Emerging Asia Destinations To Jet To

8 September 2015

If you’ve been holidaying in Bali since you were knee-high, or Phuket is your go-to for a flop-and-drop beach break, there’s plenty more island locations, historic cities and beautiful beaches to discover in Asia. Press reset on your travel mindset – we’ve got your new favourite locations and emerging Asia destinations to try that are just a plane ride away from Singapore’s Changi Airport.

 Beachside bliss in Cebu.

If you like Koh Samui, try Cebu

If adventure is your bag, swap the chilled-out surrounds of Koh Samui for the Philippine island of Cebu with white sands and jewelled seas. Also a gateway to explore the Visayan Islands, Cebu is a mecca for divers, beach-goers and the rugged interior is ideal for mountain bike treks.

The Spanish heritage of the island is also on display at Fort San Pedro, Basilica del Santo Nino and Museum and the Magellan Shrine. For food and after-hours fun, head to the bustling Fuente Osmeña roundabout in the city centre for beer houses, clubs, shopping malls and clubs.

 Yedanasimi Paya on Mandalay Hill.

If you like Chiang Mai, try Mandalay

The northern Thailand city of Chiang Mai is renowned for its temples and traditional culture and you’ll find similar attributes in Mandalay in Myanmar. Here you can explore gilded Buddhist pagodas and elaborately decorated monasteries on Mandalay Hill and the ancient Burmese capitals of Amarapura and Inwa nearby.

As well as the Bamar culture’s traditional music, art and crafts and dance, Mandalay also has remnants of colonial British architecture. For a taste of Mandalay, try Burmese curries and for a souvenir, shop Zegyo Market for textiles.


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 Giant pandas at the Giant Panda Breeding Research Facility near Chengdu.

If you like Beijing, try Chengdu

While it’s not quite on the scale of China’s capital, the pockets of serenity, culture and tradition in Beijing are reflected in Chengdu. Famous for its teahouses and the cute inhabitants of the Giant Panda Breeding Research Facility, you’ll find Chengdu a captivating mix of old and new.

For Chinese chess, Sichuan opera and tai chi, go to People’s Park. Chunxi Road shopping precinct is the spot for retail therapy with international and local brands, street stalls, shops and department stores. When you’ve worked up an appetite, sample spicy Sichuan dishes in the Wuhou District.

 Fisherman boats on China Beach.

If you like Fiji, try Da Nang

Laidback, kid-friendly and with white sands for miles, all those things holidaymakers love about Fiji can be found in the emerging resort of Da Nang. Also written as Danang, this Vietnam hotspot has the World Heritage sites of Hoi An and My Son Cham ruins just 30 minutes away.

If golf is your game, Da Nang has three world-class golf courses to perfect your swing as well as 5-star resorts, bountiful seafood to dine on and great views come as standard at this coastal city. French dining, Vietnamese classics and the Bach Dang eat street will all tempt your taste buds here.

 Malaysia's stunning Langkawi archipelago.

If you like Bali, try Langkawi

If natural beauty, stunning beaches, high-end resorts and shopping opportunities are on your holiday agenda, swap your Bali trip for a visit to Langkawi. Located in Malaysia, Langkawi is an archipelago of 99 islands with UNESCO Global Geopark status and is ideal for rest, relaxation and excitement.

Take a speedboat tour of the islands and explore the ancient rainforests in Machinchang, Kilim and Dayang Bunting. Most facilities are on the main island (Langkawi) and Pantai Cenang beach is Langkawi’s version of Seminyak with shops, eateries, bars and beachfront accommodation.

 Patuxai gate in Vientiane.

If you like Hanoi, try Vientiane

Both Southeast Asian cities have French colonial heritage and broad tree-lined streets, but Vientiane is a muted version of the bustling Vietnamese city. The Laos city is quiet, laidback and petite with lots of multicultural influences, including traditional, French and Soviet architecture near the river area.

Wat Si Muang, Pha That Luang and Wat Si Saket are some of Vientiane’s must-see temples or wats, harking at the city’s cultural heritage while the Patuxai (Victory Gate), is a tribute to that iconic French landmark, Arc du Triomphe. Head downtown to sample French fare or spicy Lao cuisine.

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Cassandra Laffey

Consumed with unrequited wanderlust, I get my fix in 24/7 cities and hippie retreats. I'm still looking for the ultimate combo of secluded beach and major metropolis, and my happy place is a 5-star hotel room all to myself - sigh.