Everyone knows that I have a deep-seated passion for Asia and because I have visited the continent over 50 times I am often asked “where should I go on my 1st trip?” So I thought I would come up with the best of Asia in a two-week tour. And regardless if you are coming in from Europe or the USA, I think this trip is a once in a lifetime adventure.
To get here I suggest you look at all your Frequent Flyer Miles and Points and then book what’s called an open jaw ticket. This means you fly into one city and back from another; as an example – London Heathrow to Hong Kong with the return via Singapore back to London. And I’d suggest that you try to book 1st class as this is the best way to use those miles and the ticket would cost over $15,000.
First up Hong Kong. No first time trip to Asia would be the same without seeing the vibrant city that was once run by the British. Where to stay? There are TONS of options. But I like both The Intercontinental or Shangri-La in Kowloon. The Intercon was the old Regent and it still holds a dramatic view of the city and a lobby that out does any other.
I highly recommend that you also visit the Peninsula, which is a Hong Kong icon. You must experience their high Tea. It is full of the wealth and socialites doing what they do best, being fabulous. So this is people watching at its height. Felix on the top floor is worth a drink and while it costs a fair amount the brilliant sights of Hong Kong make it all worthwhile. Oh and while you’re there you must also check out the restrooms. Another must see view is from Aqua at 1 Peking Road. It offers great scenes of the harbor and it is definitely worth a trip for the sunsets. Take the trolley up and see the gorgeous metropolis below.
When leaving the city be sure to check out Terminal 2 at HKIA as they have a discount Shanghai Tang outlet. They offer pretty good discounts on merchandise from this great brand and the store is open until 9pm.
The best way to fly from Hong Kong to Bangkok is with a one way flight on Emirates Airlines. It will cost about $400 in Business Class but you get a long haul seat with bar access on board their latest A380 super jumbo. You’ll wish the flight was much longer.
When picking a hotel in Bangkok I think you should seriously look at the Shangri-La. It’s in the hub of the city but still has a huge pool on the river to make you feel like you are on a resort. Get access to the Horizon Level for great snacks, breakfast and drinks.
Bangkok is a party town but it can also be very sophisticated. Go to the Banyan Tree hotel and visit Vertigo on the top floor for an open-air experience with breathtaking views. Food is everywhere in Bangkok. I have eaten the best Thai food but also some of the best European food here.
On Sunday you simply have to go to the Sukothai for their brunch. It is the most lavish I have ever see. It may set you back $100 a head but you get lobster, fois gras, sashimi and the best cheese tray in town.
For Thai food I like Silom Village as it’s outdoors with great stores and you also get to see a Thai dance while dining. Its not the best of the best but the seafood is pretty hard to beat and Spice Market at the Four Seasons is great for royal Thai Cuisine. The best French food in Asia is at Le Beaulieu where Chef Herve creates masterpieces here. Water Library is a resto on the hot list everywhere and Zannotti is brilliant for Italian cuisine.
The most romantic way to get from Bangkok to Singapore is on the Eastern and Oriental Express also known as the E&O. This train journey is old world travel at its finest; on board people dress for dinner, the food is gourmet, the service impeccable and the entire experience is elegant and luxurious.
Singapore is a fusion of the best of Asia. It is old and new, traditional but forward looking. And the food in Singapore is amazing. Try everything from Michelin-rated restaurants to the Hawker Centers where food vendors cluster to bring you an amazing variety of foods. The famous chili crab is a must, sweet and sour sauce with a kick. Try anything and everything here as it really is a melting pot tastes and techniques.
In Singapore service is out of this world and the weather is hot all year round so get out and explore and absorb the sights and sounds. The mix of Indian, Malay and Chinese culture make this an exotic location well worth the visit. And when you leave you get to fly out of Chiangi Airport, one of the best in the world.
So this is my suggestion on a first trip to Asia but if you want my real advice, don’t make just one trip here. Come many times as Asia is a truly enchanting land that begs to be explored.
Daniel Green, the Model Cook is a Celebrity Chef known for his healthy approach to food and living well. With TV, books, magazines and live appearances, Daniel spends his time helping fans to cook better, feel better and live better. He’s also an avid traveler and a self-confessed Foodie.