Are you dreaming of your next (or perhaps first!) trip to Asia? At the time of writing, much of the world remains in lockdown because of the coronavirus pandemic. For diehard travellers though, this an excellent excuse to get researching your next destination online, ready for when you can grab your passport, luggage and take to the skies once more!
Among the vast number of possible destinations, you might consider the following up-and-coming destinations in Southeast Asia. They’ve been tipped as exciting emerging locales, with lots to savour and discover for the discerning tourist. One thing you may have to do before you go is to acquire you travel visa, for which you can use an online service like Byevisa (read more here).
In the meantime, find below the list of 10 top emerging Southeast Asian travel destinations for this year and next!
1. Galle, Sri Lanka
Galle is a beautiful seaside town on Sri Lanka’s southern coast. It’s appreciated for its Dutch colonial architecture and the famed Galle Fort, featured on the UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) World Heritage list. So you can enjoy strolling along the coastline or ambling among the picturesque streets and buildings! To get to Galle, it’s a three-hour drive along the coast from Sri Lanka’s capital, Colombo.
More info about visiting Gale here >>
2. Bagan, Myanmar
When people think of Myanmar, the first destination that comes to mind is usually ‘Angkor Wat’. However, if you’re eager to avoid the tour groups and get off the beaten track, then Bagan offers a more-than-worthy alternative. It’s a 42km area featuring some 10,000 Buddhist temples and monasteries, built between 1057 and 1287. The zone also features on the UNESCO World Heritage list and, to get around, it’s best by bicycle!
Check out all our travel tips about Bagan here >>
3. Kampot, Cambodia
Kampot is a southern coastal city in Cambodia, close to Vietnam’s Phu Quoc Island. It makes the list as a top emerging destination because it features gorgeous examples of well-preserved French colonial architecture, including the Governor’s Mansion. This has now been converted into a museum for you to visit. Meanwhile, to the west, Preah Monivong Bokor National Park boasts gibbons, big cats, waterfalls and forests to explore!
4. Si Phan Don, Laos
Si Phan Don is an archipelago on the river Mekong, close to Lao’s southern border with Cambodia. Its name literally means “4,000 islands”, the number of which rises and falls depending on the monsoon rains and the season! It’s a stunning, unspoilt area to see and, among other things, boasts Khone Phapheng Falls, the largest waterfall in Southeast Asia. To visit the 4,000 islands, it’s recommended to stay on the Don Det or Don Khon isles.
Bhutan, located in the eastern Himalayas between India and China, offers an exceptional experience for travellers. The country, with a population of only 790,000, was cut off from its surroundings for centuries. It boasts ancient Buddhist monasteries nestled into clifftops, challenging peaks such as Jomolhari (7,326m to the top!) and stunning plains. The Kingdom limits visits to preserve its heritage, but it’s easily worth getting permission to enter!
6. Hampi, India
Hampi, located in south India along the Tungabradha river, is one of the country’s best-preserved historical sites. It features temple complexes from the ancient Vijayanagara Empire, the Virupaksha Temple from the seventh century, and of course appears on the UNESCO World Heritage list. To get there the most convenient option is probably by bus, as there are numerous tour companies serving this destination. Be sure to make a visit!
7. Malaysian Borneo
Would you like to see some perfectly-preserved rainforest, orangutans and leopards? Then Malaysian Borneo is the place for you! This island is up-and-coming as a natural paradise, boasting pristine beaches and tremendous biodiversity. For the thrill-seekers among you there’s also nearby Sipadan Island, a famous dive site. To get to Malaysian Borneo, the best bet is probably to catch a quick flight from nearby Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s capital.
8. Nagarkot, Nepal
When you head to Nepal, it’s recommended to first visit the amazing capital, Kathmandu. This features impressive temples like the Kopan Monastery, Boudhanath Stupa (UNESCO listed) and Pashupatinath Temple. That said, to go a little further afield, Nagarkot to the east is a hidden gem. There are stunning views of the Himalaya mountain range to enjoy, plus a variety of available pastimes including trekking, mountain biking and even paragliding!
9. Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei
Brunei is a tiny, little-known nation on the island of Borneo, with a population of just 428,000. As such, it’s the perfect place to visit if you’re looking for something different! For instance, in the capital Bandar Seri Begawan, you can find the sumptuous Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque, the amazing Royal Regalia Building, plus the Jame’Asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque with its 29 golden domes! There’s more than enough to impress you on your next holiday.
10. Ludhiana, India
Ludhiana is a relatively little-known city in India’s northern state of Punjab. It’s famed for its Qila Raipur Sports Festival, otherwise known as the ‘Rural Olympics’, featuring such feats of strength and athleticism as bull cart racing, rope pulling and martial arts events. The festival takes place at Grewal stadium at Qila Raipur village, and is the biggest rural sports event in India! Over 4,000 athletes compete each year and a million spectators attend!
So there you have it, top 10 emerging destinations in Southeast Asia for this year and next! These will give you more than enough to savour and imagine visiting as you plan your next holiday. Whether it’s Ludhiana ‘Rural Olympics’ or Bhutan’s cliffside monasteries, you’re sure to have a once-in-a-lifetime experience.