This month I've been asked to take part in the *Asiana sweepstakes for Webjet. This means I'm on Youtube again! But instead of talking about solo travel, I'm speaking about culture, adventure, shopping and relaxation in Asia instead. If you're thinking of travelling to Asia, here's some tips to get the most out of your trip.
So where have I been to in Asia?
Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Bali, Maldives, Sri Lanka.
South Korea, China, Mongolia, Nepal, India, Bhutan.
Culture in Asia
There's the Buddhist countries of Cambodia, Thailand and Sri Lanka (which is also popular with tea tourism), then the Hindu culture of India with stunning temples. Each region is very different and it very much depends on the religion of the country.
Unfortunately Thailand is now very touristy and the culture of Thailand is slowly vanishing as they tailor themselves too much for tourists in my view but if you travel north to the Golden Triangle to Chiang Rai and even Chiang Mai, you can visit hill tribes that live here. This is where the Karon tribe live and you may have seen the iconic pictures of the Long Neck Karon with gold rings around their necks. Taking part in a hill tribe trek helps the tribes sustain their way of life and goes towards schools and agriculture. Staying overnight in a wooden house on stilts with buffalos and chickens roaming below is such an experience and an insight into their humble lives.
Move away from the capital and this is where the culture of Mongolia begins. You can choose to stay with nomads who live in traditional gers and help them with their daily activities such as collecting firewood, water from the river and even milking yaks.
Although this is such a modern country with Seoul boasting coffee shops on virtually every corner, they offer many free cultural events which even start at the airport. Most of their museums are free and you can visit old Korean style houses and watch traditional dancing which is so compelling with dramatic music. They are also the home of Taekwondo which is amazing to watch!
This is the most cultural country I have come across in Asia. Bhutan has the highest gross national happiness and the whole country is built on its culture. Most people walk around in national dress and the buildings have to built with a similar design. It's such a peaceful place.
Adventure in Asia
I wouldn’t say that Asia is the place for extreme adventure sports; the adventure is a lot tamer. The Himalayas are perfect for hiking and Nepal has amazing and challenging hiking routes with Everest base camp being one of the most known. You used to be able to do tubing in Laos but they’ve since stopped it as too many casualties were being caused.
South East Asia
South East Asia is the place to cycle and you can choose cycling holidays through Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam, past rice paddies and small villages where locals live in wooden stilt houses. You can also hire motorbikes here with your very own driver to guide you around.
The beach resort of Kuta is very popular for surfing. There's also a bungee rocket here for those who want to shoot themselves up into the air.
Mongolia has the more rustic adventure. You can take a horse or camel across the desert or grassy plains or travel on an ox cart.
China has some superb and unusual trekking. The most popular treks to do here are the Tiger Leaping Gorge and the Great Wall of China.
Sentosa Island in Singapore is the place to be. It is an island on the peninsula with a megazip adventure park and lots of other things to do, or choose to take the night safari at the Singapore zoo to see rhinos up close and personal.
Shopping in Asia
East Nanjing Road is one of my favourite places for shopping. The city is nearly five times bigger than New York and there is a lot of shopping to be done here. You can find the boutique stores as well as the local brands.
Shopping in Thailand is very cheap and you'll find department stores in the capital and markets and outdoor street sellers in the smaller towns selling clothes, bags and accessories. The Thais do seem to be on the more petite side so the clothes seem smaller than European sizes. Be careful not to buy any fake goods from market sellers though. They may seem like a great bargain but you don’t know what your money may be funding and you may even get fined.
Is great for electrical goods. Pearl Market in Beijing is an indoor market over several floors with everything you need for shopping in China. It's definitely a shopping experience with a difference and walking through the aisles Chinese sellers shout at you trying to get you to buy their products. As nearly everything is made in China, you can buy goods here for cheap, cheap, cheap.
Relaxation in Asia
If you're looking to relax, where better than on the amazing beaches of Thailand. You don't have to go far to get pampered either as the Thai ladies find you on the beach and offer you massages, manicures and hair braiding whilst you sunbathe.
The beaches here are the cliched ‘picture perfect' and the ideal way to spend a day relaxing. They also have the most amazing spas that look out onto the waters edge so you can be pampered and watch the fish as they swim below.
If relaxing also means mind as well as body then a yoga ashram is the perfect place to step out of the rat race for a while. India is the birthplace of yoga and you'll find many retreats in Rishikesh, at the foot of the Himalayas to rejuvenate and re-connect.
Koreans are into keeping young and have special saunas, which are made of a certain type of wood that enhance peace and wellbeing and help build a healthy heart. You can just visit for a day or choose to sleep in one of the wooden cabins. It is definitely a unique experience.
Have you been to Asia? Where's the best places that you've found for culture, adventure, shopping or relaxation?