From the Editor
Here’s to a more connected new year
Where to Go Next. It feels good to write those words. After a long pause, travel is returning. Borders are reopening, families are reuniting, and deferred dreams are becoming realities. As 2022 approaches, are you eagerly and excitedly plotting out your next 12 months of trips? Or maybe you’re still just fantasizing about travel, unsure about where you’ll go next and when.
To inspire all your travel hopes and wishes, we’ve collected 39 love letters to various places, written by the people who know them best: locals. How did we decide what to spotlight? We focused on the lesser-known sides of a destination (Abu Dhabi and Taiwan); spots where your visit could really count (Turkana, Kenya, and Ten Thousand Islands, Florida); and those cities that could use a little love on the heels of 2020 and 2021 (Chicago and Copenhagen). As always, we tell these stories through the lens of travel as a force for good: more inclusive, conscientious, and sustainable. Cheers to a year of getting out there again. —Julia Cosgrove, editor in chief
For the full story from Julia Cosgrove, read Around the World in 39 Places.
Russian River Valley, California
The gods of climate change made some of their first displays of power in this slice of rural California, where there’s much to love and much to protect.
The Bay Area is still lovable in its fleece-wearing Tesla millionaire kind of way, but—local secret here—the region’s faded old river towns have long been the heart of our most quintessential Northern California-ness. The addled trappings of modern life fall away at the first quake of the aspens. What remains is a refreshingly purer iteration of the human spirit, miles from the venture-funded sleekness of San Francisco.
Here, at a lazy bend in the shimmering Russian River, a wiry man in a milk jug raft drifts past singing Puccini. Explore farther and you’ll discover a five-and-dime on Main Street in Guerneville. Join a barbecue at the Monte Rio firehouse. Feel the gentle purling of the river under your butt as your inner tube floats vaguely west, not a care in the world except not spilling that beer someone tossed you.
The Lower Russian River Valley has long inhabited a slower, more analog era that’s left room for funky charms to take root. The passage of time seemed to just sort of overlook this region—at least until now.
For the full story from Chris Colin, read The True Heart of California’s Bay Area Is in the Russian River Valley.
The Windy City is roaring back from the pandemic, thanks to its entrepreneurial spirit and strong sense of pride.
In the aftermath of the Great Fire, which razed more than 2,000 acres of central Chicago in 1871, leaving nearly 100,000 homeless, one resident, William D. Kerfoot, displayed a hand-painted sign that read” “all gone but wife, children and energy. I have been thinking about Kerfoot since the pandemic. But not before a full year of questioning why I still lived in Chicago when everything I loved about it—the theater, music, sports, and dining scenes, as well as the 26-mile lakefront—was closed or verboten.
As the city has been slowly reopening, I have been reminded of Kerfoot’s outlook. Jazz musicians started holding “step sessions” on neighborhood porches, encouraging residents to BYO and use virtual tip jars. They’re planning to return to porches in spring 2022. Entrepreneurs renovated an RV as Majostee Spa, a mobile nail salon making home visits. Stephanie Hart, owner of Brown Sugar Bakery, recognized the need for comfort food during the pandemic; now the baker is looking to open a shop for her famed cupcakes at O’Hare International Airport, where she can, as she puts it, “export a little bit of my African American neighborhood and inspire [people] to come to 75th Street and see everything we’re serving.”
“Chicago sees itself, since the fire, as a city able to withstand whatever,” said Shermann Dilla Thomas, a historian who offers guided city tours. “It also makes us a city that doesn’t believe in small plans. After you get a blank canvas, the sky’s the limit.”
For the full story from Elaine Glusac, read As the Pandemic (Hopefully) Wanes, Chicago Is Back and Stronger Than Ever.
Métis Crossing, Alberta, Canada
Alberta’s first Métis cultural destination was conceived, built, and operated by Métis people to tell their story—and in 2022 it’s getting a huge expansion.
I was about 12 years old when I first met my birth mother and discovered that I was Métis. I saw her several times after that, and though we never discussed why I grew up in foster care, she frequently reiterated that we were both Métis. I’ve spent years trying to figure out exactly what that meant and why it was so important.
Since the 18th century, the French word métis has described individuals in Canada with mixed Indigenous and European ancestry. In Canada’s early years, French and Scottish fur traders married First Nations women of Anishinaabe, Haudenosaunee, Cree, and other cultural backgrounds, and soon the Métis Nation was born. The Métis were known for hunting, trapping, and fur trading, and in 1982 they became one of the three groups of recognized Indigenous Peoples of Canada.
Métis Crossing, which opened in 2005 on the river lots—the riverside settlements home to the earliest settlers in this part of Alberta—is a fascinating place to learn about Métis culture, traditions, and beliefs. There’s a campground with comfortably furnished trappers’ tents, and in 2019, a large Cultural Gathering Centre was built to host educational programs. When I visited in fall 2021, I wanted a cultural experience, and I also wanted to embrace my own Indigenous roots.
For the full story from Debbie Olsen, read Discover a Side of Indigenous Canada at Métis Crossing, Newly Expanding in 2022.
Avoid the crowds and head to a serene shoreline and the birthplace of jerk chicken.
I escaped my tiny living quarters in Long Island, New York, for rural Robins Bay in Jamaica in September 2020. On weekends, I explore. My favorite discovery is the parish of Portland on the island’s northeast coast, which—unlike Montego Bay and Ocho Rios with many tourists—offers flourishing rain forests, laid-back beaches, and a vibe of soon come, no hurry, no worries. . . .
I have a particular soft spot for Winnifred Beach, where neighbors and families go to relax. Food vendors and artists sell their wares from small shops, made from zinc and wood, and despite the lull in business during the pandemic, dancehall and reggae still boom. Nothing stops the party. If it’s Saturday, true to tradition, somebody is quite likely cooking (and sharing) chicken foot soup. Another favorite ocean retreat is Frenchman’s Cove, where flowing water from the Blue Mountains creates a dramatic canopy of tropical greenery by a white-sand beach. Further south, Reach Falls is beloved for its underwater cave, natural heart-shaped pool reminiscent of a Jacuzzi, mountain views, and lush vegetation.
For the full story from Sheryl Nance-Nash, read Find the ‘Real’ Jamaica in This Laid-Back Neighborhood.
Arica and Parinacota, Chile
Local textiles, llamas, and the world’s oldest mummies are among the reasons to visit northern Chile.
When travelers plan trips to the desiccated salt flats and cloud-hugging lagoons of the world’s driest desert, the Atacama, most end up in the resort town of San Pedro. Yet 400 miles north lies a refreshing alternative: Chile’s Arica and Parinacota region.
The main reason to go is to explore a new UNESCO World Heritage site created in July 2021 that honors the Chinchorro culture. These hunter-gatherers crafted the world’s oldest mummies, covering their deceased with clay masks and flowing wigs some 7,000 years ago (2,000 years before the ancient Egyptians). A tourist circuit now unites 19 archaeological sites along the Pacific coast and passes six roadside Chinchorro statues designed by local artists Paola Pimentel and Johnny Vásquez. Meanwhile, the mummy museum in Azapa Valley is preparing for a multimillion-dollar revamp to be completed by 2024.
The 143-mile trip from lowland Arica to highland Parinacota follows another new tourist trail: Ruta de las Misiones. The route includes dozens of hamlets inhabited by the Aymara people, many featuring whitewashed adobe churches and handcrafted alpaca textiles from Indigenous artisans such as Julia Cañari. Putre is the largest of these villages. At an altitude of 11,500 feet, you can acclimatize here for expeditions into the volcano-studded Lauca National Park, llama-filled Las Vicuñas National Reserve, or the blindingly white Salar (salt flat) de Surire, where the hot springs come with views of pink flamingos. —Mark Johanson
Acadia National Park, Maine
New England’s sylvan wonderland is filled with winding trails and history lessons.
It’s easy to get away from people amid the 47,000 acres of Acadia National Park, where the jagged Maine coast cuts into the Atlantic. But no matter where you go, you’re surrounded by historical figures. The intricate carriage trails around Mount Desert Island, where much of the park is situated, were commissioned by John D. Rockefeller Jr. in the early 1900s. Many of the island’s other trails were built as part of a New Deal–era Civilian Conservation Corps public works project in the 1930s.
Stone stairs that seem almost magically carved into the mountainside form parts of Homans Path, a trail named for Eliza Homans. She was a wealthy widow and longtime summer resident who, in 1908, first gifted part of the land that would become the park. The 140-acre spread Homans bequeathed includes one of Acadia’s most treacherous and rewarding hikes, the Beehive—a short but steep climb up a cliff face, with a payoff view of Sand Beach and the Atlantic coastline.
Mount Desert Island’s lake and ponds are another plus. For most of the summer, you can jump off the rocks at Echo Lake Ledges or hike to the distant parts of Long Pond, where you’ll be rewarded with crystal clear water and, often, few other swimmers in sight. —Sally Kohn
In 2022, Space City offers distinct dining and art options that celebrate its diverse communities.
As one of the nation’s most multiethnic cities, with some 145 languages spoken, Houston is full of culinary and cultural innovation. MasterChef winner Christine Ha’s restaurant Blind Goat deliciously showcases the city’s Vietnamese community, while the local chain Tacos A Go Go represents some of the best of its Latinx options. (Be sure to try all the tacos while you’re in town: corn tacos filled with barbacoa; shrimp tacos; and migas tacos, a Tex-Mex staple made with scrambled eggs and jalapeños).
For a taste of Houston’s Black-owned restaurants, book a table at Lucille’s, where the celebrated chef Chris Williams turns out fine Southern cuisine (catfish and grits, fish fry, and liver and onions). If you’re craving comfort food, head to Breakfast Klub.
Don’t miss a trip to the Third Ward (the neighborhood where Beyoncé and Solange Knowles were raised). There you’ll find the Houston Museum of African American Culture, which recognizes the achievements of Black Americans. Another essential stop: Project Row Houses, a site encompassing five city blocks that has been serving Houston’s artists of color for three decades. It presents programming that preserves and elevates Black culture and community, regularly running exhibitions and events while supporting young people and small businesses. —Kayla Stewart
Charlotte, North Carolina
North Carolina’s largest city is turning into an essential food destination, with tempting options across different neighborhoods.
If you asked someone a few years ago what Charlotte is known for, they might have said it’s one of the country’s biggest banking spots. But the city is fast becoming appreciated for its growing culinary scene.
Take the James Beard Award–nominated chef Greg Collier and his wife and business partner, Subrina. In 2020, the restaurateurs opened Leah & Louise, a modern-day juke joint in Charlotte’s creative hub, Camp North End. The cuisine honors their Southern roots: fried oyster sliders and slow-roasted cabbage with pork neck bisque. The pair have a special place in my heart, as they helped found Soul Food Sessions, a pop-up dinner series featuring Black chefs and mixologists.
Exciting new businesses are opening regularly. In September 2021, cocktail connoisseur Tamu Curtis opened the Cocktailery for classes and tastings in the city’s Atherton Mill retail center. In 2022, Ricky Ortiz, the Mexico-born owner of Tacos Rick-O, will expand his food empire beyond his taco truck at Hoppin’—a self-service beer, wine, and cider spot in South End—with a new concept based on Spanish desserts in the NoDa arts and entertainment district.
“Charlotte’s not just football and finance,” Greg Collier insists. “This ain’t just the cookie-cutter, vanilla shell South . . . It’s a place full of aspirations, mind-blowing creatives, good cooking, and possibilities.” —DeAnna Taylor
One of the Caribbean’s smallest islands punches above its weight.
With 33 beaches, several islands and cays, and more than 100 restaurants, Anguilla packs a lot into its 35 square miles.
Start by hopping on American Airlines’ new direct flight from Miami into Clayton J. Lloyd International Airport. You’ll disembark mere minutes from any one of the island’s beaches, a string of seductive white-sand scallops lapped by blue water. On Meads Bay, check in to Tranquility Beach, a collection of 15 suites (all with kitchens) that preside over sand resembling powdered sugar and offering magnificent sunset views. Close by is the Hummingbird, a charming cottage studio that’s a perfect choice for solo travelers.
For lunch, try Ken’s BBQ in Anguilla’s capital, The Valley, where they have been cooking fall-off-the-bone tender ribs for more than 20 years. Don’t forget to finish the meal with a Johnny cake or two. If you’re in the mood to treat yourself, end the day with cocktails at Four Seasons Anguilla’s ocean-view Sunset Lounge, then continue to dinner at beachfront classic Blanchards, where you should sample the grilled Anguillian crayfish.
The next day, if cerulean seas beckon, charter a catamaran to take you from Crocus Bay to Little Bay, a compact cove you might have all to yourself. —Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon
Look beyond Bermuda’s pink-sand beaches and explore Black history on the islands.
Famous for its blush-colored beaches and the shorts, Bermuda has long been a traveler’s dream, but this 21-square-mile archipelago nestled in the North Atlantic also offers a substantial measure of Black culture and history. In 2020, it became one of the first places in the world to honor a Black woman with a public holiday; Mary Prince Day celebrates the formerly enslaved Bermudian who became the first Black woman in England to publish her own narrative, the seminal 1831 book The History of Mary Prince.
Visitors to the islands can follow the African Diaspora Heritage Trail, which includes museums, monuments, and even a seaside cave connected to Bermuda’s Black past. For an experience that showcases both food and history, book Kristin White’s bike tour through the cobblestone streets of St. George’s, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Or on your own, walk past the candy-colored buildings of the capital city, Hamilton, and pop into the Griot bookstore, a sunlit, art-adorned space that sells works by authors of African descent. Pick up a cold-pressed elixir at the mural-covered Om Juicery (locals are partial to “Bountiful” and “Dancing”). In the reef-hugging Sandys Parish, Buna Gallery and Coffee House serves up Ethiopian brews, live music, and local art exhibits in a stylish setting. Settle in and stay awhile. —Rosalind Cummings-Yeates
Mérida, Yucatan, Mexico
Yucatán’s welcoming capital city offers a sensory experience on every corner.
Each evening, as the sun begins to settle into its slumber, Mérida comes to life. Nightfall offers a respite from the sweltering heat of the day. Families gather in the zócalo for cultural performances. The city’s main drag, Paseo de Montejo, is lined with tables where patrons delight in nibbles and tipples. Elderly couples salsa dance in the park as if no one is watching, and if you walk down any of the main streets in the Centro neighborhood, you’ll hear the thrums and drums of bachata beats from beyond the swinging doors of local cantinas.
Mérida, the capital of the Mexican state of Yucatán, revels in permanent celebration, and the city invites you to do the same, to find joy in simple pleasures. It’s a place where diversity extends beyond what to do, see, and eat. LGBTQ travelers, for example, can find nightlife in Centro and spend evenings vibing to live music at Cadadía Bar Café.
Visitors to the city will quickly discover the “Mérida magic” that everyone speaks of—that inexplicable sense of happiness, peace, and community found here. It may be the deep-rooted culture and rich gastronomic heritage that draws people to the colonial city; for me, it was the Mérida magic that turned my three-month visit into home for the foreseeable future. —Colby Holiday
Wander around the new waterfront and taste your way through the revitalized capital city.
Washington, D.C., is so much more than its reputation as the center of U.S. politics. It’s a welcoming, walkable city with residents and regions as culturally diverse as the international embassies that line Massachusetts Avenue. Over the past decade, the city has transformed several neighborhoods—the H Street Corridor, Brookland, NoMa, Shaw, and the LGBTQ-friendly Logan Circle. The flourishing food scene attracts locals and visitors to such neighborhood anchors as Tortino (which serves elevated Italian dishes) and the Dabney, a Michelin-starred restaurant specializing in farm-to-table American fare.
But the District’s newest star is the Wharf, where the second phase of a $2.5 billion revitalization project is expected to be completed in 2022. New additions include the 131-room Pendry hotel and a tranquil 1.5-acre green space called “The Green”. Stroll the brick walkway to take in the serene Potomac River while eating delicious confections from District Donuts or shop for clothing, jewelry, and home decor at stores like the Black-owned fashion boutique A Beautiful Closet.
At Kaliwa, order the drunken duck noodles and other Thai and Filipino dishes. Or head to chef Philippe Massoud’s new high-end Lebanese restaurant, Ilili, and try the tender braised lamb shank. Close out your night with panoramic views at the rooftop bar Whiskey Charlie. The Wharf Spiced Rum is a perfect coda to a perfect day in the district. —Kwin Mosby
Ten Thousand Islands, Florida
A labyrinthine world of mangroves, sandy islands, and clear skies awaits intrepid kayakers on Florida’s Gulf Coast.
Everglades National Park—the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States—reveals only its outer edges to daytrippers. For a deeper view of a similar ecosystem, head to the Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge, just south of Marco Island. Here, one of the world’s largest mangrove systems covers 230 square miles, where fresh and salt waters meet.
“We’re not a beach destination, like St. Petersburg or Daytona,” says Charles Wright, a naturalist who owns Everglades Area Tours and takes guests on kayak adventures through mangrove islands in the Gulf of Mexico. “But there are sandy barrier islands with beautiful beaches . . . from Marco Island to the mouth of the Lostmans River.
“Most people think of swamps when they think of the Everglades—of airboats, alligators, and mosquitoes,” he adds. But the Everglades are much more than that, and the Ten Thousand Islands “are kind of the untapped jewel, with dolphins, manatees, orchids and bromeliads, wading birds, raptors, and more.”
On expeditions from Chokoloskee Island, you’ll camp on deserted islands and visit Native American sites; the Calusa tribe inhabited the area as early as the 15th century. One thing you won’t really see, however, is light pollution—just the canopy of the Milky Way in the inky skies above your camp at night. —Terry Ward
Once known for its mining boomtowns, the Iron Range has gotten a mighty makeover.
Minnesota is lauded for its lakes—more than 10,000 of them—but any local knows that its land deserves some love, too. To get better acquainted, head to northern Minnesota’s Iron Range, which has quietly debuted 250 miles of new biking trails in the past decade. The routes came about largely thanks to local cycling enthusiasts, who have worked to turn the area into a magnet for biking in nature. Tioga Recreation Area added 19 miles of mountain bike trails near the town of Cohasset in August 2019, and a trail expansion is currently underway in Cuyuna County, which already has 50 miles of rust-colored dirt paths spread over 800 acres.
One of the most recent news makers? Redhead Mountain Bike Park, which opened in June 2020 after a nearly $2 million investment, now features 25 miles of trails outside the town of Chisholm. There, you can ride cinnamon-colored paths flanked by steep cliffs that descend into an abandoned mining pit with an aqua-blue lake at the bottom. (You’d be in good company, as more than 25,000 people have ridden the popular trails since the launch.)
If you’re looking for something a little smoother, northeastern Minnesota has you covered there, too. As of press time, the paved Mesabi Trail offers more than 135 miles of biking and walking through forests and small towns. When completed, it will stretch 155 miles from the Mississippi River to the remote Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, one of the country’s most glorious natural sites. (And no, I’m not biased.) —Katherine LaGrave
Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, Costa Rica
This lively Caribbean coastal town offers excellent surfing and beaches, plus a secret dry season.
In September 2021, Costa Rica’s new Digital Nomads law began granting visas to foreign nationals for up to two years, inspiring remote workers to live out their long-term fantasies of surf, work, ceviche, repeat. Whether you’re eyeing a semipermanent move or just a weeklong break, one place to dip your toes in is Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, a small coastal town on the country’s less frequented Caribbean side.
You won’t find the big brands or high-rises of Papagayo and Tamarindo here—just soft sand beaches and green macaws, and local boutiques such as Aloe Tienda for stylish handmade women’s clothing. The African influence is palpable in the Limonese Creole patois, calypso beats, and the coconut-sweetened version of rice and beans.
Another plus of Puerto Viejo: The town experiences a dry season in September and October, when most of the country is inundated with rain. Travelers who visit at this time usually luck out at such mega surf breaks as Salsa Brava. In nearby Cahuita National Park, a large coral reef hosts an array of marine life, ranging from diminutive damselfish to nurse sharks. Snorkelers can experience it in all its glory. After a few days in Puerto Viejo, you might discover it’s time to adopt the Pura Vida lifestyle and stay awhile. —Nina Kokotas Hahn
Africa and the Middle East
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
A road trip through Abu Dhabi reveals what lies beneath the surface of this sprawling emirate.
In its 50 years of existence, the United Arab Emirates has developed at lightning speed, creating cities out of the desert with record-breaking skyscrapers, lavish hotels, and a fast pace of life. As the pandemic forced me to slow down, I rediscovered the joy of exploring the hidden sides of my home. By the time my friend Rashid Khalfan invited me to Abu Dhabi, the emirate south of Dubai that covers 26,000 miles, I was ready to explore farther afield.
Rashid, knowing my love for brutalist architecture, showed me some of his favorite buildings, which he admires as symbols of a young nation’s progress. He pointed out the Buty Al Otaiba Tower, covered in rows of hexagonal windows, and the Hamed Centre, with its diamond motif. The most handsome edifice was the Al Ibrahimi building, a circular tower with protruding balconies that resemble woven fabric, designed by the late Egyptian modernist architect Farouk El Gohary. “The older ones have more Arabic touches; the later ones from the ’80s and ’90s have more glass on their facades,” Rashid said.
I could’ve stayed longer, but the Rub’ Al-Khali—the Empty Quarter, an expanse of desert 130 miles to the south—was calling. There the Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara rises like a mirage, designed to enable your desert fantasies as you ride camels, smoke fragrant shisha, and let yourself be cocooned in rhassoul clay in the hammam.
For the full story from Nicola Chilton, read A Road Trip Through Abu Dhabi Reveals Its History.
Sometimes, the most enchanting experiences can be found outdoors.
Find me a treasure in Luxor, Egypt, that can’t be savored in the open air—I challenge you. In three years of wintering in this city on the banks of the Nile, about 400 miles south of Cairo, I haven’t found one. Luxor is often called an open-air museum, a place where antiquities are as common as mosques, schools, or fruit stands. A visitor could stroll the grounds of Karnak Temple—not to mention Luxor Temple, Valley of the Queens, Valley of the Kings, or the Colossi of Memnon—for days and still find obelisks to marvel at, all while breathing in fresh Sahara Desert air.
Luxor is where I met my husband, and it’s where we now live part-time (when not in Alberta, Canada), in a mud-brick house on the city’s quieter, more rural-feeling West Bank. It’s located on the edge of Medinet Habu Temple, parts of which date to 1500 B.C.E. I joke that we’re basically “glamping in the desert”—never fully inside, because the dust, the donkey braying, and the call to prayer easily find their way in through the corners of our earthen abode. No need to set an alarm clock, since the whoosh of hot-air balloons overhead stirs us awake by sunrise.
For the full story from Colleen Kinder, read Get Outside in Luxor, Egypt, to Walk Among the Kings.
This Nile-side city in eastern Uganda abounds with outdoor adventures.
Set along the nile river in eastern Uganda, Jinja is home to misty views marked by rapids and waterfalls, as well as roads blanketed by red dust that spools onto the skin with a vengeance. My father’s work in the petroleum industry frequently took him to Jinja, 140 miles west of my hometown, Kisumu, Kenya. As a child, I often tagged along to explore the natural wonders of the area.
On a recent visit, I based myself at the Nile Porch, a hotel with semi-tented, high-ceilinged rooms. I discovered Adrift Uganda, which offers trips along the Nile River that include Class VI rapids, and booked a trip. I was relieved when my group voted to tackle a Class III rapid called Bubugo—until I learned that it means “condolences” in the Lusoga language of Uganda.
Later that afternoon, on a less harrowing quad-biking excursion with All Terrain Adventures through nearby Kyabirwa Village, I charged past farms bursting with maize; kids ran out from the open doorways of mud-brick homes to wave hello.
The next day, as I paddled on flat waters with Kayak the Nile, observing cormorants and kingfishers while otters lazily swam past me, I was reminded of that feeling of limitless adventure that continues to lure me back. —Wendy Watta
Karoo, South Africa
This valley northeast of Cape Town reveals a less explored side of South Africa’s interior.
My love affair with the Klein Karoo—a semidesert valley 200 miles from Cape Town, on the southern edges of the Karoo region—blossomed late. In part, moving far away from Cape Town to New York City allowed me to appreciate this area with fresh eyes when I returned.
The Klein Karoo contains a 215-mile stretch of Route 62 that runs parallel to the more famous Garden Route. I traveled the entire road in January 2021, and my first stop was the country’s Sanbona Wildlife Reserve at the foot of the scrubby Warmwaterberg Mountains. The terrain, with its ancient rock formations and indigenous fynbos vegetation, is the only place to see the region’s nearly extinct white lions. At Dwyka Tented Lodge, set in an amphitheater of rock, there’s peace in the deafening silence.
An hour west lies Montagu, a handsome town framed by farms and the jagged Cape Fold Mountains. One of my favorite hotels is Jonkmanshof, a guesthouse set between two restored Cape Dutch buildings. When I return to the region next, I’ll check into Stil, a monochromatic retreat with a sculpture garden that opened in 2021. I’ll also take a morning hike along the Keisie River, where weaverbirds and shrikes soar above. And I’ll follow it with a latte in the tree-shaded garden of the Barn on 62, a coffee shop at the foot of those magical mountains. —Mary Holland
Explore the northwestern corner of Kenya, where archaeological sites and the blue waters of Lake Turkana await.
Having lived in Kenya all my life, I never knew how rich and varied the landscapes and cultures of my own homeland could be—until I traveled to Turkana County.
This arid part of the country, often called the cradle of humankind, lies 310 miles northwest of Nairobi. Turkana is one of Kenya’s largest counties, but even with its groundbreaking archaeological finds and distinct traditions, few people visit.
During a recent trip, my first stop is Turkana’s dusty capital, Lodwar, where I head to the Mikeka market, famous for its intricate handwoven baskets made with multicolored reeds. The women who create them use the earnings to supplement their agricultural livelihoods, which are constantly threatened by drought. From Lodwar, I travel east for 45 miles until I reach the azure waters of Lake Turkana. I stop at the fishing town of Kalokol to observe anglers dry tilapia and perch and to view Namoratunga II, a 2,300-year-old ceremonial site composed of 19 stone pillars.
Next I drive 50 miles north along the lake to Nariokotome to see the discovery site of Turkana Boy, the most complete known skeleton of Homo erectus, dating back 1.6 million years. A brass replica of the hominid skeleton stands near the site where it was uncovered; the original resides in the National Museum of Kenya. But the site itself, where I can picture Turkana Boy in the very place he once inhabited, offers a powerful reminder of our ancient roots. —Harriet Akinyi
A three-hour train ride from Lagos, this centuries-old city is rich in history, culture, and hearty cuisine.
Ibadan is the city of my youth, my mother’s youth, and that of her mother before her.
Once an epicenter of Nigerian politics, Ibadan was founded by Yoruba warriors in the 19th century. Today, it’s characterized by its seven hills, colonial buildings, and rusty corrugated roofing. Thanks to the newly modernized Nigerian Railway, my mother and I recently returned to Ibadan from Lagos on a journey that took us past thick rain forests, farmlands, and rural communities.
From the train station, our taxi dropped us at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), founded by Americans in 1967 to improve food security in sub-Saharan Africa. Spread over 2,400 acres, the IITA headquarters includes farms, offices, and a tree-shaded, utilitarian hotel.
From there, we set off to explore the manicured grounds of the University of Ibadan—Nigeria’s first university—and wandered among the eucalyptus and teak trees at Agodi Botanical Gardens. We haggled for yams and fresh ata rodo—habanero peppers—in the Bodija market. At Amala Skye, a buka (canteen) that serves Yoruba comfort food, we fortified ourselves on green-hued ewedu, a soup made with jute leaves.
As we tasted these familiar flavors and recounted our school days, it occurred to me how much there is to explore in my home country. That thought alone brought me indescribable joy. —Mimi Aborowa
Negev Desert, Israel
The rocky, dune-filled landscape in the southern half of Israel has just welcomed its newest retreat.
I was 13 years old when I visited Israel’s Negev Desert for the first time, and the moment I saw its primeval craters and sand-colored mountains, I was transfixed. During my residential high school program in Israel, the expansive desert offered an otherworldly, biblical antidote to my suburban London childhood.
Since moving to Tel Aviv in 2017, I try to return to the Negev whenever I need to reconnect with my carefree younger self. And this passage through time just got more comfortable, thanks to the sublime Six Senses Shaharut, a resort that opened in August 2021.
I traveled to the desert in the fall, and on arrival to the Six Senses, immediately noticed the site-specific architecture. Built from locally sourced limestone, the buildings blend into their surroundings. My suite was designed using natural stone, copper, and a teak door from an old boat. Following a perfect night of sleep, I awoke to views of the unspoiled Arava Valley through floor-to-ceiling windows. I took an aerial yoga class and then a dip in the infinity pool. Looking out at the desert that has awed me for nearly 30 years, I felt deeply inspired to walk its paths anew. —Natalie Blenford
This small village in the Atlas Mountains exudes a warm, laid-back hospitality.
Moving a household is always stressful. But when I relocated three years ago to Imlil, a tiny Berber village in the heart of Morocco’s Atlas Mountains, my biggest worry was trying to figure out if a mule could carry a washing machine up a mountain.
I had found a house in a family compound carved into the rock of one of the high peaks that surround the main street in Imlil. A valley full of walnut and cherry trees stretches out beneath my terrace, and in the spring the landscape is drowned in pink-and-white blossoms. The day I moved in, children screeched around the communal yard, and the cow—who lives under my bedroom—vied with the chickens to make the most noise. I stepped onto the terrace as the first notes of the Muslim call to prayer rang out, bouncing off the peaks painted golden by the sun. I saw the tiny figures of hikers high on the trails.
At 5 p.m., Miriam, my new neighbor, took my hand in her warm one and led me into her house. “It’s teatime,” she said. Women and children sat on the handwoven carpets, chattering like birds.
Miriam poured the sweet mint tea. “Eat, eat!” she said as she presented a feast of hot flaky flatbreads, honey from wild bees, home-churned butter, and walnuts from the trees outside.
And it is that hospitality that makes a visit to these soaring, juniper-clad mountains so incredibly special. Here, you are not a stranger; you are a friend. —Alice Morrison
The green city is expanding rapidly—go now to explore its gritty, evolving liminal spaces.
Not too long ago, I took a walk through the wastelands of Copenhagen. It sounds strange to call them that, because the Danish capital, with all its modern design and hygge, is hardly known for grittiness. But this dusty expanse of mostly empty warehouses and overgrown weeds, languishing to the southwest of the lively Meatpacking District, seemed to qualify. After 20 minutes of wandering, I entered a gate and found myself in an Alice in Wonderland alternate reality. A leafy glade contained dark, rustic wooden barns. Fat heads of garlic and fire-engine-red tomatoes spilled from the door of one, the jangle of a band from another. At an outdoor table set beneath fairy lights, a young mother fed her child pieces of a sandwich.
BaneGaarden, as I learned this enchanted place is called, once housed supplies for railway construction. It was abandoned in the 1950s but has recently been transformed into a cultural center. A farm shop, a bakery, a couple of restaurants, and spaces for pop-ups and other events fill the carefully renovated barns, all of this encircled by deciduous trees. Both geographically and metaphorically, the complex seemed far from Copenhagen’s center. But I realized it wouldn’t be long before BaneGaarden was just another delightful corner of my growing city.
For the full story from Lisa Abend, read As Copenhagen Expands Rapidly, Its Future Is in Its Outskirts.
Turquoise Coast, Turkey
Ponder the history of Western civilization as you hike along Turkey’s ruin-strewn Carian Trail.
The Carian Trail unfolds like an outdoor museum: Ancient artifacts, pristine coves, and stone villages are linked by mule paths and old caravan routes dotted with campsites and inns. I decided to take on one new section every month, focusing on stretches I could hike in a day.
On my first outing, I walked from my home until the stone path turned to dirt and the houses gave way to coastal shrubs. I reached the first bend and looked back, considering turning around. What if I lost my way?
Instead, I followed the red-and-white way markers tattooed on boulders. I passed beekeepers tending apiaries and wild mountain goats hoofing over loose rocks. I stayed mindful of the thistles and boar tracks, marching down switchbacks lined with wild thyme and sage.
With each hike, I found myself increasingly drawn to the ruins along the route. The trail is named after the Carians, a civilization indigenous to this coastline as far back as 6000 B.C.E. I passed tombs, mausoleums, crumbling walls, and altars. I passed relics of the Persians, Byzantines, Romans, and Ottomans, all of whom left their marks.
For the full story from Jenna Scatena, read Hike Turkey’s Carian Trail, Ponder the History of Western Civilization.
Trade Paris for a tranquil weekend in this forested town—once home to royalty—and its neighbor, one of the country’s most notable artists’ communities.
Like many Parisians, my husband and I soldiered through multiple COVID-19 lockdowns in the city with little access to green space. By the end of 2020, we realized we wanted to make a long-term shift to get closer to nature. So we decided to divide our time between Paris and the country, and bought a century-old stone house near a place eminently familiar to us: Fontainebleau, a town 45 miles south of Paris. For more than 15 years, we have hiked, climbed, and explored in the once-royal place, known for its vast forest and intricate sandstone architecture.
The town was built around the 12th-century Château de Fontainebleau, which was updated in the 16th century and is now a UNESCO World Heritage site currently undergoing another restoration. Ancient forest—54,000 acres of it—surrounds the town, encompassing boulders, hiking trails, and Barbizon, an artists’ village. In the 19th century, iconic painters such as Jules Dupré and Théodore Rousseau, inspired by the sandstone boulders and stands of deciduous trees, created the community, where they pioneered landscape realism and the pre-impressionism movement.
The artistic style remains a fixture in Barbizon, where visitors can explore a dozen museums, galleries, and studios in addition to La Folie Barbizon, an artists’ residence, inn, and restaurant specializing in organic vegetarian fare that opened in the spring of 2020. Despite the changes, the magic that captured the artists remains: Each time I step off the train from Paris, I feel lighter and more connected to the present. —Lindsey Tramuta
In southwestern England, this progressive maritime city has grown into a proper food and beer destination.
Every time I return to Bristol, the West Country city where I spent my teenage years, it’s changed, often substantially. The trading port may wear its heritage on its sleeve—the waterfront’s imposing cranes and the famous Clifton Suspension Bridge are just two examples of Bristol’s maritime and engineering history—but it’s also a modern hub of creativity, ingenuity, and liberal thinking. Since my dad’s work took us there in the early 1990s, the city has witnessed the rise of trip hop, the street art of Banksy, a revitalized harborside and city center, and the advent of its own currency (which transitioned into digital currency in 2021). It was also named a European Green Capital in 2015. More recently, a racial reckoning saw many of the city’s establishments question and ultimately condemn Bristol’s slavetrading past.
My latest trip, in summer 2021, yielded plenty of fresh fun. Since I last visited, Bristol has turned into a bona fide food and craft beer capital, with breweries located in unusual places. The reborn (once again) harborside is now full of restaurants. I liked the hazy IPAs at Left Handed Giant, whose brewpub occupies a former sugar refinery on the riverbank. Near the central train station, visitors can try hop-forward beers in a taproom shared by brewers Newtown Park and Verdant. And at Cargo, a waterfront collection of restaurants and stores housed in shipping containers, travelers can taste everything from bao and poke to local cheese and cider. The complex is diverse, surprising, and full of flavor—just like Bristol itself. —Tim Chester
San Miniato, Italy
On your next trip to the Bel Paese, bypass the tourist-clogged Tuscan cities and head for this truffle-loving hill town.
My husband was born in San Miniato, a picturesque hilltop village often overshadowed by its neighboring Tuscan cities: Florence, Pisa, Siena, and Lucca. For years we lived in Florence, but early in the pandemic, we moved back to my husband’s hometown to escape the crowds and be closer to family. I had also discovered that the town was experiencing a culinary renaissance—and for me, as a food writer and cookbook author, that sealed the deal.
San Miniato, with its fertile, tree-covered hills, has long been known for its prized white truffles, grated with abandon over plates of buttery tagliolini and celebrated every November at the local truffle fair, La Sagra del Tartufo Bianco. (The festival marked its 50th year in 2021.) In the months we’ve been here, I’ve appreciated living a five-minute walk from modern Tuscan classics: a fourth-generation butcher, Sergio Falaschi, which has the best view in town and a new casual restaurant out back; Maggese, a fine-dining spot with an emphasis on veggies; Birra e Acciughe, a tiny beer and panino joint named for its long, warm baguettes filled with butter and anchovies; and Pizza del Popolo, a new bakery that sells sourdough and vegetarian pizza a taglio, or by the slice.
The village’s delights extend beyond restaurants. Travelers can taste wines at the nearby biodynamic winery Cosimo Maria Masini, join a truffle hunt year-round, or stretch their legs on one of the walking paths of Via Francigena, the 10th-century Roman pilgrim route that cuts right through town. Whenever I walk it, I’m reminded of how lucky we are to have such abundant countryside—and food—right outside our front door. —Emiko Davies
Gorski Kotar & Lika, Croatia
Though travelers best know the country for its picturesque beaches, Croatia’s wild interiors are also worth a special trip.
While tourists swoon over the islands and coast of Croatia, its mountainous regions, located southwest of the capital city, Zagreb, remain blissfully off the radar. In Lika and Gorski Kotar, travelers can hike beside Plitvice Lakes and visit no fewer than four of the country’s eight national parks, and spot ancient yew trees and native flowers such as Carniolan lilies.
Drawn by the remote wilderness and my own roots—my mother hails from a now-abandoned hamlet in Lika—I’ve been spending time in the area during the last several years. There, I found Jelena Pirc of Lynx & Fox, who guides day hikes into Gorski Kotar’s rugged sylvan landscapes frequented by bears, wolves, and the endangered Eurasian lynx. Pirc recommends visiting Stara Sušica’s new Large Carnivores Visitor Center, which opened in July.
Farther south in the mighty Velebit Mountains, where old-growth beech forests hide rare western capercaillie birds, the conservation nonprofit Rewilding Europe is reintroducing wild horses and bovines to the Lika Plains and building wildlife-watching hide structures to support nature-focused tourism. Accommodations range from cozy chalets and rustic lodges to the higher-end Linden Tree Retreat & Ranch, located inside the UNESCO Velebit Mountain Biosphere Reserve—even more reasons to detour inland from the Croatian coast. —Anja Mutić
A popular seaside resort for centuries, Bundoran has forged a new identity for itself: surf capital of Ireland.
I never thought my quest to learn to surf would lead me to Bundoran, a coastal town in County Donegal in the northwest corner of Ireland. When I first visited in 2015, I thought I’d only be there for the three months my visa allowed. Now, I come every year, often bouncing around Europe or returning stateside while waiting for my visa to reset.
Bundoran was a popular destination long before it became the surf capital of Ireland. During Victorian times, people flocked from across the country to soak in the Thrupenny and West End (Nun’s) Pools. Today, surfers from around the world come to visit Tullan Strand or ride the breakers at the Peak, home to some of Europe’s most consistent waves.
I return to Bundoran each year, vowing that I’ll finally learn to surf. The funny part is, I never follow through. I visit instead for the craic, or good times, in local parlance. There’s still plenty to do in town without getting in the water: It’s not called Fundoran for nothing! Consider taking a hike up Benbulbin, cycling around the Gleniff Horseshoe loop, cliff jumping from the coastal crags, or simply strolling along the Rougey Cliff Walk. If you’re feeling parched afterwards, check out some of my favorite pubs and eateries, including the Phoenix Tavern, the Chasin’ Bull, and Maddens Bridge Bar & Restaurant, where you can enjoy pints while listening to traditional music. —Yolanda Evans
Cycle through organic vineyards and past 18th-century castles on a wine tour in eastern Germany’s most sustainable wine region.
For more than 850 years, grapes in Saxony—Germany’s easternmost wine region—have been tended and harvested by hand, the wines made painstakingly in small quantities. One of my favorite ways to taste the sustainably grown wines, which are consumed primarily within the region, is also ecofriendly: via a bike ride on the 34-mile-long Saxon Wine Route.
The route starts in the riverside town of Pirna and coils its way through terraced vineyards and historic towns such as Meißen and Radebeul along the Elbe River. In Radebeul, I like to stop at Hoflößnitz, a winery-turned-museum that makes organic wines. At the nearby 18th-century Wackerbarth Castle, visitors can stroll through gardens and goldriesling vines, a variety of grape mainly grown on the Elbe. Travelers can taste sparkling wines at Wackerbarth, the region’s oldest sparkling wine cellar, or try Saxon reds and whites at Schloss Proschwitz Vinothek in Meißen, a town also renowned for its porcelain.
While the path ends in Diesbar-Seußlitz, about nine miles from Meißen, I sometimes take a detour on my way back to Pirna via the Elbe Cycle Route. The Elbe path leads to the village of Schmilka in the Saxon Switzerland Mountains, 16 miles from Pirna. There a 17th-century mill refurbished as a bakery fills the cobblestone streets with scents of spelt sourdough and handbrot, a palm-size bread stuffed with cheese, bacon, or vegetables. Hungry cyclists will also find pâtisseries and an organic brewery in Schmilka, all of which use seasonal ingredients and minimize food waste.
My only (hard-won) advice? Don’t try to complete the entire route in one day. —Christina Ng
Asia and Oceania
The island nation quietly comes into its own as a nature lover’s low-key paradise.
After international arrivals to Sri Lanka dwindled, the country’s tourism industry pivoted, courting residents with new outdoor offerings: Across the country, we trekked through primary rain forests, snorkeled with sea turtles, and strolled sprawling shores. Good news for international travelers—Sri Lanka’s borders are now fully open.
Born in the fishing hamlet of Weligama, Thilina Dananjaya is not new to tourism; his father opened the first guesthouse here in the 1980s. But Dananjaya, owner of Layback, a boutique hotel focused on surfing and yoga, says his perspective has changed. “Being confined to our homes made us more conscious about the luxury of spending time outdoors,” he says. As a result, Dananjaya and his team added a yoga deck, a store for women-made handicrafts, a new restaurant, and two spacious rooftop terraces.
Farther north, in the central inlands of Sri Lanka, local-run Bush Loft has set up wildlife campsites in some of the country’s most remote corners: fly camping in the grasslands of Buttala, or daily excursions to Yala National Park.
You can also go it alone and arrange your own safari. Recently, in Kaudulla National Park, I spotted a herd of Asian elephants protecting the youngest member of their group, trunks and limbs moving in tandem. Soon after, I watched yellow weaverbirds flitting in and out of their intricate woven nests, which hung from branches all around me. This, I thought—is what Sri Lanka is all about.
For the full story from Zinara Rathnayake, read Sri Lanka Has Come Into its Own as a Nature Lover’s Paradise.
In a metropolis known for its squeaky-clean streets, a tale of two cities emerges.
Some Singaporeans raise an eyebrow when they learn I live with my family in Geylang. For decades, this township has been notorious as a red-light district, an incongruous aspect of Singapore’s wholesome image. But amid narrow lanes hemmed by shophouses and temples, restaurant chefs are cooking some of the tastiest regional food in Singapore. Many evenings, my wife and I land at Ăn Là Ghiền, a hot pot joint that feels straight out of Hanoi, or Dong Bei Dumpling King, where we always order the crispy pork-and-celery-filled dumplings. For a Thai fix, our go-to is Gu Thai House, curries and noodles all cooked to suitably spicy standards. Anthony Bourdain loved JB Ah Meng for white pepper crab and Sin Huat Eating House for crab bee hoon, a whole crab served with rice noodles.
Even I need a break from Geylang sometimes, though. Luckily, Kranji, with its open fields and farms, is just 30 minutes north by car. At the Kranji Marshes and Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, two nature parks form a 460-acre haven for migratory shorebirds and raptors. If I’m lucky, I might spot a crocodile at the water’s edge, or a family of macaques scampering through the branches. Here I am, in a jungle away from an urban jungle, both of which call Singapore home.
For the full story from Lester V. Ledesma, read Singapore’s Geylang Neighborhood Is Developing a New Reputation as a Foodie Hot Spot.
An Indian state celebrates the old with the new.
You could say I grew up with Goa. In my youth, I visited to party with friends, lured by the Indian beach state’s notorious raves. But when I hit my thirties, I began to better appreciate Goa’s rich heritage, its Portuguese influence, and the growing number of restaurants, bars, and stores that celebrate the region’s culture and architecture.
Nowhere is all of this more apparent than in the picturesque historic quarter of the capital city, Panaji, where brightly painted homes share streets with local boutiques like Sacha’s Shop, with its superbly curated resort wear from homegrown Indian designers. Another favorite is the rainbow-shuttered restaurant António at 31, which opened in January 2021: A throwback to Panaji’s old taverns, the menu from chef Pablo Miranda features seasonal fruit cocktails and tapas such as tender coconut stir-fry and crispy baitfish with kalchi kodi (leftover curry) dip.
In the north of Goa, the newest darling is Felix, a gallery, coworking space, and events spot that serves modern plates with a regional twist, including eggs Benedict with Goan chorizo. For a truly immersive experience, book “A Very Goan Picnic” with tour company the Local Beat. Travelers can splash around a secret waterfall straight out of The Jungle Book and then feast on a home-cooked lunch accompanied by feni (cashew or coconut liquor).
Another highlight is on the way. In the township of Bardez, the Moda Goa Museum & Research Centre, founded by the late Goan fashion designer Wendell Rodricks, will welcome visitors in early 2022 with more than 800 fashion, textile, and art objects. —Jasreen Mayal Khanna
Australia’s premier Great Barrier Reef gateway reopens, offering travelers a new way to engage with Indigenous cultures.
Visitors to Cairns, a coastal city in tropical north Queensland, typically arrive on a mission: See the Great Barrier Reef. Prepandemic, nearly 3 million people would pass through annually, boarding massive catamarans laden with scuba tanks and snorkel masks, an army of tourists in pursuit of wonder.
As Australia’s borders reopen, Cairns is ready to welcome travelers again, with refreshed esplanade dining, new hotels championing sustainability, and an exciting experience celebrating the Indigenous heritage of the Great Barrier Reef.
Some 70 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander groups have a continuing connection to the world’s largest coral reef system, and in 2018, Dreamtime Dive and Snorkel launched trips led by Indigenous Sea Rangers who share cultural knowledge passed down from their ancestors. During the tours, guests listen to evocative creation stories about how the reef came to be, and learn about hunting practices, such as seasonal harvesting, that have safeguarded the reef’s biodiversity for millennia.
Visitors will be able to engage with Sea Rangers more deeply at a new pontoon base for Dreamtime’s day trips to Moore Reef. Opening in early 2022, the floating pontoon will house an on-site laboratory and underwater observatory. Activities will fuse traditional knowledge and modern science to inspire collaborative protection of the Great Barrier Reef. —Sarah Reid
Tokorozawa Sakura Town, Japan
A stone’s throw from Tokyo, architecture and anime buffs will find a place built just for them.
In the Saitama prefecture, roughly an hour from Tokyo Station, a new “town” was born in November 2020. Dubbed Tokorozawa Sakura Town, it’s a joint venture between the city of Tokorozawa and the Japanese publishing giant Kadokawa, known for its manga and anime titles. Its main focus? Bringing Japanese pop culture to life.
Here, visitors will find two structures by influential Japanese architect Kengo Kuma: the futuristic Kadokawa Culture Museum, with a colossal exterior built using 20,000 pieces of granite, and the minimalist Musashino Reiwa shrine. A highlight inside the labyrinthine five-story museum is the Bookshelf Theater, which has 26-foot shelves and is filled with more than 50,000 books, the majority of which are related to manga and anime. (Yes, you can flip through them.) The sleek Shinto shrine, meanwhile, is guarded by two komainu—guardian lion-dogs—crafted by sculptor Yoshimasa Tsuchiya. The shrine also features an asymmetrical roof and a phoenix painted on the ceiling by Yoshitaka Amano, the renowned designer of Final Fantasy video game characters.
Since Tokorozawa Sakura Town’s inception, architecture and pop culture fans have been drawn to the cultural complex, which also has a brand-new bookstore, restaurants, and a permanent TeamLab installation of giant silver acornlike objects that glow at night amid the trees. There’s also an anime-themed 33-room hotel that hosts character parties—so go ahead, make a long weekend of it. —Yukari Sakamoto
Abel Tasman National Park, New Zealand
New Zealand’s South Island is rural, uncrowded, and achingly beautiful.
I grew up in the subtropics of New Zealand’s North Island, and the much more temperate, sparsely populated South Island has beckoned me throughout adulthood. Three of the South’s nine national parks are within a 90-minute drive of my current home in Nelson; and there are enough gold-sand beaches, mountains, and alpine lakes to spend a lifetime exploring. Challenge accepted.
Road-tripping is the only way to really experience the South Island’s natural beauty. Start in Nelson, a city of more than 50,000 at the top of the South Island, and drive west about an hour to the eastern entrance of Abel Tasman National Park. Many travelers opt to hike—or “tramp”—the Coast Track, a five-day, 37-mile “Great Walk,” camping in tents along the way. If you have mobility issues (or perhaps toddlers in tow), you can still get the best of the national park via boat tours from Kaiteriteri, stopping at beaches on turquoise bays.
Continue the drive over notorious Tākaka Hill—with its narrow, windy, gut-churning lanes—to Golden Bay, pausing at a lookout for panoramic Tasman Bay views. Stay overnight in a town along the way, such as Tākaka or Collingwood, and end your visit marveling at the 65-foot-high Wainui Falls and Te Waikoropupū Springs. The cold, clear springs are a sacred Māori space—a source of life, healing, and renewal for locals and travelers alike. —Elen Turner
Phong Nha, Vietnam
It’s easier than ever to dive deep into the gigantic caves of this UNESCO World Heritage site.
Phong Nha–Ke Bang National Park, a geologically notable site in central Vietnam, has tempted daredevils since 2013, when Son Doong, the biggest cave on the planet (large enough to hold a Boeing 747), opened for multiday tours. The Phong Nha–based company Oxalis Adventure is hoping to launch a fresh adventure in 2022 that’s set to rival the Son Doong Expedition, its flagship experience.
On the new Hang Ba tour (still in development), Oxalis guides will lead spelunkers through upwards of five caves with gigantic limestone chambers and dangling stalactites. When cavers aren’t crawling, swimming, or paddleboarding, they’ll be camping and trekking through jungles.
“I’ve been wanting to design this tour for ages,” says Howard Limbert, who led the expedition team that discovered the caves in the early 1990s. Back then, it took 15 hours to reach the cave cluster from Phong Nha village. Thanks to a new road, it may only take five to six hours.
Limbert says that collective efforts to protect the caves (his team has mapped more than 500 in Vietnam) and hire people from the community have reduced the rate of illegal logging and instilled conservationist attitudes. Phong Nha-Ke Bang can serve as a model for other protected areas in Vietnam, Limbert says, including the newly recognized biosphere reserves Nui Chua and Kon Ha Nung. —Joshua Zukas
Together, a new band of chefs and cultural activists is showcasing real Taiwanese food.
Taiwanese fare has long been considered a subset of the food of China. But diplomatic contact between China and the contested island nation ceased in 2016, and tensions have continued to climb. One of the by-products: Across Taiwan, many chefs are reviving a distinct national cuisine.
“A lot of people think Taiwanese food is beef noodle soup and xiao long bao [soup dumplings],” says Huang Teng-Wei, co-owner of Siang Kháu Lū, a boutique cooking school that opened in 2019 in Taoyuan, southwest of Taipei. “But in fact, all these dishes came after 1950 with the Chinese immigrants.” Traditional Taiwanese cuisine tends to revolve around root vegetables (like sweet potato and taro) and rice, with dishes such as savory rice puddings flavored with pork. He and his wife, Chou Pei-Yi, are particularly focused on reviving kueh, an old-school rice pastry that was used for centuries as a temple offering to the gods.
Other chefs are celebrating native Taiwanese ingredients. At Akame, a glitzy eatery that has been open since 2015 in Pingtung county, on Taiwan’s southernmost tip, the Indigenous chef Alex Peng uses pine needles and local sumac to flavor meat. Meanwhile, André Chiang—who helms Taipei’s fine-dining tour de force Raw—is committed to using Taiwanese ingredients from regional producers and highlighting Taiwan’s micro-seasons. Menu items might include roasted sliced duck graced with a sheet of seaweed, or a trio of local rice (fermented, purple, and toasted) alongside creamy panna cotta. Chiang’s side gig? Creating an encyclopedia of Taiwanese cooking techniques, ingredients, and food history so that the national cuisine becomes more recognized. —Clarissa Wei