A golden sunset over the temples of Bagan in Myanmar.

Travel Clinic: Our Travel Experts Answer Your Asia Questions

8 May 2017

Our Travel Experts are passionate about travel, and know the ins and outs of just about everywhere. Here are some of your questions answered about where to go, where to stay, travelling with kids, and going solo in destinations across Asia, from the Philippines to Sri Lanka, Indonesia to India.

We’d love to do the Philippines for our honeymoon. Where would you suggest we go?

Boracay is the perfect honeymoon destination with its pristine white sand beaches, markets, restaurants and beautiful flora and fauna. Couples wanting a luxurious beach honeymoon simply can’t go past the 5-star Shangri-La’s Boracay Resort & Spa. Set within an eco-reserve on the island’s north, the resort is its own private paradise with stunning villas and a secluded beachfront. Of its seven restaurants and bars, you can’t go past Rima, where you can enjoy a sumptuous Italian dinner in the treetops.

An idyllic scene of palm trees, white sand and aqua waters at Boracay's White Beach in the Philippines. Crystal-clear waters await at Boracay's White Beach. Image: Getty

For those wanting a hit of culture or adventure, head to White Beach, where there’s everything from traditional markets to incredible seafood. Boracay highlights include snorkelling in crystal-clear waters, island-hopping by sailboat or climbing Mt Luho, the island’s highest peak. Just past Indonesia, Boracay is a must-see paradise not too far from home.

Jacqui Lawson, Travel Expert, Flight Centre Barossa Valley, VIC

My mates and I are planning a surf trip to Lombok. Any tips on where to stay?

With divine beaches, the majestic Mount Rinjani and spectacular marine life to discover, the island of Lombok in Indonesia has great attractions both in and out of the water. Novotel Lombok would be without a doubt my favourite hotel. It is a 4-star resort located on the southern shore of Lombok, overlooking the beautiful white sand and turquoise bay of Kuta Beach.

A surfer rides a wave in Lombok, Indonesia. Surfing is just one of Lombok's aquatic attractions. Image: Getty

There are so many great surf options on the south shore of Lombok, from nearby Kuta to Belongas Bay, Ekas Bay, Gerupuk and many more. You can also hire a boat near the hotel to get you to the waves.

Novotel Lombok offers an amazing breakfast to get you off on the right foot, and after your fill of the water you can relax with a cocktail at the beachfront Breeze Bar. Spice Market restaurant serves both local delicacies and hearty barbecues. 

Rahul Gadhia, Travel Expert, Flight Centre Hollywood Plaza, SA

We want to take the kids to Sri Lanka. Is it a family-friendly destination and do you have any tips?

Get the most out of your trip to Sri Lanka with a tour company. A great option for this is Intrepid, which offers small-group tours.

A tour of Sri Lanka with Intrepid will immerse you in traditional communities. Image: Getty

It specialises in using traditional accommodation and local transportation as much as possible, not only to immerse you in the destination, but also to support communities. The tours take you to many communities so that you can meet the local families and get a glimpse of their way of life. Don’t forget to apply online for your visa before you go.

Candice Bailey, Travel Expert, Flight Centre Golden Grove, SA

Is it best to do a tour through Myanmar or do it yourself?

When it comes to travel in Myanmar, I would highly recommend doing a tour over independent travel for a few reasons. As Myanmar only opened its borders for tourists in 2011, it can be hard, although not impossible, to get around on your own; public transport is scarce and popular cities and towns are far apart, meaning you have to fly, which can become very costly on your own.

A young woman photographs the temples of Bagan in Myanmar at sunset. Seeing the sights of Myanmar is much easier on a tour. Image: Getty

When visiting as part of a tour, everything is included so there’s not much you need to worry about. The best part about travelling with companies such as On The Go Tours and Intrepid is that they have local guides where possible. It gives you so much more insight into the country on a local level that you never would have when travelling on your own. They know the best places to eat, great activities​, the best shops to check out, and more. To me, that is a very special thing.

Madison Hughes, Travel Expert, Flight Centre Gordon, NSW

What would be your advice on travelling solo through India? 

India, for the most part, is as mad and busy as you can imagine. Cities are chaotic and traffic is a nightmare – but the culture is vivid and vibrant, and the food absolutely delicious, even if it challenges your spice tolerance.

A young woman is covered in coloured powder during the Holi festival in India. Travelling solo is a great way to meet people in India. Image: Getty

Travelling solo is always a great way to meet people and really experience a new country. Aside from common sense tidbits like not venturing down back streets at night, I recommend breaking up hotel accommodation with homestays.

Staying with a local family is a wonderful way to wholly immerse yourself in daily life. Plus, it’s always good making those family connections. And if you happen to see an Indian wedding, offer your congratulations as you may get an invite to the reception, although you may need to rearrange some of your travel plans as celebrations can last up to a week!

James Hay, Travel Expert, Flight Centre Elizabeth Street, NSW

I love the idea of staying with locals. Can I do this in Asia?

Asia is incredibly diverse and there is no better way to experience its many cultures than staying with locals. My hot tip would be to stay at a local guesthouse in the hopes of being invited to their home for a meal.

A man serves noodles at an Asian family's table. Share a meal with the locals for a true taste of Asia. Image: Getty

It’s fascinating understanding the dynamic of a large family and sharing a meal with someone whose language you don't speak. From respectfully not wearing shoes in homes in Japan to offering food to the gods before you eat in India, the more local adventures you have, the deeper your travel experience.

Go and strike up a conversation with someone at a family-run restaurant or speak to a taxi driver for insider tips – the insights you’ll receive are invaluable and much better than anything you’d find in a guidebook. It adds another layer to your travel experience that you could not have otherwise.

Divya Sahgal, Travel Expert, Flight Centre Kingston, ACT

This article first appeared in Travel ideas Asia.

Featured image: Temples at Bagan, Myanmar. Image: Getty


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