From essential experiences to can't-miss destinations, we've partnered with Qantas to bring you an incredible travel tale each month.
As far as regions go, Asia is the unrivalled best for incredible experiences that you just can’t get anywhere else. To celebrate the diversity, magic, adventure and wonder of this amazing part of the world, we’re dishing up 20 of the most unique, original and wild experiences that we love the most.
#1 The Incredible History
In a world rich with tales and myths, of fallen empires, kingdoms and eras, it’s in Asia that you find some of the most incredible of all. From the dynasties of China, to the Golden Ages of ancient India, to the periods of Japan and kingdoms of medieval Thailand, it’s so easy to lose yourself in the temples, artefacts and lingering historical amazingness of this ultra diverse and exciting part of the planet. For history buffs, Asia is the main event.
#2 The Weather
Sure, it might get a little wet between October and December (and right through to Feb if you’re in Borneo), but Asia is nothing if not pleasantly balmy. Straddling the equator, the vast bulk of the region (especially the South East) dishes up a guaranteed 30 degrees year round.
#3 Coconut Water Is Everywhere
Who doesn’t love an abundance of cold, fresh, hydrating coconut water direct from the tree? You’ll find coconut water everywhere in Asia: at street stalls, in supermarkets, at road stops. It’s pure, it’s delicious and there’s a never-ending supply.
#4 Hopping Islands In Palawan
For that ultimate mix of beauty, tranquillity and adventure, there’s nothing quite like the Philippine islands. Of all the stunning choices, Palawan is a must. With its crystal clear waters and whitest of white sands, Palawan and its neighbouring island are absolutely heaven on earth. Amanpulo on nearby Pamalican Island tops the list: a prime, off the grid go-to for Hollywood A-listers, including Tom Cruise, Brad and Angelina, Beyoncé, et al. (possibly the most exclusive and spectacular stretch of land in the world).
#5 The Dragons At Komodo Island
While you’ll need to head through Middle Earth to the Great Hall of Thráin to find dragons of the fire breathing type, if you’re looking for a more earthly dragon experience, you’ll find it at Komodo Island. The Komodo dragon is one of the rarest and most incredible creatures in the world, and over 3000 of them live here in their world heritage protected Indonesian home.
Komodo National Park is located inside the Lesser Sunda Islands, and as well as its drawcard inhabitants, the area’s perfect clear blue waters, wild mountain peaks and amazing weather make for one truly spectacular experience.
#6 The Lights Of Yi Ping And Loy Krathong
As we mentioned already, Thailand is choc full of year-round festivity, and Loy Krathong is another must-see. Held each year in the tranquil northern hub Chang Mai, Loy Krathong pays respects to the goddess of water, heralded by the famous Yi Ping festival of lights, where locals release thousands of candle-lit paper lanterns into the sky and over the waters of the nearby Ping River. The sight of a pristine November night with a sky lit by lanterns is an unforgettable one for the memory bank.
#7 The Energy
With an endless itinerary of epic cities and bustling metropolises, Asia’s energy is next level. Whether you’re moto-scooting through busy Ho Chi Min, to tuk-tukking around cosmopolitan Bangkok, or wandering the neon streets of Tokyo, Asia is peppered with so many amazing hubs to plug your sockets into and feel the rush.
#8 Two Words: Taj Mahal
Has anyone really ever witnessed a more spectacular human-made monument to love than the Taj Mahal? Perched on the bank of Agra’s Yamuna river, this ivory-white marble mausoleum was built in 1632 by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan to house the remains of his beloved. The sentiment of its original beauty still stands, without a doubt one of the most impressive and imposing feats of architecture, and a timeless Asian experience.
#9 The Happiness Of Bhutan
As the only nation on earth to have a ‘happiness index’ (and reputation as one of the happiest places in the world), the isolated kingdom of Bhutan is so much more than a novelty trip. In short: it’s nothing short of spectacular. And while your visit will incur a daily government-enforced tariff of $330 ($250USD) per traveller, you’ll be covered for pretty much everything along the way: tour company costs, accommodation, guides, vehicles, meals, entrance fees and beyond.
Keeping tabs of its tourist flow is what makes Bhutan such a unique, and pleasantly uncrowded experiences, and its incredible scenes of steep ravines, dense woods, monasteries and monks can’t help but captivate.
#10 The Markets
Hand in hand with the food, the markets in Asia are some of the most epic on earth. But of course, Asian markets aren’t just the edible type – as well as the sights and smells of fresh regional produce, you can find and buy almost anything at an Asian market, from clothes to toiletries, new phones and more.
Markets are community lifeblood to locals throughout Asia, and the people watching is all part of the fun. Check out Tokyo’s Tsukuji Fish market, Bangkok’s Chatuchak Weekend Market, Hong Kong’s Temple Street Night Market, KL’s Jalan Alor Street Food Market, and Ho Chi Minh’s Ky Hoa for some of the brightest and most bustling.
#11 The Nightlife
Whether you’re partying ’til the wee hours on a remote Thai island, working a sweat in a Hong Kong club, or getting your groove on in a Vientiane karaoke den, Asia gives up the goods when it comes to nightlife. From bashes on the beach to all night city parties, the bars, clubs and festival atmosphere in this part of the world dishes up massive amounts of fun, night after night.
#12 The Food
For budding foodies, Asia is an endless flavour explosion. From the sushi and street food of Tokyo and Osaka; the hawker cuisine of Kuala Lumpur and Penang; the sizzling sensations of Szechuan; the dumplings of Hong Kong; the bibimbap and bulgogi of Seoul; and the market plates of Bangkok and Chang Mai, the diversity of Asia’s cuisine is an absolute world topper. Forget everything else on this list – the insanely delicious food is the only reason you need to visit.
#13 Getting Wet At Songkran Water Festival
Thailand is turbo fun for so many reasons, but Songkran Water Festival rules the list. Celebrated each year on April 13 to herald the Thai New Year, Songkran is the world’s biggest water fight, where the whole country takes a day off work to hits the streets, party and pummel water at each other in a mass symbol of cleansing and renewal. Be one of the half a million tourists to get soaked and join in the fun.
#14 Adventure Tourism
Asia has seen a monumental boom in adventure tourism in recent years, and it’s not hard to see why. Blessed with amazingly diverse landscapes, from majestic mountains, to epic forests, to pristine coastline, the region is 100 per cent built for adventure action. Whether hiking, climbing, cycling, kayaking, scuba diving, sailing, surfing, or zip-lining is your bag, you name it: Asia’s the place for it.
#15 The Kindness Of Strangers
Ask anyone who’s ever travelled through Asia and they’ll tell you that one of the best things they found along the way was the people. Asian locals are some of the kindest-hearted, friendliest and most interesting in the world, and more often than not you’ll find that they love to share their culture and stories with friendly budding interlopers. Pull out some smiles and go make some friends.
#16 Abundant Tropical Paradise
Amidst all of Asia’s amazing natural diversity, it’s the tropical island paradise that keeps us salivating: those stunning white sands and crystal blue waters that never let up. Malaysia’s Perhentian Islands, Cambodia’s Koh Rong, Vietnam’s Cát Bà Island, Japan’s Akajima, South Korea’s Jeju, Indonesia’s Mentawai and Philippines El Nido can’t help but captivate our hearts in perpetuity.
#17 The Spiritual Architecture
A spiritually and culturally rich region, one of the biggest Asian drawcards is its monumental array of spiritual relics. Whether you’re temple hopping through ancient Angkor Wat, marvelling at the cave temples of Dambulla, China’s Leshan Giant Buddha, the golden temple of India’s Harmandir Sahib, or the 9th Century temples of Java’s Borobudur, this region is a tour de force of stunning sacred sites that can’t help but leave you equal parts enlightened and awestruck.
#18 Wandering Through Sagano Bamboo Forest
You’ve seen the pictures, you know the scene: that mesmerising grove of epic bamboo stalks on the edges of Japan’s Kyoto – a bucket list moment if ever there was one.
The rustling sound of wind passing through Sagano Bamboo Forest is one of the most zen experiences you’ll ever have, and though you’ll probably be fending off a few fellow visitors for a dose of tranquillity, Sagano is a heavenly moment that can’t be missed.
#19 Furry friends
As well as friendly human locals, you’ll comes across a bunch of equally friendly animal pals on your trip through Asia that you probably don’t get to hang out with at home. Think elephants, orang-utans, proboscis monkeys, komodo dragons, pandas, snow leopards, tapirs and tigers just to name a few. In short: an animal lover’s paradise.
#20 The High Life
Did you know that Asia is home to seven of the world’s tallest skyscrapers? From the Shanghai Tower to Seoul’s Lotte World Tower, to the soaring heights of Taipei 101, Asia’s the place to revel in the panoramic high life.