The Philippines is one of Asia’s top tropical destinations—what with having quite a number of stunning beaches and other interesting sites to see everywhere in the country. But for those with a wanderlust soul who already visited most of the local spots, how about exploring other destinations?
If you’re like most people, you’ll probably start your list with popular places in Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, and so on (and there’s completely nothing wrong with that as they’re equally beautiful places in their own right). But if you want to go somewhere less explored by some, you can give these places a go.
Nha Trang (Vietnam)
This beach city has been attracting tourists from all over the world—from backpackers to affluent travelers who like having a number of different things to see and do in one area.
Things to do: It’s known for its pristine beaches, scuba diving sites, quirky boutiques and vibrant nightlife. If you want a relaxing activity, you can try an old-school spa treatment and visit Thap Ba Hot Spring for a mud bath and hot mineral water soak, or explore the Po Nagar Cham towers. The Song Son pagoda, a 14-meter high Buddha with a breathtaking panoramic view of the city, is also a must-see site.
If you fancy going to places like Machu Picchu or Angkor Wat, then Bagan should definitely be included in your bucket list. This temple town is one of the world’s biggest archeological sites and is a testament to how religious Myanmar’s people are.
Things to do: Each one of the 2,200 plus temples, stupas and pagodas has its stories to tell but the best way to see the view is from a hot-air balloon (around $330 per person). You can also rent a bike or go around the place via a horse-drawn cart.
Trincomalee (Sri Lanka)
Trinco—as locals refer to is—offers some of the best beaches in Sri Lanka. It’s also rich in history as it was once a base for the Allied fleet in World War II. The town is a bit rough around the edges but its rustic charm and castaway ambiance with interesting mélange of people will bring excitement to every history buff.
Things to do: Visit Konesvaram Temple, Dutch Fort, Marble Beach and Pigeon Island. There’s also a beach called Nilaveli Beach where shallow waters spread out hundreds of meters towards the sea which will be great for sun bathing.
The second largest city of Nepal is located in the foothills of the Himalayas with ten of the highest mountains in the world just nearby. It’s one of the best places to visit in Asia especially for action seekers (although it’s also known for its laidback vibe).
Things to do: Witness a spectacular sunrise in Sarangkot or go hiking, rafting and paragliding in the lakeside area. If you’re seeking for some quiet time, you can also tour a museum or enjoy some yoga.
Nature, tradition and history turned this place into a rich cultural tapestry. Experience the unique charm of the city and get a glimpse of how the laidback Penangites live.
Things to do: Feast on delicacies, check out their quaint night markets, or soak in the sun at one of the many beautiful beaches. You can also explore their ornately designed temples and take photos with their heritage buildings as a background. A 30-minute cable car ride going to Penang Hill will also take you to some of the grandest colonial mansions (which are now converted into restaurants and guest houses).
Luang Prabang (Laos)
The quaint riverside town is encircled by mountains with lovely French architecture mixed with golden Buddhist temples—no wonder Luang Prabang was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995.
Things to do: There are a number of charming waterfalls in the area. Most of the tourist spots in the city can also be reached by foot so you can easily make your way to different temples (33 to be exact), or take a romantic walk along the Mekong and see the breathtaking sunset.
Cambodia’s premier beach town has six tree-fringed white sand beaches. Constructed as a port city in the late 1950s, it has a more urban appeal compared to other Cambodian provincial sites.
Things to do: Feast on fresh seafood, explore the beautiful nearby islands, or go scuba diving, windsurfing and kayaking. It’s also a town that knows how to party and there’s a wide range of restaurants to choose from if you want to go on a food trip. Also check out the mangrove forest called Ream National Park.
Candolim Beach (Goa, India)
It’s probably not on top of everyone’s mind when talking about Asian beach destinations but Candolim Beach is the perfect place if you just want to laze around.
Things to do: Yoga and meditation has gained popularity in this place because of its serene and tranquil environment. You can appreciate the view in one of the ramshackle beach huts along the shore, or try some watersports like water-skiing, parasailing, jet-skiing, catamaran sailing, banana rides and wind surfing. While in this area, don’t forget to try their spicy Goan fish curries and shop for handmade jewelry for souvenirs.
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You can also take non-touristy DIY tours around these very touristy cities: