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Exploring the 2023 World’s Coolest Neighbourhood Around Asia 🌆

Dotonbori Osaka (Credit Japan Wonder Travel Blog)
Dotonbori Osaka (Credit Japan Wonder Travel Blog)

In this blog post, we will embark on an exciting journey, unveiling the hidden gems of the "2023 World’s Coolest Neighbourhoods in Asia by Timeout." Curious to know what makes these neighborhoods the coolest spots in Asia? Let's delve into the essence of these places and discover the top things to do, ensuring that your next adventure in Asia is filled with memorable experiences and unforgettable moments. Join us as we explore these trendy, vibrant, and culturally rich neighborhoods, where every corner has a story to tell, and every experience is a treasure waiting to be uncovered.

1. Chinatown - Singapore 🇸🇬

Singapore's Chinatown, a vibrant and culturally rich neighborhood, has secured its place on the list of the world's coolest neighborhoods, ranking 14th globally, just behind Hong Kong and Tokyo. Chinatown Singapore, nestled in the heart of the city, is a captivating blend of tradition and modernity. With its bustling streets, adorned with colorful lanterns and traditional shophouses, it offers a glimpse into Singapore's rich heritage.

This neighborhood, known for its eclectic mix of old-world charm and contemporary flair, is a treasure trove of hidden gems. Its maze of narrow streets houses a plethora of culinary delights, from hawker stalls dishing out delectable street food to Michelin-starred restaurants serving gourmet Chinese cuisine. China Town Singapore also boasts an array of cultural attractions, including the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum, showcasing stunning architecture and a fascinating history. The neighborhood's lively markets, such as the Chinatown Complex, offer a shopping experience like no other, with a wide range of local products and souvenirs.

For those seeking a unique and immersive cultural experience, a visit to Singapore's Chinatown is a must. Its vibrant streets and rich tapestry of history and traditions make it a truly cool and captivating neighborhood to explore.

Chinatown Singapore (Credit Uwe Schwarzbach)
Chinatown Singapore (Credit Uwe Schwarzbach)

Top Things To Do at Chinatown Singapore

Looking for a vibrant and culturally rich destination in Singapore? Look no further than Chinatown Singapore. This iconic neighborhood offers a multitude of activities to explore during the day and a lively nightlife to enjoy after the sun sets.

During the day, immerse yourself in the rich tapestry of Chinatown Singapore. Begin your adventure by strolling through the bustling streets adorned with colorful lanterns and traditional shophouses. Take in the intricate architectural details that tell stories of a bygone era.

For a taste of Singapore's culinary delights, explore the local hawker stalls. Sample mouthwatering street food like Hainanese chicken rice, char kway teow, or bak kut teh. And don't forget to visit the Chinatown Complex, a bustling market where you can find an array of local products and souvenirs.

One of the must-visit attractions is the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum, a place of spiritual serenity and architectural beauty. Explore its stunning interiors, which house an extensive collection of Buddhist artifacts.

As the day turns into night, Chinatown Singapore transforms into a lively hub of activity. The neighborhood's nightlife is vibrant, offering an array of bars, clubs, and live music venues. Enjoy a cocktail or two in one of the trendy bars or dance the night away at a club.

In Chinatown Singapore, your days can be filled with cultural exploration, delicious food, and historical discoveries, while your nights can come alive with the energetic and diverse nightlife. It's a neighbourhood that offers the best of both worlds.

Street Art at Chinatown Singapore
Street Art at Chinatown Singapore

2. Sheung Wan - Hong Kong 🇭🇰

Hong Kong’s Sheung Wan, nestled amidst the towering skyscrapers and bustling streets of this dynamic city, is a neighborhood of remarkable contrasts. Ranked as the 5th coolest neighborhood globally, it is a living testament to the rich Chinese heritage in Hong Kong. Steeped in history, the narrow streets of Chinatown Hong Kong's Sheung Wan are lined with traditional shophouses adorned with ornate architectural details that harken back to another era. These streets tell the tale of a bygone time while coexisting harmoniously with the modernity of the city.

Here, you can witness the fusion of tradition and modernity, where ancient temples stand alongside contemporary art galleries. Sheung Wan is a sensory journey through time, offering an immersive experience that blends old-world charm with cosmopolitan energy.

Visitors to Hong Kong’s Sheung Wan can explore its eclectic mix of markets, artisanal boutiques, and culinary delights, all while savoring a unique blend of history and modernity that defines this captivating neighborhood.

Hong Kong’s Sheung Wan (Credit Timeout)
Hong Kong’s Sheung Wan (Credit Timeout)

Top Things to Do at Sheung Wan Hong Kong

Hong Kong’s Sheung Wan is a captivating blend of tradition and modernity. This unique neighborhood offers a variety of activities that reflect its distinctive charm. In the past, Sheung Wan was famous for its shops stocked with Asian antiques, temples, and hole-in-the-wall eateries, and though remnants of this history remain, the neighborhood has evolved. Today, it boasts Melbourne-style cafes, chic neighborhood restaurants, design-forward shops, and much more.

To start your day off right, enjoy a steaming cup of coffee at one of the pet-friendly cafes or indulge in budget-friendly dim sum, extravagant omakase, or international cuisine at Michelin-starred eateries. As you explore the streets of Sheung Wan, you'll encounter colorful murals and graffiti, providing picture-perfect backdrops for your Instagram feed.

Art enthusiasts can visit hip galleries, while history buffs can explore the iconic Man Mo Temple. This mid-19th-century Grade I historic building and national monument is dedicated to the Chinese God of Literature and God of War, and it offers a sensory delight with its aroma of incense from coils and lanterns that adorn the roof.

Make sure not to miss the Western Market, a red-brick Edwardian building that houses traditional arts, crafts, and Chinoiserie fabrics. And for amateur historians, the Liang Yi Museum on Hollywood Road showcases an extensive collection of Ming and Qing Dynasty furniture, along with exquisite clutches, compacts, and powder boxes by renowned brands like Cartier and Boucheron.

Hong Kong’s Sheung Wan invites you to delve into its unique blend of culture, history, and modernity, making it an essential stop for those seeking an immersive urban experience.

Hong Kong’s Sheung Wan (Credit Little Steps Asia)
Hong Kong’s Sheung Wan (Credit Little Steps Asia)

3. Tomigaya - Japan 🇯🇵

Tokyo's Tomigaya has earned its well-deserved spot as one of the world's top 10 coolest neighborhoods in 2023. Situated in Shibuya, it has always exuded an air of coolness, boasting trendy cafés, stylish stores, and fantastic restaurants. What sets it apart is that, despite being less than a 15-minute walk from the famed Shibuya Crossing, it feels like a world away from the frenetic energy of central Shibuya.

Tomigaya's allure lies in its ability to maintain a more quiet, slow-paced, and relaxed atmosphere while retaining the essence of a cool neighborhood. It's a place where you can enjoy the best of both worlds. Nestled right across from the lush expanse of Yoyogi Park, Tomigaya benefits from the serene ambiance and green surroundings, creating a perfect contrast to the urban pulse. The neighborhood's streets are lined with intriguing boutiques, art galleries, and eateries that reflect its unique character.

Tomigaya embodies the quintessential coolness of Tokyo, where the old meets the new, and tradition blends seamlessly with modernity. It's a neighborhood that invites you to explore its charming streets and savor the distinctiveness of its laid-back yet vibrant atmosphere.

Street of Tomigaya  Tokyo (Credit Alamy)
Street of Tomigaya Tokyo (Credit Alamy)

Top Things to Do in Tomigaya Tokyo

Tomigaya Tokyo is a neighborhood that offers a delightful array of activities, ensuring there's something for everyone to enjoy. During the day, you can head to Yoyogi Park, which is conveniently located right across from Tomigaya. It's a serene escape where you can have a picnic amidst lush greenery or rent an adorable pup from Dog Heart to take a leisurely stroll.

As the evening sets in, Tomigaya unveils its vibrant nightlife. You'll find a wide selection of bars to choose from, whether you prefer inventive cocktails or late-night ramen. These establishments provide the perfect ambiance for a night out with friends or a relaxing evening for two.

With its unique blend of natural beauty, pet-friendly options, and dynamic nightlife, Tomigaya is a neighborhood that caters to diverse interests. Immerse yourself in the tranquil side of Tokyo during the day and revel in the city's nightlife when the stars come out.

Street of Tomigaya  Tokyo (Credit Shutterstock)
Street of Tomigaya Tokyo (Credit Shutterstock)

4. Song Wat - Thailand 🇹🇭

Song Wat is a hidden gem in the heart of Bangkok, ranked the 39th coolest neighborhood in the world in 2023. It holds a rich history, established in the early 1900s after a massive fire swept half of Chinatown. The name "Song Wat," meaning "draw" in royal vocabulary, refers to a line drawn on an old map by King Rama V himself.

With its location between Chinatown's bustling main road and the tranquil Chao Phraya River, Song Wat offers a unique blend of vibrancy and serenity. The neighborhood is adorned with shophouses showcasing intricate Sino-Portuguese details. Meandering through narrow alleys reveals religious and educational establishments, adding to the area's charm. While century-old shops continue to sell spices and food ingredients, new entrepreneurial ventures occupy vacant shophouses. From craft cafes to art galleries, these ventures seamlessly integrate with the older establishments while maintaining respect for the original structure.

Song Wat epitomizes the harmonious fusion of the past and present. It is a cool neighborhood where old and new residents coexist, embodying tradition and modernity in a beautiful symbiosis.

Song Wat Bangkok  (Credit XYZAsia)
Song Wat Bangkok (Credit XYZAsia)

Top Things to do at Song Wat Bangkok

Explore a world of captivating activities when you visit Song Wat Bangkok. From savoring delectable street food to discovering culinary delights and charming cafes, this neighborhood has much to offer.

For street food enthusiasts, a visit to Lim Lao Sa is a must. This pushcart shop has been serving noodles with fishballs for over 80 years, giving you a taste of tradition and a testament to the culinary heritage of the area.

While wandering through the neighborhood, make sure to stop by Bangkok Story, a pocket-friendly hostel and café. With its no-frills ambiance, comfortable rooms, and homestyle coffee-shop fare, it's the perfect place to unwind. Don't miss the opportunity to try their Vietnamese drip coffee, which is sure to perk up your lazy afternoon.

In addition to indulging in food adventures, Song Wat offers a glimpse into the past with the historic Peiing school. It's a chance to connect with the neighborhood's educational heritage and delve deeper into its cultural significance.

Whether you're savoring the culinary delights of street food, enjoying a cozy coffee at a local café, or exploring the cultural heritage of the area, Song Wat Bangkok promises an enriching experience for all visitors.

Song Wat Bangkok  (Credit Life Style Asia Hongkong)
Song Wat Bangkok (Credit Life Style Asia Hongkong)

5. Hannam-dong - South Korea 🇰🇷

Hannam-dong Seoul has earned its place as the 25th coolest neighborhood worldwide, according to Timeout, and a visit to this dynamic area reveals why. Nestled just a short distance from Seoul's renowned Itaewon, Hannam-dong has witnessed a remarkable transformation in recent years, turning into a vibrant hub for locals and visitors alike. Its magnetic charm draws in a diverse mix of people, especially on weekends, when it comes alive.

Hannam-dong is celebrated for its stylish boutiques, where fashion enthusiasts can indulge in retail therapy. Chic cafes line the streets, offering the perfect setting to sip on a latte or enjoy a sweet treat. The neighborhood is also a haven for foodies, with innovative dining establishments serving up a diverse range of culinary delights. One of Hannam-dong's standout features is its thriving creative community. Art galleries proudly display the works of local artists, providing a space for art enthusiasts to explore and appreciate the creativity of Seoul's talented individuals.

Despite its growing popularity, Hannam-dong retains its authentic charm. The neighborhood's alleyways hide charming surprises, including tucked-away bars and cafes that invite discovery. Whether you're in search of unique shopping experiences, delectable dishes, or a vibrant cultural scene, Hannam-dong promises an unforgettable urban adventure in the heart of Seoul.

Hannam-dong Seoul (Credit ArchDaily)
Hannam-dong Seoul (Credit ArchDaily)

Top Things to do at Hannam-dong

In Hannam-dong Seoul, often compared to the Beverly Hills of Korea, you'll find a neighborhood that offers a blend of luxury, culture, and delectable dining experiences. Nestled between the scenic Hangang River and the iconic Namsan mountain, this residential haven is beloved by Korean celebrities.

Let's start with the exquisite dining scene that Hannam-dong boasts. Explore renowned restaurants like Blue Bottle, OUR Bakery, and SURIN HANNAM, which are frequented by Hallyu stars. Indulge in flavors adored by the rich and famous.

Beyond the culinary delights, Hannam-dong is a hub of culture and art. Immerse yourself in the vibrant art galleries that cater to art enthusiasts. Don't miss the iconic Leeum Museum of Art, a source of inspiration for famous K-pop stars like ROSÉ of BLACKPINK, V of BTS, and Key of SHINee.

For those seeking a taste of high-end living, Gourmet 494 Hannam is a premium lifestyle platform that you must visit. Explore tastefully curated shops and eateries, and step into a world of refinement.

Culinary enthusiasts will be delighted to try Hanbang Tongdak, a renowned restaurant offering a unique take on chicken. Oak wood-roasted and stuffed with glutinous rice, dates, garlic, and licorice, this whole chicken is both nutritious and mouthwatering. In Hannam-dong Seoul, where trends, sophistication, and art coexist harmoniously, you can savor a premium lifestyle and experience the culinary delights enjoyed by your favorite celebrities. Prepare to be immersed in a neighborhood where luxury and culture grace every street.

Gourmet 494 Hannam (Credit Visit Seoul)
Gourmet 494 Hannam (Credit Visit Seoul)

6. Bonifacio Global City - Philippines 🇵🇭

Bonifacio Global City (BGC), recognized as the 35th coolest neighborhood in the world by Timeout, stands as a testament to the modernity and vibrancy of Metro Manila. This dynamic area, with its modern skyscrapers and contemporary architectural marvels, is a visual spectacle. One of the standout features of BGC is its dedication to pedestrian-friendliness. Wide walkways invite leisurely strolls, and the streets are adorned with captivating street art that adds character to the neighborhood.

BGC is not just about towering buildings; it's a hub of mixed-use developments that host an array of cafes, restaurants, and shops. It's a place where you can shop for the latest trends, indulge in culinary delights, or simply soak in the urban ambiance. The area's commitment to the arts and culture is evident in its vibrant street art and the numerous galleries that call it home. It's a place where modernity meets creativity, and where you can experience the contemporary heartbeat of Metro Manila.

Bonifacio Global City Manila   (Credit Holidify)
Bonifacio Global City Manila (Credit Holidify)

Top Things to do at Bonifacio Global City

Explore the vibrant heart of Manila's food, shopping, and nightlife scene at Bonifacio Global City (BGC). This bustling commercial district in Taguig offers a plethora of exciting activities for visitors, making it not just a destination but also a convenient starting point for exploring the rest of the city.

For an easy and eco-friendly way to navigate the area, hop on an e-scooter or rent a bicycle. These modes of transportation make it a breeze to embark on a street art tour, with captivating murals on nearly every corner.

Art and science enthusiasts should not miss the enlightening experience offered by the Metropolitan Museum of Manila and the interactive Mind Museum. These attractions allow you to explore contemporary art and engage in hands-on learning.

Foodies can delight in the culinary scene of BGC. Indulge in handmade Italian dishes at A Mano. For delectable tasting menus dedicated to Filipino produce, head to Gallery by Chele. As the sun sets, BGC transforms into a hub of entertainment.

Bonifacio Global City Manila   (Credit Ayala Land)
Bonifacio Global City Manila (Credit Ayala Land)

7. Zhongshan - Taiwan 🇹🇼

Zhongshan, Taipei, a dynamic and diverse neighborhood, has been bestowed the honor of ranking as the 34th coolest neighborhood in the world by Timeout. Positioned at the very heart of Taiwan's vibrant capital city, this district is akin to an uncut gem, ready to be discovered and appreciated.

Nestled between the Datong District and the towering presence of Taipei 101 in Xinyi District, Zhongshan District narrates the enthralling tale of Taipei's evolution. Once a bustling trading hub situated along the banks of the Tamsui River, today it stands as a bustling, urbanized microcosm adorned with towering skyscrapers. Nevertheless, the neighborhood preserves whispers of its colonial history, allowing visitors to travel through time and experience the echoes of a bygone era.

Zhongshan, with its diverse neighborhoods, historic charm, and modern amenities, exemplifies Taipei's vibrant spirit and is a destination that showcases the rich tapestry of Taiwanese culture and history.

Zhongshan, Taipei (Credit Timeout)
Zhongshan, Taipei (Credit Timeout)

Top Things to do at Zhongshan Taipei

Known for its rich history and a harmonious blend of tradition and modernity, Zhongshan boasts a variety of attractions. The neighbourhood is a treasure trove of historical sites, including the Lin An Tai Historical House and Museum, a well-preserved Qing Dynasty-era residence. Visitors can stroll through its peaceful gardens and admire the traditional architecture.

Zhongshan is also renowned for its culinary diversity. Local markets like Ningxia Night Market offer an array of Taiwanese street food, where you can savor delicacies like oyster omelets, stinky tofu, and savory beef noodles.

For those seeking a cultural experience, the Museum of Contemporary Art Taipei (MOCA) showcases cutting-edge artworks and exhibitions, making it a must-visit for art enthusiasts.

Explore the lively streets, historical landmarks, and delectable food that Zhongshan has to offer, and you'll quickly understand why it's earned a spot on the list of the world's coolest neighborhoods.

Zhongshan, Taipei (Credit Agoda)

8. Dotonbori - Japan 🇯🇵

Dotonbori, Osaka, has achieved the prestigious distinction of being ranked as the 37th coolest neighborhood globally, according to Timeout. This bustling district in the heart of Osaka, Japan, is a captivating blend of tradition and modernity.

Renowned for its vibrant nightlife, Dotonbori comes alive as the sun sets. The district is a kaleidoscope of neon signs, street food stalls, and entertainment options. The iconic Glico Running Man sign and the colossal mechanical crab at Kani Doraku are emblematic of Dotonbori's lively atmosphere. But beyond the glittering lights and bustling streets, Dotonbori encapsulates a rich culinary culture. The district is a food lover's paradise, with countless restaurants, izakayas, and street vendors offering delectable Japanese dishes, including the famous takoyaki (octopus balls) and okonomiyaki (savory pancakes).

While the nightlife here is legendary, Dotonbori also has its serene side, with tranquil canals lined by cherry blossoms in the spring, creating an enchanting backdrop for a leisurely stroll. Dotonbori is a district that truly represents Osaka's eclectic and dynamic spirit, making it a must-visit destination for travelers exploring Japan.

Dotonbori Osaka  (Credit Osaka Station)
Dotonbori Osaka (Credit Osaka Station)

Top Things to do at Dotonbori Osaka

Osaka's allure lies in its reputation as an absolute haven for food enthusiasts. This city, known as Japan's Kitchen, takes gastronomy to another level. At its heart lies the incomparable Dotonbori, a place where culinary magic unfolds, offering a delightful spectrum of delectable street food and world-famous sushi establishments.

But Dotonbori offers more than just satisfying taste buds. It's a shopper's paradise too, with a diverse array of high-end fashion boutiques and charming souvenir shops. For entertainment, Dotonbori has you covered. Catch a live performance at the Dotonbori ZAZA Comedy Theatre and let laughter echo through the lively streets. If you're looking for a dip into Japanese tradition, the Minami-za Theatre presents mesmerizing kabuki shows, a window into the country's rich heritage.

As you explore, you'll come across some of Osaka's most iconic landmarks. The colossal mechanical crab of Kani Doraku stands as a quirky embodiment of the neighborhood's unique spirit. And as the sun sets, prepare for a dazzling transformation. Neon billboards adorn the streets, guiding you to the trendiest bars, clubs, and izakayas. Dotonbori's nightlife is like no other, making it a must-visit for any explorer of Japan's culinary and cultural riches.

Dotonbori Osaka (Credit Japan Travel)
Dotonbori Osaka (Credit Japan Travel)

Conclusion 👋

In conclusion, our journey has unveiled some of the world's coolest neighborhoods around Asia, shining as true sources of pride for Asia. We've ventured through these remarkable places and delved into the top experiences they offer to travelers. When your path leads you to Asia, these destinations should unquestionably find a place on your itinerary. As you explore these neighborhoods, you'll discover an intricate tapestry of culture, entertainment, and culinary delights that will leave you with unforgettable memories. The stories woven into the streets, the flavors of local delicacies, and the vibrant energy of these neighborhoods beckon you to immerse yourself in the rich and diverse essence of Asia. So, as you plan your future travels, remember to include these incredible locales on your list. They are the pride of Asia and await your exploration.

Are you travelling to Singapore? Delve into the enchanting world of Chinatown with our Chinatown FREE walking tour. Uncover hidden gems, immerse yourself in the local Chinese culture and customs, and wander through vibrant street markets and bustling hawker centers. Seize this incredible opportunity to savor the essence of Chinatown. Secure your spot with us and make your Singapore adventure truly unforgettable!

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