KATHMANDU: Lumbini, the birthplace of Gautam Buddha, has been named one of the best Asian destinations to visit in 2018, according to Lonely Planet’s 2018 ‘Best in Asia’ list.

Lonely Planet, one of the largest travel guide book publishers, has ranked Lumbini at the 7th place among top 10 Asian destinations.

“For decades, Lumbini was somewhere travellers flashed through en route from India to Nepal, often unaware that they had passed within yards of the birthplace of the historical Buddha. Today, thanks to the efforts of the international Buddhist community, Lumbini is on the ascendancy, but despite its heritage, this sacred site remains a sleepy detour off the backpacker trail,” the publication said.

“However, change is apace; a new international airport is under construction, offering a new, safer route into Nepal, and ever-more aweing temples are springing up. While these developments may finally be the catalyst that brings Lumbini the attention it deserves, the town’s cardinal draw will remain its tranquillity – embodied by the rare saras cranes that stalk the wetlands around the World Peace Pagoda.”

For this third annual Best in Asia list, Lonely Planet’s in-house Asia experts have named “eclectic” and “vibrant” Busan, South Korea, as the number one destination; while the jewelled architecture and ancient cities of Uzbekistan are in second place; and third comes Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, “a supercity that somehow keeps getting cooler”.

“Asia is such a vast and diverse continent for anyone dreaming of an escape,” Lonely Planet’s Asia-Pacific Media Spokesperson Chris Zeiher said. “Our experts have combed through thousands of recommendations to pick the best destinations to visit over the next 12 months.”

From Nagasaki in Japan, to Arugam Bay in Sri Lanka, Chris says, “this is a line-up to inspire a multitude of travellers – whether they’re based in Asia, or maybe they’ve already visited some of the region’s heavy-hitting destinations.”