For South African travelers Asia has long been one of the hottest travel destinations. Those 2020/2021 travel lists are once again going to feature many of our favourite Asian spots along with a few new names to add to the list, writes JENNA BERNDT.

Here are some of the hottest destinations and experiences to put on your 2020 Asian travel lists today:

Japan is trending

While it may not be the most rand-friendly of Asian countries, there are still ways South Africans can explore this must-see country. Japan has the recent Rugby World Cup to thank for its new top-of-mind status amongst many South Africans – who admit the destination was never really on their radar.

“The best way for South Africans to save and enjoy a trip to Japan is to prepay as much of the trip as possible, book early and opt for an inclusive style of travelling,” recommends Teresa Richardson, MD of The Travel Corporation (TTC) in South Africa.

Costsaver guided holidays are a bestselling TTC product in SA and offer a 10-day Japan Discovery itinerary. Think of it as independent guided touring with all the essentials included but with the flexibility to tailor the trip as budget and interest allows.

“Costsaver’s ready-to-go rate also ensures South Africans get their holiday at the best price,” adds Richardson. “Book and pay early with the peace of mind that you won’t get a better price. It won’t go down, but if it does go up due to inflation, your booking is secure, and you won’t have to pay in any extra,” says Richardson.

Discover the mix of traditional and modern that makes Japan so unique. Visit tranquil shrines and temples, a sake brewery, shop till you drop on Nakamise shopping street in Tokyo and head off the beaten trail exploring the Bikan Historical Quarter in Kurashiki, not far from Okayama City.

The Yangtze River and rural China

China’s tourism industry has been growing steadily since 2015 when it was listed as the fourth most visited country in the world (after France, the US and Spain). Last year, the country welcomed 141 million inbound tourists.

But many visitors only scratch the surface. There’s more to see in China than just the Great Wall and bustling Beijing (although those are must-do experiences). After exploring the mix of modern and traditional in Beijing, and feasting on Beijing Kao Ya’, Peking Duck as we know it, head out of the city.

Get a glimpse of rural, authentic daily life cruising the Yangtze River and sailing through the picturesque three gorges, past age-old sites featuring fascinating stories of myth and legend, karsts and cliffs.

Dive deep into culture watching a Kung Fu Show, witness the Tang dynasty come to life during a dinner show and explore the water town of Zhujiajiao – China’s very own ‘Venice.’ In Xi’an, explore the Muslim quarter or spend more than a few hours wandering the winding lanes and snacking to your heart’s content.

Langkawi Malaysia
Langkawi Malaysia

The best of both in Malaysia

Looking for the next hot island and city break favourite? Consider Malaysia.

Langkawi, an archipelago of 99 islands in the Andaman Sea off the Malaysian coastline, is rightly known as the Jewel of the Kedah. Its warm turquoise waters and palm-fringed beaches could give the best Thai beaches a run for their money.

UNESCO-listed Georgetown, with its intriguing colourful, multicultural mix of architectural styles, is an Instagrammer’s delight. Malaysia’s lush Cameron Highlights are its tea growing region, and Kuala Lumpur is its bustling urban capital.

The diversity of the country ensures there is something for every traveller – this is one to watch.

The garden of Singapore

Singapore is enjoying its blooming moment in the spotlight. It seems as if every traveller is now snapping selfies in Singapore’s stunning Jewel Changi Airport, opened in April this year after its US$1.billion facelift.

It certainly is a jewel – almost worth visiting even if you never leave the airport! The centrepiece is the Rain Vortex. It’s the world’s tallest indoor waterfall surrounded by trails winding through forest – all indoors.

But pull yourself away from the delights of the airport, and you’ll discover that this island-city state is just as bewitching as its first port of call.

The Singaporeans have perfected the intermingling of the natural with the artificial. Visit Gardens by the Bay, take in the views from the 200-metre high observation deck of the Marina Bay Sands and cruise on a traditional bumboat (yes, really) down the Singapore River as the city lights up around you.

Singapore makes for an ideal week-long getaway or an extension to your holiday in Asia. “Costsaver has a four-day minibreak, a new itinerary for 2020, ideal for South Africans wanting to explore the highlights easily,” adds Richardson.

Then there are other favourites, Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia that remain ever popular amongst South African visitors. These are easily combined in one getaway too (such as the new Essence of South East Asia trip for 2020).

Whether you’re looking for a mini-break or exploring one country in-depth, Asia is as hot as ever for 2020 and beyond.

Fancy a trip to these sultry Asian destinations? Browse Trafalgar’s new 2020 bestselling itineraries to Asia here.

What: Asia travel destinations