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Da Nang is laid-back and friendly, maybe because everyone you meet has just finished an amazing meal. Culinary tours are a hugely popular way to experience literal local flavor. After you’ve stuffed yourself with bold noodle soups and savory street foods, walk it off by exploring the limestone caves and Buddhist grottos of the Marble Mountains.
Hue is clustered around the Perfume River, which splits the capital of the Nguyễn Dynasty in two. There are endless must-see historic sites, especially those that are UNESCO World Heritage designated. Sightseeing can include the ornate Imperial Citadel, colorful Thanh Toan Bridge, royal tombs and the Forbidden Purple City. Spend a moment in quiet contemplation if you visit Hue Jungle Crevice, where thousands of citizens were pushed to their deaths.
Vietnam's bustling largest city sets the cultural and economic pace for the country. The former Saigon boasts charming French colonial architecture and wide boulevards, usually thronged and choked with traffic. Taxis are an option for seeing the sprawling city. The War Remnants Museum shows the Vietnam War through Vietnamese eyes. Don't miss the impressive Jade Emperor Pagoda. Go to the frenetic Ben Thanh Market for food, flowers or frogs. Tour through the Mekong Delta, past rice paddies and houseboats.
Metropolitan Manila encompasses six cities and 12 towns. Located on Manila Bay in the South China Sea, and bisected by the Pasig River, the capital of the Philippines is historic and modern, rich and poor. A popular sight is the Intramuros, a walled area that was the capital during Spanish rule. Intramuros has retained old dungeons and gunpowder rooms but added art galleries and theatres. The city is filled with museums, shops, parks and churches, plus enough nightlife to last until dawn.
Party-hoppers flock to the wide and whimsical sands of Patong Beach. Mere minutes from the glittery chaos of Patong's many nightclubs, bars and discos, the golden beach is ideal for sunbathing, jet skiing, kayaking and parasailing. Lovers of leisure can spend the day relaxing on a sunbed under a colorful umbrella, lingering over treats from one of the vendors who stroll the sands.
Singapore is known as a bustling metropolis that also happens to be one of the cleanest and safest cities of its size in the world. (Just make sure you heed the local laws—something like spitting in the street might merely be considered rude in your hometown, but here, it carries a severe penalty.) You'll find historic sites like the Thian Hock Keng temple, superlative shopping (including gargantuan malls) and numerous beaches.
From modern skyscrapers and neon lights to Buddhist temples, palaces and pagodas, Seoul is a fascinating mix of old and new. A hub of business, culture and finance both within South Korea and internationally, Seoul houses the headquarters for some of the world's largest corporations. It also has one of the world's best subway systems the easiest way to get around in this densely populated area. For the best view of the city, go to the tower on Namsan, one of the mountains that encircle the city.
Regardless of season, it's hard not to succumb to romance as you wander Kyoto's atmospheric streets, gaze at the glimmering Kinkaku-ji Pavilion, enjoy the traditional dances of the geisha or feast at restaurants over the Kamo River. Only Rome has more World Heritage Sites than the former Japanese capital. But happily unlike Rome, Kyoto maintains its calmness and romance even among throngs of summer tourists. (Editor's note: Our list was compiled before Japan's devastating earthquake of March 11, 2011. Kyoto did not sustain major damage, but we encourage all travellers to Japan to monitor travel alerts from their government.)
In Hinduism, Manu was said to have survived a great flood that destroyed the rest of the world. He then recreated mankind in this Kullu Valley town. What a rush, huh? No wonder the towering peaks and verdant terrain of Manali attracts adventure travellers, with heli-skiing, hiking, mountaineering and river rafting the favored active pursuits. Come down from your endorphin high by breathing deeply at the four-story, wooden Hidimba Devi Temple, which sits in the middle of a nearby deciduous forest, or take a medicinal soak in the hot springs burbling from the ground a 30-minute walk from town.
Manama, capital of the island nation of Bahrain, is a major financial center with a thriving economy. A surplus of money has decorated the skyline with glass and steel spires, and plans for the tallest tower in the world. Although Bahrain is an Islamic country, alcohol is legal, and Manama has a thriving nightlife, with clubs and bars popular with visitors from all over the world. The narrow rows of stalls at the Bab el-Bahrain souk are famous for their vast array of perfumes, spices, and gold.
City slickers, culture vultures and beach bums alike fall in love with Sydney. Hang ten at famed Bondi Beach or stroll the calmer sands of Coogee. Cash burning a hole in your pocket? You’ll find great shopping in the Rocks district and along George and Pitt Streets. Climb to the top of the Harbour Bridge or take a skywalk on Sydney Tower for a 360-degree view of the city. But whatever you do, don’t leave town without cuddling the koalas in the Taronga Park Zoo—they’re ridiculously adorable.