Get in before the crowds come running. These three countries have a wealth of experiences on offer and the whole world doesn’t know it… yet.
A strong Buddhist culture, soaring snow-capped mountains and majestic monasteries make the last great Himalayan kingdom one for the bucket list. Flanked by China and India, this pocket size country’s $US250 a day compulsory tourist tariff (inclusive of accommodation, food, transport and an official guide) keeps Bhutan relatively uncrowded. Those who go will be richly rewarded with happy locals, sacred sites (like Taktsang Goemba monastery perched perilously on a cliff face), spicy food and rugged Himalayan terrain to boot.
2. Sri Lanka
They say Sri Lanka is the new Bali, but this tear-shaped island delivers its own inimitable blend of food, culture, exotic animals and wonderful beaches. At the heart of the ‘Cultural Triangle’ you’ll find ancient painted caverns, huge Buddha statues and the mountain fortress of Sigirya, an incredible 200m-high cliff top rock citadel. Nearby Heritance Kandalama Hotel, designed by Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa, literally melts into the surrounding jungle. For more of this diverse country, visit tea country, explore the historic fort town of Galle or explore the country’s colonial past in Colombo.
Throwing off the shackles of its past, Myanmar (Burma) is now a hot spot for curious travellers with gilded temples, warm and welcoming locals, floating markets and uncrowded beaches. The ancient city of Bagan rivals many of its Asian neighbours with its phenomenal golden stupas: Ananda Temple, and Shwesandaw Pagoda, especially beautiful when illuminated at night, are must sees. Take a walk along U-Bein Bridge, the world’s longest and oldest teak bridge, see thousands of monks at Mahagandayon Monastery, and watch life unfold on a river cruise.