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Where to escape in 2013?
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If you are one of the estimated 2 million people who flee these shores for Chinese New Year, you probably decided where to go long ago. Believe it or not, some people admit to skipping town at this time of year just to avoid the expense of giving out red packets. Sad but true, they calculate that the HK$2,000 or $3,000 could just as easily be spent on a flight to Bangkok or Manila.
According to Conde Nast Traveler, the best places to go this year start with Amsterdam. Forget the Dutch capital’s image of drunken stag and hen weekends. There are plenty of reasons to visit the ultra cool city. Wonderful bookshops, renovated museums, locavore restaurants, avant-garde design shops, and interesting architectural designs, such as floating homes. Amsterdam has reinvented itself in recent years and it’s well worth checking out its cultural renaissance. Conde Nast suggests the Andaz Amsterdam hotel with rooms from US$400 per night. a
Seoul is the next place on their where- to- go list, citing the Gangnam Style phenomenon for the revival of interest in all things Korean. But apart from Psy and the horse dance, whatever that is, Korean fashion, art and food has become big in the US over the past 10 years. Seoul now ranks as a global city with fantastic shopping from the duty free Hotel Lotte to the vast array of upmarket choice in the Gangnam district, plus great food, and nightlife. Seoul has definitely shot up the must-visit list of Asia’s happening cities on the international map this year. Conde Nast likes the Park Hyatt Seoul, which it says has killer views, even from the bathrooms, with rooms from $330.
From South Korea to the Deep South
Nashville, Tennessee might not be on your bucket list, but Conde Nast rates it highly for two things: trendy new southern dining experiences and its renowned music scene. You can’t walk Nashville’s streets without coming across bands playing everything from bluegrass to brass bands, zydeco to country, on every block. For sleeping, try the Hutton Hotel, starting at $197.
Still down south, New Orleans scores highly for 2013. Truly a party town, being hosts of the 2013 Super bowl has turned the spotlight on this fun city. The Mercedes-Benz Superdome has just had an $85 million restoration; the historic Joy Theater on Canal Street has reopened after devastation by Hurricane Katrina, and now boasts a 10,000 square foot performance space. Across the street, the historic Saenger Theatre is in the midst of a $51 million renovation as well.
There's Mardi Gras coming up next week on February 12, and the Jazz Fest in April and May. Fantastic hotels, restaurants, music, nightlife, unbeatable cocktails: it’s all here. —you couldn't have a bad time if you tried, it seems. The Saint Hotel is the place to bed down apparently, on Canal Street. It’s modern, stylish, and a short stroll to the French Quarter.The historic Garden District. Rooms start at $139.
Toronto would not be top of my must-visit list this year, but Conde Nast rates it one of the top five cities in Canada, according to their Reader’s Choice Awards. The thrills apparently come from the city’s stunning architecture, diverse restaurants and buzzing arts and culture. Restaurant draws include New York's famous chef David Chang just opening a new branch of his Momofuku empire.
The luxurious Thompson Toronto is one of the best places to stay, with great city views and a bijou skating rink, rooms start at $192.