As borders reopen and the light at the proverbial tunnel is finally protruding through the long months of restrictions, boredom, and fed-up-ness, jet-setters’ lingering feeling of wanderlust has never been stronger than it is right now. With the world beginning to return to some kind of normality, albeit not as it once was (but some freedom is better than none), all the planet’s angsty travelers will be most likely to venture to ye olde beaten paths and crowded attractions of past. Related: Underrated Destinations In South America Worthy Of Attention However, if the idea of sold-out tours, crowded hiking trails, and hordes of people flocking to what could be stunning beaches doesn’t tickle one’s fancies, then it’s time to consider getting off the hot tourist tracks, instead of steering towards those less discovered by the masses – and many of such hidden gems are tucked away in and around the vast continent that is known as Asia. Grab that passport from the drawer and dust it off, pack a backpack, and prepare for that next adventure, for there’s never been a better time to escape the rut and explore new, unseen, and grossly underestimated parts of this prolifically diverse part of planet Earth, where bustling cities, untouched nature-laden national parks, ancient temples, cultural attractions, breathtaking beaches, and underwater worlds await.

10 Taiwan

Despite gaining popularity in recent years, Taiwan is still among the world’s most underrated countries for recreational travel. Situated between Japan and the Philippines, the nation is often overshadowed by its more famous neighbors. But there’s so much to do and see in Taiwan – and it really does deserve more attention. One could stay for many months and still have not seen everything worth seeing, and while it may not be quite as backpacker-friendly as Southeast Asia, it’s still got a whole lot to tempt discerning travelers with, which is made even better by this fact: it’s super simple country to navigate. Taiwan’s capital of Taipei is naturally the easiest place to visit, where visitors can enjoy a diversity of attractions and activities, including a day trip to Jiufen, hikes up Elephant Mountain for glorious sunset views and daytime vistas, and a jaunt to see the extra-terrestrial rock formations of Yehliu Geopark. Those who may only have a few days to spare in and around the capital also have plenty of other adventures to offer, including the atmospheric night markets – Shilin and Keelung are particularly entertaining favorites, both being considered two of the largest and most incredible night markets in all of Taiwan. The rest of the island is also worth visiting; Taroko Gorge, Taichung, Kenting, and Sun Moon Lake are exceptional places to discover outside of the capital. On the other hand, travelers should also check out the nation’s second largest city – Kaohsiung. This huge port city is great fun for those who steer off the tourist tracks in search of something different to Taipei. With an abundance of night markets – such as Ruifeng and Xinjuejiang – and an array of temples – including Fo Guang Shan and Yuanheng – Kaohsiung really is an entertaining candidate for anyone lucky enough to visit Taiwan. Related: 10 Of The Best Beaches (& Dive Spots) In Taiwan

9 Changsha, China

Changsha is the capital of Hunan Province and is as massive as it is brimming with people. Although today the city is one of China’s mostly rapidly modernizing metropolises, it is historically known as the birthplace of Mao Zedong – one of China’s most revered political figures. What’s more, Changsha is also a gateway to the region’s beautiful surrounding countryside, which is so surreal that it was the inspiration for the extra-terrestrial landscapes in the movie Avatar. Remember the jaw-dropping cliffs and floating isles seen in the film? The real-life location of Wulingyuan, Zhangjiajie is the very place those scenes are based on, a stunning setting renowned for its towering quartzite sandstone pillars. One final reason to give Changsha and its nearby spots a chance is, of course, the cuisine. Hunan food is considered nationwide as one of the Eight Great Traditions of Chinese Cuisine, incorporating an enticing blend of hot, spicy flavors, intense colors, and sumptuously fresh scents. Related: 10 Amazing (Underrated) Places To Visit In China

8 Kerala, India

When one thinks of India, gorgeous beaches don’t really come to mind at first. But visitors to Kerala will be pleasantly be surprised by some of the most beautiful shorelines in the country. Furthermore, Kerala itself is a wonderful city in its own right and offers plenty of river cruising opportunities and pristine nature spots, such as the expansive Periyar National Park that’s home to a rich abundance of wildlife. The city is also a base for nearby Wayanad, which offers stupendous mountains and undulating hiking hills. It’s not just nature and beaches that Kerala has in store either; the city invites travelers to discover its striking culture and history. Take Fort Kochi for example; it’s a unique historic attraction that has been influenced by cultures all around the globe, including the Portuguese and the British, producing a fascinating part of Kerala to explore that’s overflowing with incredible ancient and cultural sites.

7 Goa, India

Another idyllic gem to be uncovered in India is Goa – a paradisal setting that was sectioned off from the rest of the country by the Portuguese for over 450 years. Still evident today, Goa’s identity compared to the rest of India is utterly unique and distinct, boasting a completely different vibe and culture distinguishable from the rest of India. It’s a hip, trendy area of the country beckoning young travelers and backpackers, many of whom enjoy the laid-back beaches like Calangute and Anjuna, which seem to have remained unchanged ever since the floral headband-wearing hippies of the 1960s first enjoyed them. Portuguese cultural notes can also be seen and felt in Goa through its various attractions. One of these is the Basilica of Bom Jesus, a revered site – especially among the global Catholic population – and the place where the remains of Saint Francis Xavier rest, a man who once led missionary efforts around Asia. Visitors can also check out the Shree Shanta Durga Temple, which showcases interesting displays of pretty Indo-Portuguese architecture. No matter the reason for one’s trip to Goa, it cannot be argued that food should be a top priority. From vindaloo and flavorful curries to fenny and many more wholesome delights, Goa is a foodie haven for hungry bellies in India.

6 Dhaka, Bangladesh

Dhaka is very populated and energetic, but it’s definitely worth a trip. Why? The booming city contains a wealth of cultural and historic attractions for the most intrepid of travelers. Among the must-sees is the hundreds-of-years-old Lalbagh Fort – originally built by the son of a Mughal Emperor – whilst another is the grand and majestic Ahsan Manzil Museum, a special characteristic of Dhaka that focuses on the “Nawabs”, which are provincial governors of the country. Dhaka is also superb for some retail therapy; Kawran Bazar should be atop the list for shopping fanatics as it’s said to be the largest wholesale market in all of Dhaka. Another flourishing shoppers’ hub is the famous Banga Bazar, which is the host of a globally famed factory where various goodies can be grabbed for a fraction of the price of those seen across the world’s stores.

5 Johor Bahru, Malaysia

Previously known as Tanjung Puteri, Johor Bahru is the state capital of Johor and is Malaysia’s second largest city. Featuring lots of cultural attractions, historical buildings, a fun café culture, and lovely scenery, travelers to Malaysia scoping out something different to what others experience will really find their peace here. To feel like royalty, one can pay a visit to the Grand Palace and Royal Abu Bakar Museum, both where not only culture and history abound, but also oh-so Instagrammable spots. In contrast, true adventures will be in their element when island hopping, and Rawa Island is one of the paradises that must be on one’s boating escapade menu. It’s on this stunning little island that beach lovers will find the most perfect shorelines in the area, inviting for swimming in the warm sea and sunbathing on soft white sands. Related: 8 Underrated U.S. Destinations Worthy Of Your Attention

4 Clark, Philippines

Relentlessly beautiful and absolutely budget-friendly, the majority of tourists in the Philippines give all their attention to its more popular parts, like Manila, Cebu, and Bohol. However, one hidden, lesser-known diamond to add to one’s Philippines vacation is Clark – a wonderful weekend getaway thanks to its ideal location not far from the nation’s capital. The former home of an enormous US air base, Clark exudes a different feel to many other parts of the Philippines, boasting its very own charm and personality along with a modern city to match. A shopaholic’s dream, Clark is home to myriads of international restaurants and cafés and loads of duty free shops for bagging bargains. Not much of a shopper? No worries, those with more adventurous souls can relish an awe-inspiring aerial tour of the mesmeric Mount Pinatubo nearby. But those with their feet firmly on the ground will really enjoy the historic feel of nagging nostalgia when they waltz through Clark’s remarkable historic landmarks – a collective that consists of decommissioned military facilities, old world theaters, old parade grounds, and many more. What could make the city even more worthy of one’s time? The numerous special events, celebrations, and festivals occurring year-round of course. Related: 10 Instagramable Things To Do In The Philippines

3 Appi, Japan

Forget about Tokyo’s towering skyscrapers and the quaint old cultural center of Kyoto just for one moment, for there are other areas of Japan that offer just as much amazement and amusement without the overbearing crowds – and Appi is a testament to that fact. This sprawling ski resort in the mountains of northern Japan is surprisingly large, yet it rarely suffers the masses, which makes it feel even bigger than it probably is. With only a small population of locals and a modest number of Japanese tourists as its main visitors, Appi is one of the country’s perfectly quiet retreats that exposes people to the authentic, peaceful Japanese way of life that’s not yet been too affected by tourism. It’s a year-round escape for skiers of all skill levels and it offers jaw-dropping vistas throughout the changing seasons. Plus, anyone who gets bored of the skiing, snowy mountains, and wondrous scenery will be glad to know that the city of Hachinohe is less than an hour away, opening up urban comforts and amenities and plenty more things to do and see that are accessible from Appi.

2 Mekong Delta Region, Vietnam

Everyone goes to Hanoi to cruise the crowded waters of Ha Long Bay. But how about giving Vietnam’s more tranquil, nature-covered gems a chance? If so, then one of them is the Mekong Delta Region – a picturesque spot away from the hustle and bustle that promises a retreat of peace and quiet in the midst of the untouched countryside. Situated in Southern Vietnam, the region is mostly famous for its pagodas, mangrove forests, pagodas, Khmer influence, floating markets, fresh produce, and irresistible cuisine. Also astoundingly beautiful, the region boasts labyrinths of rivers and canals peppered with small, pristine islands. And anyone in need of more modern comforts and urban trimmings even have the largest settlement in this part of Vietnam at their disposal – Can Tho – a city in the south of the Mekong Delta Region perfect as a jumping point from which to explore the rest of the area, and a center of urbanization that’s well-equipped with all one would ever need during one’s trip. Related: 10 Ways You Can Protect Nature When You Travel

1 Pontianak, Indonesia

The name “Pontianak” might strike fear in the hearts of Malaysian people; it’s the name of a feared sprit in Malay folk stories. However, the Indonesia’s Pontianak situated in West Kalimantan is a fun, vibrant city, and is a cultural melting pot of Malay, Dayak, and Chinese influences all collectively cooking up fascinating servings of cultures, customs, and cuisine. Great for families, couples, and solo travelers alike, the city is also a convenient base and launching point for the province’s many natural attractions, including the immensely important area of orangutan conservation in Betung Kerihun National Park, the gargantuan Mount Kelam, and the biodiverse lakes of Sentarum National Park. Next: 10 Of The Most Underrated Destinations In 2022

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About The Author

Lauren Feather
(111 Articles Published)

Lauren is a scuba diving instructor and award-winning underwater photographer originally from the United Kingdom. Having spent the last decade traveling and working around the world managing dive centers in Japan, the Philippines, Thailand and France, she enjoys sharing her passion for the underwater world with others. Before her adventures, Lauren attained her degree in Japanese and French languages at the University of Hull, which has served her well in the world of travel, diving and tourism. Whilst her day job involves training people to scuba dive, by night, she indulges in various projects such as writing, translating, and working as a volunteer for an international dog rescue organization. When she’s not busy with any of these things, she’s walking her dogs, sipping coconut water on the beach, indulging in anime and manga, or rocking out to her hefty heavy metal collection.

From Lauren Feather


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