Looking to get off the beaten path? This list of hidden gems in Asia will inspire a holiday in places you probably never knew existed
There is no doubt: the Eiffel Tower is a majestic sight, as are the Colosseum in Rome and Statue of Liberty in New York City. But there are many “unsung heroes” of the (travel) world right here in Asia; we’re talking about obscure places only the locals know about and very few tourists to manoeuvre around. Our friends at TheLuxeNomad.com suggest where to go to break new ground in the upcoming long weekends in Singapore.
Pangong Tso Lake
Where: Ladakh, India
What: Situated in the Himalayan Mountain range between India and Tibet, the name Pagong Tso comes from the Tibetan language for long, narrow, enchanted lake. Indeed – a third of the lake lies in India, while two thirds of it in Tibet (so it’s technically a multi-national lake). The water of this saline lake is clear azure blue – you’d think you’re in Maldives instead!
Stay: If you’re going to India, don’t miss out on a night at Aman-i-khas in Rajasthan. You’ll get to take a ride a safari ride at the Ranthombore Wildlife Sanctuary!
Where: Sichuan, China
What: This nature reserve and national park, which stretches over 180,000 acres in a remote region of northern Sichuan, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its Tibetan villages (Jiuzhaigou translates to Nine Village Valley), multi-level waterfalls and colourful lakes. The Five Flower Lake’s turquoise water is so clear, you can even see the fallen tree trunks at the bottom of the lake.
Stay: Banyan Tree Lijang for its traditional ethnic vibes and backdrop of the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain.
Wadi Rum Protected Area
What: What a place to get your Indiana Jones on! Wadi Rum’s desert landscapes – the caverns, narrow gorges and massive cliffs — are so amazing, you have to see to believe. It’s a long shot, but you might just find some archaeological remains, too! To date, there are 25,000 rock carvings with 20,000 inscriptions on site which are believed to be the early development of the alphabet. There’s also evidence of 12,000 years of human habitation!
Stay: If you’re digging the dessert, make your way to Marrakech in Morocco to experience true luxury at Dar Sabra. They’ve got the best Moroccan spa treatments!
Where: Taichung, Taiwan
What: Grandpa Rainbow (real name Huang Yung-Fu) created this colourful site a few years ago, and continues painting the walls each day. Why he started this artistic endeavour isn’t clear; some say he started out of boredom, but we like the tale where Grandpa Rainbow decided to paint in order to save his village from being torn down by the government. Meet the man himself, who, as you’d expect, is incredibly cheerful and warm. Make a little donation (hey, he lives there by himself), and he’ll present you with a drawing.
Stay: Hotel Eclat Taipei for art pieces by Salvador Dali and Andy Warhol scattered around the hotel.
Where: Fethiye, Turkey
What: Hide out in your very private paradise. It takes just 45 minutes to walk around the island, during which you’ll be treated to sights like the remnants of a crusader castle (Sovalya was once the point of defence for the Knights of Rhodes, just so you know), pine trees, and a shimmering seashore. No roads, no vehicles, no worries! The island is also aromatically-pleasing with the scent of the woods and jasmine. We approve.
Stay: Georges Hotel Galata, a stylish boutique hotel in the heart of Istanbul’s chic cultural centre.
Where: Palawan, Phillipines
What: Rumour has it that San Vic, as it is fondly called by those who have already discovered this exotic haven, is the next IT destination for long stretches of white-sand beaches, perfect island-hopping, mountain-biking and waterfall-trekking. Development is still at the grassroots level, and this coastal and island community is something to watch out for. There’s also a secret beach called Emergency Point, with crystal blue waters and boulders as big as houses, and a 14.7 kilometre stretch of sand aptly called Long Beach.
Stay: The first eco-luxury 100% self-sustaining island resort in Coron, the Two Seasons Coron Island Resort & Spa.
Where: East Java, Indonesia
What: From an ariel view, what you’ll see is an elliptical arch constructed from white sand beaches, that strangely (and beautifully) resemble an egg. Trees are tightly lined up along the edges, and off the beach are seven tiny islands where locals live. The greenery here, like the Pandanus tree, is well worth exploring. Psst… it may look like it bears durian, but the Pandanus fruit isn’t edible.
Stay at: When in Java, book a few nights at MesaStila, which is set amidst a wonderful coffee plantation with scenic mountain and volcano views.
This article was brought to you by The Luxe Nomad, Asia’s leading hotel and villa booking portal featuring book-anytime Best Available Rates, flash sales, personalised editorial content, and celebrity “nomads on-the-go” such as Australian blogger Margaret Zhang and Taiwanese actor Godfrey Gao.