Fashion and lifestyle journalist Blue Carreon, who also does double-duty as a home accessories designer, shares an insider’s guide like no other. Rather than zero in on a city or country (say, his native Philippines) Carreon offers his must-visit recommendations for all of Southeast Asia — and catered to your interests to boot, whether you’re an avid design lover or a beach bum. (But before you start earmarking vacation dates, check out Carreon’s book of interviews Conversations and, if you’re in New York, his home designs at Bergdorf Goodman.)
The best city to visit if you
love interior design…
Cebu in the Philippines, which has been
dubbed the Milan of Asia, because of the
many talents and design ideas that come
out of this island.If you can arrange it, a
visit to the many factories that produce
furniture and decor for the top international
brands as well as homegrown names like
Kenneth Cobonpue and Vito Selma,
who have carved out names for themselves
in the international design arena.
And great architecture…
Singapore. It is one of the few places in Asia
where heritage buildings are preserved and
are wonderful juxtapositions to the cutting
-edge and trailblazing modernist architecture
that is rapidly being built around the city. From the historic Raffles Hotel and Chijmes to the structures
at Marina Bay Sands to the curving Henderson Waves Bridge to the angled glass plane surfaces of Lasalle
College of the Arts.
And amazing art…
Hong Kong. Its annual Art Basel event has made it quite the art hub with outposts from the Gagosian Gallery, Ben Brown Fine Arts, Sundaram Tagore and a few others. I also like the small galleries in Siem Reap in Cambodia.
And good eats…
Hong Kong, which is teeming with Michelin-starred
restaurants. My favorites are Duddell’s, Lung King Heen
at the Four Seasons Hotel, the Mandarin Grill + Bar,
Mott 32 and Sevva. Tokyo is a great place for dining, too;
they put as much thought to the food as they do
to the plating.
And if you love shopping bazaars…
The Chatuchak Weekend Market in Bangkok is a great place
to find pieces for the home if you can battle your way
through the crowd and the humidity. And while in Bangkok,
visit the Jim Thompson outlet for beautiful fabrics.
If you’re looking for a high-energy
Hong Kong because it is like a little New York. You hit
the ground from the plane and you feel its energy right
away. You can start with cocktails at The Upper House
with stunning views of the city, then proceed to
China Club or Bibo, a restaurant and bar filled with works by Banksy, Hirst, Basquiat, Kusama, Murakami and Koons. Then to the many clubs from old standby, members-only Kee Club to Dragon-i where they do champagne sprays to the younger Tazmanian Ballroom.
And for those in need of a slower pace…
Bali — you can get the best massages and have sunset cocktails by the pool in a fabulous villa. There are many luxe places to stay in Bali like the Amanusa, Alila Villas, The Bulgari Hotel and The St. Regis.
The best beaches…
Are all in Palawan in the Philippines. I’ve been to many beaches all over Asia and nothing compares to the idyllic and pristine white sand beaches of Palawan, whether it is at the luxurious Amanpulo or the other little islands scattered throughout Palawan. Thailand’s beaches come a close second.
My own personal getaway…
The Four Seasons in Koh Samui. I like the private villas on a mountain cliff with your own lap pools. I love how it feels secluded and the feeling of being in a rainforest. The private beach is pretty fabulous too.