Features // Asia

Chinese restaurant etiquette: a step-by-step guide
Chinese restaurant etiquette: a step-by-step guide

You’ve heard the one about not sticking your chopsticks straight up in rice, right? (It resembles funerary incense sticks). Honestly? Don’t fret. Because let’s face it; you’ve got bigger problems than antiquated cultural faux-pas. Like how to actually order and eat a table-full of delicious Chinese food in a regular, everyday, non-touristy Chinese restaurant –…

Video: The essence of Japan in 4 minutes
Video: The essence of Japan in 4 minutes

This is not your average travel montage. With jaw-dropping shots, expert composition and an undeniable sense of cool, filmmakers Vincent Urban, Alex Schiller and Alex Tank seem to capture the essence of Japan in this four-minute video. Click play and prepare to be hurled into a whole new world. Get swallowed by Tokyo’s onslaught of…

9 essential tips for backpacking Thailand
9 essential tips for backpacking Thailand

Backpacking Thailand can mean staying in fun-packed hostels and idyllic beach bungalows, eating noodles so tasty and so cheap you’ll swear off all other food groups and climbing aboard everything from an overnight train to a lolloping elephant. But it also means following a well-worn route – one that has sprouted an entire industry to…

A Rough Guide to drinking Japanese sake
A Rough Guide to drinking Japanese sake

I say “sake”, you say… The lowest form of wit? No, not “sarcy” – as in sarcastic – but sake, as in the Japanese drink. So actually, you say “cheers,” or “kanpai!” This Japanese drink is the traditional alcoholic accompaniment to food in Japan, and it’s something you’ll come across wherever you go in the…

The 7 most beautiful places in Southeast Asia – chosen by you
The 7 most beautiful places in Southeast Asia – chosen by you

It’s not just appearance that makes up the beauty of a place. Often, travellers will cite the people as the most beautiful thing about a country or culture. In Southeast Asia, there’s no doubt there is beauty in every form – and now our readers have voted to decide which countries are the most beautiful. Here…

Painting the town red, pink, green and yellow: Holi Festival 2016 in pictures
Painting the town red, pink, green and yellow: Holi Festival 2016 in pictures

Every year, Hindus around the world celebrate Holi Festival: the festival of colours. The event attracts many non-Hindus to take part, too, with hundreds of people gathering to throw coloured powder at one another – a tradition supposedly started by Krishna as a young boy when he used to throw paint over the gopis (milkmaids). The result, of…

Video: a 1 minute guide to Japan
Video: a 1 minute guide to Japan

Japan has long captivated the imaginations of travellers around the globe, seeming to both baffle and beguile all who venture there. Between language barriers and Japan’s rather deceiving size (roughly stretching the length of Miami to Montreal) it’s all too easy to miss out on Japan’s best spots during the trip planning process. From countryside…

13 tips for backpacking India
13 tips for backpacking India

Whether you’re hurtling along in a rickshaw, eating fantastic curries, kicking back on the backwaters or hiking in the mountains, backpacking India will always be an adventure. You’ll need your wits about you, and preparation is key – here are our top tips to making your journey as smooth as possible. 1. Eat where the locals eat Restaurant…

These amazing photos of Thailand will intensify your wanderlust
These amazing photos of Thailand will intensify your wanderlust

Professional photographer Ian Barin shares some of his favourite pictures of Thailand.  Thailand. It’s everything you’ve heard; a beautifully complex country filled with big temples, mouthwatering foods, gorgeous coastlines, modern cities, mountainous jungles, and fascinating history and people to go along with it. Although Thailand is a very established travel destination in Southeast Asia, one…

Video: top 5 things to do in Kerala
Video: top 5 things to do in Kerala

We sent Rough Guides editor Rachel Mills to the southernmost tip of the Indian Subcontinent to research Kerala for the upcoming Rough Guide to India. From tea estates in lush green hills to sultry palm-fringed backwaters, plus a host of deserted beaches, she dove beneath the surface and immersed herself in the region’s natural wonders, lavish festivals and heavenly South Indian…

20 brilliantly colourful pictures of India
20 brilliantly colourful pictures of India

Professional photographer Tim Bird shares some of his incredible pictures of India.  I’ve been fascinated by everything to do with India from about the age of 13 when I first heard the sitar being played on Beatles records. These days I’m an India addict. I’m involved with a small Finnish-based NGO, Tikau Share, which focuses…

7 reasons why Langkawi is Malaysia’s ultimate island escape
7 reasons why Langkawi is Malaysia’s ultimate island escape

Looking to unwind on a tropical island somewhere in Southeast Asia? Then head to the island of Langkawi, Malaysia’s ultimate escape from the country’s frenetic cities. From trekking into the rainforest to wildlife-watching – all between spells of relaxing on a wide, sandy beach – here are a few reasons why you should escape to Langkawi. 1.…

The world’s highest and longest glass bridge is being built in China
The world’s highest and longest glass bridge is being built in China

If you’re prone to vertigo, then don’t scroll down. Not one for those without a head for heights, China‘s new record-breaking bridge is taking shape, and this week astonishing photographs emerged of the colossal structure. Spanning the Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon in Hunan province, it will be the world’s longest glass-bottom bridge at 430m-long, and the highest of…

16 captivating pictures of hill tribes in Laos
16 captivating pictures of hill tribes in Laos

Professional travel photographer Tim Draper has shot images for 24 Rough Guides guidebooks, visiting far-flung corners around the world. Here he shares some of his stunning shots taken in northern Laos, where he spent time with the Akha people. I‘d been trudging steadily uphill through dense jungle in heavy rain for over seven hours when I caught…

Seoul food: the transformation of a neighbourhood
Seoul food: the transformation of a neighbourhood

Itaewon, a neighbourhood in the South Korean capital Seoul, is on the up and food is at the forefront of its renaissance. Here Amy Guttman explores a district undergoing an exciting edible regeneration. For decades, Itaewon has largely been known for two things: the US Army stationed there since the Korean War, and seedy bars where…

Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City: where should you visit first?
Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City: where should you visit first?

Situated at the northern and southern extremes of this long, thin country, Vietnam’s two main cities lie over a thousand kilometres apart. Southern Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC), formerly Saigon, was the US base during the Vietnam War and since the country’s unification has transformed into a thoroughly modern, thriving metropolis. The somewhat less modern…

11 gorgeous pictures of Cambodia
11 gorgeous pictures of Cambodia

This beguiling country in Southeast Asia has captured the hearts and imaginations of travellers from all over the world. Travel photographer Fiona Campbell is one of many entranced by its magic; here she shares 11 of her favourite photos.  What makes Cambodia extraordinary is its cheerful, smiling people. Despite the fragility of this country, these are broadly…

An insider’s guide to Thailand: 9 tips from our author
An insider’s guide to Thailand: 9 tips from our author

Having finally settled down in Thailand after twenty years of toing and froing, our author, Paul, has plenty to write home about. Here are some of his favourite experiences from the new Rough Guide to Thailand. 1. Get a traditional massage in Bangkok A good pummelling at the massage pavilions amid the historic, kaleidoscopic architecture…

Hyderabad: India’s most up-and-coming city
Hyderabad: India’s most up-and-coming city

A fascinating, fast-developing city in southern India, Hyderabad is one of India’s up-and-coming tourist destinations. Co-author of the Rough Guide to India, Nick Edwards, gives us an insider’s guide. The rapidly growing metropolis of Hyderabad and its twin city Secunderabad occupy a fascinating place somewhere between India’s past and future. The old town is by far…

Undiscovered India: 7 places to get off the tourist trail
Undiscovered India: 7 places to get off the tourist trail

Despite India’s vastness, foreign travellers tend to clump together in a relatively small number of well-known regions or cities, leaving plenty of destinations to the more intrepid few who are willing to take the challenge of escaping the tourist trail. Here’s a selection of our favourites: 1. Climb to spiritual highs in Palitana, Gujarat Gujarat…

Andhra Pradesh: India’s unknown backwaters destination
Andhra Pradesh: India’s unknown backwaters destination

In search of somewhere a little more adventurous and lot less travelled than the famous backwaters of Kerala? Head to the Godavari Delta on the eastern coast of Andhra Pradesh, where you’ll find a rich area for exploration says Nick Edwards, co-author of The Rough Guide to India. The mighty Godavari, second only in length to the Ganges,…

The stunning Philippines in pictures
The stunning Philippines in pictures

Rough Guides writer Kiki Deere shares some of her best photographs of the Philippines from her latest trip to Southeast Asia.  Comprising 7107 islands, the Philippines boasts some of the world’s most incredibly diverse landscapes – nowhere more so than Luzon, the country’s largest island. Northern Luzon is home to the country’s remotest wildernesses, a…

Discover Indonesia: our film of the week
Discover Indonesia: our film of the week

Searching for that daily dose of travel inspiration? Look no further, but don’t be surprised if your feet start to itch for Indonesia. This archipelago nation is vast and complex: the world’s fourth most populous country, home to roughly 700 living languages and 300 ethnicities. Its massive size is still an enigma – even in the age…

Trekking in Thailand: the best routes
Trekking in Thailand: the best routes

Thailand is ripe for trekking. From its dripping, pristine rainforests to its towering, mist-enveloped mountains, there is a landscape that just begs you to get out on two feet and explore. But the real joy of trekking in Thailand here is nothing to do with the scenery, it’s the people that make every step count, from…

Where to stay in Bangkok: an area by area guide
Where to stay in Bangkok: an area by area guide

Bangkok is vast. There’s a population of 11 million people within its 1500 square kilometres and towering high-rise buildings of up to 304m-high. It’s a modern metropolis with frenetic markets, traditional temples and a brilliant nightlife. But where should you base yourself? Whatever kind of trip you’re planning, here’s the lowdown on where to stay…

19 pictures of Hong Kong that’ll have you reaching for your camera
19 pictures of Hong Kong that’ll have you reaching for your camera

Named one of the most photogenic destinations by Rough Guides photographer Tim Draper, Hong Kong in undeniably striking. Whether it’s the brilliant skyline lit up at night, the colourful street scenes or even the surrounding countryside, there’s a picture to be taken at every turn. Here are 19 gorgeous Hong Kong pictures from Picfair‘s best photographers…

7 of the best places to go hiking in Japan
7 of the best places to go hiking in Japan

Few countries in Asia boasts such dramatic natural diversity and such a range of hiking opportunities as Japan. Mountains make up two thirds of the country, with beaches fringing the coast and the balmy southern islands. There are active volcanoes to tackle, epic long-distance pilgrimage routes once smoothed by the feet of emperors, and steep…

Go it alone: solo travel in Thailand
Go it alone: solo travel in Thailand

Thailand is the quintessential backpacker destination. Here you can make the first footprints on secluded sands, dance shoeless under a full moon and swim beneath cascading waterfalls. Running through Thailand’s rainforests and temples and looping around its islands and beaches is the so-called “banana pancake trail”, a well-worn, tried and tested backpacker route that has…

The other Bali: an alternative guide to the Island of Gods
The other Bali: an alternative guide to the Island of Gods

Beyond the mystical sounds of gamelan and the intricate craft of batik, Bali boasts a world of subcultures often overlooked by visitors. The art makes bold statements, nightlife sometimes involves a new tattoo, and music is anything but serene. On an island where locals are often denied entry from bars and clubs, an experience off…

Sri Lanka: 10 tips for first-time visitors
Sri Lanka: 10 tips for first-time visitors

A country in the throes of massive change, Sri Lanka’s heady mix of British colonial heritage, beautiful landscapes and incredibly friendly locals make it a beguiling destination. But the tropical isle has only cropped up on travellers’ radars in recent years, following the end of the country’s 26-year-long civil war in 2009. With more tourists…

10 street foods you need to try in Taiwan
10 street foods you need to try in Taiwan

Taiwanese xiǎochī, or “small eats”, are justly famed, and no trip would be complete without several street food feasts. Night markets are among the best – and cheapest – places to try a selection, and you’ll want to leave plenty of time to go from stall to stall to seek out the best. To whet…

Your Southeast Asia itinerary: 8 ideas for exploring the region
Your Southeast Asia itinerary: 8 ideas for exploring the region

You can’t expect to fit everything Southeast Asia has to offer into one trip – or two or three or four, to be fair – and we don’t suggest you try. So, to help you start planning, we’ve put together 8 ideas for your Southeast Asia itinerary from The Rough Guide to Southeast Asia on a Budget. For those taking a big, extended…

The delights of Dharamsala: discover India’s “Little Tibet”
The delights of Dharamsala: discover India’s “Little Tibet”

Ever since the Dalai Lama and his entourage escaped the Chinese invasion of Tibet in 1959 and were granted a new home in the district of Dharamsala, in India’s Himachal Pradesh, the area has been a magnet for travellers and truth-seekers alike. In fact, rather than the mundane, workaday lower town of Dharamsala itself, it…

The magic of Vietnam in 22 pictures
The magic of Vietnam in 22 pictures

Vietnam: an intoxicating country full of stunning sights, sizzling beaches and sumptuous food. It’s a country bound to make an impact on you, no matter where you go, whether it’s trekking with hill tribes near Sa Pa, or whizzing around Ho Chi Minh City on a motorbike. From our favourite Picfair photographers, here are 22 gorgeous…

15 things everybody learns backpacking in Southeast Asia
15 things everybody learns backpacking in Southeast Asia

From psychedelic milkshakes to overloaded tuk-tuks, there are some things everybody comes across when backpacking in Southeast Asia. Whether you spent the brunt of your time beaching, boozing, motorcycling, meditating or trying to see it all – here are 15 things you likely learned. 1. Getting from A to B is surprisingly fun All-night bus rides with bad action movies…

Where to stay in Singapore: an area by area guide
Where to stay in Singapore: an area by area guide

An easy entry-point for first-time visitors to Southeast Asia, the absorbing city-state of Singapore has evolved from a colonial port into a slick shrine to wealth and consumerism. With fascinating Chinese and Indian quarters, excellent museums, world-renowned restaurants and great shopping, there’s plenty here to keep you occupied for days. But what about accommodation? Whatever…

South Indian food demystified: 10 dishes you need to try
South Indian food demystified: 10 dishes you need to try

Tandoori, naan bread, butter chicken and rich vegetable curries are delicious, but these north Indian staples are just a fraction of the country’s diverse culinary offerings. To get a more complete picture, you also need to head south. South Indian cuisine is vastly different – think steamed, spiced and coconut-flavoured. The South Indian states of…

Undiscovered Southeast Asia: 9 places to get off the tourist trail
Undiscovered Southeast Asia: 9 places to get off the tourist trail

Southeast Asia is the quintessential backpacker destination – all noodle stands, grungy hostels and full moon parties, right? Not necessarily. There are still plenty of authentic Southeast Asian escapes. You just need to know where to find them. Start here. 1. Trek the path less followed in Umphang, Thailand Want to trek Thailand in peace?…

The world’s most terrifying glass-floored bridge opens in China
The world’s most terrifying glass-floored bridge opens in China

The world’s longest glass-bottomed walkway opened in China‘s Hunan province last week, after the old wooden panels of the Haohan Qiao suspension bridge were replaced with transparent glass frames. Towering 180 meters over a scenic canyon in Shiniuzhai Geopark, the structure is billed as a walk for thrill-seekers and nature buffs alike. But is it safe? Though the…

5 cities, 20 days: Pakistan from north to south in 2 minutes
5 cities, 20 days: Pakistan from north to south in 2 minutes

Pakistan is a country filled with unexpected highlights. Contrary to many preconceptions, its borders hold soaring mountains, glassy lakes and intricately-decorated mosques. Our video of the week gives an insight into Pakistani life. In this 2-minute clip, film-maker Umar Bhutta returns to his homeland, travelling from north to south, visiting five cities and mile-upon-mile of stunningly beautiful countryside along the way. “It…

Disappearing cultures: 20 years of photography from China
Disappearing cultures: 20 years of photography from China

One of the world’s leading photographers on disappearing cultural practices, Jo Farrell has spent the past ten years documenting the last known women in China with bound feet. Rough Guides travel editor Greg Dickinson caught up with Jo to discuss her archive of experiences travelling around China with a camera. When did your fascination with China…

Check in with a dinosaur at Japan’s first robot hotel
Check in with a dinosaur at Japan’s first robot hotel

Often the “weird Japan” trope seems like just another tired travel cliché – but then someone opens a robot hotel. In this case, hotel owner Hideo Sawada beat international journalists to the punch by straightforwardly calling it Henn-na Hotel, meaning “Strange Hotel”.  The idea behind it isn’t actually that weird, though. Sawada’s aims are eminently reasonable:…

This magical film will make you fall in love with Hong Kong
This magical film will make you fall in love with Hong Kong

Think of Hong Kong and what image comes to mind? Crowded streets? Skyscrapers? A forest of neon signs? Filmmaker Stephane Ma wants to challenge your preconceptions. In this beautiful three-minute film he uses drones to put the city in perspective, sweeping above the central high-rises and out over the beaches and mountains in a series of…

The story of Beijing’s contemporary art hub
The story of Beijing’s contemporary art hub

In a country where censorship rules, few people gave the idea much of a chance. In little more than a decade, however, the 798 Art District, which occupies a former military zone on the northeastern edge of Beijing, has grown to become a genuine creative hub for contemporary art. The story begins in the 1950s,…

Gorgeous video explores the Philippines from above
Gorgeous video explores the Philippines from above

The Philippines is beautiful from the ground, but from above it’s even better. This video soars hundreds of metres into the air to give you a bird’s-eye view – and it’s awesome. From White Beach on Boracay to the little town of El Nido, Frédéric Bussière’s drone camera captures the stunning scenery of this southeast-Asian archipelago. As…

8 of the weirdest things you’ll see in Vietnam
8 of the weirdest things you’ll see in Vietnam

Governed by Chinese dynasties for over a thousand years, ruled by the French for a century and occupied by American troops for over a decade, Vietnam has – remarkably – managed to uphold a vast array of cultural practices. To the rest of the world, some of these traditional customs seem pretty strange, but they’re still prevalent throughout this…

Would you get down and dirty at South Korea’s Mud Festival?
Would you get down and dirty at South Korea’s Mud Festival?

What once began as a marketing ploy for a therapeutic mud found near Boryeong, a small city on South Korea’s sandy west coast, has since transformed into a unique festival that draws millions every year. But this is no spa day. Mud Fest 2008 by Hypnotica Studios Infinite (license) The annual Boryeong Mud Festival is where people…

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