Wednesday December 7, 2016
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Old City Baku’s famed medieval enclave houses the Unesco-listed Shirvanshah’s Palace, and Maiden Tower. — Picture courtesy of TripAdvisorOld City Baku’s famed medieval enclave houses the Unesco-listed Shirvanshah’s Palace, and Maiden Tower. — Picture courtesy of TripAdvisorSINGAPORE, Dec 7 — TripAdvisor, the travel planning and booking site, today announced the Travellers’ Choice awards for Destinations on the Rise, with Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, taking the top spot for Asia, while the laid-back local scene of San Jose del Cabo in Mexico earned the ranking of number one in the world.

The awards recognise 43 destinations around the world selected by an algorithm primarily measured by year-over-year increase in positive TripAdvisor traveller review ratings for accommodations, restaurants and attractions, and increase in booking interest. This is the fifth year of the awards and Travellers’ Choice Destinations on the Rise lists were also revealed for the US, Europe and South America.

“These destinations are fast gaining interest and popularity amongst our community of travellers all over the world,” said Janice Lee Fang, communications director for TripAdvisor, Asia Pacific. “We hope these winning lists will inspire those planning trips in 2017 to consider booking their holidays with some of these rising destinations, be it Baku, Da Lat or Kuching”.

She added, “We were very excited to see Baku top the list in Asia — Azerbaijan has a fascinating cultural history that straddles the East and West and given that almost 65 per cent of Asian travellers surveyed said that their main travel motivation is to experience and learn about new cultures, we are hopeful this win will encourage even more travel and discovery to Baku in 2017.”

“We are very proud that the city of Baku became a winner of Travellers’ Choice Destinations on the Rise award. Being a city situated on the crossroads of civilisations between the East and the West, the architecture of Baku is a mix of European and Oriental traditions. It is a real gem of the Caucasus and must-see destination for travellers looking for a combination of history and modernity in one place,” said Abulfas Garayev, Minister of Culture and Tourism of the Republic of Azerbaijan.

Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, took the top spot in the Travellers’ Choice awards for Destinations on the Rise in Asia. — Picture courtesy of TripAdvisor Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, took the top spot in the Travellers’ Choice awards for Destinations on the Rise in Asia. — Picture courtesy of TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Destinations on the Rise — Asia

(Excerpts in quotes below from TripAdvisor reviewers)

1. Baku, Azerbaijan

Situated along the Caspian Sea, Baku is a heady mix of Asian and Western cultures, of the old and new, all of which is best reflected in the city’s sights and landmarks. Visitors can explore the famed medieval Old City Baku, hailed as a “must-visit”, which houses the Unesco-listed Shirvanshah’s Palace, and Maiden Tower. Admire the city’s contemporary buildings such as the Heydar Aliyev Center, designed by Zaha Hadid, and the Flame Towers — a trio of skyscrapers covered with LEDs and displaying the mesmerising movement of a flame. Rest your feet after a long day of exploration at “the best hotel” in the city, the Hotel Badamdar Baku, for a seasonal average of RM440 per night on TripAdvisor.

El Nido in Palawan is perfect for travellers seeking peace and solitude. — Picture courtesy of TripAdvisorEl Nido in Palawan is perfect for travellers seeking peace and solitude. — Picture courtesy of TripAdvisor2. El Nido, Philippines

Known as the Philippines' last frontier, El Nido in Palawan is perfect for travellers seeking peace and solitude. Visit the off-the-beaten-path Nacpan Beach, ranked as Asia’s second best beach in this year’s Travellers’ Choice™ awards, for a ‘tourist-less’ experience and stay in a water cottage overlooking the sea at the El Nido Resorts Miniloc Island. Described as “paradise”, you can book a stay on TripAdvisor for RM2,444 per night.

Jodhpur is a reflection of the royal lineage it has witnessed for centuries. — Picture courtesy of TripAdvisorJodhpur is a reflection of the royal lineage it has witnessed for centuries. — Picture courtesy of TripAdvisor3. Jodhpur, India

The second largest city in Rajasthan, Jodhpur is a reflection of the royal lineage it has witnessed for centuries. Majestic forts and palaces, remnants of the glorious past, adorn the landscape of this popular tourist attraction. Ratan Vilas, bookable on TripAdvisor at RM333 per night is a mansion from the 1920s that has been beautifully refurbished into a hotel and “provides a wondrous setting to recharge and enjoy its magnificent setting”. Travellers can also visit the impressive Mehrangarh Fort which is one of the oldest forts in India and “offers sweeping views of the Blue City”.

Da Lat offers a cooling respite from Vietnam’s otherwise tropical climate. — Picture courtesy of TripAdvisorDa Lat offers a cooling respite from Vietnam’s otherwise tropical climate. — Picture courtesy of TripAdvisor4. Da Lat, Vietnam

Situated 1,500 m above sea level, Da Lat is also known as the City of Eternal Spring, offering cooling respite from Vietnam’s otherwise tropical climate. Marvel at French-inspired architecture and make a beeline for the Linh Phuoc Pagoda, an intricate structure with ceilings, walls and installations made from millions of pieces of broken glass, terracotta and beer bottles. Complete your trip by staying at the highly recommended Dreams Hotel offering a “Jacuzzi with rooftop views”, bookable at an average of RM120 per night on TripAdvisor.

Jeju is popular for its fresh seafood and natural attractions. — Picture courtesy of TripAdvisorJeju is popular for its fresh seafood and natural attractions. — Picture courtesy of TripAdvisor5. Jeju, South Korea

A popular honeymoon destination, there is plenty to do in beautiful Jeju, known for its fresh seafood and natural attractions. Hike through Hallasan National Park, a Unesco-listed site that is home to Hallasan Mountain, the highest peak in South Korea and famous for its vertical ecosystem of plants as a result of the varying temperatures along the mountainside. After a day of hiking, put your feet up at the award-winning December Hotel Jeju, “with its spacious rooms” for a good night’s rest. Rooms are bookable on TripAdvisor for RM195 per night.

Sapa is known for its trekking trails. — Picture courtesy of TripAdvisorSapa is known for its trekking trails. — Picture courtesy of TripAdvisor6. Sapa, Vietnam

Set against a backdrop of towering mountains and undulating valleys, Sapa is located in north-west Vietnam and known for its trekking trails. Visitors can head to the Muong Hoa Valley for spectacular views of cascading rice terraces, peaks and forests and learn more about local culture as they make their way through hill tribe villages. Stay at Sapa Paradise View Hotel, “a gem of a hotel with the perfect location” for RM178 per night.

Hualien is popular for its geological wonders of marble cliffs and waterfalls. — Picture courtesy of TripAdvisorHualien is popular for its geological wonders of marble cliffs and waterfalls. — Picture courtesy of TripAdvisor7. Hualien, Taiwan

Taiwan’s second largest city, travellers head to Hualien for its geological wonders of marble cliffs and waterfalls. A must-visit activity in Hualien is hiking through Taroko Gorge that offers breath-taking views of canyons, mountains and quaint local villages. Later, head to Kindness Hotel — Hualien Main Station for a good night’s rest, bookable on TripAdvisor for RM658 per night. The hotel also offers complimentary supper, perfect for when the midnight hunger pangs strike!

The city of Kuching needs no introduction. — Picture courtesy of TripAdvisorThe city of Kuching needs no introduction. — Picture courtesy of TripAdvisor8. Kuching, Malaysia

A trip to Kuching is an enriching experience for any visitor, with the many museums and attractions which offer insights into the local heritage and traditions. Learn more about Sarawak’s main ethnic groups including the Iban, the Bidayuh and the Orang Ulu at the Sarawak Cultural Village, a living museum where staff live and work to preserve their heritage and cultural traditions. Check into the centrally-located The LimeTree Hotel, bookable on TripAdvisor for RM147 per night, for “quality and comfort” during your stay.

Nature lovers seek out Kota Kinabalu’s renowned national parks and marine life. — Picture courtesy of TripAdvisorNature lovers seek out Kota Kinabalu’s renowned national parks and marine life. — Picture courtesy of TripAdvisor9. Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia

Lying on the northwest coast of Borneo is Kota Kinabalu, a popular destination for nature lovers with its renowned national parks and marine life. Make an advance booking to take a speedboat to Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park, a cluster of islands great for snorkeling and diving and referred to as “the real beauty of Sabah”. Stay in the heart of the city at Hotel Sixty3, a hotel with an “unbeatable location” for RM275 per night.

Explore George Town to get a glimpse of the island’s Peranakan culture. — Picture courtesy of TripAdvisorExplore George Town to get a glimpse of the island’s Peranakan culture. — Picture courtesy of TripAdvisor10. George Town, Malaysia

George Town continues to draw tourists all-year round with its diverse history and delicious food. Take a glimpse at the customs and heritage of the Peranakan community at the award-winning and beautifully designed Penang Peranakan Mansion, which has been recreated as a typical home of a rich Baba (Straits-born Chinese man). Then, head to the “fantastic” Le Dream Boutique Hotel (bookable for RM275 per night), for free movie nights and complimentary snacks and wine.

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