Author Archive for Alastair Donnelly

6 beautiful places to see Autumn leaves in Japan

6 beautiful places to see Autumn leaves in Japan

Japan is world-famous for its cherry blossom, making spring by far the most popular time for tourists. But did you know that autumn has its own natural displays that are just as spectacular – if not more so? Just as hanami (flower-viewing) is integral to the Japanese enjoyment of cherry blossom, koyo, or momiji (leaf-viewing)
Top 5 places to learn about war history in Indochina

Top 5 places to learn about war history in Indochina

Known to the Vietnamese as the American War, to Americans as the Vietnam War, and to scholars as the Second Indochina War – the American-Vietnamese conflict that took place between 1955 until 1975 brought Vietnam to the forefront of the world’s attention. What most people don’t realise is that the conflict had an equally devastating
Beyond Angkor: 6 hidden temples to visit in Cambodia

Beyond Angkor: 6 hidden temples to visit in Cambodia

Cambodia is justly famous for its national icon: the magnificent Angkor Wat. This vast 12th century temple is preserved in a remarkable state of repair, contains miles of intricate bas-reliefs, and was constructed using a volume of stone greater than the Great Pyramid of Giza. It represents the pinnacle of Khmer culture and artistry, evoking
Top 5 luxury cruises in Indochina

Top 5 luxury cruises in Indochina

Most people, when travelling, want to step away from the beaten path – to combine world-class highlights with forays into the untouched and unknown regions of the world. Unfortunately, venturing away from the well-trodden tourist hotspots usually means compromising on creature comforts: trading off on quality accommodation and services to enjoy the best, most unspoilt
7 great reasons to visit northern Japan... now!

7 great reasons to visit northern Japan... now!

This month marks five years since the earthquake and tsunami that devastated the Tohoku region – the northernmost portion of Japan’s main island. Although the destruction along the coast was virtually total, most of Tohoku – a region filled with World Heritage temples, rugged national parks, and beautifully preserved samurai towns – was almost entirely
6 surreal places in Burma

6 surreal places in Burma

As Burma has only very recently opened its doors to international tourism, many of its most bewitching and beautiful locations remain virtually unknown to the outside world. Some of these places are so unusual, so striking, that they have an almost surreal quality – dream landscapes unlike any other in the world. The following are
6 romantic places to spend Valentine's Day in Japan

6 romantic places to spend Valentine's Day in Japan

Where better to spend Valentine’s Day than the land of steaming hot springs, luxurious kaiseki cuisine, enchanting ryokan inns and exclusive skyscraper hotels? Whether you’re after traditional charm and rural seclusion or Michelin-starred restaurants and cocktail bars – Japan has romance to suit all comers. Here are just a few of our favourite places to
Top 5 things to do in Mandalay

Top 5 things to do in Mandalay

As the city that lends its name to one of Kipling’s most famous poems, Mandalay has an awful lot to live up to. Its name is inextricably linked with rose-tinted colonial romance, but how does the modern town compare to the hype? Those in search of remnants of the Raj might be a little disappointed
The 5 best beaches in Vietnam

The 5 best beaches in Vietnam

With its long, thin shape stretching approximately 1,000 miles from north to south, Vietnam has a heck of a lot of coastline to offer. It also has all the natural beauty, fascinating culture, and fabulous weather of neighbouring Thailand – but without the hordes of drunken foreigners that so often go with it. As ever,
5 lesser-known places to visit in Vietnam

5 lesser-known places to visit in Vietnam

Everybody has heard of Hanoi and Saigon, and the names Halong Bay, Mekong Delta and Hoi An may ring a few bells too. But beyond Vietnam’s most famous spots there are a huge variety of fantastic and far less visited destinations that showcase the country’s incredible diversity of landscapes, from tropical islands to vast cave
Top 5 things to do in Yangon

Top 5 things to do in Yangon

If you’re heading to Burma, the chances are that you’ll be beginning your trip in Yangon: Burma’s former capital city and former stronghold of the British Raj. Though it is by far the largest city in Burma, Yangon remains much quieter and less developed than most Southeast Asian capitals. It has only 5 million residents
5 of the best exclusive experiences in Burma

5 of the best exclusive experiences in Burma

Burma may be decades behind the rest of the world in many respects (and therein lies its charm), but there is one area in which no traveller to Burma need compromise, and that is luxury travel. Though the market is in its infancy, there are some truly spectacular hotels and experiences already available in Burma
The definitive guide to choosing a Halong Bay cruise

The definitive guide to choosing a Halong Bay cruise

The otherworldly scenery of Halong Bay has inspired many a traveller to visit Vietnam. With its towering limestone pinnacles looming out of the morning mist, Chinese-style junk boats crossing to and fro between them, it is a landscape that seems to belong more in ancient legend than in guidebooks and brochures. The best way to
5 of the most beautiful ryokan in Japan

5 of the most beautiful ryokan in Japan

Ryokan, or Japanese-style inns, epitomise Japan’s traditional minimalist aesthetic. Japanese architecture and interior design is intimately connected with Zen principles, eschewing unnecessary features in favour of exquisite simplicity. Flashy is not a word in the Japanese vocabulary. Given this, it should not be surprising that the set of criteria by which a ryokan’s quality is
5 great day trips from Tokyo

5 great day trips from Tokyo

Whether you’re spending a few days in Tokyo as part of a longer trip, or taking a short city break – at some point you’re bound to want a change of scenery. Luckily, there are several excellent day trip destinations within easy reach of Tokyo, and it really couldn’t be easier to incorporate them into
6 of the best exclusive experiences in Japan

6 of the best exclusive experiences in Japan

For many travellers, Japan is the holiday of a lifetime. Shrouded in myth and mystique, it holds its own special allure, drawing visitors back again and again with its distinctive combination of time-honoured tradition and hyper-modernity. Japan is also a fantastic place for luxury travel, as that little extra really can make the difference between