We know how it is - you’re a frequent traveller who loves city life, but you’re So. Damn. Bored. with all the usual destinations that are overrun by selfie-snapping tourists.
So this is for you: A list of lesser-known urban areas suggested by travel site Zuji that are worth a detour from the typical sights. Bon voyage!
This small town west of Tokyo is sometimes also known as Shimokita, and is in the entertainment district known as Setagaya. A hotspot for hipsters and the young-at-heart, it’s a labyrinth of narrow winding alleys that are inaccessible to cars and hence encourages leisurely wandering around on foot. The best way to stumble across bars and boutiques hidden in the many nooks and crannies, we think!
Along the streets, small businesses such as cafes, hole-in-the-wall bars, bike shops and studios for musicians jostle for space. The best time to visit? At the end of January or the beginning of February, so you can be part of the Tengu-matsuri Festival, the highlight of which is a parade where people dress as the mythical Tengu, a heavenly creature with a long nose and red face.
Culture vultures will appreciate this Sydney suburb that’s home to a unique creative community. Highly popular for its street art scene, Newtown’s North King Street, Erskineville Road, Enmore Road and South King Street are crammed with rock music venues, hipster cafes and antique shops.
The place to be for music, experimental theatre, burlesque, culture and comedy, it’s also home to restaurants and cafes offering a smorgasbord of good food. Admire the quirky street art in the area, have a drink at one of the bars, browse art and installations at Kerry Lowe Gallery or Defiance Gallery, and shop for retro furniture - then finish your adventure with a meal at Gigi Pizzeria, which is said to have the best pizza outside of Italy.
Bassac Lane area
This urban strip in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh has redefined what used to be a somewhat sleazy area for expats. Bassac Lane, located off Street 308, is a nightlife gem which houses an array of tiny, trendy micro-bars and speakeasies, each with a different theme and style. Check out Meat & Drink which serves cocktails and grilled fare, or Hangar 44, a hipster bar, motorcycle showroom and boutique all in one.
Amidst the creative cocktails, tapas, and live music, you’ll also find graffiti-inspired art and mod industrial décor. Don’t leave without popping into Cicada Gin & Wine Bar, an intimate micro-bar specialising in herb-infused gins.
Taman Tun Dr Ismail
Nestled on the border between Kuala Lumpur and Selangor, Taman Tun Dr Ismail (otherwise known as TTDI) has put itself on the map in the recent years thanks to a slew of new eateries and bars.
This locale is an after-work favourite among the working crowd, and is packed with Instagram-worthy indie joints decorated with minimalist and eclectic themes. Pop by at QUAR/TET TTDI, which serves up all-day brunch, pastries and desserts, or check out Torii, hailed as KL’s most buzz-worthy new Japanese restaurant with menu highlights such as shrimp tempura topped with sea urchin and plum sea salt, and Japanese-style dim sum starring unagi, omelette and foie gras skewers.
Short for 50 Moganshan Road, M50 is a blossoming arts district in Shanghai, and houses some of the city’s best contemporary art galleries (many of which are open to the public). One of the oldest and most respected, ShanghART, is also located there.
Expect a lively and convivial atmosphere as artists and tourists duck in and out of cafes, art supply stores and galleries that were once factories and warehouses. Trendy street art is everywhere you look, and the best way to take in the sights is from a comfy chair at one of the trendy coffee shops.
Photo of TTDI: timchew.net