Features // Asia

The travel bucket list
The travel bucket list

If you’re after unforgettable experiences to add to your travel bucket list, look no further. With some help from our authors, editors and other travel experts, we’ve run-down 30 of the most incredible sights and activities around the world. Whether you want to embark on an epic journey, encounter some of the world’s most fascinating…

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…

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,…

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…

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…

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…

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?…

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…

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…

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,…

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 –…

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…

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 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…

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…

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…

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;…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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.…

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…

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 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,…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

Our top 30 holiday destinations
Our top 30 holiday destinations

 To celebrate Rough Guides reaching the grand old age of 30 this year, we’ve asked some of our writers, editors and staff members to nominate their favourite holiday destinations across the world. Be prepared for some acute pangs of wanderlust… Nicaragua’s Caribbean Coast James Smart, Senior Travel Editor, Rough Guides The sandy, snorkel-friendly Corn Islands…

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…

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…

Thoughtful travel – ten spots to remember the past
Thoughtful travel – ten spots to remember the past

There are some places in the world that you may not immediately think of visiting. Among all the favourite churches, museums and galleries lurk some more disturbing locations with morbid histories, places that represent the darker side of humanity. They may not be top of your itineraries, but they’re equally – if not more –…

In pictures: the world’s most photogenic countries
In pictures: the world’s most photogenic countries

Rough Guides photographer Tim Draper reveals his top ten most photogenic countries in the world.  From his home country, England, to the depths of Vietnam and Slovenia, Tim Draper has shot images for 24 Rough Guides throughout his career as a professional travel photographer. After starting out on the Rough Guide to England, he went…

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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