Best places in the world - its official

Trip Start Jan 30, 2007
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Flag of France  , Île-de-France,
Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Another week, another list.
A rather random list of new travel experience - expect that in 2 years time all these places will be off the list and totally trashed.
Enjoy them while they last . . .


World's top travel spots named

Looking for the latest destinations to make their mark? Travel + Leisure magazine's editors, writers and photographers have travelled the globe seeking the world's 100 best new travel experiences. Here are the highlights.

PLACES

Aspen, US

This year was the city's best snow season in three decades. But even without this abundance, the resort has endless options for all skiers on the pistes of Snowmass, Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk, with an apres-ski scene that's among the best in the world. www.aspensnowmass.com.

Beirut, Lebanon

Still the Mediterranean's most dynamic and dysfunctional city, Beirut is full of boutique bars, cool galleries and polyglot architecture. And the food is sensational. Don't be afraid to talk politics with the locals - it's the air they breathe. Do check for up-to-the-minute news on Al Jazeera before you go. www.downtownbeirut.com.

Bhaktapur, Nepal

Ancient Bhaktapur is the yin to Kathmandu's yang. On the cobbled, vehicle-free streets of this city, about 30 minutes by taxi from the frenetic heart of the capital, Kathmandu, soak up the ceramic and wooden wares, squares, stupas and smiles. www.bhaktapuronline.com.

Bhutan

Bhutan is an exquisite mixture of the sublime, the sybaritic and the surreal. The world's most mountainous country and the only one with Buddhism as its official religion, is a biodiversity hot-spot sheltering the Himalayas' most exotic animals. www.kingdomofbhutan.com.

Bilbao, Spain

Frank Gehry's mesmerising Guggenheim Museum turns 10 this year as Bilbao continues to transform itself from industrial wasteland to global design hub. The Ria 2000 committee is steadily recasting the city into an architectural wonderland with commissions by star-chitects Norman Foster, Zaha Hadid and Arata Isozaki. www.bilbao.net.

East Kimberley, Western Australia

It's remote, it's spectacular, and now the East Kimberley is a movie star in Baz Luhrmann's much-hyped Australia. Kununurra is the gateway to the region's countless gorges and waterfalls, the Argyle diamond mine and the ancient and mystical Bungle Bungles. www.westernaustralia.com.

Taipei, Taiwan

Asia's most underrated capital, Taipei is about to be invaded, in the nicest possible way, by mainland Chinese tourists, following a thaw in relations between the two nations. See this chilled, civilised and increasingly style-conscious city before it changes. www.taiwan.net.tw.

Mumbai, India

It's India's booming international city. Take your pick of its pockets: the decadent, decaying districts of Fort and Churchgate, built to a Gothic colonial scale; Bandra, the hip hang-out, with good coffee and tapas restaurants; or Chowpatty, where bhelpuri on the beach is still the best break from business meetings. www.mumbainet.com.

Murray River, Australia

Stricken it may be, but this famed river still offers something for everyone: towns like Rutherglen and Mildura with great food and wine and stories of frontier Australia. Then there's the red cliffs of Mannum, which provide stunning backdrops for houseboat trips. www.southaustralia.com; www.visitvictoria.com.

SITES

Eiffel Tower, Paris

This "disgusting column of bolted tin", as it was called by the Parisian art community in 1877, is winning new fans now that the great French chef Alain Ducasse has taken over the Jules Verne restaurant on the second level. Can there be a better spot for a "nought" birthday in all the world? www.restaurants-toureiffel.com.

Museum of Islamic Art, Doha, Qatar

Lured out of retirement by this irresistible commission from the Qatari Government, I.M.Pei (of Louvre Pyramid fame) has created a cubist citadel in stone beside Doha Bay that subtly evokes the desert fortresses of the Arabian Peninsula. Set to open in November, it will house Qatar's impressive collection of pan-Islamic art and antiquities. www.qatartourism.gov.qa.

Philosopher's Walk, Kyoto

Twentieth-century philosopher Kitaro Nishida understood that a stroll alongside a cherry tree-shaded canal on the north-eastern fringe of Kyoto would deliver enlightenment - and tranquillity. His Philosopher's Walk, flanked by some of Kyoto's finest temples, remains a tranquil escape from the city's tourist frenzy. www.jnto.go.jp.

Picasso Museum, Malaga, Spain

One of Andalucia's unsung cities, Malaga, is also home to one of its most impressive museums. The Museo Picasso is housed inside a tranquil 16th-century Andalucian palace (complete with Roman ruins on display in the basement). The 155-strong permanent collection includes many little-known works. www.museopicassomalaga.org.

St Pancras International Train Station, London

The unveiling of the lovingly restored, Victorian Gothic St Pancras station as the new home of the high-speed Eurostar (London to Paris in two hours and 15 minutes) heralded a new golden age in rail travel. Visit the world's longest champagne bar or the oyster bar and proudly British grub at the open-all-day St Pancras Grand. www.stpancras.com.

Terminal 4, Madrid

It might seem strange to wax lyrical about an airport, but we're smitten with state-of-the-art Terminal 4. Designed by Richard Rogers with Spanish design studio Lamela, the user-friendly space is flooded with natural light beneath an undulating bamboo roofline. It's almost a shame to have to board. www.spanish-airport-guide.com.

RESTAURANTS

Cha Cha Moon, London

London goes crunchtastic, as Alan Yau, the man who brought Wagamama to the world, does a lean, mean, designer-scene of a pan-Chinese noodle bar in Soho, where every dish is priced about $7.50. That's $7.50 for the Zhajiang minced pork noodles, beef hor fun, XO rice noodle rolls or wonton noodle soup. 15-21 Ganton Street, Soho, London, W1. Phone +442072979800.

Food Farmacy, Dunsborough, Western Australia

Get past the charmless shopping arcade surrounds. Forgive the test-tube condiment holders. The experimental creativity underpinning Simon Beaton's chocolate-hued, Melbournesque diner isn't even its biggest draw. It's that he cooks so well: melt-in-your mouth beef cheek, light-as-air gnocchi, and quirks like Tapas of Chocolate and Rabbit Five Ways. Shop 9, 32 Dunn Bay Road, Dunsborough. Phone (08)97591877.

Ciya, Istanbul, Turkey

Anatolia owes chef Musa Dagdeviren big time. He trawls the region for home-style recipes in danger of extinction, then courageously gives them new life in his three restaurants on the Asian side of Istanbul. The result is some of the city's most interesting food: sour-cherry kebabs from Gaziantep and yoghurt, wild mint and wheat berry soup from Van. www.ciya.com.tr.

Li Qun, Beijing, China

As Beijing tarts up almost beyond recognition, it's comforting to know there are still places like this (rough around the edges, hard to find). Li Qun is a family-run restaurant that is all about Beijing Duck. Roasted over sweet fruit wood with perfectly burnished, crisp skin, the meat is unforgettably juicy and flavoursome. 11 Beixianfeng, Zhengyi Lu, Beijing. Phone +861067055578.

Cloud Nine, Aspen, US

The Rockies' best European grub is served at high altitude at Cloud Nine, Aspen. Ski in, ski out, or (fake) fur up and catch a ride on a snowcat. The food exhibits the miraculous richness and lightness of taste characteristic of great French cuisine. Buy the Old World wines to complement, then point downhill. www.aspensnowmass.com.

Royale Nam Tok, Phuket

Packing up their Michelin-starred restaurant, De Tafeljoncker in Antwerp, Corry Ringoet and Marc De Schrijver moved it to a village in Phuket for a change of pace. This is great news for travellers to the resort isle who can now dine at a top-notch classical French restaurant on dishes such as sliced lobster on carpaccio of foie gras with white asparagus. www.royalenamtok.com.

For more of the year's top travel experiences, visit http://www.travelandleisure.com.au
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