If you're traveling to Asia for business, you'll probably want to add on an extra day or two to explore. Here's how to make the most of your downtime in 10 of Asia's business capitals. In Shanghai, the vast cityscape can feel overwhelming. Still, there are quiet corners, green parks and some of the world's most notable architecture to enjoy. The tourist trail is worth following here, if only to contrast the 19th- and 20th-century Gothic buildings along the Bund to the futuristic skyline found in the Pudong district. The French Concession is good for cafes, art and cobbled streets. For an aperitif, take the elevators at the Grand Hyatt Shanghai up 87 floors to Cloud 9 for spectacular river views and chilled martinis. Dine at Lost Heaven for spicy, meat-fueled Yunnan cuisine from southwestern China served in a romantic interior.
This city-state offers a little bit of everything, from family-friendly beach resorts on Sentosa Island to a slew of trendy restaurants and bars in Chinatown. Gardens by the Bay, near the Marina Bay Sands hotel, is a relaxing place to start, thanks to the leafy green walkways, solar-powered SuperTrees, Cloud Forest and Flower Dome. Travelers have been known to fall in love with Haji Lane, where indie boutiques and little cafes offer a slice of the city's creative side. Likewise, in the lanes around Chinatown, scores of colonial buildings and Chinese shophouses have been repurposed into restaurants and bars. Sip creative cocktails at the formidable Operation Dagger speakeasy, or taste upscale hawker food at The Coconut Club.
On a clear day, biking around Beijing is a scenic and efficient way to see the city. Most hotels include free bike rentals in their room rates. Grab-and-go bikes are also available on the street simply by downloading an app. Once on two wheels, it's easy to explore the narrow hutongs, or alleyways, where new outfits like Great Leap Brewing and FIX coffee house put a twist on tradition. The Forbidden City (also known as the Palace Museum), is a must-see. After a day of exploring, you'll have earned a few Peking duck pancakes -- try Da Dong Roast Duck (5/F, Jinbaohui Shopping Center, 88 Jinbao Jie, Dongcheng District). Celebrating a deal? Jing Yaa Tang provides designer surrounds and tableside carved duck in the basement of The Opposite House hotel. An excursion to the Great Wall is another must. Boutique hotel Brickyard provides a stylish and comfortable place to stay when hiking the Wall's lesser-frequented Ming Dynasty-era sections of Jiankou or Simatai.
Be forewarned: A day or two of sightseeing won't give you the feel for Mumbai. Then again, you could spend years here and still be scratching the surface. Unpack at a conveniently located hotel, such as The Leela Mumbai or The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. Then take a stroll along Chapel Street, decorated with technicolor murals. A wander through Chor Bazaar will jump-start the senses. It's one of the largest markets in Asia, home to anything and everything. Farther south, the gleaming Haji Ali Dargah shrine is seen reflected in the sea, while the Fort area offers old-world charm. Mumbai is one of the world's greatest food capitals. Feast on butter garlic crab at Trishna, try pasta and red pepper chicken at the 19th-century Leopold Café, or simply sample dosas and chaat in one of the city's many "snack alleys." For drinks? Dome, on the rooftop of the Intercontinental Hotel, offers wine and beach views.
Got time to kill in Bangkok? Good, you'll need it. The grinding traffic means getting around takes longer than you'd think, although the metro and tuk-tuk drivers help. One great destination: The massive Chatuchak Weekend Market -- touristy, but energetic. History enthusiasts will love the gleaming gold Grand Palace, as well as the Jim Thompson House, and enormous Wat Saket temple (via 344 steps). For dinner, it's hard to go wrong with Thai food at Issaya Siamese Club or the award-winning Nahm restaurant at the COMO Metropolitan Bangkok. Neo-Indian restaurant Gaggan has topped Asia's 50 Best list for three years running, so Chef Gaggan Anand must be doing something right. After hours, seek out Ashley Sutton's Iron Fairies workshop-turned-bar. It transports you to a fairy-dusted lair with industrial decor.
With its efficient train system and dynamic architecture, Kuala Lumpur is quickly modernizing -- though the older parts of the city are the most fascinating. The best way to experience the city is to wander on foot, exploring the Art Deco Central Market, bustling Chinatown, and imposing National Mosque. The family-run Nasi Kandar Pelita serves up authentic and affordable dishes, while Bijan offers sophisticated Malay cuisine in an alfresco setting. If you're not spending all day in the Petronas Towers, it's worth sipping on cocktails at the 33rd-floor SkyBar inside Traders Hotel for the views. Consider pairing your trip with a beach and scuba excursion in Langkawi, or a heritage tour of Penang.
Peaceful Taipei is the land of bubble tea, street food, night markets and Chinese temples -- not to mention the world's most beloved dumplings. Din Tai Fung, in central Xinyi, near Taipei 101, is worth the two-hour wait for pork-and-crab dumplings. Flaky scallion pancakes and stinky tofu at night markets like Shida or Raohe are recommended, but there are also plenty of upscale experiences. For fine dining, RAW is the reigning champion, serving local dishes with a French touch. Yen, atop the W hotel, fuses Taiwanese and Cantonese techniques in an avant garde dining room. Taipei's temples and museums are among Asia's best, particularly the 18th-century Longshan Temple in western Taipei, Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, and National Palace Museum.
Bike tours are a great way to stretch your legs and see Tokyo. Freewheeling Japan tours the cobbled old town of Yanaka to the Meiji Shrine or Setagaya Park -- depending on the day's itinerary. In beautiful weather, spend the day relaxing in Yoyogi Park in Shibuya, which hosts music performances and plenty of head-turning fashions. Local tour company Walk Japan will make the experience much more digestible, thanks to its well-organized walking programs that highlight a mix of must-see spots and less-frequented neighborhoods. Need a cocktail recommendation? The Palace Hotel's Lounge Bar Prive is home to a terrace with views of the Imperial Gardens and Tokyo skyline.
Seoul's status as one of Asia's top business centers is easily matched by its history, culture and cuisine. The efficient metro links up most of the city, from the northern Changdeokgung and Gyeongbokgung palaces to the Lotte World Tower -- currently the fifth tallest building in the world. Cycle or stroll along the Han River or enjoy a lazy afternoon in Yongsan Park. The artsy Itaewon area is an excellent choice for street food and shopping, while the ancient Bukchon Hanok Village offers a peek into the past. Onion in the gentrifying Seongsu-dong warehouse district has some of the city's best coffee and pastries. Myeongdong is a chaotic shopping district worth visiting if only for hidden restaurants such as bibimbap specialists Jeonju Jungang Hoegwan and dumpling and buckwheat noodle joint Myeongdong Kyoja. For fine dining, there's Kioku, where Andre Fu-designed interiors feel like a living bamboo forest.
For work, you'll likely spend most of your time in Hong Kong's Central, Wan Chai or Tsim Sha Tsui districts, so we recommend spending any spare time out of the city center. A trip out to Sai Kung rewards with ocean views and waterfront seafood restaurants. It's also the doorway to Hong Kong's beloved UNESCO Global Geopark, where undulating lava formations stretch along the sea. The Prince Edward Flower Market and Yuen Po Bird Garden reveal a calmer side to this frenetic city, while Yau Ma Tei is home to the Tin Hau Temple and Temple Street market. Across the street is the retro Mido Cafe, famous for its milk teas and egg sandwiches. For a more upscale Cantonese meal, try Dim Sum Library or Mott 32. On the southern side of Hong Kong, Shek O village has surfer vibes, beaches, and casual outdoor Thai restaurants. Really can't get out of Central? The Edward Youde Aviary and Hong Kong Park -- and a meal at LockCha Tea House -- make for a pleasant afternoon off.
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