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Trip Report: Sleeping in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka

Three years after the country’s 26-year civil war ended, Sri Lanka’s recovery is well underway. I spent two weeks traveling in Sri Lanka at the end of January and was amazed by the changes taking place. Colombo, the capital, is unrecognizable. Old colonial buildings once enshrouded in barbed wire and concrete walls are now out in the open, with fresh coats of paint. A few major restoration projects have turned historic buildings into dining and shopping destinations.

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Hong Kong Trend Report: Down on the Urban Farm

HK Farm

Out of all the places to have a farming renaissance, who would guess uber-urban Hong Kong? But it’s true: concerns about food safety in China coupled with a rising interest in the provenance and quality of ingredients has sparked action. HK Farm is a 4,000-square-foot rooftop farm in industrial Ngau Tau Kok started by a group of artists and designers, with plans to expand. Zen Organic is a former pig farm that a pair of siblings inherited and turned into one of the city’s most sought-after sources of produce. Down with pollution and in with the greens! 

Photo by Glenn Eugen Ellingsen / HK Farm

Japan's Top Hot Springs

Japanese hot springs

Japan’s thousands of onsen, or hot springs, have been used to treat everything from skin conditions to sleep disorders since the days of the samurai. Here, four worth the trip from Tokyo.

The Original: According to lore, a Buddhist monk discovered the hot springs of Yamanaka, on the western coast of Honshu island, some 1,300 years ago. Take a dip in the privacy of the secluded Kayotei, then stay for an organic kaiseki meal with locally foraged bamboo shoots and soba noodles with grated daikon.

The Pastoral: Located at the foot of Mount Amagi, Yugashima has jaw-dropping scenery and rustic baths. The Yumotokan onsensits in a gorge along the Kano River. Post-dip, walk through the primeval cedar forest to Jōren no taki, an 82-foot-high waterfall.

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New Resort Inside Malaysian National Park

201208-b-gaya-island-resort-sapi-and-gaya-islandjpg

This July marked the opening of Gaya Island Resort off the coast of Malaysian Borneo. With 120 villas overlooking the South China Sea, the hotel takes full advantage of their stunning national park space with a resident naturalist and marine biologist, private yacht, and underwater photography classes. This land is as pristine as it gets.

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Rock Bund: Shanghai’s Hot New Neighborhood

Shanghai neighborhoods

Shanghai urban planners rival their New York real estate agents in their imaginative renaming of neighborhoods. Some have been flops: Sinan Mansions and the South Bund are still largely deserted, the latter despite the industrial-chic Waterhouse and a solid restaurant by Jason Atherton. I’m now hearing that the area around the Rockbund Art Museumis shaping up to be an emerging ‘hood. (It’s called, rather unimaginatively, Rock Bund.)

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Tokyo Home to World's Tallest Tower

Tokyo Skytree

Can’t get higher than this: the world’s new tallest tower Tokyo Skytree opened in late May, and tickets to its lookout are still sold out for months (if you’re in the mood for some elevation, we’d recommend booking a ticket now). At 2,080 feet, the building serves not only as an observation deck and restaurant but a broadcast tower to relay television and radio signals. Be careful up there! The observation deck has already had to close temporarily due to storms and extreme weather. 

Jennifer Chen is Travel + Leisure's Asia correspondent. 

Photo by MASANORI YAMANASHI / AFLO / Nippon News / Corbis

Singapore's New Gardens by the Bay Park

Gardens by the Bay

No, this isn’t a backdrop from Avatar. These so-called Supertrees are the centerpieces of the first phase of Gardens by the Bay, the city’s $805 million, 250-acre waterfront park. The “trunks” of the 18 soaring trellises (which reach up to 164 feet) will be dripping with Brazilian bromeliads, orchids from Ecuador, and other exotic flora. More highlights: 10 themed gardens, two glass-enclosed biomes, and an aerial walkway from which to take it all in.

Jennifer Chen is Travel + Leisure's Asia correspondent.

Photo by Morgan & Owens

What's New in Hong Kong's Sheung Wan District

Select 18 in Hong Kong

The historic Sheung Wan district is abuzz with new restaurants and shops—plus a chic hotel that has solidified the area’s rebirth.

Hotel de Edge by Rhombus: Value-conscious jet-setters check in to the 32-story hotel for its streamlined rooms, free Wi-Fi, and sweeping views of Victoria Harbour. For dinner, head to the on-site Glo restaurant, which attracts a stylish crowd. 94-95 Connaught Rd. W. $$

Select 18 (pictured): Discerning hipsters browse this petite spot for vintage eyeglass frames, from Moscot to Dior. It also stocks secondhand couture; look out for 1980’s Vivienne Westwood baubles and Chanel jackets. 18 Bridges St.; 852/9127-3657.

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Correspondent Dispatch: Bangkok to Beijing

Beijing skyscraper

In Beijing, five years is more like two decades. The last time I was in the Chinese capital was before the 2008 Olympics, when the city was just entering a building frenzy and gaining prominence on the world stage. When my husband announced that he had gotten a job in Beijing, I knew to expect a transformed city—China, after all, has emerged as an economic powerhouse. But the pace of change is still breathtaking.

For starters, I don’t recognize anything. Granted, I haven’t had a chance to visit the historic monuments like Tiananmen Square and the Temple of Heaven. (Expats’ dirty secret: you save the sights for when visitors are in town.) But I thought I'd at least recognize old haunts that survived the construction boom. One night, I confidently told my husband I knew the exact location of Nali Patio, a complex in the Sanlitun neighborhood that’s home to trendy restaurants and bars, where we were meeting friends. What I hadn’t reckoned on was that everything around Nali Patio had been demolished, with a shiny shopping development and dozens of bars in their stead.

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Best Openings from Around the World

Montreal

From hotel openings to cultural happenings, we’ve got the latest in five buzzing cities.

BARCELONA
Stay: Primero Primera

A stylish boutique hotel in a tucked-away bourgeois barrio alto. Doubles from $255.

Eat: Fábrica Moritz Barcelona
Tapas restaurant set in an old Moritz beer factory and made over by French architect Jean Nouvel. 34/93-426-0050; dinner for two $55.

Do: Museu d’Idees I Invents de Barcelona
A two-story showcase for wacky inventions such as a mop with a microphone. —Suzanne Wales

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