Features // Asia

Unravelling the mysteries of the Baekje dynasty in Korea
Unravelling the mysteries of the Baekje dynasty in Korea

Bar those with a fair knowledge of Korean history, few have ever heard of the kingdom of Baekje. Though long swallowed up by the sands of time, this ancient dynasty was one of East Asia’s cultural high-water marks, and its influence can still be felt today: their rulers introduced Buddhism to both Korea and Japan,…

Finding the corpse flower, Indonesia
Finding the corpse flower, Indonesia

When the English naturalist Joseph Arnold smelt rotting flesh during an 1821 expedition to the steamy jungles of Sumatra, he must have feared the worst. Back then, this was cannibal country. Blood-thirsty local tribes were known to capture their most hated enemies, tie them to a stake, and start feasting on their roasted body parts.…

Mike Spencer Bown: most travelled man retires
Mike Spencer Bown: most travelled man retires

Twenty-three years, 195 countries and a single rucksack: that’s what it takes to complete a travel bucket list. We’ve all got one and most of us probably won’t be able to complete it; there are just too many incredible sights in the world. But one man has ticked of his entire list, so we called…

Diving in the secret atolls of the Maldives
Diving in the secret atolls of the Maldives

One of the lesser-known but largest in the Maldives, the Huvadhu atoll is home to a bounty of marine life. Away from the resorts and honeymooners, Annie Biziou van Pol enjoys a spectacular display of rays, turtles and reef sharks as she dives in the southern part of this collection of islands. Ibrahim unfurls a faded map…

Get blown away by the Great Wall, China
Get blown away by the Great Wall, China

The Great Wall is one of those sights that you’ve seen and heard so much about that you know reality is going to have a tough time living up to the hype. But having made it all the way to Beijing, it seems perverse to ignore this overblown landmark, so arm yourself with a thermos…

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…

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…

Arrivals: a travel news round up (September 16)
Arrivals: a travel news round up (September 16)

Rough Guides writer Steve Vickers casts an eye over the big travel topics and unpicks the top stories of the week. Thousands apply for one-way trip to Mars More than 200,000 people have applied for the chance to help colonise Mars. Just four of the applicants will be picked for the first one-way mission being…

Six great treehouses – monkey business optional
Six great treehouses – monkey business optional

B&Bs and traditional hotels are all very well, but sometimes is fun to get in the foliage and live like a monkey for a few days. Here’s a few of our favourite treehouses around the world. Where’s your favourite? Keycamp, Northern France Choose between three treehouses at Keycamp’s family-friendly French campsites – at Carnac and…

Hanging out in Shinjuku
Hanging out in Shinjuku

Shinjuku isn’t for the faint-hearted. But if you’re new to Tokyo and want a crash course in crazy, it’s the first place you should come to. Sure, Asakusa has more history and Roppongi has better nightlife, but neither can compete when it comes to dealing out high-voltage culture shocks. On the west side of Shinjuku…

Stay with the locals in Kerala
Stay with the locals in Kerala

For a real sense of a country and its inhabitants, it’s always best to stay with the locals and meet as many residents as possible. The population of Kerala are particularly friendly and welcoming, and these experiences will leave you with a unique understanding of the Indian state. Learn to cook Keralan style Whether it’s…

9 new tourist attractions to visit in 2015
9 new tourist attractions to visit in 2015

With a whole host of new attractions opening this year, from world-record-beating skyscrapers to whacky amusement parks, there’s plenty to get your teeth into. To help you decide where to visit, we’ve picked the top 9 new tourist attractions around the world.  Shanghai Tower, China A better symbol of China’s continuing march forward would be harder to…

Moonlit manoeuvres through Hoi An, Vietnam
Moonlit manoeuvres through Hoi An, Vietnam

Once a month, on the eve of the full moon, downtown Hoi An turns off all its street lights and basks in the mellow glow of silk lanterns. Shopkeepers don traditional outfits; parades, folk opera and martial arts demonstrations flood the cobbled streets; and the riverside fills with stalls selling crabmeat parcels, beanpaste cakes and noodle soup. It’s all…

Snapshot: Myanmar (Burma) Highlights
Snapshot: Myanmar (Burma) Highlights

Myanmar (Burma) is a beautiful and culturally rich country, but has been cursed for decades with a brutally oppressive regime. Now, following the softening and then removal of the 15-year-long tourism boycott, tourist numbers have swollen. This is a fascinating time to discover Myanmar’s temples, rice fields, and mountains, and meet the people eager to…

23 things you never knew about Japan
23 things you never knew about Japan

This collection of islands has fascinated travellers since Japan picked itself up from World War defeat, and became one of the leading economic and technological centres of the world. Ancient gods and traditional customs sit side by side with cutting edge technologies and trendy pop culture, and there is always something new to learn about…

Win a two week volunteer trip with GVI
Win a two week volunteer trip with GVI

This competition is now closed. Congratulations to our GVI trip winner Kirsty McCarlie, who chose Venezuela as her top destination for 2014. Kirsty is hoping to travel to Costa Rica with GVI to complete her placement conserving jaguars next year.  Have you ever wanted to give back to the world, to develop and conserve some…

The 20 best islands in Japan
The 20 best islands in Japan

Japan is a hugely diverse country, especially when it comes to its thousands of islands. There are approximately 6800 to choose from, so you don’t have to go far to find mountains, beaches, coral reefs and quaint little villages. Many of the islands are almost untouched by tourism so make for an exceptionally traditional experience.…

12 months of the quirkiest festivals around the world
12 months of the quirkiest festivals around the world

The whole world loves a party, and a good one provides a great excuse to travel. Here’s a whole twelve months of some of the more interesting ways people celebrate during festivals around the world. January: World Buskers Festival, Christchurch, New Zealand Clever street performers: they head to the southern hemisphere this month, where they can…

See sunrise on Mount Bromo, Indonesia
See sunrise on Mount Bromo, Indonesia

It’s not the most famous, the most active or the biggest volcano in the world, but Indonesia’s 2392m-high Mount Bromo is one of the most picturesque – in a dusty, post-apocalyptic sort of way. The still-smoking and apparently perfectly symmetrical cone rises precipitously out of a vast, windswept, sandy plain. This is the Sea of Sand, actually the floor…

Tourist tricks and scams – what are your worst?
Tourist tricks and scams – what are your worst?

They come in many guises and we’ve all been prey – or at least witness – to some of them at some time or another. Cheap tricks and scams surround tourists and travellers like trinket peddlers round an air conditioned coach, and much of your time in many places will be spend trying to dodge…

Simon Reeve on India and penis soup
Simon Reeve on India and penis soup

As the face of travel on the terrestrial television, Simon Reeve has presented a number of BBC travel series, from exploring where our tea and coffee comes from, to travelling the entire Tropic of Cancer. Having just returned from filming a new series in India, Simon talks to Rough Guides about adventure, muppetry and a better…

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…

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…

Bollywood glamour at the Mumbai Metro, India
Bollywood glamour at the Mumbai Metro, India

If you’ve never seen a Bollywood movie before, think John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John in Grease, then pump up the colour saturation, quadruple the number of dancing extras, switch the soundtrack to an A.R. Rahman masala mix and imagine Indo-Western hybrid outfits that grow more extravagant with every change of camera angle. Like their classic…

Better than Disneyland: the Ghibli Museum, Japan
Better than Disneyland: the Ghibli Museum, Japan

Move over Mickey Mouse: in Japan it’s a giant cuddly fur-ball called Totoro who commands national icon status. This adorable animated creature, star of My Neighbour Totoro, is among the pantheon of characters from the movies of celebrated director Miyazaki Hayao and his colleagues at Studio Ghibli – Japan’s equivalent of Disney. Just like Walt,…

Travelling the Silk Road in Uzbekistan
Travelling the Silk Road in Uzbekistan

While the Chinese stretch of the Silk Road is world famous, the central Asian section is far less travelled but has no less to see. Kiki Deere describes travelling the Silk Road in Uzbekistan, from post-Soviet Tashkent, through the beautiful blue-tiled city of Samarkand, to unspoilt Bukhara. I peered out of the window of our…

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…

Extreme mountain biking in Ladakh, India
Extreme mountain biking in Ladakh, India

Mountain biking at altitude in the Himalayan region of Ladakh in northern India takes your breath away, writes Alasdair Baverstock. At the truck thundered towards us on the narrow dirt road, tossing boulders down the steep mountainside in its wake, Sonam Norbu took both hands off the wheel and fumbled for his lighter. Unimpressed by…

Top 9 articles for American readers in 2013
Top 9 articles for American readers in 2013

What inspires you to travel? Whether you’re looking to save the world (one eco-lodge at a time), add new destinations to your travel bucket list, or just taste the finest Belgian beers, check out this rundown of our most inspiring ideas for US travelers on RoughGuides.com: 1. Top 20 Belgian beers Beer is big business…

22 stunning images from the Travel Photographer of the Year Awards
22 stunning images from the Travel Photographer of the Year Awards

After a search for the most captivating, exciting and beautiful travel photography, the Travel Photographer of the Year Awards announced their final winners last week. Here is a selection of our favourite images from this set of talented photographers. Eagle hunter, Alti Region, Mongolia By Simon Morris | www.tpoty.com Powell Point, Grand Canyon South Rim, USA  By Gerard Baeck…

Top 9 destinations for American travelers in 2013
Top 9 destinations for American travelers in 2013

If you’re looking for the latest travel hot-spots, check out the top picks from US readers on RoughGuides.com. From Europe to Asia, the Americas, and Australia, here are the most popular overseas destinations for US travelers: 1. Netherlands No larger than the US state of Maryland, the Netherlands is a surprisingly diverse country for its size.…

Travel news: Moscow to Beijing in just two days?
Travel news: Moscow to Beijing in just two days?

Follow us on a whistle-stop tour of the latest travel stories, including news of a super-fast train line between Moscow and Beijing, the suitcase that heats up to kill bed bugs, and the airline that wants passengers to start checking in with their thumbprints.  Two-day Trans-Siberian Riding the Trans-Siberian Railway is one of the world’s…

Vietnam by the night train: Ho Chi Minh to Hanoi
Vietnam by the night train: Ho Chi Minh to Hanoi

If you want to take a leisurely tour of the coastline between Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, the night train is the best way: you’ll travel as you sleep, leaving days free for exploring, and save money on hotel bills. Join Rough Guides writer Heidi Fuller-Love on her Vietnam railways adventure. Known as the…

Incredible photos of the world’s rarest tribes
Incredible photos of the world’s rarest tribes

There are places in the world where little sign of western development exists, but it still threatens to change traditions and beliefs forever. Jimmy Nelson found and documented 31 of these traditional isolated communities in his quest to photograph the “purity of humanity”.  “I wanted to witness their time-honoured traditions, join in their rituals and…

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…

Things to do in Phnom Penh, the underrated capital
Things to do in Phnom Penh, the underrated capital

Many people seem to skip the Cambodian capital and head straight for Siem Reap, fearing Phnom Penh to be a dangerous and uninteresting city. However, on a recent trip to Southeast Asia’s “unpopular capital”, Meera Dattani discovered all that the city has to offer and has concluded that, while its underrated and understated, Phnom Penh…

The best places to go in spring
The best places to go in spring

From the shores of Morocco’s Atlantic coast to the post-Mardi Gras partying in New Orleans, our editors give you their picks for the best places to go in spring time: Cornwall, England Becca Hallett, Editorial Assistant: Cornwall has plenty of activities to help burn off all the delicious seasonal food available, like a wander among…

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…

Great rivers of the world – China’s Yellow River
Great rivers of the world – China’s Yellow River

The Yellow River, or Huang He, is the second longest river in China stretching almost 5500km through nine provinces, making it the sixth longest river in the world. Its nickname, the “Mother River”, is apt as these snaking waters have sustained Chinese civilizations since ancient times. There is an abundance of sights, sounds and smells to experience along the Yellow River’s course, from the thousand-year-old Xiaoji mountainside statues in Bingling, to the collection of…

Arrivals: a travel news round up (Oct 10th)
Arrivals: a travel news round up (Oct 10th)

Rough Guides writer Steve Vickers casts an eye over the big travel topics and unpicks the top stories of the week. First route to the Philippines since 1998 Philippine Airlines is about to open a new route from the UK. The flights, from London Heathrow to Manila, will be the first direct link between the UK…

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…

The world’s most honest cities
The world’s most honest cities

Losing your wallet or purse while travelling is often a painstaking mistake. We keep so much of our lives in there: cash, plastic, drivers’ licence, ID cards. When all of those things go missing together, it can be a costly process to get them back. If you’re prone to losing your wallet, dropping things or…

The best boutique hotels on a budget, Sri Lanka
The best boutique hotels on a budget, Sri Lanka

If you’re looking for a stylish holiday without maxing the plastic, Sri Lanka has a burgeoning number of chic, affordable hotels and B&Bs. Here are some our favourite boutique hotels in Sri Lanka: Casa Heliconia, Kaleliya The new highway from the airport to Colombo makes accessing this idyllic country retreat easier than ever; it takes just…

28 interesting facts about India
28 interesting facts about India

Over 1.1 billion people live in India, from the deserts of Rajasthan and the blissful beaches of Goa, to the Keralan tea plantations and the metropolitan cities of Mumbai and Kolkata. With such a huge diversity of landscapes, religion and culture, India is a fascinating place to visit. Learn a little more about this enormous…

Affordable luxury, Malaysia
Affordable luxury, Malaysia

A backpackers’ paradise, Malaysia is known for being one of Southeast Asia’s cheapest destinations. But that doesn’t mean staying in hostels and dorms; luxury in Malaysia comes with a pleasantly small price tag. While researching the upcoming Rough Guide to Southeast Asia on a Budget, Kiki Deere went in search of the best luxury hotels…

The street-side delights of George Town, Malaysia
The street-side delights of George Town, Malaysia

Kiki Deere takes a stroll around George Town to explore the Penang street art scene and sample the city’s amazingly multicultural street food. I awake early and take a stroll around the city’s quaint alleyways. At this time of the morning, a peaceful silence envelops the streets. The musical song of the 5am call to…

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…

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…

The best places to visit in June
The best places to visit in June

Whether you’re after beaches, culture or countryside, June’s glorious weather and long days make it the perfect month to travel in Europe. Elsewhere, wildlife enthusiasts can spot whales in Iceland or bears in Yellowstone, while the World Cup will be in full swing in Brazil. In a bumper round-up, Helen Abramson and Eleanor Aldridge run…

10 eye-opening underwater videos
10 eye-opening underwater videos

The oceans cover over seventy percent of the Earth’s surface, yet when it comes to travelling most of us stick to dry land. It’s a shame, as there are some amazing experiences to be had underwater – from swimming with whale sharks to diving around World War II wrecks. Thanks to advances in camera technology,…

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