Rea­sons to Travel Now

Travel + Leisure Southeast Asia - - CONTENTS - — ELOISE BA­SUKI

Bar­relaged cock­tails in Sin­ga­pore; un­tamed Bor­neo; astro-tourism; how to sur­vive the world's long­est flight; and more.

No, we don’t mean a ticket on Elon Musk’s SpaceX, “astro-tourism” is all about ap­pre­ci­at­ing the so­lar sys­tem on solid ground. As light pol­lu­tion spreads across Asia and blinds our night skies, trav­el­ers have been drawn to the re­gion’s dark­est pock­ets to get a glimpse of the most daz­zling ce­les­tial shows.


Also known as Aotea, this com­pletely off-grid is­land a 30-minute flight from Auck­land last year was crowned a DarkSky Sanc­tu­ary: re­mote land with ex­cep­tional qual­ity of starry nights cer­ti­fied by the In­ter­na­tional Dark-Sky As­so­ci­a­tion. Good Heav­ens (good­heav­; group tours from NZ$90, pri­vate tours for 1–4 peo­ple from NZ$600) of­fer stargaz­ing tours of Aotea's clear skies with use of their night­time binoc­u­lars and 8-inch New­to­nian tele­scope. Guests have spot­ted Saturn's rings, the moons of Jupiter and unique views of the Milky Way.


In April, Ok­i­nawa's Iri­omote-Ishi­gaki Na­tional Park, which cov­ers the most south­ern is­lands in the Yaeyama ar­chi­pel­ago, was de­clared a Dark-Sky Park, only the sec­ond in Asia af­ter South Korea's Yeongyang Fire­fly Eco Park. Coral Foun­da­tion (coral­foun­da­tion-hoshi­; from ¥4,000 per per­son; tours be­gin in March 2019) of­fers tours on Iri­omote Is­land that in­cludes be­ing bathed in moon­light in the sub­trop­i­cal for­est and vis­its to the habi­tats of the lu­mi­nes­cent Yaeyama fire­flies, who can only ex­ist in the dark­est re­gions of the is­land.


Many trek this East Java vol­cano for the golden views of sun­rise, but night­time also of­fers some sparkling sights. While the stars aren't vis­i­ble to the naked eye here, DSLR pho­tog­ra­phy can cap­ture the lit-up sky in ethe­real ways. Mount Bromo Tour Guide (mt­bro­mo­tour­; two­day tour from Rp2,500,000; tours be­gin April 2019) of­fers two- and three-day pho­tog­ra­phy tours that in­clude lo­cales where you can shoot the Milky Way against the moun­tain sil­hou­ettes or cap­ture time-lapse footage of pass­ing me­te­ors.


While Ice­land is known for the char­treuse North­ern Lights, the less-hyped but equally stun­ning South­ern Lights, or Aurora Aus­tralis, can be seen across Tas­ma­nia, in­clud­ing Mount Welling­ton, Ea­gle­hawk Neck and South Arm Penin­sula. Keep track of the skies on aurora-ser­, which mon­i­tors so­lar ac­tiv­ity, so­lar winds and Earth's mag­netic field, and sends out alerts on op­ti­mal view­ing times and lo­ca­tions. Usu­ally form­ing a rip­pled green or ma­genta cur­tain, you'll need a DSLR to cap­ture this nat­u­ral light show.

The Milky Way over Med­lands Beach, Great Bar­rier Is­land.

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