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Asia Bali Destinations Indonesia International Lifestyle Philippines Relaxation Thailand Vietnam

The Best Nature Destinations For a Relaxing Holiday In Asia

Asia — the largest continent on Earth. Spanning the uninhabited wilderness of Siberia to the lush tropical rainforests of Indonesia, Asia is a hotspot for nature lovers as it has a climate as diverse as its geographic features. It houses some of the most stunning natural phenomenons of the world, including one of the seven natural wonders — Mount Everest.

With no dearth of natural destinations to visit, it can be hard to decide on just one. We rounded up some of the best places to kick back and relax in within the expansive continent.

Phu Quoc, Vietnam

With powder soft beaches and clear, turquoise waters, Phu Quoc (pronounced ‘foo-kwok’) is a gorgeous tropical paradise. Comprising 28 uninhabited islands, Phu Quoc offers unspoilt, secluded stretches of quiet and calm, a welcome reprieve from the crowds at more popular beach destinations like Phuket, Thailand.

Marine enthusiasts would enjoy Phu Quoc for the diverse wildlife it offers in its crystalline waters, while avid hikers can look forward to silken waterfalls within the larger UNESCO-listed Kien Giang Biosphere Reserve. Eclectic bars and cafes line the beachfront alongside luxurious resorts and private guesthouses, catering to all kinds of budget preferences for each type of traveller.

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Ubud, Indonesia

Perhaps best known as the place where Elizabeth Gilbert gained spiritual self-actualisation in Eat, Pray, Love, Ubud is a popular cultural and natural hotspot in Indonesia. Perched on the remote highlands, Ubud is especially iconic for its cascade of emerald green rice terraces (Tegalalang Rice Terrace) and showcase of the very best of traditional Balinese culture.

With an easygoing and laidback atmosphere, Ubud is a place where it’s easy to lose track of time — a few days can easily turn into weeks and months, even years. For the ultimate experience, get on the mat at one of Ubud’s yoga retreats — you’ll leave feeling re-energized and rejuvenated in mind, body, and soul.

Arugam Bay, Sri Lanka

If you didn’t already know, Sri Lanka has a trove of secluded, sandy beaches, and Arugam Bay is one of them. Located on the East Coast, it’s far enough from the capital and other tourist attractions to be less popular with visiting travellers. With just a single main road running parallel to the beach, there’s not much to the village itself, other than lots of chilling.

Featuring a famed point break, Arugam Bay is a surfer’s paradise, and is regarded as the best surf spot in the country. If you’re not into surfing, you can laze on the beach like the rest of the sun-seekers, or chill at one of the beachside restaurants offering fresh-from-the-ocean seafood.

Koh Kood, Thailand

Just five hours from Bangkok lies this stunning island getaway — Koh Kood. As reported by The Guardian in 2014, it is “Thailand’s last unspoilt islands”. Because of its remoteness, it is the perfect escape from a bustling lifestyle, instead offering tranquility amid the most idyllic of beaches.

Home to a population of less than 2,000, coconut plantations, and sleepy fishing villages, you can expect the pace of life at Koh Kood to be slow and unassuming. Under the lull of waves lapping against the shore and the hypnotic swing of beachside hammocks, it provides the rare opportunity to gently unwind, and temporarily disconnect from the world.

Siquijor, Philippines

While the spiritual side of Siquijor continues to draw tourists in, nowadays, it is best known for its beautiful corals, white beaches and sparkling waterfalls.

Every night, hundreds of green luminous fireflies light up the island, giving evidence to its name ‘Isla del Fuego’ (or ‘Island of Fire’). When these mystical creatures come out to play, it gives the tiny island a magical, almost eerie glow that lends to Siquijor’s reputation among many Filipinos as an ‘island of witchcraft’. As a wise philosopher once said, “Nature itself is the best physician”.

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Maldives

Finally, the pearl of South Asia. Maldives is beach luxury personified, and features the Indian Ocean in brilliant shades of blue, turquoise, and aquamarine. Colourful coral reefs host a diverse variety of marine wildlife, from striped clownfish to genteel sea turtles. Islands rimmed with the softest of pure white sand make for serene sanctuaries to luxuriate in, and let the worries of yesterday slip away.

While the Maldives comprises a whopping 1192 islands, only 200 are inhabited. At this nation of islands, island hopping is a way of life, and the best means to go about uncovering the hidden gems of the region.

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Asia Destinations Lifestyle Philippines Travel Insights

5 Underrated Beach Towns and Islands in the Philippines That You Probably Haven’t Heard Of

By now, we all know the beauty that is El Nido in Palawan or the white-sand beaches of Boracay. But there’s so much more to the Philippines than these popular tourist destinations. While we won’t be able to cover all of the country’s 7,100 islands, we have handpicked a few that we think should be your next stop when in the Philippines. 

From North to South, we bring you 5 underrated beaches in the Pearl of the Orient that is definitely worth the visit. 

Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte 

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Hailing from way up North is this quaint town in the Ilocos Norte region. Located at the northernmost tip of this province, the town of Pagudpud is loved by many local tourists because of its pristine beaches and laid back ambience. Since this town is relatively far from the Philippine capital of Manila, you won’t find as many people here, making this a great spot for those who want to enjoy some peace and quiet away from the city. 

If you’re looking for more action than just lounging by the beach, the waves in Pagudpud are also ideal for surfing. The surf season in Ilocos Norte typically runs from July to September. Besides the amazing waves, you can also visit the Bangui Wind Farm, Kabigan Falls, and the Patapat Viaduct, also known as the fourth-longest bridge in the entire country. 

Baler, Aurora 

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This tranquil and laid back coastal town is mainly known for its waves that are ideal for surfing. With several surf schools and shops laid out along Sabang Beach, surfing can be enjoyed by experienced surfers or absolute beginners who are looking to learn the sport. While the waves are pretty consistent all-year-round, you can enjoy the best waves brought in by the north swell from October until April. This town is perfect for large groups, families, and even couples. If you’re a solo traveller, you definitely will not be leaving without a friend. The friendly locals in Baler will make you feel absolutely welcome and right at home.

While most tourists would come to Baler for the stoke from surfing, you can commune with nature at the Ditumabo Falls, and enjoy a scenic boat ride to Dicasalarin Cove and hike up to the Baler Lighthouse from there. 

Caramoan, Camarines Sur 

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This secluded island nestled in the province of Camarines Sur is perfect for thrill seekers and nature lovers alike. The Caramoan Islands are the ultimate playground for tourists, where you can enjoy activities such as cliff diving, hiking, and even spelunking. But what most people come to the Caramoan Islands for is the island hopping. 

There are ten stunning islands in all of Caramoan and not one is like the other. For instance, Matukad Beach boasts a 125-metre coastline of powdery white sand beaches with jagged limestone cliffs, while Lahos Island is part of the Caramoan National Park, making it a protected area that is open for visitors. 

Fun fact: some of these islands have actually been featured on several episodes in the hit reality TV show, Survivor Philippines back in Season 8! 

Siquijor Island 

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Despite being the third smallest province in all of the Philippines, Siquijor Island has heaps to offer. Situated in the Central Visayas region, this hidden gem is most popular for its white-sand beaches, underwater sanctuaries, and the enchanting ambience that the island holds.

The experiences on the Island are almost endless. Paliton Beach is great for snorkelling as well as picture taking for the gram beneath rows and rows of towering palm trees. For those who are looking to unwind, you can enjoy a fish spa at a spring underneath the Century Old Balete Tree. And for those who are craving the cool, refreshing waters from a waterfall, Lagaan and Cambugahay Falls are the place to be. 

Siargao, Surigao del Norte

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While Siargao Island is beginning to gain more traction amongst international tourists, this paradise still remains rather untouched. Many locals and overseas travellers flock to this teardrop-shaped island to escape the bustling city and enjoy the waves of the South. Surfing is the most popular water sport on the Island and is an activity not to be missed. To see professional surfers take on big, dramatic waves, head over to Cloud 9, which is the most famous surf spot in Siargao. 

While its best known as the surfing capital of the Philippines, there’s more to Siargao than its world-class waves. Be amazed by the plethora of natural reserves from Sugba Lagoon, the Philippines’ second-largest mangrove forest; Magpupungko Tidal Rock Pools, that are perfect for rock diving; Hagukan Cave with enclosed pathways and crystal clear waters, and the list goes on!

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Asia Bali Destinations Exclusive Lifestyle Manila Philippines Travel Insights

Unique Airbnb Experiences in Southeast Asia

Many of us are familiar with Airbnb by now and know it as the go-to online marketplace that connects homeowners with travellers, by offering their properties as accommodation for tourists. Today, there are over 7 million Airbnb accommodation listings around the globe. 

In 2016, Airbnb launched ‘Experiences’ as a way to elevate their travel services. This feature gives access to travellers who are looking for experiences that go beyond famous landmarks and well-known tourist destinations. What’s more is that these activities are curated and organised by local hosts themselves, which gives it a more authentic feel for tourists. 

Ever since they integrated ‘Experiences’ into the mix, this has definitely changed the game significantly for the travel industry.

Here’s a list of unique Airbnb experiences that you can encounter right here in Southeast Asia!

Cambodia: Discover the Hidden Gems of Angkor Wat on Bike

What’s better than discovering one of the largest temple complexes in the world than by bike? Visitors will come face to face with astounding structures that are full of history like the Elephant Terrace, Preah Khan, and Srah Srang, which is commonly known as ‘The Royal Baths’. 

Many tourists that have joined this historical bike tour have mentioned that it was refreshing to be able to explore the temples on bike, since it is typically visited by taxi or tuk-tuk.

Angkor Bike Tour Discovery: From S$78/person 

Indonesia: Immerse Yourself in The Balinese Culture and Witness the Uluwatu Kecak Fire Dance 

Bali has been ranked as the most-visited destination for foreign tourists in all of Indonesia is loved by many for their world-class surf spots and stunning beaches. But beyond all of that, Bali’s cultural roots run deep and can be felt everywhere around the Island, and is something visitors should not miss. 

The Uluwatu Temple is dubbed by many as the best sunset spot in Bali with a breathtaking view of the Indian Ocean from atop a cliff. What makes this spot special is their famous Kecak Fire Dance, which is a portrayal of the historical Ramayana. Visitors will surely be mesmerised by the dancers’ movements and the burning bright flames. 

Uluwatu Kecak Fire Dance & Sunset: From S$49/person 

Laos: Try Your Hand at Traditional Weaving with Katu Sisters

Traditional weaving has been a long-standing tradition in Laos for many years. Weaving emerged in Laos due to the cultural contact of different ethnic groups in the country and has birthed a beautiful and intricate art form that many locals take pride in. 

In this experience, tourists will be able to make their own crafts from headbands, bracelets, camera straps, coasters, and even bookmarks, as well learn the history of weaving from the locals themselves. 

Traditional Weaving with Katu Sisters: From S$64/person 

The Philippines: Taste and See the Real Manila 

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The Philippines is home to some 7,100 islands and has some of the world’s best beaches like Boracay, El Nido in Palawan, and world-famous surf spot, Siargao Island. But what many don’t know is that the streets of Manila hold such a rich history. 

Discover the hidden gems of this Philippine capital on this AirBnb experience with activities ranging from eating local street food, visiting the historic Stanta Cruz Church, the oldest apartments in the city, and your typical Filipino markets. You’ll also have the chance to ride on a jeepney, which is one of the most common modes of transportation for many Filipinos that many tourists find unique. This Airbnb experience is perfect for travellers who are strapped for time and have a day or two to spare on their short layover in the Philippines. 

Hidden Gems of Manila: From S$51/person 

Vietnam: Cruise Through the Mekong River Just Like The Locals 

If you even just one day to spare outside of the city when in Vietnam, you should definitely spend it at the Mekong River when in the South. The Mekong River is the 12th longest river in the world and winds itself around five other countries: China, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia. 

In this tour, tourists will get first-hand local experience through a range of activities from enjoying a boat ride to Thoi Son Island, visiting a bee farm, indulging in a Southern local lunch on a riverside restaurant, as well as watching traditional folk music performances. 

Explore Mekong River Delta Day Trip: From S$46/person 

We have yet to uncover all of the hidden treasures of Southeast Asia and we’re just getting started. In the meantime, try adding these unique experiences to your list on your next adventure! 

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Adventure Asia Bali Indonesia Lifestyle Philippines

Adrenaline-Packed Adventure Sports to Try in Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia is a slice of heaven truly. Deep cerulean oceans fringed with luxuriant verdant forests, atavistic temples and colossal skyscrapers — old yet new, if I may be pardoned for the paradox. The possibilities are endless, and I personally consider Southeast Asia as the best destination spot to have some incredible adventures,without damaging your pockets too much. 

Here are five amazing adventures you should not miss on your trip to Southeast Asia.

1. Rock Climbing in Vang Vieng, Laos

Vang Vieng was previously well known for drunk-tubing across the river. People would consume a lot of alcohol from riverside bars and jump on an inflatable tube to drift across the river.

However, that questionable scene has changed and the focus has now shifted to an array of exhilarating sports, ranging from kayaking to zip-lining. Surrounded by towering limestone mountains, it seems like a no-brainer to opt for a climbing tour! 

Adam’s Climbing School is the most well known company in the area to provide several set routes and climbing courses that range from half-day to even three days. Personally, rock-climbing the magnificent karsts in Laos with Adam’s has been a truly unforgettable experience for me.

2. Quad biking in Siem Reap, Cambodia

Imagine racing into the beautiful Cambodian sunset on your ATV. If you do not mind getting a little dirt on yourself, you could ride down muddy terrains to explore the province’s paddy fields, sacred waterfalls, secret temples, and the quiet countrysides for as low as USD 30. It is a one of a kind experience indeed!

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3. Surfing, Indonesia

I would go as far to say that the Disneyland of surfing is Indonesia. Located in the Indian Ocean, the Indonesian archipelago has one of the best wave-rich zones in the world, with thousands of reef passes, reef points and beach breaks scattered across its many islands. With consistent swells year-round, it offers world-class waves to anyone who’s brave enough to ride it. 

The first surf spot that comes to my mind is Bali, of course. Kuta serves the beginners, but if you want a challenge, go for the massive swells of Padang Padang or left-hand reefs in Uluwatu. 

4. Parasailing in Boracay, Philippines

Always wanted to fly? How about getting a bird’s eye view of the pristine, white sandy beaches of Boracay island? This is your chance. Get strapped to a parachute dragged by a speedboat, and soar up high. You have fifteen minutes to make your aviation dreams come true, and you could extend it if you don’t mind spending a little more.

5. Kayaking in Ha-Long Bay, Vietnam

Serene waters, tranquil waves, and peaceful scenery. What more could you ask for? Imagine kayaking through the clear water, rowing past magnificent cave systems, and trailing your fingers across stone stalactites! There are various kayaking services available, but make sure you check the safety and quality provided by them to avoid potential scams!

Overall, Southeast Asia is a wonderful melting pot with people from various walks of life. The culture and ethnicity that every single one of the countries bring to the region is incredibly rich. Don’t wait to explore what these enriching, breathtaking spread of lands have to offer!