10 Places in Asia You Must Visit

Just when you thought you have travelled the entire continent of Asia, here are 10 places that you probably have never given a thought to.

1. Harbin, Heijongjiang Province, China

More than just the home to the first Club Med ski resort in Greater China, Harbin is also home to the largest natural park for wild Siberian tigers in the world with over 500 purebred Siberian tigers. Come right up close to black pumas, lynx, lions, herds of majestic tigers, and the very stunning white tigers.
For a certain price, you can choose to release live animals like chickens and ducks into the safari area of the park (while you're comfortably seated in a bus) and watch Discovery Channel happen right in front of your eyes.

2. Gili Meno, Lombok, Indonesia

It might be quite a trek to get to, but Gili Meno, the smallest of the three Gili Islands off the main island of Lombok has beaches you only once dreamt about. Picturesque turquoise waters, white sandy beaches, and hardly a person in sight. If that's not enough, put on a snorkel mask and find yourself swimming with turtles, swordfishes and other marine life that puts a five-star seafood buffet to shame.

3. Jaisalmer, India

The interminable bus journey to reach this dauntingly remote corner of India is amply rewarded by the spectacle of Jaisalmer's vast city wall, with its 99 circular turrets rising dramatically out of the Thar Desert. Once inside the Golden City, look for the havelis, the former mansion houses of rich merchants, with their glorious honeycomb balconies and lattice-work parapets. This is a place to lose yourself in twisting medieval streets, then explore beyond the surrounding sand dunes on a camel trek.

4. Bagan, Myanmar

After you've watched French filmmaker Luc Besson's The Lady, trace the steps of the Burmese Nobel laureate and pro-democracy figurehead Aung San Suu Kyi in her home country and see her people, and their land with your own eyes. Far from a luxurious holiday, a trip to Myanmar will make you realize how lucky you are to be able to live the way you are now. Bagan is an ancient city in the Mandalay Region of Burma and it is littered with stunning pagodas where little Burmese kids play hide-and-seek at. For an unparalleled view of the Bagan plain, you can take a hot air balloon ride at sunrise through a company called Balloons Over Bagan - do this at sunset and it'll be etched in your mind forever.

5. Nikko, Japan

Nikko is a long day trip from Tokyo, but possible if you take the shinkansen, or high-speed rail, which stops in Utsunomiya 35 km to the east. Set in the mountains, the town looks like the real life version of the village in Kung Fu Panda. Against a backdrop of mountains, stunning forests, and rocky, wooded, ravines with fast flowing streams, Nikko is home to some famous temples and shrines. The town essentially developed around the temples, the first said to have started in 766. Among the most famous are the Toshogu Shrine, founded in 1617, with its ornamental gate and Three Wise Monkeys. Besides the shrines and temples there is heaps of nature to be enjoyed and admired in Nikko: Lake Chuzenji and Kegon Falls, one of the three highest in Japan.

6. Plain of Jars, Laos

One of the most intriguing mysteries in Asia is the Plain of Jars. Hundreds of stone jars are scattered around the Phonsavan Plains in Las, and it is known as the ‘Jewel of the Mekong'.

According to local legend, these were celebratory jars used for carrying lao rice wine which was consumed after a battle won by the 6th century warrior king, Khun Jeuam. However, experts have yet to agree on the origin of these mysterious jars that weigh as much as 6 tons. Though many smaller jars have been stolen, there are still several hundred jars remaining.

7. Nilaveli Beach, Sri Lanka

Aside from bragging rights you get for going to a place once seemed to have been plagued by misfortune, including a brutal civil war between the Sinhalese-dominated government and a separatist Tamil group, Sri Lanka is likened to a "big tropical zoo" by The New York Times. Elephants, buffalos and other random animals roam about freely in the country and those looking for a respite from the heat can seek salvation from the stunning waters of Nilaveli Beach.

8. The Northwest Highlands, Hà Giang, Vietnam

The capital of one of Vietnam's poorest provinces, Hà Giang bears witness to material poverty that lies in stark contrast with its wealth of natural beauty. Hà Giang's scenery is not its only attraction: the town also serves as the gateway to the rugged Vn-Mèo Vac road, one of the country's most breathtaking journeys. Transportation to and around this city is painfully inconsistent, but you'll hardly notice the delays once you hit the stunning highway. In addition to those amazing mountain views, Hà Giang itself has begun working to become a major border crossing into southern China.

9. Jinshan Hot Springs, Taiwan

Jinshan means "Gold Mountain", which reflects on the gold-colored sulfur strewn about the area. The spring is potable as well as suitable for bathing, and is even claimed to be beneficial for those afflicted with skin ailments. Furthermore, the sulfur content is moderate, and is appealing to those who object to the rotten-egg odor present in other hot springs. Visitors can try the 40-year-old facilities in Huangjintang Spring in Wencuan Road, or go for the Jinshan Youth Activity Center in Cingnian Road, which can fit 500 people at any one time, the largest of its kind in Southeast Asia.

10. Sibu Island, Malaysia

It's hard to believe an island so beautiful could be so close to our sunny shores. Relatively uninhabited save for a handful of resorts, Sibu Island is a little slice of paradise, with nothing much else to do other than kick back with a cocktail and frolick in the clear waters.


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