Features // Asia

Discovering musical stars in rural Rajasthan
Discovering musical stars in rural Rajasthan

The state of Rajasthan – a land route for trade and culture between the Arab world and Asia – could obsess a musicologist for an entire lifetime. With the right guidance, at every five paces you can meet singing genealogists and poetic percussionists, flute-playing farmers and dancing snake priests, living alongside child stars and living…

Getting beyond the casinos in Macau, China
Getting beyond the casinos in Macau, China

Away from the casinos of Macau – the only place in China where they have been legalised – there lies an old Portuguese city steeped in colonial history and packed with impressive sights and restaurants. Rough Guides writer Helen Ochyra set out to find the best things to do in Macau beyond the betting tables. “Where…

The best photos from India’s Holi Festival 2014
The best photos from India’s Holi Festival 2014

This week saw Hindus in India and across the world celebrating the Holi Festival of Colours. It marks the beginning of spring and celebrates the legend of Holika and Prahlad in a mass party where participants throw powder in all colours of the rainbow at each other (something said to be started by Krishna as…

14 unforgettable Indonesian islands
14 unforgettable Indonesian islands

There are over 13,000 islands in the 5200-kilometre-long archipelago of Indonesia. With so many to choose from, we’ve whittled it down to 20 of our favourites from the Rough Guide to Southeast Asia on a Budget: Bali With its pounding surf, emerald-green rice terraces and exceptionally artistic culture, the small volcanic island of Bali –…

Living with locals in a Mongolian yurt
Living with locals in a Mongolian yurt

Getting friendly (and inebriated) with the only locals around, Lynsey Wolstenholme realises what self-sustainability really means on a Mongolian yurt homestay. After a six hour journey, along the bumpy, unpaved roads of Mongolia, I arrived at my base for the next 24 hours: a homestay nestled in the shadow of the Khogno Khan mountain. I…

The 20 best beaches in Vietnam
The 20 best beaches in Vietnam

With over 2000 miles of coastline, Vietnam has plenty of secluded coves with white sands and waters fit for snorkelling. For days spent sunbathing and evenings watching stunning sunsets, these are the best beaches in Vietnam: Long Beach, Phu Quoc Long Beach (Bai Trong), spanning the west coast of Phu Quoc Island, is a 20km…

One year on: Picfair’s best travel photography
One year on: Picfair’s best travel photography

If you’re a keen travel photographer, amateur or professional, and you’ve not heard of Picfair you’re missing a trick. As a platform for professional photographers it’s revolutionary, allowing them to sell their pictures at a price they want. Travellers with camera can get in on the action too. Since its launch in August 2013, 5,000…

The hanging coffins of Sagada, Philippines
The hanging coffins of Sagada, Philippines

Members of the Igorot tribe of Mountain Province in northern Philippines have long practised the tradition of burying their dead in hanging coffins, nailed to the sides of cliff faces high above the ground. Comfortably predating the arrival of the Spanish, the procedure can probably be traced back more than two millennia. To this day,…

Striking pictures of the faces of India
Striking pictures of the faces of India

Often considered more of a continent than a country, India has a varied landscape from desert to jungle to stunning coastlines. With a population of 1.2 billion people, it was the faces of this country that captivated Jack Fillery on his latest trip. The award-winning photographer has captured a series of images that he said…

Face your fears in the name of travel
Face your fears in the name of travel

From arachnophobia to fear of loneliness – Kia Abdullah explores how to face your fears and open up the world of travel. It was early morning on my first day in Cambodia that the feeling of dread descended. Trundling along in a tuk tuk, I felt something heavy land on my leg. The brown-black mass was…

Kia / 17.03.2014
A crazy 24 hours in Tokyo
A crazy 24 hours in Tokyo

“The city that never sleeps” is a hackneyed phrase uttered about metropolises from London to New York, but the Japanese capital of Tokyo is perhaps the finest embodiment of the cliché. To test this out, Martin Zatko and his friends decided to spend a full 24 hours finding great things to do in Tokyo: a…

Five ways to live like a local in Mumbai
Five ways to live like a local in Mumbai

The chaotic mix of people, colonial buildings and honking vehicles can be daunting to those unfamiliar with the Indian city of Mumbai. Coupled with the heat and humidity of this south western region, it can be an exhausting pursuit just looking for breakfast – knowing what to order is a whole other kettle of fish.…

Our favourite islands in the Philippines
Our favourite islands in the Philippines

Graced by dazzling beaches, year-round sun and numerous opportunities for diving, island-hopping and surfing, the Philippines has long attracted a steady stream of foreign visitors. Yet there’s far more to these islands than sand and snorkelling. These are a few of our favourite islands in the Philippines. Olango Island Five kilometres east of Mactan Island,…

The best photography on Picfair: the locals
The best photography on Picfair: the locals

For the second piece in our “Best of Picfair” series, we take a look at locals around the world. From Haiti to Vietnam, here is some of the best travel photography from some of the top photographers on Picfair – a website that lets amateurs and professionals upload and sell their photographs for a fair price. Next month’s theme…

Diving with the wow factor: the Raja Ampat islands
Diving with the wow factor: the Raja Ampat islands

During ten days living on a boat, drifting around the Raja Ampat islands, Andy Turner finds more than just a diver’s playground in Indonesian West Papua.   “Ladies and gentlemen we have begun our descent to Sorong”. Flicking up the airline window blind I’m greeted with an almost comical vision of paradise. Pink candyfloss clouds…

How to escape the intensity of Shanghai
How to escape the intensity of Shanghai

Not far from the taxi horn-laden bustle of Shanghai, Moganshan is a bamboo-adorned retreat perfect for a weekend visit. Jamie Fullerton heads into the trees. Exciting, exhilarating, intense, pungent – Shanghai is many things, but peaceful it is not. Those visiting the city who crave to crank down the ever-present car honks have few options…

The travel bucket list
The travel bucket list

The Travel Bucket List 30 unforgettable travel experiences chosen by Rough Guides writers and editors and other travel experts Read the list >> Get lost in Fez el Bali Keith Drew, Co-author of the Rough Guide to Morocco There are few places left in the world where you can get well and truly lost. But…

The best beaches in India
The best beaches in India

With 7500 kilometres of coastline to explore, good beaches in India aren’t hard to come by. From the party sands of Goa to the bustle of Marine Drive in Mumbai, here are some of the best beaches in India.  Chakratirth Beach, Gujarat The larger Chakratirth Beach, overlooked by a high bound, is a little to…

Travel News: a tourist pop group & portable hotel
Travel News: a tourist pop group & portable hotel

Rough Guides writer Steve Vickers gets you up to speed with the latest travel news, including business-only flights to the USA and portable Nordic hotel rooms.  New airline is strictly business Fed up with flying cattle class? Well a brand new airline is about to start running business-only flights to New York. And for now,…

Roughing it by container ship from Athens to Hong Kong
Roughing it by container ship from Athens to Hong Kong

Rebecca Hall takes the long way round: thirty seven days from Athens to Hong Kong via ports in Italy & Spain by container ship. “You’ll certainly have to lock your cabin door at night.” “You’ll have to sleep in a container like refugees do.” “And you’ll probably get taken hostage.” These are a selection of…

On the road in Panjshir, Afghanistan
On the road in Panjshir, Afghanistan

While working for an NGO in Kabul, British expat Marc Perry went to explore the precipitous Panjishir valley in northeastern Afghanistan. It had been my dream to visit Panjshir ever since I’d arrived in Afghanistan. Historically a geographic safe haven slicing through the Hindu Kush from Afghanistan to Tajikistan, this craggy, high-altitude valley is the…

Ten great literary journeys
Ten great literary journeys

From India to Italy to the USA, whether it’s fiction or non-fiction, we’ve all travelled the world at some point in time through the captivating words of our favourite novels. Some will take you into the depths of the African jungles, and others plonk you right in the middle of the wide, empty ocean. It’s…

23 fascinating facts about China
23 fascinating facts about China

With a civilisation spanning over 5000 years and a land area of 9,600,000 square kilometres, China certainly packs a punch. From the sweeping vistas of Mount Sanqingshan National Park to the sprawling cities of Beijing and Shanghai, it makes for an unforgettable eastern experience. Why not begin your oriental odyssey by checking out these fun facts…

Why Myanmar (Burma) is a travel photographer’s dream
Why Myanmar (Burma) is a travel photographer’s dream

Having visited Myanmar (Burma) a number of times since 2004, travel photographer Stephen Studd says it’s one of the best places he’s photographed in years. In this video he explains why Burma is so photogenic, and shares his travel photography tips below. Stephen’s top tips for travel photography Owner and tour leader of Digital Photography…

Eco travel – great green holidays
Eco travel – great green holidays

If you sometimes find yourself feeling a little environmentally guilty on your travels, and would like to do something a little more than reusing your plush towels two days in a row, consider one of these green holidays around the globe. Spend a week at Ecocabin, Shropshire Nowhere is 100 percent green, but Ecocabin –…

The best cycling holidays in the world
The best cycling holidays in the world

As any cyclist will tell you, there’s few better ways to see the world than on two wheels. From Armenia to Vermont, here’s some of our favourite bike trips across the globe. Let us know your own favourite cycling holidays below. Mountain biking at Coed Llandegla Forest, Wales Coed Llandegla is a purpose-built mountain-biking centre,…

An Interview with Pico Iyer
An Interview with Pico Iyer

British-born, with Indian parents and a childhood spent in California, Pico Iyer is one of the most respected travel writers today. Tim Chester asks Pico about lessons learned, packing and the evolution of travel.  Could you single out the first formative experience that sparked your love for travel? I was lucky in that I was…

The ten best treks in Southeast Asia
The ten best treks in Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia offers some wonderful treks, allowing you to spend days walking through dense rainforests, spotting spectacular wildlife, learning about the cultures of the many different tribes who live in the remoter areas, and often staying with them in their homes and sharing their meals. The following ten treks are highly recommended, and also ensure…

Great Rivers of the World – The Mekong
Great Rivers of the World – The Mekong

Over 4000km long, the Mekong – derived from the Khmer “Mae” meaning “big”, “mother”, or “boss” – is the 12th longest river in the world, flowing from Tibet, through China, Myanmar (Burma), Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. Navigation remains tricky along the Mekong as many rapids and waterfalls pose a risk to those who choose…

20 stunning close encounters with animals
20 stunning close encounters with animals

If you like getting up close and personal with the animal kingdom on your travels, these trip ideas should appeal. From alligators to zebras – via reindeer, cheetahs, baboons and gorillas – we’ve herded together a veritable wildlife park to inspire you. See wildlife in Gabon The jungles in Gabon have the highest diversity of…

Travel news: ninja bus tours and Burmese visas
Travel news: ninja bus tours and Burmese visas

Heated sleighs, bag-tracking apps, Burmese visas and ninja-themed bus tours: Steve Vickers gets you up to speed with the latest travel news. An iBeacon in your bag You know that thing at the airport where you’re waiting to get your bag off the luggage belt, and the whole thing is surrounded by so many other…

Motorbiking from Australia to Estonia
Motorbiking from Australia to Estonia

After motorcycling from Australia to Istanbul, Kickstarter-funded traveller Tyson Cable told Lottie Gross about his exploits around the world on two wheels.  Over a crackly line from his hotel room in Istanbul, Tyson Cable introduced himself to me as a traveller first and foremost, and a photographer second. He is the creator of the Adventure…

Ten of the best GoPro videos
Ten of the best GoPro videos

Since GoPro was founded in 2004, they’ve been part of a new generation of camera brands inspiring photographers to capture the world from a new angle. Today there’s a huge range of small and versatile waterproof cameras on the market, which can be remote controlled and mounted on everything from surfboards to guitars, and the scope…

Travelling for the first time
Travelling for the first time

We’ve just published new editions of The Rough Guide to First-Time Europe and The Rough Guide to First-Time Around the World, and they’ve got us thinking about the advice we wish we’d been given before our first big trips abroad. Travelling for the first time can be daunting. Do you go alone? What do you…

Take a freight train, Cambodia
Take a freight train, Cambodia

The train was travelling at top speed when the accident occurred. After decades of service the rail line finally snapped, buckling in front of the locomotive and forcing it off the track. Mercifully the top speed in question was a shade under twenty miles per hour, and the passengers were able to disembark safely and…

Shipwreck diving in Bali, Indonesia
Shipwreck diving in Bali, Indonesia

While researching the Rough Guide to Bali & Lombok, Jeroen van Marle took some time out to explore an underwater shipwreck in east Bali. We waded into the warm sea from the black sand beach, slipped on our flippers, did a last safety check and then dived down. Our dive master Wayan had only led our small group of…

Five awe-inspiring religious ceremonies
Five awe-inspiring religious ceremonies

Catching a religious event or gathering in another country can be an exhilerating experience. Here, from the pages of Make The Most Of Your Time On Earth, we present five spectacular declarations of faith from all over the globe. Easter in Seville, Spain “Semana Santa” (or Holy Week) is the most spectacular of all the…

Exploring the bewitching island of Siquijor
Exploring the bewitching island of Siquijor

John Oates has just returned from a research trip to the Philippines. While he was there he fell in love with the island of Siquijor, a place of pristine beaches, great diving, and a healthy dollop of black magic mystery. Tell a Filipino that you plan to visit Siquijor and there is a fair chance…

Video: the world’s friendliest cities
Video: the world’s friendliest cities

Which cities are going to welcome you with open arms? Where will the locals be likely to buy you a beer, and who’s going to invite you in for tea when it’s cold? We asked our social media followers to vote for the friendliest city in the world. These are the results: Explore more of…

Most iconic movie locations
Most iconic movie locations

These 15 iconic film locations will transport you straight into the movies. Want to chase Rocky Balboa up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art or tuck into Amélie’s crème brulée in Café des Deux Moulins? No problem. You’ll even be able to experience fictitious spots: swim off the shore of Jaws’ Amity Island;…

Take the Trans-Mongolian Express
Take the Trans-Mongolian Express

Even after seven unbroken days on a train from Moscow, nothing can prepare you for the Chinese border. As you pull into the platform, which is lit up in neon colours, a Chinese-tinged version of the Vienna Waltz comes blaring over the Tannoy. Trying to work out the cultural relevance of this is a hopeless…

Travel News: the new Everest railway & Icelandic volcanoes
Travel News: the new Everest railway & Icelandic volcanoes

Steve Vickers checks in with another suitcase full of travel stories, including news of free wi-fi on London’s red buses and the new ‘roof of the world’ railway line that’s bringing tourists closer to Mount Everest. More on Myanmar visas Last month we reported that Myanmar (Burma) was about to introduce a new e-visa that would…

Ten things to do in Tokyo for free
Ten things to do in Tokyo for free

With sublime sushi, soaring skyscrapers and vending machines that churn out everything from eggs to ice cream, Tokyo is the planet’s most mind-boggling metropolis. Wandering its neon-lit streets can easily eat up your time, and put serious pressure on your wallet. But as this round up of the free things to do in Tokyo shows,…

Slow travel – how to truly take your time
Slow travel – how to truly take your time

One of the easiest mistakes to make when travelling is to try to see and do too much at once. It’s far better to slow right down, take it all in, and not worry so much about where you’re going and how fast you get there. Here’s a few of our favourite journeys that go…

Great dates and temple ceremonies, Indonesia
Great dates and temple ceremonies, Indonesia

It’s mid-afternoon and you’re sitting in an outdoor café when suddenly the street is closed to traffic and a procession of villagers comes streaming by. Women with delicate frangipani blossoms woven into their hair balance lavish offerings of food, fruit and flowers on their heads and walk with grace and poise, while men march by…

Build a treehouse in Japan
Build a treehouse in Japan

Deep in the mountainous forests of Chiba’s Boso Peninsula, Gankoyama is the first “treehouse village” in Japan, offering a back-to-nature escape from the bustle of Tokyo. Eleven guest treehouses are grouped around a central treehouse/reception hall, with the whole complex surrounded by tall trees cloaked with creepers. You could just kick back completely and swing…

The most overrated destinations in the world
The most overrated destinations in the world

Have you ever been somewhere really hyped up and just found it a bit average? Bundled yourself off somewhere on the recommendations of friends, forum users or travel mags to find it’s just a bit, well, meh? Every regular traveller tends to have one place that didn’t stand up to expectations, and for me it…

How to get away from it all
How to get away from it all

It’s one of the ultimate travel goals: how to well and truly get away from it all. Here’s ten trips, selected by the writers and editors at Rough Guides, that offer true isolation and recuperation. Share your own below. Sleep out in a remote bothy Britain may be one of the most crowded islands on…

Hauling in dinner in Goa, India
Hauling in dinner in Goa, India

Though a cable winch (or a modern boat) would be more efficient, the Goan fishermen of Benaulim bring in their catch the old-fashioned way and, if you’re strolling by, they’ll probably wave you over to help. Two long ropes stretch all the way up the beach, with heavy branches attached at intervals; on the other end is their…

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