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Medium 9781742205755

Northern Myanmar

Lonely Planet Lonely Planet ePub

Northern Myanmar

Rugged and remote, northern Myanmar offers a fascinating mix of ethnic minority peoples and the prospect of travel through some of the least-visited areas of the country. While much of this vast region remains off-limits, two main routes are accessible. One climbs rapidly from Mandalay to the British-era summer capital of Pyin Oo Lwin, and then continues across the rolling Shan Plateau to Lashio. The crisp evenings are a great relief from the heat of the plains, while hikes take visitors into timeless Palaung and Shan hill-villages.

The other option is taking a ride along the mighty Ayeyarwady (Irrawaddy) River. You’ll need close on a week if you want to stop off along the way from Bhamo to Mandalay, but shorter itineraries are possible starting from Katha, the setting of George Orwell’s Burmese Days. The lazy, meandering journey downstream provides great opportunities for genuine interaction with the locals. Far beyond Myitkyina lie the rarely seen, snow-capped peaks of Myanmar’s Himalayas.

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Medium 9781742208831

Kōrakuen & Northwest Tokyo

Lonely Planet Lonely Planet ePub

1Soaking up the peaceful, contemplative atmosphere of a classic Japanese garden. Rikugi-en is considered the city's most beautiful. Koishikawa Kōrakuen is a close second.

2Wandering the old-world alleys of Kagurazaka, an old geisha quarter with enticing shops and cafes.

3Cheering on Japan's number-one baseball team, the Yomiuri Giants, at Tokyo Dome.

4Bath-hopping at the over-the-top onsen complex Spa La Qua.

5Passing through the proud, bronze torii (gates) at Yasukuni-jinja, a shrine with deep political resonance.

The neighbourhoods northwest of the Imperial Palace are off the tourist trail, yet have some fascinating sights. If you're keen to see a traditional Japanese garden, there are some fantastic examples here. Rikugi-en is the city's most famous and well worth the detour. Koishikawa Kōrakuen, with a more convenient location, is beautiful as well. Next door to Koishikawa Kōrakuen is the entertainment complex Tokyo Dome City, which includes a baseball stadium, amusement park, spa complex and dozens of shops and restaurants. Nearby, the neighbourhood Kagurazaka, with its narrow cobblestone lanes, presents an alternative picture of Tokyo – that of a hundred years ago.

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Medium 9781743216811

Magnificent Palladio

Lonely Planet Lonely Planet ePub

When it comes to coffee-table architecture, no one beats Andrea Palladio. As you flip past photos of his villas, your own problematic living space begins to dissolve, and you find yourself strolling through more harmonious country. Nature is governed by pleasing symmetries. Roman rigour is soothed by rustic charms. He managed to synthesise the classical past without doggedly copying it, creating buildings that were at once inviting, useful and incomparably elegant. From London to St Petersburg, his work – cleverly disseminated by his own ‘Quattro Libri’, a how-to guide for other architects – shaped the way Europe thought about architecture.

And yet when Palladio turned 30 in 1538, he was little more than a glorified stonecutter in Vicenza. His big break came when nobleman and amateur architect Giangiorgio Trissino recognised his potential and noticed his inclination towards mathematics. He introduced Palladio to the work of Roman architectural theorist Vitruvius, and sent him to Rome (1545–47) to sketch both crumbling antiquities and new works such as Michelangelo’s dome for St Peter’s.

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Medium 9781743214015

Hunan

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Population 66 million

Communist Party cadres might wax lyrical about the sacred standing of Hunan in the annals of Chinese history, being as it is the birthplace of Mao Zedong, but it is Hunan’s dramatic scenery that is the real draw.

A magnificent landscape of isolated mountain ranges and jagged, karst peaks covers more than 80% of the province. The most astonishing example is found at the phantasmagorical Zhangjiajie; one of China's most surreal national parks. Here, as in other parts of the province, geological marvels rise up majestically from green vales fed by tributaries in the fertile Yangzi River basin.

People have long made a home amid Hunan's natural wonders, taming the rocky slopes into terraces of lush fields, and their distinctive cultures live on in charming villages and towns, the most alluring being the historic riverside settlement of Fenghuang.

AApr & May After a chilly (though not freezing) winter, spring brings welcome warmth, and mountain flowers.

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Medium 9781743214022

Dubrovnik & Southern Dalmatia

Lonely Planet Lonely Planet ePub

Dubrovnik is simply unique; its beauty is bewitching, its setting sublime. Not that it’s a secret, quite the contrary: thousands of visitors walk along its marble streets every day of the year, gazing, gasping and happily snapping away.

The remarkable old town, ringed by mighty defensive walls, is a highlight of any trip to Croatia, capturing the very essence of a medieval Mediterranean fantasy. It's little wonder that in recent years it's featured so prominently in the Game of Thrones TV series. View it from Mt Srđ above and you'll understand why poets have so liberally showered it with epithets over the centuries, Byron's 'pearl of the Adriatic' being the most enduring.

Dubrovnik is also an ideal launching pad for expeditions throughout southern Dalmatia. From the island of Korčula in the northwest to the dreamy plains of Konavle in the southeast, this is a region to be savoured by beach seekers, wine lovers and history buffs alike.

AMay & Jun Warm sunny days, without the scorching heat or crowds of mid-summer.

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