Features // Asia

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 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…

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…

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…

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…

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,…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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 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…

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.…

Ten things to do in Hong Kong for free
Ten things to do in Hong Kong for free

Don’t be put off by the high-rise hotels and glitzy boutiques; Hong Kong can still be explored on the cheap. From wandering through sub-tropical forests to seeking out cultural shows in the dense urban jungle, you’ll find that some of the best things to do in Hong Kong are free. Visit the zoo Hong Kong’s…

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…

Responsible travel – a green stay in Mumbai
Responsible travel – a green stay in Mumbai

Enjoy a more eco-friendly stay in Mumbai with our green guide to the city, taken from travel bible Great Escapes. Visit a handicraft centre India is home to over a billion people, more than a thousand distinct languages and countless different arts and handicrafts. Travelling across the country, you’ll no doubt encounter some of these…

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…

Travel writing scholarship 2013 with World Nomads
Travel writing scholarship 2013 with World Nomads

Update: we have a winner! Andrew Commins from Bristol will be joining Martin Zatko in Beijing. Read his winning entry online here. Have you ever dreamed of living the life of a travel writer? Well, we’ve teamed up with World Nomads to give one lucky reader the chance to realise that dream. After a hugely…

Exploring Burma’s beaches on a budget
Exploring Burma’s beaches on a budget

As the tourism boycott has ended, Myanmar (Burma) is becoming a popular destination on the Southeast Asia trail. John Oates has been travelling across this untouched country for the upcoming Rough Guide Snapshot to Myanmar (Burma). Here he escapes the fast paced city of Yangon to relax on the sandy beaches of Myanmar. After several…

Five great natural experiences in Borneo
Five great natural experiences in Borneo

The island of Borneo – which is divided between Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei – is home to some of the world’s best diving sites, along with a huge variety of plants, birds and mammals, some unique to the country. Yet it is also the land of the super-logger and oil-palm plantations that are eradicating the…

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…

Quiet stays in busy places
Quiet stays in busy places

Escaping tourists can be difficult in some of the world’s more popular destinations, but it’s still possible if you know where to look. Travelling the extra few miles can really pay off. These destinations are in or near very popular places but are just far enough removed to offer true isolation and respite from your…

Six real life film sets
Six real life film sets

From The Beach to The Great Escape, here’s six destinations that doubled as dramatic sets for big screen movies. Let us know your own favourite film set spots below. The great escape, Poland At first sight the area of pine forest stretching south of Żagań betrays few signs of the iconic place it occupies in…

Bizarre contests across the globe
Bizarre contests across the globe

You’ve probably heard of La Tomatina, Spain’s annual tomato fight, but there’s plenty of other strange contests that take place around the world. Here’s five of our favourite oddball activities, all featured in Make The Most Of Your Time On Earth. Robot riders on camels, Kuwait A stampede of two-year-old camels tears down the racetrack,…

Rituals around the world
Rituals around the world

Travelling the world you’ll come across rituals 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 them five of these unique rituals… Naghol, Pentecost Island, Vanuatu The ritual of Naghol,…

Everest: an awfully big adventure
Everest: an awfully big adventure

This summer marks 60 years since the first successful ascent of Mount Everest. Andy Turner follows in the footsteps of Sir Edmund Hillary (well, at least as far as Base Camp). The road to Everest starts with a 5am wake-up call in the Kathmandu Guesthouse. I heave myself off the thin mattress and try to…

Five great Indian tiger safaris
Five great Indian tiger safaris

Heading out on a tiger safari is one of the essential Indian experiences. Here, from the pages of Great Escapes, we present five of the best. Share your safari memories below. Corbett Tiger Reserve The first wildlife reserve in India, Corbett was responsible for launching the tiger conservation scheme Project Tiger, and is well-known for…

Visit Xi’an’s Terracotta Army, China
Visit Xi’an’s Terracotta Army, China

Qin Shi Huang, China’s first emperor, never did anything by halves. Not content with building the Great Wall, he spent his last years roaming the fringes of his empire, seeking a key to immortality. When (with inevitable irony) he died on his quest, his entourage returned to the capital near modern-day Xi’an and buried his…

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…

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…

Living with the locals in rural Myanmar
Living with the locals in rural Myanmar

As tourists start flooding into Myanmar (Burma), Melanie Kramers dives into the deep countryside to live like a local and discovers a beguiling mix of past and present. Hand-rolled cheroot clamped between her teeth, the elderly woman stares hard at us and issues a guttural grunt. While it sounds like the kind of grumpy growl…

The world’s best festivals and carnivals
The world’s best festivals and carnivals

If you’re looking to combine your next trip with a world-class festival or a mind-blowing carnival, then look no further. Here, from the pages of Make The Most Of Your Time On Earth, we present ten of the best parades, parties and processions across the world. Walking on the wild side at the Sydney Mardi…

Interactive Map: 20 best places to pitch your tent
Interactive Map: 20 best places to pitch your tent

Picking the best place to pitch up for the night is an art that requires precision. Rocky terrain makes for an uncomfortable sleep; hard ground means battling with those tent pegs; and soft spots mean you might fly away. Put all these concerns aside for a moment though, and imagine waking up in the shadow…

Six fitness holidays with a difference
Six fitness holidays with a difference

Heli-hiking on Franz Josef Glacier, New Zealand After the thwump-thwump sound of the helicopter has receded down the glacier, I’m left standing in a beautiful white silence. With half a dozen others and a guide I’ve got the next couple of hours to explore the upper reaches of Franz Josef Glacier, one of a pair…

A floral wave of cherry blossoms, Japan
A floral wave of cherry blossoms, Japan

The arrival of the sakura, or cherry blossom, has long been a profound yet simple Japanese lesson about the nature of human existence. For centuries, poets have fired off reams of haiku comparing the brief but blazing lives of the flowers to those of our own – a tragically fragile beauty to be treasured and contemplated. In Japan,…

Meditating in the Himalayas, Nepal
Meditating in the Himalayas, Nepal

People have looked to the mountains for spiritual consolation for millennia. “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills,” say the Psalms, “from whence cometh my help.” For Nepalis, the link is especially powerful. The Himalayas are where the Hindu gods go to meditate and replenish their tapas, or spiritual “heat”, and the Buddhist…

Ten great places to see animals up close
Ten great places to see animals up close

There’s few more thrilling travel experiences than getting up close and personal with animals in their natural environment. Here, taken from the pages of Make The Most Of Your Time On Earth, are ten ideas for nature lovers around the world. Whether it’s wolves in Wyoming or jellyfish in Palau, there’s all kinds of experiences…

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…

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…

Unusual accommodation ideas
Unusual accommodation ideas

If you’re the kind of traveller that seeks out new and unusual accommodation, allow us to present some really far out suggestions. From ice hotels to underwater boltholes, here’s some of our favourite wacky hotels around the world, taken from Make The Most Of Your Time On Earth. Troglodyte villages, Tunisia When Tunisia gained its…

Five essential homestays around the world
Five essential homestays around the world

One of the best ways to truly get to know a destination is to chat to the locals, and one sure fire way to become an instant expert on a place is to go a step further and spend a night or two with them. So leave behind the comfort zone of the international hotel…

Things not to miss in India
Things not to miss in India

From the white, snowy tops of the Himalayas, to the greenery of Kerala and then the sands of Goa, India is a hugely diverse, intense but addictive country. It has deserts, rainforests, rural settlements and big cosmopolitan cities – some will love it, and a few will hate it, but with such variety there is…

What’s the best festival you’ve been to?
What’s the best festival you’ve been to?

While February might not spring to mind as a time of celebration, some of the world’s greatest festivals are going on this month – not least the Kumbh Mela, rumoured to be the largest gathering on earth, and the infamous Rio Carnaval. Elsewhere, with ten days until Chinese New Year, cities across China and the…

Five epic journeys to remember
Five epic journeys to remember

They say the journey is often more important than the destination. Well, these five trips are definitely as memorable as their endings. Journeying over the roof of the world, India-Tibet The 485km route from Manali in Himachal Pradesh to Leh in Ladakh is the great epic among Indian road journeys. With an overnight stop at…

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