DestinAsian March/May 2021

DestinAsian is the only travel magazine in the world exclusively dedicated to covering destinations in the Asia-Pacific region. Published 6 times a year, it delivers regular features about food, shopping, spa retreats, luxury lodgings, design, and fashion, all backed by award-winning writing, photography, and design.

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from the publisher

“Serendipity was my tour guide, assisted by caprice.”–Pico Iyer By the time you read this, it will have been roughly a year since Covid-19 triggered an unprecedented shutdown of international travel. But spring is nearing in the Northern Hemisphere, and this season of rebirth will no doubt have a special significance for millions around the world. Now, more than ever, we are seeing shoots of hope pushing through an otherwise bleak environment. I’m sure you’ve been following the global race to vaccinate as many people as possible against the virus — smaller nations such as Israel and the UAE have been leading the way, while much larger countries like the United States and United Kingdom are both making remarkable progress on that front. Here in Asia, the vaccine rollout might not be…

a legend relived

HOKIANGA In the annals of human exploration, the epic ocean voyages undertaken by early Polynesian seafarers still lack the recognition they deserve. But modern-day travelers now have the chance to delve into Maori culture where New Zealand’s story as Aotearoa, the “Land of the Long White Cloud,” first began. Opened in December, Manea – Footprints of Kupe ( overlooks Hokianga Harbour, where Kupe — the fabled voyager credited with discovering Aotearoa centuries before the Europeans — is believed to have come ashore. The US$7 million cultural and education center is an exciting addition to the remote Northland region, whose sights include the giant kauri trees of the Waipoua Forest. Encouragingly, visitors to Manea take on the role of active participants rather than passive observers. After a powhiri welcome ceremony, they’ll learn about…

on the right track

With 2021 designated the European Year of Rail, it’s fitting that the months ahead will see Belmond’s Venice Simplon-Orient-Express ( expand its route network in Europe. From late May through July, new boarding points for the legendary train service will include Rome, Florence, Geneva, Brussels, and Amsterdam, with dates and departure options detailed on the company’s website. On May 26 and July 14, for example, passengers can board the train in Rome for an overnight journey to Paris via Italy’s Lake District and the mountains of Switzerland; alternatively, guests can opt to start the trip in Florence after spending a night in either of Belmond’s two Tuscan hotels (Villa San Michele or Castello di Casole) with two-night packages starting at about US$2,800 per person. The Venice Simplon-Orient-Express is also debuting…

a fair exchange

PARIS When museums finally reopen in Paris, art buffs can look forward to more than a refurbished Louvre, which has been undergoing renovations since lockdown measures closed its doors in October. Just a five-minute walk from the onetime royal palace is the new Bourse de Commerce – Pinault Collection (, the latest project by French luxury-goods magnate François Pinault. A sister to Pinault’s two private museums in Venice, it inhabits the Bourse de Commerce, a circular 19th-century commodities exchange topped by an iron-and-glass dome. The landmark building has been over-hauled to the tune of US$170 million with a restoration led by Pritzker Prize–winning architect Tadao Ando, who has transformed it into a multiuse art venue with a 284-seat auditorium, a black-box theater, and 6,800 square meters of modular exhibition space. Taking center…

kabutocho makes a comeback

TOKYO Home to the Tokyo Stock Exchange, Kabutocho once drew comparisons to New York’s Wall Street: a financial hub packed with bankers, brokers, securities traders and the restaurants and bars they frequented. But after Japan’s economic bubble burst in the early 1990s and the exchange subsequently closed its sprawling trading floor in favor of all-electronic trading, the area quickly lost its luster. Flash forward to today, however, and Kabutocho is back, thanks to revitalization efforts that have ushered in a new wave of businesses and earned it a spot on Time Out’s 2020 list of the world’s coolest neighborhoods. At the heart of the ongoing transformation is K5 (, a “micro-complex” that opened last February in a converted neoclassical bank building dating to 1923. Located behind the stock exchange, the four-story structure…

juniper rising

INDIA PUMORI Named for the Himalayan peak whose foothills provide the wild juniper berries that go into this smallbatch gin, Pumori is the latest offering from Fullarton Distilleries, a familyrun enterprise based in the woodlands of Candepar, North Goa. A dozen botanicals sourced from across India — aniseed, vanilla, licorice, nutmeg, and lemon peel among them — impart a complex flavor that is ideal for sipping on ice. JIN JIJI Peak Spirits founder Ansh Khanna teamed up with Chicago-based sommelier Ken Fredrickson to produce this copperpot distilled gin for the international market, with distribution in Singapore and Thailand slated for the first half of this year. Jin JiJi (the moniker is derived from the Hindi word jijivisha, meaning “lust for life”) gets its distinctive flavor profile from tulsi leaf, orris root, and cashew…