Travel Awards

ASIA’S TOP COUNTRY FOR CULTURE

We reveal the winner and shortlist for top country for culture in the Experiences category, as chosen in the 2018 Marco Polo Club Members' Choice Awards by Cathay Pacific's most frequent flyers.

Experiences: Top Country For Culture

Winner: Japan

Macro Polo Club Members Choice Awards, top country for culture
NH / Shutterstock

Japan’s tourism boom in recent years has been nothing short of stunning: just five years ago the country received 8.3 million international visitors, compared to the 28.6 million who visited in 2017. But while currency fluctuations – and shopping – are big drivers of travel, it’s the country’s inimitable culture, food and landscape that draws visitors back time and again – where Buddhist and Shinto practices, urban and island landscapes, timeless and contemporary styles all meet in a land that stretches from the subtropical to the sub-Arctic.

Experiences: Top Country For Culture Shortlist

Bhutan

The Himalayan kingdom chose a highly conservative approach to tourism when it first began to open up to the world in the 2000s. The benefits are obvious: a country where traditional practices, dress, architecture and crafts survive beyond the feast days and festivals – and where a commitment to environmentalism means there’s not a plastic bag to be seen.

Cambodia

Angkor Wat has managed to make its way on bucket lists the world over. In Siem Reap and beyond, the country is striving to find a balance between traditional Khmer culture and the demands of its new legions of overseas tourists.

China

As one of the oldest civilisations in the world, China’s cultural significance is hard to beat. Its culture continues to influence architecture and philosophy to art, poetry, food and beyond.

India

Love and spirituality are two recurring themes to emanate from the Indian subcontinent. It’s a nation that gave us the epic romance of the Taj Mahal and the Kama Sutra; all-singing, all-dancing Bollywood flicks; and yoga, dating back over 5,000 years. On top of this, the rich variations of Indian cuisine have been exported to diners across the world.

Indonesia

With hundreds of ethnic tribes spread across the archipelago, Indonesian culture is an amalgamation of various influences. Tradition is important, with festivals occurring frequently, often with cultural performances showcasing a vibrant array of costumes, dance styles and music styles. Artists and artisans also flourish, with wood carving workshops drawing wide-eyed shoppers from across the globe.

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