Asia is a traveller’s paradise. It is diverse, beautiful, and culturally fascinating, which is no secret. The perception of Asia, however, is dominated by certain countries. Thailand is the first country to spring to mind when talking about backpacking, China has one of the most famous histories in the world and the culture of Japan and Korea are world renowned. So, what about everywhere else? Here are five underrated travel destinations in Asia that are just as bucket list worthy.
When most people think of Indonesia, Bali is mentioned. Bali is stunning, of course, but Indonesia is an archipelago of over 17,000 islands, so why choose the most famous and subsequently most congested? Explore Indonesia beyond Bali, and you will experience the same beauty and largely the same activities, with a better sense of the idyllic paradise that Bali once was. The small Gili Islands offer some of the best snorkelling opportunities in the world, Sumbawa provides amazing surf, and Borneo is covered in rainforest that houses amazing wildlife, especially the orangutans, which make the region famous.
I am currently trying to get to Sri Lanka, and so is everyone else. Sri Lanka has found itself at the top of many ‘Best in Travel for 2019’ lists, including Lonely Planet, so it is due to spike in popularity. Dwarfed by India, quite literally, Sri Lanka has flown under the radar until recently, but now people are beginning to catch on to the amazing beaches, wildlife, temples and culture that can be found there. I am sure you will have seen photos of the train that people lean out the windows and doors as it moves along the side of the hills and through the rainforest. That’s in Sri Lanka, and so many people want one of the renowned shots themselves, so get to Sri Lanka before it changes too much under the pressure of tourism.
Taiwan is only a tiny island, but it offers the same and if not more than the big countries that dominate Asian tourism. Taipei, the capital city, provides similar vibes to the big cities of China and Japan, and the landscapes of Taiwan rival those of South-East Asia. A well rounded, all encompassing experience of Asia can all be found in Taiwan, with such a heavy contrast as one travels around it and explores all there is to be seen.
Laos, in South East Asia, is a landlocked country bordered by Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam, yet is, on the whole, less known than its neighbours. With the exception of stunning beaches due it being landlocked, Laos offers similar scenery, culture and experiences, but without the same level of tourist buzz. People often complain that when visiting a country like Thailand or Vietnam that they cannot get the Instagram worthy shots easily because of the popularity, but Laos is yet to be hit by this tourism to the same extent, meaning that it is more unspoiled, less busy and thus a better option should one want to escape the tourist circle. Again, like Sri Lanka, get there before everyone else catches on.
Many people disregard Myanmar because of debates surrounding its safety, but most parts of Myanmar are safe to travel to, and similar advice is given about travel here than is given about Thailand and Bali. Having recently come out of isolation and political instability, Myanmar has only recently been visited by travellers, and its falsely questionable safety continues to deter visitors. Therefore, it is still untouched and worth the visit before this changes. I desperately want to go to Bagan, having seen the photos of the temples with balloons in the sky, and having had a poster of it for the whole of first year. This is definitely a destination to add to your travel bucket lists.