2018 World's Greatest Places: The Southeast Asian List
It’s easy to find guides to famous attractions. But which new and newly relevant destinations are worth experiencing right now?
To assemble their first annual list of the World’s Greatest Places, TIME solicited nominations across a variety of categories -- such as museums, parks, bars, restaurants, theme parks, cruises and hotels --from our editors and correspondents around the world as well as dozens of industry experts.
Then we evaluated each one based on key factors, including quality, originality, innovation, sustainability and influence.
The result is a list as diverse as the world it reflects, with 100 entries spanning six continents and 48 countries -- highlighting everything from a Texas water park that empowers kids with disabilities to a Maldives resort that’s building an undersea abode to a library in Tianjin, China, that’s almost as wondrous as reading itself.
The list is divided into three categories: To Visit, To Stay and To Eat & Drink.
To see Southeast Asian places that are listed in the list, herewith is the details:
Golden Bridge, Ba Na Hills (VIETNAM)
The two massive stony hands emerging from the mountains of central Vietnam may look mossy and cracked like ancient ruins, but don’t be fooled: they’re brand-new wire mesh and fiberglass supports for a striking footbridge that opened in June.
The Cau Vang, or “Golden Bridge,” soars 3,280 ft. above sea level in the Ba Na Hills, where it connects a cable-car station to popular nearby gardens.
The structure itself is made of timber with stainless-steel railings treated to appear gold; TA Landscape Architecture, the Ho Chi Minh City–based firm that led the bridge’s design, has likened it to the “giant hands of Gods” cradling a golden thread. The 500-ft.-long expanse gives visitors plenty of space to take in the scenic views. It’s all part of an effort to bring more tourists to the country. —Julia Zorthian
MUSEUM MACAN, JAKARTA (INDONESIA)
Indonesia’s famously vibrant modern-art scene finally has the home it deserves.
Museum MACAN -- a contraction of Modern and Contemporary Art in Nusantara, a suburb of the Indonesian capital -- sprawls over 43,000 sq. ft. and showcases local talent, such as painter and performance artist Tisna Sanjaya and woodwork specialist Gatot Indrajati, alongside international icons such as Japan’s Yayoi Kusama and China’s Ai Weiwei.
Most of the art comes from the personal trove of Haryanto Adikoesoemo, a prominent local collector and businessman. In order to extend its remit, the facility, which opened in November 2017, also does community outreach, offering resources to teachers to talk to students about art —Suyin Haynes
COO BOUTIQUE HOSTEL & SOCIATEL (SINGAPORE)
Once travelers book stays at this hostel, which offers beds for as little as $20 a night, they can access COO Connect, an online platform that enables them to meet other guests based on mutual interests, such as food, photography and music. The goal, says founder Silas Lee, is to embody “the convivial spirit of an old-fashioned backpackers’ community.” — Megan McCluskey
ATLAS BAR (SINGAPORE)
Like gin? Then make haste for Singapore’s recently renovated Atlas Bar, which features about 1,000 varieties of the spirit, some dating to 1910. The 7,400-sq.-ft. facility, set in Singapore’s Gothic-looking Parkview Square office tower, is an Art Deco throwback --The Great Gatsby as conceived by the Hong Kong property mogul C.S. Hwang. His granddaughter Vicky says that the refurbishments were “intimidating,” but the hard work appears to have paid off.
The Atlas now occupies the No. 15 slot on this year’s World’s 50 Best Bars List, helped in no small measure by its gin collection, which is one of the world’s largest.
“We wanted to be a center of excellence for gin,” Hwang says. “A place where those who were gin enthusiasts or simply gin-curious could come, enjoy and learn a bit more.” — Suyin Haynes