52 Places to Go in 2017: The New York Times

List lovers rejoice!  It’s that time of year when lists reign supreme.  Prognosticators tell us what we have to look forward to in the New Year, be it relating to restaurant trends, gadgets and gizmos, or fashion.  For those inside the Beltway, The Washington Post’s annual In/Out List has been a must-read for decades, even if only for amusement. 

Yesterday, I read The New York Times’ Travel Section’s 52 Places to Go in 2017 with curiosity.  No, I don’t need to be told where to travel.  But, yes, I do find a list of suggestions useful.  After all, ours is a big world to explore.  

As to be expected, The New York Times’ list is at once diverse and inclusive, suggesting well-known and easy-to-reach destinations, as well as hard(er)-to-reach and little-known locales.  While I dream of one day traveling to Agra, India or Botswana with my Husband, now, I am looking for closer-to-home destinations.  And the list didn’t fail me. 

15. Osaka, Japan

The ultimate Japanese feast awaits.

If Kyoto represents Japan’s spirit, and Tokyo its heart, Osaka is the country’s insatiable appetite. The city’s culinary legacy is alive and at work in the neighborhoods of Tsuruhashi and Fukushima, and in the 91 Michelin-starred restaurants spread throughout the city — like Ajikitcho, specializing in traditional Japanese cooking, and Taian, with a chargrilled focus. On April 28, it will all come together at the International Festival Utage (“feast”), a 10-day food festival, celebrating flavors from Japan’s 47 prefectures.

China’s beach destination of choice.

With its stunning white sand beaches and shimmering blue waters, Sanya on Hainan Island, China’s southernmost province, is known as the Hawaii of China. The destination is in the midst of a resort boom, and these eye-catching properties are reason enough to visit. There are already a Park Hyatt, a St. Regis and a Shangri-La. And late last year, Ian Schrager’s luxe Edition — a 500-room resort with a long list of amenities — made its debut. Next up, in March, is the tony One & Only Sanya, set amid 28 acres of coconut palms.

An avalanche of art in Thailand’s second city.

January’s second annual Galleries Night Chiang Mai and February’s Documentary Arts Festival, a weeklong biennial, provide opportunities to discover the proliferating art spaces in the historic northern city. Last year’s crop included Chiang Mai’s first contemporary art museum, MAIIAM; the multidisciplinary Asian Culture Station; and Thapae East, an art and performance venue, among others. Art pilgrims can crash at the chic X2 Chiang Mai Riverside hotel, opening this year, or the Art Mai Gallery hotel, decorated by Thai artists.

48. Busan, South Korea

An underrated second city becomes a design hot spot.

Busan is known as a film town, but the city’s independent design scene is taking off, too. The Jeonpo Cafe District, a once-gritty industrial area, has recently been transformed into a creative hub packed with boutiques like Object, selling handcrafted items by locals. Nearby, a 1920s former hospital reopened in 2016 as Brown Hands Cafe, an atmospheric art space. There are new ventures to showcase local design, too: the annual Busan Design Festival and Busan Design Spot, a guide to local attractions.

 What surprised me most about the list?  It included our current home.

52.Ryukyu Islands, Japan

The Japan you’ve never heard of.

This rarely visited archipelago of 160 islands, with multiple endangered dialects and cultures, stretches from the southern tip of Japan’s mainland to 70 miles off the east coast of Taiwan. Expect Unesco heritage sites, 1,000-year-old cedars, the “living fossil” Amami rabbit, ancient temples and castles, white sand beaches, crystal-clear diving spots and a tug of war festival. There’s a new (albeit expensive) way to see them: on an Abercrombie and Kent cruise, with rates starting at $15,495.

Think about a visit.

Happy travels.

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