Brace yourselves, winter is coming. No joke, it's really coming very soon, so if you shiver at the thought of cold weather, rain, and snow, it is high time for you to think whether you want to become similar to birds of passage and head to the southern skies. And if you would like to come to a place, where you won't only be able to enjoy the warm climate, but also see beautiful sites, eat delicious food, swim in pristine waters, observe unique cultures, and have it all for a very low amount of money, Southeast Asia is probably the region you need to consider.
If right now you are thinking something like, "Yes! Yes! I want to go to Southeast Asia and I'm going to buy tickets right effing now!", hold on just a little bit. Keep in mind that it's a large region that spans multiple countries, including Laos, Cambodia, Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, and some others. And all of these countries have a lot to offer. Seeing such a huge choice, even a seasoned traveler can become perplexed and fail to choose the best destination for their vacation.
But worry no more, for TheTravel is always there to help you! Below you can find the list of places that you can safely skip while having a vacay in Asia, as well as the spots that serve as perfect alternatives to them. So read on and make a wise choice!
Most people, who think about Thailand, think about the island of Phuket. It's actually not surprising why it happens, because it's the largest island in the country. Phuket attracts millions of tourists every year, who want to have a vacation on its beaches and see its sights. Even though it might seem to be a tropical paradise in some photos you find on the internet or in travel magazines, keep in mind that in reality, it looks completely different.
You can never have a relaxed vacation on the beaches of Phuket, especially during the high season, because you're going to have to share a beach with tons of other tourists. Besides, there's a huge problem with trash and water quality on the island.
So instead of Phuket, go to another island of Thailand. The more so because there're many of them. One of those I'd like to recommend is Koh Samui. It has everything a modern traveler wants. There are beautiful beaches with clear, super-warm water. There is a great choice of hotels and guesthouses, where you can live 10 meters away from the shore. There're a lot of shops and markets, as well as houses for rent for those, who want to organize the trip on their own. And, of course, there's great nature and lots of sun that you can enjoy!
And if you go slightly off-season (for example, in March or April), you'll have it all, plus lower prices and nearly empty beaches!
For a lot of people, Taj Mahal is directly associated with India. When they think about this country, they think of this magnificent building and the beautiful territory around it.
Taj Mahal attracts about 7-8 million visitors every year. Of course, it's logical that such a beautiful piece of architecture draws so many people from around the world. But it doesn't mean that it's the only place worth visiting in India.
In fact, if you come to Taj Mahal to see it with your own eyes, you'll notice that it looks like an oasis of beauty amidst poverty and trash. Besides, Agra, the city, where it's located, isn't the most agreeable place on Earth, to say the least.
But if you're still attracted by the architecture of India, consider visiting Jaisalmer in the state of Rajasthan. One of the main attractions of this city is the Fort. It's a living fort and a lot of people inhabit it to this day. In fact, it's one of the few forts in the world, still inhabited by people. Its territory also includes a royal palace and Jain temples.
Since the fort's walls are having a lion color during the day and they become honey-gold at sunset, it's often called Golden Fort. It stands in the middle of the desert and resembles a beautiful mirage, due to its otherworldly shades and beautiful architecture.
One of the most popular beaches in Bali is Kuta Beach. A lot of tourists come here to spend their entire vacation on this beach and see some of the attractions around it. If you've been thinking of doing the same thing, thank the universe that TheTravel came to your help, because doing it might have been the biggest travel mistake of your life.
Kuta Beach isn't only overcrowded, but it's also incredibly dirty and noisy. Besides, it's surrounded by overpriced restaurants serving mediocre food and it's full of scammers, who offer your "the best" (read - the worst) services in the world for a ridiculously high price. Do you still want to go there? I hope not.
Instead of Kuta Beach, you should better head to Amed Beach, which doesn't get as many tourists. As a result, it's much cleaner and it offers better and cheaper accommodation and dining options.
If you go to Amed, you can certainly find a place to stay to your budget and taste. You'll get to eat the freshest seafood on the island at multiple cozy restaurants. You may also choose the water activities you'll enjoy the most, such as snorkeling, diving, or simply swimming in the warm and clear waters. And in the evening, you'll get a chance to see the most beautiful sunset in your life.
Sri Lanka is the world's third largest tea manufacturer, after China and India, and it means that you can find a lot of tea plantations if you go to this island country. Most of the people, who want to see how their favorite drink is being made go to Nuwara Eliya, a small town in the Central Province of the island, filled with tea plantations and factories.
However, it seems that Nuwara Eliya is a too small place for such a large number of tourists. For this reason, it gets crowded at times and it's certainly overpriced. Besides, there's not really much to see there except for the tea factories and, obviously, beautiful tropical forest landscapes.
So if you want to see something more than just a tea production site, go to Ella. It's not far from Nuwara Eliya and it also has plantations and factories for those tourists, who want to see how tea is manufactured. Besides, it has a lot more to offer to visitors, than only tea-related stuff.
Ella has a few peaks around it, from where you can enjoy the beautiful sunrise. One of them is Little Adam's Peak (1,141 meters, or 3,700 feet in height) and another is Ella Rock (1,350 meters, or 4,400 feet in height). What's more, there are a lot of waterfalls and beautiful temples in the area, as well as the famous Nine Arch Bridge, a great example of colonial-era railway construction, built back in 1921.
Ubud is another popular spot in Bali and it's easy to understand why. It's a great place, where you can enjoy the beauty of nature, see the authentic Balinese culture, taste some tasty food, and even take a yoga or meditation course. However, since Ubud is getting more popular among tourists now, it's also getting a bit more crowded. And what comes with the crowds of visitors? Right, it's piles of trash lying here and there.
Even for some of the tourists, who are used to seeing dirty places in Southeast Asia, the mounts of trash in Ubud (as we as the funky smell they emit) look impressive, so think about it, if you plan to visit this place.
Jatiluwih is a great alternative to Ubud for those, who want to witness the culture of Balinese people and see the famous rice paddies of Bali. Since it's also a UNESCO heritage site, you can be sure that you'll get an unforgettable experience by visiting it. Gaze at the magnificent mountains and beautiful green landscapes and have it all to yourself, as you probably won't see any other tourists there. Even if someone else shows up nearby, you can just walk away and again find yourself one-on-one with nature.
Since it's so hard to find a place to have all by yourself these days, we should value it and be sure to visit this town before it becomes too popular and crowded.
Even though Hanoi is the capital of Vietnam, which can make you think that there's a lot to see there, it's actually overrated. First of all, there aren't many worth-visiting attractions there, except for the Old Quarter of the city, where you can take a look at the unique mix of cultures. A few places in Hanoi are popular among tourists, but other cities in Vietnam have so many more things to offer that you just shouldn't waste your time in Hanoi.
What's more, while in Hanoi you need to pay special attention to the locals because many of them will probably want to swindle you into buying an overpriced item or just steal your purse in the face of day.
So instead of Hanoi, head to Hue (pronounced ‘Hway’). It's a historic little town located in the center of Vietnam. It used to be a capital of the country and these days, despite its numerous attractions, this town gets less attention than it deserves.
Hue still maintains most of its imperial charm and offers visitors to take a pleasant walk along UNESCO World Heritage sites and historic ruins. It also has a lot of interesting parks and examples of unique Vietnamese architecture. So be sure to include this destination into your route along Vietnam, if you plan to go there this winter. You certainly won't regret seeing its pretty sites.
A lot of tourists, who come to Laos head to Luang Prabang. This city attracts visitors because it's cheap (like many other places in Southeast Asia) and it has beautiful architecture. Besides, it has a lot of Western amenities, including wine bars, fashion shows demonstrating clothes that come at odds with Lao culture, and Disney parks. On one hand, these things attract more people, because they make Laos feel closer to a Western culture, but on the other hand, it doesn't allow attaining the goal of traveling, which is to experience other cultures.
It looks obvious to seasoned travelers that Luang Prabang is becoming a little too Western, which makes it much less charming and authentic.
If you want to see the authentic Lao culture, come to Vientiane. Even though it's the capital of Laos, it doesn't get much attention. Be sure to add it to your itinerary, if you come to Laos because it has a lot to offer.
Let me give you an example of what you can do in Vientiane. You can start your day by checking out an ancient Buddhist temple called Wat Si Saket. Then go and see Pha That Luang, a Buddhist stupa and walk around it three times (according to the Buddhist beliefs, you should take a clockwise direction). To take a break from walking, you may sit at a cafe and try delicious local dishes. Don't forget to check out colorful markets and buy some souvenirs. At the end of the day, go to the Mekong River and gaze at the magnificent sunset. Sounds nice, huh?
One of world's largest religious monuments, Angkor Wat attracts about 2 million tourists every year. It's no wonder why they come here because it looks impressive. However, just like Taj Mahal in India, Angkor Wat is associated with Cambodia for many tourists, which is, kind of, disrespectful to the country that has so many other things to offer.
So if you must, go ahead and visit Angkor Wat, but keep in mind that you should do it just for the sake of being able to say to your friends that you've seen it. And, of course, be ready to see a crowd of other tourists, who also want to mark this place as "visited" in their bucket lists.
Kampot is a much less well-known destination in Cambodia, but it doesn't make it any less worth seeing. In fact, this town is a haven for backpackers, who are looking for a serene place to stay for a few days and relax. The stunning landscapes will make you stand still in awe and you might even find yourself in natural-born meditation at some point because everyday thoughts will leave your mind and allow space for contemplation.
If you go to Kampot, be sure to visit Bokor National Park. It used to be a French hill station and now it's a great place to see historic ruins and colonial monuments. You'll also enjoy visiting salt fiends and farms and observing the life of fishermen at Fishing Island.
In the past, Ooty used to be a very nice and peaceful hill station located in the state of Karnataka in India. But now, it seems to be filled with tourists from one end to another. As a result, instead of a serene town with beautiful tea paddies, you'll find yourself in a highly commercialized place, if you come to Ooty.
The small town became overcrowded with visitors from all over the world and tourist business there used this fact to their advantage. So now accommodation and dining options in Ooty are very overpriced and, according to a lot of travelers, they offer poor services for the money they want tourists to pay.
If you still want to visit a hill station in Karnataka, spend some time in the mountains, and see tea paddies, you have a nice alternative to Ooty. It's Coonoor. This small town is located only 17 kilometers (10,5 miles) away from Ooty, so you can easily stay there and just come to Ooty for a day to see the striking contrast between these two towns.
If like me, you prefer a serene atmosphere and absence of crowds, you'll definitely see that Coonoor is much better. You can go there for a nice, romantic getaway, to have a secluded retreat and gaze at the haze coming from the mountains around. Perhaps, when you arrive there and find yourself amidst verdant nature and fresh air, you'll even forget that you ever wanted to see Ooty instead.
Boracay used to be an amazing destination in the Philippines. It had wonderful pristine beaches, tropical rainforests, and peaceful atmosphere. As little as five years ago, it was still considered one of the nicest beach destinations in the world, yet now it no longer resembles this serene oasis. It became overridden with tourists and lost its charm. The island began facing so many problems that in April 2018 the Philippine Government decreed a 6-month closure of the island for tourists to implement certain renovation works and attempt to improve the environmental conditions in Boracay.
Can you imagine how much damaged had been done, if the government made such a decision?
If you decide to choose Palawan for your vacation in the Philippines, you certainly won't regret it. Still a hidden gem for most tourists, it features amazingly beautiful pristine beaches that have been repeatedly called the most beautiful ones in the world, sparkling emerald waters, as well as lush mountains the view of which will take your breath away. But your vacation in Palawan won't only be about sunbathing on the beach and swimming. You can engage in multiple other activities, such as scuba diving in the world's prettiest spots, seeing pristine underwater shipwrecks, visiting fishing villages, and observing the wildlife.
I don't know about you, but I'm certainly ready to plan my winter vacation now!