Editors at Lonely Planet have released their list of the best destinations to visit in Asia in 2017, which spotlights emerging, under-the-radar gems like Gansu, China, a province that lies in north-central China and is home to ancient Buddhist caves, rainbow sandstone peaks, and the end road of the Great Wall of China.
For many readers, LP’s best of Asia list will be an enlightening one, representing a cross-section of destinations throughout Central, East and South Asia, from Japan, India, Kazakhstan to Malaysia.
Topping the list is Gansu, which has become more accessible in recent years thanks to the development of high-speed rail lines, a new metro service in the provincial capital of Lanzhou, and upgraded highways.
The province is also one of the least populated in China, given its remote location and desert landscape.
Some of the region’s star attractions include Instagram-worthy rainbow rocks at Danxia National Geopark, an otherworldly landscape where sandstone peaks are striped in various hues of red, orange, yellow and blues.
In 2015, the Mogao Caves, which house ancient collections of Buddhist art, underwent major restoration efforts.
Food lovers may already be acquainted with Lanzhou’s signature hand-pulled noodles, which attract hungry Chinese tourists from around the country. Freshly-pulled noodles are most commonly served in a beef broth with chili and herbs.
In second place, editors recommend visiting a pair of seaside cities which lie south of Tokyo: Yokohama, for its eclectic architecture, microbreweries and local cuisine; and Kamakura, for its temples, shrines, and surf.
And in third place, editors highlight Northern Kerala, India, which they describe as unduly underrated. While the beaches of south Kerala attract major tourists, the opening of a new international airport in Kannur will allow visitors to discover beaches in the north. In anticipation, a string of homestays and resorts have been opening up in recent years.
Here are Lonely Planet’s picks of the best destinations to visit in Asia in 2017:
1. Gansu, China
2. South of Tokyo, Japan
3. Northern Kerala, India
4. Keong Saik Road, Singapore
5. Astana, Kazakhstan
6. Takayama, Japan
7. Xi’an, China
8. Sri Lanka’s Hill Country
9. Melaka City, Malaysia
10. Raja Ampat, Indonesia