Once collectively referred to as the Orient, Asia used to be so exotic and mysterious for the Western world. Centuries later, Asia still has some tricks up her sleeve.
Below are some of the most amazing places in Asia that you probably haven’t heard of but should visit at least once!
1. CORON, PALAWAN
The views of Coron, Palawan are more than beautiful. It seems like an intact remnant of Eden we left behind upon man’s committing of the proverbial original sin. Coron reminds us of the best that is left in the world, which is probably why its beauty has moved so many locals and foreigners to tears.
Palawan is often referred to as “The Last Frontier” of the Philippines. Largely unexplored and with many of the sites under government protection, the islands have remained pristine despite attracting thousands of tourists every year. My personal opinion is that Coron is the gem of this whole island.
When on the island, take any of the Coron Island Tours that will take you to several islands off of the main land. You will be taken to several beach fronts tucked away in little crevices of the majestic limestone walls of Coron. Behind some of these limestone walls are hidden lagoons and lakes. One of these lakes is Kayangan Lake, so clear that just standing on bamboo rafts afloat the water will give you a clear enough preview of the beauty lurking underneath.
Another pristine body of water hidden behind the limestone walls is the Twin Lagoon. It is so hidden that in order to get inside you will actually have to swim to it and pass through the space between the limestone walls and the water (don’t worry it’s a big enough space).
Flights to Busuanga are available daily from NAIA and Cebu International Airport.
2. CENTRAL ASIA
Intrepid travelers take note: Central Asia just became the best adventure destination you have NEVER heard about.
Kyrgyzstan, part of the ancient trade route between China and the Mediterranean, has recently relaxed visa restrictions. They have also set-up home-stay and adventure programs where you can immerse in the culture of the Kyrgyz by living with families in their yurts.
Central Asia might not be for those looking for a lazy holiday under the sun though. The scenery is out-of-this-world beautiful but the terrain is rugged. Hikes, helicopter rides, horse-trekking, camping and road trips across the Pamir Highway, through the Pamir mountains are waiting for those who want to discover a piece of Central Asia.
One of the real draws about Central Asia is its wealth of nomadic tribes who seem to have preserved the majority of their way of living despite the technological advances of the outside world.
Central Asia was part of the famed Silk Road, an ancient network of trade routes connecting much of Asia to Europe. For this reason the markets in Central Asia offer some interesting products owing to the variety of nations and cultures that used to trade with each other along the Silk Road.
3. TAIPEI, TAIWAN
Not exactly a back packer’s paradise and often overlooked in favor of Hong Kong and Macau, Taiwan remains to be one of the most underrated travel destinations in Asia.
You don’t exactly think about spending a holiday in Taiwan, it seems like an exclusively business location for most but this little island off the Southwestern coast of China has so much more to offer than just Taipei 101. Let’s start with the food.
When you think about Asian food you normally think about Japanese, Chinese, Thai or even Korean but never Taiwanese. “Isn’t it just Chinese food?” you may ask, but it is and in a way it is not. The Taiwanese are Chinese, as far as ethnicity is concerned anyway, so the food is similar to Chinese food except that the Taiwanese have sprinkled their versions with a little bit more magic. The sweets and breakfast food are creamy, milky and chewy, like having Asian dessert for breakfast. Taiwan is also known for street food (it is where oyster omelet originated from), and what better way to experience their street food than in any one of Taiwan’s many night markets?
Escape the busy, but extremely organized, streets of Taiwan and hike up any of the hiking trails available in Hehuan Mountain and Ali Mountain. The coast of Taiwan also offers white sand beaches and blue waters, something you wouldn’t connect with any metropolis.
4. THE ROAD OF LAPUTA, KUMAMOTO
Everybody talks about Mt. Fuji and the temples or the cherry blossoms when they visit Japan, but have you ever heard about the Road of Laputa in Kumamoto Prefecture?
Kumamoto Prefecture is rural area located at the center of Kyushu. It has perfect weather for most of the year. Not too cold like in Hokkaido and not too hot like in Osaka. Just perfect.
The most popular tourist spot in Kumamoto is Mt. Aso (Aso-san), a volcano surrounded by rolling mountains and hills with the greenest and lushest greenery you have ever seen. A lot of tourists like to take the hill roads because of how pretty the drive is, especially when all the colorful flowers are in bloom.
The mountains around Mt. Aso are famous for one particular pass, a curious strip of road the locals call Laputa-no-michi, which directly translates to Laputa Road in English. This strip of road is so named for resembling the floating islands of a Ghibli animated film called Castles in the Sky. Driving through the narrow road is a lot like floating in the sky, especially when the clouds are out. The road also has an especially wonderful view of Mt. Aso.