Wonderful Surprises to Find in Asia

25 May 2017

Asia isn’t short on wonders that will wow the curious and connected, the well travelled and the wide-eyed. There’s certainly never a bad time to travel to this intriguing continent, and at any time of the year, you could encounter snowy slopes, sparkling shores, vibrant celebrations, unbridled serenity and energetic city streets – sometimes all on the same trip! Asia is full of surprises, where every visit reveals something new and unexpected. 

beautiful beach at sunset in Gili Islands. The beaches are nothing short of incredible in Indonesia.

Find… Beachside Bliss in Indonesia

Indonesia’s golden shores are made for everyday getaways. 
Aussies flock to island jewel Bali for easy beach breaks that flirt between cosmopolitan luxuries and grassroots adventures. Chic sandy bars and 5-star villas may play starring roles on an Indonesian escape, but so should off-road discoveries and the simplest of barefoot living.

Lombok’s Gili Islands, specifically, Gili Air, define tropical splendour, where the days are long, drinks are cold and you’re richly rewarded with quiet stretches and sparkling bays all to yourself. Best of all, there are no motorbikes or cars to disturb your Zen. Spend time exploring the multicoloured underwater world on a scuba diving or snorkelling trip, explore the island (and sister islands Gili Trawangan and Gilo Meno) by colourful horse-drawn carts, or hop from one open-air beachfront shack to the next in search of colourful cocktails and fresh seafood. 

Plates of food on table in Singapore. Be prepared for an eating frenzy in Singapore.

Find… A Fusion of Flavours in Singapore, Lah! 

There’s always something sizzling, frying or simmering around every bend in Singapore, where wafts of intensely savoury smoke billow through the air and down every laneway. Start your culinary odyssey with the traditional dishes that first bestowed the city-state its delicious acclaim, such as coconutty kaya toast with runny eggs at breakfast, and the ubiquitous chicken rice and chilli crab eaten at all hours of the day in crowded hawker halls. 

Singapore isn’t one to rest on its delicious laurels though. Food here is an obsession, and for every hawker stall, there’s a restaurant pushing the boundaries of flavour, thanks to savvy chefs from all walks of life. Whether you’ve a craving for modern Indian or a tasting menu where local flavours collide with classic European techniques, Singapore is a world-class foodie destination with its finger firmly on the pulse of international food trends. Hope you’re hungry! 

Girl shopping at a market in the Philippines. Philippines is packed with great shopping potential.

Find… Shopping Malls Galore in the Philippines

Whether you’re shopping for tropical-print knick-knacks or designer duds, they say if you can’t buy it in the Philippines, you can’t buy it anywhere. This island nation is a true shopper’s mecca, with four out of 10 of the world’s largest shopping malls calling the Philippines home. The 11th largest, SM Mall of Asia on Manila Bay, will soon shoot straight to the top of the list after completing its extensive expansion this year, almost doubling its floor space to 720,000 
square metres.

Retail therapy is serious business here. Take a reprieve from the balmy temperatures in these air-conditioned mini cities, home to not only thousands of shops, but also theatres, Olympic-sized ice-skating rinks and places of worship. The Glorietta and Greenbelt complexes in Manila’s swanky Makati area have day spas alongside luxury labels in case you need a pick-me-up during shopping sprees.  

Go all out and indulge yourself in Thailand.

Find… Enlightenment in Thailand 

Thailand isn’t all fast-paced chaos and late-night revelry. Away from the frenzy of beach hotspots and big bustling cities, the Land of Smiles delivers myriad routes to inner peace. Where jungle-clad landscapes stretch into sparkling seas, a visit to Thailand will leave you feeling rejuvenated, rested and relaxed, no matter which path 
you choose. 

Those looking to reset can find bliss in world-class spa resorts, like the Chiva-Som in Hua Hin where, in addition to a day spa, you can spend your days reaping the benefits of the mineral-rich waters of the watsu and floatation pools. Luxury jungle retreats are peppered throughout the lush terrain of Chiang Mai, too, where you can join meditation and yoga classes or retreats in order to restore balance to the mind, body and spirit, or simply curb that social media addiction. Thailand, the perfect place to disconnect from the world. 

An aerial view of bustling Central in downtown Hong Kong. An aerial view of bustling Central in downtown Hong Kong.

Find… Something New in Hong Kong 

Hong Kong defies categorisation. A cross-section of cultural influences coexist, blend and collide to deliver a megalopolis destination that is traditional and innovative, frenzied and tranquil, as well as quirky and charming. Those short on time can discover the very essence of what makes Hong Kong special in the one neighbourhood: Central. 

This Hong Kong Island locale always offers something new to uncover, from traditional teahouses and markets to upscale boutiques selling one-off pieces. Go on a treasure hunt through winding streets and hidden alleys to see how daily life plays out while trawling through galleries, gastronomic delights and treasure troves from Wyndham Street and Possession Street to Hollywood Road, one of the first roads built in the colonial era.


Visit your local Flight Centre store or call 131 600 for more advice and the latest deals on travelling to Asia.


 

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.