There is no better time to visit the land of gilded temples and glittering skyscrapers than spring, when the cherry blossoms burst into bloom. Fly into Tokyo and hop a bullet train to the hot spring resort of Hakone. Then head north to the “Japanese Alps” and Takayama, famed for its artisans, woodworkers and sake. In Kyoto, wander magical landscaped gardens, castles, temples and shrines, and delve deeper into cultural traditions such as the tea ceremony, Origami, Sumo wrestling and Shinto music.
Angkor Wat, Cambodia
This sprawling temple complex in northwestern Cambodia is the largest of its kind in the world at 150 square miles. Built in the early 12th century, the temple is a tribute to Mt. Meru, dwelling place of the ancient Hindu gods. It’s awe-inspiring in its grandeuer, with intricate bas-relief carvings that depict myths and historical events encircling its exterior. Visitors can make a base in nearby Siem Reap and explore from there. Most Mekong River cruises also make a stop at Angkor Wat.
This stunning bay, scattered with limestone and karst islets and pillars – estimated to be between 250 and 280 million years old – is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of Vietnam’s most popular tourist attractions. Book a day tour or two-day overnight on a traditional wooden junk boat and cast off on the emerald waters, alighting to explore beaches, grottos and caves carved out by wind and waves.