it mean that the man I loved

Until my second date with Matt,


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felt this way? And what did it say about me that I didn’t? Was I a snob? After all, Disneyland is one of the most diverse places I’ve visited. There are people in wheelchairs, teenagers on dates, hot dads. Everyone always seems to be having a great time. What was my problem, exactly? One day, I asked Matt point-blank why he loved theme parks so much. He shrugged. “It’s the only time from growing up that I remember my whole family actually having fun and getting along.” I have fond memories of going to Disney World with my family when I was young, but those trips were not a defining feature of my childhood. For Matt though, a theme park is a place of refuge, where the outside world doesn’t exist and the most profound decision you need to make is whether to ride Space Mountain or Pirates of the Caribbean. The Dole Whip will always taste the same, the barbershop quartet on Main Street will always make the same jokes, and there will always be a line at the Haunted Mansion. Illustrations by Graham Roumieu

And that’s the difference between us: He likes the familiar, I like the new. If it were up to me, every year we’d go somewhere we’ve never been before—Vietnam, Madagascar, Chile. We’d stay in Airbnbs, make every meal a discovery, and pack as many experiences as we could into the trip. Matt prefers to go to places he’s been before (hello, London!), stay in a hotel, and just wander the streets for hours. Our first big vacation together was to Hawaii. I was looking forward to a place where I could be on a beach one day and at the top of Mauna Kea the next. But even after we’d bought the tickets, Matt kept saying that he didn’t understand why we needed to fly five hours to sit on a beach, when we have perfectly fine beaches right here in southern California. We soon ran into another roadblock. I spent hours scouring Airbnb and HomeAway looking for the perfect vacation rental on the Big Island, but Matt found fault with all of them. Finally, I found The One: a spacious, beautiful house on the west side of the island, on a cliff overlooking the ocean, with a deck where you could sit and gaze out at the deep orange sunset every night.

He shrugged. “I told you I didn’t want to stay in a house.” By the time we got to Kauai, where we had booked a hotel, I was ready to declare our vacation ruined. But the hotel in Kauai was gorgeous and right on the beach, and you could sit at the pool and order daiquiris, and people were always around to do things for you, and our room got cleaned every day, and at night they left chocolates on our pillows. It was, I had to admit, pretty nice. Maybe there was something to Matt’s way after all. Since then, we’ve both come around. I go to Las Vegas more than I ever thought I would—Matt loves it almost as much as he loves Disney theme parks—and even agreed to get married there. And you know what? It was an incredibly fun weekend. For our honeymoon, he suggested London, and I suggested stopping in Reykjavík on the way. We both had a blast. We’ve gone back to Disneyland several times. It’s not a place I dream of returning to time and time again, but I do enjoy it now. We’ll go on a few

He didn’t understand why we needed to fly to sit on a beach, when we have perfectly fine beaches right here in California When I showed it to him, he recoiled. Then he finally told me what the real issue was. “Look, I just don’t like staying in other people’s houses. It makes me…uncomfortable.” I didn’t understand. In my mind, homestays allowed you to have a more authentic experience when traveling. And the house was rented all the time. He sighed. “Why can’t we just stay in a hotel?” I pleaded with him. He finally gave in. And our three days in the house turned out to be as not-fun as three days in a beautiful house on the Hawaiian coast can be. “This bed isn’t comfortable,” he declared. “And the shower—there’s no pressure.” I stewed. He wasn’t wrong. The bed was a little soft, and the shower was kind of weak—but so what? Then we drove to Kona for dinner, and it took an hour. “We are so far from everything,” he said. And the house was above a beach, but you had to drive down a steep, kilometer-long hill to get to it. “But look how amazing the sunset is from our deck,” I said.

rides, maybe eat a cream-cheese pretzel, and stay to watch the parade and fireworks. It’s not a bad way to spend an evening. The other day, Matt surprised me. His best friend is in Paris for the year, so Matt suggested we go visit him—and stay in his apartment. “But I thought you hated staying in other people’s homes,” I reminded him. “He’s my best friend,” he said, as if that explained everything. “Sounds great,” I said. “Let’s spend a day at Disneyland Paris while we’re there.”

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/ dining /

Worldly Pleasures

As a young breed of chefs and bartenders in Singapore focus on cross-border dining and drinking experiences, there’s no better time to explore flavors from other cultures. By Gr ace Ma

Ards co-chef and -owner David Lee plates charcoaldusted Wagyu.


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You know a country’s dining

scene is coming of age when the disparate daring concepts that land on our plates and fill up our glasses help us realize how much we actually have in common. New players in Singapore are bringing a more exploratory dimension to intimate tables and bar counters, offering patrons a perambulation through different continents, and the chance to discover hidden gems. Here are three new openings epitomizing the movement.

R o b i n T h a n g ( 2 ) . O p p o s i t e : c o u r t e s y o f r e s ta u r a n t a r d s

Restaurant Ards

Slow the taxi down or you might just miss the large wooden doors fronting this nondescript 40-seater along restaurant hotspot Duxton Road. The interiors may seem a little stark (white walls with dark brown curtains), but the food is anything but. While chef-owners Ace Tan and David Lee are relative unknowns on the dining scene, they cut their teeth in respectable restaurants around the region. Ards, pronounced as “arts” and is an acronym for “Asia, Roots, Distinct, Singular,” is the birth of a bold dream to bring a wholly Asian fine-dining concept to the city-state. Using the freshest sustainable ingredients sourced from farmers and fishermen across the region, the menu is prepared with centuries-old techniques from Asia, including slow-cooking and braising. The dishes bring authentic tastes together in creative tantalizing textures. The 21st Egg Tart is a sweet-sour-umami mouthful of mentaiko fish roe custard, raw corn and cured mullet roe, while 33 Ingredients is a deliciously rich rice mound of 20 types of grains and five types of mushrooms cooked together with dried shrimps, gingko nuts and chestnuts, with added textures from a sliver of deep-fried lotus root, and sea cucumber in daikon sauce. “We want to be something that is distinctly representative of Asia and not be another mod-Asian restaurant,” Tan

says. “We want to combine different produce, methods and flavors to create a strong identity.” Judging from the buzz it has generated, it is well on its way to be named as one of the most innovative restaurant openings to date.; three-course lunch menu S$48, 15-course dinner menu S$188.


Brazilian chef-owner Ivan Brehm’s latest venture is his first own restaurant Nouri and it is arguably the one that best articulates his passion for what he terms as “crossroads cooking.” So that you don’t think this is just another fusion flash-in-the-pan, Brehm says the key difference in Nouri’s menu is context. “Fusion has the idea of taking things that are not together and putting them together. Crossroads recognizes the similarities in different things,” from left: Nouri’s

artfully plated Acarajé and Vatapá, a prawn fritter in curry sauce; the communal table at Nouri encourages interaction between diners.

says the chef, known for his time in the experimental London kitchen of Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck, and propelling Singapore’s The Kitchen at Bacchanalia to its first Michelin star in 2016, when he served as executive head chef. “We are trying to make food that expresses how similar these connections are, like tofu and cheese, and sauerkraut and kimchi.” Gems in the omakase lunch menu include sweet and juicy tomato varieties with Italian burrata cheese and a generous dab of caviar in comforting oat broth and garnished with garlicky petai leaves. South American and Southeast Asian similarities come together in the signature Acarajé and Vatapá, an Afro-Brazilian fritter filled with shrimp and bread paste, and served with a fragrant turmeric and coconut curry sauce. Adding to the convivial atmosphere is a communal marble table in the middle of the minimalistdesigned dining room. Evoking the feeling of a home kitchen, it brings diners together over their dinner, just as Brehm intended.; five-course omakase lunch S$85 excluding drinks.

from left: A ceramic

skull mug at Junior nods to a Mexican theme; tasting spirits behind the bar.


A cozy bar where you can ask your bartender all your spirit-related questions, Junior is an innovative drinking hole that brings a revolving educational experience every six months. From the people behind cocktail bar legend

28 HongKong Street and neighboring sister restaurant Crackerjack, the 10-seater bar has a hidden entrance via a quiet alleyway or through the Crackerjack diner. Seats are alloted on a first-come-first-served basis. Expect many irreverent behindthe-scenes stories from head barmen

Zachary de Git and Peter Chua as they flip cocktails and regale you with their spirit-procuring adventures, including a rare 2002 cactus edition bottle of Pura Sangre Reposado Tequila for their first concept, Norma, which focuses on Mexican agave and is ending this month. “That bottle had been discontinued. But when we asked the owner and master distiller, Enrique Fonseca, where we could find one, he waved for his helper and five minutes later, he brought out a case of the tequila!” Chua recalls. The next theme will start in February, with cocktails inspired by Creole history and New Orleans food, drinks and music. “We try not to make it too stiff for our guests,” de Git says. “We really want them to have fun and enjoy the atmosphere of the room and the drinks they’re having.” juniorthepocketbar; 30ml tasting flights from S$46.

courtesy of junior (2)

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Japan in San Fran

fr o m t o p : Gr a c e S a g e r / c o u r t e s y o f o n s e n ; R a q u e l V e n a n c i o / c o u r t e s y o f o n s e n

Creatives in the Bay Area are looking across the Pacific for inspiration, reinterpreting Japanese flavors, culture and hospitality with a distinctly Californian flair. BY JENNA SCATENA

No one expected the chef behind San Francisco’s most Americanaobsessed restaurant, Lazy Bear, to open a Japanese-inspired cocktail bar. But after David Barzelay’s recent trip to Tokyo, the idea for True Laurel ( began to crystallize. “Everything in Japan is about specialization, one expert walking you through an experience from beginning to end. I couldn’t get that out of my head.” After True Laurel began service last month, its fastidious attention to detail— especially at the eight-seat “tasting bar” within—reflected the immersive multicourse hospitality Barzelay witnessed in Tokyo. It’s among the latest in a wave of San Francisco spots offering a Californian interpretation of one of America’s favorite foreign cultures. In recent years, the City by the Bay has renewed its affection for its distant neighbor. The roots of this love affair run deep. Between 1885 and 1924, 180,000 Japanese passed through the Golden Gate, establishing hotels, import shops, fish markets and a Japantown that sprawled across 36 blocks. The World War II internment of residents and a controversial redevelopment project reduced the neighborhood to just seven blocks—but today its influence transcends the district. “Japanese culture has become part of the fabric of the city,” says Paul Osaki, >>

Onsen’s communal tub and redwood sauna. Above: Small plates at Onsen.

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executive director of the Japanese Cultural & Community Center of Northern California. Ramen bars are nearly as ubiquitous as Starbucks, and businesses throughout San Francisco are giving residents a taste of the hospitality for which Japanese culture is famous. There are sentos, or communal bathhouses, like the gorgeous new Onsen (; small plates US$6–$17) in the Tenderloin. After a soak, guests can stop in Onsen’s restaurant for a soju cocktail and a bowl of udon. Japanese grocery and kitchen stores have sprung up: Common Sage ( in

Lower Nob Hill stocks sake and dry goods on one side of the shop, and serves ramen and onigiri on the other. Across the bridge in Oakland, Umami Mart ( offers cherry-blossom shoyu, matcha powder and housewares. Fans of green-tea lattes can go back to basics at Stonemill Matcha (, a tea-centric café and supply store set to open in the Mission this spring. There’s even a cat café in Hayes Valley, KitTea (, that with its tea menu, no-shoes policy, and herd of adoptable cats to play with would be equally at home in a Shibuya high-rise.

3 JAPANTOWN CLASSICS Behind the machiya and Victorian façades are four generations of JapaneseAmerican history. Stop by Benkyodo (benkyodo​c ompany. com), the district’s oldest shop, which has been serving handmade mochi and confections since 1906. Switch things up with a visit to New People (newpeopleworld. com), a gleaming, Shinjuku-style complex with Japanese boutiques and a theater serving up green-tea popcorn at anime matinees. Before you leave the area, grab a souvenir at Daiso (daisoglobal. com), a mecca of kawaii housewares that are all less than US$2.


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Purr-fect gifts at KitTea.

Visit almost any of the city’s hot new restaurants and you’ll find further traces of Japan’s impact. Renowned local chefs have been making the pilgrimage to the island nation to ramen-hop in Fukuoka and study ryokan hospitality. Their newfound knowledge has made its way into compelling and creative cooking. Dishes like the lamb tartare with nori-sesame crackers at State Bird Provisions (statebirdsf. com; entrées US$15–$22), in the Fillmore, mingle Japanese and Mediterranean flavors. Jason Fox of Commonwealth (commonwealthsf. com; small plates US$15–$21), in the Mission, calls his cuisine “Progressive American,” but togarashi and mizuna feature in a stone-fruit appetizer, and avocado swims in a yuzukosho sauce. San Francisco’s traditional Japantown has also received a jolt of new energy. Two hotels are at the center of the buzz. The Hotel Kabuki (; doubles from US$180) recently unveiled a US$31 million face-lift, trading dated décor for contemporary Japanese art and shibori-wrapped headboards. The playful, eclectic style at Kimpton’s Buchanan Hotel (thebuchananhotel. com; doubles from US$195) includes kimono-style bathrobes, paper lanterns, and salvaged staves from Japanese whisky barrels. Food lovers, meanwhile, have flocked to Marufuku (, which premiered this year and quickly built a cult following for its Hakata-style ramen. Even Japan-based businesses are taking note. The ramen giant Ippudo ( debuted its first West Coast location in Berkeley in July last year, while a SoMa spot arrived just last month. Tokyo’s Wagyumafia ( will soon be hawking sandwiches in the Design District, along with Kobe and Wagyu beef at an adjacent butcher shop. Word has spread about San Francisco’s rekindled love of all things Japan—and the feeling just might be mutual.

courtesy of kit tea

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t r av e l s m a rt e r


En Suite Spas

More hotels are moving their treatment digs right into your room, so you can just ring for a massage and roll back into bed. Gr ace Ma checks into the best rooms to bliss out. >> Plus: a new open pool flotation ther apy spa and our favorite wellness trends Illustrations by chotik a sopitarchasak

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/ upgrade / Some people don’t mind strolling around hotels in their

bathrobes, and that’s just fine with us. But serious wellness-minded properties are giving them less of a reason to, designing rooms that are ever-more holistically enveloping cocoons. In Siem Reap, Anantara Angkor Resort’s extensive renovation includes a perk that’s gaining increasing marketing crescendo: in-room spas. design from the lush wall tapestries to the private bamboo gardens—of course comes at a premium, but going by the popularity of such rooms, more guests find disconnecting from stresses on their own terms worth shelling out for... especially when many room packages come with daily treatments included. “Wellness travelers are not only looking for innovative spa treatments and fitness classes while on holiday,” says Nichola Roche, group director of spa at Aman Resorts, which is on something of a spa-suite building boom around the region, “they’re also expecting personalized treatments and wellness to be part of the entire experience.” Bluetooth speakers and espresso machines quickly became in-room five-star standard; we’re already chilled out anticipating the onslaught of onsens and massages tables. Just unpack, lie down, and let the therapist come to you.

c o u r t e s y o f a n a n ta r a

Their palatial Henri Mouhot and Anantara Explorer suites (; doubles from US$1,060) come with treatment beds, Jacuzzi bath (sunken, oh yes), and plunge pool, all no more than 10 steps away from the sleeping quarters. No need to tiptoe surreptitiously past curious eyes on the way to the main resort spa. No worry about getting to your appointment on time. And no more post-treatment blues from being roused out of your blissful meditation and off the massage table to make way for the next guest. “The luxurious advantage of an in-suite spa experience is that it provides privacy and convenience,” says Anthony Borantin, general manager of Anantara Angkor Resort, “as how a person chooses to interact with a wellness experience is highly personal and this concept enhances that sense of individuality.” Such bespoke luxury—steeped here in haute-Khmer


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Four Seasons Langkawi | Malaysia The sprawling beachfront villas here could probably fit a home gym and an in-laws’ cottage, but we’re not complaining when they’ve opted instead for royal couple-style romance. A newly completed renovation transforms the sunrooms in each of the Beach villas into private spa alcoves. Step out of your private pool and off your private beach into your treatment room, leaving the door open to sounds of the sea. If that’s not a sufficient soundtrack to keep you dozing post-massage, grab a soak in your hammam-style tub.; Beach villas from US$2,600.

The Anam | Vietnam The newest star of the Central Vietnam coast just made itself even more romantic with two private-pool villas located next to the resort’s main Sri Mara Spa. Nestled in the shadow of surrounding hillsides amid lushly curated gardens, it’s pretty hard to pull yourself away from your own side-by-side massage beds and sunken granite whirlpool tub big enough for a twosome snuggle. Luckily, after your treatments, the farthest you have to go is the bedroom.; one-bedroom private pool villas including one spa treatment daily, breakfast and airport transfers from US$490.

Angsana Tengchong | China It is unsurprising to find a property under wellness-trailblazer The Banyan Tree Hotels and Resorts group dedicated to geothermal therapy from inside out. Besides the 43 outdoor and indoor hot-spring pools dotting its landscape, Angsana Tengchong in Yunnan provice boasts outdoor hot-spring tubs, with views of golden fields, in all its rooms. Opt for a Hot Spring Pool villa, and you’ll also get your own private massage pavilion in a charming garden.; Hot Spring Pool villas from RMB5,364. t r a v e l a n d l e i s u r e a s i a . c o m  /   j a n u a r y 2 0 1 8


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One Eleven | Indonesia Discretion is the name of the game for this modern minimalist all-villa Seminyak resort, where all nine of the one-bedroom units have a wood and glass spa gazebo. The two massage beds are shielded by billowy curtains and a high wall perimeter. Great for loosening sore muscles after a few laps in your 14-meter-long pool, or a romantic couple’s massage before a candlelit dinner in your garden. 111resorts. com; one-bedroom villas from US$340.


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Amanemu | Japan The proliferation of public onsens in Japan goes to the heart of the country’s culture. But for hydrotherapy junkies who like to stay on property—and away from disrobing in front of strangers—Amanemu has an elegant solution. In all of their rooms, sizzling, mineral-rich underground springs gush out like beer on tap into basalt stone-tiled tubs for the guests’ solitary hydrotherapy. In fact, across Asia, the brand, so dedicated to making you feel at home, is awash in in-room water works. Amanoi in Vietnam opened two rambling Spa Houses sleeping up to four people that each come with two dedicated therapists, a double treatment room, a Jacuzzi, steam room, ice fountain, cold plunge pool and private swimming pool, plus your choice of thermal facilities: Thuy Lien (Lotus) Spa House features a Turkish hammam and An Son (Peaceful Mountain) Spa House has a wooden Russian banya (sauna). Aside from massages and alternative treatments like qi nei tsang, you can also book private fitness sessions for tai chi and suspension training and everything in between.; Amanemu suites from ¥110,000; Amanoi Spa Houses from US$6,690 double occupancy for three-night wellness immersion experience.

fr o m t o p : c o u r t e s y o f a m a n e m u ; c o u r t e s y o f t h e s l at e ; c o u r t e s y o f o n e e l e v e n

The Slate | Thailand The Private Pool villas and Pearl Shell suites here are favorites for their in-room massage beds. Elegantly rustic botanical and f loral themes dominate the suites and spacious dual therapy areas for two. The one in the nauticalthemed, two-bedroom Captain Miles Pearl Shell suite overlooks lush tropical rainforest surrounding the Phuket property and comes with a sunken terrace Jacuzzi, and sauna and steam rooms.; Pearl Shell suites from Bt14,625, Pool villas from Bt38,250.

Thinking Outside the Tank Swapping out pods for open pools, the first flotation center in Malaysia is blowing the lid off weightless hydrotherapy in the region. No claustrophobia required. By Marco Ferrarese

c o u r t e s y o f f l o at f o r h e a lt h

I’m floating on my back

in pitch black. No matter how I move, I can’t sink. Flotation therapy is a type of holistic spa pioneered in 1954 by American psychoanalyst and neurophysiologist John Lilly. Taking a scientific approach to deep relaxation that he called Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy, Dr. Lilly plonked people in isolated sensory deprivation tanks. Floating in filtered water mixed with 500 kilograms of pure salt is believed to trigger relaxation responses that are much deeper than normal

sleep, and perhaps even send the body into the elusive Theta state, in which the nervous system’s workload is reduced by 90 percent. Consequently, blood pressure lowers and heart rate slows, and the body regenerates by harmonizing its chemical and metabolic balance. Removing for an extended period of time all the pressure that is usually exerted on your body helps eliminate aches and tension, and ease chronic pain. Dr. Lilly’s original design called for a closed tank, and most spas include spaceship-

like pods. Float for Health, the first flotation-therapy center in Malaysia, is instead four open pools in private rooms with rain showers. “Chinese customers, who fear closed spaces, are so superstitious they’d never get into anything shaped like a coffin,” says Arthur Duckett, the 25-yearold Malaysian founder, who traveled to California, the U.K. and Taiwan to test variations. Sip a post-float drink in your bathrobe, as you chat to him about your sensory journey. He is about to open a new center in Seminyak, Bali; with

Float for Health.

six private open pools, it will be the biggest in Asia. I’m not thinking of science as I marinate in darkness, my mind focused on my innermost thoughts, and my submerged ears filled with mute, liquid lullabies. After 90 minutes, I lift myself directly from the pool into my shower. Rinsing the salt off my skin and washing the weariness of city life from my body and soul, I feel like a newborn butterfly cracking his battered pupa ready to reengage the world.; 90-minute sessions RM160.

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Peter Pan Life

Want to feel like a kid again? Just let Tinkerbell lead the way. Clip into a harness and climb walls, flip upside down, and glide to music while hanging from a bungee cord at this new bouncy, anti-gravity workout class. Bangkok’s Stories to Tales Theatre ( and Hong Kong’s 4D Pro Bungee Fitness ( are among the first studios in the world to offer classes.

Breathe Easy

Southeast Asia’s big cities aren’t exactly renowned for their clean air. Fight smog with Netatmo’s Healthy Home Coach (netatmo. com), which detects the indoor air quality level, humidity and temperature, then alerts you when something needs to be fixed.

Golden Lattes

Wellness Trends Programs like GuavaPass push us to try new things, and gadgets and apps can keep track of our every move. Yet, at the same time there’s a mainstream embrace of ancient Asian remedies. With wellness sprawling in so many directions these days, we’ve rounded up a few of our favorite fitness crazes.

Turmeric has made the leap from curries to lattes: Ayurvedadevotees swear by a blend of milk, espresso, cinnamon, honey, black pepper and juiced turmeric—whose anti-inflammatory properties are said to help with everything from warding off a cough to promoting good skin to preventing cancer.

By Veronica Inveen

Straighten Up

Slouching is not only bad for your spine (and your Instagram gallery), it can also negatively affect your mood and energy level. Upright Go ( adheres to your upper back and when you dare to slouch, it vibrates to remind you to straighten up. The compatible app will track your progress and coach you through a training program so you can eventually lose the crutch and maintain model posture at all times.


Water Workouts

Bone Broth

Nutrient-dense bone broth is said to not only improve the digestive system and quell inflammation, but also strengthen joints and boost brain health with its collagen. Trendy health shops keep the liquid on stock, but the miracle soup is also easy enough to make at home with leftover roast chicken bones, herbs and water.

january 2018 / t r av el andleisure asia .com

It’s about time that water workouts caught on. Take Aquaspin ( in Singapore: it’s your average spin class but held inside a pool. Peddling against the water adds intensity to the workout but is also good for your joints. Or test your balancing skills by trying to downward dog while floating on a paddleboard at SUP Yoga Bali ( It might be the only time you don’t mind taking a tumble in exercise class.

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DEALS | t+l reader specials

Whether you retreat to the sandy shores of tropical Bali or a remote spot in the hills of northern Thailand, these special deals will ensure a leisurely start to the year.


Banyan Tree Ungasan Bali Prepare for uninterrupted beachside bliss at this award-winning resort on the picturesque cliffs of Bali’s southern peninsula. Each of the distinctively Balinese Pool villas has a 10-meter infinity pool, private jet pool and spacious living, dining and sleeping areas. Book a weekend stay and you’ll not only receive 40 percent off the best available rate but also daily breakfast for two; free Wi-Fi; a complimentary neck and shoulder welcome massage; and daily replenishment of the mini bar. The Deal Weekend Getaway: a night in a Pool villa, from US$699, through March 31, 2018. Six Senses Ninh Van Bay Extend your stay at this secluded oasis for five or more consecutive nights and you’ll receive a complimentary wellness, gourmet or adventure experience for every night booked. There are 16 experiences to choose from, including a Vietnamese cooking class, a foot massage, a beach picnic, water-skiing lessons, fishing in the bay, and a guided adventure hike. You’ll also get daily buffet breakfast and unlimited Wi-Fi. The Deal Sweet 16 Selections: a night in a Hilltop Pool villa, from US$627, through October 31, 2018.

Ocean views at Ju-Ma-Na Restaurant at the Banyan Tree Ungasan Bali.


SUPERSAVER Cantaloupe Aqua Hotel Galle

Explore the Indian Ocean on this four-day marine package. Sail out to a breeding ground for a 200-strong pod of blue whales for a whale-watching experience before visiting a nearby turtle hatchery. You’ll be treated to a Sri Lankan dinner for two, with daily breakfast also included. The Deal Marine Nature Experience: a night in an Aqua Ocean Play room, from US$197, through April 30, 2018.


j a nu a r y 2 0 1 8   /  tr a v e l a n d l e i s ur e a s i a . c om

The Landmark Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong Celebrate style at The Landmark Mandarin Oriental’s newly launched Entertainment suite and enjoy exclusive Vestiaire Collective benefits. You’ll get full use of the dozen vintage fashion accessories in the unique Globe-Trotter trunk, including rare and limited edition handbags by Chanel,

f r o m t o p : c o u r t e s y o f B a n ya n t r e e u n g a s a n b a l i ; c o u r t e s y o f c a n ta l o u p e a q u a h o t e l g a l l e


Christian Dior and Hermès. You’ll also get an exclusive “Voyage in Style” kit; HK$2,000 towards first purchases from Vestiaire Collective; a round of cocktails; in-suite breakfast for two; and an opportunity to arrange in-suite Michelin-star dining. The Deal Voyage in Style: a night in an Entertainment suite, from HK$128,000, March 31, 2018.

A private spa at Four Seasons Golden Triangle.


St. Regis Macao You’ll get a warm welcome when you book your stay at this state-of-the-art hotel in Cotai; reserve a Deluxe room and receive a welcome drink, signature afternoon tea set and daily breakfast or lunch for two at The Manor restaurant. You’ll also get to choose from one-way Cotai Water Jet first-class ferry tickets from Macau to Hong Kong for two, or HK$300 hotel credit towards dining or spa. The Deal Stay Exquisite package: a night in a Deluxe room, from HK$1,898, through June 30, 2018.

courtesy of four seasons golden triangle


137 Pillars Bangkok Take a big-city break at this five-star hotel in the heart of the fashionable Thonglor neighborhood. Stay at least two nights in one of the hotel’s 34 stylish suites and you’ll receive a lengthy list of benefits including a one-hour “Detox Body Scrub,” fourcourse romantic dinner for two, a wine-tasting session, all-day daily breakfast for two and 24-hour butler service. To ensure you navigate the city hitch-free, you’ll also get complimentary Pocket Wi-Fi and free use of the scheduled cab service from the hotel to the Emporium/EmQuartier shopping district. The Deal Ultimate Sensation package: a night in a Sukhothai suite, from Bt16,845, through July 21, 2018.


Four Seasons Golden Triangle Set out for a truly tropical adventure at this luxury tented camp situated on the borders of Laos, Burma and Thailand. Book a three-night stay in one of these premium Bill Bensley–designed tents, and you’ll have access to this special nature-filled package, including a sunrise elephant trek, a long-tail boat ride along the Mekong River, a foraging walk and cooking class, a 90-minute spa treatment per person and more. The Deal Nature’s Embrace package: a night in a Superior Tent, from Bt95,000, through December 19, 2018.


Pandaw Cruises Spend a family vacation navigating the jungle-lined rivers of Burma this year; book any cabin on a Pandaw cruise during the school holidays and you’ll get a second cabin for free for up to two children under the age of 18. Choose

from itineraries that voyage along the Irrawaddy River from Bagan to Mandalay, meeting farmers, craftsmen and visiting local temples along the way; or hop aboard a sevennight journey up the Chindwin River, which borders India’s Assam region and carves through mountains, forests and unspoiled towns. The Deal Under 18s Travel Free: seven-night cruises from US$1,611 per person, see website for dates and details. MALAYSIA

Shangri La’s Tanjung Aru Resort & Spa Kota Kinabalu Entertaining the little ones will be no trouble with this exclusive family package at this award-winning beachside resort. The kids will have unlimited entry to the Cool Zone Kids’ Club where they can spend the day speeding down waterslides, playing water sports, and have unlimited water balloon fights at the Water Play Area. The package also includes buffet breakfast and dinner for two adults and two children under six years old, and unlimited Wi-Fi

throughout the resort. The Deal Family Fun package: a night in a Seaview room, from RM980, through March 31, 2018.


Cordis Auckland Leave your troubles at home and prepare for ultimate relaxation at this five-star hotel in New Zealand’s largest city. The package includes a night’s stay in a Junior suite, a 60-minute massage per person and 15 percent discount on all other spa treatments during your stay. You’ll feel like a VIP with full access to the Club lounge, including complimentary breakfast, evening drinks and canapés, and butler service. To ensure you leave feeling completely pampered, you’ll also have free use of the Chuan Spa’s well-being facilities including fitness studio, heated rooftop pool, herbal steam room and Jacuzzi. The Deal Wellbeing Chuan Journey: a night in a Junior suite, from NZ$809, through December 31, 2018.

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Aaron Kaupp keeps the world moving “From my first ILTM show in 2003 it has ever since been on my yearly calendar to attend as it is the epitome of shows in the travel industry. It enables us to meet with the best in the industry and is vital to our business.” Aaron Kaupp, Directeur Général, Le Royal Monceau - Raffles Paris #keeptheworldmoving

courtesy of blue l agoon icel and

Aurora borealis, best visible in Iceland from September through March, page 102.

/ january 2018 / Bangkok’s buzziest neighborhoods, through the

eyes of locals | Ancient cave art and all the foie gras in Dordogne | A trippy, downhill adventure in ski haven Telluride | Our guide to the best of Iceland


City Heights

Our Ultimate Tour of Photographed by Chanok Thammaratkit

Tourism darling Bangkok actually reveals its secrets reluctantly. With many of the best places hidden down dark sois, and with often overwhelming traffic, the Thai capital can be quite challenging for a first-time visitor to navigate beyond the glittering sacred spaces. But the metropolis is booming in every direction: there’s new life in historic districts, the creative communities are flourishing, and the dining scene’s broad excellence is heralded most recently by the arrival of the Michelin Guide. We’d argue that it’s a great place to visit because it’s a great place to live. So, on the following pages, we’ve recruited some of our resident contributors to help you get up to a little devilment in their favorite neighborhoods in the City of Angels.

clockwise From top right:

The main drag, Yaowarat Road, in Chinatown; Karmakamet Diner charms; views from Park Society at So Sofitel; a tête-àtête with the bartender at Sugar Ray; million-dollar city views at Red Sky.

Bangkok t r a v e l a n d l e i s u r e a s i a . c o m  / j a n u a r y 2 0 1 8


clockwise From top left:

Renovated warehouse–chic at Lhong 1919; Thailand Creative and Design Center, in the old Central Post Office; yakitori atJua; fiery street food on Yaowarat in Chinatown; curry worth queuing for at Khao Kaeng Jek Puay; inside the labyrinth of Wat Mangkhon Kamalawat, Chinatown's largest temple.

Chinatown and Talat Noi by Joe Cummings


angkok began on the Chao Phraya River, which takes its name from the first king of this ruling dynasty but was a lifeblood for the trading outpost for centuries. I’ve long been a fan of the older neighborhoods on the left bank. Chinatown draws me with excellent street food, fantastical neon signage, and smoky temples filled with colorful deities in flowing robes. Banglamphu, despite Khao San Road’s fame as the most tourist-intense zone in Asia, still has unique family-run eateries and shops. But both ’hoods are rapidly moving beyond these aging stereotypes, combining new cool with old-school. Ironically it’s Bangkok’s oldest street, Charoen Krung Road, that’s one of the epicenters for change. Here the 80-year-old Central Post Office, an impressive piece of socialist architecture, houses the Thailand Creative and Design Center (, whose cavernous library is my favorite co-working space. Other exciting creative reclamations are revamping 100-plus-year-old gritty spaces: Warehouse 30 ( offers a co-working studio, bespoke boutiques, bars and cafés; across the river on the Thonburi side in architect Duangrit Bunnag’s chic Jam Factory complex is Summer House Project (; Bt2,000), a favorite vantage point for watching the water while enjoying fusion seafood; and the most recent addition to this docklands renewal, Lhong 1919 (248 Khwaeng Khlong San) converts a historic warehouse and shrine complex into a lovely 6,800-square-meter community mall of co-working space, dining outlets, and art and design shops. Back on Charoen Krung Road, one of the city’s most creative dining venues is 80/20 (; Bt1,800). They offer an oftchanging menu of quirky Thai-influenced dishes with fresh, local ingredients. It’s a short waddle to Tropic City (, where bright murals of green parrots and palm fronds herald an updated tiki bar. At nearby Little Market Café ( bkk; Bt500), American chef Chet Adkins grills great burgers; he also appears down the street at Jua (; Bt1,500), a new yakitori bar with Japanese-influenced cocktails. A great night often starts at SoulBar (, where live bands blast funk, disco, R&B and soul. There are only two places I’ll order crab fried rice, and Khao Phat Pu Talat Noi (Charoen Krung Road at Soi Leuan Rit; Bt200), a cart 60 meters away, is one. The crab is fresh, the rice is never soggy, and it’s shot through with smoky wok chi. Dig deep into Chinatown history and visit So Heng Tai Mansion (, a 30-room Hokkien residence 230 years old. Keeping things quirky, the owner teaches scuba diving in his fourmeter-deep pool. More history can be found at resto-lounge FooJohn Building (; Bt1,200), a retrofitted corner edifice with an In the Mood for Love ambience. The ground floor kitchen does delicious French galettes; upstairs is American barbecue. For sunset, the best open secret is the old wooden house on the river Samsara (fb. com/samsarabkk; Bt800), a charming Japanese-owned, open-air café serving delicious Thai cuisine. For crafty, try Aoon Pottery ( aoonpottery; Bt300) a potter’s studio where grilled cheese sandwiches and other comfort food is served on tableware crafted on-site. A few years after artsy hipsters staked their claim to Soi Nana in Talat Noi, the hotspot continues to lure bars, galleries and cafés, *Restaurant prices throughout are approximate costs for a meal for two without drinks, unless noted.

steadily morphing the lane into a tropical version of early 1970s New York Soho. Teens of Thailand ( sports offthe-charts hipness and a bar focusing on gin. The same team has just opened Asia Today (fb. com/asiatodaybar) across the lane to tout rum. Walk through the shuttered doors at One Day Wallflowers ( to enter a world of floral color and fragrance. Bangkok’s fetish for Chinese-themed bars continues with Ba Hao (, where neon calligraphy and minimal restoration capture Hong Kong cool. At Tep Bar (, traditional Thai musical ensembles and Thai herb-infused alcohol are the rule. But my favorite bar on Soi Nana is 23 Bar & Gallery (92 Soi Nana), a true dive with a 100-percent rock-and-roll playlist. Eiah-Sae (103-105 Soi Phat Sai), the oldest café in town, still serves Hokkien-style coffee and chargrilled toast with coconut custard in a lane that until 1954 was home to the largest opium den in the world. Don’t miss Chao Mae Kuan Im Shrine (39 Soi Phat Sai) for its striking statue of Guan Yin, the Chinese goddess of mercy, carved from a single teak log 900 years ago and smuggled to Bangkok during China’s Cultural Revolution. I never tire of exploring the labyrinthine interiors of Chinatown’s largest and liveliest temple, Wat Mangkhon Kamalawat (Charoen Krung and Mangkon roads). Grab a table near the semi-outdoor kitchen at Nai Mong Hoi Thod (; Bt350) to watch the cook fry oyster omelets over charcoal. Tile-walled Jok Kitchen (23 Soi Isaranuphap; Bt1,200) holds only four tables. Jok, the sole cook and owner, once sold crab—the star of the show here. Check it out before Anthony Bourdain discovers it. Also must-visit: Khao Kaeng Jek Puay (427 Mangkon Rd.; Bt70), a street-food institution of tasty curries. There are no tables, just a row of plastic chairs facing the street. The Chinese red-and-gold fetish scheme hits a peak at new arrival Rabbit Hill (, which serves beer from Hong Kong’s Moonzen Brewery and Japanese plum liquors. Exiting Chinatown northward makes an interesting transition, going from commercial chaos to the religious and ministerial order of Koh Ratanakosin. Just down the street from legendary Wat Pho, Err Urban Rustic Thai (fb. com/errbangkok; Bt800), a casual eatery of delicious locavore Thai, is a good spot to fill the stomach and contemplate the difference. t r a v e l a n d l e i s u r e a s i a . c o m  / j a n u a r y 2 0 1 8


Sathorn and Silom By Duncan Forgan


find it hard to believe how recently Sathorn and Silom were more business than pleasure. Sathorn was built as a canal to ship goods and though it was first lined with villas, since Thailand’s industrialized rise, the lands between the Chao Phraya River and Lumphini Park have been all commerce. But the nominal CBD has evolved into one of the most rounded lifestyle packages in the capital: outward-looking, sophisticated and with enough quirk to keep it from getting dull. When I feel low on culture I can replenish at the century-old Hindu shrine Sri Mariamman Temple (2 Pan Road) and among the art displays at Gallery Ver ( and Bangkok CityCity Gallery ( When I am hungry I can graze on degustation tasting menus. When thirsty, I can disgrace myself at late-night dive Wong’s Place ( And when I feel regretful the next day, I can reflect in the tropical shade of Lumphini Park. To be fair, Silom (home of the daddy of red-light districts and a gay-friendly nightlife strip) has long been famous for after-dark devilment. But Sathorn too has let its hair down. The nerve center of

these twin ’hoods is by the iconic, pixelated, new MahaNakhon Tower that, at 314 meters, is the country’s tallest. Next door in MahaNakhon Cube are Japanese fusion fare Morimoto (; Bt2,000), and L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon (; Bt10,000), the newest Michelin-starred outpost of the French super chef’s culinary empire. It’s a short hop to the bijou, leafy enclave of Sathorn Sois 10 and 12. After eggs Benedict at Rocket (; Bt1,000), drop into H Gallery ( for an art fix, have happy hour at Revolucion ( cocktailbangkok), then sustainable, creative plates at Bunker (; Bt2,500) and a nightcap at lively Café de Stagiares ( Another self-contained gem is Soi Suan Plu—an alluring blend of earthy

clockwise From bottom left: Seeing

pink at Namsaah Bottling Trust; Japanese with aplomb at Kombawa; browsing Kathmandu Photo Gallery; inside Kombawa; the century-old Sri Mariamman Hindu Temple; pretty plating at Park Society in So Sofitel.

chaos and elevated aesthetics. The former plays out via the riot of street food on Suan Plu Soi 8. The latter, in beautiful shophouses such as Japanese restaurant Kombawa (; Bt2,500), and Smalls (, a broad church of a bar that fosters wild abandon amid a dimly lit air of convivial cool. Junker & Bar (Suan Plu at Soi 1) mixes great-value drinks. On Soi Yenakart, find Michelinstarred Suhring (; Bt6,000), for German fine dining (no, really, it’s amazing), and gallery-by-appointment YenakArt Villa ( Spend an evening on Soi Convent with the clubby Vesper ( providing craft cocktails, and the ballast coming from new Mediterranean eatery Via Maris (; Bt1,700), French institution Indigo (66-2/235-3268; Bt2,000) or the cozy, cool Eat Me (; Bt3,000). Within two minutes of my apartment, I can sample intricate Michelin-starred French at J’aime by Jean-Michel Lorain (; Bt8,000) or laid-back Italian La Casa Nostra ( lacasanostrabkk; Bt2,500). In 10, I’m eating Italian, dry-aged meats at Il Fumo (; Bt3,000), on one of chef Fatih Tutak’s whimsical culinary journeys at The Dining Room at the House on Sathorn (; Bt5,000), or getting spiced at Issaya Siamese Club (; Bt2,000), Le Du (; Bt7,500) and Nahm, which also has a star, (; Bt7,500), all titans of modern Thai cuisine. For elevated Italian, the choice options include Opus (; Bt3,000), La Scala (; Bt3,000) and

Zanotti (; Bt3,000). And it is generally agreed the Peking duck at Chef Man (; Bt2,500) is the best in town. Nightlife here is slightly more subdued than over on Sukhumvit. But serene sundowners overlooking Lumphini greenery can be had at Park Society ( Maggie Choo’s ( continues to enchant with its Shanghai-bordello vibe and its left-field theme nights. Hot pink Namsaah Bottling Trust ( stands out for its Thai-inspired cocktail list. Grittier by far is Jam (, which revels in its divey, bohemian persona with experimental music and arthouse screenings. Other chill spots span the venerable Kathmandu Photo Gallery (kathmanduphotobkk. com) and literary haven the Neilson Hays Library (, while the Goethe Institute ( has regular German-inflected film screenings and exhibits. It also possesses one of the city’s most pleasant outdoor swimming pools—a godsend in one of the world’s hottest metropolises. t r a v e l a n d l e i s u r e a s i a . c o m  / j a n u a r y 2 0 1 8



clockwise From top: The

beloved Erawan Shrine houses the Thai representation of the Hindu god Brahma; the teak Jim Thompson House is a mustsee for a reason; attention to detail at Gallery Drip; fresh fish at Fillets. opposite from top: The old-school Scala Theater; treats at the Erawan Tea Room; a master chef at tiny Sushi Zo; the convivial Water Library Brasserie.


january 2018 / t r av el andleisure asia .com

nchored by Thailand’s glitziest malls, surrounded by leafy embassies and dotted with top tables, this ever-beating heart of the city, which, if you’re keeping track, includes Phloenchit, Rajadamri and Wireless roads, balances mass appeal with its distinctly highbrow attitude. I called this neighborhood home for two years when I first moved to Thailand, and the wide sidewalks and proximity to verdant Lumpini Park were a familiar comfort to New York City. Like Manhattan, there’s glitter, fashion, history and charm—plus the best fried chicken in the city. Exit the BTS at Phloenchit and hang a U-turn for Soi Ruamrudee, where you’ll find an unpretentious taste of Tuscany at Lenzi (; Bt2,000). Leaving without the meat and cheese platter from the family’s Italian farm would be a crime. Swing by Hyde & Seek (, a gastro-pub with a long list of well-made and creative cocktails. Afterwards, satisfy a Tex-Mex craving with a burrito and fresh guacamole at La Monita Taqueria (; Bt650). From the end of the soi, juke left, then right and left again to find the fried chicken magnet: Soi Polo (Bt350), has a perma-line of locals salivating for the fried garlic chicken with sticky rice. Lick your fingers clean and head to Wireless Road for a pair of fine-dining stars. Michelin-starred Savelberg (; Bt6,000) is a modern French spot named for the Dutch chef who is in the kitchen most nights. The Thai branch of acclaimed Sushi Zo (sushizobangkok; omakase from Bt6,000) is an intimate nook where the lengthy omakase menu is a dream you’ll never want to wake up from. The futuristic Central Embassy is gaining traction, but tables, and their famous soupy xiao long bao, are still always available at Din Tai Fung (; Bt1,300). Water Library Brasserie (; Bt3,000) is a fave for hearty French classics. Celeb chef Ian Kittichai’s classes at Issaya Cooking Studio ( teach innovative recipes that rise above common green curry. Up top, Penthouse ( includes a roof terrace, cocktail bar and whisky room. Top restaurants and art galleries are found on Soi Langsuan and Rajadamri Road. Culture vultures get their fix at 100 Tonson Gallery (, a charming villa that

Siam and Phloenchit By Ashley Niedringhaus woos international artists, Tang Gallery (, a contemporary space with Chinese sway, and the Foreign Correspondents’ Club (, an intellectual spot for talks and film screenings. Stop by the Erawan Tea Room (erawanbangkok. com) for high tea oozing with Thai charm, or shake joss sticks and light incense for good luck at the Erawan Shrine (Ploenchit and Ratchadamri roads). Nearby standouts include two modern Japanese spots: a branch of chic-izakaya Zuma (zumarestaurant. com; Bt3,200) boasting ace cocktails, and Fillets (filletsbangkok. com; Bt5,000) a omakase-style place that also does a booming trade in dry-aged beef. For a nightcap, head to the roofs at Hotel Muse’s stylish Speakeasy ( for imaginative moonshine, or Cru ( or Red Sky (centarahotels; both of these bars are an ear-popping elevator ride from the lobby of the Centara Grand hotel. Red Sky is a breathtaking cocktail bar where prices match the million-dollar view and Cru above it excels at champagne-based mixology. My friends Danny and Dana Garber own The Smokin’ Pug (; Bt1,300), Bangkok’s best barbecue spot, with mouthwatering ribs. A pair of Gaggan Anand’s restaurants— Gaggan (; Bt10,000), and Gaa (; Bt6,000) run by his former sous-chef—mirror each other on a small soi. His eponymous place, known for molecular magic and a mile-long list of booking requests, snagged two Michelin stars in December. Speaking of Michelin, a cluster of one-stars sits near the Siam BTS: Ginza Sushi Ichi is a meticulous temple to fresh fish (; omakase dinner Bt7,000); Sra Bua by Kiin Kiin (; Bt6,000), a branch of Copenhagen’s famed restaurant, presents artful set menus that respect the flavors of Thai cuisine; while Paste (; Bt2,500) adds a modern touch to century-old Thai recipes. Modern movie theaters abound in Bangkok, but Scala Theater ( is a frozen-in-time gem. Beyond the grand Art Deco entrance, bow-tie clad ushers take tickets and direct visitors to their seats (don’t forget to stand for the royal national anthem before the film). A crowd-pleasing spot for a casual meal is the Central Food Hall (; Bt750) at Central Chidlom mall, a food court that punches far above its weight class. Few locals bemoan taking out-of-towners to tour the stunning teak house-turned-museum The Jim Thompson House ( Speculate on Thompson’s mysterious disappearance while browsing the topnotch gift shop. In the nearby Bangkok Art and Cultural Centre (, a bastion of local culture, the artsy Gallery Drip ( is the ideal spot for a midday pick-me-up cup of single-origin coffee. While Chinatown is ground zero for street food, two small shops are standouts in this ’hood. Behind tech-centric MBK is Jae Oh (113 Soi Charat Mueang; Bt150) a famous vendor that draws the crowds for tom yum noodles and stir-fried clams. Jay Jia Yentafo (564 Rama IV; Bt150) makes a popular pink soup whose fans go nuts for the homemade shrimp balls. An order of crispy pork wontons completes the meal. Neither of these places needed their recent recommendations by the Michelin Guide to draw crowds of locals.

Lower Sukhumvit By Nicky Short


hen I settled upon lower Sukhumvit as my base five years ago, it was a calculated move to be near then-happening Soi 11. I didn’t anticipate that even as the soi would lose its go-to party destination status and the neighborhood would become outshone by newly popular areas, it would come into its own with grace. There are fewer gimmicks, “shopportunities” and body-kinetic dancefloors here and no streetside cocktail wagons anymore, but instead a growing emphasis on atmosphere and places in which you want to linger. Smells like…maturity. Take new Parisian bistro, Brasserie Cordonnier (cordonnierbkk. com; Bt2,500), enticing you with its Emmental-oozing French onion soup and then leading you upstairs to Sole Rouge, where the shoes that adorn the walls are as lovingly backlit as the liquor behind the bar. For a higher BPM: rooftop drinks at Above Eleven (aboveeleven. com) or make your way through a telephone box to old Cuba at Havana Social Club (—downstairs for dancing, up for cigars. After you devour the best burgers in town at Daniel Thaiger (, a slightly scary foray to seedy Soi 13 leads to a hidden trove of creative expression at Live Lounge (, with poetry, comedy or music almost nightly. El Gaucho on Sukhumvit Soi 19 settles comfortably over three floors of sultry lighting, excellent service and solid steaks (th.; Bt3,000). But, you could forgo the striploin in favor of charcuterie down Soi 16. Here, El Mercado (; Bt2,000) welcomes you with daily chalkboard specials, and waiters so snarky about the excellent wine selection you’ll feel like you’re in Europe. Speaking of excellent wine, About Eatery (; Bt2,000) is a brief hop north up Asoke. Besides something for everyone—juicy lamb chops; vegan-friendly nut cheeses—the biodynamic-heavy wine list is exceptionally clear thanks to natty owner Giulio Saverino. As a bonus, it is close to Q&A ( for a stiff nightcap in a vintage train carriage… if you can find it. Across Asoke, behind the cheap dazzle of Soi Cowboy is a tangle of back roads connecting Sois 23, 31 and 39. In this leafy enclave is a collection of eat- and drinkeries so comprehensive that if you got lost, you’d be merrily occupied, not least by the exhibits and lifedrawing classes at Attic Studio (, and the flaky criossants at Holey ( Past the 40 taps at perennially popular beer garden Craft ( are the leather sofas and daunting whisky and cigar menus at Whisgars ( A sneaky shortcut through the Narz club complex (nothing to see here) brings you to gourmet Italian Enoteca (; degustation from Bt1,990). Across Soi 31, settle into a banquette at Roman trattoria, Appia (; Bt2,500), or fuel up for a big night with Neapolitan pizza at its trendy younger sister, Peppina (; Bt1,500). But the French are not to be outdone: Le Cochon Blanc (; Bt2,500) roasts lobsters and ribs over a central firepit and Cocotte (; Bt2,500) coaxes you in with cold cuts and melt-in-themouth tartare. So, you prefer Asian? The lines outside Isao ( isaobkk; Bt1,500) are worth the wait for the sinful sushi sandwich, or get authentic Cantonese—even dim sum at night—at Hong Bao


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(; Bt1,500 baht). If you’re thirsty, it’s tiny Dim Dim ( dimdimbarbkk) to the rescue with Chineseinflected cocktails. Or, there’s more evidence of Bangkok’s love affair with craft beer at the Soi 33/1 branch of surgically themed Hair of the Dog (, where the Canadian frontmen recently made a concession to liquor drinkers with The Clinic. South of the pulsating artery of Sukhumvit, things are slower paced thanks to punctuating green spaces like Benjakitti and Benjasiri parks. Next to the latter is secret wonderland Karmakamet (; Bt1,500). Overhung with trees and bursting with tasteful knickknacks, is it a café? Is it a design store? Is it a Pinterest board? Whatever, it’s perfect for a cutesy date. Just as wholesome, Veganerie Concept (; Bt1,500) joins Broccoli Revolution (broccolirevolution. com; Bt1,500) in the unstoppable takeover of free-from diets and smoothie bowls. Alternative art space RMA Institute ( does an adorable breakfast, while equally delightful Friese Greene Club ( is film-geek heaven with its nineseater cinema. In the vast new Marriott Marquis, chef Mizuho Nagao makes his buckwheat noodles fresh every day at Soba Factory (bangkokmarriottmarquisqueenspark. com; Bt1,500). Similarly overshadowed by the city’s insistent clamor for progress is Gedhawa (24 Soi Sukhumvit 35; Bt800). Though almost buried by EmQuartier mall, this timeless northern Thai spot tirelessly serves grandma’s recipes with no unnecessary fanfare. But still, some remain un-encroached. Take Indus (; tasting menu Bt2,600 including wine): 12 years old and still lounging across its leafy lot, the ornate wooden door opens to lure you with fragrant wafts of Mughlai curries. And Quince (quincebangkok. com; Bt2,000), with its lazy sax-accompanied Sunday lunches, remains undisturbed by the nearby relentlessness of Thonglor or indeed Sing Sing Theatre ( next door. Conceived by Bangkok’s design darling Ashley Sutton, the nightspot still insists on a certain sophistication with its wrought iron dragons and Chinese lanterns, but nods to the new wave of gimmicky cocktails and trendy DJs wearing robot helmets, as if to offer you a smoother segue into the neighborhood beyond.

clockwise From left:

Friese Greene Club's nine-seat theater; behind the bar at Quince; Indian fine-dining at Indus; Havana Social transports you to old Cuba; curated design at Karmakamet Diner; regal interiors at Indus; Quince's bloody Mary is a lifesaver.

Thonglor and Ekkamai By Jeninne Lee-St. John


he part of town that used to be known as “Upper Sukhumvit” was a decade ago just an upscale residential enclave dotted with wedding shops, Japanese restaurants and teen clubs. Now Thonglor and Ekkamai (Sukhumvit Sois 55 and 63, respectively) are throbbing social districts, with all the traffic that entails. I don’t live far, and spend a lot of time weaving among the madness. Trust me: avoid the neon lights and overflowing porches, because there are great meals, quiet lawns and tête-à-têtes with trusty bartenders to be had. On Sukhumvit Soi 49, hit up either part of the double-feature owned by Luca Appino. La Bottega di Luca (; Bt1,700) serves up Italian regional specialities with ingredients hand-carried from the old country. Have an aperitif at 10-seater wine bar Chez Jay (, then head up to Bottega’s gardened deck, or scoot down the road to Appino’s third outpost of the French château of pizza places, Pizza Massilia (; Bt1,200) for organic, wood-fired, Mediterranean-style pies. Down a residential sub-soi off Sukhumvit 51 is the literati stomping ground centered on bar/art gallery WTF ( and the Brooklyn-style Studio Lam (fb. com/studiolambangkok), which hosts Thai bands and eclectic world

music. Nights among the street murals can feel like intimate patio gatherings, or block parties. A soi up and a world away is the serene villa of Michelin-starred Bo.lan (; tasting dinner from Bt2,280), a small-plates, Thai finedining specialist so dedicated to sustainability that I once ran into co-owner Dylan Jones in the middle of Phang Nga Bay plying the waters with his local-fishermen suppliers. The pioneer in casual-cool Thai, pairing genuine local food with craft cocktails, Soul Food Mahanakorn (; Bt1,500) is still going strong. All my visitors also love Suppaniga Eating Room’s (; Bt1,500) faithful family recipes from northeast and southwest Thailand. The cabbage in fish sauce tastes like candy and dances through my dreams. Khua Kling Pak Sod (khuaklingpaksod. com; Bt1,000) is less trendy, but the southern food hits all the right super-spicy notes.

clockwise From below left: So many

choices at Warp Wine Bar; Bo.lan is all sustainable beauty; Rabbit Hole, a Thonglor speakeasy hidden in plain sight; fresh from the fire at Pizza Massilia; Sugar Ray's Banana Manhattan; The Commons redefines community mall; House of Lucie aims to change the world through photography.

On the subject of faithful fare, La Dotta (; Bt1,500) fashions divine hand-made pastas, and the friendly Mexican owners at The Missing Burro (; meal for two Bt1,000) do the purest version of their native fare in town. Gaggan Anand keeps diversifying with wood-fired Meatlicious (; Bt3,000). Sit at the counter in Canvas (; tasting menu Bt2,600), to witness wunderkind chef Riley Sanders conduct a perfect dance of cooks concocting innovative, locavore Thai plates. You could spend morning to midnight in The Commons (, topped by an always-full brunch go-to, Roast (; Bt1,000), and centered on craft-beer slinger Brew (fb. com/brewbkk). Leave your kids at the play place and get in a yoga or crafting class, then reconvene at the communal tables where everyone can eat what they want (Mexican; pizza; poke bowls). For a house-music dance party, cross the street to Beam (, whose sound system in the floors ensures you literally feel the vibes. If that’s too aggressive, snag the leather couch at Warp Wine Bar and drink in their vast, well-priced selection of vino. In the mood for jazz? Dystopian woodland fable come-to-life The Iron Fairies ( or the intimate, Prohibitionera surrounds of Black Amber Social Club ( socialclub) will please. The latter is one of a few fantastic speakeasies in this stretch of town, so if you like to sneak away from the masses and into the arms of master mixologists, seek out the unmarked doors of Rabbit Hole (between Thonglor Sois 5 and 7), Locker Room (Thonglor Soi 10), J. Boroski (Thonglor Soi 9) and, elder statesman and my favorite, Sugar Ray (Ekkamai Soi 21). Sorry, mum’s the word

on exact addresses; just look for furtive hipsters heading down dark alleys or into closets. Another hint: Sugar Ray is across from Tuba ( tubabkk), an original Ekkamai hangout, which looks like your teen neighbor’s rec room in the 1980s. Meanwhile, a high-tech playroom for all ages is Game Over ( Think: video games, giant Jenga and beer pong. The last men and women standing will want a final destination. The choices are thumping pop remixes with wings at Sway ( swaybkk), or the catch-all total scene at Chow (, with a 24-hour kitchen. Brunch is at Toby’s (, a sweet shophouse spot whose avocado toast, crispy bacon, and fresh-blended juices will solve your Sunday. Get in a little culture at House of Lucie (, a gallery outpost of the American foundation dedicated to bettering the world via photography. Then stroll to Danish craft-beer house Mikkeller (mikkellerbangkok. com). Settle into a garden beanbag—or head Upstairs (; tasting menu Bt3,300) where the once-underrated but now Michelin-starred chef Dan Bark makes a mean beer-pairing tasting menu. His swift ascension is symbolic of so much of the city’s.

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Some of the ea rl iest a rt work ever created ca n be fou nd i n the Dordog ne, the bucol ic g a s t r o n o m e ’s p a r a d i s e i n s o u t h we s t e r n F r a n c e . J e f f gor di n i e r v isits the region to ma r vel at cave pa i nt i ngs , devou r foie g ras a nd look for h is place i n t he g ra nd s we e p of hu ma n h i st or y. Photographed by A m broise T Êz e na s


pl ac e

Camille and Mathias Marquet tend to their vines at Château Lestignac. Opposite: Du Bareil au Même, a tapas bar in Montignac.



S p e n d a f e w day s i n t h e D o r d o g n e a n d t h e r e w i l l c om e a mom e n t w h e n you c a n no t h e l p bu t no t ic e t h e f l ow of t i m e .

I don’t mean the ticking of the clock or the pressure to cram more sights into the span of a week. If anything, the languorous pace of life in this department of southwestern France erodes that guidebooky impulse to overdo it on churches and museums. I’m talking about time’s slower, deeper currents—a continuum that stretches back centuries. For me, the moment came at the top of a hill in Limeuil. Limeuil is the sort of small, cobblestoned village you might accidentally, tragically drive through without stopping. It is distinguished by its daunting verticality: all of its narrow lanes wind up a hill. The hill is crowned


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by the Panoramic Gardens, a place where walnut, chestnut and oak trees overlook the confluence of two significant rivers, the Dordogne and the Vézère. In the rolling terrain surrounding these rivers, oh, about 17,000 years ago, the evolution of human consciousness took a major leap forward. The landscape was different back then, barren of trees, yet swarming with beasts. Those beasts inspired the Ice Age residents of the Dordogne to begin painting and carving beautiful images on the walls of caves throughout the region. Before visiting the Panoramic Gardens, I’d eaten lunch at a restaurant called Au Bon Accueil. Maybe the multiple

A street in Limeuil.

Opposite: Roast duck

with potatoes and orange at Au Bon Accueil, in the village of Limeuil.

glasses of 2012 red from Château Laulerie in nearby Bergerac had loosened me up enough to commune with the primordial history of the place. Or perhaps it was the salade de gésiers confits—though calling it a salad would be optimistic from a health standpoint. Really, it was a frill of greens cradling a hot, salty, fatty mound of duck gizzards that had been simmered to the apex of tenderness, served in a style that chefs like to refer to as “dump it on a plate.” I inhaled the dish with atavistic delight, then followed it with cross sections of rolled-up roast pork, a regional specialty, accompanied by hot-from-the-oil crescents of garlicflecked potatoes. After finishing with a slab of walnut cake, I took my slow stroll up to the gardens, where tufts of mint and dill

and tarragon and thyme perfumed the air. I breathed in the good smells, feeling guiltlessly full from my meal. We are wired to want this, I thought. I remembered a passage from The Cave Painters: Probing the Mysteries of the World’s First Artists, a 2006 book by Gregory Curtis that had provided me with an excellent tutorial on the mesmerizing prehistoric art of France and northern Spain. Mystery will always enshroud the paintings and engravings, but some archaeological evidence, Curtis writes, suggests that the Gallic hunter-gatherers of 17,000 years ago “broke every bone open to get at the marrow inside.” They probably slurped it down raw, then made a soup by dropping the bone fragments into water warmed by hot stones pulled from a fire.

s o f r e que n t ly d i d i f i n d foie g r a s on t he me n u t h a t i be ga n to v iew i t a s a s t a ple , l i k e r ic e i n t h a i l a n d or tor t i l l a s i n me x ic o

Lascaux IV, the newly opened cave-art museum in the village of Montignac. Right: Prehistoric artifacts at the Cave of the Sorcerer, in St.-Cirq-du-Bugue.

As I ambled through the Dordogne for four days in May, I couldn’t shake this image of our ancient ancestors rooting at the marrow. Maybe it’s because the local cuisine is so unabashedly, even punishingly rich. Somewhere along the way, I picked up a book of local recipes containing instructions on how to bake a foie gras cake and how to plant nuggets of foie gras in the creamy depths of crème brûlée. I kept encountering shops selling foie gras and nothing else. So frequently did I encounter foie gras on restaurant menus—sometimes four or five permutations in a single place—that I began to view it as a staple, like rice in Thailand or tortillas in Mexico. In one town, I saw a poster that appeared, from a distance, to be a map of local hiking trails—a welcome reprieve, because my body was by then begging for a strenuous

perambulation. But when I looked closely, I saw that it was actually a guide to the famous truffle fields of the Périgord, this fertile pocket of the northern Dordogne: an epicurean treasure map. People in the Dordogne do like to eat. If there is a single thread connecting the cave painters of prehistory to the wine-cellar connoisseurs of today, I’d surmise it is the persistence of a hearty appetite. In fact, Henry Miller, the American writer and professional scamp who made appetite a central theme of his work, mused in his book The Colossus of Maroussi that the Dordogne felt like a place where living well appeared to have been the default mode for millennia. “Actually it must have been a paradise for many thousands of years,” wrote Miller, who spent a month t r a v e l a n dl e i s u r e a s i a . c o m  / j a n u a r y 2 0 1 8


ensconced in the luxe serenity of Le Vieux Logis, an ivycloaked inn in a former Carthusian monastery in Trémolat, just before the start of World War II. “I believe it must have been so for the Cro-Magnon man, despite the fossilized evidences of the great caves which point to a condition of life rather bewildering and terrifying. I believe that the Cro-Magnon man settled here because he was extremely intelligent and had a highly developed sense of beauty.”


hat had brought me to the Dordogne, even more than the cuisine, was the same thing that has lured visitors for decades: the paintings of the Cro-Magnon era. This year saw the opening of Lascaux IV, a state-of-the-art museum devoted to prehistoric cave art. It is located on the outskirts of the village of Montignac, a short stroll from the original hole in the ground where some French boys and their dog discovered the Lascaux paintings in 1940—not long after Henry Miller passed through the area. Designed by Snøhetta, the Norwegian architecture firm, Lascaux IV looks from a distance like a sleek, pale sliver sliced into the land to help you gain entrance to its depths. In spite of its contemporary glass-and-concrete façade, the building provides an astonishing portal to the history of the site, which the French government closed to the public in 1963 to preserve the artwork within. Lascaux IV offers a meticulous simulation of the caves, far surpassing in precision and thoroughness the replica held in Lascaux II, an older museum nearby. Designers have re-created the subterranean art galleries of these Flintstones–era muralists down to every nub and curve. The air inside is cool. Your nostrils pick up an earthy musk. You hear drips and pings. You feel as though you’re in a real cave, but you don’t have to worry about banging your head. Whether you are beholding actual cave paintings or their captivating facsimiles, you will probably find it impossible to refrain from developing your own hypothesis for why they were made. Were the swirling black-and-ocher tableaux of horses and bison meant to serve as a kind of tribal signature? A backdrop for stories passed down through generations? Instructions for a hunt? Religiously significant décor for a shaman’s magic show? Plenty of books (including The Cave Painters) have gone spelunking in this territory, but the truth—as my Lascaux IV tour guide, Camille, kept reminding me—is that nobody really knows why they were made, and nobody ever will. It is immediately and inescapably apparent, however, that the paintings qualify as extraordinary works of art. What leapt to my mind when I visited Lascaux IV, as well as several actual caves in the Dordogne, was how much the beautiful images of animals tumbling across those rock walls belong to a continuum that links ancient Sumer and Egypt, Greece and Rome, leading eventually to Picasso and Miró, Haring and Basquiat. (At Lascaux IV, there is an interactive room devoted to drawing


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Beynac, a perfectly preserved medieval village near the Dordogne River.

A stone cottage next to a cliff face, near the entrance to the Cave of the Sorcerer.

connections between the cave paintings and famous artworks of the 20th and 21st centuries.) I thought in particular of the relationship of Basquiat and Haring with graffiti, because the cave paintings and carvings of the Dordogne come across as a prehistoric version of tagging. They broadcast the most elemental of messages: “I was here.” Once you’ve been initiated into the cave-art cult, it’s hard to break free. The images haunt you. Two days after visiting Lascaux IV, I drove over to the Grotte de Rouffignac, where a little train carries you through the darkness into depths that get cooler by the minute. During the ride, a guide points out smooth, woklike pockets of rock in which cave bears used to curl up and hibernate. Eventually you descend toward numerous carvings of mammoths—Rouffignac is sometimes known as the cave of a hundred mammoths. Many of my fellow passengers were French children who became tremendously excited when the guide, using a flashlight, pointed out the faint outlines of tusks and woolly torsos. This was only natural. Despite being created with just a few spare strokes, the engraved creatures are instantly, charmingly recognizable—even kind of cute, with their shaggy snouts and alert eyes. I felt the jones again the next day. I still had time in my schedule for one more cave, so I steered the rental car through the busy market in the town of Le Bugue, over some train tracks, and up a hill until I got to the Grotte du Sorcier, or Cave of the Sorcerer. Woodsmoke was chugging out of the chimney of a squat stone hut nestled against a cliff. Moss coated the rock shingles on top of the dwelling; ferns and flowers sprouted from the slope of the roof. It looked like a scene out of The Hobbit. Inside, I found Lola Jeannel, who leads tours and oversees the little Cave of the Sorcerer shop. She asked me to wait in an adjacent building, where I surveyed a cabinet des curiosités naturelles—a display case containing hyena teeth, the terrifyingly massive jaw of a prehistoric wolf, the tibia of a rhinoceros. Eventually Jeannel came to tell me that since I was the only visitor, she would give me a private tour. “If you think about it, prehistory is very new—brandnew,” she said. New to us, she meant: many of the prehistoric engravings and drawings in France have been discovered only during the past 100 years or so. In the early 1950s, a farmer used to store his wine in this cave, unaware of or indifferent to the animals carved into the rock. You can’t really blame him. It’s not an especially dramatic cave. If you don’t look closely, the engravings are nearly invisible. Once someone like Jeannel points them out, however, they come to life—in part because the CroMagnon artisans who made them often used the contours of the stone to give the images a sense of motion and three-dimensionality. Jeannel and I proceeded a few steps deeper to get a glimpse of the “sorcerer,” a figure that is just vague enough to allow everyone to interpret it differently. What

I saw was the outline of a large baby. And why not? The engravings, she said, “are like clouds. You can see many things in them.”


he same could be said of the Dordogne itself. The fact that it is not one of the most popular tourist destinations in France—not Provence or Paris, not the gastronomic magnet of Lyon or the chic beaches of the Riviera—makes it easier for a visitor to come without a trunk full of preconceptions. There is Michelin-starred, Relais & Châteaux luxury, to be sure, but time and time again I found that it was presented with a warm, effortless modesty. You travel to the Dordogne to see artwork created before the dawn of civilization, but you end up feeling like you’ve touched down in the most civilized place on earth. Le Vieux Logis, the refuge in Trémolat that captivated Henry Miller, seems to operate on the forgotten principle that you might want to unwind and linger, staying put instead of scurrying around. One evening I got dinner in the hotel’s main restaurant, where the cooking of chef Vincent Arnould succeeds at a perennial French sleight of hand: it sounds heavy on the menu, but feels light on the fork. The service is ceremonial but warm. After I showed up for my reservation, I wasn’t led to my table right away. A hostess encouraged me, instead, to linger in the outdoor courtyard with a chilled glass of vin de pêche, an aperitif made with peach leaves. I sipped the drink. I studied the breeze. I nibbled on one amuse-bouche after another. There was no pressure—the table inside was mine whenever I wanted it. In a place like this, it is pointless to watch the clock. After eating an appetizer of white asparagus stacked next to dainty curls of—yes—foie gras and an entrée of tender pink spring lamb, and then going a little overboard with the restaurant’s bountiful cheese cart, I went for a walk along the country lanes that thread through Trémolat like silk. I did the same thing again the next night. “Eat cheese and go for a walk” strikes me as a sensible approach to life. Everywhere I went in the Dordogne, I encountered the same spirit I’d gleaned from the cave paintings. Call it an accidental elegance. I found it in that hilltop garden in Limeuil. I found it when I dropped by the charmingly unkempt headquarters of Château Lestignac, near the hamlet of Sigoulès, where Camille and Mathias Marquet make organic wines that American sommeliers have been going crazy over lately. I found it when I ambled into a beer bar called Plus que Parfait in the city of Bergerac and met Xavier Coudin, a bearded DJ who was spinning old, obscure American soul records while a crowd danced like extras in a Quentin Tarantino film. The songs seemed to float through the room like dust mites from some time out of mind. I wasn’t sure what decade I had landed in, and I didn’t care. The most striking example of the local style may have been my dinner at La Table du Marché Couvert, a t r a v e l a n dl e i s u r e a s i a . c o m  / j a n u a r y 2 0 1 8


t he be a ut if u l i m a ge s of a n i m a l s t um bl i n g a c r os s t hos e r oc k w a l l s be lon g to a c on t i n u um t h a t l i n k s a nc ie n t s ume r a n d e g y pt , g r eec e a n d r ome , to pic a s s o a n d m i r ó , h a r i n g a n d ba s qu i a t

diminutive restaurant next to a food market in Bergerac. In spite of its association with Cyrano, the romantic gent known for his proboscis and his poetic way with words, Bergerac doesn’t spring to mind when you think of mustsee metropolises in France. I didn’t know what to expect when I wandered into La Table, where the cave-bearish chef Stéphane Cuzin was working in a kitchen the size of a canoe. But Cuzin wound up delivering one of my favorite meals in recent memory—as vibrant and colorful as a field full of wildflowers. It began with a parade of amuse-bouches. The one that left me gently reeling looked like a toy salad piled in a bowl by a precocious child after a hike: tiny beige mushrooms, bright-green fava beans, divots of olive. Together, these elements fused into a tiny still life, a bonsai manifestation of the French landscape. Cuzin’s signature appetizer? You

guessed it—foie gras. But this was foie gras reinvented through the alchemy of a chef’s touch. Cuzin had paired the cool, cylindrical torchon with spring peas and raspberries, and it came to my table with the customary accompaniment of toasted brioche. I could feel it happening again, and deepening: the slowing of time, the marrow-savoring of the moment. We are wired to want this. A pattern had developed here in the Dordogne. I knew I had to follow up dinner with another walk. As I wandered through Bergerac, I noticed small, quick clouds whisking back and forth above my head. They were flocks of swallows, rising and falling in unison, landing in the branches of trees and then, in a mutually agreed-upon instant, launching back up into the sky. The only reasonable thing to do was to stop and watch them.

Château Lalinde, on the Dordogne River. left: The dining room at Le Vieux Logis, in Trémolat.

The details getting there The Dordogne is a 90-minute drive east of Bordeaux, which is reachable via a connecting flight or two-hour ride from Paris on the recently launched bullet train. Rental cars are available at both the airport and train station. Hotel Le Vieux Logis Henry Miller’s early novels are pretty gritty, but his well-documented stay at this gem in Trémolat suggests that he also appreciated a bit of charm

and elegance. Each of the property’s 25 rooms is filled with period furniture and overlooks the village or the peaceful garden.; doubles from €160. restaurants & bars Au Bon Accueil Way up the hill (yes, you’ll have to walk) in Limeuil is some of the most honest and satisfying grub in the Dordogne— think rabbit casserole and creamy mussel soup.; mains €10–€22.

La Table du Marché Couvert Chef Stéphane Cuzin looks too big for his compact kitchen, but he’s got a delicate touch with both foie gras and vegetables. Bergerac;; prix fixe menus from €36. Plus que Parfait Bergerac’s bohemians gather here at night to listen to funky grooves and sip even funkier beers and ciders. 12 Rue des Fontaines; 33-5/53-61-95-11. activities Grotte de Rouffignac The tour of

this cave is in French only, but all kids will enjoy the electric-train ride, regardless. Rouffignac-St.Cernin-de-Reilhac; grotte​ Grotte du Sorcier Worth a visit to witness prehistoric art, fossils and engravings. St.-Cirq-du-Bugue; grotte​du​ Lascaux IV Go to this museum to experience reproductions of each of the drawings found at the Lascaux caves. Stop on the roof for panoramic views of the Vézère Valley. Montignac;

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snow daze

An aerial view of the Victorian homes and historic buildings in Telluride, in the heart of the Colorado Rockies.


January 2018 / tr av el andleisure asia .com

Though many of Colorado’s ski towns have become retreats for the superrich, Telluride remains true to its frontier roots, which is why it continues to draw renegades and outsiders seeking enlightenment. David Amsden discovers the singular charms of this haven high up in the Rockies. PHOTOGRAPHed BY JAKE STANGEL


As the plane began its descent into telluride one afternoon, I pressed my face to the window, giddy with anticipation. For years, I had been only dimly aware of this southwestern Colorado town tucked into a remote canyon in the San Juan Mountains, a skier’s haven where Oprah Winfrey owns one of her many homes. And then, the way these things happen, Telluride began to exert a gravitational pull over various close friends, a normally jaded lot who started speaking about it with a vaguely cultish fervor, like techies talking about Burning Man. One particularly zealous proselytizer went so far as to compare his first encounter with its savage beauty to dropping acid. From the plane window, however, I saw nothing. No mountains, no snow, no hallucinatory alpine utopia. A dense cloud system had gathered in the region, shrouding everything in a fog so blinding that the runway—the highest commercial strip in North America, perilously bookended by 300-meter cliffs—was visible only a split-second before the tiny prop plane touched down. On the taxi

Dabbs Anderson works on one of her gunpowder drawings in a studio at Steeprock, just outside J a n Telluride. u a r y 2 0 1 8   /  t r a v e l a n d l e i s u r e a s i a . c o m


ride from the airport, instead of marveling at the canyon of sawtooth peaks that frame the destination like a colossal amphitheater, I saw only more of the static white murk. My driver, a benevolent old beatnik in a frayed leather cowboy hat, explained how unusual this was, how winters here tended to vacillate, with metronomic reliability, between skies that dump more than 760 centimeters of glorious powder and skies that shine a crystalline blue found only at high altitudes. “But Telluride,” he then noted cryptically, “is about way more than just mountains.” You get a lot of this talk here, quasi-mystical murmurings that make sense only if you know the town’s improbable history. Founded in 1878 as a mining colony, Telluride had, by the turn of the century, minted more millionaires per capita than Manhattan. It had also earned a reputation as a bawdy, half-civilized outpost of saloons and bordellos and wistful prospectors. (This is, after all, where Butch Cassidy robbed his first bank.) By the late 1960s, with the mining industry verging on collapse, the town was claimed by hippies, who found in it an idyll where they could get weird, 2,665 meters above sea level. Radical hedonism alone, however, was not enough to revive the economy. In 1972, the first ski lifts opened, and Telluride was reborn as a winter never-never land with an untamed, frontiersman sensibility. Even though I couldn’t admire the landscape, a stroll through town was enough to stoke a pleasant delirium. The thin air was crisp and piney and laced with the unmistakable scent of burning marijuana. The ghosts of Telluride’s prospecting past lurked in studiously preserved gingerbread Victorians, tumbledown shacks, and stately Old West façades along the main thoroughfare, Colorado Avenue. And then there were the locals, an implausibly fit array of characters who seemed drawn from different chapters in Telluride’s history, all of whom emitted the distinct glow of people in their prime. I passed a sinewy septuagenarian walking around shirtless, seemingly unaware that it was minus 7 degrees Celsius outside. I passed a young dude with a teardrop tattoo gleefully recounting a brush with an avalanche. I passed Hilary Swank. “It’s a deeply bonkers little corner of the world, isn’t it?” said Dabbs Anderson, an artist I met up with that first evening. We were at the Historic Bar at the New Sheridan Hotel, a dimly lit saloon with pressed-tin ceilings and a bustling billiard room, which has anchored the town since 1895. Anderson, a sunny blonde with pale blue eyes and a zanily outsize personality originally from Alabama, moved here a year

A day on the slopes in Telluride’s backcountry.

ago from Los Angeles with her dog, a Great Dane named William Faulkner. We’d been put in touch through mutual friends and, over many martinis, discussed Telluride’s allure: the off-kilter mood, the unpretentious attitude, the emphasis on authenticity over ostentation that has built its reputation as the anti-Aspen. Where Aspen traded its countercultural past for Gucci and Prada, Telluride has no chain stores, no dress codes, no self-consciously swanky hotels. It does have an outdoor “free box” where locals recycle everything from clothing to cooking utensils. “There’s a crazy amount of money here, of course, but it doesn’t define the place,” Anderson went on. “If people go to Aspen to flaunt their wealth, they come here searching for some kind of off-the-grid enrichment, whether they’re a celebrity or they live in a trailer. It’s a place people come to chase strange dreams, which also happens to have some of the best skiing on the planet.”

Anderson spoke from experience. She’d initially planned to stay only a month, having been offered an informal monthlong residency to work on her captivating, folkloric mix of drawings, paintings, and puppets at Steeprock, a mountaintop artists’ retreat in the tiny neighboring village of Sawpit. By the time her residency ended, however, Anderson saw no point in returning to Los Angeles and stayed on to help expand Steeprock’s program. “The bustle, that buzzy anxiety, that survival mentality—I was burned out,” she told me. In Telluride, she found “a community of like-minded freaks,” as she put it. On warm days, she can often be seen gliding about in purple roller skates after a morning spent making haunting drawings using live gunpowder. When I met her, she was preparing for her first local solo show at Gallery 81435, one of the numerous showrooms and contemporary spaces in the downtown arts district. “It’s kind of a crazy saga, but that’s the sort of thing that just happens here,” she said. “It has a way of sucking in a very specific type of person and scaring off the rest.” On that note, she polished off her drink and fixed me with a curious stare. “Be careful,” she added, flashing a grin bright enough to power a nuclear reactor. “You may end up never leaving.” t r a v e l a n d l e i s u r e a s i a . c o m  /   j a n u a r y 2 0 1 8


Alpino Vino, a restaurant and bar on a mountain in Telluride.

Dunton Town House, a five-room boutique hotel in the heart of town.


The next morning, I woke to the bluest of skies and a

penetrating hangover. Anderson and I had ended the night at a place called There...Telluride, a welcome addition to the fertile dining scene. Located off West Pacific Avenue, it was about the size of a walk-in closet, had a punkish vibe, and featured a freestyle menu of delicious small plates: oysters and steamed buns, salmonbelly tostadas and elk lettuce wraps. Dessert was a watermelonf lavored pot gummy I’d picked up en route at one of the local dispensaries. Various friends of Anderson’s had joined us—a photographer, a hemp farmer, a peripatetic Pilates instructor who spends summers surfing in the south of France—and it had gotten late very fast. Mezcal and blood-orange cocktails gave way to tequila served in tiny glass ski boots, and at some point in the night, I’d decided it was a good idea to do a handstand on the bar. That no one batted an eye explains a lot, I think, about the local nightlife. I was staying on South Oak Street, arguably the prettiest road in town, at Dunton Town House, a historic home located near the gondola that whisks people up to the ski lifts. A boutique hotel that feels like a B&B, it is the sister property to the much-beloved Dunton Hot Springs, a resort that occupies a former miners’ town about an

hour southwest. With its five comfortable, modern guest rooms, the Dunton Town House perfectly embodies Telluride’s polished yet unfussy sensibility. After a spread of pastries and fruits served at a communal table, I decided to hit the slopes. Two steps outside the door, however, I became momentarily paralyzed. Telluride will do that to a person on a clear day. Even in a state with no shortage of breathtaking towns carved into mountains, the place is uniquely spectacular for being squeezed on all sides by the highest concentration of 4,000-meter peaks in the Rockies. After the previous day’s fog, it was like a new dimension opening up. Everywhere I looked people were standing stock-still, taking in the dwarfing splendor as if staring at the halo of a UFO. I rode the gondola to the ski area, which is actually a separate town altogether: Mountain Village. Built 300 meters farther up from Telluride in 1987 to make the slopes more accessible for families, it is essentially a mini Vail of luxurious condominiums and ranchlike mansions, with its own police department, restaurants and day-care center. Importantly, it relieved the historic downtown from development pressures. Telluride has since become a year-round destination, with a summer season highlighted by renowned blues, jazz and film festivals. Without Mountain Village, there would have been no way to accommodate such growth. Clipping my boots into my skis at the top of the gondola, I began to get a little nervous. Absurd as it sounds, I was anxious that skiing the mountain would sully my burgeoning love of the place. For me, there has always been an irritating disconnect between the fantasy of

Breakfast pastries at the Butcher & the Baker.

‘Telluride is a place people come to chase strange dreams, which also happens to have some of the best skiing on the planet’ skiing and the reality of the experience, and my memories of trips to some of the nation’s most storied resorts—Vail, Canyons, Squaw Valley—are dominated less by ecstatically tearing downhill than by shivering in interminable lift lines and slaloming through crowds instead of around moguls. For everything that makes Telluride’s 800-plus hectares of skiable terrain a paradise—the phenomenal quality of the snow, the legendary steepness, the surreal vistas in all directions—what is most remarkable is that you truly have the mountain to yourself. It was the height of ski season, yet over the course of three days I never waited longer than a few seconds for a lift and often found myself alone, in the middle of the day, on some of the most popular runs. “That’s Telluride in a nutshell—world-famous but still somehow undiscovered,” Anderson told me that afternoon when we met on the slopes. Telluride’s 18 lifts and 148 runs offer a near-endless buffet for every level of skier. Having spent the morning getting my bearings on the easier terrain, I set off with Anderson to explore the more challenging runs. There were narrow gullies that wound through thickets of aspens. There was the steep and feathery expanse of the Revelation Bowl. There were moguls of daunting verticality that led to groomed, leisurely flats. At the top of the aptly named See Forever, the area’s signature run, Anderson pointed out the dazzling La Sal Mountains in Utah, some 160 kilometers to the west. We ended the day with a bottle of sparkling rosé, kept chilled in a bucket of snow, under the heat lamps at the outdoor terrace of Alpino Vino, which, at 3,647 meters, justly bills itself as the continent’s highest fine-dining establishment. Not surprisingly, we bumped into people Anderson knew, and our group quickly expanded to become a repeat of the previous night’s little party: wine, platters of antipasti, strangers quickly coming to feel like longtime friends. At one point, a friend of mine from New Orleans, where I live, sauntered over to the table and joined the proceedings. I had no idea he was in town. That he was the one who had likened Telluride to taking LSD was especially fitting, since by then the comparison no longer sounded so loopy. That night, while dining alone at the bar at 221 South Oak, which serves incredible house-made pastas, I struck up a conversation with J. T. Keating, a young man who’d moved to Telluride six years earlier. Like all the locals I met, he was warm and welcoming. “I come from a pretty conservative world in Florida,” said Keating, who works in a hotel. “Cheesy as it sounds, I kind of found myself here.” It didn’t sound cheesy at all, I told him. “Yeah, there’s just something in the water,” he said. “I came for the mountains, but stayed for the people.” t r a v e l a n d l e i s u r e a s i a . c o m  /   j a n u a r y 2 0 1 8



I hope you like a good hike,” Anderson said. It was my last

night, and we were standing at the base of the driveway that leads to Steeprock. During my stay, Anderson had introduced me to numerous après-ski pleasures. We’d had the mandatory steak at the New Sheridan Chop House & Wine Bar. We’d caught the sunset from Allred’s, a restaurant at the top of the gondola with the most phenomenal view of downtown. We’d munched on appetizers at La Marmotte, an intimate French bistro housed in an old icehouse. We’d sipped espresso at Ghost Town, an artsy coffee shop, and craft cocktails at the Butcher & the Baker, a fun little café. Visiting Steeprock, she believed, would complete my conversion. The compound, which in the past three years has begun hosting artists of all disciplines, from blacksmiths to photographers, is not an easy place to get to. The driveway, 250 meters of loose shale up steep switchbacks, is navigable only by 4 x 4. Since we didn’t have one, we would have to walk. It was exhausting, but worth it. The place seemed straight out of a fairy tale: a chalet of wide, roughhewn f loors and intricate, rust-scabbed metalwork, all warmed by fire, its lights powered by the sun. Blowtorches, paints and tools were scattered all over the downstairs workroom. Though Steeprock offers occasional classes, it is not yet open to visitors on a regular basis. Anderson, however, plans to spend the next year or so making it a place for art shows, events, and experimental performances. She also wants to create a more formal application process for the residencies, since currently word-of-mouth. Earlier during my stay, I’d met the owner of Steeprock, Isabel Harcourt, a fixture in Telluride for the past 20 years, who works with artists on the logistics of ambitious projects. The property was built 20 years ago by her husband, Glen, a jack-of-all-trades who’d turned it into a kind of ad hoc commune. “Artists came and lived in yurts and tepees,” she told me, explaining that in the early 2000s, they’d turned Steeprock into a home-building company. Then tragedy struck, in 2006, when her husband died in a plane crash. Two years later, the mortgage crisis hit, and the business sputtered out. Now, Steeprock is once again an artists’ haven. There’s talk of rebuilding the tepees and yurts, and even constructing small cabins, to complement the main house. “With Dabbs,” Harcourt told me, “it’s really come full circle as a kind of microcosm of Telluride—this revolving door for interesting people.” Anderson and I went out to the deck. The sky was clear, the stars majestic. You could see the gossamer parabola of the Milky Way. “Oh, and you should see it here in the summer, with all the festivals,” Anderson said. “And the fall, when the leaves change. The first time I saw the colors in the valley I started weeping.” “Careful,” I said, “I may be back before you know it.” I’ve said this to countless people in countless places around the world, knowing as the words leave my mouth that they’re ultimately hollow. With so much out there to see, why keep returning to one place? But there was something different about Telluride. I understood why so many people kept going back. Indeed, just a few months later, I got on my motorcycle and rode 2,400 kilometers to see the place again. Pulling into town, the mountains again delivered their shock, but of course by then I knew that Telluride was about so much more.


January 2018 / tr av el andleisure asia .com

William Faulkner, local artist Dabbs Anderson’s dog. The details getting there Fly to Denver then connect on to Telluride Regional Airport. Hotels Dunton Town House Part boutique hotel, part B&B, this five-room inn in a historic former home is the sister property of Dunton Hot Springs, a luxury alpine resort about an hour outside of town.; doubles from US$450. New Sheridan Hotel Anchoring the main strip of Colorado Avenue since it opened in 1895, this hotel was tastefully renovated in 2008. The Historic Bar and Chop House & Wine Bar restaurant are both worth a visit. newsheridan. com; doubles from US$248. Restaurants & Cafés Alpino Vino During the day, this trailside perch is used for casual ski-in, ski-out meals and drinks, but at dinner, patrons are shuttled from the gondola by an enclosed snow coach for a five-course Italian menu with wine pairings. tellurideski​; mains US$15–$40. The Butcher & the Baker Breakfast in the early hours gives way to craft cocktails come nightfall at this rustically hip café. butcherand​; mains US$7.50–$30. Ghost Town An earthy, artsy café where you can bring a book and let the day slip past while sipping coffee. 210 W. Colorado Ave.; 1-970300-4334; mains US$4–$14. La Marmotte A French bistro tucked inside a historic icehouse, this place is perfect for a decadent meal—think coq au vin—or a glass of wine after a day on the slopes. lamarmotte. com; mains US$26–$44. There...Telluride At this intimate spot, inventive small plates like salmon-belly tostadas often precede shots of tequila.; small plates US$8–$12. 221 South Oak Eliza Gavin, a former Top Chef contestant, wows with dishes like saffronbraised octopus and blueberry-and-coffeedusted elk T-bone.; mains US$30–$50. gallery Gallery 81435 With its focus on local art, this gallery is a great spot to get a glimpse of the town’s thriving arts scene. telluride​

t r av el guide

ICELAND The editors of Travel + Leisure consulted our network of experts to create this curated list of the most essential experiences in the Land of Fire and Ice.

The Blue Lagoon Heats Up

A round of upgrades is giving travelers even more reason to visit. A man-made hot spring and destination spa 40 kilometers from Reykjavík, the Blue Lagoon has long drawn visitors from all over the world. In recent years, the mineral-rich waters got a little too crowded, the facilities a little tired. But enhancements to the spa (a Silica Mud Bar; in-water treatment areas) and the lagoon itself, which has grown by half, are a welcome improvement. And this winter will see the opening of the Retreat (retreat.; doubles from US$1,763), a 62-room luxury hotel. With premium access to the water and a chef’s table serving Icelandic cuisine, it’s sure to bring the Kardashians back for another round of selfies.

best time to go

The warmer months of June, July and August are most popular. But if you travel between mid-September and mid-October, you’ll miss the swell of high season and sneak in before snow blankets the country. Since you can’t fly to Reykjavík (KEF) from Southeast Asia, many travelers choose to incorporate an extended stopover elsewhere in the Norden countries, or in London or Paris. getting around

Reykjavík is walkable, but you'll need a car to see the countryside.


january 2018 / t r av el andleisure asia .com

courtesy of blue l agoon icel and

getting there

24 Hours in Reykjavík If you're going to mainland Europe, consider popping over for a day via Icelandair and Wow Air.

Deplar Farm.

Into the Wild

If you’re eager to see glaciers, lava fields and rugged national parks, stay at any of these intimate hotels, which offer style, comfort and ends-of-the-earth settings.

courtesy of eleven experience

Deplar Farm Luxury outfitter Eleven Experience gave new life to an old sheep farm in the lush Fljót Valley by converting it into a modern 13-room hotel. Spend your days heli-skiing or fly-fishing, then get a sports massage at the on-site spa. eleven​; doubles from US$800, all-inclusive.

HÓtel BÚÐir If you’re into food, make a culinary pilgrimage to this low-key gem on the pristine Snæfellsnes Peninsula. Though the rooms are modest, the dinners are extravagant, thanks to chef Mikolaj Ondycz’s deft touch with local fish and produce. hotel​; doubles from US$292.

ION ADVENTURE HOTEL At this 45-room property in southwestern Iceland, floor-toceiling windows frame prime-time views of the lava fields and northern lights. Attractions like Þingvellir National Park and the Gullfoss waterfalls are nearby. ioniceland. is; doubles from US$428.

Hótel Rangá About an hour from Reykjavík, this riverside lodge has quirky touches, like a 3-meter-tall stuffed polar bear in the lobby, balanced by the spectacular food and vistas of Hekla Volcano. There’s even an on-site observatory for stargazing. hotel​; doubles from US$369.

i n s i d e r t i p “Start the day in Reykjavík with an egg toast at Kaffihús Vesturbæjar (kaffihusvestur​baejar. is) before doing a little shopping. My favorite place is Farmers & Friends (, a clothing store in the Fishpacking District that stocks woolen knits and stylish outerwear.” —Kristinn Vilbergsson, co-owner and CEO of Kex Hostel, a stylish 32-room property.; rooms with private bath from US$232.

Illustrations by maldo malacek

10 A.M.

Shake off jet lag with a pour-over coffee and a pastry from Reykjavík Roasters ( before heading to the Kjarvalsstaðir gallery (artmuseum. is) to check out paintings and sculptures by some of Iceland’s best artists.

12 P.M.

If the coffee didn’t wake you up, a dip in the public Vesturbæjarlaug swimming pool ( certainly will. Afterward, have lunch at Sæmundur í Sparifötunum (; entrées US$17–$38), a great spot for burgers, salads and craft beer.

3 P.M.

Work off that burger by shopping. Geysir ( stocks quality knitwear as well as colorful blankets and throws, and 12 Tónar ( houses both a record shop and an independent music label. Many of the friendly staff play in their own bands.

6 P.M. (and on)

Kick off happy hour with a White Russian at the Lebowski Bar (—yes, it’s themed after the movie. For dinner, Fiskmarkaðurinn (fiskmarkadurinn. is; mains US$46–$85) serves inventive dishes like aged organic lamb with fried shiitakes.

t r a v e l a n d l e i s u r e a s i a . c o m  /   j a n u a r y 2 0 1 8


t r av el guide

View from the Top With its dramatic, Expressionist façade and 23-tonne organ, Hallgrímskirkja—Reykjavík’s famed church—is one of the city’s most photographed sites. But the structure also serves as a great vantage point: from the platform atop the 75-meter steeple, you’ll get a 360-degree look at the streets, mountains, and sea. Photo tip: arrive in the morning during summer months to capture the tower's shadow aligning with the street below.

From the farm to the sea, Iceland’s culinary traditions run deep. Here are four foods you won’t want to miss.

For centuries, Icelanders have begun their day with skyr, a fresh, tangy cheese similar to strained yogurt. Ragnar Eiriksson, chef at Reykjavík’s Michelin-starred Dill (; tasting menus from US$115), dresses up this staple in courses both savory (with braised beef cheeks and pickled onions) and sweet (whipped into mousse with wildflowers and fermented rose syrup). But perhaps Iceland’s most famous dish is hákarl, or rotten shark. Travelers with an adventurous palate can trek to the otherworldly coastline of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula to Bjarnarhöfn (, a top hákarl producer, where huge fillets hang for months from open-air racks facing the sea, first

putrefying and then drying in the wind. If you can get past the ammonia stench, sample a small cube with a Brennivín chaser (see right). Just as traditional is hangikjöt, or smoked lamb. It’s particularly good at Fjallakaffi (; mains US$22–$73), a low-key restaurant with a sod roof on a sheep farm in the eastern volcanic highlands. The meat is smoked the old-fashioned way, over hay mixed with manure. For dessert, a stop at one of Reykjavík’s many sjoppur (sweetshops) is also a must, but be prepared to wait in line—everyone is nuts for candy. Savor fine chocolates at Vínberið (, or get loopy with their tongue-tingling salmíak licorice and even moss-flavored lozenges.

Pro Advice “I recommend heading to Þríhnúkagígur

(, a dormant volcano about 24 kilometers south of Reykjavík. After a moderate hike, visitors descend 121 meters by open elevator into the belly of the crater—a cavernous space with glorious colors.” —T+L A-List Agent Lisa Lindblad, owner and CEO of Lisa Lindblad Travel Design; 1-212/876-2554;


january 2018 / t r av el andleisure asia .com

Reyka This small-batch vodka

goes through an incredible distillation process: glacial spring water and barley spirits are filtered through 4,000-year-old lava rock, then blended together to create a crisp pour.

Brennivín Made from fermented grain and flavored with caraway, Brennivín is Iceland’s homegrown aquavit. (For years, it was one of the few spirits permitted in the country.) You’ll want to enjoy it icecold—and with food. Birkir Great for an aperitif or a

digestif, this earthy schnapps is infused with Icelandic birch sap, tapped every spring. Talk about farm-to-glass: the sole producer, Foss Distillery, leaves a twig in every bottle.

P i c h aya n e e K i t s a n ay o t h i n

Old Nordic Cuisine

Skál! Get into the Icelandic spirit by asking for one of these local liquors—solo or in a cocktail.

Sea Change

Instead of a land stay, how about a cruise? Here are three distinctive itineraries.

deep dive Lindblad Expeditions gets guests up close to nature (waterfalls, glaciers) on its 10-day circumnavigations of Iceland, sometimes making multiple stops in a day. Activities include puffinspotting near Ísafjörður and snowmobiling near the ice lagoon of Jökulsárlón. June–July 2018;; from US$10,270, all-inclusive.

Combo tour A 15-day voyage on the 458passenger Seabourn Quest gives you the best of two worlds: you’ll spend time in the British Isles (and at sea) before arriving in Iceland. Then it’s a full four days of exploring rural places along the eastern coast, including Heimaey Island (pop. 4,264). May 2018;; from US$8,999, all-inclusive.

new ship Be one of the first to sail Ponant’s 184-passenger luxury yacht, Le Lapérouse, as it takes its eight-day inaugural journey. After departing Reykjavík, you’ll sail to the Arctic Circle, stop at the remote island of Grímsey, and explore the 1,200-hectare Skálanes nature reserve. June 2018;; from US$5,418, all-inclusive.

Getting into Hot Water Enjoy some R&R at these scenic natural springs.

i n s i d e r t i p “Reykjavík’s Kolaportið flea market (19 Tryggvagötu) is a special favorite of mine. It’s open every weekend and sells everything from dried stockfish and vintage vinyl records to chocolatecovered soft licorice.” — R agnar Eiriksson, head chef at Dill, a Michelin-starred restaurant in the heart of Reykjavík.; tasting menus from US$115.

© A l e x e y S t i o p/ Dr e a m s t i m e . c o m

Reykjadalur Valley.

Heading to a spa has its perks, but there’s something to be said for experiencing a hot spring in the great outdoors. And Iceland has loads you can visit: navigating your way to these less-touristy spots is as simple as using the GPS in your rental car and a bit of hiking. (Don’t forget your boots.) In the east, Laugarvalladalur is worth the trek. The geothermal stream eventually becomes a waterfall, which visitors can stand under for a warm shower. Reykjadalur, a naturally heated river, lies about 50 kilometers outside Reykjavík and is accessible year-round. From the entrance point, walk along the banks to gain some privacy. Gvendarlaug, in the West Fjords, is made up of two springs, each believed to have healing powers. (They are said to have been blessed by a bishop.) In the west, Krosslaug, a small, stone-lined pool that stays at about 40 degrees Celsius, often goes unnoticed. It fits only about four people, so you may find yourself making friends. When in Iceland!

wish you were here

On a secluded Lagen Island beach, this ramshackle house beckons passersby, though no one seems to know its origins, who owns it or when they might visit. What is certain is that this setting on the Philippine island has all the appearances of a perfectly far-flung break from the travails of modern life. Wireless in the truest sense of the word, nothing here happens quickly. You’re left to your own devices, following the ebb and flow of each day. File this one under a secluded tropical getaway. — fr ancisco guerrero


january 2018 / tr av el andleisure asia .com


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Find the best of Asia in four fabulous cities the best part about heading into a new year is the anticipation of all the new adventures it will bring. and 2018 is especially exciting for us, as we watch four of our favorite hotel brands blossom in some of the world’s most exciting cities. the soaring and serene park hyatt bangkok envelops you in the best of the thai capital, while cocooning you from its chaos. towering in the tallest building in the philippines, grand hyatt manila plays up the cosmopolitan vibe in the freshest, most innovative area of the city. with its sophisticated interpretations of local culture, andaz singapore sets a new standard for immersive hospitality. and hyatt centric ginza gets you in on the ground floor with the cool trendsetters and rich traditions of tokyo’s creative nexus. read on and we’re sure you’ll agree these are this year’s hotspots. your resolution is easy: get planning!


An aerial reverie in the City of Angels visit the kinetic thai capital for stellar shopping, fantastic food and fascinating culture. admire the frenzy from high above the fray at park hyatt bangkok.

ShOp Central Embassy—the elegant, luxury lifestyle mall out of which Park Hyatt Bangkok rises—offers unfettered

access to top global runway brands. Keeping guard is the 2,000-kilogram Freddie Horse, a huge, playful bronze sculpture by beloved Colombian artist Fernando Botero. Other temples to commerce just down the road include the exclusive Central Chidlom. + A trip to Bangkok is incomplete without a visit to Jim Thompson House, the gorgeous teak home of the man who put the Thai silk industry on the map. You’ll leave with covet-worthy souvenirs and bedeviled by the tale of mystery and intrigue behind Thompson’s infamous disappearing act. DO Even if you’re not hunting for precious antiques, imaginative local art or all the textiles, homewares and souvenirs you can carry, Chatuchak—the largest outdoor market on Earth—is still a weekend must-do. Meet young designers hand-stitching tomorrow’s coolest fashions. Chat up local artists on the inspiration behind their work. The street food is bountiful: try the classic grilled pork on a stick, some refreshing honey-lemonade, the decadent fried-potato spirals, an overflowing plate of paella and—if you’re a bit daring—the jumbo prawns boiled in their shells and dipped in chili sauce. + Adults and kids alike marvel at Sea Life Bangkok Ocean World, a multi-story indoor aquatic adventureland where you can dive with sharks and sting rays, sail in a glass-bottom boat or stroll through a surreal tunnel seeing all the fish and fun from the bottom of the seabed.


SEE The timeless tourist trifecta in Bangkok’s Old Town starts with the gilded Grand Palace, until 1925 the residence of the monarchy. One of the most sacred places in Thailand, it houses the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, a 66-centimeter-tall statue of carved jade whose cloak the King changes thrice yearly. Next door in Wat Po resides another revered deity, of epic proportions: the 46-meter-long golden reclining Buddha. It’s a meditative joy to wander the grounds, which are the birthplace of Thai massage and the home of the ashes of the first four kings of this dynasty. Cross the river at sunset for the brilliant natural light show behind Wat Arun, a wondrous sandcastle of a temple that has just emerged from an extensive restoration. T+L Tip: To display proper respect, keep shoulders covered and wear pants or skirts past the knees; socks are required to enter the Temple of the Emerald Buddha.

Explore the urban vibe of Manila


feel the energy of the philippine capital’s new commercial hub, bonifacio global city, with its open-air theater, lush green parks and amazing murals. grand hyatt manila is your luxury perch.

SEE Who would have imagined Bonifacio Global City (BGC), a former military base, would become the hippest place in town? Designed in a grid, much like New York City, everything within BGC is easy to locate. From new-concept drinking and dining destinations to fabulous shopping, everything is within easy walking distance and you can also enjoy artistic murals along the way. A round of applause goes to Bonifacio Art Foundation, which launched in 2015, inviting artists to cover the town in creative masterpieces. Among the many talented artists to look out for are Kristin Farr, whose work adorns the Bonifacio Technology Center and the Transformer Building; Faile, who painted on One Global Place; Dog and Pony, who have enlivened the Bonifacio Stopover; and Francisco Diaz, on the BGC Corporate Center.


DO Manila is a unique blend of old and new—the perfect destination for travelers interested in culture and history. A must for visitors is Fort Santiago, first built by the Spanish after their 1571 conquest. The citadel forms part of Intramuros (literally, “within the wall”), a historic walled city housing the remains of old stone churches, stately residences, plazas, convents and schools that survived multiple colonial changes-of-hands, World War II bombings and natural disasters. + With mild weather on our side, Manila is perfect for yachting. On the west coast, adjacent to the Philippine Navy Headquarters, is Manila Yacht Club—the best place to catch the city’s famed salmon-pink sunsets. + Meanwhile, for those traveling with children, Active Fun—an indoor playground filled with ball pits, slides and games—will prove popular.


Shop In the fashion-forward Philippines, style mavens blend international heavy hitters with local haute couture and new twists on indigenous designs. To plump up your wardrobe, head to SM Aura Premier and Power Plant Mall. + Meanwhile, much appreciation is due to places that seamlessly mix business with pleasure, and Bonifacio High Street is a winning combination. On this multi-level, kilometer-long boulevard dominated by a pleasant park with art installations, you’ll hardly notice you’re shopping. eat+drink Bonifacio Global City is a melting pot of culinary ideas, and for a night out, there is no shortage of restaurants and bars to choose from. Those who hanker after exclusivity should head to The Peak, a fascinating blend of speakeasy, whisky bar and live-music venue. Its location on the rooftop of Grand Hyatt Manila only reinforces the feeling of living the high life. Speaking of entertainment, prepare to be marveled by the chefs at No. 8 China House, who theatrically create delicious Chinese cuisine in front of guests. Those who prefer a quieter evening may opt to book a pew at The Cellar, where your sommelier-curated bottle of wine pairs precisely with small plates of tapas, including everyone’s favorite Philippine specialty, lechon.

Stay Planning has its privileges. Unlike much of Metro Manila, BGC is lush, welcoming and walkable on ground level, kind of like Manhattan, from which the area purposefully takes inspiration. Grand Hyatt Manila occupies a skyscraper that resembles the Empire State Building in a bustling, luxuriant development called Grand Central Park. And if that’s not New York enough for you, wait until you see the sizzling skyline views from the floor-to-ceiling windows of your guestroom, comfortably ensconced in the tallest building in the entire country. The sixth-floor open-air pool deck provides a verdant reprieve from the heat of the city... and perhaps from your stress, too: seek out the purposebuilt meditation garden if you need a little Zen. Further relaxation can be found at the hotel’s serene spa. Distingushed by stellar service, Grand Hyatt Manila wants you to feel at home, so expect that endearing Filipino warmth to pervade every moment of your stay.

“Wait until you see the sizzling skyline views from your guestroom, ensconced in the tallest building in the country�



Discover what makes the Lion City roar roll into the powerhouse ‘red dot’ for a vibrant immersion in one of the region’s best melting pots. stay scintillated in the atomspheric andaz singapore.

SEE Of course, the lively streets teem with heart and history as well. Andaz is perfectly positioned at a cultural crossroads—near Kampong Glam, Bras Basah Bugis and Little India—so that within striking distance you’ll find both Sultan Mosque, the largest in Singapore, and Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple, one of the more important Buddhist sites. Also be sure to stroll, shop and sip among the cute shophouses on trendy Haiji Lane and Arab Street. + Among the benefits of a planned city is the ability to allocate an abundance of green space. Two verdant areas worth your time are the peaceful, sprawling Singapore Botanic Gardens and the sustainable, otherworldly Gardens by the Bay, whose neon “supertrees” shouldn’t overshadow the wonderland’s one million plants and the world’s largest glass greenhouse. Shop This is a fast-paced, trend-setting, glitz-loving city. You’ll find no better evidence of this than on a stroll down Orchard Road, where shiny towers and


Do Singapore’s modern history dates to the 1819 establishment of a British settlement at the base of the Malaya Peninsula. Traders and laborers flocked from around Asia (but mostly China and India) to the free port whose original name, Singapura, means “Lion City” in Malay. Excellent museums in the city shed a spotlight on the various ethnicities and traditions that make up the diverse city. We highly recommend the Peranakan Museum, which is dedicated to people of mixed ethnic origins, many of whose roots go back to the earliest traders who arrived at or breezed through this entrepÔt. + In the recently reopened National Museum of Singapore in the grand former City Hall and Supreme Court buildings, art, festivals, film and other media help tie up the best of the culture in one innovative and stunning exhibition space.

are countless culinary delights to discover at Andaz Singapore. Just try resisting Pandan’s creative take on the national cake, the pandan chiffon, made here in flavors such as black sesame and rose syrup. Premium steakhouse 6650F seduces with its Savile-Row style, skyline views and delectable meats and seafood. You’re going to need a nightcap, of course, and where better to toast your good fortune than at a rockstar roofbar named for the bird of good omens, Mr. Stork.


shoppers of all walks of life make commerce a competitive sport. eat+drink Nothing better exemplifies the perfectly seasoned melting pot that is Singapore than its cuisine. From chili crab to nasi lemak, the picks of the culinary broad spectrum can be found in bustling community-centric hawker centers. Alley on 25 brings that street-dining concept to the sky, adding a touch of panache along with a dash of the best international flavors Singapore excels at. Get your barbecue fix at Smoke & Pepper; savor cast-iron heartiness at The Green Oven; graze on charcuterie and Italian desserts at Icehaus; or watch your prime cuts of meat sizzle to perfection at Plancha’Lah! For more home-grown flavors, Auntie’s Wok and Steam serves sustainably sourced live seafood, dim sum and homey Chinese classics like noodles and congee. In line with the city’s impressive mixology scene, infused spirits and craft cocktails are the name of the game at Bar Square—though we wouldn’t fault you for lounging, complimentary drink in hand, in the natural light of the Sunroom all day. + Bottom to top, there

stay For all the guidebooks you read and apps you download, nothing can give you an equally sharp insight into a city as a friend who lives there. That’s the vibe you get from the moment you set foot in Andaz Singapore, a sophisticated, sky-high tribute to the multi-ethnic Lion City that’s also a pretty sweet pad to lay your head. The sense of place is pervasive, with indoor alleyways echoing the city’s iconic ones, and local textures, textiles and techniques reinterpreted and woven into every space. Around every corner there’s something new to discover—and possibly someone, too, as the lack of barriers, desks and counters encourages friendly rapport with the staff and spontaneous interaction with other guests. Designed by Andre Fu, the hotel partnered with a local brewery to create its Andaz Pale Ale; with a Javanese community to create coffee blends; and with au courant Singaporean label In Good Company to curate a wardrobe of clothing items staff members can mix and match as they like. We’d expect nothing less from Andaz, which means “personal style” in Hindi. If locavive isn’t already the next hot word, Andaz Singapore is defining it.

“Andaz Singapore is a destination offering new perspectives inspired by its eclectic neighborhood�


A launchpad into the heart of Tokyo


for generations the trendiest district in japan, ginza is a neighborhood of artists, fashion-plates, publishers and foodies. and hyatt centric ginza is where the cool kids stay.

ShOp It’s hard to overemphasize the command that Ginza has on trends in a city known around the globe as a style and creative capital. Just stepping outside of the hotel here is an inundation of color and cool. The neighborhood takes its name from the silver mint that was built here in the 1600s to create Shogunate coins. Over the centuries, the artisans, actors, dancers and geisha who lived and worked in the area helped make it a creative hub, and a total rebuild following a fire in the late 1800s rendered the architecture, commerce and mindsets decidedly more modern and Western. Newspapers, followed by magazines, printers and ad agencies moved in, solidifying Ginza as the filter and mouthpiece for style that it remains today. On weekend afternoons, the glittering luxury brand-lined Chuo Dori Street is closed to traffic and becomes a pedestrian thoroughfare of haute commerce. Here, you’ll find the district’s largest shopping complex Ginza Six, where the art, cultural displays and stores are sandwiched

between the lovely rooftop garden and—in the basement—a Noh theater. There you can see the 14th-century performance art of music, dance, drama and comedy called nogaku that is on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list. + Tokyu Plaza Ginza is another mall worthy of getting lost in, where two floors are dedicated to duty-free shopping for foreign visitors. DO There’s no shortage of entertainment options in this sprawling mega-city, but two timeless traditions should not be skipped. For a few years now, there has been a strategic move in the works to relocate Tsukiji, and while the end is nigh, it isn’t quite there yet. You still have time to squeeze in a predawn trip to the world’s largest fish market to hopefully catch a tuna auction, see the old-time fishmongers in action and get a crazy-fresh sushi breakfast, all before 8 am. (Just hurry up!) + Head to the neighborhood known as the heartland of sumo, where three of the country’s six Grand Sumo Championship tournaments are held each year. Even if you can’t make match day, Ryogoku Kokugikan Sumo Museum is super


Landscape and Japanese Traditional. Obviously, cherry blossom season here is a knockout.

interesting, as is chankonabe—the one-pot stew wrestlers eat to gain weight that you can taste in eateries all over the Ryogoku area.


SEE A certain spirituality is woven into the fabric of Japan. Tokyo’s most famous Shinto shrine, Meiji-jingu, was dedicated to the 19th-century emperor who opened Japan to the West. Traditional and serene, the shrine is guarded by a gate made from a 1,500-year-old cypress. + To show your appreciation for Japanese food, you might want to stop by an Inari shrine, dedicated to the diety who protects rice. The ten Ginza Hatcho Shrines are scattered around the district in alleys and on roofs, sometimes guarded by a stone fox. + There are lots of wonderful green spaces in Tokyo, but the most comprehensive is Shinjuku Gyoen National Gardens, with sections faithfully recreating different botanical styles, such as French Formal, English

Eat+drink From the ocean’s diverse bounty to the farmers’ artisanally raised meat, this is a foodie culture like no other. The lively NAMIKI667 whips up hyperlocal ingredients in modern meals crafted with a passion for food and flair. Papillote wrapping keeps fresh fish from Tsukiji and local vegetables tender and juicy. Small-batch Akikawa beef (only 60 cows available per year!) cooked with straw in a cocotte gives a hearty, smoky flavor. Old techniques, new tastes— perfect for a Ginza palate. Stay You didn’t come to Ginza to hide in your hotel room. You came to get among it. Hyatt Centric Ginza is right there with you on world-renowned Namiki Dori Street, a cultural and commercial nexus. Inside, the welcoming design and friendly staff ensure you instantly feel part of the community, ready to chat with fellow travelers or learn more about local lore. The hotel reflects its roots with artwork that portrays Ginza’s defining characteristics: landscape, fashion, entertainment and media. The comfortable, sophisticated guestrooms, for example, are adorned with blockprinted patterns in a nod to the district’s publishing history—and the site’s ownership by a national newspaper company. A stay at Hyatt Centric Ginza is energizing, eventful and will make you feel like an insider almost instantly. And who wouldn’t strive for that in this historic ‘hood where the traditional and trendsetting blend so beautifully?


“Just stepping outside of the hotel here is an inundation of color and cool�

January 2018  

Travel+Leisure Southeast Asia January 2018

January 2018  

Travel+Leisure Southeast Asia January 2018