Hong Kong, Luxury Travel Asia

Top 8 Reasons to Travel Asia

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 (Post written by Leah Kammeyer)

A new year brings fresh travel plans! Make 2016 your year to travel Asia with Explorient, and explore our Top 8 Reasons why Asia is your travel destination for this year!

1. Strong Dollar Means Big Value

Cheap Food, Asia TravelThe U.S. Dollar is at historical highs against nearly every Asian currency. For instance, just two short years ago, the Japanese Yen was trading at approximately 80 JPY to 1 USD. Today, the exchange rate is 120+JPY to 1 USD – that’s a savings of a staggering 35% on hotels, food and travel expenses. Against the Thai Baht (THB) and Singapore Dollars (SGD), we’re looking a nice 12-15% discount in the same period. On top of this, very few places impose sales tax on goods and services, and tipping at restaurants are not customary throughout Asia – that alone is a nice 25%+ off your food bill compared to that in North America! This translates to lower on-the-ground spending in your travels, whether it’s food, crafts, souvenirs or just plain old fun.

Compared to most travel destinations around the world, one priceless aspect of travelers of Asia appreciate most is the “economic factor”: here, folks enjoy little to no stress over how much they’re spending on meals, transportation, and some plain o’ fun. So go on, order whatever your taste buds desire on the menu or party your way through the many city’s hot spots, it won’t break the bank.

2. Eat, Drink & Be Merry Year Round

Sunday Market, Chiang Mai VacationTokyo, Singapore, Bangkok, Hanoi – just a handful of foodie hotspots to survey! Within each of these cities, you’ll find a myriad places to eat, drink and experience the local food culture. In most parts of Asia, food is an institution, a way life, deeply engrained in its very culture and livelihood. There is no shortage of great food in Asia – everything from simple meat-on-a-stick, to a tantalizing bowl of Pho` (Vietnamese beef noodle soup), to the finest of fine Michelin rated restaurants that literally have you on top of the world. Asia delights every palate and everyone.

Street vendors or stalls are hugely popular, especially in the metropolitan areas as a quick, easy way to get a meal. They are by no means lesser in quality – in fact, they’re highly motivated to keep their quality high in order to stay competitive and ahead the dozen other vendors next door. Thailand is a haven for foodies, and Bangkok’s main streets and soi (side streets) offer an overwhelming abundance of selection, from their classic green papaya salad to sausages to steamed crab and your choice of curries. Japan offers ‘Kyoto’s Kitchen’ in the Nishiki Market for another array of endless vendors and stalls selling all things food, including produce, snacks, and cookware. Many vendors offer samples, either for free or paid, but there are eateries throughout, too. Have a drink with the locals at an izakaya, an establishment focused on the drinks, but does boast a variety of Japanese pub food to go with your beer or sake`.

For a full culinary experience, our foodies and epicurean tours often include private cooking lessons, whether in Japan at a Machiya Townhouse, the Hanoi Cooking Center in Vietnam, or in Thailand at the highly acclaimed Blue Elephant Thai Culinary School, among others.

3. Fun & Adventures Abound!

Thailand Family TourEveryone has their own idea of fun, but fortunately, Asia has that everything-for-everyone charm, whether you travel alone, as a couple, among friends, or with the whole family! See China’s iconic pandas at Chengdu’s Panda Base, or catch an exciting show with the Shanghai Acrobats. Take an exhilarating ride on Japan’s super fast bullet train, marvel the Tokyo’s skyline atop the giant Ferris Wheel in Odaiba, or spend a day with Ninjas and Hello Kitty at Edo Wonderland or Hello Kitty Land – Japan has something for everyone. Thailand offers excitement at the many night markets scattered throughout the country, where you can try your hand at bargaining or simply soak up its fun and vibrant atmosphere. Outdoor adventures are both plentiful and fantastic here – hiking, biking, sea kayaking, ziplining through the countryside, or enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime chance to play with elephants or even baby tigers!

If soaking up big city vibes is your cup of tea, your possibilities are endless. From Tokyo’s eclectic pop culture to Macau’s over-the-top casinos to Kuala Lumpur’s contrasts of old vs. new, the Orient has you covered. Asia has everything you could ever imagine, and more!

4. Asia’s Portals to the Past

Forbidden City, China VacationBoasting some of the world’s most exhilarating metropolises – Tokyo, Seoul, Shanghai, and Bangkok to name just a few, Asia has plenty of excitement to keep today’s traveler engaged. Yet with each of those concentrated doses of modernity, there are endless complements of history and culture that rival the energy of the big city. East and Southeast Asia are home to over 100 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and tons of other culturally significant marvels. Check out Explorient’s World Heritage Tour through Japan that features a number of UNESCO sites: from the former seat of Imperial Japan in Nara, to the numerous ancient temples and shrines in Kyoto Prefecture, to Hakone’s ever sacred Mt. Fuji.

On to Beijing, it ancient and modern day capital is home to the commanding Forbidden City that has served nearly 500 years as China’s epicenter of political and social existence. Today, this massive complex hosts an amazing collection of Ming and Qing dynasty artwork and artifacts. Behold another awe-inspiring sight in Xi’an as you face a sea of Terracotta Warriors. Over 2,000 years ago, this stone army of warriors and horses was designed to protect the first Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang in his afterlife. These life-size statues stand around 6’ tall and no two faces are alike.

Travel slightly south west to Luang Prabang of Laos, a spiritual escape steeped in cultural influences from its past. From Lao traditions in architecture to French influences from the Indochine era, this sleepy town of just 50,000 is situated in the midst of two densely forested mountain ranges, a peninsular village at the junction of two rivers. Marvel at the rich, natural beauty amid spectacular temples accented by orange-robed monks where time seemingly stood still for centuries.

For many of these UNESCO sites, it’s easy to bounce back and forth across the annals of time. Asia is a cultural experience where each country is deeply tied to their roots, and where history resonates everywhere you go.

5. R, R & R: Rest, Relaxation & Rejuvenation

Spa and Wellness Vacation ThailandMany of us are constantly on-the-go, leaving us worn down with little time for ourselves. A trip to Asia is an excellent way to recenter, excite and invigorate. With zen philosophies originating in Japan, and yoga traditions from India, there is a bounty of places to help you relax and rejuvenate your soul. Find peace and tranquility in a ryokan – the traditional Japanese inn originating from the Edo period (1603-1868). From the standard to the luxurious, ryokans master simplicity at its finest, making the most of the ambiance and details in the minimalist tradition. In addition to experiencing a dose of Old Japan, many ryokans are equipped with onsens (hot springs) sourced from the country’s volcanic terrain that encompasses bathing and spa facilities in a blissful setting.

Travel to a place where serenity is practically outlined in the landscapes, in idyllic Bali. Retreat to the hillsides in Bali’s cultural core, Ubud, with enchanting nature walks among the breathtaking rice paddies, beautiful rivers, and stunning waterfalls. The beauty in Bali’s countryside and its people, with their warm and welcoming hospitality, ease any worries or stress away. Choose from a variety of uncommon accommodations from rustic lodges of wooden Balinese décor to ultra-luxurious pool villas overlooking some of Mother Nature’s finest creations. Bali takes relaxation and pampering to a whole new level.

Enjoy these and other places throughout Asia, where you can indulge your senses, reconnect with nature, or rejuvenate yourself. Be sure to check out our array of blissful spa vacations for ideas on how to achieve the ultimate in relaxation in style. 

6. Off the Beaten Path

If you enjoy unique, unparalleled experiences, Explorient offers a myriad of off-the-beaten-path destinations where travelers enjoy a throwback of the region’s yesteryears. Journey to Phu Quoc, an island off the Vietnam coast with rich landscapes, distinctive flavors and plenty of local activities, including riding through town on motorbikes, shopping the night markets, and exploring miles of virgin beaches.

Inle Lake Luxury TravelFor those inspired by the road less traveled, Myanmar’s Bagan is an absolute gem. A small city of just 50,000 today, Bagan was the birthplace of Burmese civilization revered for its spectacular array of 3,000+ ancient pagodas, temples and palaces representative of centuries of architecture, culture and religion – all within an area of just 40 square miles. Whether you’re walking, biking or driving through this heritage town, you will stumble upon dozens and dozens of millennia old monuments cropping up from just about anywhere you go. Not big on temples? try Inle Lake, soft and serene home to many thriving communities that centered their livelihood around this primitive yet biodiverse body of water – from the Intha fisherman to the floating garden farmer to the lotus silk weaver. A trip to Inle never ceases to amaze the nature lover and culturally inspired.

Our Andaman Sea Jungle Safari guides the active traveler through the raw landscapes, gliding on waterways framed by mangrove forests, get up close and personal with elephants, a chance to lounge on some of the world’s most beautiful beaches, and spend your nights camping in luxurious safari tents.

Enjoy uncommon adventures by day and relax and indulge in best-in-class accommodations by night, leaving you refreshed and ready for your next adventure ahead.

7. Exotic Nature & Wildlife

Borneo, Adventure Travel MalaysiaAsia offers ample opportunities to step into nature and experience exotic wildlife in a safe, responsible manner. In addition to China’s iconic giant panda population, Asia has a bounty of other wildlife worth exploring. Trek into the jungles of Borneo and visit the Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary to encounter the orangutan, along with the Proboscis long-nosed monkey, macaques and hornbills. In Khao Sok, learn about Thai elephants and the conservation efforts and even interact with these gentle giants. Yunnan province offers Pudacuo, China’s first national park to meet the standards of International Union for Conservation of Nature. Pudacuo is home to over 20% of China’s plant species, and about a third of their avian and mammal species, and has even been compared to Yellowstone National Park, with the open plains, flanked by majestic mountains and stunning water features. Thailand’s Khao Sok National Park delights with the eerie gibbon calls filling the dawn air, along with the burly gaur (Indian Bison), marbled cat, Malayan sun bear, tapirs, macaques, wild boar, and more! Aside from the interesting animals, Khao Sok’s natural beauty lies in the dramatic limestone cliffs, rising abruptly out of the lake within the national park, up to nearly 2,000’ above sea level.

8. World Class Beaches & Resorts

Luxury Beach Vacation in Phuket, ThailandAsia’s naturally beautiful landscapes easily lends itself to the world class beaches and resorts. Bali’s spiritual calm trickles down to the finest grains of sand in Jimbaran Bay. Treat yourself to the finest accommodations in the world at Bali’s Four Seasons Resort & Spa overlooking the Indian Ocean. Immerse in mother nature amid Ubud’s spectacular rice terraces at the Royal Pita Maha Resort. Phuket is an instant favorite with its famous clear, aquamarine waters, spectacular beaches and flashy nightlife. Choose from a plethora of luxury accommodations in the atmosphere of your liking – from beautiful Kata Beach on the west to the north’s secluded Mai Khao Beach to Cape Panwa’s chilled atmosphere to the south. A lesser known small island off the east coast of Phuket is Koh Yao Yai, a virtually undiscovered island paradise. Enjoy a blissful stay at the stunning Santhiya Resort with awe-inspiring views, private pool villas carved out of teak wood, and the friendliest staff around. Find a spot to lounge on Tanjung Aru’s mile-long beach in Malaysia’s Kota Kinabalu, and indulge at the exquisite five-star Shangri-la Tanjung Aru Resort & Spa.

Whatever your interest, whatever the occasion, make Asia your next vacation destination. It will be whatever you dreamt of in a perfect vacation and more.

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