7 Unforgettable Travel Experiences You Can Only Get in Asia

24 April 2019

A melting pot of fascinating cultures and ancient wonders, it’s no secret why Asia is a top destination for travellers around the world. While some attractions can be copied, like the myriad of 3D trick art “museums” that have popped up across the region, there are many more that can only be experienced in the unique location where they originated.

While there are literally hundreds of experiences to choose from, we’ve made your life easier and listed our favourites below, which feature unbelievable thrills, quiet moments of zen and breathtaking views you won’t soon forget. But be warned: once you start, you’ll want to tick all the rest off the list!

Go Shopping for Fine Jewellery in Jaipur

a diamond ring with an emerald jem as a centrepiece
A unique collection of gems, jewellery and diamonds can be found at this accessory paradise. Photo from gkchudiwalas

The Pink City of Jaipur is a Millennial Instagram aesthetic come to life. But not everyone is aware that it is also renowned as India’s capital for gemstones and ethnic jewellery. Gem Palace, the city’s oldest – and most recommended – jewellery shop is a good place to start.

You won’t be able to stop yourself from window-shopping and browsing the glamourous bangles, rings and earrings on display, so don’t bother resisting. If you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind souvenir to take home, you can even commission a bespoke piece – turnaround at some jewellers can be as quick as 24 hours.

Be Entertained by a Real-life Geiko in Kyoto

Two Geisha dancing on stage
Experience the mysterious world of the geiko and maiko of Kyoto, performing traditional music and dances in beautiful kimonos. Photo from patrik671

There’s a lot of mystique surrounding the world of the Geisha, which was piqued by media portrayals such as “Memoirs of a Geisha”. In Kyoto, which is recognised as the heart of Geisha culture, they are known as “Geiko” or “Maiko” (Geikos-in-training).

However, catching them in action is no easy feat. To secure an audience with a Geiko or Maiko, it often requires a sizeable sum of money and the right connections, as you must be referred by an existing client of an ochaya (teahouse where Geikos perform). Performances often consist of graceful dances and traditional Japanese music.

Soar Above the Ancient Temples of Bagan in a Hot Air Balloon

hot air balloons lifting into the sky against a backdrop of pagodas
Cruise over Bagan in a hot air balloon and enjoy a panoramic view over the pagodas. Photo from Charlie Costello

Yes, hopping on a hot air balloon is quickly becoming a popular mode of transport for those looking for panoramic views. But nowhere else would you be able to take in a view as breathtaking as watching the morning mist break to reveal towering, multi-tiered stupas spread across the vast plain.

Bagan’s 2,000-plus temples were built between the 11th to 13th centuries, but the Shwezigon stupa should be the easiest to spot from above, thanks to its shining, golden exterior.

Treat Yourself to a Massage Among the Paddy Fields of Ubud

a lush paddy field
A traditional Balinese massage, nestled in the heart of a paddy field, will leave you feeling rejuvenated. Photo from Hector Periquin

Nowadays you can get a relaxing Balinese massage almost anywhere – but have you tried being pampered in the middle of a paddy field, surrounded by lush greenery? Only in the peaceful Balinese countryside of Ubud could you find such an experience.

Imagine hearing the soothing sounds of nature as you’re pampered from head-to-toe, overlooking the emerald green of the paddy fields… Here, you’ll not only find relief for the body, but for the mind as well.

Enjoy a Candlelit Dinner in an Ancient Temple at Angkor Wat

old ruins and temples of the Angkor Archaeological Park
Enjoy a magical evening in the shadows of a temple, coupled with cultural dance and music. Photo from Giulia Brochetto

The old ruins and temples of the Angkor Archaeological Park are predictably overrun by tourists from dawn to dusk. Who would have thought that one of the best ways to avoid the crowd is to book a private dinner for two after hours?

Become a Tomb Diner for the night and savour a multiple-course traditional Khmer meal among the remarkable historical structures of Angkor Wat, accompanied by traditional Apsara dancers and music. This romantic experience is best saved for a special occasion – if you know what we mean.

Witness Sunrise Breaking Over the Himalayas

a landscape view of the Himalayas during sunset
There’s nothing quite like watching the sunrise in the Himalayas. Photo from gorkhe1980

Not too keen on scaling the peaks of the Himalayas, but wish you could get a bird’s-eye view of the scenery? Book a helicopter ride to whisk you through the mountain range, just in time to catch the rays of sunlight as they streak across the craggy horizon in hues of orange, pink and red.

From the vantage point of up to 16,000 feet in altitude, you’ll be able to see far more in a day than you could while trekking, from icy lakes and thick forests to flowing rivers and glittering glaciers.

Charter a Private Vessel to Sail Around Ha Long Bay

multiple cruises docked in Ha Long Bay
Sail through the waters of Ha Long Bay on a private vessel and travel a bespoke route. Photo from Amy Rollo

What’s your pick: a traditional wooden junk ship or a sleek, modern yacht? Either way, you’ll get to see parts of Ha Long Bay not usually seen. Take your time discovering its natural wonders – listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Ha Long Bay is dotted with hundreds of limestone karst islands just waiting to be explored.

We recommend that you take a few days to fully enjoy the hidden grottoes and secret beaches. Best of all, you’ll have plenty of room onboard to rest and relax in privacy, and you’ll even have a crew to tend to your every need. You may even love it so much that you’ll stay ‘Ha Long’ time!

See the World Through Food

The journey doesn’t stop here. Experience more unique locations through amazing cuisines, with even more incredible views. Here’s our shortlisted list of food pilgrimages for every luxury traveller.

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