For those that are perhaps a bit bored with the regular vacation destinations, Asia offers a wealth of idyllic, and unique, vacation spots. There are many locations with beautiful beaches, remote islands with tropical palms and fascinating centers of cultural and historical significance. With excellent cheap air flights readily available, travelers can reach any of the five top Asian destinations listed below from their nearest international airport.
Japanese tourists taking a home vacation love the ‘Island of Little Beans’, however, this land of hot springs, lush olive groves and wild monkeys is still a well-kept secret when it comes to foreign tourists. The second largest island in the Seto Inland Sea, Shodoshima enjoys a Mediterranean climate, and as a result citrus groves are a feature here. Hikers readily take the trails across the rocks, enjoying the scenic views from the cliffs or those across the Kanka Valley. After a long day of walking and sightseeing, the island’s many hot springs provide a welcome respite for those tired feet.
The home of the Balinese royal family, Ubud is a relatively small town, with an impressive number of galleries, museums and a lively arts scene – for example, visitors can try the craft of a silversmith at Chez Monique, and take home some personalized jewelry they have created. For a wildlife treat, the lush greenery of the Monkey Forest is home to a lively bunch of monkeys that are fun to watch. They will swoop down to steal food or anything that looks like it could be food, so beware!
In South Goa the quiet and beautiful Agonda Beach has smooth, soft sand, stunning sunsets and charming beach huts where visitors can stay. Sea turtles nest at the beach, and there are lifeguards on patrol to ensure that it is safe for children. Definitely a destination for those seeking peace and quiet, it is never crowded, the locals are very friendly and there are enough shops and good restaurants to make it interesting. Hire a scooter to make the most of visits to the other beaches and the local towns.
The Tang Palace walls and those of the Ming dynasty are clues to the glorious past of Xi’an, one of the oldest cities in China, which has many ancient tombs and ruins. Outside the city, 25 miles to the east, the 7,000 statues of the Terracotta Army represent one of the most significant archaeological finds in the world. The life-size warriors, their horses and chariots, depict the armies of Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China, and they date from 210 BCE. Xi’an city has many important historical sites, including pagodas, royal mausoleums and towers, and outside the city walls, the southern area offers shopping, bars and some nightlife.
Penang Island, Malaysia
The “food paradise” of Malaysia, Penang’s rich multicultural history makes it a divine place to enjoy an extensive range of Indian, Chinese and Malay foods – allegedly some of the best cuisine in Southeast Asia. Gurney Drive in Georgetown, Penang’s capital, is a coastal promenade with restaurants and bars. Alongside the huge variety of carts serving some of the best street food available, there are upscale eateries and some Western chain restaurants. Take a break from all that eating and enjoy a trip to the Penang National Park – Malaysia’s newest – to see nesting sea turtles in the turtle sanctuary, and to explore the trails across the pristine beaches or above the jungle canopy from the elevated walkway.