Off the Beaten Track in Asia
It is incredibly difficult to come up with a list of 10 must-see places in Asia, given the entire vastness of this continent. From the landscape to the climate, the languages and the cultures, the variations are huge. Add the long history that has been recorded in many of the Asian countries, and your head will be full of information from every trip. Still, if you would like a taste of history, culture, and landscape, here are some places you can start with that are not the usual tourist traps.
Back in its heyday, this was the center of thousands of Buddhist temples. Built around the 12th century, visitors to Bagan can still see what remains of the 13,000 temples that used to stand around. Visitors should pack very comfortable footwear as they will spend days exploring these old sites.
Many people tend to forget that Asia stretches to the West, all the way to some former USSR nations like Armenia. It is, however, an unknown tourist destination that should be on everyone’s list, especially if you love the arts. A prominent art museum (The Cafesiian Center for the Arts) dominates the center of the city and contains a lot of local artwork as well.
Yungang Grottoes, China
A few kilometers outside Datong in the Shanxi Province, this place contains a total of 53 caves where 51,000 stone statues can be found. Interestingly, these caves are man-made, which began construction in year 450 under the Northern Wei Dynasty. Walking inside, tourists will be wowed by the giant Buddha figures and the delicate carvings on the walls and ceilings.
Another city in the west, this is an ancient city that has been a part of the Silk Road for many thousands of years. Busy and diverse bazaar stalls contain spices and silk for sale, as it has been for many years.
Mountain lovers and hikers will have their fill of mountains in Wuyishan. Beyond the peaks, though, guests can marvel at the Bend River snaking its way around the mountains. Hidden valleys and tea fields can also be discovered through hiking.
The Philippine islands bear a lot of scars from the Second World War. The island of Busuanga, under Japanese rule at the time, was bombed by the American Navy. At the time, Japanese vessels were buried under water. This is the dream destination for scuba divers, exploring the shipwrecks.
Jiuzhaigou Valley, China
The Jiuzhaigou Valley Nature Reserve looks like the perfect winter painting, with the beautiful peaks and lakes surrounded by forest. This is a perfect spot to watch birds or even the reclusive giant pandas.
This small island is located smack in the middle of the world’s most ecologically diverse marine habitat. In fact, this can quite easily be a diver’s paradise, and to preserve it, authorities limit the number of visitors allowed each day.
Gergeti Trinity Church, Georgia
The church itself pales in comparison to breathtaking Catholic churches, but its location makes it quite amazing. Because it is a bit high in the Caucasus Mountains, looking out of the church is quite spectacular, seeing even the glaciers found on the top of the Mount Kazbegi.
Similan Islands, Thailand
As far as pristine white sand beaches are concerned, it cannot get any better than in this isolated island covered by a tropical rainforest. It takes a few days and a lot of money to visit, but seeing it with your own eyes will help you understand why.