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In 2011, Guardian readers voted Japan as the world’s top long-haul destination, which will come as no surprise if you’ve already been there. Once beyond the clichés of the country’s modern face, visitors are enthralled by its refined traditional culture and wild scenery: the Shinto temples, ancient monasteries of the forested Kii Peninsula, the kaiseki meals, the snow-capped Japan Alps, and ryokan inns.
“Made in Taiwan” is a commonplace of the modern world, but how many outsiders can claim to have explored the weird and wonderful rock formations of the island’s beautiful coastline, marvelled at the dizzying cliffs of the Taroko Gorge, situated amid the 480 identical gold Buddhas of the Fo Guang Shan monastery, or watched a sunset reflected in the waters of romantic Sun Moon Lake?
Seoul, the 24-hour capital of South Korea, is the most wi-fi enabled place on the planet, with faster broadband speeds and more touch screens and smartphones per square metre than even Tokyo. But the country also has a more appealing flipside: superb coastal scenery, soaring mountains and – most wonderful of all – the city of Gyeongju, whose ruins span a thousand years of history.