Features // Asia

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 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…

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…

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…

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…

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 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,…

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…

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…

Ten trip ideas for watersports fanatics
Ten trip ideas for watersports fanatics

There’s few better ways to spend a holiday than getting wet. Here, from the pages of Make The Most Of Your Time On Earth, we present some of the best water-based holidays around the world. So whether it’s kayaking with sharks or snorkelling with turtles, give one of these experiences a try and let us…

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…

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 –…

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…

The best food in the world – and where to eat it
The best food in the world – and where to eat it

Prepare for some serious stomach growls as we reveal 20 of our favourite foodie experiences around the world. These picks, taken from the pages of Make The Most Of Your Time On Earth, are some of the finest ways to truly eat authentic dishes in the countries that do them best. If you’re looking for…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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;…

Eight amazing canoeing and kayaking trips
Eight amazing canoeing and kayaking trips

Kayaking with seals at Walvis Bay, Namibia Most people come to Swakopmund, a Bavarian-style town surreally out of place on the edge of the Namib Desert, to explore the vast dunes. Few who visit know that the sandy Atlantic shallows of nearby Walvis Bay are also home to 2500 cape fur seals – one of…

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…

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…

The least friendly countries for tourists?
The least friendly countries for tourists?

Whether you’re on a weekend away or a month-long adventure, being made to feel unwelcome by rude or unpleasant locals can make or break a holiday. So, if you don’t want to be shunned by waitresses and dismissed by taxi drivers, then Pakistan and Russia are apparently not for you. Following an HSBC poll on the…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

Meet the locals – how to immerse yourself on your travels
Meet the locals – how to immerse yourself on your travels

However good your intentions are, it’s often all too easy to retreat to the comfort of the hotel room and shy away from really engaging with the locals when you’re on your travels. Here’s a selection of holiday ideas that will thrust you into the heart of the community you’re visiting and foster a much…

Rituals around the world
Rituals around the world

Travelling the globe you’ll come across rituals around the world that might seem odd, crazy – perhaps even scary. But at the root they all share something in common; they are an expression of the local culture. So here we tell the story behind five of these unique cultural rituals… Naghol, Pentecost Island, Vanuatu The ritual…

Ten top volunteer holidays
Ten top volunteer holidays

If you’ve been thinking of swapping the traditional beach and beers break for something a little more, well, useful this year, allow us to present ten inspiring options. Whether it’s monitoring fish in Tobago or cleaning elephants in Thailand, these breaks allow you to really put something back on your travels. Help conserve the Galápagos…

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…

Go on a Dive Safari in The Red Sea, Egypt
Go on a Dive Safari in The Red Sea, Egypt

Packed with coral reefs, abundant tropical fish and an assortment of World War II wrecks, there is something for every diver in the Red Sea. Yet if you go to many of the popular offshore sites you can find them swamped with dive boats, while below water there can often be more divers than fish.…

Seven spots for thrilling volcanic activity
Seven spots for thrilling volcanic activity

Hiking up a volcano and dunking in natural hot springs should be on everyone’s bucket list. If you’re yet to get up close and personal with lava, and the only geysers you’ve encountered are down the pub, might we suggest one of these memorable experiences? Hiking by Stromboli’s lava flows, Italy Stromboli is the most…

Ten perfect birdwatching trips
Ten perfect birdwatching trips

Few travel moments illicit such a thrill as catching sight of a rare or beautiful bird emerging from its natural habitat. Here are a few of our favourite birdwatching holidays, from pigeons in Mauritius, to birds of paradise in New Guinea. Live among the birds of prey at Dadia, Greece As you begin the hour-long…

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,…

Ghost towns – top five abandoned habitations
Ghost towns – top five abandoned habitations

There’s nothing quite as atmospheric as a deserted but once inhabited place. Here’s five of our top picks for any ghost town hunter. This article was originally published in November 2010. Ghadames, Libya The houses in Ghadames, a pastel-coloured town in the Sahara Desert, are as dense as honeycomb – it’s possible for the women…

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…

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…

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…

The world’s strangest sports
The world’s strangest sports

For all the media’s focus on big-money events, it’s often weird local games or odd new hybrid events that really capture the joy of sport across the world. So we asked the authors of The Rough Guide to Cult Sport to select their ten favourite strange sports from the book (with apologies to the likes…

Exploring the temples of Angkor, Cambodia
Exploring the temples of Angkor, Cambodia

The sun was setting on the town of Siem Reap as I clung to the back of my moto driver. Threading our way through traffic, we rode out until town finally gave way to forest and we entered the Angkor site. In front of us were the iconic lotus-bud towers of Angkor Wat, looking like…

The world’s best breakfasts
The world’s best breakfasts

Morning habits are hard to break. You may love everything about a new country, but breakfast is often where culture shock first sets in. Staring down at your bowl, half-awake, all you can think is: how can they eat this in the morning? But breakfast in a foreign land can be one of the most…

Five top holidays for music fans
Five top holidays for music fans

If you’re feeling tired of your local concert hall, or you fancy combining a trip with some world-class music, you may want to consider one of these truly memorable music holidays, from Rough Guides’ Make The Most Of Your Time On Earth. Checking out the Kinshasa music scene, Democratic Republic of Congo The young François…

Your top packing tips
Your top packing tips

Packing: we all know the usual suspects – the sun cream, hand sanitizer, baby wipes and first aid kits – that are essential to a successful trip and a recent survey by Columbus Direct found that Brits cannot leave home without their smartphone, book or ebook reader, or sunglasses. But when we asked you what one…

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…

St Patrick’s Day, a different way
St Patrick’s Day, a different way

If you’re planning on celebrating your Irishness this next March (or getting yourself adopted for the day), the most obvious place to head is Dublin. But not everyone can get there – plus prices are high, half a million people descend on the capital for the parade, and it’s hard to find a place to…

Hiker’s paradise – seven essential walking trips
Hiker’s paradise – seven essential walking trips

Grab those boots, the ones that were made for walking, as we’re taking you on a trip round the world’s best hiking spots. From Estonian bogs to Ethiopian highlands, these are some of the most memorable walking trips we’ve ever experienced. Bog walking in Estonia Estonia is said by its locals to have a fifth…

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