Features // Asia

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…

The world’s best bars with a view
The world’s best bars with a view

Wondering where in the world you can get a gorgeous view served up with your cocktail? Not to worry – Hannah Lodge from BarChick.com has done the hard work for you, rounding up the world’s best bars with a view. Sky Bar, Bangkok Sky Bar is the highest open-air drinking establishment in the world, so…

10 great bars in Shanghai’s former French Concession
10 great bars in Shanghai’s former French Concession

The former French Concession in Puxi, Shanghai is one of the city’s most beautiful areas. With many streets shrouded by overhanging trees it can seem like a world away from the manic bustle that characterizes rest of the place and its 22 million inhabitants. Established in 1849 and handed over in 1943, many of the original French-style buildings…

Watching sumo wrestling in Japan
Watching sumo wrestling in Japan

People tend to laugh when I tell them that sumo wrestling is my favourite spectator sport. In its Japanese homeland it’s regarded as somewhat old-fashioned, with younger folk preferring to watch mixed martial arts. Abroad, the perception can be even worse; the generic assumption holds that it’s little more than fat blokes in nappies slapping…

Snapshot: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia highlights
Snapshot: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia highlights

Everything about Kuala Lumpur – widely known as KL – is a mash-up of cultures and styles. The earliest grand buildings are an eccentric fusing of influences from across the British Empire, now overshadowed by towering modern skyscrapers, and the people make up a fantastic diverse cultural scene, from Malay, to Chinese and Indian. It’s…

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…

Indian cooking in Kerala
Indian cooking in Kerala

In a four-day endeavour to master Indian cooking with her mother in south India, Lottie Gross learns so much more than just how to serve up the best masala… “You know why I call this a cooking holiday? Cooking for you, holiday for me!” Jacob laughs as he watches me squeeze out rice noodles through…

Touring Indian tea plantations in Kerala
Touring Indian tea plantations in Kerala

You can’t go anywhere in India without seeing men and women sipping on small cups of steaming Indian tea. From strong, black pure teas to spice-infused masala chai, Heidi Fuller-Love went to discover the best of Indian tea. The silhouettes of Fort Cochin’s giant Chinese fishing nets – as menacing as monsters from a Hollywood…

Things not to miss in Japan
Things not to miss in Japan

An archipelago of 6800 islands, the land of the rising sun has a wealth of landscapes to explore. There’s skiing, beach-bumming, and mountain climbing to be done, while thousands of temples and museums cast light on the history and culture of this fascinating country. Taken from the Rough Guide, here are 24 things to do…

The best places to visit in March
The best places to visit in March

Whether you fancy an Aussie music festival, a literary break in England or sake and sakura in Japan, March is an excellent month to travel. Spring breathes new life into the northern hemisphere, while riotous festivals take place everywhere from Ireland to Brazil. Here are our tips on the best places to visit in March. See…

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…

The world’s best speakeasies
The world’s best speakeasies

Why party with the masses when you can steal away with others in-the-know at an underground speakeasy, or find yourself a key to the best secret bar in the city? We know them all, but luckily for you, we’re not very good at keeping secrets; here is a BarChick rundown of the best places for…

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 best places to visit in February
The best places to visit in February

Dark, dreary and cold in Europe and North America, February often feels like a long drag before spring arrives. Yet it’s a fantastic time to travel. Warm, balmy weather and riotous carnivals beckon below the equator, while chillier climes should be embraced for snow-fuelled activities and unique wildlife watching opportunities. Here are our tips on…

Arrivals: the latest travel news
Arrivals: the latest travel news

Rough Guides writer Steve Vickers casts an eye over the big travel topics and unpicks some of the most unusual stories in the latest travel news. Turkey introduces e-visas for tourists If you’re travelling to Turkey later this year, you might have to do some forward planning. Tourists arriving in the country after 10th April…

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 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…

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…

7 useful pronunciation rules for travellers
7 useful pronunciation rules for travellers

During World War II, Dutch Resistance fighters exposed infiltrators by asking them to pronounce Scheveningen; with its two subtly different gutturals, it was a trick only native speakers could pull off. The stakes of course aren’t so high when you’re on holiday in a new place, but there is some satisfaction in not immediately revealing…

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…

Exploring the Banaue rice terraces, Philippines
Exploring the Banaue rice terraces, Philippines

The Banaue rice terraces were once a colourful collage of winding fields that clung onto a mountain-side in Ifugao province in the Philippines. After being almost completely abandoned by the locals, these plantations are now being revived as young farmers return to work on the paddies. While researching the new Rough Guide to the Philippines, Kiki…

Things not to miss in Vietnam
Things not to miss in Vietnam

From the chaotic motorbikes of Hanoi to the floating markets on the Mekong Delta, Vietnam is an ever popular backpacking destination. With great links by bus and rail across the entire country, it’s easy to tick off all of these amazing things to do in Vietnam: Music: Crossing the Valley by Huong Thanh, available on the Rough…

The best of Cambodia’s islands
The best of Cambodia’s islands

No less than sixty Cambodian islands dot the azure Gulf of Thailand. Easily accessible from Sihanoukville, Kep and Koh Kong, a growing number house rustic bungalows for overnight stays. They may not have roads, cashpoints or mains electricity, but this is a small price to pay for squeaky-white beaches, warm translucent seas and an escapist,…

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…

Sacred sounds and debaucherous drumming in Rajasthan
Sacred sounds and debaucherous drumming in Rajasthan

This is the second in a two part series where Georgie Pope, founder of Sound Travels tours, goes in search of the people and places that will make up her Great Rajasthani Adventure. You can read part one, where she meets the gypsies of Jaipur and a musical family in the village of Shimla, here.…

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…

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…

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…

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
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 –…

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…

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…

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,…

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.…

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…

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