Latest Airbnb booking data has revealed growing interest in lesser-known destinations and eco-conscious cities across the globe, as travellers look for new, local and authentic travel experiences beyond big cities. In Thailand, emerging destinations across the country are increasingly appealing to both domestic and international travellers. Case-in-point is Buriram in Thailand’s Northeast saw 383% growth in bookings* year-over-year, propelling it into third place on Airbnb’s top 20 global destinations to visit next year. Here are the Top 20 trending destinations for 2020: 1. Milwaukee, WI, US The host of next year’s Democratic National Convention, Milwaukee makes it to the top of our trending list. This historic gem on the shores of Lake Michigan often slips under the radar but has a terrific bar and restaurant scene and fascinating cultural attractions that include a Calatrava-designed art museum. And with over 105 miles of scenic bike lanes, it’s easy to see why Milwaukee is experiencing an upsurge in interest among guests on Airbnb. 2. Bilbao, Spain Bilbao’s transformation from rust belt city to flourishing culture hub is truly remarkable. The city’s Frank Gehry-designed Guggenheim Museum put Bilbao on the map when it opened back in 1997. Since then the Basque city has been on an ever upward ascent, winning the European City of the Year in 2018. Visitors to the area are rewarded with a lively dining scene, breathtaking architecture and an unforgettable cityscape. Next year, Bilbao will also become a top destination for sports fans: it’s one of the host cities of Europe’s most beloved soccer competition. 3. Buriram, Thailand The rural province of Buriram is home to some of Thailand’s most treasured Khmer relics. Its best known monument is the incredible Phanom Rung complex which is comparable in grandeur to its much more famous Cambodian neighbor, Angkor Wat. In addition to ancient ruins, the province has also become a sporting hotspot: 2018 saw the inaugural MotoGP motor racing event at the Chang International Circuit which also plays host to the Buriram Marathon each year. MotoGP is scheduled to return in March next year. 4. Sunbury, Victoria, Australia A short drive northwest of Melbourne, the suburb of Sunbury is a popular spot with savvy locals thanks to its wildlife, wineries and Victorian-era architecture. Its biggest claim to fame is as the birthplace of cricket’s most sought-after trophy — The Ashes. In 2020, Sunbury looks to attract cricket fans from near and far as Melbourne will be hosting the ICC T20 World Cup. 5. Romania Romania, with its pristine hills and ancient rural villages, is the perfect destination for anyone looking for something off-the-beaten-track. The country has some of the best preserved virgin forests in Europe and, according to the 2018 Environmental Performance Index, ranks 15th globally when it comes to ecosystem vitality. 6. Xi'an, China Often cited as one of the birthplaces of Chinese civilization, Xi'an is best known as the home of the terracotta warriors — a vast collection of prehistoric clay soldiers discovered by local farmers in 1974. Today, the capital of China’s western Shaanxi province is a major culinary melting pot while
The Empire State Building (ESB) today announced the second phase of its top-to-bottom reimagined Observatory Experience. Opening to the public on July 29, 2019, the $165 million project presents the only museum in New York City that is open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. Located on the second floor of the international icon, the 10,000 sq. ft galleries invite Guests on a journey from the building's construction to its current place in pop culture. Named the most Instagrammed U.S. landmark in a study conducted by Sony Mobile, the new galleries feature immersive and interactive exhibits that fulfill the desire of today's modern traveler to share authentic experiences – all as they make their way to the one-of-a-kind views from the 86th Floor Observatory. Led by experience designer Thinc, with team members IDEO, Squint Opera, Beneville Studios, Diversified., Intersection, Kubik Maltbie, Otis Elevator Company and Tenguerian Model, phase two follows the first phase, a brand-new Observatory entrance at 20 West 34th Street which was completed in August of 2018. The galleries through which visitors travel to experience ESB's famous views from the center of New York City include: The Site in the 1920s: A black-and-white panoramic image depicts the site of the original Waldorf-Astoria Hotel as construction of the Empire State Building begins. Through building surveyors, Guests can look in and see the New York City streets of the late 1920s come to life in full color. Construction: Inspired by the photography of Lewis Hine, visitors will be transported back in time as hot rivets, and steel beams fly overhead, and the sounds of New York City come alive in surround sound. Visitors can also interact with specially commissioned cast sculptures of construction workers as they work and take their lunch break. Opening Day: The excitement of opening day is palpable with a newsboy announcing the opening of the Empire State Building as he sells his papers on the streets of 1930s New York City Modern Marvel: The Modern Marvel exhibit outlines the specific measures taken to make the Empire State Building a world leader in sustainability and a leading example in energy efficiency. Otis Elevators: Otis delivered the groundbreaking technology that made the towering height of ESB possible. In a dedicated exhibit, Otis showcases not only how the original elevators operated, but teaches visitors about the latest technology installed in the newest elevators, which transport more than 10 million tenants and Observatory Guests each year. Visitors will also walk through a simulation of an actual elevator shaft and feel the energy created by the movement of the cars up close. Urban Campus: Very few visitors to the Empire State Building are aware of what goes on in the nearly 100 floors they don't see. Urban Campus offers a glimpse into some of the major tenant spaces, amenities, and hidden views of the building as experienced by those who work there. The exhibit highlights some of these contemporary internet-age businesses, visible through peepholes that give guests an insider's view of what these high-tech offices
Whether it’s an unplanned holiday trip, an epic clash to save the world, friends experiencing daily life in the five boroughs or anything in between, storytellers in film and television have long chosen New York City as their setting. No matter your favorite genre, a trip to NYC is an opportunity to see where some of these iconic scenes came to life: For the sitcom lover Friends While Friends was primarily filmed in a studio, the West Village apartment where Rachel, Monica, Joey, Phoebe, Ross and Chandler live and hang out is a real building on the corner of Bedford and Grove Streets. At its street level, you will find Mediterranean restaurant The Little Owl in the same space as the Central Perk café where Rachel works and Phoebe famously performs “Smelly Cat”. Additionally, the neighborhood houses a number of prominent Off-Broadway theaters including The Lucille Lortel Theatre, where aspiring actor Joey performs in the show’s earlier seasons. How I Met Your Mother While retracing Ted’s 11-season search for his wife, be sure to grab a drink at McGee’s, the Midtown Manhattan bar that inspired the gang’s go-to spot, MacLarens. Try what Marshall declares to be the best burger in NYC at ‘21’ Club; tour the Columbia University campus where Ted (unwittingly) first meets his wife; and have a legen
Books can take you to new and exciting places—completely new worlds, even. This World Book Day (23 April 2019), let Lifestyle+Travel and Agoda take you on a literary journey like no other. On your next holiday, trace the roots of some of your favorite authors by stopping by their hometowns—some of which have inspired their most seminal works. Here are some must-visit spots for book-lovers roaming around Asia… Kobe, Japan Literary Hero: Haruki Murakami Notable works: “Kafka on the Shore” and “1Q84” available from Shinchosha Must-see attractions: Ikuta Shrine, Arima Onsen, Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge Murakami grew up in Kobe, where a few of his stories, such as his debut novel “Hear the Wind Sing”, are set. Murakami’s works have surrealist elements, often with melancholic themes which in some ways, is reflective of the quiet beauty to be found in the many serene shrines and breathtaking nature scenery in the small seaside city. Internalize the relaxing minimalist side of Kobe when you stay at Arimakoyado Hataya Ryokan. Camarines Norte, Philippines Literary Hero: Ricky Lee Notable works: “Para kay B” available from Philippine Writers' Studio Foundation Must-see attractions: Calaguas Islands, Apuao Grande Island, Bagasbas Beach More than his novel “Para kay B,” Ricky Lee’s body of work encompasses screenwriting and playwriting. He has worked with revered Filipino directors like Lino Brocka and Ishmael Bernal and has even published a screenplay manual called “Trip to Quiapo” which has since been a staple resource for communication colleges in the Philippines. Visit Lee’s hometown of Camarines Norte in the central Bicol region of the Philippines and enjoy its beautiful beaches like those on Apuao Grande Island and the Calaguas group of islands. Keep comfy by making One Platinum Hotel your home base while in the area. If you’re in the Americas, head to… New York, USA Literary Hero: Jenny Han Notable works: “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” available from Simon & Schuster Must-see attractions: Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge, Broadway Though Han originally came from Virginia, her time in New York shaped her career as a young adult fiction writer. Book the cozy Jun New York Midtown III apartment, and feel right at home when you take a break from all of that sight-seeing. Aracataca, Colombia Literary Hero: Gabriel García Márquez Notable works: “One Hundred Years of Solitude” available from HarperCollins, “Love in the Time of Cholera” available from Penguin Classics Must-see attractions: Casa Museo, Casa del Telegrafista The municipality of Aracataca is built along the river of the same name and boasts Nobel Prize winner for literature Gabriel García Márquez as one of its sons. The village of Macondo in García Márquez's celebrated novel, “One Hundred Years of Solitude” is fashioned after Aracataca. Take a day trip out to explore García Márquez's reconstructed childhood home-turned-museum and the Casa del Telegrafista, then settle down at the charming Agoda Home in Parque Los Novios in the nearby city of Santa Marta, where you can also visit Colombia’s famous Tayrona National Natural Park. If you’re venturing to Europe, then consider visiting… Edinburgh, Scotland Literary Hero: J.K. Rowling Notable works: The “Harry Potter” series available from Bloomsbury Must-see attractions: Edinburgh Castle, The Royal Botanic Gardens, Dynamic Earth, Underground Edinburgh, The Scotch Whisky Experience Potterheads, unite! While Rowling was born in Yates, England, it was during her time in Edinburgh that she
The Empire State Building (ESB) today announced that it will utilize two EarthCam video cameras to give fans around the world 24/7 access to footage of ESB and of the views from ESB via a livestream on www.empirestatebuilding.com . One camera is installed on the rooftop of One Grand Central Place, a property in the portfolio of Empire State Realty Trust, the company that owns and manages the Empire State Building. The EarthCam footage allows fans all over the world to view in real time the beloved ESB tower lightings, New York City sunsets, and the signature hourly sparkle effect that occurs daily for five minutes every hour between sunset and 2:00 a.m. Eastern Time. The second camera is installed on the south corner of ESB's 103rd floor and will capture the stunning views of New York City and beyond. Users will have the opportunity to view extreme weather conditions and even watch the sunrise from the heart of New York City. The two different viewpoints allow visitors to witness the World's Most Famous Building 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, and to enjoy a preview of the ESB Observatories' 360-degree panoramic views. Fans are encouraged to take advantage of the screenshot function provided by EarthCam and to share images on social media by tagging the Empire State Building in their posts.
With spring around the corner, it means cherry blossom season is coming. Take this chance to spend some quality time with your loved ones beneath the beautifulsakura trees. While Japan and Washington, D.C. are the most famous places to enjoy cherry blossoms, it is possible to see these trademark pink flowers in other locales around the globe. Lifestyle+Travel and Agoda.com share some of the best across Asia, America and Europe to enjoy the age-old tradition of hanami, or “flower viewing” in Japanese. Jinhae, Changwon, South Korea The Jinhae Gunhangie Festival attracts roughly two million visitors a year. Historically a memorial service to commemorate Admiral Yi Sun-sin, it is now South Korea’s biggest spring festival. Enjoy the festival by taking a stroll down the picturesque Romance Bridge, where cherry blossoms canopy the Yeojwacheon Stream, and along Gyeonghwa Station where the trees line the railway track. The best time to visit is late March to April. Conveniently located within reach of the city’s must-see destinations, M-Stay Hotel Changwon is the ideal accommodation for travelers looking to stay busy throughout their trip. Dien Bien Phu, Vietnam It’s a little-known fact that Vietnam’s Hoa Island, located east of Dien Bien Phu in the middle of Pa Khoang Lake, is a goldmine for those seeking cherry blossoms. Did you know that Vietnamese scientist Dr Tran Le wandered up and down the country for the perfect place to plant the seeds, a gift from a Japanese friend? Stay with the family at the Hoang Anh Villa which features an outdoor pool and sun terrace for some quality hanami, or cherry blossom viewing, time. Washington D.C., America The three-week-long National Cherry Blossom Festival celebrates the dawn of spring while honoring both American and Japanese cultures. The 3,000 trees that can be seen here are a symbol of friendship between the two countries and were gifted by Tokyo’s then Mayor, Yukio Ozaki in 1912. Take in the sights of a sea of stunning cherry blossom trees at the Tidal Basin, and stay at The Wink Hotel Washington D.C. Located at the heart of the city, this hotel is perfect for travelers who want to make the most of all that the lively city has to offer. Edinburgh, Scotland Pack a picnic and head to The Meadows in Edinburgh. Once you’ve laid claim to one of the benches along the tree-lined paths, you can take a breather and soak in the pink-hued scenery outdoors. Plan to spend the day outdoors by taking along a blanket and your favorite novel. Stay at the Radisson Blu Edinburgh on the historic Royal Mile in the heart of Edinburgh. Recently renovated in 2015, the hotel is within walking distance to top tourist attractions, shopping areas and The Meadows. Paris, France Few places on earth are as romantic and picturesque as the beloved City of Lights. Every spring, neighborhoods and parks in the French capital are dotted with mesmerizing cherry blossoms. For prime viewing, take a stroll through Parc du Champ de Mars, set in the shadows of the world-renowned Eiffel Tower. Stay in ultimate luxury at the Park Hyatt Vendome Hotel located in the heart of Paris on the prestigious Rue de