Features // Asia

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…

The best Japanese foods (that aren’t sushi)
The best Japanese foods (that aren’t sushi)

Everyone speaks a little Japanese now – nigiri, maki, sashimi, nori, toro… The only problem is that sushi, delicious as it may be, is only one tiny facet of Japan’s varied cuisine. Here are a few other things worth looking out for when you’re there. Shojin-ryori Eating meat was banned in Japan for a long…

15 gorgeous photos of Japan
15 gorgeous photos of Japan

Professional landscape & wildlife photographer Nick Jackson shares some of his most beautiful pictures of Japan.  “Japan is a country I always wanted to travel to. I wanted to learn more about the culture, visit the ancient temples and see the beautiful cherry blossom first hand. What I encountered over my two week stay blew…

15 things everyone learns travelling in India
15 things everyone learns travelling in India

India varies greatly between its 29 states. Yet there are some things you’ll discover no matter where you are or how long you stay in the vast Subcontinent. If you’ve been to India at least once, you’ll relate to a few of these lessons we’ve learned over the years… 1. The street food is incredible…

Quiz: can you locate these national parks?
Quiz: can you locate these national parks?

National parks are some of the world’s most awe-inspiring natural places, taking in mountains, glaciers, waterfalls and forests (sometimes all in the same one), but how much do you know about them? Can you tell these national parks apart? Compare flights, book hostels and hotels for your trip, and don’t forget to purchase travel insurance before you go. 

11 things every gaijin learns in Japan
11 things every gaijin learns in Japan

Japan is one of those countries you can’t really prepare for – the famously impenetrable etiquette, complex traditions and bitingly modern pop culture combine to make a place which could wrongfoot the most experienced traveller. Here are just a few of the things which any gaijin (foreigner) can expect to find out on their first…

1650km of Vietnam in 3 minutes of stunning videography
1650km of Vietnam in 3 minutes of stunning videography

If a trip to Vietnam is on your bucket list, you might want to look away now. This video will definitely give you wanderlust. Filmmaker Oliver Atrologo spent two weeks travelling around Vietnam earlier this year and captured the whole trip on camera. He travelled 1650km, from the karst rock formations of Ha Long Bay in the north,…

Tokyo’s tiniest drinking dens: a guide to Golden Gai
Tokyo’s tiniest drinking dens: a guide to Golden Gai

Shinjuku, Tokyo, is known for skyscrapers, seedy nightlife, suited businessmen and a time-warped tumble of bars called Golden Gai. This perennial haunt of Tokyo’s salarymen has been getting a lot more international attention lately – and for good reason. While the city offers an endless range of flashy, neon-drenched clubs, bars and lounges, arguably only…

How to see Angkor Wat without the crowds
How to see Angkor Wat without the crowds

The sky is lightening. Squint and you can just about make out a change in the colour of it, a shift from inky-black to blue-black. As the sun rises further it changes more, until it pales enough behind the stonework that you can begin to make out a hulk on the horizon. You breathe in…

18 evocative pictures of the happiest place on Earth
18 evocative pictures of the happiest place on Earth

Freelance travel and wildlife photographer Margot Raggett shares her beautiful photographs of the fascinating kingdom of Bhutan.  “Whenever anyone asks me what Bhutan is like, I find the best way to describe it is like Narnia: it is so remote and unlike anywhere else on Earth that I’ve visited. And then I implore them to visit…

Batanes: off the radar on The Philippines’ remotest islands
Batanes: off the radar on The Philippines’ remotest islands

Kiki Deere, co-author of the Rough Guide to the Philippines, heads off the tourist trail to Batanes. This cluster of islands, located almost 150km off the northernmost tip of Luzon in the Philippines, sees just thirty or so foreign visitors a year. “Batanes? Batanes? Up there?” was the reaction of most Filipinos when I told…

Myanmar as you’ve never seen it before
Myanmar as you’ve never seen it before

Tourism in Myanmar is still in its infancy, yet this fascinating nation enthralls like no other in Southeast Asia. There’s no wonder why. With its glittering stupas, placid rivers, temple-studded plains and – above all – warm, welcoming people, this is a country that it’s hard to forget in a hurry. We’ve just published our first ever guide to Myanmar,…

Would you attempt the world’s highest bungee jump in the dark?
Would you attempt the world’s highest bungee jump in the dark?

With summer on the way, the landmark 338m-high Macau Tower has launched a new season of its Night Bungy experience. Yes, you read that right. You can plunge 233 metres off the side of a building at speeds of 200km/h – in the dark. The frankly terrifying free-fall lasts five seconds, offering a adrenalin-inducing hit of terror sure to put this Guinness…

The best beaches in Bali
The best beaches in Bali

From dramatically rugged coastline scenery, to great sweeps of golden sand and lovely white coves, Bali’s beaches have long drawn visitors to its shores. The beaches here tick all boxes, whether you’re after world-class waves to surf, crystal clear waters for diving, or simply days digging your toes into fine sand and lazy evenings watching the…

A Godzilla-themed hotel has just opened in Tokyo
A Godzilla-themed hotel has just opened in Tokyo

Because robot restaurants and themed cafés aren’t enough: Tokyo is now home to a Godzilla-themed hotel. Towering thirty storeys above Shinjuku in the Japanese capital, the Gracery Hotel revealed a new permanent resident last Friday – an enormous Godzilla head that menacingly overlooks the streets below. In a bid to cash in on the Godzilla hype…

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