15 New Reasons We Can’t Wait to Get Fully Vaccinated and Travel Abroad

Here are the dishes, drinks, cultural attractions and stays that have us dreaming of booking a plane ticket.

By Diana Hubbell

Jun 21, 2021

COVID TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS MAY HAVE us still parked at the moment, but that hasn’t stopped us from daydreaming. From flawless craft cocktails to bucket list-worthy resorts, this is our wish list of places to go around Asia-Pacific as soon as those borders open. 

1. Because M+ is set to become one of Hong Kong’s coolest contemporary art showcases.

With its formidable roster of bluechip galleries, Hong Kong was already an essential stop for art-lovers. This year, M+, a groundbreaking museum dedicated to exhibiting Hong Kong visual culture, design, architecture, and moving images will open in its swish new digs in the West Kowloon Cultural District.

2. Because this bar is the perfect place to drink natural wines in Singapore.

As if we weren’t already geeking out on terroir and funk-forward orange wines enough, Drunken Farmer in the Lion City is luring oenophiles with its enviable collection of biodynamic, natural and organic wines.

3. Because this beachside escape in Sri Lanka is just right for design aficionados.

It’s all but impossible to talk about architecture in Sri Lanka without mentioning Geoffrey Bawa, the late, great godfather of tropical modernism. Set on a stretch of dazzlingly white coastline in Ahangama, The Harding Boutique Hotel, Sri Lanka pays stylistic homage to this giant. With just six suites all surrounded by lush greenery, it’s as intimate as can be.

4. Because this Tokyo hotel is going to be the place to see and be seen.

Ian Schrager, a Studio 54 veteran and designer extraordinaire, knows a thing or two about having fun, which is why The Tokyo Toranomon Edition is the embodiment of sophisticated hedonism. From the fashion-forward Freddie Leiba-designed uniforms to the jungle of more than 500 plants that greets guests at the reception, this T+L It List 2021 hotel has eye candy aplenty.

5. Because this resort is helping create a whole new bucket list-worthy beach destination in Malaysia.

One&Only practically coined the term barefoot luxury and we couldn’t be more excited to visit the One&Only Desaru Coast, designed by the late, great Kerry Hill. Each of the 44 suites is surrounded by pristine nature and the pool overlooking the South China Sea is truly visually spectacular. Another one on the T+L It List this year—thanks in part to its killer spa.

6. Because this cross-cultural menu in Manila has perfected comfort food.

Sure, there’s often paella—served with rack of lamb, steak or crispy soft-shell crabs, no less—at Mijo, but the soulful cooking on display here can’t be contained by Spain’s borders. Chef Enrique Moreno serves everything from freshly made rye spaghettini with roasted crab and garlic butter to house-made duck confit with ASMR-worthy crackling skin.

7. Because this New Zealand boutique hotel is giving us serious green vibes.

Courtesy of The Hotel Britomart (2)

It’s not every day you see an ancient tōtara tree growing out of a reception desk, but The Hotel Britomart isn’t exactly an ordinary hotel. Local artisans commissioned by Emily Priest crafted all sorts of one-of-a-kind textures for this abode in one of Auckland’s hottest up-and-coming neighborhoods.

8. Because this Saigon kitchen is taking advantage of Vietnamese terroir in thrilling new ways.

Courtesy of Esta Eatery (2)

With dishes like rack of lamb with Laumont winter truffle sauce, mushrooms and confited egg yolk on the menu, no one would call chef Francis Thuan Tran’s cooking Vietnamese per se. Yet the food at Esta Eatery is so thoroughly grounded in regionally sourced ingredients that it absolutely belongs to Vietnam. Whatever you want to call it, it’s seriously delicious.

9. Because this spot in Ubud is the perfect place to detox and retox.

Ask half the people in Ubud what they’re doing there and you’ll get some variation of the words “yoga retreat.” While there’s certainly nothing wrong with that, after a few days of green juices, we tend to find ourselves craving something a little less virtuous. That’s why Melali is perfect—you can load up on veggie-forward dishes like falafel bowls all day, then sip house-infused gins all evening.

10. Because the confections at this Kuala Lumpur hotspot will sate any sweet tooth. 

Look for a line outside and an eager crowd of Petaling Jaya hipsters snapping Instagram shots and you’re sure to find GaGa Cakes, a spun-sugar dream churning out desserts like a pistachio Paris-brest.

11. Because there’s another reason to be psyched about skiing in Niseko.

There might be no better place in the world to swish down a pile of pure powder on skis on a board than Niseko. Now, Japan’s premier winter sports destination has one of the world’s only five Ritz-Carlton Reserves for you to unwind after hitting the slopes. A stay at Higashiyama Niseko Village comes with a 24-hour butler and views for days—and It List 2021 cachet.

12. Because Bali officially managed to make brunch cool again.

There was a time when our jaded palates couldn’t deal with the thought of sitting through another meal of mediocre eggs Benedict. Enter Mr Egg, a fresh spin on everyone’s favorite day-drinking excuse from chef Bowdy Tolhopf in perpetually hip Canggu. Sure, there’s hollandaise sauce on those perfectly poached eggs, but they come accompanied by miso-spike creme fraiche and gin-cured salmon.

13. Because this hotel in Rajasthan is a literal jewel box.

Jaipur was already packed with hotels worthy of royalty—it helps when you have an abundance of real palaces in the neighborhood—but The Johri is truly the stuff of Instagram (and, yep, It List 2021) dreams. Situated in the heart of the historic Johari Bazaar and belonging to one a ninth-generation family of jewelers, it’s crammed with scintillating details and sports a breathtaking rooftop view.

14. Because this dreamy countryside retreat is the perfect day trip from Bangkok.

When Bangkokians need a break from the big city, they head to the countryside retreat of Khao Yai, where elephants roam and the forests are lush. Roukh Kiri Khao Yai is the latest tony all-villa addition to the area and comes complete with its own mango orchard, saltwater pool and farm-to-table eatery.

15. Because this tasting menu is the height of refined Chinese.

Rather than focus on one region of China for Wing, innovative chef Vicky Cheng of Vea fame (one Michelin star; No. 16 on this year’s Asia’s 50 Best list; Art of Hospitality Award-winner) turns to eight of the most historically reviewed Chinese cuisines, then accentuates them with a few judicious Western techniques including dry-aging meats.

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