Experiences: Top City For Culture
Winner: Kyoto (Japan)
The imperial capital of Japan for more than 1,000 years, Kyoto is a city saturated with historical, religious and cultural treasures. Here, you can dress like geisha and join matcha tea ceremonies, wander through the traditional machiya (townhouses), sleep in tatami-matted ryokan (inns) and bathe in onsen, or visit one of the 2,000-odd Shinto shrines, temples and zen gardens. So rich is Kyoto’s cultural legacy, that the government recently decided to relocate the entire Agency for Cultural Affairs here by 2021. And why almost 50 per cent of respondents voted Kyoto Asia’s top city for culture.
Experiences: Top City For Culture Shortlist
From the Great Wall, Forbidden City and surrounding hutongs to 798 Art Zone and the ‘Bird’s Nest’ National Stadium, Beijing is the guardian of Chinese culture dating back millennia to the present day.
Famed for its giant panda city mascot, the capital of Sichuan province has an easily recognisable identity. Combined with the relaxed pace of life, lively nightlife, pervading teahouse culture and fiery Sichuan cuisine, the western gateway to China is a rising star among tourist arrivals.
Hong Kong (Hong Kong SAR, China)
For a relatively small city, Hong Kong punches well above its weight in terms of its cultural contribution. From global icons like Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan, to a thriving indie music industry and a food scene that is championed for its diverse local and international flavours.
Luang Prabang (Laos)
In 1995, Luang Prabang was designated a Unesco World Heritage Site, due to its architecture that present a fusion of Lao, Chinese and French styles, that has been remarkably well preserved thanks in part to its relatively isolated geography and accessibility.
Siem Reap (Cambodia)
The gateway to the breathtaking Angkor Wat temple complex, Siem Reap is a treasure of architectural, historical and cultural significance. Add that to a city rich with local artisans, this tiny city offers a wealth of cultural experiences.
Japan’s capital city also happens to be its hippest. It’s a vibrant metropolis with subcultures catering to all tastes and sensibilities. From traditional temples such as the Meiji Shrine to tiny jazz joints to eye-popping digital art in Teamlab’s exhibition in Odaiba, Tokyo is constantly impressing and inspiring.