Asia offers spectacular scenery, fascinating cultures and beautiful wildlife. In 2019 Asia is also set to offer excellent value for money when compared to other long haul destinations. Here's what's hot for 2019:
With the 2019 Rugby World Cup and the 2020 Olympics, Japan is very much in the headlines. With so much investment in infrastructure and entertainment, visitors can expect a high quality experience. Unless you're going for the sport you may want to avoid the peak period of the Rugby World Cup (Sept-Nov 2019) and Olympics (July-August 2020). Visit outside these peak times and you can enjoy some excellent deals.
Two of our team have travelled in Japan and here are some of their suggestions:
Fly into Osaka and out of Tokyo, using Shinkansen (the bullet trains) to travel around. The fastest train, the Nozomi takes just two and a half hours! As you'd expect the rail service is super efficient, and if you're making a few journeys a Japan Rail Pass makes it cost effective. Cherry blossom time is March to May and a beautiful time of year to explore. Atmospheric Kyoto is an absolute must - go traditional and stay in a Ryokan - look for Geishas scuttling down the cobbled lanes beneath the lanterns and visit the Imperial Palace and beautiful Nijo Castle - watch out for the inquisitive deer.
Hokkaido is wild and beautiful with lakes, forests and an alpine feel - you can visit Japan's largest national park here. Tokyo is a fabulous city and there is always something going on - from Jojogi Park where all the teens congregate is the most outlandish outfits to the buzzing nightlife of Shinjuku, you can easily spend 3 or 4 days exploring. We love the stylish Mandarin Oriental in Tokyo and we also love escaping the city for the hot springs of Hakone, views of snow-capped Mount Fuji and the hospitality of Gora Hanougi Hakone, a wonderful traditional ryokan.
To discuss your holiday to Japan please contact Lily on firstname.lastname@example.org
The big news as we head into 2019 is that the scaffold is down on the Taj Mahal making 2019 a great time to visit. Travelling in India with a private driver/guide and vehicle makes life much easier for you. Accomodation is rich and varied - stay in historic properties, palaces, colonial houses, safari lodges, riverboats and superb beach properties.
A few ideas:
Agra and Rajasthan - combine Agra and a visit to the Taj Mahal with a circuit of Rajasthan - the Sujan properties would make a great circuit (Sujan Serai Camp, near Jaisalmer; Sujan Jawai Leopard Camp between Udaipur and Jodhpur and Sujan Rajmahal Palace). Also in Rajasthan is the Narendra Bhawan Bikaner hotel. Although you're too late to make the 2019 Pushkar Camel Fair in February you could start thinking about visiting in 2020? We like the family-owned Nimaj Kothi Pushkar, whatever time of year you visit!
For tigers - it has to be Ranthambore - for the Taj Mahal and tigers try this 13 day trip.
Explore the east - Calcutta and Darjeeling could be combined with a cruise on Brahmaputra in Assam, and stays in Kaziranga/Manas for spectacular wildlife and something a bit different. If you're not tempted by the seriously stylish Rajbari Bawali (just outside Calcutta) or newly opened Glenburn Penthouse, part of the ancient tea estate and right in the historic heart of Calcutta then this part of India is perhaps not for you...
See our Rhinos of Assam journey here.
Super South - for those preferring the languid waterways of the south, we have many suggestions! Stay at the idyllic Neeleshwar Hermitage in Northern Kerala, or riverside, surrounded by lush forest at Windemere River House, excellent for birding, or head slightly further north and inland to UNESCO World Heritage Hampi and the spectacular 'Evolve Back' villas which evoke all the romance and grandeur of the fourteenth century.
More inspiration for exploring Kerala can be found here.
Vietnam is another exciting option for a 2019 holiday and offers you a whole host of ways to explore from bicycling the streets of ancient World Heritage Hoi An to setting sail on Halong Bay in a traditional Junk, or cruising the waterways of the Mekong Delta. We love Hanoi in the north - it's worth taking your time to explore - it feels very traditional with lovely architecture and a buzzing central market. Try the Sofitel Metropole in Hanoi. Ho Chi Minh in the south is far more modern and a gateway to the wilds of the Mekong Delta and the beaches of Con Dao. For a beach break with a difference, try Six Senses Con Dao.
To see sample Vietnam holiday itineraries click here.
Beautiful Sri Lanka offers many holiday options and is a great choice for all ages - it's an exciting family destination, and a perfect place for a honeymoon. It's easy to explore several different areas in one trip, for example, combining the south coast, or the deserted beaches of the east (depending on the time of year you visit) with the temples of the Golden Triangle and spectacular scenery of the hill country. You also have the option of safari - there are 24 game reserves and a whole host of accommodation options from eco lodges to smart hotels - search for forest elephant and leopard and learn about this rich bio-diverse area. Brilliant in isolation, or in combination with the Maldives, easy to reach and very affordable, Sri Lanka remains a great choice for 2019.
Get to grips with Sri Lanka - learn more about the highlights and how to experience them here.