The Many Faces Of Asia

6 April 2016
Read Time: 2.7 mins

Asia has many guises. She's an economic powerhouse, but also an untouched frontier. Her history dates back millennia, yet some capitals are at the forefront of modern technology. It would take more than a lifetime to discover Asia's secrets, but for those with an interest in food, fantasy, history or nature, start with these destinations.

For The Luxury Lovers: Hong Kong

Travel Inspiration This skyline just beckons well-heeled folk

If you have a penchant for high thread-count bed linen and room service, you can't go wrong with a Hong Kong city stay. This east-meets-west megalopolis is home to myriad big-name hotels, from the Mandarin and Ritz-Carlton to the legendary Victoria Harbour-fronting Peninsula.

You can easily spend your days luxuriating in your elegant abode (we won't judge you), or you can hit the lively streets to indulge your taste for fashion and gastronomy. Well-heeled label lovers covet the retail spoils of Lee Gardens One, while discerning diners can enjoy everything from the cheapest Michelin-starred establishment (Tim Ho Wan in Kowloon) to a global array of flavours in the chic nightlife district of Soho.

For The Quirky Characters: Japan

Travel Inspiration Dotonburi in Osaka is just one quirky rabbit warren to explore

Nowhere does quirky quite like Japan. Sure, the country is steeped in tradition, but a trip to any of its cities will wow and utterly astound you. Never mind the skyscrapers and temples, mind boggling experiences are found in and around the city streets.

Gawk at cosplay characters in Harajuku's Takeshita Dori; buy literally anything you've ever needed (or wanted) from a vending machine; and enjoy dining with a difference in one of the many themed restaurants. Think multi-sensory dining at its weirdest as you cuddle bunnies, dodge ninja stars or find yourself handcuffed to a cell in a haunted mental asylum while eating!

For The Adventure Seekers: Philippines

Travel Inspiration The bike zip at Chocolate Hills Adventure Park

While navigating the chaos of Manila is an adventure in itself, beyond the capital is a bounty of heart-pumping fun and excitement. There are some 7,000 islands in this archipelago, and adventure pursuits come thick and fast.

Of course, the Philippines, more specifically the Visayas, is most famous for diving, where crystal clear seas reveal technicolour underwater worlds and creatures of the deep. On the surface, you can island hop or snorkel, or throw yourself into a variety of land-based adventures, from zip-lining to caving and navigating lava-rock trails.


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For The Culture Vultures: Thailand

Travel Inspiration Ayutthaya is awash in spirituality and history

You'll discover more than just beachfront parties in Thailand. The Land of Smiles is a sensory overload of history and culture, no matter which destinations you visit. Cultural roots run deep and you'll find temples and ruins at every turn, from the sprawling Grand Palace in the heart of historic Rattanakosin, to the historic city of Ayutthaya.

History buffs will also love delving into the fascinating past of the enigmatic Sukhothai Old City (also a must for keen photographers), while hungry travellers can get a glimpse into daily life with a stroll through the Saturday Night Walking Street in Chiang Mai to soak up the sights, sounds and smells.

For The Leisure Set: Indonesia

Travel Inspiration Lazy evenings on Gili Trawangan

Indonesia is synonymous with easy, breezy island getaways. Perennially popular Bali is the obvious choice, as the island jewel offers something for all. Those on a budget can discover Bali's beaches and lush landscapes with cheap eats and budget sleeps, while travellers looking for something special can enjoy the spoils of sprawling private villas or ultra luxe hotels, cosmopolitan beachfront bars and world-class restaurants.

But, it's not all about Bali. The Gili Islands beckon with glorious white sand and brilliant seas – Gili Meno is primed for couples, while Gili Trawangan has a vast selection of restaurants and nightlife.

For The Foodies: Vietnam

Travel Inspiration Fast, fresh and fried bot chien on a street corner in Ho Chi Minh City

Revered for its fresh, aromatic fare, a trip to Vietnam is a treat for all the senses. Never mind the fancy establishments; the streets are where you'll distinguish your pho from faux.

Meander down decrepit alleyways in Hanoi to find the most complex variations of this signature soup; pull up a child-size plastic chair and watch a sea of motorbikes zoom by streetside in Ho Chi Minh City; and devour crispy banh xeo on a perch on the shores of the Thu Bon River in scenic Hoi An. And while eateries across the country spill out to city streets, none are as iconic, or fun, as the legendary bia hoi establishments! "Mot, hai, ba, yooooo!"


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Anna Howard

Give me street food over Michelin stars, cellar doors over wine bars and small towns and wide open spaces over big cities any day. Travel for me means ticking off the 'to eat and drink' list one regional flavour and wine bottle at a time.