Where excitement lies

Indonesia’s government is focusing on the development of five super priority destinations in the country, with basic infrastructure and utilities expected to finalise in 2020. New destinations to watch are the areas around Lake Toba (North Sumatra), Borobudur (Yogyakarta and Central Java), Mandalika (Lombok), Labuan Bajo (East Nusa Tenggara), and Likupang (North Sulawesi). Major developments include airports, toll roads, piers and harbours. Construction of new hotels and other attractions by the private sector are expected to follow suit.

The addition of eco-adventure activities on Phou Phamarn hill is set to whet visitors’ appetite for the central province of Khammouane. Eco-tourism specialist Green Discovery Laos has pushed out tour packages offering activities like ziplining, treetop canopy walks and guide-led wildlife hikes that will appeal to adrenaline junkies and nature lovers. The area is also home to a bounty of natural beauty, including caves, tropical forests and majestic waterfalls.

Desaru Coast, Malaysia’s first premium integrated destination resort in Johor, spans over 1.6ha along a 17km beachfront facing the South China Sea. Developed by Desaru Development Holdings One, the new attraction is home to a slew of hotels, a conference centre, a waterpark, a retail village, and two championship golf courses. The destination is easily accessible from Singapore in the south, and by air and road from Kuala Lumpur and other major cities in Malaysia. Built to attract more midscale and high-yield regional tourists, Desaru Coast will also be hosting events and festivals to boost visitorship.

Crossroads Maldives, the country’s first multi-island integrated leisure and entertainment resort, is billed as a game-changer in the Maldives tourism landscape. Located just a 15-minute speedboat ride away from Malé International Airport, the mega development comprises The Marina, an 11,000m² retail and entertainment space; Hard Rock Hotel Maldives; and a transit hotel, SAii Lagoon Maldives, Curio Collection by Hilton; among other assets. Crossroads, in which the first phase was launched in September, also boasts a variety of lifestyle attractions including luxury shopping, fine dining, a state-of-the-art event hall, a PADI-certified watersports and dive centre, integrating leisure and entertainment in one destination.

Kayin State’s laidback capital, Hpa-An, is hugged by dramatic limestone karsts, towering Mount Zwegabin, winding waterways and farmland sprinkled with rural communities, positioning it as a top community-based tourism spot in the country. The development of locally-driven initiatives, such as kayaking through flooded paddies, making rice wine with villagers and cruising in traditional wooden boats, have helped opened the area up, alongside a trickle of international-standard accommodation.