Asia is an enormous continent full of exotic beaches, mouth-watering cuisine and incredible history, but according to Lonely Planet, there are some places not to be missed this year. The travel guide company has published its Best in Asia list of the continent's 10 best destinations to visit over the next 12 months. 

Their Asian editors and writers have studied the cities and the off-the-beaten-track destinations to work out which areas offer best value experience-wise, whether for the food, the scenery or the activities on offer.

Hokkaido, Japan, was given the top spot thanks to its 'year-round charms' , while Shanghai, China, came second and Jeonju, South Korea, sat at number three.

Lonely Planet's Asia-Pacific Spokesperson, Chris Zeiher said: 'Our Asia-expert authors explored the continent's most electrifying cities, trekked through steaming jungles and swam in bountiful seas to seek out the spots you simply cannot afford to miss.'

1. Hokkaido, Japan
Hokkaido is the northernmost of Japan's main islands, famous for skiing volcanoes and hot springs. 
Lonely Planet said: 'Hokkaido's perfect powder snow put it on the international map, but it has also blinded visitors to the year-round charms of Japan's northernmost island.

2. Shanghai, China
Shanghai is China's biggest city, with a population of more than 24 million. 
Lonely Planet said: 'Looking for the centre of the universe right now? It's surely Shànghǎi. This year's a big one, with the first Disney resort in mainland China opening here, as well as the completion of the long-awaited Shànghǎi Tower, the world's second tallest building.

3. Jeonju, South Korea 
Jeonju is a city in South Korea this so well-known for its food that UNESCO have labelled it it a Creative City for Gastronomy.
Lonely Planet said: 'Having long flown under the radar as the country's top foodie destination, Jeonju has finally started to make mouths water further afield. The birthplace of Korea's most famous dish, bibimbap, now lures a younger crowd thanks to its fast-emerging street food scene.'

4. Con Dao Islands, Vietnam 
The Con Dao Islands are a star attraction in Vietnam. 
Lonely Planet said: 'This archipelago now ranks among Asia's hottest emerging destinations. With improved flight connections from Ho Chi Minh City, there is no better place right now to feast on fresh seafood, explore in search of a perfect beach and revel in a castaway vibe.

5. Hong Kong, China 
Hong Kong is a former Briitsh colony that is now a modern city in southeastern China, with a world-famous skyline. 
Lonely Planet said: 'Hong Kong is focusing on its natural heritage – specifically, the UNESCO-designated geopark, a 50-sq km region to the northeast. A shuttle bus between the geopark's Sai Kung town and its ancient rock formations debuted this May, hard on the heels of a ferry service to Lai Chi Wo Village. 

6. Ipoh, Malaysia
Ipoh is the capital city of the Malaysian state of Perak. 
Lonely Planet said: 'Malaysia's lesser-known food capital has new flair thanks to a crop of boutique cafes that have sprung up in its historic quarter. At the heart of Ipoh's renaissance is otherworldly concept hotel Sekeping Kong Heng.

7. Pemuteran, Indonesia
Pemuteran is a beach destination situated in the far northwest of Bali. 
Lonely Planet said: 'A double bay of beaches near Menjangan … don't wait until everybody arrives though. Catch the buzz now from this alluring mix of art-filled resorts, inventive new restaurants and the mellowest vibe around.

8. Trang Island, Thailand
Trang Islands are in the south of Thailand and can can easily be reached by boats from Krabi and Phuket. 
Lonely Planet said: 'Trang Islands pack the same knock-out punch as their more famous Andaman Coast neighbours; all they lack are the crowds. Go, now – while these sleepy islands bask in untouched splendour.

9. Meghalaya, India
Meghalaya is a north-east India state that means 'the abode of clouds' in Sanskrit. 
Lonely Planet said: 'Opportunities for hiking, climbing, caving and rafting abound. After decades off the tourist map, people are starting to notice this backwater. Meghalaya won't stay this quiet for long; go before thrill seekers storm the Khāsi Hills. 

10. Taitung, Taiwan
Taitung is a city that lies on the southeast coast of Taiwan next to the Pacific Ocean. 
Lonely Planet said: 'Taitung is Taiwan's secret wild card. This cradle of indigenous culture is the place to party after harvest with music festivals and sweet millet wine. Or take advantage of this rural county's superb whale watching, stargazing and cycling.' 
Please note: Typhoon Nepartak has caused recent devastation; however Best in Asia is a collection of great places for the next 12 months and Taiwan has already begun the rebuilding efforts and will be welcoming travellers again soon.

Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk   /  www.lonelyplanet.com

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