It’s definitely no secret that Asia is perhaps the world’s most wondrous, beautiful and rewarding regions to explore. Not only that, it teeming with places yet to be discovered by the Lonely Planet crowd.
So instead of relying on the most popular hotspots to visit, why not head off the beaten track? Here are four of our favourite spots that’ll help you discover some of Asia’s most underrated destinations.
Steeped in Silk Road history and with prevalent Islamic and Tibetan influences, China’s Gansu is one of the most well-kept secrets of the country—and undeniably one of the most intriguing. With an abundance of natural beauty in the form of rolling hills, deserts and world heritage sites, to manmade wonder such as monasteries in the town of Langmusi, it’s certainly a place to visit if you’re an avid explorer.
Depending on what you’re looking for from your trip, Gansu offers a whole lot and then some. Sky burials are one of the weirder and more unique offerings, a Tibetan-style burial where vultures are said to carry one’s soul into the sky after passing. Not your thing? Consider hiking, biking or riding horseback through the city’s beautiful natural settings.
In fact, the sheer amount of things to do and see in Gansu suggests it should be one of China’s greatest exports—but, unaffected by tourism, it remains a low-key affair. Those who know no Chinese may find the city difficult to navigate, but for an escape from the bustle of the country, there isn’t a better choice.
When one thinks of Japan, their mind may immediately travel to the bustle and bright lights of Tokyo or the culturally rich centre of Kyoto, two massive cities that attract the majority of visitors. However, there’s plenty more to be discovered, and Appi is a perfect example of that. It’s a sprawling yet quiet ski resort set in the mountains of northern Japan, and is populated only with locals, so if you’re wanting an authentically Japanese experience, this is inarguably one of the most unique choices.
Skiing is a surprisingly fun choice for a getaway at any point of the year, and Appi is certainly a unique destination for it. If you’re done traversing the snowy mountains, the city of Hachinohe is less than an hour away.
Sure, Singapore isn’t exactly an undiscovered treasure—but in terms of tourism, it’s wildly underrated. Truth is, it’s one of Asia’s most developed, exciting and rewarding islands to visit. A harmonious blend of cultures and an abundance of history means the city-state has plenty for any kind of traveller, whether you want to uncover said history or simply enjoy its current state.
There are some things everyone should do in Singapore, though. Exploring the Gardens by the Bay is one of them—two huge greenhouses are home to some of the most exotic plants and foliage you’ll ever see, with sculptures, trees, waterfalls and more feats of natural beauty to be found here. It’s even better at night, where lights illuminate the setting in all different colours to make it even more magical.
And, some other must-see parts of Singapore include:
- Visiting Little India, a perfect example of the island’s cultural blend with temples, shops and food outlets that gives you an authentic taste of India without even having to go there;
- Heading out to Pulau Ubin, a quiet island off the coast of Singapore that is ruled by nature. It’s favoured by locals and tourists alike who want a break from the bustle of the main island, with its own unique ecosystem and wildlife to be observed;
- Living it up with Singapore’s incredible nightlife—its rooftop bars are arguably some of the world’s best, and they give you unparalleled views of the beautiful city below.
You may not realise it, but India actually has its fair share of beautiful beaches to be discovered. Kerala is where you’ll find some of them, a gorgeous city in its own right with unspoiled spots of nature, including the sprawling Periyar National Park with an abundance of wildlife, and Wayanad with towering mountains and rolling hills to hike (or simply observe if you’re wanting to relax).
Alongside this natural part of Kerala, there’s also a lot of history and culture to enjoy here. Fort Kochi has been shaped by cultures from all over the world, including British and Portuguese, the result a very unique area of Kerala with plenty of historical sites to explore. Elsewhere, Kannur often plays host to rituals that drive home the spirituality of India.