Tourism and Asia go hand in hand, each Asian country is exotic and proudly exhibits the culture which varies from country to country, and in some cases from town to town as well. While the tourism industry in Asia is booming, there are still some regions which are off the beaten path. These places are less touristy because they aren’t as popular as the other Asian places. Southeast Asia especially has become a hub for tourism, and finding places that still remain unspoiled and has escaped the notice of the regular horde of tourists.
It is a travellers Mecca with millions of holiday makers flocking to the shores of Southeast Asian countries every day. But somehow, despite the influx of tourists, there are still a few places that don’t need beach bars, nightclubs and fancy restaurants to lure in people looking to spend time in some of these amazing, untouched bits of heaven on earth.
Most people wouldn’t even have heard of these places, let alone know their names. These are strictly for the adventurers, solo travellers doing some soul searching or exploring, so you wouldn't have heard the names of these destinations tossed around at dinner parties all that often.
Asia has some hidden treasures that range from beaches, villages to remote islands with very artistic neighbourhoods that have been hidden from the roving eye of the tourists so far. And if you’re the exploring type who is yearning to explore these unexplored bits of Asia, head over to any of these 5 destinations.
Koh Rong also known as Koh Rong Cambodia Island Khmer, or Kos Rong is 2nd largest among Cambodian islands. With just four villages and a dozen or so guesthouses, this island is almost unknown among the regular holidayer. Why though, we’ll never understand because this island is home to some of the nicest beaches in the world. Though the villages seem deserted with dirt roads that are rough and unpaved (trust us, you’re lucky to have these as they’re a recent development), absolutely no cars or traffic, it is far from being a deserted island.
And moreover, Koh Rong is surrounded by jungles and the most beautiful part is that it undergoes a magical transformation at night, the beach comes alive sparkling as if the water is studded with millions of sapphires, because of the bioluminescent planktons in the water.
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Koh Rong with its simplicity, stunning beaches, green tropical forests providing the perfect backdrop, beautiful coral reefs and marine life will definitely put to shame all those other places you have been frequenting with the crowds. While you might not be the only person over there anymore, Koh Rong has been discovered by the hordes, it still is one of the best offbeat destinations in Southeast Asia. There are a lot more fancy resorts and noisy parties than earlier, but it still has a lot of beaches that the parting crowd leaves alone.
And even with some distinct accommodation like funky beach huts, bungalows, villas, luxury hotels and even an upcoming private eco-resort Koh Rong remains a stunning island that still lets you experience the idyllic life, without the constant intrusion and blare of modernity.
Deep in the Khasi Hills district of Meghalaya, India, lies the village of Mawlynnong that will leave you agape with the stunning vistas it commands. The Khasi hills district is renowned for its standards of cleanliness, and scenic beauty and Mawlynnong is no exception to this rule.
This undiscovered jewel in the Northeast of India is a mere 90 kilometres from Shillong, along the border of India and Bangladesh. This tiny little village is also the recipient of the prestigious tag of 'Cleanest Village in Asia' which was awarded by Discover India Magazine in 2013. Tourists have been flocking to Mawlynnong like bees to honey ever since, but you’ll still find that little has changed in this village and it still remains clean, beautiful and peaceful. Now you’ll find a few guest houses operated by the locals where you can stay and be a part of life in this charming village, or spend the day here and get back to Shillong.
A must see when you are in Mawlynnong is the marvel of the bridges constructed by manipulating living roots in Riwai Village, this unique bio-engineering achievement of the Khasi tribe will leave you astonished and inspired. Enjoy your stay in Mawlynnong by climbing the bamboo watchtowers to take in panoramic views of the beautiful blue skies. Revel in this life where you’re up and close with nature, wander around the rustic forest trails which are peppered with exotic orchid blooms on the trees, and lose yourself as you bond with Mother Nature in the raw beauty of North Eastern India.
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East Timor or Timor-Leste which is officially known as the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste is now a sovereign nation nestled away at the end of the Coral Triangle in Maritime Southeast Asia. It was a Portuguese colony known as Portuguese Timor until it gained its independence on 28 November 1975.
For the explorer and the intrepid traveller, you’ll find it to be a magical land filled with beaches and some incredible opportunities for scuba diving. A visit to Cristo Rei of Dili, the most dramatic landmark in Dili which is a 30-metre-high statue of Jesus standing on the globe atop a hill which from afar, bears a striking resemblance to Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, is a definite must.
The calories you burn in climbing the 588 steps to see this marvel can be replenished with breakfast by the bay. Or go to the remote mountain village of Bobonaro to get some stunning views of the glittering sea below and sink into the depths of the sulphuric waters of the Morobo hot springs, set in the midst of the ruins of an old Portuguese bathhouse with dramatic views within a prehistoric volcanic crater. This is one land where you won’t find many tourists and is definitely on the off the beaten path. Please note that Timor-Leste is one country in Asia that still issues a visa on-arrival.
Inle Lake in Myanmar is definitely on the average tourist’s radar, but most of these average tourists’ stick to puttering around the northern reaches of the lake on a guided boat tour.
Now for the one’s looking to avoid the crowds, you’ll need to come across a boatman willing to take you as far south as you can go, when you get closer to the “Permit Zone” you will have bypassed all these pleasure seekers on the northern side, and you’ll see fewer travellers mostly like yourself and looking for more authentic experiences.
It may cost you a few extra bucks to get down to this unexplored part of the lake, but that is money well spent because the villages are untouched, and unspoilt by the crowds with beautiful monasteries that are peacefully empty. The best way to look around is to rent a bicycle and bike around the lake; stop off at a winery and get something to drink, meet the local fishermen and chat with them about the day’s catch and just enjoy life’s slow pace that can only be found in the southern part of the lake. And if you plan on staying a bit longer, live like the locals then you’ll find accommodation options around the town of Nyaung Shwe.
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Don Khong Island is not as unknown as you’d like to believe, but you don’t have to worry because it’s just on the trail leading to the more popular neighbouring island of Don Det. In the 4 Thousand Islands region of Southern Laos, Don Khong is a little piece of hidden calm in the deluge of tourists forcing their way up from Thailand.
If you don’t like huge crowds and noisy parties, then avoid the backwater haven called Don Det which is tourist central and stay behind on Don Khong.
Rent a bike and explore this small island where life moves slowly, you’ll find picturesque small villages populated by kind and inquisitive locals who will give you a glimpse into the real culture of Laos, something you’ll have to head far North past Luang Prabang to experience again.
A sunset boat ride on the river comes highly recommended. You will have to stay in the lethargic town of Muang Khong and take the bridge over to Don Khong to cycle and explore. Don Khong isn’t an island where you’ll find bars, waterfalls or restaurants serving pancakes or fine wine; instead it’s an island made for relaxing. A few sights that you can take in while you’re here are: Khong District Museum, a two-story colonial house built in 1935 and also called Sathanavoudthi “Garden of Eden” by the family or “the Brick House” by villagers which served as the home of the 11th governor Kou Abhay..
These 5 absolutely beautiful places are perfect for those looking to get away from the regular tourist hotspots and explore destinations that are yet unknown. While these are not completely unknown among the tourist circle (they are on the internet, after all), they’re still given a wide berth by those tourists and still remain peaceful. But these will not remain unexplored for long; remember how Koh Rong in the space of a few years went from having no tourists at all, to having resorts and hotels sprout like mushrooms across the landscape? So you need to hurry before these unspoilt bits of paradise on Earth goes on to become one of those tourist hotspots that you want to avoid. And a final word of caution, travelling to unexplored places can involve dangers, so it’s better to go prepared and stay safe.
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