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Japan & Asia Insider Tips

Cambodia | Phnom Penh's wide boulevards shaded by tamarind and jacaranda trees earned the city the nickname The Pearl of the Orient. Enjoy upscale coffee shops, cutting-edge clubs and a variety of dining options from authentic street foods to fine dining.

Cambodia | Approximately an hour from the capital city, discover Koh Dach, known as Silk Island. A ferry ride takes you the island in the middle of the Mekong where you can learn about Cambodian silk weaving, watching workers use handlooms to spin silk while others dye materials to create breathtaking designs.

Cambodia, Siem Reap | Home to creative artists, poets, writers and photographers wanting to be close to the ruins of Angkor, Siem Reap features a lovely town center and flowing river through the former French Quarter.

Hong Kong | A time of celebration and colorful festivals, celebrate Chinese New Year typically from January to February in Hong Kong. A favorite tradition for locals is to offer festive treats in ornate red boxes called chuen hap. Different treats bear different blessings: the lotus root brings plenty of surplus, deep fried peanut pastries promise advancement and golden sesame balls bring a home full of wealth.

Hong Kong | The Hong Kong Wine & Dine Festival brings world-class food, wine pairings, master chefs and entertainment to the stunning Victoria Harbour. This spectacular event is hosted in October, transforming the Central Harborfront into a foodie's dream with more than 400 booths. Visit The Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong for what is purportedly the highest bar in the world, The Ozone Bar, located on the 118th floor. Delight in incomparable views, inventive cocktails and delicious Asian tapas.

Hong Kong | Known for its extraordinary gastronomy, Hong Kong's Mongkok district is famous for its dim sum, roast meats and noodles.

Hong Kong | Slip back to old Hong Kong with a visit to the quaint and charming Aberdeen Fishing Village, where old-fashioned junks and sampans are lined in rows offering various seafoods, produce and more. Aberdeen continues to be a thriving harbor, and is still home to the boat-dwelling Tanka people, where you will still see old ladies dressed in traditional ways and peddling the catch of the day.

Hong Kong | The Lantern Festival, happening each September allows you to enjoy a weeklong show of beautiful sound, color and light. Explore the incredible lantern styles including ancient, modern, and paper before delighting in a Lion dance show. Don't forget to savor a traditional moon cake before the day is over.

Hong Kong | Join the massive festivities of the Chinese Lunar New Year happening in February to experience an incredible celebration featuring a night parade, performers, temple rituals, fortune telling and about half-an-hour of over 20,000 fireworks.

Hong Kong | The waterways in Hong Kong come to life in June with the Tuen Ng Festival when this Dragon Boat Festival takes the waters.

Hong Kong, Kowloon | To capture a prime photo of the Hong Kong Skyline, head to the Kowloon side of Victoria Harbour, in front of the Hong Kong Cultural Center.

Hong Kong, New Territories | Life size Buddhas line the 430 steps up to Sha Tin's Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery and its main hall where you will find 10,000 Buddha statues.

Japan | Used for quiet soaking and contemplation, Japan is home to countless onsens, or natural hot springs where visitors must follow proper cultural etiquette.

Japan | Cherry Blossom viewing (Hanami) season will soon be arriving to many areas in the southern part of Japan and gradually spreading northward. It means that sooner or later, most of the top hanami spots that are located around Japan will welcome sakura flowers. Every year, Japan's first cherry blossoms appear in Okinawa (southern Japan) then move northwards to Hokkaido by early May. The average timeframe for when the sakura will bloom may vary depending on the weather conditions. Click here for a map showing the best locations and timeframes for viewing.

Japan | Cherry Blossom season arrives in Japan in 2019 from mid-March through late April. The Japanese cherry blossom, or sakura, is an integral part of the Japanese culture. In Japan, you will find not only thousands of cherry blossom trees blanketing the country side, but also sakura flavored Coca-Cola, sakura ice cream, and a Shinkansen bullet train known as the Sakura. The sakura in paintings, poems, and song is often used to represent the transient nature of life. Some of the best Cherry Blossom viewing spots are Koishikawa Korakuen, one of the most famous gardens near Tokyo Dome; Shinjuku Gyoen with a total of more than 1,000 trees; Ueno Park with night lights; and Chidori-ga-fuchi with moats and waterways located near the Imperial Palace.

Japan, Kyoto | Did you know that in Kyoto they do not make reference to the name Geisha. The term Geisha is used in Tokyo while they are called Geiko's in Kyoto and preferred to be referenced this way. A Maiko is an apprentice to the Geiko and are traditionally between the ages of 15-20. Both jobs consist of performing songs, dances, and playing traditional Japanese instruments for visitors during feasts. You can tell the difference in how they dress - Maiko's are more colorful with lots of accessories in their hair, long sleeve kimonos, long obi (sash) and high rise geta (traditional sandal).

Japan, Kyoto | The Gion Matsuri, a parade of more than 30 floats and countless festivities in Kyoto, continues for the entire month of July.

Japan, Kyoto | Visit Nanzen-ji Temple and Garden in eastern Kyoto, famous for its fall foliage including crimson maples and moss-covered ground.

Japan, Kyoto | Visiting Nijo-Jo is an amazing experience, one of the most striking features of the Ninomaru Palace are the nightingale floors (uguisubari) in the corridors. To protect the occupants from sneak attacks and assassins, the builders constructed the floors of the corridors in such a way as to squeak like birds when anyone walks on them. This is a very kid-friendly and family fun palace to visit.

Japan, Osaka | With a commitment to fresh and seasonal ingredients, The Ritz-Carlton offers guests the chance to join acclaimed global cuisine chefs in the kitchen and at the dining table. Consider a culinary pilgrimage to these foodie destinations to try their most iconic dishes. Osaka's approach to down-to-earth cooking leads The Ritz-Carlton, Osaka's "must-try" dish of okonomiyaki, meaning "cook what you like". This savory pancake is fried in a teppan and topped with everything from bonito flakes or ao-nori-sea greens to a Japanese Worcestershire-style sauce

Japan, Osaka | Standing at 300 meters, the Abeno Harukas in Osaka is the tallest skyscraper in Japan. At the top of the Kintetsu Osaka Abenobashi Station, the observation deck is called the Harukas 300 and occupies the building's top three floors (floors 58 to 60). With large floor-to-ceiling glass panels all around, enjoy panoramic views, and an inner court with a wooden deck and cafe. The building also houses the largest department store in Japan, an art museum, garden terrace, rooftop plaza, and the Osaka Marriott Miyako Hotel.

Japan, Tokyo | Stroll Yoyogi Park in Tokyo, home to glorious yellow ginko and red maples. Visit on Sundays when the park becomes a host to many local clubs and groups including juggles, musicans, cosplayers, hobby groups and more.

Japan, Tokyo | Looking for things to do in Tokyo's Marunouchi and Otemachi Neighborhoods? The business district of Marunouchi is home to Tokyo Station, the Imperial Palace, and several hotel chains, but the past decade has seen a big change here, as well as the neighboring area of Otemachi. And while business is still at the heart of these neighborhoods, there is now an interesting choice of restaurants, bars, and sites that make it a great place to stay. High-end shoppers, meanwhile, will be delighted to board the glass elevators that whisk them between destinations, from Diesel to Bottega Veneta, from Harrods to YSL. For things to do aside from shopping in luxury fashion boutiques, though, check out these six Marunouchi spots. Click here for more details.

Japan, Tokyo | Dating back to 1733, the annual Sumida River firework festival is one of the lar gest and most famous in Tokyo.

Maldives | Every resort in the Maldives is on its own private island, with transport between the islands available only by speedboat or seaplane, providing a scenic adventure.

Maldives | The coral reefs surrounding the Maldives are inhabited by 10 - 12 species of dolphins and whales. Throughout the year, travelers will spot killer whales, dwarf sperm whales, bottlenose dolphins, striped and spotted dolphins and pilot whales. There can be as many as 200 dolphins in one school. It is also a popular around the world for viewing whale sharks, one of the largest fish in the world, growing up to 32 feet long.

Maldives | The Maldives are a shark sanctuary with more than 30 species of sharks including hammerheads and whale sharks roaming freely in its 90,000 square kilometers of the Indian Ocean. This creates a paradise for divers and snorkelers and helps to sustain local marine ecosystems. As a sanctuary all types of shark fishing have been banned since 2010, as well as the banning of any import and export of shark fins.

Singapore | Eat your way through Singapore with its rich tapestry of different cultures woven together. While you'll see elements of China and India throughout the city, there's no better place to experience it than in Chinatown and Little India. Take in the beauty of the Sultan Mosque in the Arab Quarter, or check out the Chinese Heritage Center and a plethora of mom and pop shops. Afterwards, indulge in the many incredible food markets in these neighborhoods, offering the best hawker stall meals imaginable.

Singapore | 2019 commemorates the bicentennial anniversary of the arrival of Sir Stamford Raffles, celebrated across the country with cultural and music festivals, sporting events, light shows, gallery exhibits and more.

Singapore | Try teh tarik or pulled tea, a popular frothy tea drink made with sweetened condensed milk, skillfully poured between two jugs with its stream creating an illusion of "pulling tea" in midair.

Singapore | Hollywood fans, grab your camera and explore the many filming locations for the award-winning film Crazy Rich Asians, including the Chijmes complex (where the wedding was filmed) and Newton Food Centre.

Thailand | Be sure to learn the typical Thai greeting call the Wai. Place your hands together and raise them upward toward your face while lowering your head in a slight bow. The height of your hands represents the status of the person you are greeting. For example, when greeting an elder, lift your hands to the bridge of your nose, however, while greeting peers, lift them only to your chest.

Thailand | Practiced by more than 90% of the country, Buddhism is the national religion with many men becoming monks before turning 20; with the average duration as a monk being three months.

Thailand | Visit during the month of April and participate in the Songkran festival. During the hottest time of the year, friendly water fights and parties take place in the streets. Join in on the festivities as the water signifies the washing away of your misfortunes for the past year.

Thailand | Famous for balancing salty, hot, sour, sweet and even bitter flavors, Thai cooks have mastered their art and it is highly recommended to take a hands-on cooking class. Learn to recreate local favorites such as Pad Thai, green curry, mango sticky rice and more.

Thailand | Be sure to learn the typical Thai greeting call the Wai. Place your hands together and raise them upward toward your face while lowering your head in a slight bow. The height of your hands represents the status of the person you are greeting. For example, when greeting an elder, lift your hands to the bridge of your nose, however, while greeting peers, lift them only to your chest.

Thailand | Nicknamed the Land of Smiles, the charming people of Bangkok live up to the title with their peace-loving outlook exuding warmth and seeking harmony.

Thailand | The Royal family is adored and highly respected in Thailand. In Bangkok, the overhead walkways and monorail will halt if royals are passing below to show ensure no one passes above them, as they are held in such high regard.

Thailand, Bangkok | Set aside some weekend time to visit the 8,000+ stalls at the Chatuchak Market, considered one of the largest in Asia. With more than 26 sections, broken up by category, find everything from specialty foods and drinks to arts, souvenirs, plants, clothing and more.

Thailand, Chiang Mai | Be sure to bring comfortable shoes when visiting the temple of Wat Pha Lat Doi Suthep in Chiang Mai, as the staircase to the pagodas has more than 300 steps. It's also possible to hike up to the temple from the city following the Monk's Trail.

Thailand, Koh Samui | The first plant based fine-dining restaurant has opened on the popular island of Koh Samui. Halapua utilizes local produce from its on-site farm to create modern, re-imagined dishes from classical favorites. Be sure to try the foie gras using mushrooms, walnuts, lentils and rosemary or the gnocchi made with curried pumpkin, purple sweet potato and black garlic.

Vietnam | Offering unforgettable cuisine, must-try Vietnamese dishes include Pho, a noodle and meat soup; Bun cha, grilled pork and noodles; Goi cuon, fresh spring rolls filled with meat, prawns, crab or greens; Cha ca, fish sauteed in butter with dill and spring onions; and Nem Ran/Cha Gio, a fried spring roll prepared for special occasions.

Vietnam | While capturing photos of the locals will enhance your photo albums back home, be sure to ask permission prior to taking their picture.

Vietnam, Hoi An | Hoi An is a famous location for tailors known worldwide for their quality, affordability and speed in which they can produce almost any personalized item of clothing.

Vietnam, Hanoi | Explore Ninh Binh from Hanoi. This rural region offers massive limestone cliffs scattered between rice fields, ancient pagodas and endless caves.

Vietnam, Hanoi | Visit Hanoi in the spring - along with its pleasant weather comes beautiful flowers. Discover the Nhat Tan peach garden, an orchard decorated with beautiful artificial flowers, and, as the New Year approaches, with colorful lanterns and red packets. Or welcome in the Blackboard and Ban flowers along Phan Dinh Phung and Buoi streets.

Vietnam, Hanoi | Visit Hanoi in the spring - along with its pleasant weather comes beautiful flowers. Discover the Nhat Tan peach garden, an orchard decorated with beautiful artificial flowers, and, as the New Year approaches, with colorful lanterns and red packets. Or welcome in the Blackboard and Ban flowers along Phan Dinh Phung and Buoi streets.

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