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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

All-Time Favourite Destinations in Asia


As a region so diverse in its history, culture and landscapes, it’d be disingenuous to define Asia in any broad terms. Even though I live in the Philippines, my fellow Asian nations are so different that I can only think of one word that applies to all of the places I've visited here: fascinating

From modern metropolises filled beyond capacity to serene villages stuck in time, it can feel impossible to decide where to visit – even if you’ve settled on a city break or urban holiday, how you choose between Hong Kong, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Shanghai, Jakarta, Macau, Manila… and the list goes on. Smart research can help you compare holiday prices across the region and fit multiple destinations into your Asian adventure, whether Asia is the Far East to you or in your own back yard.


After much reflection, these are just a few of my fellow travelers' all-time favourite destinations in Asia. I suspect this may kick up some debate, so share your own holiday experiences and discuss your favourites in the comments.

Bangkok, Thailand

I've been to this place last 2011 and found my short time there not enough as there's a whole lot of places to go to via this bustling city. While Bangkok’s many canals may have earned it the nickname ‘the Venice of the East’, the Thai capital shares few other similarities with that serene and romantic Italian city. Indeed, Bangkok is many things, but serene and romantic it is not. If I was forced to sum the city up in just one adjective, I’d go with spicy.


Bangkok has energy unlike anywhere else I’ve travelled. While its Old Town attractions, like temples Wat Po and Wat Phra Kaew, offer a stunning glimpse at the city’s past, its famous nightlife offered me an equally memorable experience. From elegant rooftop bars to vibrant dance clubs, there was more than enough to keep me entertained well into the wee hours.

Ubud, Indonesia
Ubud, a charming collection of small villages, oozes tranquil beauty. Located on the Indonesian island of Bali, Ubud is characterised by lush, velvety rice fields, colourful outdoor markets and historic monuments (the 9th-century Goa Gajah cave was my favourite). Many of my traveler friends instantly fell in love with the place. Perhaps most of all, they were fascinated by the Agung Rai Museum of Art and the Museum Neka, both of which feature the incredible works of local Balinese artists.


With its serene landscape and spiritual culture, Ubud is also renowned as a sanctuary for peace and wellness. The area is home to several health spas and resorts, and travelers were happy to never be far from a yoga class.

Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

According to my brother, his trip to Ha Long Bay was also fascinating. While the rice fields and temples of Ubud transported travelers to a time long past, his tour of Vietnam’s Ha Long Bay felt torn the pages of a fantasy storybook. The UNESCO World Heritage site, with its turquoise water and stunning limestone pillars, he told me is simply magical. Cruising through Ha Long Bay on a traditional junk boat is as surreal as it is stunning – pinch yourself as you might, it’s hard to believe you will ever wake up from this dream.


His tour of Ha Long Bay took him to the charming Cat Ba Town. Some of my favourite travel memories are of the quieter moments, and Cat Be Town seems to be an ideal place for me to visit someday – cherishing strolling along the boardwalk and eating grilled fish, taking time to soak it all in.

Asia is as diverse as it is fascinating; understanding the region as a whole means understanding its component parts, from crowded cities to quiet coastal villages and majestic mountain landscapes. Whether you’ve spent 6 months travelling Asia or just visited on a long layover, it’s a place that draws you back to discover more.

Photo credits, top to bottom: Stuck in CustomsJo@net, and aftab.
This is a guest post written by a Nomadic Experiences travel contributor

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