We know that travellers are always looking for that hidden gem, that ultimate experience, those special moments that make a holiday an adventure. And as Asia travel experts, we are continuously looking for those lesser-travelled destinations also. Here you’ll find our pick of the best, where we have found that concealed noodle shop or walked those hilly mountain tops to share with you our ultimate experiences that’ll take you off the beaten path in 2017.
#1 Walk through the Jiuzhaigou National Park, China
Jiuzhaigou National Park, also known as the Nine Villages Valley, is one of China’s greatest natural assets (along with Wendy’s favourite place to visit). A walk through this stunning national park will take you through traditional Tibetan villages and past crystal clear pools (pictured above) reflecting the snow-capped mountains that surround the valley.
Take me there: Yunnan & Sichuan
#2 Stay with the locals in Karakol, Kyrgyzstan
On the road to Samarkand, stop off in Karakol and spend the night at a local homestay. Soak up the surroundings, play football with the kids in the street, wander through the market, or simply sit with the locals and sip on a hot tea whilst watching the world go by. Here the locals are still unaccustomed to seeing westerners, so expect a curious yet charming welcome.
Take me there: Road to Samarkand
#3 Witness the Mongolian Naadam Festival
Locally, the festival is known as “eriin gurvan naadam”, meaning “the three games of men”, which accurately describes the annual festival where the men of Mongolia take part in Mongolian wrestling, horse racing and archery.
Take me there: Mongolia & the Naadam Festival
#4 Spend an evening among monks, Japan
Stay overnight in a shukubo (Buddhist temple lodge) in Koyasan, Japan. Spend the evening relaxing and reflecting in a traditional onsen (hot spring bath), then awake in the morning to the sounds of chanting monks. You will enjoy the peacefulness and serenity that comes with stepping off the beaten path.
Take me there: Discover Japan
#5 Explore the bizarre Plain of Jars, Laos
Giant stone jars are scattered across the plains surrounding Phonsavan, Laos. With an unknown origin and mysterious history, many ask the question, how did they get there? Were they made to brew large quantities of rice wine or use as kilns, no one knows, but they are worth a visit.
Take me there: Highlights of Laos
#6 Take a bullock cart in Rajasthan, India
A bullock cart is one of rural India’s most popular means of transportation. Climb aboard the cart which is pulled by oxen, and travel just as the Rajasthani people do. You might be hard pushed to find another tourist taking a bullock cart around Rajasthan.
Take me there: Vibrant India
#7 Witness a spiritual Puja Ceremony, Sri Lanka
The Nallur Kandaswamy Kovil Temple in Jaffna is one of the most significant Hindu religious complexes in Sri Lanka. Witness locals making offerings to its sacred deity, Murugan, in a spiritual Puja ceremony.
Take me there: Add a Jaffna extension to any Sri Lanka tour, just speak to our reservations team for details
#8 Take a hike through the rice terraces of Sapa, Vietnam
Northern Vietnam conjures up images of lush green mountains and traditional Vietnamese hill tribes. Take a hike through the spectacular valleys and make sure you have your camera ready!
Take me there: Vietnam Trails
#9 Play Mahjong with locals in Beijing, China
Mahjong is a traditional Chinese game that you will find locals playing across Beijing, on street corners, in laneways or in parks. Have a chat, pull up a stool and have a go, we can’t guarantee that you will beat them though.
Take me there: Magnificent China
#10 Stare in awe at the towering Himalayan Mountains, Pokhara, Nepal
So this one might not be off too far from the usual tourist trail, but we think it’s well worth the visit…Pokhara sits on the banks of Phewa Lake, surrounded by the stunning Annapurna and Manaslu ranges of the mighty Himalayas. The lake provides the perfect mirror, reflecting the surrounding towering mountains and spectacular scenery.
Take me there: Himalayan Adventure