Features // Asia

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,…

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…

Skiing on the slopes of Kyrgyzstan
Skiing on the slopes of Kyrgyzstan

In search of some adrenaline-filled activity in Central Asia, Rough Guides writer Kiki Deere makes a somewhat brave attempt at skiing in Kyrgyzstan. A short stout man with oriental features hands me a timeworn snowboard that is clearly too short for my height. It just about reaches my chest. I know I can’t be too…

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…

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…

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…

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
The best places to visit in January
The best places to visit in January

January doesn’t have to be that depressing, post-Christmas comedown month we’re all used to. There’s so much going on across the world, so whether it’s celebrating Australia Day in the sunshine or bagging bargains at the January sales in London, there are plenty of ways to banish those post-holiday blues. Here are our top places…

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…

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…

Ten great literary journeys
Ten great literary journeys

From India to Italy to the USA, whether it’s fiction or non-fiction, we’ve all travelled the world at some point in time through the captivating words of our favourite novels. Some will take you into the depths of the African jungles, and others plonk you right in the middle of the wide, empty ocean. It’s…

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…

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…

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…

Indian visas, Bitcoin, cheaper roaming – this week’s travel news
Indian visas, Bitcoin, cheaper roaming – this week’s travel news

Rough Guides writer Steve Vickers casts an eye over the big travel news topics and unpicks the top stories of the week. Indian visas could get easier India could be about to its expand its visa on arrival scheme to visitors from around 40 additional countries, including the UK. As it stands, tourists from less…

On the road in Panjshir, Afghanistan
On the road in Panjshir, Afghanistan

While working for an NGO in Kabul, British expat Marc Perry went to explore the precipitous Panjishir valley in northeastern Afghanistan. It had been my dream to visit Panjshir ever since I’d arrived in Afghanistan. Historically a geographic safe haven slicing through the Hindu Kush from Afghanistan to Tajikistan, this craggy, high-altitude valley is the…

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…

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…

Travel News: a tourist pop group & portable hotel
Travel News: a tourist pop group & portable hotel

Rough Guides writer Steve Vickers gets you up to speed with the latest travel news, including business-only flights to the USA and portable Nordic hotel rooms.  New airline is strictly business Fed up with flying cattle class? Well a brand new airline is about to start running business-only flights to New York. And for now,…

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…

Motorbiking from Australia to Estonia
Motorbiking from Australia to Estonia

After motorcycling from Australia to Istanbul, Kickstarter-funded traveller Tyson Cable told Lottie Gross about his exploits around the world on two wheels.  Over a crackly line from his hotel room in Istanbul, Tyson Cable introduced himself to me as a traveller first and foremost, and a photographer second. He is the creator of the Adventure…

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 friendliest countries in the world
The friendliest countries in the world

Whether it’s a smile exchanged with a stranger, a quick chat with a tuk-tuk driver or a night out on the town with a group of newly made friends, interactions with local people often shape our view of a whole country. So which places offer tourists the warmest welcome? This list counts down the friendliest countries…

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,…

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…

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…

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…

The best photography on Picfair: urban scenes
The best photography on Picfair: urban scenes

This month’s Picfair travel photography round up takes a look at some of their best urban shots. From London and New York to Shanghai and Delhi, we’ve picked our favourite images of the world’s sprawling metropolises. Next month’s theme is ‘winter’, so sign up to Picfair and upload your images, tagged with RGwinter, for a chance to…

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 –…

Our favourite islands in the Philippines
Our favourite islands in the Philippines

Graced by dazzling beaches, year-round sun and numerous opportunities for diving, island-hopping and surfing, the Philippines has long attracted a steady stream of foreign visitors. Yet there’s far more to these islands than sand and snorkelling. These are a few of our favourite islands in the Philippines. Olango Island Five kilometres east of Mactan Island,…

Tamil Nadu: discover the Hindu Heartlands
Tamil Nadu: discover the Hindu Heartlands

Longstanding author of the Rough Guide to India, Nick Edwards explains why Tamil Nadu encapsulates the essence of South India and is a worthy alternative to more touristic Kerala. Despite having a long meandering border with Kerala that threads its way along the Western Ghats, Tamil Nadu has never seen the same number of foreign…

Diving with the wow factor: the Raja Ampat islands
Diving with the wow factor: the Raja Ampat islands

During ten days living on a boat, drifting around the Raja Ampat islands, Andy Turner finds more than just a diver’s playground in Indonesian West Papua.   “Ladies and gentlemen we have begun our descent to Sorong”. Flicking up the airline window blind I’m greeted with an almost comical vision of paradise. Pink candyfloss clouds…

Tokyo’s tiniest drinking dens: a guide to Golden Gai
Tokyo’s tiniest drinking dens: a guide to Golden Gai

Shinjuku, Tokyo, is known for skyscrapers, seedy nightlife, suited businessmen and a time-warped tumble of bars called Golden Gai. This perennial haunt of Tokyo’s salarymen has been getting a lot more international attention lately – and for good reason. While the city offers an endless range of flashy, neon-drenched clubs, bars and lounges, arguably only…

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…

10 of the best GoPro videos
10 of the best GoPro videos

Since GoPro was founded in 2004, they’ve inspired photographers to capture the world from a new angle. Today there’s a huge range of small and versatile waterproof cameras on the market, which can be remote controlled and mounted on everything from surfboards to guitars, and the scope for invention is endless. There’s enough footage out there…

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…

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.…

Quirky Tokyo: the top 10 things to do
Quirky Tokyo: the top 10 things to do

With its sushi and sumo, pop culture and age-old tradition, serene gardens and traffic hell, Tokyo bombards the senses like no other city. Ordered yet bewildering, Japan’s pulsating capital will lead you a merry dance – but being lost has never been so much fun. The planet’s largest metropolis is Asia at its weirdest, straightest,…

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.…

Why Myanmar (Burma) is a travel photographer’s dream
Why Myanmar (Burma) is a travel photographer’s dream

Having visited Myanmar (Burma) a number of times since 2004, travel photographer Stephen Studd says it’s one of the best places he’s photographed in years. In this video he explains why Burma is so photogenic, and shares his travel photography tips below. Stephen’s top tips for travel photography Owner and tour leader of Digital Photography…

Roughing it by container ship from Athens to Hong Kong
Roughing it by container ship from Athens to Hong Kong

Rebecca Hall takes the long way round: thirty seven days from Athens to Hong Kong via ports in Italy & Spain by container ship. “You’ll certainly have to lock your cabin door at night.” “You’ll have to sleep in a container like refugees do.” “And you’ll probably get taken hostage.” These are a selection of…

9 of the world’s best white­water rafting spots
9 of the world’s best white­water rafting spots

Rough Guides’ adventure sports expert Helen Abramson gives us her top tips on some of the world’s best adrenalin­-pumping whitewater rafting. Rapids are classified from I–VI, where grade VI is “un-runnable”, so the Grade V rivers listed here are essentially as thrilling as it gets. 1. Zambezi River, Zimbabwe Africa’s most exhilarating rafting is found on…

7 reasons to visit Battambang, Cambodia
7 reasons to visit Battambang, Cambodia

Olivia Rawes tells us why the city of Battambang, Cambodia, should be an essential stop on any southeast Asian itinerary. Battambang is often overlooked. It lacks the obvious Cambodian trump cards: no golden beaches, no capital city buzz, no Angkor Wat. But then neither does it suffer from congested traffic, coach loads of tourists, or…

The best beaches in India
The best beaches in India

With 7500 kilometres of coastline to explore, good beaches in India aren’t hard to come by. From the party sands of Goa to the bustle of Marine Drive in Mumbai, here are some of the best beaches in India.  Chakratirth Beach, Gujarat The larger Chakratirth Beach, overlooked by a high bound, is a little to…

Travel news: ninja bus tours and Burmese visas
Travel news: ninja bus tours and Burmese visas

Heated sleighs, bag-tracking apps, Burmese visas and ninja-themed bus tours: Steve Vickers gets you up to speed with the latest travel news. An iBeacon in your bag You know that thing at the airport where you’re waiting to get your bag off the luggage belt, and the whole thing is surrounded by so many other…

Shipwreck diving in Bali, Indonesia
Shipwreck diving in Bali, Indonesia

While researching the Rough Guide to Bali & Lombok, Jeroen van Marle took some time out to explore an underwater shipwreck in east Bali. We waded into the warm sea from the black sand beach, slipped on our flippers, did a last safety check and then dived down. Our dive master Wayan had only led our small group of…

The unexpected highlights of northwest Pakistan
The unexpected highlights of northwest Pakistan

Returning to her Pakistani roots, Riazat Butt visits her home country as a tourist and discovers the unexpected highlights of Pakistan’s northwest. It takes four buckets of water and half a bottle of shampoo to wash the Hindu Kush out of my hair. I’ve come from Chitral, across the icy and rugged wilderness of the…

Thailand: 10 tips for first-time travellers
Thailand: 10 tips for first-time travellers

Thailand remains one of the first ports of call for first-time backpackers. But don’t be fooled – though travelling here means following a well-beaten tourist trail, there’s no denying that this beguiling country can take a while to get to grips with. To make sure you hit the ground running on your first visit, follow…

23 fascinating facts about China
23 fascinating facts about China

With a civilisation spanning over 5000 years and a land area of 9,600,000 square kilometres, China certainly packs a punch. From the sweeping vistas of Mount Sanqingshan National Park to the sprawling cities of Beijing and Shanghai, it makes for an unforgettable eastern experience. Why not begin your oriental odyssey by checking out these fun facts…

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