Asia is no longer the unexplored continent for western travelers. Today, travel is more affordable than ever. According to the U.S. Travel Association, Americans spent $1,035 billion on travel in 2017. Prices are lower across the board, from lowered airfare to more variety in accommodations, there’s something for every type of traveler.
Are you looking for somewhere unexplored that you haven’t already seen a million times on your Instagram feed? Luckily, Asia is full of many wanderlust-approved destinations. Let’s push beyond Tokyo and Bangkok to discover the untouched parts of Asia that are perfect for the holiday season.
1. Luang Prabang, Laos
Southeast Asia is full of stunning destination, but Laos is sometimes the forgotten sibling. Laos might not be as easy to visit as Cambodia or Thailand, but it’s well worth the extra effort. Luang Prabang is a UNESCO-protected city with preserved French colonial architecture and 33 gold covered temples. This is one of the most beautifully preserved destinations in Southeast Asia.
If you’re willing to get out of bed early (and you should!) you can watch barefoot monks do their daily rounds in the city. After taking in the sights, climb Mount Phousi for panoramic views of the town, temples, and nearby markets. This truly is a paradise.
2. Inwa, Myanmar
Another forgotten Southeast Asian destination is Myanmar, previously known as Burma. Myanmar was first inhabited by humans 13,000 years ago, and it was even home to the largest Southeast Asian empire during the 16th century. Today, you can visit the remanents of this empire at Inwa.
Unfortunately, a series of earthquakes destroyed much of this city which was later abandoned in the 19th century. However, it’s still worth a visit to wander through the ruins of this once legendary city.
3. Hainan Island, China
Sure, you’ve thought about visiting Beijing or Hong Kong, but what about Hainan Island? This island is rightly nicknamed the Hawaii of China, and it’s easy to see why. You’ll also discover a surprising amount of coconuts along the beaches and coconut plantations. You could spend days exploring the endless beaches and bays in this tropical oasis.
4. Ipoh, Malaysia
Malaysia’s budding food scene and cheap travel make it a top destination already, but Ipoh is a spot to add to your must-see list. It’s full of charming coffee shops (with White Coffee!), new restaurants, the best photo spots you’ll find. Yes, it’s a little quaint, but it’s also full of culture and surprising sights like Kellie’s Castle and Perak Cave Temple. Whether you need group enquiries for holiday dialysis or you’re a solo-explorer, you’ll find unspoiled beauty here.
5. Sanur, Bali, Indonesia
Forget everything you know about Bali. This Indonesian seaside town is all calm beaches and colorful boats. The beaches of Sanur aren’t crowded, and you’ll have a hard time finding a raving party like in Kuta, but that’s all part of the appeal.
This is the best place to kick back and take in the view. Visit the sacred temple Pura Blajong or just watch the boats come and go on the beach. But pack your bags because you’re not going to want to leave this gorgeous place.
Asia is full of excitement and wonder, but these untouched destinations really have it all. Sometimes it pays to go off the beaten path and try something new. While traveling to tried-and-true destinations can be amazing, don’t overlook these spots above.